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Ask Belle: Fixes for Healthy Nails

Hi Belle, 

I work in a health care setting and as such, wash my hands many, many times a day. It wreaking havoc on my nails – peeling, breaking, just generally weak and hard to maintain. I’ve tried a few Sally Hansen and Essie nail products to strengthen my nails, but to no success.

Do you have any products you’d recommend? It’s hard to keep my polish from getting chipped when my nails are constantly in shambles.

Thanks! RB

If you’re looking for a product to care for your hands, you need to start with the health of your skin and cuticles.  The best product on the market is O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Hand Cream ($7).  If you’re dealing with seriously dry skin, you may want to add a pair of moisturizing gloves.

To strengthen your nails, you should start with a trim.  Keep your nails on the shorter side if you have problems with breakage.  Also, add an olive oil soak to your beauty routine.  Simply pour some olive oil in a shallow dish and soak your nails for 10-minutes.  If you struggle with fungus or discolored nails, try tea tree oil instead.

If you use hand-sanitizer, switch to one that isn’t alcohol based.  Germ-X makes a foam sanitizer that’s alcohol free.  If you’re just washing your hands a lot, Julep makes an essential cuticle oil that is portable.  You can just smudge a bit on after you wash your hands.

Once you get them strong enough for painting, Seche Vite makes a great nail strengthening clear polish.

Have more tips?  Share them in the comments.



  1. Nora says:

    Nailtiques Formula 2 is the best for peeling nails! I use it every day.

    May 19, 2015/Reply
    • Virginia says:

      THIS! Nailtiques Formula 2 is the best for my peeling nails. Fair warning, though — it is killer on your cuticles, so monitor them accordingly!

      May 20, 2015/Reply
  2. J says:

    Belle, I really hope you meant “try adding tea tree oil” to an olive oil soak instead of suggesting that she soak her hands in pure tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a potent essential oil and should never be used undiluted.

    May 19, 2015/Reply
  3. Clementine says:

    Also, consider taking some vitamins to help strengthen them from the inside out. Prenatal vitamins are great for this- once I started taking plain old Target brand gummy prenatals, my nails were noticeably stronger and less prone to breaking and tearing.

    May 19, 2015/Reply
    • Marina says:


      May 19, 2015/Reply
  4. Heather says:

    You should try DURI , which can be found here It has save my nails. My sister is a nurse who suffered the same so I understand.

    May 19, 2015/Reply
  5. Kate says:

    Biotin is the vitamin that make your nails so strong, and it does make a HUGE difference if you take it every day. You can buy it on its own – it also strengthens and nourishes your hair.

    May 19, 2015/Reply
    • Anna says:

      What brand do you use? I tried the target brand and didn’t notice a big difference, but I’m so skeptical of actually getting what’s written on the label.

      May 19, 2015/Reply
  6. E in Austin says:

    I swear by the Hoofmaker Hand and Nail Therapy lotion,

    I keep it at my desk and on my bedside table. Its not greasy, so it’s perfect for frequent application. It softens your skin and seriously beefs up your nail’s strength. You can also get it at your local Sally Hansen Beauty supply.

    May 19, 2015/Reply
  7. E says:

    Is the O’Keeffe’s lotion greasy? One complaint I have with some hand lotions is that they leave a filmy layer on my hands and things I touch.

    May 19, 2015/Reply
    • R says:

      Surprisingly, it is not greasy. I have been trying different anti-aging lotions on my hands, because I thought they were looking old. O’Keeffe’s is the first hand cream that I have found to change how my hands look.

      May 19, 2015/Reply
      • E says:


        May 19, 2015/Reply
  8. Gillian says:

    OPI Nail Envy will change your life. TRUST ME. Follow the directions with application and in a week or two you will have different nails. Enjoy! 🙂

    May 19, 2015/Reply
  9. Rachel B says:

    My nails definitely became healthier when I stopped pushing back and removing my cuticles. I use a nail buffer sparingly to minimize the amount of polish and polish remover that I have to use.

    I like Deborah Lippman’s It’s a Miracle Intense Cuticle Therapy Oil and her regular Cuticle Oil. They absorb quickly and keep my cuticles soft with consistent use.

    May 19, 2015/Reply
  10. Rachel says:

    I second Nailtiques Formula 2. Also, the Burt’s Bees lemon cuticle balm is good to rub on your nails – it keeps them moisturized and helps with peeling.

    May 19, 2015/Reply
  11. Sarah says:

    Take vitamins. I started taking pre-natal and omega-3s and my nails are rock solid and grow like weeds. I took Biotin also for a while (was trying to make my hair grow faster) but it only affected my nails.

    May 19, 2015/Reply