How I'm Bringing My Nails Back From The Dead

First and foremost, I've stopped putting so much pressure on them to be perfect!
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First and foremost, I've stopped putting so much pressure on them to be perfect!

I’ve written about my nail health before, but always with an air of disappointment and shame. For the past couple of years I’ve tried everything to make my nails long, beautiful, and healthy. I even tried (and am still trying) press ons.

Recently I realized something: there’s no point in hating on my nails. Instead of trying to make them into something they’re not, I should just accept them. Maybe they'll be brittle forever. Maybe they'll suddenly change. Either way, it's all about making the best of what I've got. I mean, some people have no nails!

loving short, weak nails

My nails a month ago, broken and cracked after yet another failed attempt to grow them long.

All of this amounts to using more gentle products, filing and cutting to avoid painful rips, and using special bottom coats that are tailor-made for nails like mine. In time, these alterations to my routine might result in longer, healthier nails, but that’s not really the goal, just a possible bonus. Here’s what I’ve been working with to make my nails as happy as they can be.

Julep Oxygen Nail Treatment

Julep Oxygen Nail Treatment

I’ve been using this for about a month straight, and it’s making a massive difference. My nails haven't grown longer, but they have become stronger. The formula also has a milky pink sheen, which I love.  

tips on improving nail health

Pinky, ring, and middle finger with the oxygen treatment. Index finger bare. See the milky sheen? 

The oxygen technology makes nails impenetrable to water while plant stem cell complexes prevent aging. For me, the result is instantly thicker, stronger, smoother looking nails.   

Deborah Lippmann Rehydrating Base Coat

loving short, weak nails

I’ve been trying to cut back on wearing nail polish too much, but when I do wear color I use DL’s Rehydrating Base Coat underneath. Created specifically for dry, peeling nails, this clear coat contains ginseng and safflower oils to promote stronger, healthier nails. Bonus: I also find that it makes for a more even polish application. 

loving short, weak nails

Left: base coat alone. Right: base coat below RGB polish in Pool. 

RGB Color Remover Pads

loving short, weak nails

I'm always on the hunt for the most gentle nail polish remover. Formulated with soy instead of acetone or acetate, RGB remover pads are my new favorite. These non-toxic wipes have no artificial scents or dye and they leave my nails feeling super moisturized. The individual packaging makes them perfect for travel and emergency polish removals.

Fig and Yarrow Nail and Cuticle Salve

loving short, weak nails

Some nail bed care faves.

With organic olive oil, hemp seed oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, beeswax, neem oil, horsetail, oat straw, and a ton of other beneficial vitamins and herbs, this all-natural small batch salve stays in my purse at all times. It keeps my nail beds hydrated and free of cracks and peeling skin. Extremely smooth and oily, it works great on bare nails or with lacquer.

General Care

Grooming. I cut my nails short to avoid ripping and file tears ASAP. I also use Julep Vanish Cuticle Softener and Remover once a week. 

No-nos. I've been avoiding glitter polishes (as much as I love them), and I've been painting my nails less often and making it a point to use natural, "healthy" polishes (RGB, Julep, and vegan small batch brands) when I do. My press-on obsession has also been curtailed. 

loving short, weak nails

The gang’s all here!

Most of all, I give my nails love, and proudly wear them naked, or with color, without feeling self conscious of how short they are.  

What are your healthy nail habits? Has any one product or ritual made a difference?