Don't get pushy. The cuticle is the protective layer of skin between the visible nonliving part of the nail and the hidden living and growing portion. Excessive pushing or trimming of the cuticle will expose the living portion and damage it, weakening nails.

Keep cuticles supple and moist. Dry cuticles can weaken the cuticle and the nail, which can result in increased nail breaking and chipping. Olive oil, butter, almond oil, canola oil, and lavender essential oil are some of DuPriest's favorite cuticle moisturizers. Mix 10 drops lavender essential oil into 1 cup of canola oil and apply to cuticles as often as needed during the day.

Smooth on sunscreen. Your nails need protection, too. Penetrating UV rays can injure the nail, harming its growth. Use a sunscreen with at least SPF 15.

Sources: Laura DuPriest, author of Natural Beauty (Prima Lifestyles, 2002), and Paula Begoun, author of The Beauty Bible (Beginning Press, 2002).