The Best Nail Strengtheners for Longer, Stronger Nails
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Weak nails are all too common, and can be the result of normal wear and tear, nutritional deficiencies, or damage from popular treatments like gel, shellac, and acrylics. There's nothing worse than spending time and money on a fresh manicure just to have one of your nails break or split. To keep them healthy and strong, using one of the best nail strengtheners from top brands like Olive and June and CND is key, and as easy as applying a coat of polish.
"Nail strengtheners are used mainly to add extra layer of protection to hardened the nails and help it grow," celebrity manicurist Sherwin Hora tells BAZAAR.com. Topical nail strengtheners work by delivering vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and skin care ingredients like hyaluronic acid straight to the nail in the form of a clear polish. Plus, we recommend doubling down on care from the inside out with the help of a growth supplement. Read on for our short list of the best nail strengtheners experts and editors love, along with a few pro care tips from Hora.
Shea Nail And Cuticle Oil
Hora says applying cuticle oil is the most underrated thing you can do for your nails. "Cuticle oil can improve nail health and strength, it helps to keep nails hydrated, and promotes nail growth," the pro says.
"This is amazing stuff. I love that I can use it and go. Where as several cuticle oils are too greasy and runny. My nails were damaged from acrylic nails and I used this multiple times a day just to keep my nails hydrated." —srhill74
Olive & June knows how to care for nails—because the brand was taking care of Los Angeles's finest before launching products. This formula has shown a 77 percent increase in nail strength, and may even extend the length of your mani by two to three days.
"My nails are significantly stronger after using this for a couple weeks! I had weak nails from dip powders and this was able to help them recover back to normal, possibly stronger!" —DP
Pure Strength Nail Strengthener
For the best results, apply this treatment daily (or as much as possible), then remove at the end of the week and start fresh. We promise you'll notice a difference.
"My nails tend to break easily and have been wanting to try a nail strengthening treatment as I want long natural nails. I have been using this for over ten days and am pleasantly surprised at how well it works. My nails have a little length to them and feel stronger than they were before using this. It goes on like a regular nail polish and dries fairly fast." —Heather
Think of this like your favorite face serum, but for your nails. Formulated with keratin and jojoba oil, this daily treatment will give your nails a boost in just a week.
"I had several nails that were consistently peeling. After one week of treatment my nails were visibly improved. Now, after four weeks, they look amazing! Easy to apply, absorbs quickly and smells very nice. I'm hooked." —Vanessa
Hard As Hoof Nail Strengthening Cream
With over 40,000 reviews, this is Amazon's best-selling nail strengthening cream—and for good reason. The blend of jojoba oil, beeswax, calcium, and vitamins help nails come back to life after acrylics, or just grow longer, faster. We like to keep a jar on our nightstand and apply before bed—plus an extra in our handbag to reapply throughout the day.
"If I could give this a higher rating than 5 stars I would. I have been using this for about a week and a half and have seen a drastic change in how strong my nails are. I work in an environment where we have to use a lot of hand sanitizer and that does a lot of damage to my nails and cuticles...My cuticles are nice and moisturized. I use it once, maybe twice daily." —Jessica D.
Hyper Repair Base Coat
Who do Bella and Gigi turn to when it comes to their nail health? Jin Soon Choi. The celebrity nail guru has mastered the art of maintaining gorgeous, healthy nails, so this treatment is almost as good as having her on speed dial.
"I bought this one time and fell in love. It really really does help the nails. It's expensive but it does help a lot." —Accent
"I like this one because it can also be used under your polish as a base coat, so you’re repairing while wearing a pretty mani," Hora says.
"My nails were thin and peeling. Used this years ago after acrylic nails, works miracles. My nail tech was stunned. Use it multiple times a day." —mxm64
Even the weakest nails can be strengthened by this pro-loved formula. With over 5,000 rave reviews on Amazon, some users noted that when nothing worked, this bottle came to the rescue.
"I’m never disappointed when I buy Nail Tek. Perfect ridge filler, [for] smoothing out my nails and strengthening too! Two birds with one stone—highly recommend" —Elizabeth
SI-Nails Nail Strengthener
Brittle nails are no match for this easy-to-use strengthener in a pen. You'll notice results in 28 days, so carry it with you and apply it across all your nails and cuticles daily.
"My nails used to crack and peel, but not any more since I started using ISDIN for nails. My nails are longer now than they have been in 30 years. Really!" —Dana
Nail Envy Nail Strengthener Treatment
This classic nail strengthener comes in shades other than clear, so you can treat your nails without sacrificing your weekly mani. Calcium and hydrolyzed wheat protein help nails grow stronger and longer.
"For years I've lived with bad nails that break off, chip at the edges, and split right down the middle. But as long as I apply this product every seven to 10 days, I can avoid that. All it takes is one coat. Two coats and it is no longer matte, but shiny."
Hard as Nails Serum
Applied daily on bare nails, this award-winning serum from Sally Hansen blends antioxidant-rich vitamins A, C, and E together to help bring weak, brittle nails back to life in a matter of days. If you're serious about nail health, it's the best $5.99 you'll ever spend.
"My cuticles feel and look great. I use it 2 to 3 times a day and I see a big difference when I don’t use it. It has a great light citrus scent." —M. Medina
Hard Rock - Nail Strengthening Top and Base Coat
If adding an individual nail strengthener sounds like too much work (no judgment!), this top and base coat delivers the same benefits in less steps. Plus, we love how durable it makes our at-home manicures.
"I have always had pathetic, child-like fingernails, soft, thin, and inclined to bend backwards. Pregnancy did not make them any better. This stuff is the ONLY thing that has ever kept my nails from bending. And it dries in a flash. Completely worth the money." —kgee21
Strong Start Nail Treatment
You can use this nail treatment as a clear manicure (if you apply two coats), or as a strengthening base coat to help your nails feel less brittle with each weekly appointment.
"I love painting my nails but sometimes that leaves my nails feeling a bit brittle. This base coat is amazing and I love that it is infused with biotin to make my nails stronger." —jcz26
Get Well Nail Recovery
This is the nail treatment we reach for after we just peeled off our gel manicure even though we weren't supposed to. Two alpha hydroxy acids help resurface the nail while a coat of nitrocellulose helps protect your nails from future damage. Use it twice a week when your nails really need it.
"I like this product very much — it strengthens the nail while giving it a nice shine as well!" —Yung spice
Nailkale Superfood Base Coat
The way a kale salad is just inherently good for you, so is this base coat. Rich in antioxidants and keratin, it helps prevent nails from splitting and cracking while also helping them grow longer.
"My nails were a weak, peeling mess from too many gel manicures and this returned them to fighting form! It also provided a super smooth base for nail polish. I love the brush. It’s the perfect shape and so easy to use." —Purplish
How do nail strengtheners work?
Similar to a hair masks, nail strengtheners contain proteins and vitamins and that help fortify your nails. They also add a layer of physical protection, so your nails won't dry out or break while they're healing. With that said, Hora notes that their formulas can only do so much: "Nail strengtheners will do the outside work, but essentially the diet will do the inner work of keeping nails thriving."
Will nail strengtheners help damage from gel manicures?
Your fingers literally can't get to Amazon quickly enough. Yes, if you're experiencing dry, thin, brittle or peeling nails from a too-long stint of gels or acrylics, give yourself a breather and stick to a strengthener. "I recommend applying nail strengtheners every other day for best results," Hora advises. With regular use over a few weeks, strengtheners will have your nails right back in the game.
Meet the Experts
Sherwin Hora is a celebrity manicurist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Her clients include stars like Issa Rae, Ashley Graham, Lenny Kravitz, and others.
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For more than 150 years, Harper’s BAZAAR has been the preeminent fashion and beauty resource for women at every age. We cover what’s new and what’s next in beauty by working with the world’s leading authorities in dermatology, plastic surgery, cosmetics, skincare, haircare, and fragrance. Every story we publish has been thoroughly researched and vetted by our team of beauty editors and industry experts.
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