I was born with soft, paper-thin, peeling nails and never understood why I hadn’t been given the gene for my mother’s gorgeous fingernails.
I never bothered to paint them, because in no time, my nails would tear off and look hideous anyway.
The Search for a Solution
As a teen, I’d heard that Knox gelatin could change my nails. I can’t honestly say I consumed lots of this stuff, but what I did eat didn’t seem to make a difference.
I tried getting expensive salon nails, because I figured I was destined to require them. I was at a dance when mine started flying off, leaving even thinner nails behind.
My next attempt at rescuing my nails was to use a nail strengthener. Over the past 30 years, I’ve used many of them. They always worked temporarily. If I was religious about using them, my nails grew a bit before they were torn off.
The most researched solution I tried was biotin. This vitamin is supposed to make a difference in your nails, but alas for me, it didn’t. My nails continued to be weak, despite taking biotin faithfully.
I was hopeful that I had found the answer, however. Lack of iron is supposed to contribute to poor nails. As I’d been anemic in the past, I figured iron supplements would do the trick. Nope! Layers of my nails continued to peel.
I was ready to give up when I read an article online that gave me the surprising solution to my no-nails dilemma.
How to Grow Your Nails
1. Keep your nails from getting wet. If you wash dishes or clean with wet solutions frequently, wear gloves. I knew that wasn’t my problem. Instead, as long as I could remember, I had put my nails in my mouth. A lot. I didn’t bite them off, but I put them in my mouth as a nervous habit. When I was driving or trying to solve a problem, my nails went in my mouth. When I was most anxious, I chewed them like leather.
2. File away the rough edges immediately. I wasn’t doing this consistently. I put it off, ignoring the fact that rough edges made it inevitable that my nails would catch on something and tear off.
I had to be constantly vigilant to put this advice into action. I had no idea how frequently I put my nails in my mouth! And what’s more, I couldn’t believe that I thought I could chew on my nails and have them be strong. But as I refrained from doing so and filed as soon as I saw any sharp corners or ragged edges on my nails, they started to grow.
My nails had grown before, but this time was different. While they weren’t rock hard nails, they were strong. I could actually tap them on the counter and make noise! And that was without nail strengthener. The photo taken above was taken before I had grown them to their maximum length. Surprisingly enough, I’ve found I don’t like them as long as they can be! I’ve cut myself with them playing tennis. For the first time, I actually have to trim my nails with a clipper. They’re so strong that they don’t tear off. They actually break!
What Does This Have to Do With Changing Your Life?
No, having longer, stronger nails hasn’t really changed my life. What has is what I’ve learned in growing them out. As with so many other areas of my life where I’ve desired change, I spent lots of time looking for the unique solution to growing my nails. I was sure there was some magic potion that would accomplish what I wanted. There wasn’t.
Instead, I learned that most of the time, changing your life means not destroying it yourself. It isn’t that we need a new diet or exercise plan. We need to stop eating when we aren’t hungry. It isn’t that we need a better coupon organizing system; we need to stop buying things we don’t need. I didn’t need to find the right nail strengthener. I needed to stop weakening my nails by putting them in my mouth and chewing them. I was like the foolish woman who tore her house down with her own hands (Prov. 14:1). It wasn’t genetics that had destroyed my nails; it was me.
The solution is often so simple, we don’t see it.
The second piece of advice is like it. Filing away the ragged edges immediately is like addressing life’s problems right away. When we eat those cookies when we’ve already had a filling meal, we need to ask ourselves why and take steps to prevent it in the future. When we come home with a purchase we don’t need, we need to return it right away. It’s like my mama always used to say: “Nip it in the bud!”
If we ignore this wisdom, we will continue living with weak nails and a weak life. We’ll waste our time and money on solutions that aren’t solutions at all.