6 Expert Tips: How To Get Stronger & Healthier Nails

So you’ve made the decision to take off your gel or acrylic nails. Whether it was voluntary or not (thanks COVID-19), it probably feels a bit sad to look down at your naked nails right now.

Not to worry though, taking a break from artificial nails can be beneficial. This is because nail products adhere better to healthier nails versus damaged ones. 

Taking good care of your natural nails and cuticles will only benefit you in the future. Here are the top tips that I share with all of my nail clients!

This article was originally published in May 2020. It has since been revised with more relevant and updated information. 

This post contains affiliate links. This means that we’ll make a small commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

Trim & File Nails Regularly

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Just like hair, trimming and filing your nails regularly can help them grow faster and longer.

How does this work? Nail breakages don’t go away or ‘get better’ on their own. If anything, they will only get worse. Trimming nails regularly will remove such imperfections, and discourage more nail disasters in the future. 

Start by taking a good look at your nails. What do you see?


For small chips, simply file the area until it’s smooth. For larger ones, clip off the entire portion - you may have to trim the rest of the nail to balance it out.


The only way to battle breakage is to cut it off. Sad - yes, but you’ll thank yourself later. Leaving a crack untreated can lead to it ripping off as it gets caught on stuff (not fun!).


Similar to cracks, you’ll want to cut off all affected areas. If you can see your nail splitting into layers, it’s beyond saving. The best you can do is to trim it off.

Now that you’ve removed any of the above, let’s talk about the next important tip.

Proper Nail Shape

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When it comes to growing healthy natural nails, the nail shape is so important. There’s really no point in following the other steps if you’re going to ignore this one. Just think of it as the foundation of getting better nails!

So, what is the nail shape that is least likely to break?


I typically suggest round or oval shapes for clients trying to grow out their natural nails. Squoval is also an option, but I always make sure the the free edge and corners are well rounded.

Shapes with corners or points can break easily, so stay away from them! 

Nails cut as short as possible with a round edge are the best choice if you want stronger, healthier nails."

Dr. Ava Shamban, Cosmetic Dermatologist & Author of Heal Your Skin

Keeping nails on the shorter side right after gel or acrylic removal also helps. Don’t worry though, after a few trims (and proper care), you’ll notice that your nail condition will improve. At this point you can try to grow them out a bit longer.

Avoid Biting & Picking Nails

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Biting and picking at your nails creates damage to the nail bed. And as you’ve read earlier (in the first step), you’ll know that this means you’ll have to clip it off and start over. Doing this continuously means that your nails will never grow out.

The other major downside of biting your nails is that you’re transferring germs from your hands to your mouth and vice versa [1].

For starters, biting your nails can raise the risk of catching a cold or other illness because you're putting your unwashed hands in your mouth. It can also raise the risk of paronychia, or infection of the skin surrounding the nail."

Rochelle Torgerson, M.D., Ph.D., Dermatologist at the Mayo Clinic

Besides avoiding the coronavirus, keeping your hands away from your face is also helpful for maintaining healthy nails!

Use Gloves To Protect Your Nails & Hands

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This is a tip I give to all of my clients, with gel or natural nails.

It was actually my mom who really proved to me that this tip really works! She does a lot of housework (thanks mom!) and I can tell if she’s been wearing her gloves or not with 100% accuracy.

So we’re not just talking about wearing gloves to wash the dishes. We’re also including all types of housework and even cooking. During most of these activities, your nails get wet and dry over and over. When this happens, your nails become more dry and brittle, making them more likely to break [2]. Not to mention, detergents and chemicals from cleaning products are especially harsh on the skin and nails.

Gloves can also work as a shield to protect your nails from bumping into things while you’re doing things like scrubbing a pot or cleaning out your bathtub.

Wearing gloves when performing household chores that involve getting the hands wet is very helpful in preventing brittle nails."

The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD)

Use Nail Strengtheners For An Extra Boost

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My gel nail removal services always include the application of a nail strengthener.

Why? Mostly because nails feel particularly vulnerable right after gel nail removal, but also because it’s pretty!

Yes, bare nails can look sad, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can add a bit of shine with a clear product like OPI’s Nail Envy. 

If you’re dying for some colour or coverage, I’d highly recommend OPI’s Gel Break System. This is a 3 step system (base, colour and topcoat) that is designed for people taking a break from gel polish.

I use both of these products at my salon and my clients love them!

Use Cuticle Oil Or Creams Religiously

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Source: Pharma Hemp Complex

My clients know and love this step so well. Not only because it’s relaxing but also because it makes their hands and nails look super healthy.

Dry, brittle nails are more prone to breaking, and by now, we know what that means. 

Don’t have cuticle oil or cream on hand? You can probably use something that you already have at home. I personally love using coconut oil (it smells so nice!) but a lotion or cream will also work. Simply massage your preferred moisturizer into your nails and cuticles at least once a day - I prefer right before bed so it'll stay on for longer.


How do I know if my nails are healthy?

What do unhealthy nails look like?

Why are my nails so weak and thin?

How can I get healthy nails naturally?

Does coconut oil help nails?

Do gel nails ruin your nails?

How long should you wait between gel manicures?


So there you have it - 6 simple ways of taking care of your nails. Follow these steps and you’ll see your nails transform in a matter of weeks.

When you're ready to get your nails done again or when quarantine is finally over (yay!), I’d love to see you at Sunday Beauty Boutique. I specialize in gel polish, gel extensions and nail art. Until then, take good care of your nails!


1. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/nail-biting-bad-for-you_n_5675467

2. https://www.aocd.org/page/BrittleSplittingNail

3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/nails/art-20044954

About the Author Catherine

As a kid, I discovered the world of Japanese nail art through a magazine and since then, I haven't been able to stop thinking about anything related to nails! After following a more traditional educational path and earning my Bachelor's of Science in Food and Nutrition, I decided it was time to pursue my childhood passion. In 2015, I earned my diploma from Blanche Macdonald’s Nail Technology Program. After that, I got certified with YUMI Lashes and opened Sunday Beauty Boutique in 2017. These days, I'm focused on providing a 'no rush' experience to a select clientele, teaching as a nail instructor at Blanche Macdonald, as well as providing resources on beauty related topics to clients and estheticians on my blog.

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