The Surprising Causes & Cures Of Brittle Nails

Knowing brittle nail causes can help you prevent peeling, brittle nails.

Nails can be a fantastic way of making a statement about our personality and character - whether that be with nail color, shape or decoration.

But, what if you’re a sufferer of onychoschizia? That’s right; if your nails are flaking and peeling, the condition has a name. If your nails are thin or brittle, or if the ends are splitting apart, onychoschizia is the term used to describe them.

What Makes Fingernails Brittle? Brittle Fingernails Causes

But, what causes them to start peeling and flaking away? Well, the reason for brittle nails could be dryness. Dryness can typically be one of the main brittle nail causes, so symptoms can be exasperated in the winter months as the atmosphere gets drier as it progressively gets colder. The climate is harsher and takes moisture out of the air, which takes moisture away from your hair, skin, and nails too. So if you’ve noticed a difference in your nail health over the past few months, thankfully the warmer months are coming.

Additionally, flaky fingernails can also be the result of long-term exposure to water or chemicals. If you have your nails polished regularly, are frequently exposed to detergents or soap suds, or are a regular swimmer, this could mean that your nails suffer. Your nails are ten times more porous than your skin, so the constant shift between being wet and dry also plays a part in nail brittleness.

So, now we know the reason for brittle nails, how can keep our fingertips looking and feeling fabulous? Below you can find 3 expert pieces of advice when it comes to keeping your digits divine.

supplement tablets

Flaky Fingernails? Vamp Up Your Vitamins

Poor nail health can be a sign of vitamin deficiencies. So, what vitamins should you be collecting in the cupboard to help improve your nails?

Biotin is great for your hair, skin, and nails! Biotin is a b-complex vitamin and can also be known as vitamin B7, coenzyme R and vitamin H. It aids healthy cell growth and contributes to the metabolism of protein-building amino acids that are essential for nail growth! Biotin can be found in egg yolk, dairy, yeast, avocado, sweet potato, seeds, nuts and cauliflower (if you’re a meat-eater, it can be found in its most concentrated form in organ meats such as liver, or can be found in salmon). 

Other supplements to stock up on are Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin C.

The mineral magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions in your body, including protein synthesis, which is required for nail growth. Zinc promotes the growth and division of cells, and your nails are made up of cells that grow and divide at a rapid rate. Vitamin C, as well as a host of other benefits for including it in your supplement routine, plays a huge part in the production of collagen which gives strength and shape to your nails, teeth, and hair.

hand on sand

Dry, Brittle Nails? Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

Our hands and nails experience a lot of trauma and stress in our everyday activities, so we must be kinder to them if we want them to look their best. In the drier and cold seasons, we should adopt a habitual routine of applying moisture to our hands to make sure the nails don’t dry out and flake.

Cel’s 100% cruelty-free and hypoallergenic Nail Formula is perfect for rehydrating weak and brittle nails. Infused with Panax Ginseng Root, this formula can nourish and hydrate the cuticles, enhance skin elasticity and strength, and protect against further damage.  

The inclusion of Safflower Extract in the formula means that cuticles will feel rejuvenated and restored as the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of Safflower promote healthy skin healing and eliminates free-radical damage. Simply use the specialized applicator to spread the Nail Formula evenly onto either fingernails or toenails and massage lightly for a few seconds until absorbed.

If you can, take a break from nail polish wearing and/or acrylics. You will be exposing your nails to needed nourishment and a short time away from the chemicals in polish can work wonders. If you can’t take time out from polish, make sure you’re using a high-quality base coat on the nail before applying your color.

It’s also definitely worth treating yourself to a new hand cream. Get into the habit of using a specific hand lotion after exposing your hands to soap, water or other chemicals and try to use the cream more than once during the day. This will help keep the skin from drying, and the nails from looking tired and flaking. Our hands are also a key part of the body where we show our age, so keeping them hydrated can help slow down the signs of aging.

Remember that moisture doesn’t just come from the outside. If you’re drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, and not enough water, being dehydrated can have a direct effect on your nail’s appearance too. Aim to drink at least 2 liters of water a day - more if you’re exercising - and you’ll reap further benefits like fewer headaches, better skin, brighter eyes, and more energy.

blue nails

Peeling Nails? Don't Flick The Flake

This is much easier said than done, but picking away the flaking nail will make the situation so much worse! Picking and peeling in a forceful way can cause long-term damage to the nail so if you notice a split, gently file at the nail with a soft, block buffer. This will prevent the nail from splitting further and stop any more damage happening.

But be mindful when buffing: a back-and-forth motion can thin the nail plate, making your nails more prone to peeling so be sure to use a one-direction buffing motion.

Nails Flaking & Peeling? Our Final Thoughts...

Our nails can play a massive role in our life. They can act as conversation starters if you adopt a stand out style, or they can play a part in promoting our inner confidence as our hands are typically permanently exposed to the world and people around us. Looking after our nails can indirectly contribute to better mental health and self-esteem, so surely that makes them worth the investment.

Our nails can also illuminate underlying issues in our health. Poor quality nails, even when you’re looking after them, can be a sign of things like anemia, thyroid disorders and skin disorders like psoriasis. If you have any concerns, it’s always worth checking in with your doctor to rule out any suspicions.



Sarah Milton

A passionate content writer, with a specific interest in the science behind hair care. Having created content for several years, I’ve grown my knowledge exponentially in the science behind hair growth, quality and texture, and what ingredients our tresses need to thrive. When not in the office, I’m walking my dog along the beach or invested in a brilliant television drama.