The hardest-working nail strengtheners that'll bring them back from the brink
Restore your nails to their former glory.
Beauty Crew Contributing Editor / November 21 2023
Brittle, weak nails are the unfortunate side effect of our obsession with a good mani. Because these days we’re all about 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.
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.
$22.99 at Priceline
Pax Polish Base Coat for Nails + Treatment
Fast-drying and designed to accelerate the mani process, this formula preps and primes nails by smoothing the nail surface and blurring flaws, for a more uniform colour application. Argan oil is high in essential fatty acids, helping to strengthen and moisturise the nails. The wand is designed to act as a natural extension of your hand and the brush is rounded and precise, empowering you to an easier, faster, more perfect mani/pedi.
$29 at Sephora
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).
Was $17.95, now $8.97 at Priceline
Essie Gel Treat Love & Color
Say hello to longer, stronger, healthier nails with Essie’s Gel Treat Love and Color Nail Polish. This advanced strength formula delivers stronger nails in just one week with 60 per cent less peeling and 35 per cent less breakage. Each shade delivers shine, colour and strength in a single step - no base or top coat needed. It's available in multiple shades, including Gloss Fit Clear, Good Lighting and Minimally Modest.
$17.95 at Adore Beauty
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.
$36.95 at Adore Beauty
NaturesPlus Ultra Nails Nail Strengthener
This is the ultimate nail strengthener that will work as hard as you are to get your nails feeling healthy and strong once more. The vegan, cruelty-free formulation focuses on natural nutrient activation that quickly absorbs, leaving your nails harder and less brittle.
$17.59 at iHerb
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.