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Manicurists Share Their Top Tips For Growing Stronger Nails Without Giving Up On Those Gel Manis

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Manicurists Share Their Top Tips For Growing Stronger Nails Without Giving Up On Those Gel Manis


Opening parcels, improper removal of gels, certain medications and an unbalanced diet can all contribute to nails that refuse to grow and feel more than a little fragile.

  • But don't fret, there are plenty of easy steps you can take to restore your nails to its healthiest state. Just like how make-up artists agree that make-up looks better on a well-hydrated complexion, a great manicure starts with moisturised, strong nails that remains in good shape even with consistent gel manis.

The most important thing to note? Treat your nails kindly. It takes seconds to apply a cuticle oil or put on gloves before you do any cleaning but the payoff is worth it. Ahead, nail experts shed light on more ways to show your nails some love.

  • 1. Use A Cuticle Oil Daily

According to Ama Quashie, session manicurist and founder of Ama salon, the secret to growing your best nails is: hydration, hydration, hydration.


'To have strong nails, they need to be healthy – and to be healthy, they need to be hydrated,' she says. 'Cuticle oil works by hydrating the cuticle and nail bed, which is why it's such an important step in nail care, whether you're growing your nails or simply want them to look their best.'


Bronx & Banco SS24 

2. Consider Biotin

Studies show that brittle nails prone to peeling and breakage could be a sign of biotin deficiency, so it might be a good idea to supplement your diet with an extra dose of this essential B vitamin.


'Biotin-rich foods may help to strengthen brittle nails,' says nutritionist Amanda Griggs. There are several small studies to support this, although Griggs highlights that 'they did not include a placebo group and also did not include the baseline biotin status of the participants.' However, they did show significant increases in nail thickness and hardness after taking 2.5mg biotin supplement each day.


  • 3. Invest In A 'Soft' Nail File

You might have heard that glass nail files are better for filing with, but while they're longer-wearing and easy to clean, it pays to invest in a 'soft' file, according to session manicurist, Ami Streets. 


4. Nourish Your Nail Beds

If a bumpy, ridged nail bed is completely ruining your mani, you might need to increase your vitamin B9 intake.


Otherwise known as folic acid, this vitamin repairs and multiplies the cells that make up nails, which speeds up growth and promotes overall nail health. It has also been shown to boost strength and prevent peeling.

 Adeam SS24
Adeam SS24© Filippo Fortis - Hearst Owned


'Folic acid is responsible for healthy cell growth in skin tissue as well as hair and nails,' explains Griggs. 'A true deficiency in folic acid may cause discolouration and contribute to brittle and weak nails.'


  • If you think you're lacking, foods like beans and whole grains are rich in folic acid – but you can buy folic acid supplements over the counter, too.

'To get the best finish from your filing, always opt for a soft file to prevent tearing or splitting your nails,' she says. Her top picks? 'Orly's nail file is probably one of best

  • I've used because of the durability and the way it gives the smoothest finish really fast.'

'Pro products are always best and usually more hard wearing. I really like the Natural Nail Company because you can choose a file depending on whether your nails are soft or hard, and there are even options for acrylics.'

  • What's more, you really need to nail (sorry) your filing technique. Back and forth see-saw motions will only cause the nail to splinter, so always file in one direction, using long, swift but gentle strokes.

  • Pro Tip: 'Start from the outside edge and move into the centre,' advises Streets. 'This technique will give you a smooth finish and more control over the shape you're trying to achieve.'

  • 5. Upgrade Your Nail Polish Remover

When your manicure shows signs of chipping, it's all too easy to pick up any old bottle of nail polish remover. But those containing high concentrations of acetone (the potent solvent that is responsible for dissolving nail polish quickly) is extremely harsh on fragile nails and can dry them out almost instantly – cue peeling, flaking and splitting.

Your best bet? Go acetone-free if you're not removing gel formulas. Modern nail polishes are now fortified with vitamins and fatty acids to keep your nailbeds nourished and happy.

  • 6. Give BIAB A Go

A builder gel (also known as BIAB) has a thicker consistency than regular gel polish. According to The Gel Bottle's educator, Beth Davis, this will help your natural nails to grow stronger and longer as it adds a protective layer to prevent your nails from chipping or breaking, and creates a resilient surface to reduce wear and tear.


You can use BIAB on its own, with overlay or with extensions. It's great for brittle and weak nails too, as it creates structural support. 'Maintaining regular appointments will also help your nail’s ability to continue to grow,' says Davis. It does this by creating a structure called the 'apex'.


'An apex is when the product mimics the natural curve of the nail and is thickest at the nail’s stress point.


The stress point can be identified when you gently press on the free edge of the nail and it is the white band that appears across the natural nail. Creating an apex is a must when using BIAB to provide support so that the nail can grow out longer without breaking,' she explains.


7. Eat A Nail-Friendly Diet

Forget all the crash-diet propaganda that's been drip-fed into your brain for decades, because the best diet for all-round health – including your nails – is rich in variety.


For growing nails longer and stronger, Griggs recommends 'a nutritious rainbow diet including colourful fruit and vegetables, leafy greens, oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, eggs, lean meat, a little whole grains and sweet potato.'



To take things to the next level, add in foods that encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria, such as kefir, miso, live yogurt, and kimchi. 'Finally, don't forget to keep hydrated and minimise alcohol consumption and refined sugars,' she says. 

  • 8. Never Pick Your Nails

Yes, it can be really tempting to peel off month-old gels, but doing so will only remove the top layer of your nails and cause it to feel weak and thin. Remove gel nails properly by filing down the polish, wrapping your nails in acetone and gently take off the gels or book in for a professional removal at the salon. Don't hesitate to ask for a manual (instead of machine) removal, too, if your nails are feel extra brittle. 


If you tend to pick your nails out of habit, one ELLE writer has found that a fidget ring helps to give you something to do with your hands, without picking on your skin or nails.


Pro Tip: It might sound obvious, but Quashie's top piece of advice is actually the easiest way to keep your nails looking as good as possible. 'Don't use your nails as tools – remember, be gentle!'

  • 9. Try A Keratin Treatment

Similar to hair, our nails are made up of a protein called keratin. Brittle and weak nails can benefit from a keratin treatment which will help to restore strength and prevent breakage.


Nails & Brows Mayfair offer IBX Nail Strengthening Manicure to create a layer of protection against chipping while Young LDN's Japanese Manicure coats the nail with keratin paste, leaving them feeling stronger and looking glossier than ever.


There are plenty of at-home options, too. Keratin-infused base coats and nail treatments work hard to repair damaged nails while imparting a lustrous shine so you rock that minimalist manicure all while ensuring your nails are properly taken care of.

  • Story by Roberta Schroeder, Medina Azaldin: Elle: 

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