9 Tips To Speed Up Nail Growth

Our nails go through a lot on a daily basis. We constantly use our hands to complete various tasks throughout the day, and our nails are subjected to all those activities as well. Our nails are always visible to the rest of the world, so It's no surprise that people love to decorate and show them off. In fact, 85% to 90% of women use some form of nail care product across the globe, according to a 2020 study published in the International Journal of Women's Dermatology. In 2018, the nail cosmetics industry was worth $8.36 billion in the United States alone. It's pretty obvious that we all care a great deal about how our nails look, so making sure they are healthy is a priority for most people.


Our nails' appearance can also warn us when something's up with our health, according to Healthline. If your nails have grooves, dents, or are weirdly colored, it's worth letting your doctor investigate the matter. Nail disorders are incredibly common, in fact, 99% of people deal with them sometime during their lifetime. However, if your nails appear very healthy and your only complaint is that they grow incredibly slowly, we're here to help you out.

How fast are nails supposed to grow?

Before you dive head-first into our tips on how to speed up nail growth, it's important to know how fast nails naturally grow. While everyone can experience different growth rates depending on their age, genetics, and lifestyle, the average speed at which nails grow is around three to four millimeters a month, according to Today. You might have noticed that your toenails grow extra slow and that's because they naturally have a slower growth rate than fingernails (they grow around one millimeter a month). If your fingernails seem to be growing at the same rate as your toenails, however, you might be dealing with a vitamin deficiency. "Vitamin deficiency can play a role in the rate of growth especially if you have low levels of B12, Calcium, Vitamin C, or Iron," David E. Bank, M.D., FAAD, told Today.


If you suffer from other dermatological conditions like psoriasis or eczema or deal with certain infections, your nail growth might be affected as well, according to the director of cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai West, Noelani Gonzelez, M.D. "Many conditions, medical disorders, and even medications or drugs can influence nail growth," she explains, adding that the seasons can also affect your nails' growth.

What are the causes of unhealthy nails?

Unhealthy nails can have various causes, some of which include the use of certain medications, not getting enough essential nutrients through your diet, or even underlying illness, according to Healthline. Hormones also play a role: Pregnant women usually notice that their nails grow much faster than normal, and men tend to have faster-growing nails than women. Telltale signs that your nails aren't healthy are when they grow super slow, change color, start to separate from your skin, become thicker, change their shape, or show signs of bleeding and swelling. If you have any of these symptoms, it's vital you get them checked out by a doctor. They can rule out more serious conditions.


The environment can also have an impact on the health of your nails, and dry weather can be just as bad for nail growth as it is for your skin, Cynthia Bailey, M.D., FAAD, told Prevention. "The exact same cells that form the outer layer of your skin also form your nails. These cells harden more in your nails, but structurally, they share many common features and needs," she explains. So if you're in good health but your nails don't look very happy, they might simply need some extra TLC and there are various things you can do to give your nails that extra little boost. Read on for nine tips to speed up nail growth so your next manicure can look even more magical.

Eat a healthy diet

They say you are what you eat, and when it comes to your nails, this is pretty accurate. "Poor nutrition has been shown to slow nail growth," board-certified dermatologist Oma N. Agbai, M.D., told Cosmopolitan. She added that eating a healthy, balanced diet is key to ensuring your body gets all the nutrients it needs to function optimally. Agbai suggests you incorporate foods that are rich in protein while also opting for plant-based meals containing vegetables and fruits. "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," she said.


Other experts agree with Agbai. Speaking to Byrdie, professional nail artist Syreeta Aaron explained that protein is vital when it comes to encouraging nail growth, as well as ensuring you provide your body with all the vitamins it needs to thrive. "Vitamins and eating healthy promote better conditioning from within to help with the growth of your nails," she explains. Tyler Hollmig, M.D., gets into even more detail, telling Prevention that people who want to accelerate nail growth should ensure they eat foods that are rich in cysteine, folate, biotin, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

Take supplements to strengthen nails

To give nail growth an extra boost, you can take certain supplements alongside a healthy diet. You might have heard that biotin can do wonders for hair growth, but it also works great to strengthen your nails, according to the National Institutes of Health. This means that frail and broken nails will no longer keep you from reaching your desired length.


Another supplement you can consider is collagen. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that collagen has the potential to speed up nail growth when you take it once a day for 24 weeks. It also helps to protect your nails against breakage, and this sweet perk was observed four weeks after starting the collagen supplement. A keratin supplement can also be a great help. Yes, it works great to treat your hair, and your nails will love it too. This is because they are largely made up of keratin, according to Byrdie. A good keratin supplement can help strengthen your nails and make them more resistant to damage. You can either take keratin orally or apply a topical nail treatment containing this compound.


Iron supplements can also be helpful. This compound is essential when it comes to growing nails faster, longer, and stronger, according to Cosmopolitan. Check with your doctor if you suspect you have low iron levels. They can advise you on the correct dosage.

Reassess salon manicures

There's no arguing that manicures look great and can give us a much-needed confidence boost, but they can also have a negative effect on nail growth. According to Medical News Today, nail salons can be a breeding ground for the bacteria that causes nail infections, especially if technicians don't clean their equipment after each use. Some technicians also clip the cuticles too short, which can cause bacteria to sneak into your nail bed and wreak havoc.


You might also be allergic to the nail polish the salon uses without realizing it. "Allergy to a nail product will present with peeling, cracking nails," board-certified dermatologist Chris G. Adigun, M.D., FAAD, told Prevention. Common culprits are formaldehyde resin and tosylamide. These compounds are found in both nail polish and nail hardeners. If you usually opt for a gel manicure thinking it's the healthier option for your nails, Adigun says you might have to rethink it. "Gel manicures may be tough on nails, causing brittleness, peeling, and cracking, and repeated use of UV radiation in these settings may increase the risk of skin cancer and premature aging on the hands," Adigun warns.

If you simply can't live without a manicure, Adigun suggests opting for 5-free nail polish brands, which don't contain the common, harmful chemicals that are typically responsible for harming nails. You should also check out a salon's reviews before making an appointment, and don't be afraid to ask the technician to stop when a manicure starts to hurt.


Consider a nail-hardening product

If your nail growth is constantly stunted by breakage, it might be time to consider using a nail hardener. These products do exactly what their name implies — they harden and strengthen your nails, according to Healthline. "It reacts with the natural protein in your nails to create chemical bonds that tie the protein chains together to make nails harder," celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann told HuffPost. An important ingredient in quality nail hardeners is ethyl acetate, according to manicurist Gina Edwards. "A nail hardener may contain calcium for soft or weak nails and nail conditioners for brittle nails, which add a balance of structure in the nail plate surface," she explains.


It's important to know that not all nail hardeners are created equal, and it's vital you read the list of ingredients before you buy. Board-certified dermatologist and nail specialist Dana Stern warns that some nail hardening products contain formalin or formaldehyde, which, instead of strengthening your nails, actually damages them more. "Formaldehyde will initially harden the nail, however with time, the nail becomes paradoxically brittle and is at risk for lifting or separating off of the nail bed," Stern warns. There are also concerns about these ingredients' ability to cause cancer, so it's best to steer clear of any product that includes them in its formulation.

Apply cuticle oil regularly

Just like your skin, your nails need constant hydration to stay healthy. This is where cuticle oils come in. "Cuticle oil works by hydrating the cuticle and nail bed, which is why it's such an important step in nail care, whether you're growing your nails or simply want them to look their best," manicurist Ama Quashie told Elle. Cuticle oils that contain ingredients like sweet almond oil have amazing healing properties without leaving behind a greasy residue, Sonia Hully, the founder of Nailberry, told Byrdie. She added that cuticle oils also work to strengthen nails. "It keeps the skin and nails supple, which then prevents hangnails and nail breakage," she explains. Cuticle oils can also help your manicure look even more luxurious by adding shine. Additionally, they works to prevent any cracks or chips from forming, making your manicure last a little longer.


While cuticle oil is an essential treatment for weak and dehydrated nails, it's also crucial when your goal is to grow your nails faster. Cuticle oil can encourage nail growth because it helps nails to heal from previous damage while also preventing future injury. When you rub cuticle oil into your nails, you're increasing blood circulation in that area, which can help them grow faster. Celebrity manicurist Michelle Saunders says that cuticle oil also works great to keep people from picking or biting at their nails. Healthline suggests you opt for products that contain oils like jojoba, safflower, and flaxseed.

Don't bite or pick at your nails

We know it can be tempting, but biting and picking at your nails is going to stunt their growth even more, and so will constantly pushing back your cuticles, board-certified dermatologist Chris G. Adigun, M.D., FAAD, told Prevention. For some people, the habit of biting or picking at their nails can be very hard to kick. If you're one of them, board-certified dermatologist Amy Wechsler suggests you make it harder to access your nails, like covering spots you keep picking at with a Band-Aid. "If something is covered, then it's hard to access, and when you try to get to them but can't, that's enough time for you to think, 'Oh, I shouldn't be doing this,'" Wechsler told MindBodyGreen. "Sometimes my patients will be walking around with lots of Band-Aids, but it's the only way to heal things," she added. Adigun says figuring out your triggers and then avoiding them can also help. She adds that applying products like cuticle oil or hand cream can also make biting or fidgeting less attractive since you won't have that many dry patches of skin to pick at.


If you've tried literally everything, you can opt for bitter nail polish. The taste will be so bad that you'll seriously reconsider your love for biting your nails. And if you find that you actually have some strange resistance to that bitter taste, follow Wechsler's advice and bandage those fingers up. Your nail growth depends on it.

Practice good nail hygiene

Another way to speed up nail growth is to make sure you practice good nail hygiene. While it's true that being healthy on the inside can help your nail growth immensely, taking care of it on the outside can also work wonders.


Common issues that stunt growth, like brittleness and damaged cuticles, can all be prevented by simply taking extra time to give your nails some TLC. "It's important to care for the entire nail area so that your nails stay healthy in general," board-certified dermatologist Keira Barr, M.D., told MindBodyGreen. This means regularly filing your nails, as well as keeping them neatly trimmed and gently cleaning underneath them on a regular basis. Session manicurist Ami Streets told Elle that it's worthwhile to invest in quality tools, especially when it comes to your nail file. Glass files have been all the rage, but Streets said soft nail files are where the magic is at. "To get the best finish from your filing, always opt for a soft file to prevent tearing or splitting your nails," she advised, adding, "Pro products are always best and usually more hard-wearing."


Streets also said it's important you use the right technique when filing your nails to prevent damage. She recommends you file in one direction and use gentle strokes to keep nails from splintering.

Switch to a less damaging nail polish and remover

Since nail polish sits on your nails for extended periods of time, it's important to ensure you use products that aren't damaging your nails even more. Polish that contains ingredients like toluene, formaldehyde, and camphor tends to have a drying effect on nails, according to MindBodyGreen. Nail polish that is 7-free or above is usually best, especially if you prefer having a manicure almost all the time. The same goes for any base and top coats you apply. Of course, you might find that a 7-free and above nail polish doesn't exist in your favorite color. In this case, opting for a base coat that's free of those drying chemicals will also help.


While choosing more natural nail polishes is crucial to help your nails stay healthy and grow faster, using harsh nail polish removers can really mess with your efforts. "If you want to keep your nails strong, you don't want to use 100% acetone removers," Amy Lin, the founder of nail care brand sundays, told MindBodyGreen. She suggested opting for products that contain ingredients geared towards moisturizing your nails while cleaning them. Soy-based removers work great since they strengthen the nail while dissolving nail polish. As an added bonus, these products typically also include various moisturizing ingredients and vitamins to keep your nails in the best possible shape.

Pay attention to how you groom your nails

How you groom your nails also has an impact on how fast they grow. According to Medical News Today, common nail afflictions can be avoided if you file your nails into a square or rounded shape. This shape protects nails a little better, keeping them from breaking and snagging. Also, if you regularly groom your nails, you might even find that you no longer have anything to bite or pick at, which can go a long way to help speed up nail growth. Something else you can do while grooming your nails is to gently massage them. This increases blood flow, which can help promote growth and strengthen your nails, especially if you tend to experience poor circulation due to medical conditions like diabetes. This can be especially helpful for toenails since they are typically affected the most.


Last, but not least, learn how to properly remove your cuticles. If possible, it's best to simply leave them alone. But if you must remove them, push, don't cut. Cutting them too short is a recipe for disaster and can really end up stunting nail growth. Too-short cuticles can lead to the nail bed and nail matrix being exposed, making your nails vulnerable to infection and damage. Instead, moisturize your cuticles regularly and resist the urge to cut them.