Moisturizing your cuticles is key to having strong nails. Aim for applying cuticle oil or creme nightly. I like Burt's Bees Cuticle Creme and Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil.
2. Push Back the Cuticle
After soaking your fingers in water for about 5 to 10 minutes, *gently* push back your cuticles. Do not clip the cuticles, as this can cause infection and trauma to the nail bed.
3. File, Don't Cut
Filing nails is much better, as clipping can cause tiny breaks and trauma to the nail bed. Aim for filing your nails once a week. I like Revlon's files. They come in lots of different colours, designs, and grit sizes.
Buffing your nails helps to create a smooth surface for painting. It also allows for smooth looking nails without polish. Buff *gently* every one to two weeks. Do not overbuff. I like the Mambo 3 Way Buffer, which has different grit sizes.
5. Fix It
If you have a crack in your nail that cannot be filed or buffed away, carefully apply some nail glue on it. This will stop it from catching on clothing, etc. Gently buff the area, and your nail is good to go. I like Nailene Brush On Glue.