Your fingernails — composed of laminated layers of a protein called keratin — grow from the area at the base of the nail under your cuticle. Healthy fingernails are smooth, without pits or grooves. They’re uniform in color and consistency and free of spots or discoloration. Too much exposure to water over a period of time weakens the nail plate and causes all kinds of damage.
Sometimes fingernails develop harmless vertical ridges that run from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. Vertical ridges tend to become more prominent with age. Fingernails can also develop white lines or spots due to injury, but these eventually grow out with the nail.
• Changes in nail color, such as discoloration of the entire nail or a dark streak under the nail
• Changes in nail shape, such as curled nails
• Thinning or thickening of the nails
• Separation of the nail from the surrounding skin
• Bleeding around the nails
• Swelling or pain around the nails
To keep your fingernails looking their best:
1. Olive Oil
Olive oil is an excellent remedy for weak nails. The oil helps moisturize the nails. It also helps repair damage and softens nails and cuticles, which in turn leads to strong and healthy nails.
• Massage your nails thoroughly with some warm olive oil, covering both the top and underside of your nails. Wait 15 minutes, then wash it off with water. Do this 2 or 3 times daily.
• Alternatively, mix together 3 teaspoons of warm olive oil and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Apply this mixture to your nails using a cotton swab. Allow it to dry, then put on a pair of soft, cotton gloves. Do this daily before going to bed, and in the morning, rinse it off with warm water.
2. Green Tea
Green tea can also make your nails strong and healthy. The antioxidants in green tea help prevent brittle nails as well as strengthen them. At the same time, green tea helps get rid of yellow discoloring.
• Brew a cup of green tea and allow it to cool. Soak your nails in it for 10 to 15 minutes, twice a week.
• Alternatively, prepare a nail soak with 2 teaspoons of green tea, a pinch of salt and a few drops of wheat germ oil. Soak your nails in this mixture for 5 minutes, then wipe it off with a dry cloth. Repeat this procedure twice a week.
• You can also mix a few drops of green tea essential oil with coconut oil or aloe vera gel and massage your nails with it once or twice a week.
3. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is another versatile ingredient that can repair and strengthen damaged nails.
Its antiseptic property helps prevent and treat fungal infections that are often the cause of weak and brittle nails. It can also help get rid of discolored or yellow nails.
• Put a few drops of tea tree oil in a small bowl of warm water. Soak your nails in this solution for 3 minutes, a few times a week.
• Alternatively, prepare a solution with ½ teaspoon of vitamin E oil or jojoba oil and 4 or 5 drops of tea tree oil. Apply this solution on your nails and massage gently for a few minutes. Allow it to dry, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Do this once a week.
Flaxseeds can also make your nails stronger. The micronutrients in flaxseeds, such as B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, lecithin, zinc and protein, are necessary for nail health. In addition, they have omega-3 fatty acids required for healthy nails.
• Rub some flaxseed oil on your nails and massage gently for a few minutes before going to bed. Wear gloves to retain the moisture.
• Also, include flaxseed in your daily diet. You can add 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to your cereal or smoothies.
5. Vitamin E Oil
Vitamin E oil is another good remedy for stronger nails. Its moisturizing property helps keep your nails hydrated and healthy.
• Break open a vitamin E capsule to extract the oil.
• Apply the oil on your nails and massage gently for a few minutes.
• Do this daily before going to bed for a few weeks.
For added benefits, take vitamin E capsules orally after consulting a doctor.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has various nutrients, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron that promote nail health. In addition, its acidic nature can prevent and treat nail fungus.
• Mix equal amounts of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and water in a small bowl. Soak your nails in this solution for 5 to 10 minutes, once daily for a few weeks.
• Another option is to mix 1 teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink it 3 times a day.
7. Massage Your Nails
Another easy, cost-effective way to have strong and beautiful nails is regular massage. Massage will improve blood circulation, making your nails stronger and healthier. You can use a moisturizing lotion, nail cream, almond oil or coconut oil to massage and also keep your nails moisturized.
• Apply your chosen product on each nail.
• Massage gently and thoroughly for 5 to 10 minutes.
• Slip on cotton gloves, then go to sleep.
• The next morning, wash your nails with warm water.
• Follow this remedy daily for several weeks.
8. Eat Protein-Based Foods
To attain strong and healthy nails, experts suggest increasing protein intake. Nails are made of keratin, a kind of protein. Therefore, protein-based foods will provide the building blocks for growing strong nails. On the other hand, lack of protein can cause white spots on your nails and make them weak.
• Include protein rich foods in your diet, such as chicken, eggs, lean meats, low-fat dairy, nuts, seafood, soybeans, quinoa, beans, and tofu.
• You can also drink protein shakes or add protein powder to a glass of milk. Before taking any protein supplement, consult a doctor.
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