Whether you’ve broken, bitten or worn them away, short fingernails are a pain to deal with (not to mention literally painful when they’re too short). But don’t worry: Long, healthy, envy-inducing nails are still within arm’s reach. We called in the big guns and asked Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, a dermatologist in Washington, DC, for her best tips on getting your digits in shape. Here’s how to grow out your nails for a perfect ten every time.
Skip Hand Sanitizer And Harsh Soaps
Rule of thumb: "The best way to take care of hands and nails is to not dry them out," says Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi. This starts as soon as you wash your hands. Instead of using a harsh soap or hand sanitizer, use a surfactant-free wash, like this Method Gel Hand Soap, which is gentle and won't dry out skin, nails or cuticles.
Invest In An Amazing Hand Cream
Follow up a good washing with an equally effective hand cream or balm to avoid peels, cracks and the general tendency to pick at your own nails. Try a moisturizer loaded with occlusive ingredients, such as Rituals The Ritual of Ayurveda Soothing Hand Balm, which is infused with sweet almond oil to keep cracked skin at bay.
Coat Your Cuticles Well
When growing out your nails, it's just as important to take care of the skin around the nail bed as on the rest of your hands, says Dr. Tanzi. Investing in a cuticle cream or oil specifically designed for hangnails and the tougher, drier skin will help soften and smooth the nail bed—making you manicure-ready in minutes. Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying Cream For Nails is a cult favorite that delivers overnight results, and CND SolarOil offers similar benefits with a totable, polish-style brush-on applicator.
Use A Strengthening Treatment Or Base Coat
To encourage nail growth, use a fortifying nail treatment that adheres to the nail, such as a strengthening base coat or a similar treatment. Nail-Aid Keratin 3 Day Growth has amino acids that nails easily absorb to strengthen while also stopping peeling and chipping. And Nails Inc NailKale Superfood Base Coat is actually made with extract from the leafy green for its plethora of antioxidants that nourish nails and stimulate growth. (Plus, they'll look great Instagrammed next to that kale salad.)
Finish With A Bitter Top Coat To Prevent Biting
If an old nail-biting habit has returned (or it's never been shook in the first place), try a heinous-tasting top coat specifically designed to curb the bad habit. It's an easy and consistent reminder to stop gnawing on your nails, which also ruins the entire area around the nail, making the skin raw and sensitive. We like Orly No Bite Nail Bite Deterrent.
File Regularly To Avoid Snags
Keep an emery board in every single purse for those all-too-necessary, on-the-go touch-ups. While it may seem like an extra step, filing down a tiny snag immediately saves you the terror of peeling or biting it off later, after it's been mangled by the wear and tear of a typical day.
Consider Trying Supplements
"Studies show that biotin supplements, available at health food stores, can enhance nail growth," says Dr. Tanzi. This vitamin B offshoot has been proven to help with hair and nail growth. But, as with any supplement, check with your doctor before starting a new regimen.