When quarantine hit, we had a lot of expectations for ourselves. We were going to learn how to make banana bread, become amateur artists, get clear skin, grow out our hair and nails, oh and dismantle systemic racism, no big. While some were more successful than others, the hard truth is that we left that painting unfinished, and our nails and hair are… the same length?
We can’t do anything about the painting (an artist’s inspiration comes and goes, you know), but we did speak to Dr. Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, a Board-Certified Dermatologist, to figure out how to get long nails and healthy hair this summer. Maybe you just want an insta-worthy manicure à la Kylie Jenner, or you’re really trying to get that ~long hair don’t care~ look while you’re lounging poolside- but either way, the trick is to boost your hair and nail health through your diet (no expensive nail products required).
Hair and nail growth are mostly determined by DNA and overall health, so hair gummies might help out, but the best way to grow them out is through a balanced diet filled with vitamins that will get your hair and nails growing quickly. Dr. Garshick gave us the scoop on which vitamins will give you flowing locks, what foods to eat, and other quick tips to keep your nails manicure-ready.
According to Dr. Garshick, these nutrients may be essential for hair and nail growth:
Iron: Iron carries oxygens to important cells, like the ones that stimulate your hair and nail growth. If you’re low in Iron, you might actually begin losing hair and experiencing brittle nails. That’s enough of a reason to make sure you’re getting enough of this important nutrient.
Zinc: Dr. Garshick tells us Zinc helps “support the various proteins that are involved in maintaining and promoting the structural support of your hair.” Zinc can also help your skin heal from things like acne scars, so it’s a win-win.
Folic Acid: Folic acid is one of the most widely-recommended vitamins for healthy hair and nail growth. That’s because it is responsible for cell growth, including those found in skin tissues like your hair and nails.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to hair thinning and hair loss, so Dr. Garshick recommends to supplement with Vitamin D if you may be low— and considering 42% of Americans are, you just might be!
Biotin: Dr. Garshick tells us that “many people have found Biotin to be helpful for hair and nail growth even when they’re not deficient.” Not only that, but some studies show that individuals taking 2.5mg of biotin showed improvements in nail firmness, hardness and thickness— aka overall nail health! Dr. Garshick gives us one caveat — if you’re getting bloodwork done any time soon, make sure to stop your biotin supplements and consult with your doctor!
When possible, we always recommend trying to get our nutrients and vitamins from our food, as they are the most digestible and effective source for our bodies. When we are eating balanced diets full of whole foods, our body can find the majority of what it needs, and we can fill in the rest with supplements. Dr. Garshick has outlined where we can find each of the vitamins we need for hair and nail growth below.
Iron: Iron can be found in many of the foods we eat on a daily basis, such as spinach, chicken, fish, tofu and beans. If you need a more substantial Iron boost, we suggest a gentle iron supplement like this one.
Zinc: Dr. Garshick recommends getting our daily dose of Zinc from two of our favorite breakfast options— oatmeal and Greek yogurt. Another easy fix is to add pumpkin or hemp seeds to your smoothie or salad- they’ll improve your meal and your hair.
Folic Acid: When found naturally in foods, Folic Acid is known as Folate, or Vitamin B9. You can find these key nutrient in foods like lentils, asparagus, beets and oranges.
Biotin: Biotin can be found in your typical dietary staples like fish, eggs, meat and dairy products! But we also love biotin supplements like these– especially if you prefer to stay away from animal products.
Vitamin D: According to Dr. Garshick, Vitamin D is generally best gained from a supplement, but can also be found in foods such as salmon and egg yolks.
The key to hair and nail growth is giving them a little (a lot) of TLC. That means minimizing the amount of times you straighten your hair, or get acrylic nails (sorry). Just let your hair and nails live their best life!
Moisturize! Much like your skin, your hair and nails will do better when they are kept moisturized. Dr. Garshick reminds us that with all the hand-washing we’re doing right now, our nails can become dry, weak and irritated. The key is to keep your hair moisturized with oils, and your nails with hand creams.