5 Natural Ways To Make Your Nails Healthier

My natural craze has extended from my hair to my face to my body to my feet, yet for some reason when I recently went to take off a thick coating of black nail polish that I had painted over at least 3 times this summer, I found my nails completely in shreds. With each layer of black nail polish I took off, a layer of my fragile nail seemed to come off with it. The biotin pills I dilligently take each morning seemed to reach my locks and skin, but never even considered putting the proper nutrients in my precious nail beds. I'd never been one to keep my nails in shape, as I've mentioned before, I am pretty lazy about beauty —natural remedies and routines appealed to me because I didn't need to go far from my house or spend a lot of money. It's just a healthy coincidence that my locks and skin loved my natural routine.

My painted nails began when I was on crutches and my bestie was first diagnosed with Lupus. My friend loved her nails and with her recent diagnosis, couldn't risk the prospect of a fungal infection or contamination at a nail salon so she began making some seriously fancy designs herself and becoming one of the best DIY nail technicians I know. I, a slight germaphobe, fearful of nail technicians and their sharp instruments, have only had my nails done twice in my life. Since this was someone that sold me my first Manic Panic hair dye at Hot Topic, I knew I could trust her with my sensitive cuticles. Plus, both of us desperately needed something to occupy our time while we were secluded in the Granite State. We began a lengthy habit of painted nails, only seeing our natural nails when we removed one colorful design for another.

Painting my nails lets me ignore the problem underneath — brittle edges that often snag the delicate curls on my head and more recently, a jagged nail bed. After buffing the crap out of my nails this week, I realized that I was merely masking a beauty crisis. I needed to get my nails in shape with the quickness, because it is too hot for me to be waiting for nail polish to dry.

As it turns out, nature may not be able to provide us with the vibrant colors that chemical-based nail polish does, but it can certainly get those nails gussied up to go sans polish. My new beauty goal this summer is to rep my nails completely naked. There are loads of nail woes out there that aren't specific to chipping nails like I have. Fungal infections are rampant and most of us don't keep our nails moisturized while we're busy keeping the rest of our bods soft and silky. Here's how I'm going to combat unhealthy nails this summer so when I'm short on time, I'm not ashamed to go bare.

1. Shea Butter

Greener Life Organic Shea Butter, $11, Amazon

Shea butter has amazing moisturizing properties, and you can purchase shea butter that's specific to cuticle and nail health for about $20. Personally, the thought of searching for that makes me want to retreat to my bed and keep my unhealthy nails forever. Rubbing all natural shea butter on your cuticles and nail beds for about 20 minutes before you do any nail maintenance will nourish them and keep them strong while you buff, file, and paint. Shea butter can strengthen your nails and heal damaged beds and cuticles.

2. Castor Oil

Now Solutions Castor Oil, $10, Amazon

I'm all about castor oil right now, I'm detangling with it and I'm rubbing it on my knees after a hard day of working on my feet to keep my joints feeling nice and nimble. Originally, when I purchased my giant bottle of castor oil for $7, I thought that it could possibly expire before I finished it, being wary of the greasy scent. Now that I've noticed what lies beneath my electric blue nail polish? My castor oil serves yet another purpose. Not only is castor amaze for brittle, chipping nails, but it's also a great warrior against fungal infections. My jam is applying castor oil to epson salt and a few drops of peppermint oil. I soak my fingers in my mixture for about 10 minutes and then start my routine. So far, my jagged edges have been at an all time low.

3. Aloe Vera & Lemon Juice

Natural Republic Aloe Vera Gel, $8, Amazon

Real Lemon Lemon Juice, $5, Amazon

I've def ran into occasions where I've taken off my nail polish and realized that cheap yellow color from CVS that I just had to have has stained my nails — even with a bottom coat. My personal favorite way to bleach nail beds naturally for temporary or long-term stains is to take lemon juice and fresh aloe vera juice, and apply it directly to your discolored nails. Lemon juice is loaded with vitamin C and it's a natural brightener that regulated distorted pigmentation. Aloe contains water and vitamin E which can help keep your nails moisturized in addition to aiding to perfect fingernails.

4. Grape Seed Oil

Grape Seed Oil, $8, AmazonGrape seed is known for its moisturizing and healing properties for healthy locks and youthful skin. The oil of grape seed is similar to what humans naturally produce, so it's ideal for those sensitive to heavy carrier oils. Rubbing grape seed on cracked nails can restore and keep chipped, dry nails at bay.

5. Coconut Oil

Anjou Organic Coconut Oil, $10, AmazonYes, of course coconut oil is good for your nails! Coconut oil heals and strengthens nails damaged from your pesky job in the service industry or from fancy addictive nail art. A major factor to having healthy nails is moisturizing, when I'm applying coconut oil on my bod and face as a moisturizer, I definitely make sure that my cuticles get to soak up some of those amazing health benefits that coconut oil has to offer.

Looking for some more serious nail tips for health AND style? Check out this amazing DIY nail blog for summer nail styles that will have you lusting after healthy nails!

Images: Kristin Collins Jackson