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How To Keep Your Nails Strong

10 min read

Strong nails are not out of reach.

What makes nails stronger?

SPOILER ALERT: Adding a strengthening nail polish — like Dipwell's brand new Nail Boost — to one's nail care routine can be a game-changer for dippers wanting to grow stronger, longer, and healthier nails.

Sooo... got brittle nails?

Are they really flimsy? Do they bend easily?

Can't seem to ever get your nails long because they would always break?

Let's answer your question "How to make my nails healthy and strong?" once and for all.

If your natural nails often split, crack, and peel — and you don't want to have to keep using faux nail tips just because you're having a hard time growing out your fingernails — read up on our tips and tricks on how to make your nails stronger.

1. Give your nails a break

According to New York City-based dermatologist and nail expert Dana Stern, there are five main signs that should alert you it's time to sport naked nails for a while:

Go bare if you want to prevent your paper-thin nails from further chipping or breaking. And in order to protect your nails in between dip sets, apply a strengthening polish until your nails go back to their old strength.

(Try Nail Boost. Its clear formula promotes healthy and strong nails by toughening the nail plate to prevent fragility. It helps your nails stay healthy during the recovery process and provides the strength your nails need while waiting for the next time to dip.)

The question is...

How long of a break should you take and what nail care should you do in the meantime?

It depends on your nails.

The length of time is based on how damaged they are and how fast they grow. But the longer you can go naked — say, from at least two weeks to a full month or until your fingernails are completely grown out — the better for the health of your nails.

Finally, as you give your nails a breather or while you're waiting for them to reach your desired length, focus on giving your cuticles some TLC instead. Cuticle oil helps restore moisture while also promoting nail strength.

2. Moisturize your nails

This is the number one thing you need to do on the regular if you want the easiest tip on how to make fingernails stronger and healthy that you can do even while you're binge-watching your favorite show.

Protect your nails (and your hands overall) especially against the harsh winter weather by keeping them hydrated at least twice a day.

For healthier nail growth, learn How to Heal Damaged Cuticles and nourish your cuticles with Cuticle Drops.

For the health of your hands, refer to our Winter Hand Care guide to know some of the remedies to combat dry hands, including the best moisturizers for dry, chapped hands.

Remember to hydrate inside and out, too. Your overall nail health can benefit from drinking lots of water.

3. Take nail vitamins

Reminder: Don't take this as medical advice. Consult with your physician to avoid any adverse side effects.

How do you get strong nails? Consider adding good-for-nails nutrients in your daily diet to help improve the health of your nails. The following are the most popular supplements and vitamins for strong nails.

  • Collagen: Get the flavorless powder form (aka collagen peptides) that you can easily add in your morning coffee or tea.
  • Biotin is another option to help grow your nails a little faster and better. It's supposed to be great for hair and skin, too!

If you want to double down on having beautiful nails, eat healthy. Think meat, eggs, nuts, vegetables, and healthy oils.

4. Treat yourself to a hot oil manicure

If you want to learn how to have strong nails without artificial nail enhancements, we highly recommend for you to apply a hot oil mani.

The hot oil manicure provides good moisturizing nourishment to hands, nails, and cuticles. It's the perfect treatment for those with brittle and flaky nails. Give yourself this moisturizing mani right before your bedtime, so the oils will have all night to penetrate your nail beds.

So if you have been rough on your nails and need all the strength they can get, this nourishing nail treatment is for you.

This is how you DIY it.

a. Prep by washing your hands, then file and shape your nails as desired.

b. Warm the oil for 30 seconds and make sure it's not too hot. You can choose olive oil, almond oil, vitamin E oil, castor oil, or a mixture of these oils to soak in. You can even add essential oils if you like.

c. Place your hands in the oil and leave them in until the oil cools down.

d. When you take your hands out, massage your hands, nail beds, cuticles, and nail edges using some of the oil for 5 to 7 minutes. This helps your nails absorb the oil.

e. Rinse your hands with warm water or with a sugar scrub and wipe off with a towel. (Don't use soap!)

f. Push the cuticles back and remove the invisible cuticle as usual.

g. Massage additional cuticle oil to your nail beds twice a day to help keep them moisturized. The cuticle oil nourishes both the cuticle and the nail.

h. Leave your nails naked. Do not apply nail polish or an enhancement for as long as you can let them enjoy this.

5. Dip your nails

If you plan on giving your nails a break but still feel like you need added strength and protection, apply the Base & Finish dip nail powder.

Dasia, DipWell's Community Educator, also recommends:

"As your nails heal, try dipping your nails without filing or buffing for a while. Only lightly buff the new growth. This way, you're not adding damage, but you'll still have some strength on your nail. Because you're not filing and buffing, you'll want to make sure you remove the oils from your nails by cleaning them with a little bit of alcohol prior to application."

Buffing the nail instead of filing still thins the nail down and creates a smooth surface so the nails will tend to lift or pop off. If a nail does pop off, just reapply that nail as needed.

For future dip manis, always keep in mind you should gently roughen only the new growth and not the entire nail. Otherwise, that's going to cause thinning with each consecutive mani.

Try using the grittier side of the file. When you use a finer grit, you wear down the nail without giving it much texture.

How nail dipping keep your nails strong

Now you know how to get stronger nails in general. Let's further discuss how an easy acrylic dip system helps in this process.

Dip powder allows you to keep growing out your natural nails and sustain the longer length.

Dippers who have trouble maintaining long nails use acrylic powder to prevent their fingernails from breaking off easily.

Dippers with very thin nails also use acrylic powder for durability. You'd be amazed by the strength it gives your nails!

Nails should not become fragile from the dipping powder itself. But here are some suggestions to avoid having fragile nails when dipping.

1. Prep your dip nails properly

  • Do be careful with the dip powder removal to make sure you don’t accidentally tear your natural nails. Here we've listed the top 5 Ways To Remove Your Mani At Home (Including The Hot Rice Method).
  • Avoid overzealous filing and over buffing your nails. You should only gently remove the shine from the nail surface to get rid of oils and create some texture, so the dip has something to grab on to. (Take note that while an e-file makes for a quicker nail prep, it’s easy to over file and thin your nails if you have little experience with electric nail drills. It’s best to stick with hand files to avoid any mishaps. Check the Ultimate Nail File Guide for more info.)
  • When you prep your nails, are you buffing the entire nail? That could be the culprit behind thin nails. You don't want to buff the entire nail for each manicure. You should only be removing the shine from the new growth.
  • What makes your nails strong? Apply the Base & Finish dip powder as the first and last dip layer. Doing so will help make your nails stronger as well as protect the dip blend.

2. Explore different dipping methods

APEX method

If you've been wondering how to make nails stronger and thicker, at least temporarily, give the APEX method a try.

The APEX method is basically strategically layering multiple dips of the Base & Finish dip nail powder. It helps build strength, prevents lifting, and gives a nicer nail shape or curve.

You can try the APEX method if you don't want your dip nails looking flat or when you want to add strength to the stress point of your nails to prevent them from breaking.

Learn all about this dip nail application here:

How To Build An Apex With Dip Powder

Nail Apex Tutorial

Fill method

Using the fill method will help those that are having problems with breakage during the removal and prep process.

Follow this dip powder fill tutorial: How to Do A Fill On Dip Nails

Keep in mind that when wearing nail enhancements, you usually always need to keep some sort of product on your natural nail for strength — be it a UV builder gel if you are using the gel method or the Base & Finish dip powder that comes in the Dipwell's Dip Nail Powder Kits.

If you have damaged nails, you can just use the Base & Finish dip nail powder for strength right now and do fills as they grow out instead of soaking off. This way, you will have some protection on your weak nails.

3. Troubleshoot your dip mani

If you're having trouble with your dip mani itself, be mindful of how many dip layers you are applying on your nails for better coverage and to prevent chipping.

According to Dasia, DipWell's Community Educator:

"Usually the chipping is due to the dip blend being too thin. I recommend adding an additional 1 to 2 layers of dip. If you're not using Base & Finish as a first and final layer, I recommend giving that a try,  too. It adds more strength to the dip nail."

Don't forget to seal or cap your nails' free edges. This helps avoid chipping, too.

Now, have you ever tried putting a nail treatment — a nourishing oil, for example — on your bare nails prior to applying the Base & Finish dip powder? You might be tempted to do this as you try to find a way to strengthen your nails underneath the dip powder.

But remember... the reason you are dipping is to give your nails strength. If you apply any oils or products on your natural nail prior to dipping, you will most likely have lifting.

Cuticle oils are good, but they should come AFTER the manicure is complete and never as part of the prep process.

For more dip manicure troubleshooting guide:

Coffee Filter Nail Repair Without Glue - How To Fix Nails At Home

How To Fix A Torn Nail (Or Lengthen Your Nails!) With Household Supplies

Start the new year strong with stronger nails

And there you have it. The answer to your question "How to make my nails stronger?"

So next time you take off your two-week-old dip mani and feel oh-so-excited to try on a new color, don't be a bit down in the dumps if you realize that your natural nails are looking pretty weak. Just build back strength quickly by following the ‘How to get natural nails strong’ nail care recommendations in this article, and you'll get your nails to a stronger, better length in no time.

To continue the conversation about how to grow strong nails naturally, join the Dipper Club members on Facebook or @dipwellnails' official hashtag #DoYouDipWell on Instagram.