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Sometimes, beauty can seem like a waiting game. From waiting for your hair to grow after you’ve decided a bob haircut is no longer your jam to waiting for your skin to clear up after a breakout, it can seem as though you’re constantly checking your phone to see how much time has passed. Yet another beauty waiting game to add to the list? Growing out your nails! Whether you’re guilty of biting your nails or simply want to learn how to make your nails grow faster so you can ditch your acrylics, you’re likely wondering how long it takes for nails to grow. Well, we’re here to fill you in on just that, along with how nails grow in the first place.
Before we dive into how fast nails grow, let’s talk a bit about how they grow in general. Ready for some nail anatomy 101? Don’t worry—we’ll keep it simple.
Matrix: This is the root of the nail, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). It’s constantly making new cells. These new cells force the old ones to become packed together and get pushed through the skin.
Nail plate: The hard part of your nail—aka, the actual fingernail that you’re hoping to grow—is known as the nail plate, per the Harvard Medical School. This is what those packed old cells mentioned above form. At this point, the cells are dead, which is why you don’t feel anything when you cut your nails, per the AAD.
Cuticle: This is a term you’re likely familiar with. The AAD explains that the cuticle is a small section of skin that protects the matrix from germs. While it doesn’t directly relate to how nails grow, it’s still super important!
Lunula: You likely will notice this on your thumbs, though it’s present on all of your nails—you just might not see it. According to the AAD, the lunula is the small, white, half-moon shape that can be seen at the bottom of your nails. It’s part of the matrix—the only part of it that may be visible.
So, let’s talk speed. The fact of the matter is, nails grow pretty slowly. Very slowly, as a matter of fact. Here are a few things worth noting when it comes to how fast nails grow.
#1. Nails grow slower with age. Yup—per the Harvard Medical School, the growth of your fingernails and toenails slows as you get older.
#2. Nails don’t grow much. The adult fingernail only grows around three millimeters per month—and this can vary—according to the Harvard Medical School. Toenails grow even less at about half or one-third of that rate.
#3. And, as we said, they grow slowly. If you lose a fingernail, it will take half a year to grow it back, per the AAD. A toenail can take a year and a half to grow back.
#4. Your dominant hand grows faster. Yup, the AAD states that if you’re right-handed, your nails will grow faster on your right hand. If you’re left-handed, they’ll grow faster on your left. Nails also grow faster on your larger fingers.
#5. The time of year affects growth. Nails grow faster during the summer, according to the AAD. Who knew? They also grow faster during the day.
Now that you’re a pro on nail growth, you’re probably wondering how to make your nails grow faster. While there is no magic solution for speeding up nail growth, the best way to encourage growth is to make sure your nails are strong and healthy! On that note, here are a few nail care tips, courtesy of the AAD.
#1. Clip your nails. Cut your nails straight across, slightly rounding the edges. Make sure there are no snags or tears. You can use a nail file to keep them in check! The same goes for your toenails.
#2. Don’t bite. This is an absolute no-no! Also, don’t remove or damage the cuticle.
#3. Keep your nails dry. Unless you’re getting a manicure, your nails shouldn’t be moist. That said, if your toenails are difficult to cut, you can soak them in water for five to 10 minutes prior to cutting to help them soften.
#4. Wear shoes that fit. Tight shoes can harm your toenails—as if you needed another reason to stick with comfortable footwear.
Next: How Much Can Hair Grow in a Month?
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