How to Moisturize Your Nails

Tips for Moisturizing Your Nails

Now that you know the common culprits of brittle nails and the basics of moisturizing, there are some extra steps you can take to care for cracked, dry nails or to keep brittle nails at bay:

  • Don't use a nail polish that contains formaldehyde. You should also stay away from any nail polish removers that contain acetone. If you struggle with brittle nails but still want to add some shine to your nails, limit application of polish to twice a month.
  • Wear gloves when cleaning or doing the dishes, since the use of soap and the action of scrubbing can dry out your hands and nails.
  • Health experts recommend that we wash our hands frequently in order to avoid harmful viruses and bacteria, but all of this washing is hard on skin and nails. Use a mild soap when possible and, after washing, apply a moisturizer.
  • Avoid long, hot baths or showers, as hot water is especially drying to skin. And, as when washing hands, be sure to moisturize your skin and nails as soon as possible after bathing. By doing so, you can lock in any remaining moisture from the shower.
  • For intensive moisturizing, apply liberal amounts of hand cream or petroleum jelly before bed, then pull on gloves or socks. Special cotton gloves for this purpose are available at many stores.
  • Choose a moisturizer that contains alpha hydroxy acids.
  • Use a humidifier in winter, when the air is often very dry, which can be hard on skin and nails [sources: Mayo Clinic, West].

For lots more information about moisturizing brittle nails, see the links on the following page.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. "Brittle Splitting Nails." 2009. (Sept. 24, 2009)
  • CareFair. "How to Strengthen Brittle Nails." (Sept. 24, 2009)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Nails: How to Keep Your Fingernails Healthy and Strong." (Sept. 9, 2009)
  • Medline Plus. "Nail Abnormalities." (Sept. 9, 2009)
  • Wadyka, Sally. "New Ways to Moisturize Those Brittle Nails." New York Times. May 6, 2006. (Sept. 9, 2009)
  • West, Lynn, MD. "Onychoschisis -- Brittle Nails." Medicine Online. (Sept. 9, 2009)