Long, healthy nails are always in style, but they’re not always easy to achieve. It seems our nails grow at a snail’s pace and when they’re finally at our desired length, they break or tear. We got some insight from experts on how to get your nails grow quickly and stay healthy.
Cuticle oil is great—”it does wonders to nourish every bit of growth that comes through and ensure the fresh nail is being conditioned early,” says nail tech and founder of Ciaté London Charlotte Knight, but let’s take it one step further. If you haven’t heard of the plasticizing nails technique, you’re missing out.
CND cofounder Jan Arnold recommends doing this to preserve nail health and help them grow. Plasticizing nails involves “conditioning nails and surrounding skin daily, preferably right before bed. This allows valuable oils to penetrate through the coating on the nails as well as the tiny spaces of the nail plate itself as you sleep, filling them with oil while pushing out damaging moisture that can break layers apart,” says Arnold.
The process restores “resilience which will prevent brittleness and breakage and thus, help nails grow.” She recommends CND SolarOil ($10), which is made of four naturally light oils that penetrate the skin’s pores while sealing in moisture to help repair and preserve the skin cells and promote healthy growth.
Nail artist Julie Kandalec says promoting circulation and blood flow to your nails can help speed up nail growth. She suggests doing this by massaging them twice daily with hand cream or cuticle oil.
File your nails
Founder of Nails of LA, Brittney Boyce, suggests filing “your nails at least once a week to prevent the edges from getting jagged.” This will prevent them from snagging on anything resulting in a tear or break. “Use a fine nail file, like a glass nail file or one that’s no less than 180 grits,” she instructs.
Use a protective top coat
Knight recommends using a top coat or a protective nail treatment with nourishing ingredients, like Speed Top Coat ($12). It can help add some strength to thin, brittle nails, which helps add a layer of protection to further strengthen nails.
Use garlic on your nails
Yes, you read that right. Kandalec says, “garlic promotes nail growth because it is rich in selenium.” She advises rubbing crushed garlic on your nails “if you’re daring” or, for a more tame experience, you could use a product that contains garlic. She recommends Cote Growth with Garlic Nail Treatment ($21).
Try nail strengthening treatments
Lucky for those looking to grow their nails, there are products formulated to help. Boyce recommends ORLY Breathable Calcium Boost ($15) and Nailtrition ($15). Both of these products “have ingredients that help strengthen the nails while giving it a layer of protection.” Another nail-strengthening product we love is Dermelect Launch Pad Nail Strengthener Base Coat ($18). Applying this before your polish will help strengthen weak, brittle nails.
Use a keratin builder
If nails are severely damaged, Arnold recommends a keratin builder like CND RescueRxx ($21). With continued use, it can dramatically reduce peeling and white spots and help rebuild broken bonds in the nail structure for a more fortified base. She recommends using a keratin builder twice a day on bare natural nails for one to two weeks to help boost nail growth.
Be considerate about your gel manicures
Boyce says she’s found that a thin layer of gel can help protect nails from breaking and help them grow nicely. However, she says, “the key is to make sure your nail technician gives you fills every two to three weeks, rather than removing the gel completely each time. The removal process, even with soak-off gel, dries out the nail and is not ideal for healthy nail growth.”
Keep your nails hydrated
Boyce says the best way to boost your nail length is to keep your nails from breaking. “Healthy nails bend! Prevent breaks on your new growth by hydrating to keep them flexible,” says Kandalec. She suggests using Dr. Hauschka Neem Nail And Cuticle Oil ($22) to moisturize nails and protect against breakage.
“When nails are dry, they tend to be more brittle, making them more prone to breaking and cracking,” explains Boyce. She applies cuticle oils three to four times a day and is constantly moisturizing her hands and nails.” KP Away Lipid Repair Emollient ($41) has been my go-to as it’s fragrance-free, super hydrating, yet absorbs really quickly,” she says.
Avoid submerging your hands in water
“Try to avoid having your hands submerged in water for an extended period of time because that causes your nails to contract and expand,” says Boyce. She adds that when your nails are wet, they’re also softer and weaker, making them more prone to breakage. “If you’re washing dishes by hand, wear dishwashing gloves.”
Eat a healthy diet
“I have noticed that when my clients eat a healthy diet with a lot of greens and healthy fats, like salmon and avocado, or take supplements with collagen and biotin, their nails grow healthy and stronger,” says Boyce. She’s also noticed that when people get sick their nails tend to grow slower. Boyce says she likes BareOrganics Beauty Superfood Drink Mix ($15), which features “collagen, biotin, and other vitamins that are good for healthy nails. Plus, it makes it easy to stay hydrated.”