Good to be on the forum, I'm a newbie guitar player. So, I'm trying to strum and I don't have nails, my problem is on the down stroke. I saw some videos where guys strum with their index finger and I like that instead of strumming downward with my thumb, using the index as a pick. But when I strum down with my finger I get a dead sound from the strings hitting the top of the nail (what's left of a nail). Anyone else play without nails and how do you do it? I'm trying not to angle the finger so it doesn't hit the nail but that feels natural. Hopefully that all makes sense and isn't too confusing, I'm just kind of a perfectionist and want to start off right.
Skin sounds duller than a nail or a pick, so no surprise there.

Are you incapable of growing nails? If so, how sad. If not, let them grow in and try coating them with "Crazy Glue". Some people use fake fiber glass nails.

James Taylor has a tutorial on YouTube explaining the process.

Use a pick, (!), and add the middle and ring finger to pull the up strokes. That's called "hybrid picking". (Pure classical guitar uses the thumb index, middle, and ring fingers. Many country/folk artists use only the thumb, index and middle. Hybrid picking can be easily substituted for that style.

The only way you're going to somewhat curb the necessity of reinforcing your nails and growing and maintaining callouses, is to take up the nylon strung guitar.

Otherwise, no pain, no gain.

And remember bronze and steel, are both harder than skin and fingernails. It's the natural order of things.