ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Brittle Nails: Natural Treatment and Prevention

Updated on July 31, 2012

Brittle nails are common today, especially among women. Over time, continual exposure to water, toxins found in many nail applications, soaps and cleaning products can cause nails to lose their natural oils. These oils act like adhesives which bind the nail layers together. The first sign that fingernails are becoming brittle is a fraying of the edges. Eventually the layers come apart and splitting occurs. Using nail hardeners weakens the nail further because they contain formaldehyde, alcohols and other chemicals which strip away the natural oils. These hardeners may make the nails stronger in short term, but after a couple of weeks the nail becomes more brittle than ever. Other possible causes of brittle nails are internal health conditions such as nutrient deficiency, hypothyroidism, Raynaud’s disease, tuberculosis and endocrine disorders. A good way to tell whether brittle fingernails are cause by external stresses or internal health conditions is to check the toenails. If they are in good condition brittle fingernails are caused by external stresses.

Brittle Nail Natural Treatments

Daily exposure to water through cleansing, soaking and swimming causes nails to absorb water that leads to brittle nails. According to Herbert Luscombe, M.D., professor emeritus of dermatology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University nails absorb between twenty to twenty-five percent of their own weight in water. This causes nails to expand when wet and contract when dry. Continual expansion and contraction weakens nails and makes them brittle.

Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to make nails strong enough to withstand the daily traumas they must endure:

Biotin - Studies have shown that biotin has the ability to thicken nails and protect them against cracking and splitting. The best source of biotin is cauliflower. Other rich sources include lentils and peanuts. To receive the full benefits of biotin one study suggests that supplementation is necessary. In the study people consumed 2.5mg of biotin daily and found a significant increase in nail thickness and strength after six months.

Shea Butter, Jojoba oil, Avocado oil - brushing any of these rich oils on and underneath the nail and massaging it after each water exposure helps restore moisture necessary for proper cohesion. In fact, these oils are better than commercially sold nail care products because they don’t contain alcohol, which dries the nails. It is important to apply the oil after a water exposure because oil will not absorb into dry nails.

Clipping and Filing - Nails are brittle when they are dry so clipping and filing will only make them worse. Always clip or file nails after exposure to water. Clip with sharp clippers and gently file the edges afterwards.

Limit exposure to toxins - When doing rough work or exposing hands to harsh chemicals always wear gloves.

Nutrition - nail supplements are available. Ingredients will vary but they should contain biotin and silicon. Eating a nutritious diet which includes fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish, nuts and seeds will allow you to get a combination of nail nutrients which will work synergistically to strengthen nails. Healthy diet should always be the first and most important step to improving any health condition. Avoiding toxic, processed and refined foods is also important.

Nails grow slowly and it will take time to see an improvement to brittle nails. Depending on the condition of the nails, it could take up to one year of proper nutrition and nail care to fully restore them.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Lea^ profile image

      Lea Smith 

      7 years ago

      I love learning about nail care. Thank you for sharing the article.

    • vellos profile image


      7 years ago

      Good stuff! I will pass this info along to my mom as she has mentioned having dry nails. I love your natural approach to health.

    • Becky Puetz profile image


      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for the great information about treatments and advice for those that have this problem. A friend of mine suffers with extremely brittle nails that break off down to the quick, which is very painful. I plan to pass the ideas and tips you presented here, on to her. Excellent Hub, thanks for sharing.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for the information. I need to strengthen my fingernails, so I’ll be following some of your suggestions! I like using shea butter on skin, so I'll try applying it to my nails after water exposure as you suggest.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      7 years ago from USA

      Hi Steve - Interesting information about keeping the fingernails in one piece. My own personal observation concurs with your opening remarks - cleaning stuff can really dry out those fingernails.

      Gus :-)))

    • bettybarnesb profile image


      7 years ago from Bartlett, TN

      I women grown older it is so important to take calicum and Vitamin D. It does help the nails. Wearing gloves also help. Great, Great hub. Happy New Year!

    • lindacee profile image


      7 years ago from Arizona

      Thanks for the informative Hub! I occasionally have issues with flaking fingernails. I do not use nail applications, but am guilty of using cleaning products without gloves, so that could be part of the problem. I will be the first to admit I could use more help in the diet department. The new year is the perfect time to be more cognizant of dietary requirements and adopting healthier habits.

    • stevemark122000 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks katrinasui! Where did you get the quote "no herbs or supplements have been proven effective"? There is lots of evidence that herbs and supplements are effective for brittle nails. As with any natural remedy you will always find those that make claims that there is no evidence that they work. Usually the ones making such claims are the same ones that support the use of drugs or quack medicine as some call it.

    • katrinasui profile image


      7 years ago

      Although no herb or supplement has been proven effective for brittle nails, there is some evidence that the B vitamin biotin might help. Thanks for sharing brittle nails natural treatments.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)