5 tips for a healthy nail care routine and expert endorsed products

This year has seen its fair share of nail trends, from metallics and 3D art to skinny French tips and mismatched manicures. But one trend never goes out of style: healthy nails. Read on to find out how to keep your nails in the best shape ever, along with the nail care products to help you along the way.

Take a good long look at your nails, paying attention to their shape, texture and overall appearance. What do you see? If they appear strong and clear, you are looking at some healthy nails.

“Healthy nails are strong, smooth, uniform in color and exhibit a healthy pink nail bed underneath,” says Dr. Stacey Tull, founder of St. Charles County Dermatologic Surgery.

Do your nails bend easily or break often? Does the color, texture or thickness of your nails seem amiss? Then, you might need to take a closer look.

“The condition of the nails can be a sign there may be an underlying health issue. For example, the appearance of pale nails can be a sign of anemia, dietary deficiencies or heart disease,” says Dr. Michael I. Jacobs, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College and medical technology director at Cortina. “Nails that are splitting frequently can be caused by thyroid complications, as well as psoriasis, eczema and trauma to the nails.” When in doubt, consult your doctor.

But nail problems aren’t always so serious. Weak and brittle nails could be caused by something as simple as overexposure to chemicals (like detergents and nail polish removers) or excess moisture.

If your nails are less than healthy, there is no need to worry. There are easy ways to treat common nail concerns and improve overall nail health. According to the pros, here are a few you can easily implement into your nail regime.

Keep your hands clean

We all know to wash our hands frequently to stop the spread of germs. But it also plays a crucial role in our nail health, as it helps keep nail infections at bay. And don’t forget to follow up with hand cream!

This non-drying hand wash is infused with hemp, sweet almond oil, aloe vera and lemon, with a subtle scent suitable for sensitive skin.

This smell-good hand sanitizer comes in 15 scents and won’t dry hands out, thanks to moisturizing ingredients like aloe vera and essential oils. The micro mist ensures full coverage without using excess product.

L’Occitane’s Shea Butter Hand Cream is the perfect size for your purse or car to keep your hands and nails hydrated wherever you go. The super-creamy texture absorbs quickly for a nongreasy feel that lasts.

Long nails might look nice, but they should be cut if they aren’t healthy. This means filing breaks and prioritizing health over length.

You might know Olive & June for its sparkly press-ons and glossy lacquers, but they also make nail prep accessories, like these salon-quality flat-edge clippers. The kit has one small clipper for manicures and one big clipper for pedicures.  

Nail files are hard to find when you need them. Keep track of your trusty tools with these neon-colored nail files from Tweezerman. A convenient carrying case keeps them clean and protected.

Developed by a dermatologist, this reusable glass nail file has precision grit that makes it easy to shape and file the nails. Less abrasive than your typical emery board, it won’t cause any micro-tears (which ultimately lead to breakage) at the tip of the nails.

Weak nails can sometimes be a sign of a vitamin deficiency. Increase your consumption of foods high in biotin, which helps contribute to healthy nails.

“Biotin-rich roods such as eggs, nuts, seeds, sweet potatoes, beans, spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds and omega-3 fatty acid-containing foods like fish and flaxseed are great for your nails,” says Dr. Beth Goldstein, a board-certified dermatologist, Mohs surgeon and founder of Modern Ritual Health.

Cuticles play an important role in nail health. They act as a barrier, preventing bacteria and fungus from slipping between the skin and nails. Avoid picking or cutting your cuticles on your own, which could lead to irritation or infection. Instead, moisturize them with a balm or cuticle oil.

Keep nails and cuticles nourished with a blend of vitamin E, aloe and apricot kernel. These fast-absorbing ingredients offer protection against peeling, cracking and splitting with every application.  

Inside each cute tin of Badger Organic Cuticle Care Balm is a special blend of nourishing East African shea butter, geranium, mandarin, lemongrass and ginger essential oils. A little goes a long way.

It’s easy to see why people favor long-lasting gel manicures. But they can wreak havoc on otherwise healthy nails, causing brittleness and damage. Use the break for treating your nails to a strengthening treatment.

“Nail-strengthening polishes typically contain ingredients designed to fortify the nails and promote resilience,” says Dr. Divya Shokeen, a board-certified dermatologist at the Ocean Skin and Vein Institute.

According to Shokeen, strengthening ingredients may include the following:

  • Keratin: A protein that strengthens and protects the nail structure.
  • Biotin: Known for supporting healthy nail growth and strength.
  • Vitamin E: Helps moisturize and nourish the nails and cuticles.
  • Calcium: Supports nail structure and resilience.
  • Silicones: Form a protective barrier and help prevent nail breakage.

One too many gel polish manicures wreaking havoc on your nails? Brush on a layer of this protective coating to help restrengthen your nails over time. You can use it under color as a base coat or over nail polish to add strength and keep your color lasting longer. MiniLuxe’s vegan formula is made with 80% plant-based ingredients. 

This highly rated product protects nails against chipping, peeling and splitting while strengthening them at the same time. You’ll see and feel a difference at the end of one week. Key ingredients include vitamins A, C, E, biotin and calcium. 

This fortifying base coat can be used on its own or under polish for a conditioning layer. Containing silicon, vitamin E and bamboo extracts, the 12-free formula promotes strength and growth.