Beauty Clinic: Healthier, stronger nail secrets

Q. I have suffered for many years with brittle nails but lately they seem a lot worse - very soft, brittle and peeling in layers.  I feel so conscious of them all the time and they make my hands look so ugly. I have tried various nail treatments such as Nailtiques and Sally Hansen, and rub cuticle oil in my nails most nights.  I have tried calcium supplements and wear rubber gloves when washing up.  I would greatly appreciate any advice you can give to help me achieve healthy, stronger nails. A. We are so sympathetic.  We thought the easiest way to help is to give you our best Do's – lots of them - and a couple of Don’ts.  So here they are but be warned - it takes about three months for a new fingernail to grow in so this is a long term exercise,  involving what you put in your body as well as on your nails.  You can, however, make a real difference to the appearance within two to three weeks, so start now and you will have lovely-looking nails for Christmas.

DO try a magnesium supplement, also omega-3 fatty acid and silica.  Here are the ones we take:

DynoMins Magnesium, Power of KrillSolgar Vegetal Silica all from

DO eat lots of oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, trout etc.) if you're not vegetarian, nuts and seeds (freshly ground flax seeds are particularly good), olive oil and sip two litres of water or herbal tea in between meals.

DO eat enough protein: like hair and skin, nails are fed by protein.  Iron deficiency is a common cause so if you are vegetarian, or eat little red meat, consider a gentle iron supplement such as Spatone, Spatone 100% Natural iron Supplement.

fsov-mega-probiotic-nd-120-capsDO check out digestive problems.  If, for instance, you suffer bloating, constipation/diarrhea etc, you (and your nails) may benefit from a probiotic and/or digestive enzymes.  Try Mega Probiotic ND and/or Life Extension Super Digestive Enzymes.

DO try a ‘green food’: these are powders that you add to yogurt or smoothies, or even soup.  The results in terms of nail growth and strength for Sarah are startling.  Try Sun Chlorella A, start with five, three times a day. 

DO apply a hand and nail cream every time you wash your hands.  Try Tisserand Signature Blend Intensive Hand & Nail Cream.

Dr Hauschka Neem Nail OilDO massage in nail oil every night.  You say you use cuticle oil but perhaps try Dr.Hauschka Neem Nail Oil, a traditional Indian product that has helped many frail-nailed lasses.

DO make sure your nails have polish or strengthener on (we like Nail Magic) before you file them

DO file your nails gently with an emery board (not a metal file) in one direction; don't saw too and fro.

DO wear gloves to wash up, garden, groom horses (double gloves needed) and – perhaps surprisingly – if you are working with paper a lot.  It dries out nails unbelievably much.

DON’T abuse your nails by treating them as screwdrivers, staple removers, grout-cleaners or for digging up flints in the field (Sarah again..).

DON'T buff weak nails, or let anyone else do it.  The only buffing-type action that may help is to rub them together, nail on nail, when you have oiled them.

DON'T use harsh drying nail removers: look for acetone-free versions with extra oils if possible.

DON'T be tempted by gel nails: to get them to stay on, and then again take them off, they have to be abraded quite roughly.  They will look gorgeous if you have them done – and then you will spend six months paying for it with nails falling off in layers and splitting down the middle, in Sarah’s experience.

• DynoMins Magnesium, £14.95 for 90 tablets at - buy here

• Power of Krill, £24.95 for 60 softgels at - buy here

• Solgar Vegetal Silica, £12.57 for 100 capsules at - buy here

• Spatone 100% Natural iron Supplement, now £6.60 for 28 sachets at - buy here

• Mega Probiotic ND, £18.50 for 60 capsules at - buy here

• Life Extension Super Digestive Enzymes, £23.25 for 100 capsules at - buy here

Sun Chlorella A, £21.95 for 300 teeny tablets at - buy here

• Tisserand Signature Blend Intensive Hand & Nail Cream, £6.75 for 75ml at - buy here

Dr.Hauschka Neem Nail Oil, £24.95 for 30 ml at - buy here

• Nail Magic, £9.95 for 7.4ml at - buy here