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Can You Make Your Nails Grow Faster?

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Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

WebMD Feature

Dietary supplements. Rubbing garlic on your nails. Wiggling your fingers in the air for hours at a time.

Sorry, but no matter what you've heard, they won’t make your nails grow faster.

You can't hurry your nails, which grow at a fixed rate of about a millimeter a month, says dermatologist Bruce Robinson, MD, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

"But if you can get the nails to not break and therefore appear longer, that's where things come into play," he says.

First, you need to know what’s true and what's false about nail growth.

Biotin Supplements Are Linked to Long, Stronger Nails: TRUE

You won't make your nails grow more quickly if you take this dietary supplement. But several studies show that biotin can strengthen brittle nails, making them less likely to split or break, so you may be able to grow your nails longer after taking the supplement regularly.

Biotin is often sold by itself as a dietary supplement or as an ingredient in vitamins sold to improve the look of the skin, hair, and/or nails.

"They all have significant amounts of biotin in them, plus calcium and silicon in some form," says dermatologist Amy Newburger, MD, of St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Medical Center in New York.

The Institute of Medicine has not determined a safe upper limit for this dietary supplement due to lack of information about its possible side effects. Although it seems unlikely that someone could get too much biotin, don't take large doses unless you're under the close care of a dermatologist or other doctor.

"I take it myself and do feel it helps with nails,” says D'Anne Kleinsmith, MD, a dermatologist in West Bloomfield, Mich.

Busy Fingers Make for Longer Fingernails: FALSE

Some people believe that professional pianists, people who type all day,  and other people who spend several hours per day exercising their fingers have quicker-growing nails than other people, because the extra blood flow to the fingertips speeds fingernail growth.

Though there aren't any studies to prove it, Newburger says that people who move their fingers constantly may, indeed, have slightly quicker-growing nails.

Still, that doesn't necessarily mean longer nails. Why not? "Nails with more impact on the tips tend to break more," Newburger says.

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