Cure This: Brittle Nails

We treat our nails like built-in Swiss Army knives, using them to pry open seltzer cans and scratch away dirt. Like all tools, they need to be maintained.

What it is
The condition involving splitting and tearing nails (and those with a fissure down the middle) actually has a name: onychoschizia.
What causes it
Excessive hand- and dishwashing, nail polish removers, and cold weather

Clawing to the Top

Great nails start with new habits

1. Avoid Water

Wear gloves when doing dishes and skip the antibacterial soaps, which can be drying, says Nia Terezakis, a dermatologist in New Orleans.

2. Keep Things Lubricated

Apply lotion before and after washing hands. Massage it into cuticles and nails.

3. Go Gentle

Wear gloves in cold weather. Resist using nails to pick up things or clean dirt from other nails. (And step away from those glue-on talons and gel nail polish.)

Only the Strong Survive

So consider calling in reinforcements.

Derma E Age-Defying Hand Creme is nongreasy and features green tea and olive oil to protect skin and cuticles. dermae.com

Butter London Horse Power Nail Fertilizer Treatment has horsetail extract to strengthen nails. butterlondon.com

Sally Hansen VitaSurge Strength GeL combines vitamins E and C to help increase flexibility. drugstore.com

Barielle Growth Activator for Natural Nails contains garlic enzymes to stimulate growth and seed oil to nourish. barielle.com

Scale It Back

The surface of the nail has small keratin fibers that are oriented in the same direction, like the scales of a fish. To keep them flat, avoid pushing back cuticles with harsh metal tools and using fingernails to dig under things. (Yes, that includes the pull tabs on cans.)

Learn More About Natural Hand Care

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