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Fingernails and toenails are composed of a protective protein called alpha-keratin. They start growing under the skin, with newly formed cells pushing old ones out. Interestingly, the visible nail is dead; it's the part hidden under the cuticle, freshly formed, that is alive the ever-growing. Nails on the fingers develop a bit faster than those on the toes, but only about 3 mm a month. However, there are ways of getting your nails to grow more quickly.

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Eating Healthy

Health starts on the inside, as we know, and this affects nails just like it does skin, weight, and hair. Research shows eating plenty of colorful fruits and veggies can facilitate longer nails, though it's best to incorporate lean meats, whole grains, and oily fish, as well. Eating live culture yogurt and other foods that encourage beneficial bacteria may also assist with growing nails.

shopping for healthy foods Peter Dazeley / Getty Images
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Cuticle Oil

For nails to grow long and healthy, they need hydration and lots of it. That's why experts suggest using cuticle oil to moisturize the cuticle and nail bed. This practice can stimulate circulation and encourage growth while protecting the nails against trauma. For best results, applying a drop of cuticle oil to each nail and gently massage it in, every evening.

applying cuticle oil Natalya Sambulova / Getty Images
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Nail Care and Hygiene

To keep bacteria from growing under the nail, keep your fingers dry and clean. Overexposure to water can weaken nails and cause them to split, so it's a good idea to wear rubber gloves while washing dishes, working, and cleaning around the house. Gently use a scrub brush to clean under the nails and remove any dirt or bacteria.

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Clipping

Just like hair, nails need a trim even while you're trying to grow them out. But, clipping nails the wrong way can damage them and slow the growth process. The best method is to first soak the hands and feet in warm, soapy water to soften the nails, making them easier to cut. Using clean nail clippers, cut straight across first, and round the edges afterward.

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Keratin Treatment

Using a keratin nail treatment may benefit the health of the natural nail. Keratin contains proteins that bond to nails, strengthening and moisturizing them. Keratin treatments can reduce peeling and white spots for more beautiful nails while encouraging faster growth. For best results, apply directly to the nails two times daily, or per the directions.

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Nail Files

For people trying to grow their nails, it's crucial to use a quality nail file. Glass files have a non-porous surface that inhibits bacteria and is a gentle choice — a glass file won't cause any damage, leaving nails healthier. For best results, use a fine file to gently smooth and round the nails. Never use quick back and forth motions that could weaken and damage nails.

woman filing nails Per Winbladh / Getty Images
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Polish

Nail polish may look beautiful, but it can dry out nails, slowing growth. Some polish has natural ingredients that are less likely to negatively impact the nail bed. If the nails are already damaged, it's best to skip polish altogether for two weeks and opt for a keratin treatment or growth elixir instead.

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Breakage

No matter how careful a person is, broken nails can happen. A break can be devastating, especially while trying to grow nails longer, but it doesn't have to be a setback. Look for glue or gel silk to repair the break. For the latter method, a silk wrap binds to the nail, similar to a bandage, and a coat of gel polish sets it in place.

broken fingernail TimoninaIryna / Getty Images
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Exfoliate

Exfoliation isn't just ideal for the skin, but it can help strengthen nails, too. The best method is to use a nail buffer on the top of the nail in gentle, circular movements. Doing so brightens and smooths the nail, but take care not to exfoliate too much; once a week should be enough.

buffing nails LightFieldStudios / Getty Images
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Manicures

Manicures are an excellent way to improve nail health and encourage growth. Manicurists know how to remove those rough edges and improve the condition of dry cuticles. They can also handle pesky hangnails, but be sure to ask for gentle treatment.

woman getting a manicure South_agency / Getty Images

Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.