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Weak, brittle or ridged nails? Here’s how you can benefit from a manicure

By Emma Hobday | 31 October 2021 | Expert Advice, Feature, Health & wellbeing

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Think that having painted nails only provides aesthetic benefits? Think again – just a few of the benefits of a manicure and pedicure include stress relief, improved nail health and a boost in confidence. But even if your nails aren’t in the best condition, Marian Newman BEM, nail industry veteran and chair of The FNP, has some top tips and advice for how to care for weak, brittle and ridged nails.

Weak nails

“A client may have thin and weak nails as a natural characteristic or as a result of a systemic condition. Weak nails can also be due to external effects, such as damage from poorly applied or maintained artificial nails, the effect of chemicals, and bitten but growing nails.

Whatever the cause, the treatment is the same. The nails must be treated gently and buffing should be avoided other than with the final side of a three sided buffer as a stimulation. Filing should also be kept to a minimum.”

Weak nails also benefit from wearing varnish, whether coloured or clear.

“This will offer some measure of protection by providing an extra thickness to the nail and also by sealing the edge to help prevent peeling. Several layers can be applied to the nail and reapplied every two days. If the nails are bending, the polish may peel away but can easily be reapplied. Applying nail oil and massaging it into the skin and nail is also essential to help nourish the nail and replace any oils lost.”

Brittle nails

“A manicure can proceed as usual for this condition, which would benefit from the treatments that use plenty of creams and oils, for example warm oil or heat treatments.”

Basic base coats can be used for this condition, with the most useful treatment being lots of nail oil and hand cream, several times a day. “If the nails are very brittle it would be best to keep them short to avoid painful breaks.”

Ridged nails

“There are different types of ridged nails; those that are found on thick, brittle nails and those found on thin nails. It is important you know which type you are dealing with. If the nail has thickened into ridges and minimising the appearance of them by buffing will not result in the overall thickness of the nail plate becoming too thin, they can be treated. However, if the nail plate is the same thickness throughout and the ridges are folds created by the nail bed or matrix, they should not be buffed as the ridges will become splits.”


At the end of the manicure, Marian says that the recommendations you are making that are relevant to the client’s nail and skin condition should be repeated and reinforced. “These should be supported by suggestions of retail products that will help and suggestions of further treatments, and always remember to note your aftercare and retail recommendations on the client’s record,” she advises.

Follow Marian Newman BEM on Instagram.