Do Nails Grow Faster in Water?

If you are searching for ways to grow your nails longer and faster and have found online that ‘nails grow faster in water,’ you are probably here to verify if it’s true.

The simple answer is NO. While two things happen to your nails when they are submerged in the water, which gives off the illusion that they are longer, they do not actually grow longer or faster in water. 

The truth is the skin surrounding your nails shrink and pull backward, making it look like your nails have grown longer.

Plus, the plates of the nails absorb water and swell, so the nails appear longer. But both these occurrences are temporary. After a while, your nails’ appearance will return to normal. 

What Happens When Your Nails Are in Water? 

The skin around your nails shrink 

As we have mentioned above, two things can happen.

One: The skin around your nails shrinks and retracts back so more of your nails are showing. This creates an illusion that your nails have grown. While, in reality, they have not. But wait, why does this happen? 

Our skin has an outer covering called the “sebum.” It acts like armor covering the surface. When we put our hands in water for an extended period of time, the sebum becomes broken, and the water seeps in. 

Hence, our fingers can look like they are waterlogged. Some parts swell, while others do not, and this makes our fingers appear wrinkly. You might have noticed this while you are swimming or doing the dishes for a long time. 

You may notice that your fingers are pruney after being in the water for a while
You may notice that your fingers are pruney after being in the water for a while

When this happens, the skin is pulled back slightly to reveal more of our nails. So the nails seem to be longer. But after a few minutes, the moisture drains and the nails will return to normal. 

There is nothing you can do to “fix” this, except wait. However, you can put on a pair of gloves if you know that you will be submerging your hands in water for some time. The gloves will add an extra layer of protection for your skin’s sebum. 

Your nail plates expand 

The second thing that can happen when your nails are in water is the nail plates expanding upon absorbing water. 

In essence, what occurs is the plates of your nails “drink” or take in water, and so swell larger in size. It is similar to your belly bloating when there is excess water. The nail plates swell and give the illusion that your nails have grown longer. 

But, like the previous effect, this wears off after a while. Your nails eventually restore their original appearance. 

Case in point: nails do not grow at all (let alone faster) in water. You will not get longer nails faster by taking longer showers, swimming, or doing the dishes. 

What Does Water Do to Nails?

So, if it does not speed up nail growth, what does it do? Why do nail technicians always ask us to soak our nails in water first? 

Manicures usually start with soaking nails in a bowl of water
Manicures usually start with soaking nails in a bowl of water

Water softens up your cuticles. This makes it easier and less painful for your nail technicians to push the cuticles back for your manicure. This is also why you can see your nail technicians using the orange stick right after you have soaked your nails. 

Outside of a nail salon, it is not advisable that you do anything with your nails in the water for too long. This will surely do you more harm than good. Over time, your nails will soften and become prone to breaking, splitting, and peeling. 

They will also lose their natural oils and weaken. This happens because the nails’ water absorption causes the nails’ water content to change constantly, and thus, strain the bonds of the cells making up the nails.  

Then can water do anything for your nails at all? Fortunately, yes.

Drinking water keeps your nails hydrated (just as it does for the rest of your body). If your nails do not have adequate moisture, they will be brittle, and as a result, they peel and break easily. 

How To Get Faster-Growing Nails? 

By now, you should know that nails growing faster in water is a myth. But what if you still want to get your nails growing faster? Are there no other ways? Here is a section with tips you can follow to get faster-growing nails. 

First, let’s get one thing straight: Your nails CAN NOT grow (miraculously) long overnight. Nail growth is a process. It takes time. Nevertheless, there are things to do and keep in mind to ensure that the process is not delayed. 

Take Biotin or Collagen Supplements

Biotin is a vitamin B that can help boost the strength of your nails. Hence, taking biotin supplements daily can do wonders for your nails. 

You should speak to a healthcare provider to determine your specific intake. But, in general:

  • Those above 10 should get 30 to 100 mcg every day 
  • Infants to 3-year-olds should get 10 to 20 mcg every day 
  • 4-year-olds to 6-year-olds should get 25 mcg every day 
  • 7-year-olds to 10-year-olds should get 10 mcg every day 

You can get biotin supplements both online and offline, or find them naturally in sardines, salmons, bananas, sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflowers, and eggs. 

However, you should refrain from using biotin if you display these symptoms: 

  • Biotin Deficiency: Hair thinning, scaly red rashes around the mouth, nose, and eyes, arms-legs tingling, hallucinations, exhaustion, and depression. 
  • Brittle Nails: Frequent splitting, cracking, tearing of nails. 

In these cases, you should consult a healthcare provider first as they can point to a more serious, underlying health problem. 

Try a Keratin Supplement 

Keratin is a protein that makes up nails. They play a large role in the strength of nails. Hence, supplementing on keratin can do wonders for your nail’s health and growth.

Say goodbye to nails splitting, chipping, and breaking. Then, say hello to longer and more robust nails! 

However, please note that using too much keratin can cause your skin to thicken and dry or roughen. It is best to take about 500 mg of keratin daily. 

Use Cuticle Oil and/or Serum

Dry nails are susceptible to chipping and breaking. To avoid this, we recommend making use of cuticle oil and/or serum to keep them moisturized.

Healthy nails will grow faster. Cuticle oils and serums also encourage circulation in your nails, which, in turn, stimulate nail growth. 

Cuticle oils and serums are not tough to use. You can simply dab a few drops on your nails with a cotton ball or cotton pad, or brush it on. After you have applied it, massage it with moderate force in a single direction for a few minutes. 

If you do not already have one, consider the following: EMMA Beauty Drench Green Tea by the Sea

This is a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone oil. It nourishes your cuticles and at the same time, promotes nail growth with its antioxidant-packed green tea extract.

Its formula is concentrated, so you will not have to use a lot of it. Just massage a bit on and around your nails every day to get healthier and stronger nails. 

Plus, it is vegan- and cruelty-free. There is a built-in brush, and you can get it in 2.5 oz bottles.

Note: When shopping for cuticle oils or serums, make sure you choose ones with a lightweight formula. Thick ones are not as good at absorbing into your skin. 

Use Nail Strengtheners 

Nail strengtheners are products that protect and nourish the natural plates, and from there, improve their condition. They reinforce the nails’ structure by giving them a flexible film, and they propel growth by imparting vitamins and nutrients. 

As a result, they can benefit damaged nails (enabling them to grow faster, longer) and simultaneously be an effective means of preventative maintenance. 

  • To benefit damaged nails, apply the strengthener daily or every other day for 1 to 2 weeks. 
  • As preventative maintenance, apply the strengthener once every week or as a basecoat during every new manicure. 

There are many options for nail strengtheners in the market. Here are two of our favorites: 

SI-NAILS Nail Strengthener with Hyaluronic Acid

This strengthener is packed in an easy-to-carry and easy-to-use pen.

Users have reported that their nails were 97% harder and grew faster just after 28 days! You can apply the product to your entire nail and cuticle, reaching the nail edges. 

Ella + Mila Nail Care Nail Strengthener

This strengthener has vitamin E and other moisturizing ingredients that not only hydrates but also stimulate your nails to grow. 

Even better, it is free of formaldehyde, phthalates, and parabens, all of which do more harm than good.

It is praised for enduring washes, showers, and swimming sessions. You can rest assured that it does not get lifted from your nails easily.  

Avoid Glue-On Nails, Toxic Polishes & Removers 

Using glue-on nails regularly can weaken your natural nails. Consequently, they can easily split or break.

The same goes with using toxic polishes and removers all the time. For your nails’ health, try to look for non-toxic products. Also, get: 

  • Polishes that DO NOT contain drying additives, such as toluene, camphor, and formaldehyde. 
  • Hydrating base coats.
  • Removers that ARE NOT 100% acetone. Opt for ones with added vitamins and moisturizing ingredients.

Stop Biting, Picking & Peeling 

This is a habit that you need to get rid of. Biting, picking, or peeling your nails all the time will ruin its ability to grow properly (let alone quickly).

Maybe you know this but simply cannot stop. In that case, try these tips: 

  • Keep your nails short by regularly clipping or trimming them. 
  • Try an anti-biting polish. These are designed to leave a nasty taste in your mouth so you will be deterred from biting the nails again. 
  • Use stickers or tapes to cover your nails. Having something there to block you from reaching the nails can be an effective reminder.
  • Try to stop biting your nails gradually. Set mini-goals, like stop biting a set of nails (ie., thumbs, pointer nails, pinkies) first, then all of your nails. 

Groom Properly & Regularly 

Proper and regular nail grooming can go a long way. This includes:

  • Keeping your nails dry and clean 
  • Moisturizing your nails (particularly at the base) 
  • Clip your nails from time to time using quality clippers or a pair of scissors and file them carefully 

Note: Always remember to be gentle while you are grooming. Plus, never cut the cuticles! 

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