Cracking Fingernails? Here’s How To Improve Your Nail Health

If you’ve ever painted your nails just to cover up unsightly ridges and cracks, this one’s for you.

By Renée Walton3 min read
Pexels/Arina Krasnikova

Let’s face it: At best, damaged nails can be annoying, and at worst, they can be downright embarrassing. With the cracking, the ridges, the mysterious white spots, and the jagged edges from yet another surprise breakage, sometimes it’s easier to polish your nails and call it a day than it is to solve the actual problem. 

Finally ready to resolve your nail drama once and for all? Read on to find out how to get picture-perfect nails, even when totally au naturale

Typically, damaged or weak nails are either the result of lifestyle habits or nutrition. As a first line of defense against unsightly nails, pay attention to your habits. If your nails don’t improve by making some lifestyle changes, then it’s time to analyze your diet to make sure you’re getting enough nail-nourishing vitamins and nutrients. Still no luck? Then it’s time to seek out products that might help. 

Happy Nail Habits 

Before taking any drastic measures to improve your nail health, simply take a look at your daily habits. For starters, notice how often you get your nails wet. Too much water exposure can cause your nails to become soft and more susceptible to damage. Obviously, there’s no way to keep your hands out of water all the time – you have to wash them, after all. But if you’re experiencing brittle nails, be mindful of how often your fingers are submerged and consider making some changes. One easy hack is to wear gloves while doing dishes. And keeping your hands out of the water while taking a bath or swimming might also be worth a shot. 

If your toenails are the problem, consider your footwear. Do your toenails rub against your shoes as you walk? This could cause scratches on your nails, especially if you’re not wearing socks. Try opting for open-toed shoes for a period of time, or wear socks if your shoe choice allows.

Most importantly, it’s time to get real with your manicure habits. If you frequently get your nails done at a salon, chances are they use products that are harsh on your nails. And if you’ve ever had a gel manicure or acrylics, then you know firsthand the toll that these products can take – especially during the dreaded removal process. But constantly wearing traditional polish isn’t necessarily nail-friendly either because the paint prevents your nails from getting any external oxygen. To avoid discoloration and decreased strength, try going without polish at least every few weeks to allow your nails to “breathe.” 

Nail Your Nutrition 

If your hand and foot habits are on point and you’re still not experiencing any improvements, then it’s time to analyze your diet. The health and appearance of your nails are directly linked to how your body absorbs the nutrients you consume. Healthy nails and a healthy diet go hand-in-hand. 


Is there anything magnesium can’t do? In addition to being a vital nutrient for your sleep hygiene and hormonal health, adequate magnesium consumption is also key for maintaining healthy nails. Magnesium helps to prevent the vertical ridges that can sometimes occur on your nail bed and also helps with protein synthesis, which is a key component in your body’s formation of new nails. Some magnesium-rich foods include spinach, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and nuts. 


Iron intake is crucial for healthy nail growth as well. That’s because iron provides your cells with adequate oxygen, which is necessary for healthy nails. If your body is deficient in iron, then our nails' overall appearance will suffer.  

Red meat is often the first food that comes to mind when discussing low iron levels, but really all meat and seafood is an abundant source. Additionally, broccoli, spinach, and legumes contain high levels of iron. 


Protein plays an important role in how our body functions overall, and our nail health is no exception. If your nails are brittle and weak, it may be due to a lack of keratin production in your body. Adequate protein is necessary to produce keratin, which is key for keeping your nails strong and resilient. 

Up your protein game by eating more meat and dairy. You can also try adding collagen powder to your smoothies, coffee, or soups, which can help strengthen your hair and nails. 

Biotin and Other B Vitamins  

If you’ve ever looked into vitamins that improve nail health before, you’ve probably come across biotin. This vitamin plays a crucial role in cell growth and has been proven to increase nail growth. Other B vitamins also play a key role in strong, healthy nails. B9 contributes to red blood cell formation, and B12 is vital for iron absorption. 

If you feel like you’ve done all you can to remedy your nail woes and you’re still experiencing frustrating cracking and breakage, it’s time to seek out a doctor’s help. Sometimes chronically weak or brittle nails can be a sign of a more serious health problem, like thyroid disease or anemia. Play it safe and schedule yourself an appointment. 

Product Recommendations

If you’ve made changes to your nail habits and added more nail-friendly nutrients to your diet and your nails are still cracking, it’s time to seek out some products to help you out. Luckily, there are dozens of products on the market that can improve the appearance and overall health of your nails. Here are a few of our favorites:

Evie's product selections are curated by the editorial team. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We only recommend products we genuinely love.