Strong as nails: Keep your fingernails healthy in winter

Erika Enigk

The winter weather has many people reaching for their gloves, and not just to warm their hands.

Fingernails can crack and break when seasons change, said Claudia Stofan, master nail technician at Studio 305 in Lockport, Ill.

“It’s just like hair,” Stofan said. “You shed it.”

Fortunately, a new pair of Isotoners isn’t the only way to pretty up your hands. A little TLC can go a long way when it comes to nail health.

Topical

Product: OPI, Nail Envy, containing Vitamin E and aloe, is a strengthening base coat meant to fortify, protect and harden thin, brittle nails. The product should be applied with two coats to start, then one coat every other day.

Cost: $12 to $17

What the experts say: Used with OPI cuticle oil, the product works wonders to help strengthen nails that have the winter blahs, Stofan said. 

“It really protects nails and helps them to grow,” she said.

Supplements

Product: A multivitamin specially designed for hair, skin and nails contains essential vitamins and minerals that help promote their healthy growth. GNC Hair, Skin and Nails formula includes Vitamins A, C and E, as well as B vitamins, horsetail rush and biotin to support the health of hair, skin and nails. 

Cost: $18.99

What the experts say: A supplement is a good idea, Stofan said, but she is more apt to recommend rubbing Vitamin E directly into the nail beds. 

“You can take it (orally), but putting it on is better,” she said.

Foods

Product: Leafy green vegetables offer essential iron, without which nails will break and peel. And high protein foods, such as eggs and legumes, will help provide nails with keratin, the protein from which they are made.

Cost: Varies 

What the experts say: “Diet has a lot to do with nail health,” Stofan said. She also recommends getting plenty of calcium, protein and water.

“It’s very important to keep your nails hydrated,” she said.

Nail-color trends

For eye-catching nails this winter, the hottest trend in polish is an unpolished look.

OPI recently released matte versions of many of their popular colors, including Lincoln Park After Dark and Russian Navy. For those who want to try the look in every color without buying every bottle, OPI also offers a matte topcoat that will give any color a non-glossy finish. 

Mattes require less care than glossy polishes, according to blogger Michelle Mismas of alllaqueredup.com. A base or top coat, drying drops and lotion can lessen the matte look. Mismas, however, still recommends a base coat because it helps avoid staining and makes the color last longer. 

If the matte look seems a little dull, metallics are also getting attention this winter. Dark reds, purples and silvers with glitter mixed in are showing up in several nail polish lines.