Pictured above are my natural (real) nails - with a squared shape.
1.) If you bite your nails... STOP! I used to bite my nails when I was about 7 years old... and quickly stopped when someone told me that your finger nails are just floating around in your stomach and cutting up your intestines. Now - I can't say that this is just a myth... but after I was told that story... I stopped and haven't done so since. If you bite your nails - there are several things you can try to keep you from biting them. First, try to paint your nails as often as possible. Not only will the paint taste horrible when it chips off in your mouth... but sometimes you will keep from biting your nails because they look so pretty. :) Have a girl's pampering day and meet some of your girlfriends at a house and do mani pedi's on one another. Not only is this a fun way to spend your time, sometimes the sheer embarrassment of having bitten nails will keep you from biting them if everyone else has gorgeous claws. :) There are all kinds of products out there to keep from biting your nails, but I think they are costly and really not good for you.
2.) Filing your nails with the proper tools makes a whole lot of difference when you are taking care of your nails. Though I tend to still use emery boards because it gets the job done quicker... I still think that glass or crystal files are better for the health of your nails. Make sure that when you are filing your nails, you are filing in the same direction... and not back and forth. And, keep a little file in your purse incase you should have a snag on the run. Not only will this keep you from snagging your clothing, you can file your nail down before it breaks and causes more damage.
3.) One of my very important tips... DON'T USE YOUR NAILS AS A TOOL OR OPENER. It is so often that we use our nails to open a soda can, or use it as a screw driver... or pick at something that is nagging you. Resist the temptation. Let's all face it, we can't help but do it from time to time, I know I do... and then I kick myself later when I realized what I did. Most snags and tears on your nails happen because of careless use and using your nails as a tool can be one of the main reasons your nails are not healthy or break often.
4.) HEALTHY EATING IS A MUST! I am so bad at this one... because I am known as the "On the Go" eater. I don't have time to eat, period... so eating healthy is practically impossible. But, healthy food and nutrition is very important. Make sure to drink milk or eat something that has calcium. Daily vitamins are awesome too. You want to make sure that your body is healthy so that the rest of you will be too. :)
5.) Stay away from the Acrylics, Gels and all the things you could get at a nail salon. Being girlie is all apart of life for us woman - but there are so many options out there for us to take care of our own nails... instead of using the alternative. Acrylics and Gels cause a lot of damage to your nails and removing them is near to impossible and a guarantee that you will cause damage and breakage to your nail bed and other parts of your nails. It takes months (and trust me, I do know from experience) and hardening products to restore your nails healthy growth... and even then, some people just can't get their nails back to what they used to be. Also - I have NEVER been to a salon that hasn't caused damage to my nails or ripped my own ones off in hopes to rush me out the door and get a new client in the seat. (No offense to my friends who are nail technicians... but you know how it is). If you really must use fake or artificial nails... got to your local drug store, Walmart or Target and pick up the glue on ones... they stay for a few days if applied correctly and it is much easier to remove. Plus - the damage isn't as damaging if it is removed properly. One more important note on this tip... when you go to a salon - it is becoming rare now a days for techs to file your nails down with a buffer or file... more often than not, you will be at a salon that strictly uses the drummel/drill. The problem with that is that it weakens your nail bed and causes indentations that are torture to your poor nails.
6.) If you plan to grow out your nails and get them healthy... you must make sure you maintain them and use the proper tools. Cuticle creams are awesome to keep your nails looking well groomed and of course - that goes hand in hand with a cuticle pusher or cutter (if you are so daring). It is a little bit of an investment... but well worth it. Keep your hands moisturized and your cuticles will be pretty moisturized as well. A great hand cream or lotion is perfect for this and of course... buffers, clippers, files, cuticle oil or cream and some awesome nail polish colors are all important to keep you looking polished and your nails looking HOT as they are growing out.
Some of the tools I use to keep my nails healthy: Block buffer, Cuticle cutter, Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Hard as Wraps... I use this one specifically to help my nails when they are brittle. This product may not do much to bring them to life... but it will certainly keep them tough and hard as they heal and grow out. Orly Cutique Cuticle and Stain Remover, Sally Hansen Complete Care Extra Moisturizing 4-in-1 treatment, Glass File & Emery Board.
7.) Be patient... don't get frustrated because they are not growing. It could be many factors that are making your nails take its time when growing... and it is really difficult to figure out. When I have difficulty growing my nails - I can get so irritable, but then I relax and realize that it will grow when it is ready... hehe! If you must, you can definitely pick up a nail growth polish or serum or a nail hardening polish that will help the progress. You can find these pretty much anywhere now a days and they come in a variety of brands. Sally Hansen has some of my favorites.
8.) File your nails in a round shape instead of square: I don't really follow this tip - but I have been told by a few friends that this works for them... so I figure I share it with you. I am a huge "square shaped" nail gal... and it is rare that I do anything other than that. I do round out my edges - but for the most part... they are pretty square. :) I have been told that if you want them to grow... the square shape can actually cause your nails to grow unevenly... causing breakage on the tips and side of your nails. By rounding them out - it will allow them to grow evenly and there is one continuous nail shape instead of 2 corners. I have to try this to see if it works... :)
Pictured above is my nails (natural/real) in a different angle.
With a little TLC - they can grow very long for you too. :)
9.) If you have a nail that breaks... and you need to trim your nails so they are even... you really don't need to cut off too much. I usually just trim them just a bit, so that they don't look terribly uneven but not so that they are so short that you have to start growing your nails from scratch. Also - if you have just a little rip... you can definitely try the tea bag technique to fix it. I haven't done a video on it... but I hope to one day and if you need to know about it now... do a search on Youtube - "fixing a nail using a tea bag".
10.) Last but not least... pick up some beautiful nail polish colors and paint up those nails. When they look beautiful and manicured... it is exciting and you will not notice that they are not growing as fast as you would like. Plus... painted and manicured nails hide the little imperfections that your nails may have. :)
I hope these little tips have helped you out a bit. If you have any questions... please feel free to let me know.