You may have gotten your nails to grow out—long, strong, and healthy, and the next thing you know, you see a tip begin to fray. This can be really frustrating. Now, a one-off peeling nail is nothing to worry about: Nails can take a beating from day-to-day life, after all, and sometimes nails just split. But if you find yourself consistently with broken nails, it is high you considered a proper long-term solution. Peeling nails are annoying, unsightly, and can be a regular occurrence.

That being said, there are many things that can cause chronic nail problems. As for peeling, these are the most common causes:

Dry nails.

You have dry skin; you see cracks. When you have dry hair, your ends split. Nails are no different. Often our nails get dry and brittle and begin to peel. Dry nails can be the result of dry skin overall, sun damage, or exposure to harsh surfactants and soaps.

Trauma.

A very common cause of peeling nails, being too hard on your hands can lead to splitting. It can also be the result of trauma from sports, but even small traumas can trigger it. An easy example would be “something like opening a can of soda can potentially cause that too, experts say.  

Harsh manicures.

If you wear gel polish, the removal process can potentially damage your nails by soaking in acetone for 15 to 20 minutes—plus too much scraping and filing on your nail plate can make it become thinner, and when you peel your gel polish instead of soaking it in polish remover when it can get chipped. Peeling your gel polish can create further peeling.

Age.

If you notice more nail issues with the years, it’s because nails can weaken with time. “Much like our hair getting thinner with age, our nails become dry and brittle with age as well,” experts say

Diet.

If you are not getting proper nutrients, your skin, hair, and nails cannot be in the ideal health either. Be mindful of extreme diets, or diets poor in proper vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

Underlying condition.

While peeling nails is a common condition that’s typically not cause for concern, there are instances where it’s indicative of a more serious problem. “There might be systemic issues or diseases that affect the nails.

Having known the likely causes of nail peeling, here are four ways to fix them.

Ingest nail healthy-supplements.

Perhaps the easiest way to keep nails strong on the regular is through a supplement. Collagen and biotin tend to be the most effective and are studied the most. Collagen powders and supplements are known for their hair- and skin-supporting abilities, but they can also enhance nails. Biotin has been shown to support thickness and firmness of nails in several human studies.

Protect your nails.

Do your best to avoid nail traumas, big or small. Take care of your nails and protect them. You can achieve this by maybe wearing gloves when you do dishes or you use a can opener instead of your fingernail. Of course, these things can come up when we least expect them. But if you know you’ll be working with your hands, say, in the garden, sewing, chopping or tending to home repairs, then take extra precautions.

 Practice proper nail hygiene.

If you look after your nails, you’ll better be able to keep breaks at bay. At the very least, nail hygiene can include keeping them trimmed (to avoid snags) and hydrated with conditioning oils, so they don’t become brittle. You may also consider adding in a weekly gentle exfoliation: Research suggests that glycolic acid can help with restoring nail strength and thickness. It’s a common skin care ingredient—in peels, pads, or serums—so simply rub it in your nails once a week.

For the more serious nail fanatics, aim for a manicure a week, so as not to keep your polish on too long between sessions. Do your manicures on a weekly basis or at least every two weeks, experts say. It is a great way to check in with your nails and your body. Don’t leave gel polish for over three weeks, and take a break in between gel polishes.

Visit your dermatologist.

If you’ve tried more superficial measures and nothing seems to be improving, it’s time to see a professional. “Start with a good exam by your dermatologist. You can also rule out any disease on blood work. You can begin to treat the underlying reason for your nail problems once you have a better understanding as to what is causing your particular concerns.

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