Getting Healthy, Strong, Shiny Nails: A Simple, Efficient Three-Part Routine

Forget about buffing, supplements, or those two-phase nail hardeners and softeners. My routine is super simple and entirely product independent (although I do include a review of a current all-green favourite).

How to: Strong, Healthy Nails

For years, nail polish was more than a hobby – the extra layers of paint were designed to also help me protect my then brittle, thin, weak nails.

Nail care made for a substantial chunk of my daily skincare routine, and I wouldn’t go anywhere without my nail balms, various SOS patches for broken nails and many more devices and tools. Of course, I also kept an extra beauty case with nail care products in my office. A broken nail, a chipped bit of colour, a dry cuticle? Drama for days. Discussions: what’s better – buffing the nails with or without wax? Cuticles – cutting or pushing back? (Spoiler: this is war material for nail maniacs.) If it sounds like a mania that’s because it’s what it was.

However, these days, due to a series of lifestyle changes, my nails have become so healthy, strong and just naturally shiny that I have no desire to bother with paint and remover. They are strong, thicker than ever and very even on the surface. They don’t chip and the don’t break easily. Also, since a couple of years the desire to paint my nails has reached what I think is an all time low.

And for the record, I’ve been painting my nails in all the crazy colours since my teenage years.

Proof of my addiction 🙂 Images from the “20 colours” archive

At the university, I was the only grunge girl with extravagant nail art or striking mani at the very least – black cherry red, dark green, silver and blue. Nudes (formerly known as pastels) and mother-of-pearl pinks, cleary, were made for wussies. Those of you who have known me and this very place for a while will also remember the original nail art blog (20 colours), and also probably my quest to finding the greenest possible nail polish.

My current nail care routine is a by-product of my healthy lifestyle. Yes, two parts of the three-part nail care routine are lifestyle; and only one part is product. So here’s what’s to do:


Protect your nails (and hands) from mechanical and chemical damage. This is such a no-brainer but I see this happen all the time. Dealing with laundry liquids and dish detergents? Wear gloves. Gardening? Tinkering with motors? Wear gloves – or prepare to cure a lot of damage.


Vitamin deficiencies, eating foods you’re intolerant to, stress – our everyday life can be rough on us sometimes. Not just for the sake of your nails, take care of your health. If you have recurring nail problems, it can be a symptom. And never spend money on those “nail growth” supplements unless your doctor finds a deficiency! (Read here why supplements should be natural as opposed to synthetic.)


I haven’t used any nail care since 2015, but I started looking for one to have handy in case of nail emergencies (I’m only human, and would sometimes stupidly ignore everything I said under “part 1”).

Currently I’m loving Apothaka’s SOS recovery nail & cuticle oil. It’s a rich, potent oil blend infused with nail strengthening essential oils of Lemon and Lavender, Borage seed oil to fight inflammation and moisture loss, and Myrrh – the single best nail care ingredient with anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and strengthening properties. The product is hand-made in the UK in small batches, packaged in fine amber glas vials with a practical roll-on top. It’s highly efficient and also very man-friendly.

SOS recovery nail & cuticle oil, 10 ml, £9.95.
Full disclosure: Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) oil*, Vitis vinifera (Grapeseed) oil, Macadamia ternifolia (Macadamia) nut oil*, Squalane (Olive squalane) / olea europea, Borago officinalis (Starflower / Borage) seed oil, Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E), Helianthus annus (Sunflower) seed oil, Citrus limonum (lemon) oil, Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) oil, Commiphora myrrha (Myrrh) oil; Citral, Geraniol,  Limonene, Linalool. *Organically produced ingredient.

LINK LOVE (as always: no sponsorship, no affiliates)
Apothaka SOS recovery nail & cuticle oil

A BONUS TIP for those of you who like to promote nail growth: gentle massages of the nail bed with a nourishing oil and just gently tapping your nails on a table top promotes slightly faster growth.
I can’t back up this advice with any study this time 🙂 It’s just from my and my friends’ experience.


Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)