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Question
Greetings,

I am Kaitlin Green, a graduate student enrolled in the master of Arts in English program at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am currently writing an article for a course, for which I am researching advice for maintaining long fingernails.

I would very much appreciate correspondence with an expert regarding how to grow and maintain long fingernails for the purpose of quoting within my article. My questions for this article are as follows:

1. What substances/activities weaken your nails, and should be avoided?
2. How should you treat a crack in a nail? Can it be sealed? Can breakage be prolonged?
3. What simple, at-home treatments promote stronger nails?
4. How can people with weaker fingernails strengthen their nails to promote growth?
5. What day-to-day habits can strengthen or weaken long nails?

Thank you very much for your correspondence regarding any or all of these questions. I very much appreciate your time and advice. Again, my article will be used for a course at Duquesne University, and I will be happy to send a copy of the article at your request.

I will gladly anticipate your reply until Wednesday (9/18) at 3:00 P.M. EST.

Thank You and Regards,

Kaitlin Green
College Lifestyles™ Duquesne University Satellite Writer
Website: http://collegelifestyles.org
Twitter: @collegelifestyl, @kaitie_g
Duquesne University
College Lifestyles™ is an online magazine bringing nutrition, fashion, etiquette, career, and lifestyle to the classiest of co-eds.  Friend us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Answer
Hi Kaitlin:

I'll see if I can answer these questions in short, succinct paragraphs. You may consider visiting my professional website at http://www.artofnailz.com where you can browse through past blog posts for more information on some of these questions.

1. No matter what length you wear your nails, they are subject to stress from a variety of activities-- pretty much anything that puts pressure against the tip of the nail. The longer the free edge (the portion that extends off the fingertip) the less pressure the nail will tolerate before breaking.

The ideal would be to keep the nails balanced, with the free edge about half the length of the nail bed, and no more than equal the nail bed. Once the free edge gets longer than the nail bed, it becomes harder to maintain the additional length.

Don't use your nails as tools. Use something else to open soda cans, add/remove keys from keychains, etc. Mostly, I see people damage their nails through unconscious actions-- they peel labels off of bottles, they tap their nails against tables, they tap them against shopping carts, and stick them in their mouth.

One difficult thing for many people to understand about their nails is that many of the actions that damage the nail don't result in breakage immediately. Every minute action that puts pressure against the nail affects it. Microscopic cracks can form, especially deep inside the structure of an artificial nail, and it can take weeks or months before enough damage occurs that the nail actually breaks, cracks, or tears. Which is one reason why you might go for a long time with no problems and then one day your nail breaks even though you barely touched something.

2. A crack can be dealt with different ways. If it's an artificial enhancement, the product can be filed and filled. When done properly this type of repair will be as strong as the product over the nail was before the crack. On natural nails, repairs are less likely to restore the strength of the nail pre-break because you can't un-break the natural nail.

Depending on how much of a purist you are about your natural nails being natural, cracks can be repaired with tissue paper and topcoat or glue, or can be patched with artificial nail products like gel or acrylic.

3. The over the counter dietary supplement Biotin has been found to help hair and nails grow faster and healthier.

Cuticle oil. If everyone would just massage a drop of cuticle oil into their cuticles and under their nails twice a day, they would be utterly amazed at the benefits to their nails. The biggest problems I see are from neglect and dehydration.

4. Better nutrition, biotin supplements, and better hydration; drink more water to hydrate from the inside, cuticle oil to hydrate from the outside.

5. I feel like I've answered this through the course of the other questions.

Good luck with the article, if you need any more information and/or clarification on anything, just ask.  

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Maggie Franklin

Expertise

Professional Nailcare: nail enhancement chemistry and technique, mancuring and pedicuring. I am not qualified to give medical advice or make medical diagnoses.

Experience

I am a professional nail technician with 17 years experience in the professional beauty industry. I am licensed in the states of California (license #M120766) and Colorado (license #8611.) I have been an active member of the online mailing list at Beautytech.com since 1999 where I network with 100s of nail industry professionals around the world. Over the last 15 years I have accumulated several advanced training certificates, including the coveted Creative Nail Designs Master Nail Technician status, and personal training by Tammy Taylor, Tom Bachik, and Tom Holcomb. I briefly joined the competition circuit in 2002, taking first place in the second annual Strut Your Stuff Online competition in the Enhancement 2 category. In 2009 I have decided to make time in my schedule to get back into competition by joining "Team Pink," the competition team captained by current world champion nail technician, Lynn Lammers. I boast several contributions to articles that have appeared in both Nails and Nailpro magazines, including a brief stint as a Nails Magazine Help Desk contributor and now I write a semi-weekly blog for Nails Magazine while continuing to attend tradeshows and continuing education events.

Organizations
Nail Tech mailist list at Beautytech.com

Publications
Nails Magazine. Nailpro Magazine. Blogging for Nails Magazine since September, 2008: http://blogs.nailsmag.com/maggie/

Education/Credentials
CA license #M120766. CO license #8611. CND Master Nail Technician. Tom Holcomb Academy. Personal training with Tom Bachik. Two day advanced training with Tammy Taylor. AEFM certified for use of electric file. HRTE (High Road to Education) in San Jose, CA 2009.

Awards and Honors
2nd Annual Strut Your Stuff Online competition, 1st place in Enhancement 2. Member of "Team Pink" competition team 2009. 3rd place, Novice tip-and-overlay relay at IBS Las Vegas, 2009.

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