Do Supplements Help Brittle Nails?
People want healthy looking nails. They want to put forward a nice clean confident hand when they meet other people and shake hands. Nails are an important part of our appearance. So, what can we do to have healthy nails?
First of all, we are what we eat, and the old adage is true, eat a healthy diet. This means, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, organic if possible, and drink plenty of water. Many people will take a multivitamin as a supplement which is fine. However, if you are taking take extra dosages of biotin; one of the B vitamins to try to make your nail stronger, it won’t deliver the results you expect of healthy and stronger nails.
Unfortunately, vitamins are being promoted as “beauty supplements,” including skin, hair, and nails. These so-called supplements are a large and growing industry. As a board-certified dermatologist, who specializes in diagnosing and treating nail problems, I can say with authority that there has never been a clinical study to show that biotin is truly effective. Personally, I do not recommend it especially at the massive doses that are advertised. I do not recommend mega doses as our bodies were not meant to process 1,000% of the RDA of biotin! The NIH concurs, “adding a supplement in these cases may quickly lead to consumption above the upper tolerable limits and result in multiple adverse effect,” as stated in a 2020 NIH study, Risks of Skin, Hair, and Nail. Supplements.1
We all know that nails can get dry and brittle especially from excessive washing. I see this all the time in my office. People wash their hands with soap, and then do not moisturize. Use a heavy-duty moisturizer morning and night on hands and nails, and then as you wash your hands throughout the day, reapply a moisturizer of your choice.
My favorite specific nail moisturizers include Elon Nail Conditioner and Cutemol® which are a lanolin-based emollients. Some people are allergic to lanolin, in which case a petroleum-based product would be best such as Vaseline®. I also recommend Vanicream ointment (formerly known as Vaniply).
Other common-sense recommendations include:
- If you wash dishes or do cleaning with harsh chemicals, wear gloves.
- If you are outside doing yard work, wear gloves.
- If you are outside in cold weather, wear gloves or mittens to protect your hands from the cold and harsh weather.
Last but not least is in regard to getting your nails done in nail salons! Getting a manicure for sure dries out the nails. If you love a good manicure, a few pieces of advice:
- Bring your own equipment to your appointments.
- Clean the equipment yourself with boiling water, soap and then rubbing alcohol following your appointments to make sure it is clean.
- We all love beautiful, manicured nails but it is important to take a break from the salon and give your natural nails some time to recover. If you have bad nail damage from the salon it can take 2-3 months or sometimes longer for the nails to heal, so try to avoid letting it get that bad.
As always, remember to schedule an appointment with a board certified dermatologist for advice on all issues of skin, hair and nails, that is our profession, knowledge base, and our job!
1Risks of Skin, Hair, and Nail. Supplements, Dermatol Pract Concept. 2020 Oct; 10(4): e2020089. Published online 2020 Oct 26. doi: 10.5826/dpc.1004a89.