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Do Your Nails Grow But Peel Easily? 5 Surprising Causes

So.. why are my nails peeling? Nail peeling is by far one of the most common nail problems my clients come to me for. Usually their nails start to grow, but end up breaking and peeling once they get a little length. They try using a nail strengthener to fix it, but that does nothing for their nail health and causes their nails to break even more.

However once I help my clients understand the source of their nail peeling, they make the right changes so the peeling stops and they have healthy nails again. So today, I’m going to break down the 5 reasons why you have brittle nails that peel so you know how to stop it.

why are my nails peeling

1.Too Much Water is Getting into Your Nails

So if your hands are constantly in and out of water throughout the day, this causes them to get wide when they are wet and narrow when they are dry. This constant change in nail shape is what causes your nails to be weak and peel in layers. This is why it is so important to protect your nails from absorbing too much water by wearing a thin coat of clear polish. This will block some of that water absorption so your nails don’t keep peeling.

Note: If you are a healthcare worker and you use harsh soaps regularly, these harsh soaps can strip your nails and skin as well.

2.Rough Salon Job

Remember when you went to the nail salon and they rubbed a block on your nails at the beginning of your appointment(for gel manicures)? Well, let’s just say they rubbed the block a little to harshly which end up removing way too many layers of your nail plate from your nail bed. This is why your nails are not only peeling, but they are thin and breaking as well.

Want to know where to go from here, I recommend taking my 2 minute nail health quiz to know why your nails are breaking and what to focus on to fix it so your nails can bounce back after the salon.

why are my nails peeling

3.Very Dry Nails

Do you ever look down at your nails and notice how dry and cracked the skin around your nails look? Do you also notice dry skin around your nails? Well, like a plant needs water to grow, your nails do need moisture to thrive. When your nails don’t get the cuticle oil they need on a consistent basis, they will crack and peel. Some really great oils you can use on your nails to keep your nails moisturized so they don’t peel are vitamin e, jojoba, and olive oil.

Check out this post to find out the 8 Natural Oils for Nail Growth

4.Lacking Certain Nutrients

Nail health is not just about what you put on your body, but in your body. Nutritional deficiencies like iron and vitamin d can cause your nails to grow out weak and peel. That is why having a healthy diet with leafy greens is essential for nail health. But if you struggle to eat vegetables, taking a multivitamin can help prevent these vitamin deficiencies as well.

5. Not Wearing Dish Gloves

This is a sneaky one. So remember when you were cleaning the dishes the other day with harsh soap and water? Do you also remember that you weren’t wearing any dish gloves? Well the soap was cleaning your dishes, but was drying out your nails and skin. So the reason why you are experiencing so much peeling nails(and skin) is because your nails are being exposed to harsh chemicals in the dish soap. That is why it is crucial to wear gloves while doing the dishes.

Why Are the Top Layer of My Nails Peeling?

Your nails can peel in layers for several reasons, but here are the most common reasons that my clients had issues with nails peeling in layers. The most common cause is too much water getting into your nails. When water gets in and out of your nails, it causes your nails to get wide when they are wet and narrow when they are dry. On top of that, when your nails have been weakened at the salon, it makes it easier for your nails to peel in this way.

What Deficiency Causes Fingernails to Peel?

Deficiencies like iron can cause nail peeling. When you are low in the iron vitamin, your nails can become soft and spoon like. This causes them to bend and peel easily.

What Health Condition Can Cause Nails to Peel?

Health conditions or medical conditions like anemia and thyroid disease can cause nail changes. If you noticed big changes in the look of your natural nails or really slow nail growth, I’d recommend reaching out to your doctor to test whether there is an internal cause. 

How Do you Avoid Peeling Nails?

The key to avoiding nail peeling is to protect your nails and to make sure your nails are getting what they need to thrive inside and out. If you notice your nails are very dry and are exposed to a lot of water, then I recommend that you use cuticle oil and protect your nails with gloves from absorbing too much water.

Next Steps?

If your nails are weak and peeling especially after going to the salon, then I invite you to take the 2 minute nail health quiz. It will tell you what is happening to your nails and steps to focus on to fix it.


Can a nail strengthener fix peeling nails?

I don’t recommend that my clients use nail strengtheners for nail care. Nail strengtheners don’t actually make the nails stronger, they just make them really hard which causes them to break even more overtime.

Can You Buff to Smooth Out Your Nails?

I would not recommend buffing to smooth out your nails. I’ve seen products that recommend that buffing your nails with glycolic acid is great for the health of your nails. However, the layers of your nails are set. When you constantly go back to smooth out your nail with this method, you end of thinning your nails out.

Can B Vitamins Stop Nail Peeling?

B vitamins like Biotin can make the nails stronger, however I generally don’t recommend them because the amount of vitamin b is way too high and can cause breakouts.

Can Skin Conditions Cause Nail Peeling?

Yes, underlying skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can affect the overall condition of your nails. I would recommend talking to a board-certified dermatologist about these conditions.

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