Maybe you’ve recently seen your own nails for the first time in years, or maybe you’ve always had weak, fragile nails

Regardless of the reason, nails that constantly tear, chip or break are a pain and they can give your confidence a knock.

Here’s how to deal with them.  

Work with what you have 

I can insert a funny analogy about one thing not being another, but instead just trust me that natural nails cannot and will not withstand the punishment we put gel and acrylic nails through. 

If your nails are thin, weak and overly flexible; treat them accordingly. They will not survive even small knocks, so cut or file them short. Not medium-short – all the way short.  

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The less free edge (the part that isn’t attached to your nail bed, i.e. the white part) you leave exposed, the lower your chances are of ragged, torn nails and exposed nail beds. 

Have uniformity 

Keeping your nails short while they’re fragile isn’t only the healthiest option for them, it also looks best.

Your hands present much better when all your nails are the same shape and length, so gently cut and file them in such a way. 

Refrain from buffing already thin nails for a couple of months unless they have ridges. Keep your cuticles in good shape – the action of massaging cuticle oil into the nail bed will further encourage healthy nail growth.

Should you supplement? 

Supplements for nail and hair vitality are a hot topic, and the verdict is still out on most of them. Disregard anything claiming to be a miracle cure, as we all know anything that sounds too good to be true is exactly that.  

The only two supplements I’m aware of with some weight behind their claims is biotin and hydrolysed collagen.

Neither of these are quick fixes and should be used in generous doses for several months to start seeing results.  

Protect and respect 

You should do your best to physically protect weak, fragile nails.

A nourishing base coat with nail strengthening properties is ideal. A lot of them work on the premise of adding a coat every day for a week, then removing it all and starting again. I’ve been successful before with nail strengtheners from Trind and Essie

A coat of colour 

I’ve always loved how short nails look with nail polish so I don’t have any problems here. Almost anything goes, but deep, extra glossy shades deserves a special mention 

One of the best ways I get my nails to grow stems from my mom’s advice (she knows things). She is convinced that you should paint your nails bright red when they’re damaged as you’ll be more aware of them and thus less likely to abuse and further damage them. Can’t really fault her for that logic, right? 

While I’m not 100% convinced that’s the reason, my nails definitely do better when they’re painted. I leave them alone and I’m more careful with them because I want the nail polish to last. If it works, it works.