Q. Every winter my fingernails get dry, brittle and even split right down. Please can you recommend anything to help?
A. There’s no quick fix as nails take time to grow. But you can make an immediate difference to their appearance by massaging in oil and/or oily hand cream now this minute – and every single time you have had your hands in water 24/7. We have hand cream everywhere, including tried and tested Lanolips Lemon Hand Cream/£8.99 for 50ml. A new favourite is Liz Earle’s Superskin Hand Serum, £18.75 for 75 ml.
Do wear gloves when you wash up and when you handle paper (incredibly drying), garden, groom muddy horses (Sarah’s downfall) and the rest. Please – just wear gloves!
Thirdly, consider supplements. Start with a magnesium supplement such as Life Extension Neuro-Mag, £33 for 90 capsules (helps you sleep and stay calm too). As winter comes, vitamin D (a.k.a.‘the sunshine vitamin’) is vital for everything, including the state of your nails – that’s why they tend to grow better in the summer. Try Better You DLux 1000 Spray. We also like to add omega-3 essential fatty acids, which you can only get from what you eat – your body can’t make it. Try Lamberts Pure Fish Oil, currently £6.95 for 60 capsules at Victoria Health.
The state of your gut seems to affect everything including your fingernails. Sarah, who has notoriously weak nails, has found the most effective internal strengthener to be a chlorella supplement called Sun Chlorella A/£21.95 for 300 tablets. For the first time ever, she practically grew talons. Try to take 15-30 (you can build up the number) of these funny little green pillules (tablets makes them sound bigger than they are) daily, or add the powder to smoothies.
Protecting nails with a clear varnish designed to make them stronger is a wise move – and for the moment leave the coloured lacquer: you can adorn them when they grow a bit stronger. Try Nail Magic Nail Treatment, £11.95/victoriahealth.com.
Finally, never buff your nails – or let anyone else do so – it can weaken them for months. A really soft sponge-y buffer is fine but anything that abrades the surface is to be avoided at all costs.