If you’ve ever gotten a manicure, you know how quickly those pristine nails can go back to normal. Nail growth seems fast when you’re waiting for a special event, but slow when you just got a perfect manicure. So how fast do your nails actually grow? Keep reading to find out exactly how much a nail grows in a week and what affects nail growth rate.
How Do Nails Grow?
Before we get into exact growth rates, let’s review the basic anatomy of nails and how they actually grow. Your nails are made up of a few distinct parts:
The matrix is the hidden part of the nail under the cuticle. This area contains cells that are constantly dividing and producing new cells. As new cells are created, the older cells get pushed forward into the nail plate.
The nail plate is the hard part made of densely packed keratin cells. These dead cells are tightly packed into layers that have been pushed forward from the matrix. The nail plate doesn’t have nerve endings, which is why you can trim nails without any pain.
The cuticle is the thin layer of skin that overlaps the nail plate at the base and sides of your nail. The cuticle seals the gap between the nail plate and finger, protecting the new cells in the matrix from bacteria and debris.
Finally, the lunula is the pale crescent shape you can see at the base of each nail. The lunula is formed by the part of the matrix you can see through the nail plate. It’s present on all nails, but most visible on the thumbs.
How Long Does It Take for Nails to Grow?
Now that you know how your nails are created, let’s look at how long the growth process takes. On average, fingernails grow about 3 millimeters (mm) per month. Toenails grow even slower at about 1 mm per month.
That means your fingernails take around 6 months to regrow completely if damaged or lost. For toenails, it takes a full 12-18 months to regrow from nothing.
Nail growth rate tends to decrease about 0.5% each year starting around age 25. So younger people may see slightly faster growth compared to the average.
Other factors that affect growth rate:
- Dominant hand – The nails on your dominant hand tend to grow faster.
- Finger/toe size – Larger fingers and toes have faster growing nails.
- Season – Summer heat boosts growth compared to winter cold.
- Time of day – Your nails grow faster during the day vs overnight.
How Much Does a Nail Grow in a Week?
Now let’s focus specifically on weekly nail growth. With average growth of 3 mm per month, that equals:
- Fingernails – 0.7 to 1 mm per week
- Toenails – 0.2 to 0.3 mm per week
That means your fingernails grow about 1 millimeter each week. For toenails, growth is less than half a millimeter weekly.
On your dominant hand, you can expect growth up to 1 mm per week for fingernails. For non-dominant hands, it may be slightly less.
Larger fingernails on thumbs and big toes grow fastest. Smaller fingernails like your pinky or second toe are typically slower.
During summer, increased circulation boosts weekly growth. Expect nails to grow 20-50% slower in winter when circulation decreases.
How to Make Your Nails Grow Faster
While nail growth rate is mostly based on your age and genetics, there are some things you can do to maximize growth:
- Trim nails properly – Use sharp clippers and trim straight across the nail tip. File edges smooth.
- Don’t cut cuticles – Pushing back or cutting cuticles can lead to infection that slows growth.
- Apply cuticle oil – Oils like jojoba prevent hangnails and keep nails flexible.
- Avoid biting nails – This damages the nail bed and deforms nails permanently.
- Watch your shoes – Tight fitting or rigid shoes put pressure on toes and can slow nail growth.
- Soak toenails before trimming – This softens nails and prevents splits and tears.
- Eat a balanced diet – Getting enough nutrients promotes healthy nail growth.
With proper care, you can get your nails to grow as fast as possible. But genetics, aging, and health conditions also affect your growth rate. If you want quickly growing nails, regular manicures and enhancements like acrylics can give the appearance of longer nails in less time.
On average, fingernails grow around 1 millimeter per week. Toenails grow less than 0.5 mm weekly. Growth rate decreases as you age but is also faster in the summer and on dominant hands. Proper nail care can maximize growth, but genetics play a big role too. If you want the look of longer nails quickly, consider professional manicures or enhancements.