Cracked and Peeling Nails? 6 Ways You're Damaging Them And How To Make Them Stronger

Everybody loves fancy nails. How could we not? When our nails are painted, candy is sweeter, the grass is greener, and our daily lives are a tad more sparkly than usual. In the sunshine of our painted days, it seems there will be no end to the glamour. Life is one big party of nail art and glitter, leaving us to think little of our nail health. Sadly, sometimes life can hit a rocky patch and our formerly fabulous lady talons are ripped to shreds before we know it. What's a girl to do when their nails start cracking and peeling?

Here are a few questions that will help reveal the deeper truth of your nail health: Are your nails peeling off in layers faster than your clothes come off on a hot date? Are there deeper cracks on the surface of your nails than in the Grand Canyon? Does your nail split down to the bed when you attempt to take a key off your keyring? If one or more of these resonate in your soul, you may be guilty of these six nail sins that cause the break down of your nail health.

1. You saw your nails like a logger instead of filing like a lady


Sweetheart, you need to be gentle on your hard-working fingers. Don't hammer your nails into submission. Gently coax them into shape. If you're using the old back and forth, back and forth technique favored by 1980s secretaries, ditch the metal nail file. Always stroke in the same direction, and try using a crystal file which won't tug or tear already delicate nails.

2. You're addicted to gel nail polish

Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

No one tells you the dirty truth about the delicious lacquered look of gel nails. For two weeks, it is heaven on earth. Then it comes time for removal. The super classy home method involves peeling the paint and part of your nail off bit by bit like a crazy person. Or, you go to a salon where they drench your delicate nails in pure acetone and scrape the paint off like barnacles from a ship hull. If your nails are weak and you are a regular gel polish gal, this is the culprit. No doubt about it. Give your nails at least a month of recovery time in between. And if you're still on the acrylic nails, girl, you should know better. You're playing with fire if you've got weak nails.

3. You're ignoring a nail fungus or infection

Perhaps it sounds a bit grody, but sometimes our bodies do crazy body stuff. Instead of pretending like your nail isn't inverted and wonky, get to fixing it. For a natural remedy, try tea tree oil on the regular.

4. You're not protecting your brittle, peeling nails

It's time to take action if you want to heal! Incorporate simple nail care steps into your home manicure to make your nails Wonder-Woman-strong. If you paint your nails often, take a time out. Use a nail treatment while you’re on break to toughen up once more. If drug store concoctions frighten you, try healing essential oils to fight nail flaking. Moisturize nails at night and go easy on your lovely hands!

5. You wash too many dishes

I mean, that's why you chose the more expensive apartment with the dishwasher, right? If you still find yourself behind the sink, be sure to wear gloves. If you work in any kind of environment (medical field, service industry) where you are constantly washing your hands or have them immersed in water, the nails will weaken and be much more prone to peeling and breakage. Oh yea, and wear gloves in the garden, too!

6. You're neglecting your overall health

Andrew Burton/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Beat up nails are but a symptom of bigger challenges to the whole system. If you are not a gel polish addict, have no nail infection, nor batter your hands daily at work, it's time to take a loving look at what you are (or are not) putting in to your body. You may need more vitamins. You may not eat enough nutritious foods. You may be overstressed or under slept. Check with your doctor if after nail treatments you're still experiencing the brittle nails of a baby bird. You deserve to be well, darling.

Good work, you're well on your way back to red hot nails!

Image: Fotolia