The best nail strengtheners for bringing them back from the brink
Been overdoing the gel nails? Here’s how to restore your nails to their former glory
Beauty Crew Contributing Editor / May 08 2022
Brittle, weak nails are the unfortunate side effect of our obsession with a good mani. Because these days we’re all about the Shellac, gel nails and the like, which may give us a long-lasting manicure, but can simultaneously wreak havoc on the condition of your nails underneath (hint: it’s the nail polish removal process where most of the damage is done).
While some manicures are said to be healthier than others (i.e. SNS nails), wearing any kind of nail polish too often (yep, it’s not just gel formulas to blame for damaged nails) can hinder the health of your nail.
First up, don’t fix (ahem, hide) the problem by just applying another coat of nail polish. Your nails are trying to tell you that they need a little help, so listen! What they need is to be nourished with strengthening and hydrating ingredients. And nail hardeners, or nail strengtheners, are designed to do just that.
Looking for a nail hardener that really works? We’ve found five great options for you to try.
Sally Hansen Nail Rehab
Sally Hansen no doubt has a few strengthening formulas under her belt, but we're particularly partial to this sheer pink option. It's loaded with jasmine, rose and vitamin E moisturising extracts to nurse your nails back to health (especially after acrylic nails or peeling off gel nails and damaging the natural nail underneath) Plus, it fills in ridges and conceals imperfections so your nails look flawless while they go through rehab (but like, a chic-looking rehab).
$8.47 at Chemist Warehouse
OPI Nail Envy
Another brand who knows how to take good care of your nails, OPI’s Nail Envy is a great go-to for transforming weak, breakage-prone nails into harder, longer and stronger versions of their former selves. The formula contains strengthening hydrolysed wheat protein and calcium to wave buh-bye to peeling, cracking and splitting. Psst, it also happens to come in the brand's cult-classic colour 'Bubble Bath', if you're still partial to a subtle shell pink shade even while focusing on strengthening.
$34.95 at Adore Beauty
Revitanail Nail Strengthener
Taking out our top pick for the best nail hardener, Revitanail has been a cult favourite for years. It’s fortified with calcium gel (read: the good stuff for strengthening weakened nails) and works to not just restore the condition of your nails, but also protect them against future damage. The clear formula also makes this a goodie for the man in your life to use, too.
$25.99 at Chemist Warehouse
Kester Black Miracle Base Coat
If brittleness and breakage is harshing your mani game, but you still like some colour on your nails, give this a go. It's a clever hybrid polish that pairs the benefits of both a pearlescent-finish base coat and a treatment packed with moisturising oils, to strengthen, hydrate and repair below the surface while also creating a barrier between your coloured polish and your actual nails.
$29 at Kester Black
Sienna Byron Bay Nail Strengthener
There's no doubt that nail products can be filled with some iffy ingredients, so it's nice to know there are also some vegan options available. This breathable strengthener is a definite standout if you're in search of something that fits into the non-toxic category. Not only can it also be used as a base coat while protecting your natural nails, but the packaging is also 100 per cent recyclable; a major drawcard.
$32 at Sienna Byron Bay
Chelsea is BEAUTYcrew’s Contributing Editor. She has a sweet spot for anything that claims to make skin glow and won’t leave the house without a slick of mascara. Chelsea has 10 years of experience as a beauty editor and her words can be found on BEAUTYcrew, Women’s Health, Daily Addict, The Joye and Primped.