I'm pretty low maintenance gal, after all. So my nail care ritual is quite stripped to basics, but it works well for me. My nails are on thin side, but they are very bendy and don't really crack or peel easily. Nail surface is extremely smooth with natural shine and weirdly they resist staining naturally. They also grow pretty fast, but there is some natural fluctuation in the growth speed. I like to keep my nail short or medium length (under 5 mm tips), my nail beds are quite long and shortish nails just feel comfortable and easy.
My skin and cuticles are on dry side, so that needs a special attention. Otherwise my cuticles are quite carefree, they are small and easy to keep detached from the nail. I usually push them lightly after showering with fingers and that's enough. Those cuticle sticks give me creeps... My right hand thumbnail grows sometimes little bumpy, but I guess that it's pretty much my only regular nail problem. If I tear my nail it tends to break just under the tip and from side, the tear is usually very short. So it is very probably possible to repair it with glue.
Here's few things that work for me.
Natural oils. I have noticed recently that natural oils penetrate the cuticles extremely well and improve their condition significantly. Oil is not the most practical hand cream, but I keep a bottle in the living room and massage my fingers and nails with oil while watching TV and remove the excess with tissue if needed. My favorites are almond and coconut oil (very penetrating and well absorbing) and vitamin rich avocado and pomegranate seed oils.
Cuticle oil I have used cuticle oil for a long time - and this oil massaging therapy has not replaced it. I use it mainly when polishing the nails. I protect the cuticle and nail surroundings with oil - it eases the stain removal process and moisturizes at the same time. I'm not faithful to any brand, pretty much everything with application brush works. Right now I have LCN Nail Therapy Nail Builder from the Spa series (for some reason I can't find the exactly same product there) - I like the generous bottle and lovely light scent of this oil.
Clippers I don't know if I'm lazy or crazy, but I think that clippers work beautifully for my nails when they need shortening. Clippers don't promote peeling and give a very smooth edge. I use nail file only to fine tune the nail shape and smooth down occasional damages from the nail edge.
Nutrition. My eating habits are not the best - but at least I do eat a good variety of non processed home made food, fresh vegetables and fruit, enough protein and variety of fats. I don't eat frozen meals and my fast food intake is minimal. Fortunately my vices: full fat non-pasteurized cheese and chocolate actually seem to promote nail health... ...don't know about the red wine and beer :-D.
Things that don't work for me
Buffing - my smooth nails don't need it and I don't really get why to thin out the top layer of the nail. I use the buffer very sparingly, usually to smooth down a glued tear or sometimes very lightly to my bumpy thumbnail and toenails.
Nail hardeners promote breakage with my nail type. If thin nail gets hard it actually snaps really easily. So I rather try to maintain the natural stretchiness of my nails.
Fast dry drops - uh, I don't like the feel of this stuff at all.
Edit. Here are my bare nails, very short, almost tipless. I had a tear in my right forefinger few days ago, followed by minor tear in the left thumb on the photographing day. I've had a special project going on and it puts quite a lot strain to my hands and although I usually protect my hands when working this time it was not possible. The project will be over in a week - and my nails can grow in peace! Usually my tips are somewhere between 2-4 mm but I go for supershort look deliberately time to time.
20 hours ago