Brittle nails aren’t attractive – and they can feel sore. The causes vary: it could be the result of chemical or environmental challenges, like hand washing and swimming. 

Chemical challenges include overexposing your nails to detergents, while environmental causes are due to low humidity in winter. Mngadi says deficiencies or underlying diseases could also be the cause of brittle nails. “Examples of such are anaemia, nail fungus, slow down of your thyroid and the lack of water in your system,” Mngadi says. 

Brittle nail symptoms can range from mild to severe. These include slight discolouration (from light yellow to green in extreme cases), thinning, debris and the slight peeling or cracking of the nail. If it’s severe, then the whole nail might loosen up or completely fall off. 

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“If you you are worried by the health of your natural nail, I always say stay away from the salon, because the nail technician will definitely use a nail buffer, file or a drill machine which will make your brittle nails worse,” Mngadi says.  Even if you are thinking of applying gelish on your nails, instead of acrylic, there is still a product sitting on your natural nail bed. Rather treat your brittle nails first without putting anything artificial on them, so that they heal naturallu. Mngadi adds: “The most I would recommend for your nails is applying a clear top coat, preferably Sally Hansen. But definitely stay away from coloured nail polish when your nails are brittle.”

If your nails appear in desperate need of treatment, please do go the medical route.  Remember, also, that treatment might take a while but it will be worth it at the end when you finally show off your latest nail-do! 

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Mngadi offers some tips for taking care of your nails:

  • Let your nails breathe! Take a week off from using nail products.  
  • Apply a nail conditioner on a regular basis.
  • Avoid removers that dry out your skin and nails. They remove the natural moisture in your nail beds. Wear protective gloves when working with your hands to reduce chemical contact, and avoid moisture-stripping soaps.
  • Buffer your nails in the direction that the nail grows. A back and forth motion can cause splitting.  
  • Avoid metal instruments for nail care.

Additional reporting: Prevention