Dermatologists Swear By This Drugstore Nail Strengthener for Stronger, Healthier Nails

In case your nails are something like mine, they develop into flimsy and papery after a gel or acrylic manicure: They peel, tear, and fold over themselves after I accomplish that a lot as clasp a necklace. It appears that evidently as a way to have nice-looking nails, I would as properly get a mani each week—however I don’t have the disposable funds for that.

Lately my inbox has flooded with magnificence manufacturers touting the advantages of their new topical nail strengtheners. In keeping with Ivy Lee-Keltner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the medical director of Direct Dermatology, most nail strengtheners create a protecting, hydrating movie on high of the nail, which ought to make it much less prone to peel, break, or break up. However are these merchandise well worth the hype—and your cash? Dr. Lee says there isn’t vital scientific proof that proves the efficacy of over-the-counter nail strengtheners (most of it's anecdotal). Nevertheless, something that hydrates or protects your nails most likely gained’t harm—simply keep away from any topical merchandise which are formulated with formaldehyde, she says, because the chemical could cause critical irritation in some individuals. 

In my quest for hand-model-worthy nails, I discovered that there’s an affordable, extra versatile various to those merchandise that I already had in my drugs cupboard: Aquaphor. “Making use of an ointment like Aquaphor or Vaseline to the cuticles can assist seal the cuticle and promote wholesome nails,” Fatima Fahs, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and the founding father of Dermy Doc Field, tells SELF. Apparently, TikTokers known as this “nail slugging” in 2022, however that is one “development” that seemingly gained’t go away. Dr. Lee notes that she additionally recommends merchandise like Aquaphor or Vaseline to her sufferers who're involved about brittle nails. “In my scientific expertise, I've had sufferers self-report improved sturdiness of their nails after they hydrate the nail fold with a moisturizing ointment,” she says. 

How does petrolatum strengthen your nails?

The primary ingredient in ointments like Aquaphor and Vaseline is hydrated petrolatum (a.okay.a. petroleum jelly). “[It’s] an occlusive moisturizer, which varieties a barrier that seals water in,” Dr. Lee says. “Making use of this to the proximal nail fold and cuticle helps hydrate the world the place the nail plate begins to develop. This leads to a smoother and extra sturdy nail plate.” (The proximal nail fold is the pores and skin bordering the decrease finish of the nail; that is the place your cuticle grows over the nail. The nail plate, typically simply known as the nail, is the half you paint with polish.)

Petrolatum-based ointments can assist your cuticles maintain onto moisture, which is essential for total nail well being. “Open, irritated, or ragged cuticles can contribute to weak nails and a weak nail mattress,” Dr. Fahs says. Your first intuition may be to seize the cuticle nippers and snip extraordinarily dry pores and skin across the nail or push the cuticles again, however your finest transfer is to maintain them moisturized and in any other case depart them alone. “The cuticle is crucial to defending the nail from micro organism and different germs coming into the physique [that can] trigger infections,” Nada Elbuluk, MD, a scientific affiliate professor of dermatology on the College of Southern California, beforehand instructed SELF.

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