Hard as Nails

If you’ve been shorted in the nail department, here’s how to make ’em (or fake ’em) long and strong.



home manicures, nailed

When it comes to home manicures, I was all thumbs—until now. Love the new French Deceptions glue-on nails that mimic the look of a French manicure; they last for 10 days or so and simply soak off. At about $5 for a box of 28 nails in 14 sizes, it ends up being way cheaper than a salon manicure. Simply find the right size (you can file the sides down if you don’t find a perfect fit), apply the glue to the nail, then to your natural nail, and voilá! Instant French manicure. Available at major drug-store chains and mass marketers, or at broadwaynails.com and kissusa.com.

ask the expert

How do I keep my nails from breaking?

The majority of nail problems are a result of dryness, according to Athena Kaporis, MD, of the Westchester Dermatology and Mohs Surgery Center in Mount Kisco. “As we get older, our skin and nails thin and can’t hold water content as well, so it’s important to moisturize,” she says. Product lines she recommends include Elon, Cutemol, and Dermanail, which contain acetylmandelec acid, which penetrates and moisturizes the nail. “Some of these products are kept behind the counter, so just ask the pharmacist for them; no prescription is necessary. It is also good to keep nails trimmed short so you don’t run the risk of banging them.”

Barielle Nail Strengthener Cream ($17 for one ounce) is a serendipitous product that was originally created by veterinarians to condition the hooves of racehorses, and for the past 30 years, the mixture of glycerin, vitamin E, and vegetable protein has strengthened human nails as well. Just massage over nails and cuticles two to three times a day and, the company promises, you’ll see stronger, ridge-free nails in about a month.
Sally Hansen Age Correct Strength Dry and Brittle Nail Care ($5; available at most mass merchandisers) goes on like a base coat; a blend of soy protein and rose oil infuse the nails with moisture, leaving a soft sheen. Years ago, an unfortunate run-in with a fire coral reef damaged one of my nail beds; the resulting nail would not grow beyond the quick without splitting, until I tried this. It’s a winner.