How to Fix Your Splitting Nails: Find it Again Friday

fix splitting nails with lanolin

During the dry winter months, not only will our hands crack, but it seems like our nails split more often as well. However, there are ways to prevent your nails from splitting. But first, it is important to understand what causes your nails to split.

What Causes Splitting Nails?

Dr Bailey addresses many of the health issues associated with nail splitting in her post, Nail Care for Splitting and Dry Nails. 

  • Nail splitting may be a sign of a hereditary syndrome such as thyroid disorders or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Age is another factor in the development of weaker and cracked nails. Your nails dry out with age, losing the natural oils that hold the nail layers together.  
  • Harsh nail care products, soaps, and solvents also dry out the natural oils in your nails, making them more brittle over time. 
  • Nail hardeners, despite their name, are particularly problematic.

Dr. Bailey explains how nail hardeners damage your nails:

At first your nails begin to "fray" on the edges, becoming brittle. Eventually the layers split.  Nail hardeners make this worse because the alcohols, formaldehyde, and other chemicals in the nail hardeners really dry out your natural oils. (It’s these chemicals that make the nails feel harder at first, but- whammo- after a few weeks the splitting is worse than ever.) 

How to Treat Splitting Nails?

Step 1: Avoid harsh soaps, solvents, and nail care products.

This will preserve the natural oils, the glue, between your nail layers.

Step 2: Apply oils and humectants to your nails for hydration to keep them soft and resist splitting.

Whenever washing your hands or wetting your nails, apply creams, oils and ointments to your nails for hydration after toweling dry. Applying moisturizers to dry nails will not work nearly as well. 

best shea butter jojoba and avocado oil for splitting nails

Jojoba oil, avocado oil, shea butter, or other rich natural oils that do not rub off easily. Dr. Bailey's Natural Butter Cream is rich in these exact oils. It can be used from face to feet - and is a great natural hand cream to apply to your nails. 

For severely splitting nails, look for products that contain lanolin. Dr. Bailey's favorite lanolin containing nail product is Bag Balm, which contains lanolin oil.

Bag Balm 1 oz best hand moisturizer for extremely chapped hands
best dry skin hand cream

Dr. Bailey's Dry Skin Hand Cream is another excellent moisturizer for maintaining healthy hand skin and nails. It is enriched with glycerin, another great humectant. It is convenient to apply after washing. Dr. Bailey keeps this at every sink to make it easy to keep hands and nails hydrated and trouble free.


Step 3: Clip and file your nails only when wet.

Nail maintenance tools used on dry nails exacerbates the problem of splitting nails. Nails are made of parallel sheets of protein and lipid. You don't want to fray that by traumatizing it when it's dry and brittle. Instead, wet your nails, gently towel off the water and then perform your nail maintenance. Also gently buff the end of the nails to prevent the split nail from catching on things and spreading further down the nail.

Step 4: Wear protective gloves during rough work or when working with harsh chemicals.

best doctor's treatment for dry hands and splitting nails

For complete dry skin hand care, check out Dr. Bailey's comprehensive Dry Hand Skin Repair Kit, that now includes detailed instructions.

What vitamins can help to fix splitting nails?

Vitamin supplements may help, but the effects take a year to notice. This is because nails grow slowly. Nail supplements that contain biotin tend be the most helpful. Talk with the supplement expert at your local health store and ask which nail supplements they recommend that contain biotin. 

Dr Bailey stresses, the ultimate key in vitamin nourishment is a healthy balanced diet:

Eating a richly nutritious diet is key to supporting healthy nails and vitamin supplements should be used in addition to, not in place of a healthy diet.
Sincerely, Dr. Bailey Skin Care Team