7 Brittle Nails Causes And Ways To Fix Them ASAP ⋆ Basia Restrepo (2023)

Looking to find out brittle nails causes and ways to fix them? This article will help you heal your weak nails and turn them gorgeous long and strong.

It can be frustrating when your nails are weak. Brittle nails causes can vary, but the result can include splitting nails, thin nails, cracked nails, and dry nails. If you are like me, you do all the research possible to find the best tips and tricks to help heal brittle nails.

As someone who has dealt with thin, bendy, and weak nails for many years, I have found a way to maintain long, natural, and strong nails year-round. I’m super excited to share all of these tips and tricks with you to overcome your brittle nails.

This post is all about brittle nails causes and tips to help you fix up your nails to have them long and strong all year round.


Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Brittle nails (aka onychoschizia) and having weak fingernails that just can’t seem to grow without breaking is no bueno on every level. Not only can this be very unappealing to the eye and make hands-on tasks harder to maneuver, but it can also significantly hinder your overall confidence – which I’d argue is the worst side effect of all. This is a leading reason why so many people choose to go the acrylic route, as it is the perfect way to cover up that brittle reality underneath.

But as anyone knows, sweeping issues under the rug certainly does not solve any problems. Those rules apply to nail care as well. Overall, you can get fake nails to gain a quick fix for brittle fingernails. But, what if I told you that there are several ways you can revitalize and strengthen your natural nails instead? Yup, you read that right. In short, there are so many holistic treatments/remedies out there to combat weak fingernails, and the secret to knowing which path to take starts with knowing the reason why you have brittle nails in the first place.


First up is none other than lack of moisture. Now, there could be several reasons why your nails lack the necessary moisture they need to thrive. Some of those reasons include being exposed to cleaning chemicals frequently, washing your hands too much, or living in hot, dry environments. In all these cases, it can leave your nails stripped from natural oils and moisture they need, and you guessed it, resulting in brittle nails.

The solution(s)? The best thing you can do here is applying a quality moisturizer to your hands and nails each morning and night to help lock in water content, drink more water, and wear gloves when doing things like deep cleaning or washing the dishes. Working hands (linked below) is a truly incredible intensive moisturizer for your hands. I often use this in combination with my winter skincare routine to help deal with my dry skin.

7 Brittle Nails Causes And Ways To Fix Them ASAP ⋆ Basia Restrepo (2)

In addition, it can be tempting to pick at your brittle fingernails, but that will likely do more harm than good. Instead, apply a nail hardening polish to protect your nails and help them strengthen over time. If you don’t have time to go get a manicure or do your nails at home, applying the polish below is truly a game-changer. It is like a coat of armor over your natural nails that will protect them from daily life.

7 Brittle Nails Causes And Ways To Fix Them ASAP ⋆ Basia Restrepo (3)


On the other side of the spectrum, too much moisturizing can actually lead to weak fingernails in the long run. Generally speaking, if you use too many hand creams or use chemicals like acetone to remove nail polish, it can cause your nails to become overly saturated and make them much weaker.

In a nutshell, this is where having a healthy balance comes into play in terms of moisturizing and using nail polish remover that does not contain acetone to reduce this risk. For some more support here, think about using a standard hand cream just 1-2 times a day, and couple that with cuticle oil to help nourish, repair, and revitalize weak fingernails.

7 Brittle Nails Causes And Ways To Fix Them ASAP ⋆ Basia Restrepo (4)

Also, if you’re going to use nail polish remover, try using one with hydrating ingredients added to help the moisture a little bit.

7 Brittle Nails Causes And Ways To Fix Them ASAP ⋆ Basia Restrepo (5)


Many times, the reason behind weak and brittle nails is due to the overall diet. This is not to say that you don’t eat healthy day-to-day, but it could mean that you are not consuming enough of the vitamins your nails need to remain strong. For some more insight, the types of nutrients your nails need are protein, calcium, and biotin-rich foods such as eggs, veggies, and nuts.

If you happen to find adding more of these into your diet is challenging, then you can always take a biotin supplement or a hair skin, and nails vitamin as an alternative. Just make sure that you consult your doctor before doing so. Though the recommended biotin dosage is 3,000 mcg a day for up to 6 months, your doctor may state to take less based on your personal health and nail care objectives.

7 Brittle Nails Causes And Ways To Fix Them ASAP ⋆ Basia Restrepo (6)


Yes, age plays a huge role when it comes to your nails, and it is an inevitable part of life that everyone faces. As you age, your nails change just like the rest of your body and can gradually become dull and brittle. Strange enough, as fingernails become weaker as you age, your toenails typically will get thicker and harder! Nonetheless, nails change over time as a result of internal and external factors that pioneer the texture, color, and thickness of your nails.

For this point, it might feel like a lost cause that nails change when you age because it is simply something that is a part of life. However, moisturizing regularly, using non-toxic nail polish/remover, leveraging strengthening base coats, wearing gloves when necessary, and eating healthy foods that can stimulate nail durability can all help reverse brittle nails and keep them in prime condition even as you age.


Remember how I said you could gain stronger nails naturally without covering them up with acrylics or constant polishing? Diving into this a bit more, part of that process is could actually be resting between manicure sessions. The bottom line? Your nails might be weak and brittle because they need a break. No, you don’t have to stop polishing or getting fake nails if you wish. But much like your hair, your nails also need to take some time to recoup and breathe. In fact, this is true even if you use non-toxic polish.

So, for this next tip, think about avoiding manicures and polish for about a month. Coupling that with a good diet, it can collectively help your nails regain their strength. You can also take it a step further and apply a keratin treatment while they are “resting” to help them renourish along the way.

7 Brittle Nails Causes And Ways To Fix Them ASAP ⋆ Basia Restrepo (7)


If you have tried everything under the sun to get rid of your brittle fingernails and still have no luck, then this would be the ideal time to consult with your doctor to see if there is something else going on.

For example, weak fingernails that do not respond to any of the advice listed above could be a side effect of something else health-related. For example, an iron deficiency (anemia), hypothyroidism, or Raynaud’s Syndrome, which is a circulatory condition that can affect nail strength. Brittle nails could very well have nothing to do with your approaches at all. The sooner you address any underlying health concerns, the faster you’ll gain back those stronger, healthier nails.


I often see extensive haircare routines that include protective hairstyles, silk caps, and satin pillowcases. These things protect the hair from wear and tear that we may not notice we are creating. The same goes for our nails. Sometimes we aren’t careful with our hands which can cause nails to break (think opening a can of soda using your nails). Even if our nails are strong, if we put excess pressure on the nails, they will break. Try being more gentle with your nails and being mindful of your hands. It will pay off.

Just A Little Bit Of Targeted TLC Is All It Takes

If you have gotten to this point, then there is a good chance you have read through the list above and aligned with at least one (perhaps more) of the culprits that can cause brittle nails. Whether it is age-related, under moisturizing or lack of essential nail care vitamins, these are all things that can take a toll on your nails and leave you with weak fingernails that break easily. Because of that, it stands to reason why 27% of women have brittle fingernails as we speak, making it an exceptionally common issue.

However, the good thing about this harsh story ladies and men both face is that it can result in a happy ending featuring strong, durable, and healthy nails. In the end, there may be tons of reasons for brittle nails, but it also comes with prime solutions to address them effectively.

With that being said, take some time to investigate why your fingernails might be on the weaker side. Once you do that, start trying out some targeted nail care TLC to see how your nails react to it. All in all, brittle nail remedies may not be a one size fits all type of thing, but with some mindful aligning and tailored approaches, then you are well on your way towards achieving those strong, natural nails you have always wanted.


What vitamin is lacking for brittle nails? ›

- A deficiency in B-complex vitamins, especially biotin, will produce ridges along the nail bed. - A diet lacking in calcium contributes to dry, brittle nails. - A lack of folic acid and vitamin C can lead to hangnails. - Insufficient dietary essential oils, like omega-3, cause cracking.

What can I do for extremely brittle nails? ›

How to Strengthen Brittle Nails
  1. Moisturize. Try a dedicated nail oil or a hand lotion with alpha hydroxy acid or lanolin. ...
  2. Limit manicures. ...
  3. Go natural. ...
  4. Avoid alcohol-based sanitizers. ...
  5. Get a paraffin wax bath. ...
  6. Wear gloves.
Mar 22, 2018

What is a natural home remedy for brittle nails? ›

Here are 12 tips that you can use to help strengthen your nails in no time.
  1. Take a biotin supplement. ...
  2. Minimize exposure to water. ...
  3. Stay hydrated. ...
  4. Pay attention to your diet. ...
  5. Be careful about the products you use. ...
  6. Avoid using gel or acrylic nails, if possible. ...
  7. Give your nails a break from polish.

What cures dry brittle nails? ›

Home Remedies for Brittle Nails
  • Moisturize. Brittle nails often occur because there is a deficiency in vitamins or nutrients. ...
  • Soak. ...
  • Apply Oils. ...
  • Protect Your Hands. ...
  • Get Good Manicures. ...
  • Avoid Using Your Nails. ...
  • Speak to Your Doctor. ...
  • Use a Base Coat.
Nov 3, 2021

What is the best vitamin to strengthen fingernails? ›

Biotin is a B-complex vitamin, also known as vitamin B7, coenzyme R and vitamin H. It promotes healthy cell growth and aids in the metabolism of protein-building amino acids that are essential for nail growth. Biotin-rich foods and supplements may help strengthen your brittle fingernails.

What vitamin can I take to make my fingernails stronger? ›

Biotin supplements

Biotin is an essential vitamin that helps maintain the health of the nervous system, hair, and nails. Biotin is a B-vitamin that occurs naturally in foods, such as legumes, salmon, and eggs.

What is the best moisturizer for fingernails? ›

Moisturizing the nails at least once a day helps combat brittleness. Vaseline works, and so does any cream that that seals in moisture like Eucerin or Aquaphor, dermatologists say. Some manicurists recommend Trind Nail Balsam, which contains biotin, a B-complex vitamin.

What can I soak my nails in to make them stronger? ›

Soak your nails in a mixture of three tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of lemon juice for 10 minutes. Follow this home treatment for about 10 minutes every day to strengthen your nails. Simply applying warm olive oil to the ends of your nails also serves as an effective treatment to grow your nails.

Does Vaseline help brittle nails? ›

Vaseline was used for diaper rash and to sooth chapped lips. However, the cure-all salve can reduce dry and brittle nails plus relieve dry cuticles.

Is apple cider vinegar good for brittle nails? ›

Another natural wonder food, apple cider vinegar is beneficial for brittle nails because it contains a high concentration of iron, calcium, and vitamins. To use, mix apple cider vinegar in warm water and soak nails for at least 10 minutes a day for best results.

What oil is best for dry nails? ›

Cuticle oils are made of so many nourishing ingredients and have loads of benefits to help strengthen nails. Boyce says to look for ones with plant oils like jojoba oil, coconut oil, and argan oil, as those contain a lot of antioxidants and fatty acids that protect and nourish dry skin.

What causes extremely brittle nails? ›

Dry and brittle nails are the result of too little moisture. They're most commonly caused by the repeated washing and drying of fingernails. On the other hand, soft and brittle nails are caused by too much moisture, often a result of overexposure to detergents, household cleaners, and nail polish remover.

What does brittle nails mean about your health? ›

Like the skin, the fingernails are a reflection of a person's state of health. Low levels of zinc and iron as well as thyroid problems can cause brittle nails. However, brittle nails are often a normal result of aging.

What strengthens nails fast? ›

Stay hydrated.

“Drinking enough water is essential for health, and nail health is no exception,” says Dr. Solomon. “Without adequate moisture, nails can become brittle and break or peel easily.” Staying hydrated will help your nails retain moisture and stay strong.

Are bananas good for nails? ›

Bananas are full of potassium, mineral silica – which is thought to improve the look of your nails and zinc – which strengthens your nails. Bananas also contain vitamin B6 which also contributes to health nails.

How can I make my nails stronger and thicker? ›

How To Make Your Nails Grow Longer And Stronger
  1. Use A Cuticle Oil Daily. ...
  2. Consider Biotin. ...
  3. Invest In A 'Soft' Nail File. ...
  4. Nourish Your Nail Beds. ...
  5. Upgrade Your Nail Polish Remover. ...
  6. Try A More Natural Nail Polish. ...
  7. Eat A Nail-Friendly Diet. ...
  8. Use A Keratin Treatment.
Sep 30, 2022

How do I stop my nails from splitting? ›

How to prevent split nails
  1. Keep your nails clean and healthy.
  2. Refrain from keeping your hands or feet in water for long periods.
  3. Use moisturizer on your nails and cuticles.
  4. Use nail hardening products if necessary. ...
  5. Don't bite or pick around your nails.
  6. Refrain from using nail polish remover.
Jul 31, 2018

What do ridges in your fingernails mean? ›

With age, vertical nail ridges may become more numerous or prominent because of changes in cell turnover within the nail. If your fingernails change color or you develop horizontal nail ridges, consult your health care provider. These changes could indicate an underlying health condition.

What are you lacking when your nails split? ›

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiency causes of cracked nails. The body also requires proteins and B vitamins to effectively build strong, healthy nails.

What is a natural nail moisturizer? ›

Vitamin E, shea butter, essential oils like sweet almond and almond oils, coconut oil, jojoba, avocado, and olive oil all help soothe and hydrate nails and skin, but only on the surface of your nails.

Does apple cider vinegar strengthen nails? ›

The vast reserves of essential nutrients that apple cider vinegar is enriched with ensures stronger and healthier nails. Mix equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and water in a bowl and soak your nails in it for 10-15 minutes. Gently massage and push down your cuticles during the dip. Repeat regularly for firm nails.

What is a natural nail hardener? ›

Many people swear by soaking their fingers in olive oil to help strengthen nails naturally. Coconut oil, argan oil, vitamin E oil, tea tree oil, and castor oil can help in the same way. Pour little bit of oil into a bowl and soak each hand for 10 minutes.

Can I leave Vaseline on my nails overnight? ›

Method: Step 1: Wash your hands and apply vaseline over your entire nails. Step 2: Rub it for at least 3-5 minutes and let it absorb completely. For best results, keep it on overnight and wash it off the next morning.

What is nail slugging? ›

Nail slugging is a two-part process that involves applying cuticle oil to your nails and sealing it with an occlusive like petroleum jelly or hand cream.

Is Vaseline or coconut oil better for nails? ›

Ans: Unrefined coconut oil is considered best to be used on nails.

What is the best oil to thicken nails? ›

Jojoba Carrier Oil - Abundant in Vitamin E, which replenishes skin and treats weak and brittle nails. Jojoba Oil also helps repair collagen loss within the nail beds, promoting healthy nail growth.

How do you make homemade nail strengthener? ›

Mix 1 tablespoon of lemon juice with 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave for about 10 to 15 seconds. Remove it from the microwave and stir it with a spoon. By using a clean cotton swab, apply the homemade nail strengthener to your brittle nails.

What autoimmune disease causes brittle nails? ›

Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma, SSc) is an autoimmune disease that targets small and medium-sized arteries and arterioles in the involved tissues, resulting in a fibrotic vasculopathy and tissue fibrosis. Several prominent nail and periungual changes are apparent in scleroderma.

What illness can you tell from your nails? ›

Color change
ColorDisease or other health problem
White nailsLiver disease, diabetes
Pale nailsAnemia
Half pink, half white nailsKidney disease
Yellow nailsLung disease, nail infection
3 more rows

Can low B12 cause brittle nails? ›

Lack of vitamin B12 leads to deformation of nails, making them rounded and curved, nails tend to become dry and unnaturally dark. Vegans and vegetarians are most at risk of becoming deficient because there are no plant foods that are rich sources.

What am I lacking if my nails are splitting? ›

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiency causes of cracked nails. The body also requires proteins and B vitamins to effectively build strong, healthy nails.

What do iron deficiency nails look like? ›

Koilonychia is an abnormal shape of the fingernail. The nail has raised ridges and is thin and curved inward. This disorder is associated with iron deficiency anemia.

What does B12 deficiency nails look like? ›

2 Nail changes in vitamin B12 deficiency present as hyperpigmentation of nails like bluish discoloration of nails, blue-black pigmentation with dark longitudinal streaks, and longitudinal and reticulate darkened streaks. The nail pigmentation associated with B12 deficiency is more frequent in patients with dark skin.

What are the warning signs of vitamin B12 deficiency? ›

Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia can cause a wide range of symptoms. These usually develop gradually, but can worsen if the condition goes untreated.
  • rapid breathing or shortness of breath.
  • headaches.
  • indigestion.
  • loss of appetite.
  • palpitations.
  • problems with your vision.
  • feeling weak or tired.
  • diarrhoea.

Is brittle nails a symptom of low estrogen? ›

Menopause and nail changes. Like your skin, nails need moisture to keep them healthy. Lower oestrogen levels brought on by the menopause can lead to dehydration and this can leave your nails brittle and weak.

What medications cause brittle nails? ›

Drugs that can cause onycholysis and photo-onycholysis include:
  • Psoralens (photochemotherapy or PUVA)
  • Doxycycline.
  • Thiazide diuretics.
  • Oral contraceptives.
  • Fluoroquinolone antibiotics.
  • Taxanes.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Captopril.

How to moisturize nails? ›

Moisturizing Your Fingernails

Dermatologists recommend rubbing petroleum jelly, vitamin E, or cuticle creams into your cuticles at night. Applying a moisturizing cream or a hand balm to the nails on a daily basis will help keep them moist.

How do you treat thick toenails in the elderly? ›

Treatment options for thick nails include:
  1. prescription creams or ointments.
  2. oral medications.
  3. laser therapy or light therapy.
  4. injections.
  5. surgery to remove the nail and allow it to regrow.
May 11, 2022

What drink is high in iron? ›

Iron-rich drinks include apple juice, apricot nectar, beef broth, beet juice, cocoa using natural cocoa powder, “green” smoothies, orange juice, pea protein smoothies, prune juice, tomato juice, and spinach juice.

What are the 3 stages of iron deficiency? ›

This occurs in three stages:
  • First stage: Iron stores are depleted. ...
  • Second stage: When iron stores are low, the normal process of making red blood cells is altered. ...
  • Third stage: Iron-deficiency anemia develops because there isn't enough iron to make hemoglobin for red blood cells.
Apr 21, 2022

What does calcium deficiency nails look like? ›

When your body lacks calcium, your nails become thinner, weaker, and brittle. You may notice that they break easily and just don't look as healthy as they used to. Although nails and bones are made up of different substances, they're similar enough that poor nail health may be an early marker of bone density problems.

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