The only process more annoying than growing your hair really, really long is trying to get your nails to do the same (grow, my bbs! GROW!). But, unlike the strands on your head, which grow roughly a quarter-inch to half-an-inch each month, your nails will probs only grow 2-3 millimeters in the same amount of time, says board-certified dermatologist Oma N. Agbai, MD. Which, uh, isn’t exactly fast.
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So what to do? Welp, sorry to be the party pooper, but aside from slapping on press-ons, there’s no way to get longer nails in under an hour or even within a few days. Sorry, but unless you have a medical disorder affecting your nails (which only your doctor could tell you), there’s not much you can do at home to help speed up the process. That doesn’t mean you can’t help encourage healthy nail growth, though—as long as you know what you’re doing. And that’s where I come in. Keep reading to find out the nine best tips for growing your nails
super fast and super long, uh, healthily.
1. Load up nail-growing nutrients.
Fun fact: “Poor nutrition has been shown to slow nail growth,” says Dr. Agbai. The most important part of any routine is incorporating healthy foods into your diet so your body can get all the nutrients it needs to function at its best. “A balanced diet incorporating plenty of protein and a variety of fruits and vegetables is the key to maintaining healthy nails through nutrition,” she explains. “Eating a variety of foods such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, and colorful fruits and vegetables can provide the nutrition needed to support healthy nail growth.” Eat your veggies, and you might not even need the other steps on this list.
2. Talk to your doctor about collagen.
According to Dr. Agbai, there actually has been some interesting research looking at treatments that can accelerate nail growth and improve the appearance of nails, and one has to do with collagen supplements. As Dr. Agbai explains it, a recent research study showed that taking bioactive collagen peptides by mouth once daily for 24 weeks can increase the rate of nail growth and decrease the frequency of broken nails as soon as four weeks into treatment. “This supports the concept that consuming adequate dietary protein is important for healthy nail growth,” Dr. Agbai explains. But as is the case with any beauty supplement, talk to your doctor first before making any changes to your regimen.
3. Check your iron.
If you read our super-informative breakdown of nail supplements, you’re well aware that another nutrient that could affect your nail health and growth is iron. To make your nails as strong as iron, you’re gonna need, well, iron. If you’re experiencing brittle, broken nails, pay a visit to your doctor to test your levels and see if you’ve got an iron deficiency that could be preventing you from reaching your long nail goals.
4. Apply a hair-loss treatment to your nails.
Yup, you read that right. Dr. Agbai points to another research study that showed applying 5 percent over-the-counter minoxidil (which is an over-the-counter treatment commonly used for hair loss) topically to the nails twice daily may increase nail growth as soon as the first week of application. “This may be due to increased blood flow to the nail caused by applying topical minoxidil,” Dr. Agbai explains. “Increased blood flow can deliver more nutrients and oxygen to the nails, promoting healthy nail growth.”
5. Treat your fingernails to a nail treatment.
Are gel polishes inherently bad for your nails? No. But if you got fed up and picked yours off instead of removing gel nail polish the right way, your nails are probs the furthest from healthy. And guess what? You’re gonna need to fix that if you want to grow them out any time soon. One way to restore your sad nails is with a nail hardener or nail-strengthening treatment. A key ingredient to look for is pantothenic acid, which studies show can help keep your nails flexible and less prone to breakage. If your nails could use a little reinforcement, try one of our favorites below.
6. Get enough exercise.
According to Dr. Agbai, even a lack of physical activity has been shown to slow nail growth. As long as you don’t break a nail from lifting weights or going too hard in your boxing workouts, your sweat sesh could also improve the health and length of your nails. Who knew.
7. Keep your nails clean and dry.
Excessive moisture for prolonged periods (like getting all swampy inside a pair of gloves you’ve worn for hours) can increase the risk of infection, which, Dr. Agbai points out, can totally affect your nail growth. And if you thought growing out your nails was a painful process, you haven’t experienced an infected one yet. Let’s keep it that way.
8. Shape your nails with a file.
If you want to prevent your nails from snagging and tearing, you gotta keep those babies in tip-top shape. Always keep an emory board or a glass nail file nearby to avoid snags that’ll set you back in your nail growth journey. Although you can definitely stick to whatever nail shape you prefer, Dr. Agbai says rounding your nails at the sides will help to improve nail strength and decrease breaking and chipping.
9. Stop picking at your cuticles.
Stop picking, biting, tearing—pretty much all of the “–ings” you’re used to doing. Leave ’em alone or risk causing damage to the nail and the surrounding cuticle. Dr. Agbai explains that for nails to stay healthy, the skin on the surrounding cuticles need to be healthy as well. Oh, and the same goes for using your nails as a tool. Nails are for painting, not for opening cans.
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