Craving those long, strong fingernails you've seen all over the red carpet? We are, too! If you want to reach new lengths so you can try some fancy nail art or are simply hoping to grow your nails fast for a special event, there are a few ways to speed up the process. But there are also plenty of nail growth myths out there that can steer you in the wrong direction.
So TODAY Style tapped nail experts and dermatologists alike to find out what you can do to to make your nails grow a wee bit faster. Read on for their nail care know-how!
How quickly do nails grow?
For starters, it helps if you know how fast your nails grow in the first place. While it's impossible to give an exact number since we're all so different, fingernails tend to grow between 3-4 mm a month on average. Toenails, on the other hand, take a bit longer and usually grow around 1 mm per month.
That being said, the rate at which your nails grow can depend on a number of factors including genetics, age and diet.
"Many conditions, medical disorders, and even medications or drugs can influence nail growth," Dr. Noelani Gonzalez, M.D., director of cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai West in New York City, explained. She said advanced age, conditions like eczema or psoriasis, infections that affect your entire body or the nails, the time of day, and even the seasons can slow down nail growth — nails can grow slower at night and during the winter.
If it feels like your nails grow at a snail's pace, vitamin deficiency might also be to blame.
"Vitamin deficiency can play a role in the rate of growth especially if you have low levels of B12, Calcium, Vitamin C, or Iron," said David E. Bank, M.D., FAAD.
On the other hand, nails often grow pretty quickly while you're pregnant.
How to make nails grow faster
Want larger-than-life nails without using acrylics? You can encourage growth in a few different ways, but first, you'll want to determine why your nails seem to be growing so slowly in the first place.
"If it is a condition such as psoriasis or onychomycosis (nail fungus) where the nails can get deformed and grow slowly, a medication which treats the condition would encourage the nails to grow faster," Gonzalez said.
On the other hand, if your nails are just a bit brittle and need some TLC, you can give them a boost in a number of ways:
- Maintain a balanced diet: Much like your hair, nails need vitamins and minerals to stay healthy.
- Try a supplement: "Supplements like Biotin are an option. However, Biotin has not been proven to increase growth, but rather overall nail health," Gonzalez said. Dr. Debra Jaliman, a New York City-based dermatologist, also suggests collagen supplements.
- Massage your nails: "Just like brushing your hair promotes growth (the brush massages the scalp, removes impurities and promotes blood flow), massaging your nail beds does the same!" nail artist Julie Kandalec told TODAY.
- File nails regularly: It can help prevent splits and breaks, according to Kandalec.
Should you trim nails to make them grow faster?
Anyone who's ever grown their hair out knows the trick to long, luscious locks is regular trims. Cutting off dead ends can help encourage hair growth, so it's natural to wonder: Does trimming your nails help them grow faster?
"Trimming your nails does not promote nail growth but it is important to keep them at a comfortable length if you are prone to ingrown nails since they could cause trauma and lead to slower nail growth," Bank said.
Regular trims can also keep your nails nice and healthy. "If the tips of the nails are unhealthy, brittle or too thin they will break and crack, causing the nail to be shorter. If they are maintained at a certain length, where the ends are strong and healthy, then the nails will undoubtedly grow longer," Gonzalez said.
Like hair, your nails can often reach a growth plateau, and genetics plays a large role in how quickly and how long they grow. "This has to do with keratin makeup, the nail bed's natural shape, heredity, care and a little bit of good luck," Kandalec said.
Does nail polish help or hurt nail growth?
There's nothing quite like the experience of kicking back at the nail salon and getting a colorful mani. But does nail polish help or hurt nail growth in any way?
As it turns out, lacquer doesn't play a role in nail growth, but it can assist with overall nail health:
- It shields them: "Nail polish can act as a barrier against nails splitting or cracking. It makes the nail a little bit thicker and protects them with a coating," Jaliman said.
- It discourages picking: "It can help you from picking or biting at your nails so they can grow," Bank said.
Then again, using certain types of nail polish too frequently can do more harm than good:
- Too much red polish: "Nail polish can be the cause of brittle nails and discoloration, which is more common with red nail polishes and can cause a yellowish discoloration of the nail," Gonzalez explained.
- Go slow on the gels: "Shellacs or gel nail polishes can sometimes be the cause of brittle and unhealthy nails," Gonzalez said. Acrylics can also cause damage when used too often.
- Choose your polish remover wisely: "Using nail polish remover too frequently can be too drying for the nails, therefore causing damage to the nail. When using nail polish remover opt to use a non-acetone remover and apply cuticle oil afterward," Bank said.