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Even if the people at the nail salon see you more than your husband does, your fingertips still might be needy. Does split, ridged, or slow-growing sound familiar? Experts offer their secrets for preventing and smoothing out these classic digital dilemmas.

Splitting: Except for rare cases when it’s caused by thyroid disease or anemia, splitting is the result of dry nails, says Experts. Moisturize your nails regularly with creams like Creative Nail Design’s SolarOil or Almay’s Massage & Grow Nail & Cuticle Wax. At night, slip socks or cotton gloves over your freshly moistened hands; the trapped heat makes the cream more effective.

Other ways to avoid splitsville: Take breaks between polishes (polish creates a barrier that doesn’t let moisturizer get to the nail), wear gloves when you wash or clean, avoid acetone-based polish removers, and file nails in one direction only—a sawing motion weakens nails.

Ripples: Ridges, which are caused by physiological changes in your body—everything from hormones, high fever, trauma to the nail, and stress—are harder to prevent. Besides not cutting cuticles and trying to stay stress-free, you can minimize the bumps with light buffing. Use a gentle file like Diamancel’s File #1 or Nailene’s Beautiful Shine. Give nails a smoother look with ridge fillers like Bourjois’ Lissant-Blanchissant or Sally Hansen’s Get Even Hydrating Ridge Filler.

Slow growth: Hormones and metabolism—two things you have little control over—determine how fast your nails grow. Worse yet, popping megadoses of vitamins or applying them topically won’t make nails grow any faster. But you do have some power: A diet that’s protein-deficient can slow things down even more, so make sure you’re consuming enough of this essential building block. You also can protect nails from breaking by polishing them and keeping them short to medium in length.

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