What to do about My Nubby Nails?

If you have long, strong beautiful nails or don’t give two hoots about nails you’ll probably think I’m crazy.  But all of my adult life I have wanted to have naturally beautiful, long nails; not really long, but long enough to get out of the nubby category.  One thing I realize is that my nails are inherently thin.  They have always been thin, so they tear easily and I must have weekly manicures in order for them to look half way decent.

I’ve had problems with my nails including my toenails since I was a teenager.  One problem is that my nails tend to tear right in the middle of the nail bed.  Because of that, I often have to have the nail on my big toe, silk wrapped.  The other option is to tear off half of my nail , leaving the nail bed exposed and bleeding.  Ouch doesn’t even get close to how that would feel.  I can’t imagine it.

Years ago when I was in my thirties I used to get silk wraps on all of my fingernails.  But talk about high maintenance, it got to be a bit much; especially since back then I thought there was only one person good enough to do my nails.  And it seemed that every time I had to do a big job and needed to travel out of town, one of these silk wrapped nails would need repair.  Add to that the pain of the glue going on after the power and one day I’d had enough. I felt like I was torturing myself.  My nail tech swore I’d be back in couple of weeks, but that was over ten years ago and I haven’t been back.

I’ve noticed that nail salons don’t offer solutions for weak and breaking nails.  The only suggestion is to get Nail Tek or some other kind of nail polish hardener, which hasn’t helped my nails.  I’ve tried supplements, natural creams like Burts Bees and recently I had the great idea to stop having my nails polished.  First of all, my polished always chipped the very next day after my manicure unless I was on vacation.  And I end up having to take the polish off within two days anyway.  And to my great surprise, it seems that my nails have gotten stronger since I stopped polishing them.  Who’d have thought that? All these years I’ve been thinking polish protects your nails and makes them stronger.  Have you ever noticed that Oprah doesn’t polish her nails?  And if she does, she must wear clear polish.  I’ve never seen a color on her nails.  I remember a Russian nail tech once telling me to let my toenails breathe during the winter months by not polishing them.  At the time I thought “no way”, I have to have my toenails polished at all times…

At this point I am so frustrated and long to have beautifully shaped and uniformed nails that I am considering getting silk wraps again.  Which I think is crazy, but I find myself considering it just the same.  But something about this reminds me of when someone wants to add extensions to weak and thinning hair; it just exacerbates the problem…  I recently put together an essential oil combo and started using that on my nails.  My toenails are responding great to the essential oils.  But with my fingernails, I guess with having to wash my hands through the day, it’s just not working as well.

My hands have provided for me so much beauty and creativity in my life.  I’ve used them to create beauty for myself and for others and I’d like them to treat them good and have them look beautiful.  So what should I do? I don’t know, but I’m hoping some of you out there can offer me some sage advice, to wrap or not to wrap my nails, that is the question.

11 responses to this post.

  1. eat more sea veggies Anu! HIJIKI SALAD. ADD KOMBU tn your SOUPS! Have you taken blue-green algae? Just a few thoughts.


  2. Posted by Julia on February 12, 2010 at 10:50 am

    I suffer from the same, Anu. I’m trying a new product line, Perfect Formula Nail System. Here’s a link to learn more: http://www.perfectformulas.com/nail_guard_system.html?gclid=CPmJja-S7Z8CFZpY2godFR8zYw

    Good luck!


    • Wow Julia,
      Thank you for this. I will look into this as well. I ran into Michaela on the subway yesterday, and like her hair, she has these long beautiful nails. I’ve found that those with thick hair usually have beautiful nails. Michaela’s nails were clean and beautiful and you can just tell they grow like that and she doesn’t have to do a thing. I’m beginning to wonder if this is (like so many other things with my body) compounded by being in this stage of my life; that along with heredity because my mom’s nails are soft too…


  3. Peace and Blessings Anu:

    I too am experiencing nubby nails, hacked-up cuticles, splitting and breaking – are we talking about nails or the present condition of my hair? (smiles) I really don’t know when this particular state of my nails actually began but I do know that it directly correlates with my cutting back on purchasing non-essential pricey items and thereby stopping my usage of Barielle Nail Care products. After using less expensive products I now know for sure that there is simply nothing better in nail, hand and foot care, than Barielle. In my attempt to cut corners and scale back, my nails and cuticles look as if I used them to do the cutting! No kidding.

    You cannot find Barielle products at CVS or Rite Aid. They could only be purchased from fine cosmetic counters in such places as Macy’s, Lord & Taylor’s, Norstroms, etc. At one point Marshall’s carried selected Barielle nail and foot care (which is UNBELIEVEABLE!) products. As part of my curtailing expenses I was doing more Marshall’s shopping than Lord & Taylor’s and as a result when Marshall’s began to carry only the footcare cream and Barielle nail polish I switched to such things as Sally Hansen and the like to save; I haven’t had ten long strong nails and soft cuticles and hands since then! As a matter-of-fact, I’m going to bite the bullet and return to these wonderful products as soon as possible. Just to illustrate the dire straits of my nails and cuticles, I was recently putting lotion on my granddaughter and she animatedly exclaimed that I was “scratching” her – and I have no nails!

    Another important thing to do besides wearing gloves when doing housework and the like is to wear nail polish all the time – especially during the winter months when nails tend to dry and become brittle. Barielle has the entire gamut of nail care for cuticles, nails hands and feet. I swear by them and once I return, I don’t ever intend to look back. I want my ten long, beautiful and strong nails back and my soft feet, too!

    Now for you purists’, who only use products that come from the bark of a tree, don’t bother. Barielle claims that their products are safe but they’re not organic. But if your hands and nails look and feel anything like mine, then you’ll embrace these very effective chemicals. The absolute winners in the Barielle arsenal and what has absolutely worked for me and are my true favorites: the nail strengthener cream, intensive hand care cream, nail thickener polish and nail rebuilder protein for hard to grow nails and the total foot care program. They also have a great French manicure set!

    Anu I don’t care what anyone tells you, this is a good investment and a true upgrade in loving your hands and nails back to wellness, softness and beauty! I too want my nails back and I’m going to get them!

    Visit Barielle at http://www.barielle.com.


    • Thank you Zakiyyah, for weighing in on this matter. I remember Barielle, I used them many years ago. I think they are the company that got started due to the nails of horse groomers. What they were using on the horses caused them to have long, strong nails. I used Barielle in the early eighties and then I couldn’t find them anymore. Thank you so much for this information Zakiyyah.

      My sister says the same thing, that the kids she works with including her own children, complain that her rough hands scratch them. We’ve got to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.


  4. Posted by Nathalie on February 14, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Hey Anu! (Saw you on Friday nights. I was Mireille’s friend that came WAY late and missed the whole event.) Anyways, I have naturally strong nails that grow pretty fast but I notice that if I don’t keep some polish on them, they tend to chip more. Try keeping a good clear base coat on them putting it on every day or every other day. My best friend used to have the same issue with thin nails and started using this product called Rejuvacoat and had great results. I also take a liquid flax oil and in the past have taken MSM which helps a bit. Hope that helps:)


  5. Posted by Shay on February 16, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Your body is trying to or has been trying to tell you something. You are deficient in some type of vitamin or mineral, or some essential nourishment that our body needs. Now from my knowledge the hair and the skin is what gets the last of the leftovers from what we eat. Now you said you took vitamins but the body likes alive foods (meaning leafy greens and fruits) better. If you are going to take vitamins then buy the liquid form because the body absorb that form much better then the pills.

    Don’t forget that you need to cleanse the colon. If the colon is dirty then even if you take supplements your colon will not absorb them efficiently. Thus defeating your whole purpose! Also I’m not sure but I think when I started taking borage oil, CoQ10, Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), and krill oil two of my nails grew very long. I think this the first three were the reason because that was the only new things I used. I didn’t really pay attention so i’m assuming so. Also take omega 3s even if not for your nails just for good health. Most Americans are deficient in omega 3s. Get the long chain Omega 3s from fish or krill oil not flax seed oil. Omega 3 is excellent for the heart and to stop inflammation. I had a pain that wouldn’t go away in my left upper arm because I had slept on it the wrong way and I took fish oil pills and the pain was gone the next day. I couldn’t believe it. Now the pain did come back but after taking the fish oil over the next few days the arm pain went away and never came back. Also I noticed that my always oily forehead wasn’t as oily anymore when taking the omega 3s. A LOOOT of our health problems come from what we eat or more so what we DON’T eat.

    We need to stop looking for miracles in a bottle and start from within. This holds true for my acne as well. When I changed my diet the pimples stopped coming. Now I have tried a many of products and always hoped and prayed that this would be the IT product to cure my acne. What a waste of money when all I had to do was stop eating certain foods. Too many people search high and low looking for holy grail products when really they just need to eat properly and exercise. Same applies here. Our outer is a reflection of the inner. The body uses the hair, nails, but mostly the skin to let us know that something is off internally. Even headaches and definitely fatigue can be a sign of an internal imbalance. Keep on searching and adding healthy foods to your diet and hopefully you will achieve the nails you desire.

    I definitely think you shouldn’t wear nail polish. Nail polish contains some of the most harshest chemicals. I noticed as I was walking past a nail shop how the man had a mask over his face while he was performing a procedure on the woman’s hands and It hit me all over again how serious those chemicals are. Not to mention that the chemical fumes and odor was pouring out into the store from the nail shop and it didn’t smell pleasent at all (I was in walmart walking pass after checking out and ughh.. stinky stuff…it also reminded me of a relaxer all over again and how the stylist uses gloves to protect their hands. umh!).

    Don’t look for some miracle in a bottle. I honestly think that with the right diet you wouldn’t have to apply anything to your nails to grow them longer. Now this is not to say you can’t use a product but my thing is, search moreso for the proper foods and let the products be added bonus not the other way around. Our health is determined by what we eat first and stress/environment second. Also I would also recommend that you don’t use chemical products. The body doesn’t respond well to unnatural synthetic chemicals and they can disrupt your body’s chemistry. This is why there is so much cancer nowadays. Trust and know that synthetics are foreign and our bodys do not know what to do with them, they take forever to leave the body, and cause problems while inside.

    Also maybe you can try a naturopath doctor for a healthier safe alternative solution if nothing seems to work. If interested a website to get started is http://www.naturopathic.org. Hope this helps and take care! 🙂


    • Dear Shay,
      Thank you for sharing. I was a vegan for over 20 years and have been on one or another protocol of supplements all my adult life. I’m not always consistent with my supplements, but I do have a very healthy diet. I did realize after writing the post that since I’ve been working in natural perfumery, I use alcohol quite a bit to clean up the oils and I probably need to be wearing gloves when I’m using the alcohol. But again, Thank you for all that you shared and I will look into your recommendations.


  6. I’ve been meaning to post this for a while. I took Zakiyyah’s advice and started uusing the Barielle nail strengthener. It has made a big difference in my nails. The ridges are gone and my nails seem thicker more resilient. The Barielle heel cream has totally taken away the cracks I used to have on my heels. Love that!

    This week when I had my manicure, they used clippers to trim my nails down. Usually there’s not enough nail to do that. So my nails are growing longer and are stronger, but I’m still wearing them short. And I’m still not wearing polish on my fingernails, though I did get my toenails polished. Another thing I did was to have my nails shaped round instead of square. That was a bigger for me because I love the square shape, but I think the round shape is my natural shape. I believe the square shape was one of the primary reasons my nails kept tearing off.

    Thanks Zakiyyah!


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