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 / July 23 2019
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 applying another coat of nail polish. Your nails are trying to tell you that they need a breather, 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 four of them for you to try.
#4 / Sally Hansen Nail Rehab
Sally Hansen has a lot of great nail strengtheners in its product line-up. Sally Hansen Hard As Nails is a classic, but what we love about this one in particular is its sheer pink colour and nourishing addition of jasmine, rose and vitamin E moisturising extracts in the formula to nurse your nails back to healthy (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.
The review: “I can’t stand having chipped nails, so I’m a regular gel manicure kinda gal. But after about two to three months, my nails get soft and weak and that’s my cue to take a break. When I do, I use the Sally Hansen Nail Rehab regularly for about a month to help strengthen my nails and get them ready for another few rounds of gel polish. Besides the fact that I find that it actually helps, I love the soft pink finish it leaves (so my nails don’t look completely bare).” Carli Alman, Beauty Crew’s Editor
#3 / Essie Grow Stronger
Top rated by our Review Crew® who awarded it 4.5 stars, this base coat helps protect and strengthen nails while giving them a glossy finish so they still look good between manicures. It’s enriched with gingko biloba, vitamin E and minerals, and formulated without formaldehyde, toluene and DBP.
The review: “I have always struggled with frail and weak nails, as soon as I get a nice length they break or peel. I have tried multiple strengthening products and continue to be disappointed until trying this as a base coat and also on its own! I am really impressed with how much stronger my nails have been and still haven't had a single broken nail so FINALLY, I have a really nice length and couldn't be happier with this product!.” Emily, Beauty Crew member
#2 / 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, this also comes in a matte formula.
The review: “This is the most amazing stuff. My nails were thin, weak and brittle while often peeling. I then used the OPI Nail Envy consistently and my nails now grow quicker and have strength. The OPI Nail Envy literally creates a superior barrier on nails to protect them from breaking. It applies beautifully on the nails and dries super-fast. I haven't found any nail product as amazing at OPI Nail Envy. It really is an unbelievable nail product that completely changed my whole nail game. It is great for all nails to help strengthen and repair damaged weak, dry and brittle nails especially after nail treatment.” Rebecca, SUPERcrew member
#1 / 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.
The reviews: “This is my go-to in-between gel and SNS manicures, because it keeps my nails strong and helps prevent annoying flaking, chipping and peeling nails. I’ll usually use this on nails for a few weeks (it just looks like clear nail polish) and it gets them back into shape!” Erin Docherty, Beauty Crew’s Beauty Writer
“I've used this for years and it's always been the best at keeping my nails in the best condition. I wear it alone when I go camping, or as a base and top coat with nail polish at other times, and it never fails to protect my nails and keep them healthy. Very good price and reliable product.” Georgia, SUPERcrew member
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.