How to Keep Your Nails Healthy and Strong All Winter Long

Get through the season with these helpful tips.

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close up of womans fingernails
Photo: ollinka / Getty Images

Winter can take a toll on all facets of our health; the season's blustery temperatures cause dry skin while minimal sunlight can lead to seasonal affective disorder. Another part of the body that often feels winter's wrath is our nails. The one-two punch of ice-cold weather and extra hand-washing weakens them, increasing breakage. Luckily, there are a few ways to combat the season's efforts. Ahead, nail care expert Olivia Van Iderstine—Olive & June's Mani Trend Expert and Vice President of Content and Creative—shares her best winter nail care tips.

Mind Your Cuticles

During winter—especially a winter spent in the throes of a global pandemic—we wash and sanitize our hands more frequently. It's a must, but often results in peeling nail beds. According to Van Iderstine, toughening them up begins right at the source: the cuticles. "Nail health starts with the cuticles—even a perfectly polished manicure can't save cuticles that are ragged and dehydrated," she says. Luckily, the fix is simple. She suggests applying a cuticle serum—we like Olive & June's formula ($30 for two,—multiple times per day to boost moisture. "Apply it even if you think you don't need it," she adds. "Cold, dry winter air carries less moisture, so there's less hydration to go around."

Nail Health Starts with Diet

A balanced diet that's rich in colorful fruits and vegetables and healthy fats and proteins impacts our overall wellness levels from the inside out; unsurprisingly, eating well can also improve nail health. Walnuts, chickpeas, dark leafy greens, and avocados bolster this part of the body. "The best thing you can do is nourish your body with foods that bring you joy and make you feel good," shares Van Iderstine, adding that drinking more water will also soothe lips, skin, and cuticles. Monitoring your nails is a must, too: "Sometimes underlying medical issues can present themselves here, so always talk to your doctor about any concerns or changes in your nail appearance."

Stay on Top of At-Home Manicures

Caring for your hands regularly during this season should improve the condition of your nails—let that be a reason to begin an at-home manicure ritual. Push back (never cut) your cuticles, and gently buff and shape your nails to bring them back to life. Do so weekly, says Van Iderstine, and your nails won't feel winter's effects. "Ultimately, consistency is key," she notes, and recommends coating hands in a heel balm ("It works all over!") to lock in moisture post-mani.

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