Reviving Brittle and Damaged Nails: A Comprehensive Guide


If your nails are crying out for a health makeover, worry not – we’ve got the ultimate recovery plan to rescue your brittle, ridged, and spotty nails. This comprehensive regimen will have your talons looking and feeling their best, ensuring they’re in impeccable condition.

While we dedicate hours to strengthening our bodies at the gym, pampering our skin with anti-aging creams, and nurturing our gut health with supplements, we often overlook a small yet crucial aspect: our nails. If your nails are prone to bending and snapping with ease, you might be encountering a common concern known as onychoschizia – in simpler terms, weak and brittle nails.

Identifying this issue doesn’t require detective skills. “Brittle nails typically exhibit an uneven surface and are more susceptible to peeling,” explains Dr. Cara McDonald, a distinguished dermatologist and director at Complete Skin Clinics. “Consequently, nail polish doesn’t adhere as effectively to uneven nails.”

McDonald highlights that lifestyle choices, rather than genetics, play a significant role in nail health. “Brittle nails are more prevalent in women due to their increased involvement in tasks involving moisture, such as cleaning and laundry,” McDonald notes. She suggests minimising water exposure whenever possible, moisturising nails and cuticles post-exposure, donning protective attire during household chores, and avoiding chemicals like detergents, cleaning agents, and acetone.

Effective rehabilitation and protection can be achieved through treatments like nail oils and strengtheners. “Topical nail strengtheners create a protective barrier, smoothing the nail surface and safeguarding against the dehydrating effects of environmental elements,” adds McDonald. Additionally, oil-based moisturisers, whether in the form of hand creams or specialised nail treatments, can enhance water resistance and enhance nail flexibility.

Another key factor in the nail health equation is manicures. “Pushing back and trimming cuticles during a manicure can pose a problem,” cautions McDonald. “This practice can allow water to seep beneath the cuticle, contributing to nail brittleness during the regrowth process.”

Unusual white spots on your nails might signal incomplete adherence of the nail plate to the nail bed. If texture changes accompany these white spots, such as a “powdery or crumbly” sensation, a fungal or yeast infection could be the culprit.

Weak nails could also stem from nutritional deficiencies. Biotin supplements have shown promise in bolstering nail strength, particularly for those with dietary gaps. Vitamins C and collagen, along with iron, can also contribute positively.

Lastly, ridges on the nails may indicate previous trauma or inflammation in the nail matrix, potentially triggered by arthritis in neighbouring joints or skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

Whatever the underlying cause or chosen treatment, patience is essential. “Nails take approximately three months to fully grow out, so improvements may take time,” McDonald advises. As the adage goes, good things come to those who wait – a sentiment that certainly holds true for your nails.