Growing Out Your Nail Beds & Things I’ve Learned in the Past Year

March 12, 2013

For all my life, I’ve had very short and small nail beds. In other words, the point on my nail where the pink turns to white is rather low. It’s always sort of bugged me. I used to bite and tear my nails. Ouch! Just thinking about it makes me cringe. But in 2008 I got Invisalign (clear trays to straighten teeth) and I was unable to bite my nails. This was an awakening to taking care of my nails. Although I was growing my nails out a bit longer than before, my nail beds remained the same because I still cut them very short with nail clippers.

Image on left is from 2011 & shows how short my nails were.

And then this blog happened. :)

I know that nail bed shape and length is 99% genetics, but I also think because I was taking better care of my nails, my nail beds almost seemed to “heal” and they have changed. You know the area at the free edge of your nail bed that’s usually curved—the “smile” when it comes to French manicures? Mine was never curved. It was more straight across. But over the course of this year, the pink area of my nails has pulled out a bit and I now have that smile line on most of my nails.

Image on right is a picture of Nicole by OPI’s Hard Kourt Fashionista taken more recently. Click on image to see larger.

I’m not a professional when it comes to this, but I think really what’s happening is that the skin under the nails has pulled out while my nails grow. And because I’m only gently filing my nails instead of trimming them with nail clippers, and I only use a nail brush to clean under my nails, the skin remains and my nail bed appears to “grow”.

Again, I’m not a professional. LOL!

Anyhow, so I wanted to share with you guys what I’ve been doing specifically…

  • Consistently moisturizing of my hands, including oil on my cuticles (at least once a day)
  • Not clipping my nails all the way down to “stubs” if possible
  • Only using a gentle nail file to shape my nails
  • Keeping nails at a shorter length to prevent breakage
  • Conservative buffing when I see an area starting to peel (look for buffers labeled “Smooth”, do not use the ones that add shine)
  • Using a nail brush to clean under my nails. I have a brush at nearly every sink in my house, and travel with one when going out of town.
  • Keeping nails painted so that I am less likely to see anything under the nails and trying to clean it out when a nail brush is not available

I’ve also noticed that my cuticles look much better and my nails are stronger than ever before. I really think when you start to really care for your nails, things can only improve.

So that’s what I’ve learned over the past year. You take care of your nails and they look better. Funny, right? ;)


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  • varshitha March 12, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    thanks a lot for sharing this…. i also this problem and also my cuticle shapes looks different in each fingers… i hate that…. but i ll try follow all ur tip to maintain a nice nails..

    • kristina March 12, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      You can totally do it! Best of luck!

  • Britiney March 12, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Great post, Kristina. I’m always envious of your beautiful nail beds and was shocked to see the difference in just a year. I’m inspired to try to take better care of my nails. I do know my cuticles aren’t as dry when my nails are polished. Not sure why, but it definitely makes a difference.

    A quick question just came to mind. I’m a busy mom of 3 boys and can NEVER wear polish more than a day without terrible tip wear. I use base (OPI) and top coat (seche vite). Do you have any suggestions on getting a mani to last? Besides not doing dishes or laundry or cleaning toilets!? ;O) I just have a terrible time keeping up with polishing them every day or two. And HATE tip wear!!

    • kristina March 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Wearing rubber kitchen gloves really helps me. Also, you might try a different base coat. After straying to other base coats, I eventually went back to Orly Bonder and I’m like, “Ahhh… this is why I used to love this base coat.” It’s seriously awesome. That and Seche Vite, but you’re already using that.

      • Britiney March 13, 2013 at 4:25 pm

        Thanks! I tried the Orly top & bottom a while back but haven’t tried the Bonder. I’ll give that a try and TRY to remember to wear gloves! Thanks again.

        • Ellen June 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm

          G-polish or shellac is also a fantastic option, often I have clients who have this problem, shellac is a gel that is placed under a blue light to be set, once it has set it can last from 2-3 weeks with completely no chipping! it also strengthens your nails, but does not damage them at all, unlike acrylic enhancements!

  • Anne Alagna March 12, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Good information. I have always wished I could fix what years of biting has done to my nails. I’m in my 40s and have never had nice nails. I’m going to make a serious effort this year to let them grow.

    Can you explain what the difference is in using only the SMOOTH side and the shining side when it comes to growing nails? Does the SHINE side harm the nails?

    • kristina March 12, 2013 at 5:00 pm

      When you’re using a buffer it’s taking off the top surface of your nails (they are really just very fine nail files in my opinion). So, I try to avoid as much buffing as possible. Generally when I see a tip starting to peel I will only buff that area until it’s smooth and no longer “threatening” to peel. I use a buffer labeled “smooth”. I skip the shiny buffers just to avoid over buffing my nails and making them weaker by taking off the top layer of my nails.

      • Sumanalatha July 17, 2013 at 5:24 am

        Buffing can weaken your nails.

        • Jasmine July 20, 2013 at 10:03 am

          Not true dummy. If used correctly, It will actually make ur nail grow by stimulating the nail bed

          • Amber July 22, 2013 at 6:54 pm

            Wow. The dummy comment was uncalled for.

  • Pam March 12, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Very informative! Would you also share the steps you take to get such a beautiful finish when you change your color?

  • Angie March 12, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    WOW!!! What an improvement!! I don’t think I would have guessed the 1st & 2nd picture were the same person’s nails! ;-)

    • kristina March 12, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      It’s crazy, right?! LOL! :)

  • Mary Ann March 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks for the informative post. I’ve always had short nails and not taken care of them – but since I started following you on twitter (originally for card making) I have fallen in love with polish and taking care of my nails. Looking after my nails is one of my goals for 2013. losing 120 lbs, starting a business and quitting my job are the others!

    • kristina March 12, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      Awesome goals! Best of luck! :)

  • Janice March 12, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Congratulations on having lovely hand and nails. A suggestion here from someone who has long natural nails (and yes, I was a biter when I was very young),do not tap your nails on the counter or anything, it causes and will split them. And cuticle oil, overnight will help to remove the dead skin and hangnails.

    • kristina March 14, 2013 at 8:28 am

      I totally agree! (although once you’re growing your nails out after YEARS of stubby nubs, it is fun to tap them just because it’s something new–Ha!) But yes, I agree that it’s something to avoid. :)

  • Deb March 12, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    I bit my nails until I was 18 and then after seeing a woman with long beautifully polished nails I said to myself “I want my nails to look like that”. I stopped biting and have been wearing my nails longer than my fingertips for {{cough}} over 30 years. I can say yes the nail bed will extend with time and now my nail bed is actually slightly beyond my fingertips.

    • kristina March 14, 2013 at 8:29 am

      That’s awesome!

  • Deb March 12, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    I also wanted to second Kristina’s recommendation Of Orly Bonder base coat. It is great stuff. But also not all nail polishes are created equal and some wear better than others. I have a lot of luck with OPI in general and when I was wearing Bitten from Cult Nails I was amazed how long that polish looked great. On the other hand Zoya is problematic for me but if I touch up tip-wear carefully with an almost dry brush and add a fresh top coat that will extend the manicure for me.I usually change my polish once a week.

    • kristina March 14, 2013 at 8:29 am

      Ooo! I need to try Cult Nails. I’ll have to order some soon. :)

  • Kathy Camasso March 12, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    I’ve commented several times in recent months on how I love the longer length you’re wearing; now I know why you didn’t always do so! Since you started this blog I’ve taken many of your suggestions and my nails are definitely stronger than they used to be; these days I have to file them because they’re too long rather than too short! Thank you for sharing your tips and experiences.

  • LyndaV March 13, 2013 at 12:12 am

    Your nails are gorgeous! I never was a nail biter but I never have had nice nails either until recently. Reading blogs like yours has really inspired me as well. Two things have made a big difference for me. Number is one is using lots of moisturizer as you mentioned, Number two is only using a crystal (or glass) nail file. These are much finer than regular emery boards that can cause very small tears on the nail. Using a fine crystal nail file has eliminated the nasty splits and tears that I would always get before.

  • Becky March 13, 2013 at 11:45 am

    So what cutical oil do you recommend and do you put it on even when your nails are polished? I am also a reformed nail biter and my nails have been looking pretty good since my last pregnancy. I’ve really maintained them, but my cuticals can certainly use improvement.

    • kristina March 14, 2013 at 8:30 am

      I use both The Body Shop Almond Cuticle Oil and Solar Oil. I put it on after my nail polish has dried.

      • Alina July 10, 2014 at 3:35 pm

        I use body shop, too!

  • Cathy March 13, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Thanks Kristina, very inspiring!
    I am like Mary Ann – I started following your card making and totally love that still. But I am very inspired by your nails and love this blog.
    I also have started cleaning with a nail brush and that makes a lot of a difference. My nails have a long way to go but at least look a bit better. Thanks for your generous advice and the fun you bring with it! Cheers Cathy

  • hamyoko March 24, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Hi ! Kristina, It sympathizes very much about this report.
    It was not stopped that I bite a nail until now, a japanese woman. However, your blog and nail art saved me.
    Your report and VLOG ( your smile is cute! ) are expected from now on. It is wished the “Hyponychium” of you and me grows! :)

  • Azzurrina June 18, 2013 at 9:15 am

    hey but which tipe of brus u used pls help meee

  • Whitney July 4, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    How long did it take for you to grow them out like that? Because my nails looks exactly how yours look in 2008 ? So how long did it take ?

  • PATTI August 15, 2013 at 4:15 pm


  • Sammy August 21, 2013 at 9:39 am

    I’m in quite fix… I’m African, and go to a Catholic school, were no nail polish is to be put on nails. Are nails are always to be cut short (that is the white/yellow tip is to be completely off, or you get sanctioned). We don’t get a long summer vac so I don’t get the chance to grow them. In my country, cosmetics are waaaaay too expensive or rare for you to just walk into a shop and buy, at leastthe healthy nail ones anyway. We aren’t to put on clearnail polish either. I really love long nail beds, but I only have yellowish/brown short ones. I don’t bite either…please help me, I really want long nail beds (not the overgrown yellow tips so I don’t get punished). Any help…PS: I’m 14….:(

    • kristina September 14, 2013 at 3:44 am

      Probably what would help the most is to keep your hands well moisturized. If your cuticles are soft and moisturized, your nail bed will be healthier, and also you’ll be able to gently push back the cuticle so that the nail bed appears longer.

  • Rose September 17, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Hiya, I stopped wearing acrylics in February after years on getting them done. I’ve been using nailtiques formula 2 plus since then as a base coat. I also use nutra nail 5-7 day formula and my own blend of cuticle oil made of jojoba, vitamin E and apricot kernel oil. I apply both twice a day. I also carry my oil with me during the day to use whenever I wash my hands. Although the visible damage has grown out my nails are still incredibly thin and peel like crazy. I’m so frustrated I don’t know what else to do, what do you suggest.

  • sonali September 27, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Hey kristina I am an indian .I liked your advice but the problem is that I by mistake filed my left hand fingernail and now my nail is growing very slowly and when they grow they are very thin can you suggest some advice

  • Anna September 30, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Very informative article. I used to think that my smile lines and nail beds would never “heal”, but now I know that I shouldn’t clean under my nails so aggressively. For cuticle oil, I like to use extra-virgin olive oil.

  • angelica October 18, 2013 at 11:48 am

    OMGGG can you pleaseee help me well my nails are VERY flat and everyone says they look hammered but they are also have a small pink part and I want my nails to go curved as well as having a longer pink part PLEASEEE HELPP MEE!!! and thaanxx

  • Mona October 21, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Wow, my nails look exactly like yours in that first picture. I made the decision to stop biting them last month and so far, I haven’t relapsed. But my nails are still really short and it’s been somewhat depressing so looking at the pictures of your nails now has given me motivation. Definitely following your steps and hopefully I’ll have nicer nails (like you) in a year’s time.

  • Marry February 22, 2014 at 5:57 am

    I hv got much better nail .. thnx to kristina .. Kristina cn u giv me sum more tips please .. :)

  • Marry February 22, 2014 at 6:02 am

    And yes .. after i started reading u my nail color collection is growing day by day .. :p i started luving my nails alott

  • J March 8, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Wow your nails are absolutely stunning. I came across this topic when looking for advice on growing nail beds. I had been biting my nails since day one so around 24 and a half years and then I stopped in October 2013, quite literally overnight. Almost 6 months on and my nails and skin have so much improved. I hope to see some more improvement. My only difficulty is that been a guy I have to draw a line with how far I let them grow :-D keep up the good work Kristina.

  • Emily March 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Thank god I found yr site, I feel much better! My doctor clipped my toenails n cut too close to the quick that they were raw and some were actually bleeding! He also “buffed” them for me with this thing that looks like a drill and a couple of my nails split in half!!! It’s been 6 weeks and my toenails look like shiz!! The nail beds are now super short and look wide…I have always avoided pedicures because I hate people touching my feet and no will forever avoid them. I’m hoping my nails will grow in as nicely as yours. Your nails look awesome!!

  • MTK May 6, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    I have been biting my nails all my life until my father died a few years ago. He was a horrible nail bitter. I seemed to have completely lost the desire to gnaw on the ends of my fingers. I had really stubby nail beds by that point. As my nails grew stronger and longer I noticed the nail bed edge lengthening. On one finger the bed has eve grown past the end of my finger and can actually be painful to push back. I thought I’d never have pretty nails; but I too, must always have polish on or they will break. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  • Pankhuri Jain June 18, 2014 at 2:24 am

    thanx for the post :)
    I wanted toknow that whether the alreary short nail beds can grow or not?

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  • Alina July 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Hey:) I used to bite my nails since I was very small because my parents went away and I was worried that they will not come back. It was a habit that I could not stop. But one I got In 2nd grade I saw that the other girls had such pretty nails. My mom bought me a transparent polish that is very yucky. That really did not help me. Then I started growing my nails out for the first time in my life. They were very long. But, I broke one. That made me think of short nails, I bit them down. A year or two later of having either long, or short nails at the same time, I asked my mum how did she get a big nailbed, she said thet she did not bite her nail since she was very small. I started growing out my nails after that. But once when I was on vacation in Düsseldorf, I had long nails and I was watching a movie. My big mistake. Reming me to cut or file my nails before watching a movie. I was worried about the chareters, and I bit down my nails. -.- then I was looking at my photos, and I saw in one of them that I had quite a long nailbed. I punched the inside of me hard, and I told myself to never bite my nail again. After that, a while after that, I was looking at manicures to do. Then I saw a big, long beautiful nailbed, and I wanted to be just like that. Now i’m trying to grow out my nailbed. I’m doing what you did.

    Thank you for the blog, wish me luck! Alina

  • Janie Hines September 2, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Thx I think imma try it I have U-shape cuticles and sometimes I just wanna rip them off lol and strangle them thx again