How To Get Longer Nails (I'm Spilling All My Secrets!)

My 5 essential tips for growing long, strong natural nails.
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Natacha Medeiros
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My 5 essential tips for growing long, strong natural nails.

As you probably know, I’m really into nails. So much so that I actually took a three-month nail course, and now I have a pretty little diploma declaring that I know my stuff when it comes to manicures. As such, I’ve racked up my share of tips—and now, I want to bestow that wisdom onto you!

Many of you guys have asked me how I get my nails to grow so long. Trust me, they weren't always this way. But what I've learned over the years could help you.

Here's my best advice for getting (and keeping) some length:

1. No Cuticle Cutting, Please!

Cuticles

I've never cut my cuticles. Not so bad, right?

Whatever you do (or whatever your manicurist does), DO NOT cut your cuticles! 

You see, our cuticles are a very important barrier that stops yucky bacteria, germs and fungus (ew!) from getting into the nail bed. Guess what happens when you snip, snip, snip them away? That barrier is dunzo and your fingernails just became the entrance to Germchella. The result could be irritation, inflammation and even infection—all of which could slow down nail growth!

As if those things weren’t bad enough, once you cut your cuticles, they can grow back thicker and tougher. That's because your body recognizes that something’s gone (terribly) wrong, and is trying to protect you by re-growing your cuticles, and then some. So you enter a vicious, never-ending cycle of cutting off your cuticles because they keep growing back ugly—because you keep cutting them off! 

The bottom line: don’t be shy to tell your manicurist to lay off the cuticle cutter. Seriously. 

And if you’re an OCCC (obsessive compulsive cuticle-cutter) yourself, then STOP! Your cuticles just need some TLC in the form of a moisturizing oil and an orange wood stick. Massage the oil into them every night before bed, and push them back with the stick every few days. Your cuticles will thank you. 

A few products to try:

2. Stop Filing Back and Forth

Nail files

Nail files that look like they're sparkly are my fave.

One direction is the way to go—and I'm not talking about the band! You may not know this, but filing your nails back and forth does more harm than good. When you file in all kinds of directions, you actually cause teeny tiny breaks in your nails, which may be why they can’t grow past your fingertips without chipping or cracking. 

To up your chances of growing nails that are long and strong, try your best to file your nails in one direction only. It’s going to feel weird and take twice as long, but it’s the best thing you could do for your nails. Promise.

Now you just need a cute nail file:

3. Be Careful, Will You?

Broken nail

Nothing could have saved my most recent break, which forced me to chop all my nails off (sob!).

The number one comment I usually get re: my nails is “How do you get them so long?” followed by “I could never grow my nails out.” 

Trust me, if you knew me at 17, you’d know that my nails were never long or strong. (In high school, I even let my nail polish chip completely off my nails because I ran out of remover. Cringe!) My nails were always short, brittle and absolutely terrible… until I really started taking care of them. 

That means I became actively conscious of how I used my nails, and I still am today. Your nails are not tools, so don’t go around opening soda cans with them. Don't do anything with your nails that you could easily be doing with your fingertips (so, type with the pads of your fingertips, not your nails). 

I swear, as soon as I realized how I used (and abused!) my nails, I became more cautious of them, and things started looking up. They didn’t magically grow overnight, but it was a step in the right direction.

4. Go Round, Not Square 

Rounded nails

My best nail decision was going round.

True story: I used to loathe round nails. Seriously, I couldn’t stand them. And now look at me, with my rounded-off, almond nails! 

What happened? I noticed that square nails were a major hassle to keep long. A corner would always break, crack or chip off every few weeks, forcing me to file the whole lot down again. But when I rounded off my nails into the almond shape that they are today, it meant no corners, and that meant fewer breaks. 

So if you’re having a hard time growing out square nails, I totally recommend giving a rounder shape a shot. It might take some getting used to, but you’ll be able to grow them way longer with less breakage. It worked for me!

5. Keep ‘Em Painted

Nail polishes

Can't grow your nails? Paint them!

If your lifestyle permits you to have painted nails at all times, do it. 

I almost never have naked nails, and it’s 100 percent part of the reason why they grow long. 

Think about it: there’s base coat, two or more coats of coloured polish, and then a top coat on your nails. That’s at least four extra layers serving as protection to your nails. 

In my opinion, having polish on your nails keeps them stronger and free from breaks.

Have Your Say

Are you trying to grow your nails? Have you tried any of these tips? What has helped you the most?