How to: prevent winter nail breakage & maintain your healthy nails

The change in temperature is particularly damaging to our nails.

Winter can be a tough time for nails - here's how best to look after them...

By Rebecca Fearn, Glamour

Beauty Writer with more perfumes and lipsticks than sense. Travel-obsessive and US political enthusiast.

The winter season is especially harsh on the skin, hair and nails. While we’re bombarded with information concerning our locks and our complexion, we often forget to take care of nails.

The change in temperature is particularly damaging to our nails. Renowned manicurist and owner of her namesake nail line, Deborah Lippmann says of effects:

“The exposure to the elements not only dries out the nails but may cause them to flake. Our nails naturally have a low oil and moisture content and therefore, they can become dry and brittle.”

It’s so important to take extra care during the colder months, from taking supplements to investing in some nourishing products. Take a look at our full nail-saving guide below…

Worried about your dry skin this winter? Take a look at our tips...


Due to the lack of sunshine in the winter, it’s a prime time to consider taking a supplement to benefit the health of your nails.

Shabir Daya, pharmacist and co-founder of, recommends taking "an inside outside approach," as “the harsh dry climate of winter absorbs moisture from nails and makes them susceptible to breakage". He is an advocate of Bamboo extract, which you can buy from

Holland and Barrett has a large range of supplements to choose from, with many designed specifically for weak nails. We like Super Nails Formula Caplets, £7.49. The capsules contain everything you need for super healthy nails, from Vitamins A & D to folic acid. The Perfectil range is also worth trying for stronger nails. (Get 20% off the Perfectil range at the Big GLAMOUR Flash Sale on October 1).

Another great supplement to invest in is MSM, Oskia founder Georgie Cleeve’s holy

grail and the supplement partially responsible for the launch of her own brand. But how does MSM work? Georgie explains:

“We cannot produce keratin without sulphur so by supplementing our diet with MSM (the most bio-available source of organic sulphur) we provide the body with the exact raw material it needs to produce strong, healthy keratin.”

She continues: “I used MSM to repair damage knee cartilage which worked absolute wonders but the side effects were even more extraordinary...strong long nails (as well as improved skin and hair condition).”

Always be careful not to take too much of a certain ingredient or vitamin when taking several supplements in conjunction.


The most important thing, of course, is making sure the body is constantly hydrated. Deborah Lippmann explains, “Hydration is crucial to our health in all facets – including our skin and nails! The first thing you should be doing is drinking water.”

Protein-rich foods are also essential, such as beans, oily fish and nuts. Healthy fats like coconut oil help to enhance the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and contain vitamins crucial to nail strength. Remember your leafy veg and greens too, especially spinach or broccoli. Consider taking zinc supplements if you don’t tend to eat much lean meat.

Cuticle products & care

Sarah Bland, Smith & Cult's Celebrity Nail Ambassador says; "The best way to prevent nail breakage in the cold winter months is to avoid soaking your hands in water and keep your hands, nail and cuticles ultra moisturised. Any kind of oil will keep your cuticles hydrated - I like to apply at night to avoid washing it off".

As Sarah mentions, cuticle care is essential to maintaining gorgeous, healthy nails. We love the following products to help aid this care:

Deborah emphasises the importance of being delicate when taking care of cuticles: "When treating cuticles, carefully nip any extra pieces of skin. These are hangnails and the only pieces of skin that you should nip. Never cut away the entire cuticle or bite the nails/cuticles."

Strengthening products & care

After tending to your cuticles, the experts at Leighton Denny recommend "a quick buff [which] will stimulate the circulation to the nail during winter months, encouraging growth, oxygen and nutrients to the surface; giving the nail a healthy glow".

Deborah reminds us to buff and file with care, however: "never ‘saw’ back and forth on the tip of the nail. Instead, gently run the file across the nail in one direction."

As well as cuticle treatments, a nail strengthening polish is also a great investment. We like Mavala's Mava-Strong fortifying and protective base coat, £16, which contains a "complex of micro encapsulated active ingredients which instantly penetrates and quickly hardens the nails to mend bendy, soft or splitting nails".

GLAMOUR's Beauty Intern Paige Mooney also swears by Jessica's Restoration Basecoat for Acrylic/Damaged Nails, £18.50. "I’d recommend it to everyone, even if you don’t wear fake nails," she says. "It’s a must-have nail product!"

Hand creams

Make sure you’re using your hand cream more than you usually would do in warmer months. This not only keeps the nails nourished, but also maintains the overall health of your hands. Deborah re-iterates the importance of a good hand cream: “Topically, think of your nails and hands like your face. You wouldn’t wash your face and not apply a moisturiser, but so often we wash our hands over and over and don't apply hand lotion.”

We love Aesop's Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm, £19, for super supple hands. For hands that are really suffering, invest in a deep treatment such as Sarah Chapman's Skinesis Overnight Hand & Nail Treatment, £36. You'd indulge in a deep conditioning hair or face mask, so why not for your hands?

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Women's Magazine: How to: prevent winter nail breakage & maintain your healthy nails
How to: prevent winter nail breakage & maintain your healthy nails
The change in temperature is particularly damaging to our nails.
Women's Magazine
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