Brittle Nails: A Guide To Treating Them Properly

Brittle Nails: A Guide To Treating Them Properly

If your nails are fragile or seem to constantly break, now is a good time to give them some TLC. From filing them properly to maintaining healthy cuticles, three manicurists and nail experts share their essential tips…


Rule #1: File In One Direction Only 

“It’s common to see people file their nails in both directions, but it’s better you don’t,” advises manicurist and nail expert, Loui-Marie Ebanks. “Keep your file on one side of the nail; use the full range of it, moving to the other side in one swift stroke. A forwards and backwards sawing motion can separate the fibres and cause peeling. Make sure you file regularly too: it encourages nails to be strong, just like trimming the ends of your hair.”

Rule #2: Stop Peeling Off Your Gels 

“One of the most common issues is the damage done by people peeling off their gels – especially throughout the lockdown,” explains Ama, session manicurist & founder of Ama salon. “Regardless of whether your gels are lifting a little or you peeled them while in the bath, picking at them is a huge no-no. It thins out the nail, making them more susceptible to premature breakage and splitting.”

Rule #3: Pay Attention To The Shape  

“When it comes to clipping and filing, there’s no right or wrong shape, but it’s advisable to keep them short if you can,” says Loui. “Short, rounder nails are simply easier to clean and maintain. Avoid too square a tip or shape as they can easily get caught on things, and thus are more likely to break or rip from the corners, which will split the nail further down too.” 

Rule #4: Rememeber, Nails Don’t Need To ‘Breathe’

“Despite what people say, nails do not need to breathe or have breaks from polish,” explains Jessica’s nail expert, Georgina Walker. “With gels, yes you need a break, but not from regular polish. So, keep them covered with a solid base coat, preferably one with nourishing ingredients. This will work like a shield to prevent breakage or splitting of the free edge.”

Rule #5: Choose Your Anti Bac Wisely 

“When it comes to sanitiser, it pays to opt for more gentle formulas that don’t completely dry out your hands and nails,” adds Loui. “Both Neal’s Yard Natural Defence Hand Rub and Dr Bronner’s Lavender Organic Spray do the trick. They still contain alcohol and kill 99.9% of germs, but contain natural, essential oils. This means they don’t dry out the skin and cuticles as much and never feel as stripping. It’s a small tweak, but a great way to prevent any bending or flakiness.”

Rule #6: Stop Submerging Your Nails 

Contrary to popular belief, water doesn’t hydrate the nails if you soak them for too long. “Regular swimming and long baths, or washing up without gloves can cause peeling,” explains Georgina. “Moisture penetrates the nail fibres, expanding and lifting them, which in turn results in flakiness.”

It’s no secret cuticle oil is beneficial for nails. If you don’t already have one, make it the one thing you order during this lockdown.
Loui-Marie Ebanks

Rule #7: Steer Clear Of Harsh Chemicals

“Cleaning with detergents or harsh soaps can damage your nails, not to mention break down polish faster,” warns Ama. “Over exposure to these types of chemicals can start to thin and dry out nails, so where possible, try to make sure you’re wearing gloves when cleaning. Make sure you avoid nail polish removers with high levels of acetone, too, as this has a similar effect and will leave nails feeling overly soft and bendy.” 

Rule #8: Invest In Plenty Of Cuticle Oil

“It’s no secret cuticle oil is beneficial for nails. If you don’t already have one, make it the one thing you order during this lockdown,” advises Loui. “Use it all over the nail, right down and around to the cuticles. It’s a great way of keeping the whole area nourished and preventing dryness. This is also ideal for making cuticles thinner and more malleable. If you don’t have cuticle oil or would rather not order one, try taking olive oil and running it around your cuticles instead. Apply a thick layer of either at night before bed, so they can reap the moisture benefits overnight.” 

Rule #9: Stimulate Growth At Home 

“There are so many treatments now that not only stimulate growth but also rehydrate parched nails – especially handy if you’re suffering from post-gel brittleness,” adds Loui. “Base coats like Nails Inc’s Superfood Base are so restorative for natural nails, while its Superfood Nail Oil is another great way of ensuring moisture can penetrate deep down into the nailbed. You can often order these from Amazon, so it’s an easy way to treat your nails yourself when you can’t reach a professional.” 

Rule #10: Understand Why Brittle Nails Happen

“Brittle nails are usually down to a lack of nutrients in the diet,” says Georgina. “Sometimes, medication can have a profound effect on the condition of your nails, too. If you find they’re thick and shattering low down on the nail bed frequently, seek advice.” 

Rule #11: Look To Shea Butter 

“If you’re on a budget and don’t want to invest in numerous treatments, look for what you might have at home,” finishes Loui. “Pure shea butter is incredibly moisturising and can be mixed with other essential oils to provide some much-needed nourishment. Almond and jojoba oils are also a great remedy for scraggy nails and withered skin. Get creative, mix things together, and keep up the treatment every single day – your hands and nails will come out all the stronger for it.” 


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