For long nails, tips from a manicurist and dietician

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“I don’t understand why my nails won’t grow! They are super thin and break all the time. I’ve started taking biotin and try to keep polish on them but they still break. My mom has these really long and strong nails (I’m 14). How can I get those?” —Lily, Etobicoke

Thank you, Lily. Thanks for writing. Reading your question brought back vivid memories of being fascinated by my mom’s nails when I was growing up. I considered them my emblem of sophistication. They looked great, even though she didn’t care much about them. Their safety was her top priority. She can clean up after them and garden for their food. You will be surprised to learn that she is now able to grow her nails faster than I expected. Guess what? Her nails grow faster today than I thought.

But first, let’s deal with how to make your nails grow long, strong and healthy from the inside out. Your age is very important as different nutritional requirements can apply depending on your life stage. To fill us in, I spoke with Maude Morin, a registered dietician who works with Toronto’s JM Nutrition (but is based in Saint John, because everything is virtual now). Morin says that eating enough, and particularly enough protein, is priority number 1. Teens’ lives are busy, says Morin, and eating habits can be forgotten. “Three square meals a day, plus healthy snacks, with two litres of water,”She is willing to share her expertise. “If your diet is not balanced, you are missing vitamins and minerals that are building blocks for hair, skin and nails.”

If you aren’t giving your body enough fuel, she says, that “will put your nails far down on the list of the things your body has to do in a day. The energy will go to your red blood cell count, your heart beating, your brain, breathing and digestion first. Your nails will suffer.”

The building blocks of collagen are protein. Morin advises eating eggs, Greek yogurt whole milk, nuts, seeds, nut butters and chicken. You note you are taking biotin supplements—Morin advises making sure you are getting biotin in your diet as well. “Biotin is vitamin B7, so go for dark leafy greens, cooked eggs, legumes, beans and lentils. Avocados have some biotin, but also healthy fats that maintain skin barrier and help with nails,”She stated. “A multivitamin is always a good idea,”She said, “but not gummies, as they don’t contain iron.”

If you aren’t giving your body enough fuel, she says, that “will put your nails far down on the list of the things your body has to do in a day.”

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Let’s now get to the exterior nail care part. The number 1 nail nurturing secret is to wear gloves when doing dishes and extended cleaning, says Toronto-raised, New York—based Rita Remark, an editorial, red carpet and runway nail artist, and global educator for Essie. Water weakens nails. But, it is essential to hydrate properly. “Cuticle oil and hand cream are like eye cream and face cream,”Remark: She uses Essie’s apricot cuticle oil, because “it mimics the natural sebum, so it is easily recognized and easily absorbed. Plus it smells good, so there is a reward for using it.”Add cuticle oil into your daily routine at least twice per day. Keep it with you in your backpack or bag so that you don’t forget to use it.

Your nails will grow by stimulating blood circulation. Massage the skin gently and push the cuticles to stimulate blood circulation. You can also try light buffing. “Energy goes where blood flows,”Remark: Be gentle. Nail bed damage could be caused by too much buffing or filing.

“To grow your nails long, you should be regularly giving them a little file,”She stated. “It is counterintuitive, but when you file regularly, you smooth the tip, so any snags can’t develop into peeling or cracking.” Just be sure to use a nail file—not an emery board, those are too coarse—that is no less than 180 gauge grit (the higher the grit, the finer the file). Tweezerman is a good choice, she says. To smooth out any possible cracks, keep a file in your bag.

Nail strengthening treatments can help strengthen nails. Remark recommends Essie Hard to Resist, which is meant to be worn alone; there is one with a violet tint that neutralizes yellow in brittle or stained nails, and one with a rosy undertone that’s good for brightening dull nails.

It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of nail colours. Note: You don’t need nail polish “break”No harmful chemicals are used in modern lacquers. Essie Start Strong should be your basecoat, she says. “It has MSM compounds, which don’t sound sexy, but they naturally strengthen the nail. They repair the nail right under the polish.”Each week change your nail polish.

Now, let’s have some fun with the fall colour trends! “It’s been a very green year,”She stated. “It’s so versatile.”Deep hunter, greens like Force of Nature and great khakis are her favorites. Classic reds are back, as is the classic or colourful French manicure, à la Beyoncé’s customary almond-shaped version. Remark loves chocolate brown in the fall. Take the Expresso and Cold Brew Crew are his favorite picks.

Notice that you can only see very little nail art when using a limited number of colors, like brown, chocolate or beige. The most important news in nails is the new length: it’s shorter! Lily this is wonderful news. It’s also good news for me, since I like to keep my nails straight and square. “It is musicians leading the way here,”Comment: Have you seen Rihanna and Meghan with shorter nails recently? “Very long nails have been a trend for a very long time,””She said. All of us know that trends change. The pendulum must swing back. Remark “I’m here for classic.”

The best advice

With a couple of simple tools, you can maintain healthy nails with some TLC


Tweezerman nail file, $9 per pack, Photo: Tweezerman

Purchase Now

You can keep your dual-sided file safe by having a protective carry case with you. You can do this with finer (180grit), grit. Do the same.


Dior Huile Abricot
Dior Huile Abricot Daily Nutritive Serum – $39, Photo by Dior

Purchase Now

This luxe cuticle serum is fortified with argan oil, Vitamin E and apricot oil and won’t spill in your purse, thanks to its clever squeezy-pen format.


Essie Hard to resist nail strengthener
Essie can’t resist violet-colored nail strengthening products, $14 at

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The strengthener can be used alone to protect your nails from daily wear. Violet tint works well to neutralize yellow or brittle nails.


Yves Rocher Nail Polishing Block
Yves Rocher Nail Polishing Block, $5, Photo by Yves Rocher

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This four-sided file can be used for polishing, smoothening, and shining nails. Buffing improves the flow of blood to nails. Be gentle. You could end up with damage if you do too much, or too aggressively buff.


Essie Expressie nail polish
Essie Expressie Nail Polish in Precious Cargo-go, $14, Photo: Essie

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In an age where green nails are a hot fashion, this neutral color will be a fashionable everyday option.


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Dietician Manicurist tips for long nails

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