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Nailed It! How I reversed 30 years of nail damage

Updated on March 26, 2016
Kimberleyclarke profile image

Kimberley's mind sparks with ideas. She has published two books; Spring Heeled Jack & Kiss of Death: My Smoking Phobia

Fingernails. I don’t think that we have them just to look pretty. Though, we love to make them look polished. Nail colour manufacturers Sally Hansen and OPI seem to do alright out of our passion for nail colour fashion. Their parent company, Coty, reported profits of $4.6 billion last year.

What are fingernails anyway?

Our nails must have a ‘proper’ function, they’re not purely a great cosmetic carrier, despite what the magazines portray. Whether we have them to protect our sensitive fingers, give us better grip or just allow us to have a good scratch, fingernails are pretty darn useful.

In the last decade the use of nail lacquers, paints and varnishes have skyrocketed. Having perfectly painted nails is now the ultimate sign of good grooming. Our nails are made of a tough protein called keratin, which is also the key structural component of our hair. And horses hooves! Imagine those after a coat of pink lacquer!

Nails have it tough!

Nail biting is a common issue, and one that wreaks havoc with nails. Apparently, nail biting may start because of an impaired mother-child relationship, or more often simply as a way of channelling stress and anxiety. Housework can also be an enemy of our nails, soaking, denting and chipping away all of our efforts with polish and colour.

Yep...I tried it all!
Yep...I tried it all!

My Nails

My personal nail history stems from when I started school at five years old. I immediately took up nail biting, and this lasted throughout my school life. I had ripped, bloody stumpy nails. They were unsightly and painful but I just couldn’t stop biting them. Everyone would tell me to stop, some people even physically tried to remove my fingers from my mouth, mid bite! Once the nails were finished, I’d chew on the skin around my nails. At that point, if I was asked to ‘Stop biting your nails!’ I would retort with a clever ‘I’m not biting my nails’. It wasn’t a lie. My poor fingers.

Once I finished school, started work and moved out on my own, the nail biting stopped. I was left with bendy nails that peeled daily. If I did manage to get any nail length, they would break easily. The peeling was the worst part, though. My nails we weak and still terrible to look at.

I resigned myself to the fact that I would have terrible nails for the rest of my life. I tried to make them look nice, and started to paint them. I amassed a collection of hundreds of different brands and colours. As my nails chipped every day, I would remove, then reapply polish each evening.

I became known as a fan of all things nail beauty, and was given many nail related gifts. Among them, the Leighton Denny Crystal Nail file was presented to me in a tough steel box. I thought it was a nice present, but didn’t really use it…I didn’t have any nails to file!

Then, a few things happened. I didn’t set out to make my nails amazing – it just gradually happened. So much so, I recently realised that my nails were so long and strong, I needed to file them to make them look less claw like!

I developed eczema on my hands last year. This really dented my confidence, and I didn’t know why it started. I was also starting to lose my hair, as I was taking a Very Low Calorie Diet to lose weight. The weight went. So did my hair. The combination of new onset adult eczema and hair loss prompted me to look online for help. I found a few tips, so I decided to simplify my beauty regime to make my skin better and help my hair to recover.

Here is what I did:

1) I started the ‘no poo’ method of washing my hair. My way of doing this is to ‘wash’ with silicone free conditioner. I don’t get any lather, but I massage my scalp with conditioner, just like I used to do with shampoo. I then rinse, and condition from root to tip. I rinse, then do a final rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar.
2) I decided to cut out the nightly nail painting, and ditched all of my colourful polishes. I got rid of hundreds of pounds worth of colour. In a funny way, it felt good. I made myself free of the constant ‘are my nails alright’ panic if I chipped a nail. I didn’t have the massive choice of ‘oh, what colour to wear’. Plus, the remover wouldn’t sting my eczema each night.
3) I looked into the best supplement to take for telogen effluvium, basically, my hair falling out en masse due to my Very Low Calorie Diet. I discovered Biotin from tawling for solutions online. I bought my first supply and started taking one Biotin tablet a day. I have tried Perfectil, too, as it contains Biotin.
4) I filed my nails with my Leighton Denny Crystal Nail File. I filed the tips, and I also filed the peeled nail beds. The crystal nail file really helped to ‘seal’ my nails, and eventually the previously peeled nail bed grew out. I can’t recommend Leighton’s Crystal Nail File highly enough – I still have my original one. I stood on it, and snapped it, but it still works! I pop it in to my dishwasher occasionally to keep it nice and clean.
5) As a result of simplifying my nail look, I stumbled up Dior’s Nail Glow, a French manicure in a bottle. I paint my nails once a week or so. I don’t notice if it chips, and I’ve ditched the nail polish remover. I just paint over the remaining polish. It makes the pink parts of my nail look pinker! A clever little glow.

My Silicone Free Conditioner


My Biotin

After binning all of my nail colours, I took this once a day instead! It sure beats removing and reapplying varnish!
After binning all of my nail colours, I took this once a day instead! It sure beats removing and reapplying varnish!

My Crystal Nail File

This shows my original, stepped on Leighton Denny Crystal Nail File! I love it. I also bought the bigger version, it is filthy as I keep it in my make up bag!
This shows my original, stepped on Leighton Denny Crystal Nail File! I love it. I also bought the bigger version, it is filthy as I keep it in my make up bag!

My Nail Glow

I adore this. I'm still on my first bottle, but I have bought another before I run out in case Dior decide to discontinue! I have also bought a bottle for a friend. She loves it!
I adore this. I'm still on my first bottle, but I have bought another before I run out in case Dior decide to discontinue! I have also bought a bottle for a friend. She loves it!

These five steps halted my hair loss rate and made my skin far less angry. Plus, one day I realised that my nails were really long! The longest nails I have ever had in my life. I now have to file them down once a week, as they just keep growing. I get no breaking, no peeling; no nail problems whatsoever.

We all have to find our own beauty regime, and I’ve just shared my secrets with you. Good luck finding what works for you!

Where I Buy Mine

Naked Conditioner available at Boots -

Biotin available at Holland and Barrett -

Leighton Denny Crystal Nail File available at Boots -

Dior Nail Glow -


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    • Kimberleyclarke profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberley Clarke 

      2 years ago from England

      Hello there Mel, thanks for reading, and for getting in touch! I'm really sorry, I honestly don't know about using Biotin for psoriasis treatment. I must say, I have eczema on my hand that flares up a lot - it certainly hasn't cleared up as a result of my Biotin use. Best of luck in your quest to find something to ease your symptoms.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      2 years ago from San Diego California

      I picked this to read because I am a psoriasis sufferer whose toenails have been decimated into unsightliness from this auto-immune dysfunction. My fingernails are now fine, but the psoriasis remedies are not strong enough to trickle down into my toenails. I was curious if this Biotin might help. Know anything? Great hub.

    • Kimberleyclarke profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberley Clarke 

      3 years ago from England

      Hi there, to be honest, it took moving out of home. The stress of living in an overbearing environment (with my mother) manifested itself in nail biting, along with some other nervous behaviour like skin picking and scratching. Even after taking the stress away, my nails were awful. Only with the Leighton Denny file, biotin and Dior Nail Glow did my nails actually start to grow and be strong (not flakey). My nails are so long now, I have to file them because they get too long! They never spilt or crack like they used to. Good luck to you.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      How did you stop biting your names. I have tried biotin and it has done nothing.

    • Kimberleyclarke profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberley Clarke 

      3 years ago from England

      That's really kind - thank you Peg! :)

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Congratulations on fighting and winning the battle over nail biting. Your nails are beautiful and look healthy. Thank you for sharing the process you took to reverse the damage and grow lovely, useful nails.


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