How I Plan to Grow Out My Short Nails: A Self-Care Guide

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

I’ve had short nails for as long as I can remember. I’ve never been one to grow them long – they always seem to grow out thin, break, and catch. When I was a child, we got acrylic nails put on at the hairdressers and it looked really cool! But my mom wouldn’t let me keep them as she said they would ruin my natural nails underneath.

Annnnd she was right; I look back now and shudder as those fake claws probably did do some damage to my natural nail bed. I can remember having those acrylics on for about three months (they never fully grew out), which is why short nails became a lifestyle for me.


However, I am older now and I want my health to be on-point overall. This includes having strong and long healthy nails.

It seems so many of us are attempting to grow our short nails longer and stronger right now. That’s understandable as your fingernails are an important indicator of your overall health. Nails are the only areas of your body that can’t self-repair or create new tissue so they are very sensitive to the condition of the rest of your body. Regardless of the length, healthy nails should be smooth and hard, free of any dents or grooves, and consistent in color.

While having short nails can feel like an aesthetic disaster, it’s not really that big of a deal. It’s just one of those small things about your body you’ll have to work harder to maintain if they are weak or damaged. And taking care of short nails is easier than you’d think.

There are many reasons why people end up with short nails but they all generally share this commonality: either they are nail biters or they damage easily and struggle to repair themselves quickly enough before breaking again. At the root, weak nails are due to cell atrophy in the matrix (the pink part under the cuticle) and nail plate (the clear part of your nail). This can be caused by many things, like dryness or using your nails to open everything.  

Recommended Read: DIY: Manicure For Nail Biters

It’s important to understand that short nails will not look any different than long ones until they are at least an inch long; you’ll only experience less flexibility and durability when they get shorter than that. So don’t think that keeping them even slightly longer will “cure” your weak nails. Your best bet is to focus on growing out healthy strong nails rather than focusing on keeping them an arbitrary length. 

With proper care, maintenance, and education you can be on your way to achieving long and healthy nails naturally—and it doesn’t have to take too long, either.

Let’s start with our favorite videos on how to grow out short nails:



How To Grow Out Short Nails

Increase consumption of nail-health nutrients:

Poor nutrition has been shown to slow nail growth and give nails a “dull” appearance, and when that happens it can often be very difficult to get nails back into healthy condition sans supplements. A balanced diet incorporating plenty of protein and a variety of fruits and vegetables is the key to maintaining healthy nails through nutrition.

Protein: By switching up your diet to incorporate protein like nuts—you’ll be giving your nails plenty of the amino acids they need to stay strong.  

Hydration: It’s also recommended that you drink plenty of water. Drinking enough water is essential to so many aspects of your health, including your nails. Healthy growth won’t occur if your body is dehydrated—so drink up for your health, hair, skin, and nails.

Gelatin is another great source of nail-healthy nutrients; it contains vitamins A, C, D, E, and K along with calcium and magnesium. For those who take vitamin supplements or simply prefer to get their nutrients through food rather than pills, gelatin is a great way to boost the intake of various important vitamins for healthy nails without having to swallow multiple supplements. 

Water, protein, and calcium: these three nutritional components (and a few others) should be your main nail care focuses if you’re looking to grow those nails out.  

Zinc: You’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough zinc in order to help promote growth for short nails and retain the keratin in your fingernails (which is what usually causes weak and brittle nails). You can find zinc in foods like steak, chicken, eggs, shrimp, and spinach; however, if your diet isn’t too stellar or if you’re depressed, then consider taking a supplement—especially since many of us don’t absorb nutrients from food as efficiently as we used to due to lifestyle choices.

Iron: To make your nails as strong as iron, you’re gonna need, well, iron. If you’re experiencing brittle, broken nails, pay a visit to your doctor to test your levels and see if you’ve got an iron deficiency that could be preventing you from reaching your long nail goals.

Recommended Read: How to Choose The Right Diet For You

Take care of your cuticles

When growing out short nails the biggest area of neglect is usually with the cuticles. The cuticles are dead skin cells that protect the layers of living skin just below them. They act as a barrier, preventing bacteria and viruses from invading the body through tiny cuts in your fingers.

The secret to growing your best nails is hydration, hydration, hydration. To have strong nails, they need to be healthy – and to be healthy, they need to be hydrated. Cuticle oil works by hydrating the cuticle and the nail bed.

You should push back your cuticles with an orange stick every night before you go to bed so they can grow out healthy and strong. If you notice bits of dirt under your fingernails, gently remove them using an alcohol swab or toothpick dipped in cotton soaked in 70% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol).

Keep nails moisturized

Moisturizing is extremely important when growing out short nails because moisturized nails (rather than dry nails) are flexible and less likely to break. You can moisturize your fingernails every day by applying cuticle oil.

You can also use a homemade solution of distilled water and aloe extract (1:1 ratio) or use 100% pure castor oil, almond oil, or olive oil on your nails.

Don’t pick at old polish.

Picking at your polish often removes the top layer of your nail bed. This forms a weak base for your nails and makes them break easily.

Don’t use your nails as tools.

Pushing things in with your nails can cause chipping, splitting or peeling of the nail surface.

Do daily nail care.

The most frequently neglected area when it comes to good nail care is underneath your fingernails and toenails. Trim, file, push back cuticles and wash underneath your nails every day with soap and water before moisturizing them with a homemade oil solution or lotion that is free of fragrances or alcohol (which dries out skin). You should also make sure you scrub underneath your nails thoroughly because food particles get stuck there all the time, which can lead to fungal infections the next time you clip your nails down.

Recommended Read: Quarantine Self-Care Guide: Skin, Nails, & Hair

Embrace the waiting game

The hardest part of growing out short nails is having to wait patiently for each one to grow out so you have something nice to show off once they’re long.

If you want some quick results for growing out short nails try these tips:

Take biotin

Biotin is an important type of B vitamin that allows the body to turn food into energy. It’s also highly recommended as a supplement to help boost the strength of hair and nails.

Keratin nail treatments

Keratin nail treatments help by strengthening fragile nails, reducing the chance of breaking and splitting. They contain keratin protein which is found in human skin, hair, and nails to give them strength while also helping them grow faster.

Nail strengthening cream

Nail strengthening cream is beneficial because it can help strengthen nails, causing them to grow out more quickly and less prone to breaks. These creams usually contain elements similar to cuticle oil that can help as well.

Gel manicures

These are popular right now because they last up to two weeks without chipping and are very flexible when doing everyday activities like washing dishes, typing at a computer keyboard, etc.


Your nails are a reflection of your overall health. It’s important to stick to a healthy diet if you want strong, fast-growing, healthy nails. Short nails aren’t a sign of bad health as long as the overall nail is healthy.

There are many things that can affect how fast your fingernails grow such as what you eat and if they’ve been broken recently. Having healthy fingernails is important as it proves that everything else in your body is healthy as well since fingernails are made up of keratin which reflects overall health. If you want strong and healthy nails that grow quickly then be sure to eat lots By following these tips, growing out short nails will be a breeze!