Remedies for Weak and Thin Fingernails

June 25, 2015

Pushing back cuticlesAs 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

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19 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

May 5, 2005

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


May 5, 20050 found this helpful

I use "Hard As Nails" on my fingernails. Its a clear fingernail polish but it makes your nails strong. You can find it just about anywhere.


My mother always said that eating Jell-O is good for your fingernails too. I don't know if its true or not but its worth a try.

By Darrel (Guest Post)
May 6, 20050 found this helpful

try soaking your nails in salt water two to three times a week, take a bowl of water fill it just enough to cover your fingers use about two tablespoons of salt preferably sea salt not iodized salt plain salt is fine, do this weekly until you find your nails getting stronger and they will also grow long, do this just before going to bed. then after you get the desired results maintain this about once or twice weekly, I do this on my nails and have achieved rave results also use lotions on your hands so your cuticles don't dry out as salt can dry them.

By Barbara (Guest Post)
May 23, 20050 found this helpful

I also have weak fingernails yjat have ridges and peal. I would love to know why this happens and how can I fix it?

May 24, 20050 found this helpful

Take calcium supplements. Or add more calcium to your diet. There are several other vitamins that help in nail growth, but I cannot think of them offhand, but calcium is definately the main one.

By lee by the sea (Guest Post)
June 24, 20060 found this helpful

I am 37 years old and have always had weak finger nails. When I was about 14 , I asked my mom why my nails wouldn't grow very long, she went out and bought me Gelatin vitamins (tablets), I swear I noticed a differance the VERY NEXT DAY !!! It was just ever so slight , but from there, they kept getting stronger. You really do have to take them religiously or if you skip 1 or 2 days, they go back to how they used to be.


It didn't make them grow to the sky, but it kept them hard and at a length that I could actually choose. I quit taking them, mostly because I would keep forgetting to buy the vitamins and then I did acrillics, and then I just said "forget it, I'm done !! I asked my mom how she knew that and she said her mother told her the exact same thing !!

By Susan (Guest Post)
February 11, 20071 found this helpful

According to Heloise, white iodine applied daily for a week, then once a week thereafter will do wonders for "abused" nails--acrylic, gel, etc.
I am trying it right now. Hopefully, I will see results soon.
You can easily order white iodine online. Good luck.

By Janet (Guest Post)
March 19, 20070 found this helpful

where did you find white iodine? I've been looking for it and can't locate it. Send me an email at janetly at gmail dot com


March 20, 20070 found this helpful

Yup, gelatin works. I haven't taken it in awhile but when I did, it did the trick.

I take calcium supplements already so that's not a problem. I suggest you do the same - there can be a multitude of reasons while your nails are soft/weak.

By Mitzi (Guest Post)
August 23, 20070 found this helpful

I have a problem with a couple of my fingernails wanting to curl under as they get long. Is there anything I can do to fix this?


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September 9, 20070 found this helpful

I would like to know where to buy white iodine also.

(I'd also like to know what it is too!)


By JP (Guest Post)
October 26, 20070 found this helpful

I tried Hard As Nails, and it hardened only the top of my nails where I applied it. The underside of my nails stayed soft.


When soft met hard, my nails began to split. It was worse than soft nails.


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April 29, 20080 found this helpful

Hard As Nails nail products/polish made my nails so brittle that I had to stop using it.

Same thing with Barielle products.

By Sally Gee (Guest Post)
June 2, 20080 found this helpful

I ordered white iodine from CVS pharmacy. Walgreens will special order too.
They do not keep it on the shelf but in their warehouse. It was $3.00 for 2 Oz.

By Dee (Guest Post)
August 4, 20080 found this helpful

Hi! I have soft bendy nails. They are really flexible and break easy.
I've tried hard as nails but it won't adhere to my nails, for more than a day or two, as soon as I do anything like house work the nail bends and the hard as nails stuff peels right off. Super glue won't even stick to my nails, I broke a nail and tried to save it with super glue but it didn't work at all.

It's really annoying because I can't let the grow out and I'm always breaking one off and have to trim the others down to match. :-( Is there anything I can do to make them stronger? I'm sort of scared about it, I'm reminded of school where the soaked a chicken bone in vinegar and it became rubbery.

Oh, and I'm 47 and on HRT (Delestrogen) I wonder if the hormones could have any effect? Thanks! :-) Dee

By tEa GaL (Guest Post)
August 23, 20080 found this helpful

I know for certain gelatin does not work so please don't believe everything you read here.
The one who said it helped the very next day had to have gotten help from a vitamin or better yet a mineral.
We're all different and the same thing won't always work for you that did for someone else.
Do a web search and you'll find out Jello or gelatin does nothing.

By midkath AT (Guest Post)
September 24, 20080 found this helpful

I've always had strong, hard nails. Recently, within the last week or so, my nails have become so thin and brittle. I had to cut them as they were bending backwards, splitting, and hurting. I am 51 and wondering if this is hormonal. Does anyone know?

January 19, 20090 found this helpful

OK, I'm pushing 60 and have lived with soft bendable finger nails all my life. I am, but haven't always been, a vegetarian I eat right, exercise, enjoy life and am in better condition than most people I know half my age. I avoid processed foods (they comes with all kinds of bad stuff like preservatives, dyes, partially hydrogenated oils, etc.), I take lots of different vitamins, lived all over the world and I STILL have soft fingernails. If my nails were hard, I'd probably be in pain half the time from breaking them! I play softball, fly airplanes, ski, swim, ride motorcycles, garden, travel, etc. Maybe they're soft because I spend so much time in and around water but I'm not willing to give that up. The people I know with long hard nails, don't DO anything. So take some advice from a woman who has acquired lots of wisdom over lots of years; Life is great! Don't sweat the small stuff. If your nails are soft, you are probably active. That can do more for your body than long hard nails can. Trying to look great all the time can be hazardous to your health. Hang around people who like you the way you are. Life's too good to waste a minute of it. Live it! gramma caryn

By meloni (Guest Post)
January 31, 20090 found this helpful

I'm 40 and I've tried lots of things over the years with no result. I've found that "nail magic" from sally's beauty supply and hard as hoof nail cream (got mine at walmart) has helped. My nails are still soft, but not as soft as they were. My nails have actually grown a bit past my fingertips (first time in my life) I'm also going to try the white iodine mentioned in another post.

By Beth (Guest Post)
February 26, 20090 found this helpful

I'm wondering how long Darrel soaked his/her nails in salt water each time?

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January 23, 2015

How to make fingernails thicker and stronger?

By Mary

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More Solutions

This page contains the following solutions.

July 17, 2013

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.

Tips For The Perfect Nails


April 2, 2011

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


April 2, 20110 found this helpful

Vitamin's or Calcium drink more milk cottage cheese is a good thing to eat. lol


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April 2, 20110 found this helpful

Increase your Biotin dosage. Biotin is really good for nails and hair. I take a multivitamin with Biotin in it but I also take two Biotin tablets at the same time. I take it for my hair but my mother takes the same dosage for her nails (she has weak nails like you described).

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February 1, 2012

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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February 4, 20122 found this helpful
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.

February 4, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

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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July 4, 2011

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 Elena Kesh from Skopje, Macedonia

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August 21, 2015

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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June 2, 2012

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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February 18, 2007

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

Mary from Stockton, CA


February 18, 20070 found this helpful

It is possible that you may be taking care not to damage your rings, which in turn leaves those fingers less active and the nails are not getting the proper circulation needed to grow the nails stronger and longer.

I never had the problem. I've worn all sorts of rings, but never had the problem you are describing, however, I did read, today somewhere, that the nails on the less dominate hand are normally weaker than those on the dominate hand due to movement and circulation. To tell you how tough I've been on rings, I broke a diamond once. No idea how I managed it, but it had to be while helping my husband move metal, or while reaching into too tight of a place. I always thought diamonds were unbreakable, but that is untrue. I took the broken diamond to the jeweler and he tested it and it was real and broken. He couldn't believe it.

So use those fingers and create better circulation, hopefully that will help you.

By Cole (Guest Post)
February 19, 20070 found this helpful

I asked my beautician this a long time ago and she said that if a nail is weak or breaks easily or splits, etc. that I had damaged it in the past. I find now that I am older, some of them are splitting and I just have to live with it. Did you know that to strengthen your nails and to keep them from splitting you use a crystal file (mine cost 2.98) and file one direction curling it up and over the nail, which protects it. My nails now grow out for the first time in over 30 years.

By SheilaMay (Guest Post)
February 20, 20070 found this helpful

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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November 7, 2013

I try and grow my nails out and they do, but at a point they just break. What can I do? Also as it grows it pushes towards my nail bud.

By Elaine

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May 23, 2017

Applying garlic directly to your nails may help to strengthen them. This is a page about use garlic for stronger nails.

Three heads of garlic on a wooden surface.

December 12, 2016

This is a page about what causes thin fingernails?. If you have thin nails it can be frustrating to determine why.

A broken and thin thumbnail.

September 22, 2016

This is a page about remedies for brittle fingernails. Nutrition and health can effect the condition of your fingernails.

Remedies for Brittle Fingernails

December 13, 2016

This is a page about white iodine for weak fingernails. Strengthen your fingernails safely with colorless iodine to bind the protein.

A woman painting white iodine on her nails to strengthen them.


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

January 21, 2010

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?


December 8, 2009

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


July 17, 2007
Click to read more ideas from older posts on ThriftyFun.

April 2, 2011

My nails are so soft that they bend. I've never been able to grow them long because they just wear away.

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