Before you can find your perfect wedding-day shade of polish, your nails have to be in tip-top condition. (After all, sheer pink doesn't cover up very much!) This, of course, includes regular manicures, but even more importantly? Making sure you're eating food that promotes strong, healthy nails.
"Proper nutrition is essential for nail growth," says Sally Hansen Ambassador Tracylee. "Nails grow about three millimeters per month and since they don't regenerate themselves, you should start a healthy nail diet within three to six months of your wedding date. That's how long it takes to grow a completely new nail."
A huge plus: This strong-nail diet also has prettifying effects on your hair, skin, and figure. How's that for an incentive? Here, we present the foods you should be eating to ensure strong, shiny nails.
What it does: Promotes cell growth and renewal.
Find it in: Practically anything that's orange. Try sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, and dried apricots. If you're going the dried route however, make sure it isn't loaded with refined sugar, as it dehydrates nails, Tracylee says. (And while we're on the don't list, caffeine can have the same drying effect, too!)
The Vitamins B
What they do: B2, B7 and B9 prevent nails from becoming brittle. Wondering about those mysterious ridges on your nails? They could signal a vitamin B deficiency.
Find them in: Eggs, oats, barley, broccoli, and spinach. Try eating them fresh or steamed, since these vitamins can be lost during cooking.
What it does: Produces collagen, prevents hangnails and relieves dry skin.
Find it in: Peppers, kale, oranges, grapefruit, kiwifruit and mango. To maximize absorption, eat it in conjunction with vitamin E. (Think avocado, spinach, almonds and sunflower seeds.)
What it does: Your nails are made of this stuff, so it's safe to say protein is pretty important — it strengthens the actual fingernail.
Find it in: You know this one, but for healthy, slimming options, try fish, eggs, white-meat poultry, quinoa and Greek yogurt.
Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids
What they do: Hydrate nails and ensure resiliency and flexibility. They also keep the skin around the nail bed strong and prevent nails from splitting.
Find them in: Oysters, salmon, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, flaxseed, Brazil nuts, and avocado oil. Supplement a smoothie or yogurt with one tablespoon per day of flaxseed or hempseed oil for a quick fix.
What it does: Enhances the overall appearance of nails — same goes for your hair and skin, too!
Find them in: Garlic, onions, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, chicken and eggs. (Make sure you eat the yolk though — egg whites won't give you this nutrient.)