Well-maintained hands and nails also play a crucial role in overall appearance and health. Regrettably, dealing with weak, brittle nails or dry cuticles is a common challenge for many individuals.

Harnessing the natural benefits of essential oils can be a game-changer in achieving healthier, stronger nails.


What is the Basic Structure of Nails?

Nails, identified as ‘skin appendages,’ are essentially composed of skin cells, similar to hair. The visible part we recognise as the nail is called the ‘nail plate,’ consisting mainly of keratin, a substance formed from dead skin cells. Firmly attached to the ‘nail bed’ underneath, the nail plate is surrounded by lateral nail folds on the sides and a proximal nail fold at its base.

The cuticle, a thin layer of skin, forms over the nail at the base, where it tucks into a skin pouch called the matrix. The crescent-shaped area at the nail’s base, known as the lunula, represents the visible part of the matrix and indicates new skin cell production (keratin), facilitating nail growth.

Fingernails grow at a rate of about 3mm per month, while toenails grow a bit slower at approximately 1.5mm per month. Understanding the basic structure of nails provides insights into the intriguing process of nail growth and maintenance.


What are the Factors Affecting Nail Health?

The nail growth rate and characteristics are influenced by genetic factors, age (slower growth with ageing), diet, and overall health. Changes in nail appearance can serve as early indicators of underlying health issues, reflecting the body’s ability to produce healthy cells.

Recognising abnormalities in nail appearance is essential:

  • Brittle nails/pale nail beds may indicate iron deficiency, essential fatty acid shortage, lack of Vitamin A and Calcium, poor circulation, or kidney or thyroid weaknesses.
  • Horizontal ridges may signal nail bed damage from injury, chronic stress leading to B Vitamin deficiency, or thyroid issues.
  • Vertical ridges may indicate iron deficiency or general poor health.
  • Cracking/peeling nails suggest low protein, Vitamin A, possible deficiencies in Calcium and other trace elements such as Silica.
  • Pitted nail texture can result from psoriasis or a deficiency of folic acid and iron, especially crucial in pre-conceptual care.
  • Blue nail beds usually indicate lower-than-normal oxygen levels in the bloodstream, linked to chronic lung problems or heart issues. Understanding these signs can guide us in maintaining overall health and addressing potential deficiencies or health concerns.

Essential Oils for Nail Strengthening

a flatlay shot of essential oil bottles

Nurturing strong and beautiful nails is a foundational aspect of proper nail care. Essential oils, renowned for their enriching properties, play a significant role in promoting nail strength. Here are some essential oils known for their nail-strengthening benefits:

  1. Lemon Oil: Packed with vitamins and nutrients, lemon oil provides essential elements that contribute to nail strength. Its nourishing properties can fortify the nails, reducing the likelihood of breakage.
  2. Myrrh Oil: Known for its rich composition, myrrh oil contains beneficial compounds that support nail health. Regular use can contribute to the overall strength and resilience of the nails.
  3. Frankincense Oil: With its unique blend of compounds, frankincense oil offers vitamins and nutrients that can be particularly beneficial for promoting strong and beautiful nails. Incorporating frankincense oil into your nail care routine may enhance nail strength and durability.
  4. Mānuka Oil: Derived from the mānuka tree, mānuka oil is rich in antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties can contribute to maintaining the health of the nails by preventing infections and inflammation, ultimately supporting overall nail strength.

Essential Oils to Repair Dry Cuticles

Embracing the power of nature, nourishing essential oils can be your solution for moisturising and repairing dry cuticles. Here are some essential oils renowned for their ability to repair and revitalise dry cuticles:

  1. Jojoba Oil: Known for its moisturising properties, jojoba oil closely mimics the skin’s natural oils. Its hydrating effect can penetrate the cuticles, providing essential moisture to alleviate dryness and promote a healthier nail bed.
  2. Vitamin E Oil: Recognised for its antioxidant properties, vitamin E oil contributes to skin health by moisturising and promoting skin regeneration. When applied to dry cuticles, it can aid in repairing and revitalising the skin around the nails.
  3. Lavender Oil: Beyond its calming aroma, lavender oil possesses antimicrobial and soothing properties. When applied to dry cuticles, it not only moisturises but also contributes to overall cuticle health, preventing irritation and promoting a well-groomed appearance.

Essential Oils for Nail Infections

When it comes to nail infections, swift action is key. Consider incorporating these antifungal essential oils into your nail care routine:

  1. Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil’s antimicrobial and antifungal properties make it an effective remedy for addressing nail issues. It can help prevent and alleviate discolouration caused by fungal infections, promoting healthier and more vibrant nails.
  2. Mānuka Oil: Mānuka oil is rich in antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Its effectiveness against various microorganisms, including fungi, makes it a valuable addition to antifungal nail care. Mānuka oil can aid in preventing and addressing fungal infections, supporting the overall health of your nails.

Essential Oils for Nail Growth

It is important to keep the nails growing for their overall health. Here are a few essential oils that work best for helping the nails grow:

  1. Myrrh Essential Oil: With regular application, it can strengthen nails and promote the growth of less rigid nails.
  2. Rosemary Oil: Rosemary oil contains compounds that stimulate blood circulation when applied to the nail bed. Improved blood flow around the nails ensures that they receive more nutrients and oxygen, promoting overall nail health.
  3. Peppermint Oil: Peppermint oil is known for its refreshing and invigorating properties. Applying to the nails enhances blood circulation in the surrounding areas. Improved blood flow is crucial for the delivery of nutrients to the nails, supporting their growth.

Essential Oils to Combat Nail Discolouration

These oils effectively reduce or prevent nail discolouration, leaving the nails looking clean and healthy. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

    1. Lemon Oil: Lemon essential oil is renowned for its natural brightening properties. It contains compounds that can lighten and clarify the appearance of nails, making them look cleaner and healthier.
    2. Eucalyptus Oil: Eucalyptus essential oil offers refreshing and clarifying benefits. When applied to the nails, it can contribute to reducing discolouration by promoting a clearer and more even tone.

Essential Oils for Hydrated Nails

Hydration is essential to keep the nails healthy and radiant. Here are key essential oils known for their hydrating properties:

  1. Almond Oil: Almond oil provides deep moisturisation to nails and surrounding skin. Its rich content helps prevent dryness and promotes a healthy, well-hydrated appearance.
  2. Argan Oil: Argan oil is packed with nutrients that offer intense hydration to nails. Regular use can contribute to the prevention of dryness, and maintaining a nourished and glossy look.
  3. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil acts as a natural moisture sealant, preventing water loss from the nails. Its emollient properties can reduce the risk of cracking and peeling, leaving nails lustrous.

More Tips for Healthy Nails

brittle damaged nails after using shellac or gel-lacquer 8 Best Essential Oils for Nail Care www.manukaoil.com

Here are a few tips for keeping your fingernails healthy and strong:

  • Keep Your Nails Clean: Regularly clean your nails and the surrounding skin to prevent the buildup of dirt and bacteria. Use a gentle nail brush to scrub underneath your nails and maintain good hygiene.
  • Trim and Shape Regularly: Trim your nails regularly to maintain a neat appearance and prevent them from becoming too long or prone to breakage. Shape your nails using a gentle file to avoid snags and sharp edges.
  • Protect Your Nails: Wear gloves when engaging in activities that involve exposure to harsh chemicals, detergents, or excessive moisture. This protects your nails from damage and helps maintain their strength.
  • Balanced Diet for Nail Health: A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals contributes to overall nail health. Ensure you’re getting enough biotin, iron, zinc, and other essential nutrients to support strong and resilient nails.
  • Limit Use of Harsh Nail Products: Reduce the use of harsh nail products, such as acetone-based nail polish removers, which can strip the nails of natural oils. Opt for gentler alternatives to maintain nail health.

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