Nails are composed of small cells made up of a protein called keratin. If you were to look at a nail under a microscope the cells look like roof shingles. These cells are very delicate and extremely absorbent, about ten times more so than skin. This is the reason your nails have much more flexibility after soaking in water.
Can I prevent brittle nails?
It depends. If you develop brittle nails out of the blue, it is potentially a sign of a health issue such as anemia, or a thyroid condition. Therefore, if brittle nails are new for you, see your doctor. Those suffering from an eating disorder or undergoing chemotherapy may also experience nail brittleness as a result of a diet low in protein.
If you don’t have any medical conditions that contribute to brittle nails, there are a few reasons that you could be experiencing brittleness:
-Water exposure. Water is constantly being absorbed and then diffused back out by our nails. This continuous process weakens nails because the delicate nail cells are in a constant state of contraction and expansion. This strain causes lifting and breakage.
-Seasonal Weather Changes. In the winter going from a 70 degree indoor environment to a colder environment causes a change in humidity, and consequently a change in the water content of our nails. This has the same effect as chronic water exposure.
-Chemical exposures. Nail polish remover is not your friend. It may help remove that chipped manicure, but the ingredients, strong solvents, especially Acetone, dry out your nails.
What can I do to repair them?
-Avoid alcohol-based sanitizers
-Use cuticle oil consistently
-Take a break from polish, and give your nails 2-3 weeks to repair
-Try a Biotin supplement of 2000 mcg – 3000 mcg daily, sold over-the-counter at your local health food store or pharmacy.
-Consider using a crystal nail file. They are much more delicate, especially for those who are prone to breakage.