Last Modified on Apr 19, 2014
How to Make Nails Stronger
Do you have weak fingernails that are constantly breaking and chipping? Are your nails never as long as you would like them? Follow these natural tips to lengthen and strengthen your fingernails, without an expensive trip to the salon or any unnatural solutions. Make your hands look their best, naturally!
Your nails (both fingernails and toenails) are made of a protein called keratin, which is the same tough substance that makes up many other animal horns, claws, and hooves; for example a rhinoceros's horn is made up of keratin! While animals and nature make good use of strong nails for survival, many factors can cause brittle nails or affect nail growth in human beings. On average, human nails grow about 3 mm a month, and can require 3 to 6 months to completely regrow a new nail depending on age, diet, what time of year, and even how much exercise you get; nail health can be a good indicator to general health.
Vitamin A, D, B12, and calcium are key vitamins for nails, but also play very important roles in immune function, eye health, cellular reproduction, blood clotting, and even the transmission of nerve pulses. Deficiency in these vitamins can cause brittle and dry nails, and those symptoms can be indicators of poor internal health.
On this page you can find a number of user-submitted home remedies to strengthen weak nails. Some of our popular cures are apple cider vinegar, blackstrap molasses, biotin, fish oil, and lemon juice. Let us know what you try from Earth Clinic to help treat your nails. Know of a remedy not yet listed here? Please don't hesitate to share it with us!
Apple Cider Vinegar
[YEA] 03/21/2006: Judi from Phoenix, AZ: "I take apple cider vinegar and honey daily. 1 tbs. of each helps weak, cracked, short fingernails to grow."Replies
05/26/2012: Emgee from Broken Hill, Australia replies: "I started taking Apple Cider Vinegar for a number of different health issues. After only a couple of days I noticed my flaky weak nails were getting stronger. Two months later now and I have the longest strongest nails I have ever had. Even hard to type on my keyboard lol. I read somewhere that Apple Cider Vinegar helps with the uptake of magnesium and calcium but can't remember where I read that. It certainly is the answer for me."
09/30/2012: Kayci from North Berwick, Maine replies: "you eat it?"
[YEA] 11/21/2012: Jacqueline from Perth, Australia replies: "Worked for me too - was a fantastic side effect when I started using apple cider vinegar for other health issues. I have have lovely long and strong finger nails for the first time in my life :-)"
[YEA] 02/07/2010: Aginto from Toronto, Ontario: "I've been taking a 250mg supplement of Biotin once a day for about 3 weeks before I noticed the changes in my nails! They are harder, they don't break or chip as easily. I went on vacation for 2 weeks and forgot my Biotin. Lo and behold, near the end of the 2 week vacation I had broken one nail and chipped another!
I am back on the Biotin. I've also added the de-colorized Iodine to my repertoire and will report back after a week or two. Thanks for all the great advice Earth Clinic!!!"Replies
06/18/2010: Pjb747 from Fenton, Mi replies: "I feed my horses biotin for their hooves. It takes almost a year to see real results. The hoof that forms with biotin is stronger. It can't improve existing hoof. Hooves grow out like nails do from a nail bed. I would assume that it is the same with nails but it doesn't take so long to grow a whole new nail. I think after 3-4 months on biotin, the old nail would be gone and biotin fortified nail would have grown in. I don't think being off biotin for a week or two would make a difference."
[YEA] 02/15/2009: Karen from Chicago, IL: "My fingernails were soft and frequently broke. I starting taking 1000 mcg biotin twice a day, and within 2 months, they became rock solid. I stopped taking biotin for a while, and my nails returned to being soft. When I started taking the pills again, my nails toughened up. Karen"
[YEA] Michelle from London, UK: "Blackstrap Molasses works for me! After the first fortnight of drinking a cup each morning with the juice of half a lemon, my skin felt really soft and had lost its dryness and my nails are growing stronger and more uniform. This is in addition to having a lot more energy, I have also managed to stop smoking and not experience the side effect of constipation. This remedy is the cheapest but most effective way of taking varied supplementary vitamins."Replies
02/14/2010: Ann from Calmar, Ia replies: "how much blackstrap molassess do you use? Is it mixed with water as well as the juice of half a lemon?"
02/17/2010: Donna Cecconi from Crete, Il replies: "How much water and molasses do I mix with the lemon?"
09/18/2011: Brittany from Grove City, Oh, Usa replies: "Just be careful with molasses, especially if you are diabetic.. Not a good remedy for diabetics or those who don't know they are diabetic. A whole cup seems excessive."
[YEA] 07/13/2009: DeAnna from Clarksville, TN: "Fish oil was recommended to me as a supplement from a personal trainer....happened to notice after a couple of weeks that my nails were actually growing and not breaking nearly as much!!! Didn't realize it had a benefit to nails also! Will definitely keep taking for my nails!"
[YEA] 04/03/2009: Anna from Brooklyn, NY: "Fish oil made my nails stronger in a matter of days. Take the prescribed daily dose."
[YEA] 03/31/2006: Joanna from California: "I see a Thyroid Specialist for hypothyroidism. I was complaining about my weak, brittle nails when he suggested that although my thyroid was functioning properly (too much or too little thyroid function can cause weak nails), that I may be deficient in folic acid. I'm not as faithful about taking my vitamins and supplements as I should be, but I do notice that when I take a folic acid supplement that my nails become stronger and break less often. You can buy folic acid as an individual supplement, but you can buy multivitamins with folic acid in them."Replies
09/14/2011: Mandy from Houston, Texas replies: "I am thinking to try this, because I too have hypothyroidism and really, REALLY want my fingernails to grow out nice and long. I do take vitamins every day!"
Green Coffee Beans
11/04/2012: Saba from Mentor, Oh: "What does everyone think about the green coffee bean claim as a weight loss aid? Will it be the same if I gring up some raw coffee bean and out some in juice or smoothie? Thank you."Replies
11/05/2012: Smiley59 from Hamilton, Mt replies: "I took green coffee bean extract and raspberry ketones. Had huge weight gain due to prednisone. I lost 28# in 4 months without changing my diet or exercise. I am unable to exercise but imagine if one did then the loss would be much higher. Another thing to take would be GLUCOCOMAN not sure on spelling. It is a fiber that blocks some carbs."
[YEA] 04/19/2007: Jane from Houston, Texas: "I painted decolorized iodine on my thin and brittle fingernails. One week later they look healthy and are growing, and even the formerly dry and ragged cuticles are smooth, even without manicuring them! I saw the remedy in a newspaper column and found this wonderful website trying to check it out. The remedy is painting the nails every day for a week, then once a week thereafter. I found the iodine in the Latino cosmetics area of HEB supermarket. Next I'll work on the skin tags! Thanks so much!"Replies
10/27/2011: Smdoulos from Syracuse, Ny replies: "Does iodine work for skin tags also? How much and how often? Thanks."
[YEA] 09/24/2006: Stephanie from Loganholme, Qld. Australia: "Iodine cures brittle and easily broken finger nails. It makes the fingernails hard, chip proof and unbreakable. Dip your fingernails in colorless iodine once a day for 1 week; then once a week for 3 to 4 weeks; then once a month. It dries almost instantly. It begins hardening the nails under the cuticle and as the nail grows out it stays hard and unbreakable. Once the new hard nail reaches the length you want, you will never again have chipped and broken nails. No need for all those expensive formulas sold in beauty parlors and chemist shops."Replies
07/04/2011: Mon from Sunshine Coast, Queensland Australia replies: "Interesting! Where in Australia do I get colourless iodine?"
[YEA] 06/04/2008: Rekha from Bangalore, India: "Apply a little juice from a lemon to your finger nails every day. It makes them strong and they grow doubly fast! I was a compulsive nail biter since childhood and had very brittle nails. I kicked the habit and tried this remedy and now my nails are long and strong."Replies
[YEA] 03/13/2011: Leah from New York, Ny replies: "Hi, I started putting apple cider vinegar on my nails and it has really kept them strong! I was very surprised."
[YEA] Joanna : "I've noticed that when I take MSM, my fingernails grow like crazy! The split cuticle issue that I have (especially in the winter) disappears in about 48 hours. I'd say it's the best remedy for the nails"Replies
12/25/2008: Carmen from Brandon, Florida replies: "I am experiencing early menopause due to a hysterectomy and along with the many other changes I am encountering I find my nails are weak. During a search I found MSM, what exactly is this? And is it safe to take with harmone replacement?"
04/03/2009: Kim from Grants Pass, OR replies: "Hi Carmen, I just read your post. I too am having menopause issues from a hysterectomy at the early age of 26, which in turn turned into a hypothyroid issue, which left untreated, turned out to be pretty severe. Make sure you keep yourself educated, doctors that you pay to know health issues, typically DON'T know. Feel free to email me anytime. And my fingernails, bend easier than paper!!!"
[YEA] Belle from Los Angeles, CA: "I recently started to take MSM to help with neck pain. While it's too soon to tell if it is helping, I can report that it is making my nails grow like crazy!"
[YEA] 07/22/2008: Dan from Markam, Canada: "Silicon is not present in large amounts, yet found in every type of tissues in the body. Silicon is used to keep bones, cartilage, tendons and artery wall healthy. It is required by the nails, hair and skin, silicon levels drop as we age. So if cartilage is not in any joint after surgery, silicon will replace it. If you want nice hair, and nails, silicon is also called silica. I take it and I have good hair and nails that look good and they are hard. If you do not have any idea where to get some, look to the internet. It has information on healthy products."Replies
08/18/2011: Softnails from Calgary, Ab replies: "For those who use Silica for nail strenthening, how long before you notice an improvement...
04/03/2012: Pat from Imperial Beach, Ca replies: "Do you swallow it or put it directly on your nails? How much of it and how often do you use it?"
10/03/2012: Sylvia from Albany, Ny, United States replies: "Hey guys, was checking out remedies for weak, brittle nails and came up with silica as one answer. I don't know if it works well or not, but be aware that there are some scary side effects. Look into it thoroughly before using!!!"
04/19/2014: Julie from Daly City, California: "I read somewhere about a year ago that V**ks V***rub works to kill toenail fungus. Well one day I tried it. Then I forgot about it until one day when I went to cut my toe nails and I thought, wow, is it my imagination or did that one time of rubbing the v**ks into my toe nail really work because my nails looked slightly better. So I rubbed a little on again and again forgot about it for a bit and then remembered and took a closer look. My nails looked a little better. I rubbed it on them again and the next time I checked I swear my little toe nails were looking flatter and started to look less like the fat lump of a toenail they had become. The other nails started to look like they were flattening out too...meaning they weren't growing away from the nail bed so much because of the noticeable disappearance of that substance that grows under the nail associated with the fungus. I am not diligent about applying it probably everyday like I should but I was impressed with the results after only 3 applications done at least a month apart. I am going to try and be more consistent with applying it, hopefully everyday, and see what happens but I honestly saw a difference with just those three times and had seen no difference with other over the counter type applications. I will post my results, if any, in the future but as God as my witness, I swear, there is a difference. It doesn't seem to hurt the nail or the skin and it's worth a shot and hopefully I will be posting positive results sometime soon!"