What To Eat for Healthy, Beautiful Nails, According to Manicurists
We asked A-list celebrity manicurists what they suggest eating for healthy, beautiful fingernails.
Fingernails can be a point of pride (nail art, anyone?) or a source of shame (please ignore the chips and ridges). Gels, acrylics, shellacs and powders, particularly when applied and removed incorrectly by a technician, may wreak particular havoc on our nails. Choosing your manicurist carefully and keeping nails hydrated with cuticle oil is important, but you can also control your nail health outside of the salon. Nail experts say the foods we eat can help help your hands look beautiful or make them look worse.
“People ask me all the time how they can keep their nails strong and beautiful, and I always say the same thing: It starts with diet,” says Mazz Hanna, celebrity manicurist and founder and CEO of Mazz Hanna High-Vibration Luxury Skincare, whose A-list clients include Julia Roberts, Amber Heard, Emma Roberts, Selma Blair and Greta Gerwig.
Nutrition is a "key factor" in maintaining good nail health, agrees Dave Crisalli, founder and CEO of PROSE nail boutiques. “Like any body part, the appearance of the natural nail is an indicator of your overall health and can be affected by our eating and drinking habits.”
Because there is “a direct correlation between your diet and the health of your nails,” eating the right foods is the best first step for optimal nail health, says Australian hair and skin expert Jocelyn Petroni, who heads her own company and is the official manicurist for CHANEL.
Here are a few expert-recommended foods to help you grow nails that are long, strong and healthy.
Meat and Eggs: “Because nails are made of the protein keratin, a diet that includes plenty of protein like red meat can help your nails repair, grow and maintain their strength,” Crisalli says. New York-based celebrity manicurist Jackie Saulsbery, who counts Adele and Queen Latifah among her clients, recommends eating eggs, which are also chock-full of protein and can boost nail strength and speed growth.
Non-Meat Sources of Protein, Like Nuts: If you avoid animal protein, no worries: “Quinoa and nuts are also great options for getting protein in your diet,” Crisalli adds. For vegans, Hanna recommends hemp seed protein, which is rich in protein and iron, as well as a good source of fiber. “Iron deficiency can lead to brittle nails, and protein deficiency leads to ridges,” says Hanna.
Dark, Leafy Greens: The calcium, iron and antioxidants in dark, leafy greens, like spinach, broccoli, kale and collard greens, can boost nail health. Hanna is a big fan of spinach, especially, because it contains Vitamin A, as well as folate (one of numerous B-vitamins), iron, Vitamin E and calcium. “I love adding a few scoops of this into my daily green smoothie for an added boost,” says Hanna. Saulsbery cautions that leafy greens are best consumed raw or lightly cooked: “Don’t cook them down. Leave them kind of crunchy,” she says, “or you will cook all the vitamins out of them.”
Orange and Yellow Veggies: Carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A, which can help keep your nails shiny and avoid dryness. They also contain beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A that helps promote healthy skin. “Beta-carotene is an important ingredient for nail growth,” Crisalli emphasizes, noting that a diet balanced with these foods can benefit your overall health as well.
Healthy Oils: Petroni recommends consuming one and a half tablespoons of your oil of choice each day, which, she says, “will start to come through and nourish your skin and nails from the inside out” after a few weeks. Her oil of choice is a liquid-oil supplement called Udo’s Oil, which is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. “Drizzle it on your breakfast or include it in a drink,” Petroni suggests.
Bone Broth: “I am a big believer in the internal hydrating benefits of collagen and you can give your body what it needs in what you consume day-to-day,” Petroni says. “I personally love both beef and chicken bone broth, which are high in natural collagen, contributing to strong and healthy nails.”
Water: “Hydration is also a contributing factor to your overall nail health,” Crisalli advises. “Normal, healthy nails will turn white when pressed and then ‘refill’ when the capillaries underneath regain their natural blood flow. Nails that take longer than half a second to refill may indicate dehydration. An easy fix? Drink more water.”
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.