I'm a Beauty Editor With Nails That Keep Breaking—Here's Why

For a long time, my nails were constantly breaking and snapping. I wanted to grow my nails but could never get them past a certain length and was wondering why my nails were breaking so much. I used to have long and very strong nails, so I couldn't work out why my nails were thin, almost bendy and prone to snagging.

It turns out there can be a whole host of reasons why your nails—either natural or artificial—might be breaking. Our lifestyles, nail care, how we use our hands and even our diets can play a big role in how strong our nails are.

So, if you're wondering my your nails are breaking, look no further. I spoke to two top nail technicians, Ami Streets and Katie Barnes, to share their insight on some of the most common reasons for nail breakage, as well as how to ensure your nails can grow long and strong.

1. You're not hydrating your nails


(Image credit: @lefevrediary)

"When cuticle oil and hand creams are not used or lack of protection is taken (such as wearing gloves when doing household chores), your nails will become less flexible, meaning they are more prone to breakage," says Barnes. "Cuticle oil makes the nail flexible so it bends rather than breaks. The less cared-for your nails, the more likely they will be to break," she adds. So layer on hand cream, cuticle oil, and some gloves if you're doing any chores around your home.

2. You're using the wrong nail file


(Image credit: @harrietwestmoreland)

Some nail files can make the edge of your nails split. "Using files that are too coarse and harsh for natural nails can cause breakage," says Streets. "To get the best finish from your filing always opt for a soft file to prevent tearing or splitting your natural nails. Choose professional products for the best durability and smoothest finish," she says. "A glass file is super durable and easy to clean between uses." Plus, a glass file is more environmentally friendly than disposable nail files.

3. Your nails are too long


(Image credit: @nailartbyqueenie)

This one goes for both natural nails and nail enhancements. Depending on your lifestyle, long nails might not be best suited to you. "When a nail tech creates a nail that is too long for the client's lifestyle, then the nail is likely to break. This should be discussed in the consultation, as many factors such as cleaning and our profession can affect how nails last." explains Barnes.

This is particularly so with nail enhancements, which require maintenance. "You should return every 2–3 weeks for a regular maintenance appointment," she says. "This will be individual to each client depending on lifestyle and nail growth, some may need to return sooner." If you're growing it out for longer than you should, the bulk of the product is on the edge of the nails, which can make nails prone to breaking. So be sure to book in with your nail tech regularly.

4. Your go-to nail shape is prone to breakage


(Image credit: @nailartbyqueenie)

Some nail shapes can be prone to breaking more easily. "Try a more rounded or squoval shape as ensuring nails are snag free and smooth will help to keep their shape, flexibility and strength," advises Streets. When possible, it's a good idea to wear a layer of polish on your nails to help strengthen them—even if it's just a clear topcoat.

5. You're using products that dehydrate your nails


(Image credit: @harrietwestmoreland)

Harsh nail products can strip the nail, leaving it weaker and compromised. "Using acetone-based nail polish removers frequently can strip and dehydrate the nail plate, so switch to acetone free and try to minimise use of any astringent products," says Streets. Similarly, harsh hand sanitisers can also dehydrate nails, so look for gentle ones instead. "Use quality tools, only buff if essential and finish with plenty of nourishing hand and cuticle oil for smooth hydrated and healthy skin—consistency with a good routine is the key to achieving the best results and beautiful nails," she says.

6. It could be down to a deficiency


(Image credit: @smythsisters)

Diet plays an important role in our skin, hair and nails. So if you're missing out on some key vitamins or minerals, you might find your nails are weaker than they should. "Biotin, magnesium and omega 3 are essential for nail growth," says Streets. "Whether you top up your levels through diet with things like leafy greens, oily fish, and seeds, (adding chia or finely milled flaxseeds to your meals are an easy way to do this) or by using a supplement."

Next: 86 Nail Art Ideas We've Saved for Our Next Trip to the Salon

Eleanor Vousden
Beauty Editor, Who What Wear UK

Eleanor Vousden is the beauty editor for Who What Wear UK. She was previously deputy editor at Hairdressers Journal, health writer at Woman & Home and junior beauty editor at beauty website Powder. She has also contributed to Wallpaper and Elle Collections with written and styling work.Working as a beauty journalist since 2015 after graduating in fashion journalism at the London College of Fashion, she has been highly commended at the BSME Talent Awards for her work on Powder and also contributed to the title winning Website of the Year at the PPA Awards.Eleanor’s journalistic focus is to provide readers with honest and helpful beauty content. Through words, video and live broadcast, she has interviewed several celebrity makeup artists, hairstylists and top dermatologists throughout her career, as well as celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Scarlett Johansson. She has a particular interest in finding solutions for acne and eczema, which she has experienced firsthand. She has also amassed a large collection of fragrances and can never say no to a new candle.When she’s not writing or testing the latest beauty product or treatments, she’s on the seafront in her hometown of Brighton and Hove, where she lives with her partner and her miniature dachshund.