Monday, 11 July 2011

How To Grow Healthy Long Natural Nails

Back in 2010 I decided to go to a proper nail salon and get a full set of acrylics for the first time ever, would you believe. I loved them, and they lasted for ages. However, when they started to grow out and look quite ugly I found they were still stuck firmly in place and did not want to come off.
Oh, apart from when I suddenly grabbed a hand rail on a jerky bus one day and my acrylic nail (plus real nail underneath) split entirely in half and blood spurted everywhere. That was fun. For weeks I had to wait for the false nail to grow out and my own nail to heal. It was painful.
When the acrylics finally came off after soaking in remover and lots of pulling and levering - my nails underneath were left a complete mess. Weak, brittle and scratched. Easily broken, chipped and peeling for months and months afterwards.

After that I swore I would never ever get false nails again. And I've stuck to that promise and in the mean time tried to get my real nails back to a good condition.

Although I wouldn't say I have the strongest nails in the world, they are now much better and I wanted to share my tips on how to grow your own nails to a decent length so that you never need to ruin your nails with acrylics again!

These are my nails now, a nice length for me, I wouldn't have them any longer just my preference and I work in a pub so I'd probably break them all the time if they were any longer.

1) I shape them to this square shape which does mean the 'corners' are quite susceptible to becoming weaker or breaking but to gain this square shape all you have to do is run your nail file straight across the end of your nail until you create a perfect clean line. You can then lightly shape the corners with the file so they are not as sharp.
Square nails work on most lengths so even if you're just starting to grow your nails start getting them into shape!

2) Using a nail hardening polish or treatment can work wonders. My favourite is Sally Hansens Hard as Nails, but there are loads of nail hardening polishes in the Sally Hansen range and most for under £7.
I've had the same bottle for about 6 months and its still half full!
Applying 1 coat of this you can 'see' the polish sink into your nail and leave a semi-matte finish. Another two coats ensures your nails are getting stronger.
I've noticed results after one week.
My nails now hardly ever split. I occasionally find they still can peel but you can't have it all.

My nails in a French Manicure style to replicate the acrylics I had last year. I love how classic and clean this design always is and its a firm favourite. I use nail guides to get the tips straight and a Sally Hansen white polish (I swear I'm not being paid to promote them haha!) 

Here they are a few months ago, shorter but still in square shape. The shorter your nails the stronger they are its just physics! But still use your nail hardener when you can even on very short nails. I find it helps them to grow faster too. Polish is Models Own Utopia.

3) Use a great hand cream or nail cream. I use Soap and Glory's Hand Food which has great reviews and is loved by all. It smells amazing, its not too greasy and soaks into your hands very quickly leaving them moisturised. I rub this into the cuticles of my nails too to keep them healthy. Cuticle oils and the like are available but I just can't stand greasy hands.

4) Keeping your cuticles pushed back give the appearance of longer nails. Gently push them back after a hot bath when they are at their softest. Apply hand or cuticle cream afterwards.

5) Growing natural nails longer is a slow process. Even now that my nails are much stronger they still break.
In fact only last Friday one broke straight across and left me with a very short nail :( I'm trimming the others so it doesn't stand out quite so much and starting from the beginning again with that one.

You need patience. If your clumsy and reckless with your nails like me, you'll have to be even more patient.
I also still love the look of false nails and the fact that they last for so long! Unfortunately I've had a crappy experience with them, and for you it might be different. For now I'm just not prepared to sacrifice my own nails health again.

I hope this post was useful, let me know of any tips you have to keep your nails in tip top condition!



  1. Just started following you! I found this post really useful, I'd bitten my nails for 16 years of my life until just before my prom where I decided that I'd try my best to stop and I did! I love my nails now they're more feminine, but they often break and it leaves me gutted :(
    I have Soap & Glory's Hand Food and it does really smell good. Using nail varnish remover too much can really weaken your nails so I usually avoid it at all costs!

    Carly x

  2. About a year ago I started taking a vitamin called biotin along with my regular multivitamin. Biotin helps promote healthy nails, skin, and hair. Since I have been taking it my nails are so much stronger and I can grow them out to the length I want. I also put a clear coat on my manicure daily to help keep the polish in place and the extra coats act almost like false nails do! Hope this helps!


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