Dry Cracked Nails and Cuticles: A 7 Step Cure

Serious Skin Care 101 With Rob Hardwicke, President and Product Master at Awakening Skin Care

Welcome to today’s edition of Serious Skin Care 101. Today I’m going to focus on nails and cuticles, which are technically part of the skin organ, but have their own special requirements for health, many of which people don’t understand. In fact, you may be doing a lot of things you think are good for your nails, but actually harm them. Today I’m going to give you 7 Easy steps that will cure dry, cracked nails and cuticles – and make your nails the envy of everyone you know!

Fingernails and toenails are mostly made of a hard protein called keratin. They cover a very nerve-dense area (ever get a splinter under your nail? Ouch!), so they’re crucial as protection to this area from trauma. The appearance of nails can say a great deal about a person’s general health. Hangnails are sometimes attributed to a protein deficiency, or lack of vitamin C or folic acid. Dry nails with ridges might be due to a lack of B vitamins. If you suffer from brittle nails, you may be deficient in vitamin A. Vertical ridges are often related to an iron deficiency. Of course, there are many environmental factors involved in nail health as well, but before we get to those, I’d like to make a few dietary recommendations to help with the overall health of your nails.

Step 1: Your Nails Are What You Eat

As you can imagine, simply taking a good multivitamin every day can resolve the nutrient issues listed above. And while that’s a great thing to do, it is still important to eat well, and include foods with the nutrients your nails need to stay healthy. And most of these foods have huge general health benefits as well, so you’ll be improving more than just your nails if you add them to your diet.

So, a balanced diet with adequate protein is the first step. Try to eat whole grains, lots of vegetables and fruit, and drink plenty of water. It is estimated that more than three quarters of Americans and Europeans are chronically dehydrated, and this has a huge impact on skin and nail health. I’ve seen people turn their skin and nails around just by drinking eight big glasses of water a day!

From there, focus on some of the key nail-building nutrients. Here’s a list, with some of the foods that contain them.

1. Silicon

Promotes nail strength. Found in rice, wheat, oats, alfalfa, onions, avocados and strawberries.

2. Essential Fatty Acids

I have discussed the importance of Omega 3s in other articles. I cannot overestimate the importance of getting these into your diet. They are crucial to so many body functions that to list them all here would require an entire article. Suffice it to say that Omega 3s will help your nails stay glossy and more flexible, and keep your cuticles plump and healthy. Besides the numerous Omega 3 supplements available just about everywhere these days, the top five Omega 3 foods are flaxseeds, walnuts, and soybeans (or the oil of any of these), then salmon and halibut.

3. Biotin

Increases nail thickness, and therefore, hardness. Biotin occurs naturally in soybeans, oats, peanuts, eggs, fish, brown rice and brewer’s yeast.

4. Sulfur

Makes your nails more flexible, and thus less likely to break. Sulfur is abundant in Brussels sprouts, garlic, hot peppers, egg yolks, turnips, cabbage, and some fish.

5. Folic acid

Found in dark green and dark red foods like broccoli, spinach, kale, beans and many different berries, is another key nail strengthener.

Now let’s move on to some of the environmental factors.

Step 2: Mineral Nail Care

The most important thing to recognize about nail health (and cuticle health) is that they’re not just “dead” cells that sit there doing nothing. Your nails are part of the skin, which is the body’s largest organ, and they require good care. The best thing you can do for your nails and cuticles is to keep them properly hydrated. Hydration is the foundation of skin health. Without properly hydrated skin, nails and cuticles, you’re stuck.

Avoid oil-based skin care products for moisturizing, however. Most of the products on the market that claim to “moisturize” are only doing half the job of true hydration. They KEEP moisture in, by creating a barrier against evaporation, but they don’t PUT moisture in. The key ingredient for moisturizing your skin (what we like to call “hydration”) is potassium. Potassium is an essential mineral that is so important to your body’s functioning that without it, you would die. Specifically, it regulates hydration in all your body’s cells. So look for a high-quality mineral skin cream that has potassium in it, and you’ll be on your way to healthier, hydrated nails and cuticles.

Simply massage a small amount of hydrating, mineral skin cream into your cuticles a few times a day, and cracked cuticles will be a thing of the past.

Step 3: Reduce Exposure to Water

Repetitive and prolonged wetting and drying of the fingernails is the single most common cause of cracked and split nails. Dampness and heat are also an ideal breeding ground for nail fungus. This is especially important to remember for your toenails in the summer, when your feet get hot and sweaty more easily, and you may be spending a lot of time poolside with rubber flip flops on. So make sure to keep your hands and feet clean, dry, and well hydrated with a high quality mineral skin cream or foot balm. Attention to this one area clears up more than half of nail-related problems!

Step 4: Avoid Nail Trauma

This might sound like a somewhat extreme term to use for nails, but if you grow your nails long, it is actually just the right term. Think about it: if your nails are clipped short, that means the part of your fingers that extends out the furthest is your fingertips. Which is of course ideal for doing…. oh, just about EVERYTHING you do with your hands. If your nails stick out beyond the ends of your fingers, that means they’re often going to be the first point of contact, so they’re more likely to break, crack, and split.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you to clip your nails short. Believe me, the last thing we want is this Product Master giving FASHION advice! The point is just that if you’re going to wear your nails long, you have to expect that you’re going to experience a certain amount of cracking and splitting – an occupational hazard, if you will.

Also, most women who keep their nails long tend to expose them to substances that are not particularly good for long-term nail health. Most nail polishes contain toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde that can cause allergic reactions, and nail polish remover has got to be one of the harshest substances in daily use on the human body. Rather than launch into a huge diatribe about the evils of nail products, I’ll just say that they dry the HECK out of your nails and cuticles.

As you have probably noticed, our mantra here at Awakening Skin Care is “Hydrate & Heal”. The entire concept behind our products is TRUE hydration of skin (and nail and cuticle) cells, so that when necessary, healing can take place. In the case of abused cuticles and nails, there is usually a need for some deep, continuous hydration followed by medium- to long-term healing. And this can’t happen if your nails and cuticles are covered by a thick coat of enamel. True, the enamel protects your nails from damage in the short term, but under the surface they may need some real attention.

If your nails and cuticles are damaged, try this: for a week, abstain entirely from nail products. Rather, hydrate your nails and cuticles thoroughly several times a day using a high-quality mineral-based skin cream, and avoid over-exposure to water. Chances are you nail health will improve dramatically. From there, try using an alternative nail polish remover. There are several excellent products available that are made from soy and corn, and are free of harsh chemicals.

Step 5: Proper Cuticle Care

Cuticles seem to have gotten a bad name in the nail industry. We want to clip them, trim them push them out of the way, as if they were a problem to avoid. The truth is, cuticles are there for a very good reason. They protect the gap between your skin and your nail, which is an ideal entry point for infection. Never clip cuticles—they act as barriers against bacteria, and trimming them can lead to infections that can result in nail loss. Instead, gently push them back with a cuticle tool, or buff them gently to remove any tears that might result in hangnails.

Step 6: Are you a Nail biter? Stop!

Talk about trauma to the nails! This is probably the number one reason for poor nail condition. If you bite your nails, chances are they’re never going to look how you’d like them to. Instead, trim them to a nice length, use sterilized manicure tools and a good emery board, and chew a piece of gum!

Step 7: Ingrown toenails (a special case)

Ingrown toenails happen when a sharp corner of the toenail digs into the skin at the end of or side of the toe. This results in pain and inflammation. Believe it or not, TONS of people end up going to the doctor or podiatrist for ingrown toenails, because they often get infected and produce abscesses that require surgery!

Fortunately, there are some very easy home remedies for ingrown toenails that, if you catch it early enough, will solve the problem.

First of all, soak the foot with the ingrown nail in warm water with Dead Sea bath salts for about 15 minutes. Once your skin and nail are nice and soft, gently lift up the corner of the nail that’s digging into your skin. From there, you can prop it up with a little bit of rolled up cotton or gauze. You’ll have to do this several times over the course of a week or so. The goal is to get the nail to grow out and over the skin. Remember, if you suspect an infection, see a doctor, because ingrown toenails can become a serious problem if left untreated.

The simplest way to avoid ingrown toenails in the future is to cut your toenails square across the top. That way, there is no recessed bit of nail that can end up digging into your skin.

Well that about wraps things up for this edition of Serious Skin Care 101. I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you about your experiences with nail care and other skin care concerns. Until next time, take good (nail) care!

And hey – if you’d like to see what all the fuss is about – click on the image below to try a bottle of Awakening HANDS today. It’s our best selling product, and if you’re not completely flabbergasted at how good it makes your skin feel, we’ll cheerfully refund your money, no questions asked!

HANDS

HANDS

Awakening Mineral Therapies has been hand-crafting unique Dead Sea mineral skin care products for over 15 years. For more information about this and other natural mineral-based skin care remedies, visit Awakening Skin Care at: www.awakeningskincare.com

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12 Responses to “Dry Cracked Nails and Cuticles: A 7 Step Cure”

  1. My nail is cracked right down the middle , I recently had surgery and when I woke up my nail was cracked down the middle, it fell off and now is grown back and once again is cracked down the middle. I wrote down some of the vitamins you suggested but I was wondering what the problem was? Never had this before!

  2. i broke my nail on my big toe playing soccer it never grew back properly and its not clear anymore. what can i do to fix the problem?

  3. Hi Scott — Kind of an occupational hazard with soccer. Dr. Scholl's sells a foot soak product that sometimes will work. If the nail picked up some bacterial or fungal activity during the healing & regrowth process, that could cloud the nail. We formulate a product called Awakening MudFace that's a mud mask designed for face, but it also works to take down fungus elsewhere on the body. You'd simply soak the foot, then apply a thin layer of the mud on the toe (but you might as well coat the entire foot while you're at it, since the mud does super things for circulation and foot health). Leave on for 10 minutes, then wash off. Repeat daily for a week. Good things start to happen — and if they don't we have a full satisfaction/money back guarantee. Hope you're back on the soccer field. –Rob

  4. this very useful information to those have problem in their toe nails.

  5. Our interest in toe nails started with my spouse. We needed to find solutions!

  6. Vitamin C can improve the absorption of mineral iron.

  7. Vitamin C can improve the absorption of mineral iron.

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