Remedies for Weak and Thin Fingernails

Weak, thin nails can be very frustrating. This is a guide about remedies for weak and thin fingernails.

Weak and Thin Fingernails
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I have received so many great tips and information from this site that I thought I was over-due for a pay-back.

Ladies, for those of us who have weak, soft, splitting fingernails, listen up! Buy a bottle of White Iodine (at Wal-Mart or any pharmacy-it can be ordered). It is also very inexpensive - $1.49.

Coat nails every day for a week and then a couple of times a week afterwards. It binds the protein of the nail (or something) but it will make them harder. You will not believe it. It truly works! Try it--you will love it!

By Nolasandy from New Orleans, LA

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I just took the false nails off my finger nails and my nails are tender and weak. What can I do to strengthen them?

By Audrey W.

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Best Answer

I take a biotin supplement, the stuff is fantastic for hair and nails! I used to get mine in WalMart, and I also found HoofMaker there.

It's officially a hoof treatment for horses but is perfectly safe for human use on finger nails. You'll find it in the pet section.

Use a Q-Tip to apply it to your nails just before bed and let it soak in overnight-very quick results to repair a damaged nail bed. Huge economical jar, too, and it smells great!

I got that tip, btw, from a nail tech years ago when acrylic nails were the big rage. I was so excited when I was having the things applied-until she warned me that I should save myself some money and get HoofMaker instead the salon's hideously expensive ointment to repair the inevitable nail bed damage when the nails came off. Nail bed damage?! Unfortunately all ten nails had already been applied.

Hoo boy, I did get the HoofMaker, wore the nails until they could safely be removed (about a week I think), and then I never had those UN-fabulous fakes applied again!

My fingertips hurt for several days after those things came off. The HoofMaker did help, easing the bed and healing my nails quickly. Plus I noticed the HoofMaker did really nice things for my nails and the nail bed after the healing was complete. Been using that or a similar product ever since, and I have lovely strong nails. Here in the UK I get Hoof-Treat from the tack shop, looks, smells, and works the same as the HoofMaker.

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I've never really been into painting my nails or growing them long. Probably because I was always building something instead. However, two of my older sisters did and both were beauticians. They would buy Knox Gelatin made just for fingernails. They would mix it with water and drink it. They did have lovely nails. You can buy that in a grocery store in with the regular Jello.

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My nails are super short and thin. If I grow them out, they don't stick to my actual finger which makes them super easy the bend. When I do grow them out, which for me is not even enough to reach the tips of my fingers, they are white and brittle.

closeup of nails
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    Louise B, no I have no serious health problems other than frequent migraines which I don't think would have anything to do with my nails. Thank you!!!:)

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    How to make fingernails thicker and stronger?

    By Mary

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    You better eat dried fish and small fresh fish to add more calsium and protein to your food. Take supplements usually contain vitamins A, C, D, E, as well as many B vitamins, and folic acid, zinc, iron, calcium and biotin. Making sure you have a good intake of omega 3 oils can also reduce your risk of weak, brittle nails.

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    As a recent avid nail biter, I have found a solution to help grow nails that is not only inexpensive but natural and healthy. My nails were really thin (I was able to bend them without pain) and would chip and peel.

    Here is my solution: I use NutriNail 5 to 7 day nail growth treatment twice a day (morning and evening). Once dry, I apply a Vitamin E nail and cuticle oil and massage into cuticles and nail surfaces. To help with strength, I use a nail hardener once a day.

    These products can be found at your local Wal-Mart: NutriNail is around $4.50, Sally Hansen Nail and Cuticle Oil is around $5.00, and Sally Hansen Nail Hardener is also around $5.00.

    Also, having a healthy diet does help nails grow faster and stronger. This includes drinking plenty of water! A vitamin regimen can also be beneficial as taking Biotin (Vitamin B6). Other supplements that have been shown to be successful are Keratin and prenatal vitamins for hair and nail growth since both hair and nails are made of Keratin.

    It is also beneficial to gently file your nails (in the same direction) once a week. It does the same thing that a trim to your hair does; it stimulates the nail causing it to grow a little faster.

    If you frequently place your hands in water, such as doing the dishes, it is advised to wear gloves because the water can strip nails of natural oils that are essential for growth and strength. The same can be said regarding nail polish removers and dark color polishes. I would recommend a 180 or 200 grit nail file (fine), which can be found at Wal-Mart, dollar stores, and beauty supply stores.

    One last tip, if you have short nails or short nail beds, DO NOT TRIM CUTICLES! This can be detrimental to the nail and cause weakness. It is best to gently push cuticles back. This not only keeps the nails healthy and free of bacteria but also helps in the growth process. Do not worry if nails are translucent as they grow as Keratin is naturally translucent. If your nails are white, it could signify that are dry. In this instance, use a hand lotion to soften hands and hydrate nails.

    To wrap this up:

    • Apply growth treatment (which contains green tea extract) 2x daily (not necessary)
    • Apply nail and cuticle oil once daily (preferably before bed)
    • Apply lotion
    • Avoid water, polish remover, and dark polishes
    • Gently file once a week (same direction)
    • Drink lots of water and maintain a healthy diet
    • Take vitamins (B6, Keratin, or prenatals, again this is not necessary)
    • DO NOT TRIM CUTICLES if you have short nails

    Pushing back cuticles
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      I am trying to strengthen my weak and flimsy fingernails. I take vitamins daily (multivitamin, folic acid, biotin, and some prescription medications) and I can grow my nails, but they bend so easily.

      I take a shower and they rip on the towel, or snag. I am tired of wearing bandages on my fingers due to the tearing. They bend so easily, that when I was in beauty school, I hated working on hair, since I knew that my nails would be torn to bits.

      I have tried every strengthener known to man, I eat healthy, have recently lost 50+ pounds, and am not hard on my nails. I have polycystic ovary syndrome (a hormone and fertility problem) and weak nails don't run in the family, my sister has egg shell nails, they curl, and what not. I don't have a picture to go with this, I have overlays on my nails now, so they don't tear.

      My nails don't need to breath, they are not alive, just like our hair, they both grow, but are not living things. So please refrain from telling me my nails need to breath, because they do not. I went to cosmetology school, and we learned all there is to know about nails.

      Any tips thought would be great. I'm sick of spending $$ on no good products. I have OPI Nail Envy, and that does little good. Any ideas would be helpful, home remedies, or anything. I can't even soak my nails for a mani since they are so thin, they just tear off.

      By Torrie from Vaughnsville, OH

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      *WARNING!* EliVal mentions that "vitamin B6, in much higher doses than needed for daily nutrition can be beneficial to nail growth. It is water soluble ...and there is no known issues at higher dosages." Sorry, but this is dangerously wrong. Too much B6 can cause permanent nerve damage.

      The New England Journal of Medicine (1983, V309 pp 445-448) reported that supplemental doses as low as 500 mg/day can cause numbness & pain in extremities & even difficulty walking. Many women who have tried B6 for PMS symptoms have ended up with far worse problems than bloating or irritability (or thin nails). Yes, B6 is water soluble but it is NOT SAFE at high doses! Supplementation of no more than 200 mg/day is considered safe.

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      I used to bite my nails for years, and now that I finally stopped, whenever I try to grow them out, they keep on breaking. Also they chip very easily. The tips of my nails aren't white but see through.

      This is very annoying, and I can't leave them unpainted. I read that this may be caused due to lack of calcium, but I drink a lot of milk, and it doesn't seem to help. What do I have to do to improve my nails and make them stronger?

      I wasn't able to include a photo right now, but I'll try to if that'll help.

      By Ekikate123 from Skopje, Macedonia

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      First, check with your doctor to see if there is an underlying medical condition. But otherwise . . .

      Two inexpensive and highly effective treatments; 1) vitamin B6, (biotin) 2.5 mg once daily and, 2) nail/cuticle oil, this will keep the oils in the nails and the water out, water actually splits the nails.

      The nail oil needs to be brushed on (it takes about 15 seconds) and around the cuticle, nail bed, tip, under nail and skin surrounding the nail at least twice a day, let sit for one minute then lightly rub into surrounding fingertips/fingers/hands, 1 hour after hands are not in water, and 1/2 hour after, keep hands/nails out of water. (While first treating your nails wear gloves as much as possible. Try to bathe or do dishes 30 minutes AFTER the oil application.)

      "Oil" nails minimally twice a day; many find the most convenient times first thing in morning and then late afternoon an hour before preparing food (to keep nails out of water). I make my own nail oil, in old empty nail oil bottles, adding a little vitamin E & a little antibacterial/antifungal (like teatree oil) shake and you've saved yourself 8 dollars a bottle! While first applying the nail oil, you need to grow out the old damaged nail, the nails grow in fibers that once ripped or split keep moving into the quick (like a run in your hose), so keep them trimmed very, very short, and file with a nail tek crystal file (or better) until the damage is grown out; then you can grow some length and you should be much better than you're at now.

      For upkeep use nail oil (or with nail polish on the cuticle and under nail) about twice a week, you'll soon know what your particular nails require. I also do hot manicures once or twice a week, I just zap a little oil in a tiny bowl for 30 seconds and soak fingertips for a minimum of 5 minutes, it is very relaxing. (PS buy the oil less expensively in a food store, you can use almond, olive (I do not like this smell), grapeseed, or soybean oil, whatever vegetable oil you prefer.) I also save my manicure oil (storing it in a small bottle) and give my hair a hot oil treatment once or twice a month, it's a great hair conditioner. So I actually use every drop.

      These both will work for most people, but both also will take time. Vitamin B6 treatment can take 6 months to a year (you already know how fast or slow your nails grow) to see an increase in nail thickness. Oil treatment, you may see improvement within weeks, but dramatic within months.

      Good luck!

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      What causes thin fingernails?

      By ahandy45

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      Try Nail Envy Nail Strengthener Original by OPI. Worked great for my thin nails

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      I was wondering if anyone has any ideas for something that is good to use for soft, weak fingernails. Mine are so soft that I can bend them forward. Any ideas will be appreciated.

      TC from Virginia

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      I found something at Walmart that does wonders for my nails - 5 to 7 day growth formula. It actually works, but I haven't found anything that works for Harding my nails. Please help.

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      What can I do to make my nails stronger and grow faster? I got my nails done for my sister's wedding. I didn't want to go because I knew it would damage my nails, but I went. And now I'm facing the consequences. My nails are really thin, they break off easily, and they don't grow hardly at all.

      By horselover4

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      The biotin suggestion is one I use (for my hair actually but it helps with nails, too), but since you sign yourself 'horselover' I'm surprised you don't know about using hoof conditioner on your nails to strengthen them. It REALLY works, and quick too!

      Apply it liberally with a cotton swab to your nails and cuticles at night before bed; apply a thin coat with the swab several times during the day-you'll have lovely, strong nails in about a week.

      You can buy it at tack stores and pet centres like PetsMart. I used to buy it at Wal-Mart in the pet section but I live in the UK now, and don't know if Wal-Mart still sells horse gear in their pet aisles. It's not terribly expensive, doesn't stain, and has a nice fragrance no matter where you buy it-the stuff I get at the horse centre here in the UK looks, acts, and smells just like the stuff I used to get at Wal-Mart.

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      I had really badly bitten nails, they were horrible! If you want really strong long gorgeous nails, here's my secret. First, stop all nail bitting, nail polish removers and dark colored nail polish. Try more nude colors, they won't stain nails or have harsh ingredients.

      Now that's done, you are ready. This is what I do for my nails; Biotin and a nail treatment top coat with a garlic base. I take 5000 mcg of biotin daily. My brand is cheap Rexall, $5.00 at Dollar General and my garlic base top coat (G1Nail treatment) is only $1.25 at a beauty supply store. I also soak my nails in water with salt and any vegetable oil I have on hand. I soak them at least twice a day, soaking for 15 minutes day and night. That's only 30 minutes out of your day. It's worth it, your nails need to refresh daily. However, I recommend olive oil for a more better result.

      I massage my nails with a vibrating tool, anything that vibrates. I do this at any time of the day. I bought one from Walgreens. It's use is for stress but I just hold it when my hands are free. I find that it also makes my hair grow. True Story LBVS! The vibrations helps circulate the blood in your nails and hands. Although you must continue to massage a oil base into the cuticles and use a moisturizer to keep nails nourished.

      Drink plenty of water as well. The biotin intake will need more water intake daily, around 64 oz. Water is also a good source for growing anything! I hope this helps. My nails have been growing for two weeks now with my own system and it really works. Try and enjoy the beautiful nails God wants you to have. God Bless everyone (:

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        My finger nails just all of the sudden are really thin. They have always been hard as a rock and healthy. What happened to them? or what is the cause of them to getting so thin, weak, and transparent?

        By Victoria

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        My nails used to be hard too and I've found now that I've gotten older they have become more brittle. Not certain but I think it may come with age in my case.

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        Why are the fingernails on my ring fingers weaker than the others?

        Mary from Stockton, CA

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        It may be that you are allergic to nickel, which is a component of the metal in some rings, or that you have left traces of jewelry cleaner on your jewelry. You can strenghthen your nails over time by lightly (and I stress lightly) tapping them on a hard surface for a short period of time daily. This helps improve circulation to your nail beds. When using a nailfile, look for one made with diamond dust called Diamond Deb, which is much finer, less harmful to your nails and much faster than ordinary files.

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        My nails are so soft that they bend. I've never been able to grow them long because they just wear away. They don't even have enough strength to break or chip.

        I've tried gelatin, dozens of nail hardeners, gloves, supplements for cartilage, nails, hair, teeth, etc., but to no avail. In desperation once, I applied Tarzan Grip (glue) to the tips to give them strength. I also tried acrylic overlays, and apart from having no thickness to the nail when roughing it up, I developed a really bad fungal infection and I lost a nail.

        It took me almost 12 months to recover and the resulting damage to the nail bed hasn't helped matters. I guess I just drew the short straw. Any suggestions?

        By Rebecca from Gold Coast, Australia


        Remedies for Weak and Thin Fingernails

        I had the same problem. A friend told me about Hard as Nails polish. It works if you keep it on your nails, good luck. (01/21/2010)

        By kffrmw88

        Remedies for Weak and Thin Fingernails

        I don't have much advice as I have problem nails, too. What is your occupation? Maybe that affects your nails. Last resort would be to see your doctor for a check-up. I believe an underactive thyroid contributes to weak nails. (01/21/2010)

        By OliveOyl

        Remedies for Weak and Thin Fingernails

        I'm sorry to tell you that the only thing you can do to make your fingernails stronger is to eat a healthy diet and to take a good multivitamin supplement. A quality calcium supplement like calcium citrate (which is easily absorbed in the body) can also help. Gelatin protein doesn't work, that was just an old wives tale from the 1970s!

        The worst thing for nails is to cover them with acrylic nails or nail polish. Nails need to breath and covering them will only make them more brittle, turn yellow, and crack more. Leave your nails bare for a couple of months and see if that helps.

        Be thankful if your nails are a bit thin, because if they are too hard, then won't bend and can chip and snap off more easily when you accidentally hit something with them.

        If your nails are really, really thin and unhealthy, that usually signifies something is going on with your body and you should be checked out by a doctor. (01/21/2010)

        By Cyinda

        Remedies for Weak and Thin Fingernails

        Here's a link that explains soft and brittle nail causes and offers suggestions how to correct. (01/21/2010)

        By Lorelei

        Remedies for Weak and Thin Fingernails

        One thing that works for me (if I stick with it) is to use a light emery board on your nails, on the top of the nail as well as the ends. This will also get rid of ridges. It seems to stimulate the nail somehow and encourage it to grow. There is a type of "rubberized" nail board to use afterwards which will make your nails shine. (01/23/2010)

        By grandypost

        Remedies for Weak and Thin Fingernails

        I use Nutra Nail5 to 7 Day Growth Calcium Formula. I get it on (a fantastic site); not sure where else you can find it.
        I see instant results, as in, less than a week. I bought it because I eat healthily and take vitamins and still have always had thin nails. I also use Burt's Bees cuticle conditioner, so that the new found hardness does not become brittle. I think any conditioning agent would work for that though. The combination has resulted in gorgeous new nails in a total of 3 weeks. Not bad. (01/28/2010)

        By NWgirl

        Remedies for Weak and Thin Fingernails

        You can easily get your fingernails health back, massage your nails daily with sunflower oil, also soak in sunflower oil daily for about 15 min. (02/14/2010)

        By ameljor

        Remedies for Weak and Thin Fingernails

        Calcium! After nearly three years of peeling nails. I had almost no nail left after clipping away the peeling ends, nothing even to the ends of my fingers. I realized I was not getting enough calcium of high quality. I don't do dairy. I did some web research and began taking a high dose of better quality calcium, stopped putting anything on my nails (I faithfully tried every brand of strengthener), and now I have strong nails. A good buffing brings a lovely shine. No extras needed, except keeping nails moisturized 3-4 times daily. (08/05/2010)

        By digby

        Remedies for Weak and Thin Fingernails

        Honestly, I have the exact same problem. I am 22 and have not ever been able to grow my nails. Oh I have tried everything! Prenatals, castor oil, citizen oil, and nail strengthener. Everything! I have learned a little trick though. Try using a few drops of super glue underneath your nail. I tried on the top, but it's still just as flimsy. It feels funny at first, but it dries clear and keeps my paper thin nails from bending and breaking. (03/17/2011)

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        I have a really bad habit of biting my nails. They are really thin and don't grow at all. Does anyone know some home remedies to get my nails to grow and be the healthy, beautiful nails that I have never had?

        CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

        Does anyone know of any fingernail strengthening product that really works?

        CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

        Click to read more ideas from older posts on ThriftyFun.
        CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
        Health & Beauty Beauty Nail TipsFebruary 1, 2013
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