No matter how you like to wear your nails—polished or unpolished, long or more trimmed—a common wish many of us have is that our nails grow faster. From the person trying to fight the urge to bite their nails to the one who broke a nail so short they’re in pain, there are a million reasons to want nail growth. Unfortunately, it’s not something you can just manifest into existence. But understanding the science of the nails, the nail matrix, the causes of brittle nails and more can help you support healthy nail growth.
Let’s get into some of the basics first.
On average, how much do healthy nails grow per month?
A recent study showed average fingernail growth rates to be 3.47 mm/month in comparison to average toenails at 1.62 mm/month. However, even healthy nail growth rates tend to decrease as we age—and other studies have shown statistically significant differences in growth rates before and after the age of 40.
Aging aside, what are possible reasons for slow nail growth?
There are several variables that are associated with slower nail growth. For example, the nails can grow more slowly on your non-dominant hand. Nails grow faster in warmer months, so you may also notice seasonal changes. In addition, certain illnesses, like yellow nail syndrome, and compromised circulation can slow nail growth.
How does poor circulation affect nail growth?
Like other parts of your body, nails receive their oxygen and nutrient supply from the blood stream. (However, it is a myth that “nails breath.”) Therefore, compromised blood flow to the fingers and toes—or peripheral perfusion—makes it harder for the delivery of rich, oxygenated blood to the nails.
Dr. Dana says she has even observed slower growth rates and the yellowing of the nails in patients whose hands are immobilized in a cast, as compared to the non-injured side, or in patients who are paralyzed on one side. These types of examples support the notion that compromised circulation can make nails grow slower.
But there are many other medical conditions that can lead to poor circulation and thus slow nail growth. Raynaud’s phenomenon—which causes blood vessels in the hands and feet to spasm, especially in response to cold—is a classic example. Anyone suffering from a compromised lymphatic system, which can occur after radiation or certain malignancies, may also see a slowing of nail growth. Lifestyle can also be a factor. If you’re on the sedentary side, you may make your nails grow more slowly.
SUPPORT HEALTHY NAIL GROWTH
What are some easy ways to help your nails grow faster?
One way you help nails grow is to improve circulation. A healthy, active lifestyle is a big contributing factor, and of course promotes all sorts of other positive behaviors. But you can give yourself regular hand massages to help get the blood flowing to your fingers, as well.
The Dr. Dana Nail Treatment System incorporates a natural ingredient, Pistacia Lentiscus, which is derived from the sap of an evergreen tree that grows in the Mediterranean. Dr. Dana was intrigued by studies she had read on this Pistacia Lentiscus that indicated it might support nail growth. And although we have not done formal growth studies on the product, customers (and Dr. Dana herself) have shared their anecdotal observations about their healthy, faster growing nails.
What can I do to make my nails generally healthier?
There are a few things you can do to support your nail health and thus help your nails grow. First, try to limit your exposure to super hot or super cold weather. Exposure to extreme temperatures creates a flux nail cell state, constantly expanding and contracting. This puts the nail under tremendous strain and is especially relevant in the winter when we are often moving from cold to heated environments.
Protect Your Hands
You should also think about wearing gloves if your hands are going to have prolonged exposure to water. Nails absorb water even more easily than our skin. When that water is constantly moving in and out of the nails, it puts a tremendous strain on the delicate nail cells, or oncocytes. This can result in weakening, softening and breakage. Your cuticles can become dehydrated which makes them more likely to lift and separate, causing hangnails or openings where infections can more easily gain entry.
Treat Your Cuticles
It’s also very important to use a cuticle oil or treatment. A healthier cuticle means a healthier nail. This is one of the most important ways to keep the entire nail healthy because the cuticle is the nail’s natural protective seal. A dry, dehydrated or non-existent cuticle will result in a compromised cuticle seal, potentially allowing water and infections to enter the nail. This subsequently may cause an inflammation and infection of the skin surrounding the nail called paronychia.
Exfoliate and Condition Your Nails
We condition and protect our hair to avoid frizz and split ends and we can try some similar tactics with nails. This makes them less brittle, thus less likely to break and more apt to grow. The Dr. Dana Nail Renewal System is a 3-step nail system that treats nails with formulas backed by science.
Essential exfoliation is an important part of this process because it removes superficial damage and dead nail cells at the surface. This means you can more effectively treat and moisturize the nail, bringing “the canvas” back to a healthier state. Think of it as a facial for the nail. This is how the Dr. Dana Nail Renewal System works. Steps one and two are the exfoliation process, while step three is the deep hydrating and strengthening treatment. Plus, your nails look fantastic when you’re done—in under 10 minutes.
But there is no polish involved and the whole process is mess-free. You can use this manicure-in-a-box to treat or prevent brittle, weak nails or to simply create a chic, long-lasting lustrous shine without the use of polish or harmful chemicals.
Use Glass Files
And if you do break a nail, you can help it grow back stronger by using a glass file, like the Dr. Dana Precision Glass Nail File. This counts for general nail shaping and filing too.