Are you fed up with having weak nails? Some straightforward lifestyle tweaks can help nurture your nails and have them standing strong.

While there may not be a CrossFit for fingernails, many cost-effective strategies exist to achieve fabulous nails. Here are 10 tips to enhance the strength and appearance of your nails.

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Photography by Bisual Studio/Getty Images
  1. Maintain a balanced, nutrient-rich diet
  2. Bring on the biotin
  3. Stay hydrated
  4. Don’t over-soak your nails
  5. Avoid chipping your nails
  6. Take a breather from nail polish
  7. Watch what products you use on your nails
  8. Avoid gel polish and acrylic nails
  9. Moisturize your hands
  10. Maintain shorter nails with gentle filing

The first step to strengthening your nails is from the inside. Like the rest of your body, your nails will benefit from a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients. Toss in a multivitamin to cover your bases, but talk to your doctor to ensure your supplements don’t clash with any prescription meds you might be taking.

One specific addition to your diet that helps strengthen your nails is biotin. Found in foods like eggs, legumes, and sardines, biotin also helps strengthen your hair. Since biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that gets flushed out of your body, consider taking a biotin supplement daily.

Your nails thrive when they’re hydrated, so keep the water flowing. Have a water bottle handy and maintain a steady drinking pace throughout the day. Think of your nails like thirsty houseplants that need to keep drinking water to survive.

Even though drinking water is excellent for your nails, submerging them in water too often can render them weak and brittle. It’s hard not to get your nails wet, especially if you’re mindful to wash your hands often. But if you’re washing the dishes or cleaning the house with chemicals, try wearing cotton-lined gloves. If you love to soak in a nice long bath, let your digits dangle outside the tub as much as possible.

You might want to change course if your nails are your favorite can opener. Spare your nails the heavy lifting, and let tools or other gadgets handle the grunt work. Treat yourself to a nice multitool to open up that La Croix.

Though painting those claws can offer hours of bedazzling fun, nail polish smothers and weakens your nails. Let those digits breathe occasionally by going nail-polish-free every other week.

Pro tip for your tips: Ask your manicurist to leave your cuticles as they are. Cuticles help to seal your nails to your skin, preventing bacteria from growing and protecting you from infection.

If you gotta have some nail glam, reach for non-toxic polishes and acetone-free removers. Try to avoid harmful chemicals in daily nail care products that the FDA has flagged.

For instance, some nail hardeners contain formaldehyde (sometimes called “formalin” and “methylene glycol”), which bonds with the keratin in your nails and helps strengthen them in the short term. But keep in mind that using hardeners too often can make your nails brittle.

And be mindful of using other products like shampoos for oily hair or alcohol-based hand sanitizers too often. These products are designed to dry out your skin, so your nails will get parched, too.

Gel polish or acrylic nails will cause your nails to weaken and peel if you use them too often. If you can’t resist the shiny appeal, give your nails a breather between applications. Aim for one week of glam followed by one week of au natural.

Bonus tip: Slap on sunscreen before exposing your hands to the UV needed for gel polish application.

If your hands feel parched on a dry day or after removing your nail polish, indulge in hand cream love. Better yet, make moisturizing your hands a post-handwashing ritual.

Keep those nails on the shorter side. Long nails are like high-maintenance friends — more prone to breakage and entanglements. (No judgments here.) Short nails still chip and crack less often.

To help keep your nails strong, avoid filing them in that back-and-forth lumberjack sawing motion. Instead, go for an easy, one-direction motion. Sing a One Direction song while you do it if you need a mnemonic device to remember how to handle your nails with care.

If you notice that these lifestyle changes aren’t helping you keep your nails strong, you might want to talk to a skincare advisor or a dermatologist. Be on the lookout for signs of a more severe condition, like:

  • swelling
  • pain
  • bleeding
  • discoloration under the nail
  • separation of the nail from your skin

Changes in your nail health can indicate some more severe health conditions.

You can strengthen weak nails with simple lifestyle changes:

  • Maintain a balanced diet, stay hydrated, and supplement with biotin.
  • Keep nails dry externally, avoid using them as tools, and let them breathe without polish regularly.
  • Skip gels, acrylics, and products with acetone or formaldehyde.
  • Keep nails short and cuticles intact to prevent infections.
  • Monitor for any unusual discoloration or swelling indicating potential health issues.