Q: I quit wearing fake nails, but my natural nails haven't regained the strength they once had. Will they ever?
A: I hope so. (That's probably not the answer you were looking for.) When the technician applies an artificial nail, she roughs up the surface of the nail plate so the adhesive can bond, which can weaken the nail, says dermatologist Audrey Kunin, MD. It takes six to 12 months for that part to grow out while the new nail grows in. As your nails grow, keep them short by clipping off the fakes till your natural nail has grown in; if you simply take the fakes off, leaving your natural nails exposed, they will be weak at first, says Kunin. To strengthen nails, Lenora Felderman, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York–Presbyterian Hospital, suggests wearing rubber gloves for household chores, using moisturizing cream after handwashing, eating a healthy diet, and taking a supplement with 2,500 micrograms or more of biotin (a component of the vitamin-B complex). She also recommends applying a nail strengthener (like Rejuvacote, $11).
Bottom line: Be prepared to wait a full year before your nails are strong again.