Nailed it!

May 29, 2014

Let me introduce to you my new miracle pill -- Vitamin H, commonly known as biotin. It is actually a B vitamin (Vitamin B7 to be exact), so why is it known as Vitamin H? The H stands for haar und haut, German for hair and skin. It's miraculously restored my nails.

I have had a split nail bed on my left thumb for about a year. Although I have always had problems with my nails breaking, peeling, and tearing, this split nail was a real problem. I kept it cut very short, but the edge of it was always catching on things, causing it to split down further. It was split down about 1/8 inch, which was significant since my nail bed is only 1/2 inch long. I was afraid it would tear further down, and maybe even completely split.

I kept it short and kept it polished, using the polish as a sort of "glue." I tried gel nails, thinking they would glue it together until it had time to grow out. Bad idea. Gel and acrylic nails are hard on your nails, and my thumbnail actually still split through all that plastic.

A friend brought me over some of this Swiss Silk. You cut a tiny piece of it, lay it over the tear or split and brush a special glue over it. This works really well to repair a tear until it grows out, but didn't fix the underlying problem. It also must be removed with pure acetone, which is hard on nails.

Swiss Silk is available at Sally Beauty Supply; I also saw it on Amazon
Within a couple weeks of taking biotin, though, I could see my nail repairing itself. Within two months the nail had almost completely healed. All my nails are stronger and healthier, and I can go without polish.

I love nail polish. It can be a fun way to add some glitz and sparkle, or it can be tastefully elegant, or pretty and feminine, depending on what you do. But one of the reasons I have worn polish is to keep my nails from peeling. I have tried going without polish, thinking that the polish and remover was in itself further weakening my nails, but within a day or two my nails would be torn or peeling. Sustained no-polish time didn't seem to improve things either.

I love the look of my new natural nails, and am going to enjoy them sans polish for awhile. It is nice not to be checking them all the time for chips.

Food sources of biotin include swiss chard, whole grains, bananas, eggs, lentils and beans, and salmon. Zinc and iron are good for nails as well. Good sources of zinc include animal protein as well as beans, oats, cashews, and pumpkin seeds. Iron is also found in animal proteins, as well as in almonds, apricots, spinach, and kale.

Another thing that helps protect your nails is wearing gloves when doing dishes. I always keep my yellow latex gloves at the ready. Moisturizing is also essential.

I love these moisturizers, but my go-to, the one I keep on my kitchen sink counter, is this inexpensive, and last-forever, Shea Moisture Baby Oil & Rub. It's available at CVS and Target and has argan oil and frankincense and myrrh extracts. Don't let that scare you. The scent is very subtle. I just rub in a few drops and massage it into my cuticles; pure luxury for about $10. I've had mine for six months, and am only a quarter way through the bottle. It is oil, so it takes a couple minutes to absorb into the skin.

Here is a cuticle oil that gets rave reviews, and it smells good too. I see it has parabens in it though . . .  sigh. Paraben is a preservative, used in thousands of makeup and beauty products, but there is some controversy as to its safety. I guess maybe I'll just continue to rub natural oils into my cuticles.

With all this talk of natural, do we even want to know what's in these favorite polishes?

My two current favorites below, Mod About You by OPI and find me an oasis by essie. I haven't tried the Jamberry nail wraps yet, but will report back. Anything that's not going to chip is definitely worth a look.

I love how this Prismacolor pencil in Cloud Blue matches the essie polish
I am not a purist by any means, but I am trying to avoid as many chemicals as I can. Some nail polishes contain the "toxic trio," formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalates. There are now lots of "3 free" and "5 free" (the toxic trio plus camphor and formaldehyde resin) nail polishes out there at different price points. Chanel's polishes are 5-free. Who knew? Some have claimed to be 3- or 5-free but aren't. I guess do your homework if you're concerned.

Helping me today has been The Official Blog Cat. Admittedly, this is not the most flattering shot.
 I'm ashamed to say I laughed so hard that my dear kitty jumped off the bed and stalked away in offended dignity. 

On the bed is a cathedral window quilt. I made about 75% of it back before I had children. It then sat in a drawer for 20 years !! until my mother finished it for me. All hand stitched. One of the few large sewing projects that I actually (almost) finished. 

Do you have any tips for healthy nails?

Linking with Share Your Cup Thursday.


  1. So many products!!! The shops saw you coming!
    I too have had a problem with a split finger nail and I do commiserate. Fixing it was difficult. What worked for me? I rubbed petroleum jelly on my hands at night and made sure I massaged the base of the fingernail. I repeated this once or twice a week for a couple of months. Cheap. Effective, at least in this case. My hands improved all over.
    I think the dietary supplement is a really good idea. Some people actually have a genetic predisposition that prevents efficient absorption of Vitamin B. Eating the right foods helps but a supplement really is necessary for those people.

  2. Very good post, and your nails look lovely! I think I'm going to try Vitamin H!

  3. Another one here who will give this a try. My nail quality has diminished in the past year - stress and lack of care. Thank you for this tip!

  4. I want to try the Shea baby my cuticles are such a mess!
    Your nails look healthy now sans polish and you must be so pleased to have found that biotin.

  5. I use vitamin E oil on my cuticles and it does a good job. My nails are kept short because of gardening so nail polish only ends up on my tootsies!
    Your poor cat was not captured in the best pose with the pooch showing. LOL

  6. GREAT advice on the Biotin - gotta try that. My hair, skin and nails aren't getting any younger.

    And Oh my GOLLY your cat is so funny I just howled. Does your kitty sit up like a human like that often? I have never seen anything like it, absolutely hilarious!

  7. I remember hearing years ago that in order for Vitamin B to be absorbed we also had to have Biotin ...but oh my LOL that has to be the best cat picture EVER! :)

    That quilt is exquisite...there is so much work in that / amazing! :)

  8. Oh, that belly shot of your kitty makes me giggle :) Cats have such crazy and interesting personalities! I don't have cats, but I've seen bits of it in friends' homes.

    You could be writing about MY nails -- they've been horrible since I turned 50. UGH!! They used to be decent, but now I have to keep them totally short with almost NO nail showing, and still I have 2 or 3 splits always, and some of them are long-term. I will get some of that vitamin supplement and give it a try. I need help -- thank you so much for this post!

  9. Love Biotin and Clarins, never tried the Caudale though. Funniest kitty picture ever! Thanks for sharing that---too cute. Have a wonderful weekend:)

  10. Dearest Deborah,
    Guess you are right on here. For the very same reason I seldom use nail polish, only in summer on my toe nails. Mainly hiding their flaws. Mine are also very irregular and only now they start recovering. Had also an accident with my right big toe that a horse stepped on my foot when I brought it back to the stable... Ouch, lost that nail and that takes years for full recovery. That happened right before a wedding and I was so afraid for wearing my more elegant open toe pumps/sandals as during dancing I would be too vulnerable.
    But taking some nail and hair supplements really helps but you need time. Don't expect quick results. A balanced diet and healthy lifestyle is also a must. Certain medications can wreak havoc on hair and nails, like my years of prescribed Prednisone. So glad that I'm off of it, it damaged my kidneys too...
    Happy weekend to you and hugs,

  11. Thank you for your tips, Deborah, on how you're getting your nails healthy again. I will need to try the biotin and the organic shea oil. I love how bloggers share tips with each other!!! Happy Sunday to you. xo

  12. Love this post Deborah. I have been using the gel nails for years and just recently, I decided to go natural. Well my nails were as thing as paper. Week, fragile and complete damaged. I have not put anything one them at all until they are completely healthy again. This is certainly something that I need to look into. I have been putting argain oil on my cuticles and that has helped. I also use the Clarins and L'Occitane hand creams. They are great. But I am also going to shea baby oil. Thank you for the information. It is well received.

    Wishing you a wonderful week,


  13. Tips for healthy nails? Oh my gosh, I have NO nails! I don't bite them, but they just don't grow or break off. I have got to try this! Thanks for sharing wit SYC.

  14. Oh my goodness, seeing that kitty cat at the end was great! Made me laugh out loud.. The quilt is just lovely too. I so needed to read this.. I thumbnail also has a split down the middle. I have tried everything.. I try to keep my nails neat and polished does not work for me either.. my split came from removing "fake" nails a year ago.. I am so going to get some biotin and the shea Argan oil. Thanks for taking time to share all this great info.. very informative and helpful for me.. Blessings!

  15. Thank you for this post on nail care. Biotin is wonderful! I have taken it for years and along with a better diet, I have good nails. I'm very careful about reading labels as there are too many toxins in beauty products. Will definitely try the shea baby oil. The pictures of the cat are priceless! She did look comfortable.


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