Keep them out of the water
When it comes to strengthening fingernails, Samer Jaber, MD, of Washington Square Dermatology, says to “avoid excessive water exposure, as it can soften your nails.” With overhydration, our nail beds expand as water is absorbed, then contract as the moisture evaporates, leaving them noticeably flimsy and prone to peeling. To keep your nails from getting soft, always wear rubber gloves when you wash dishes, and minimize time spent in hot showers and swimming pools. (Check out these six tricks for how to stop biting nails!)
How you file your nails can make or break them—literally. You’ll want to cut your nails with clippers first, then shape them with a fine-grit cushion file rather than a metal file, which is rougher on the skin around your nails. “I personally prefer the file grade #180, a medium grit file that’s strong enough to get the job done, but soft enough to leave the nail smooth and the surrounding skin unharmed,” says Fernanda Lacerda, co-founder of MB45 Studio, a new manicure-blowdry bar in lower Manhattan. “And filing in one direction is always the key to healthy nails,” she adds, as sawing back and forth with the file can weaken the nail’s edges and set you up for rips, tears, and peeling.