Best Nail Treatments for Longer, Stronger Nails

From polishes to hand creams, these are the luxe treatments to try now.

One consequence of our social calendars being paused for the last year or so is that we’ve not paid as much attention to our nails. From becoming our own manicurist to stress-induced nail biting, our hands have not been looking their best.

 

But, as the world reopens, it’s time to get them back into shape, which is where a nail growth or strengthening treatment can help. We’ve found the most nourishing formulas available that will give you longer, stronger nails within weeks.

 

How to maintain healthy nails

To ensure your nails remain healthy and strong, consider a few important factors.

Once you return to the nail salon, avoid picking off your gel or acrylic manicure. This will lead to thinner and more fragile nails underneath, so always get them removed professionally. Give your nails a break between appointments too, to allow them to recover.

As with everything, your diet also plays an important role. Weak nails are normally due to a lack of vitamin B, calcium and iron, so think about adding a multivitamin to your routine or eating foods such as eggs, green vegetables and fish.

Hormones are a consideration, too. If you’re going through changes – such as pregnancy or menopause – your oestrogen levels could be low, which will affect how well your body retains water. This can lead to dry, brittle nails, so ensure you’re drinking the recommended two litres of water a day.

And lastly, it almost goes without saying, but avoid biting or picking at the skin around your cuticles, as this can damage your nail beds and leave them exposed to harmful bacteria.

 

How we test

We asked over 1,000 women to trial over 42 brands of nail strengtheners and nail growth treatments for one month; the products ranged from oils to polishes to serums.

For nail growth products, our testers assessed their overall performance, including whether they prevented breakages and peeling, and if nails were left looking healthier, stronger and longer after the trial.

For strengthening treatments, testers noted whether the products helped with any flakiness, as well as if they had an impact on smoothness.

All products were also judged on how easy they were to apply, their drying time and how often they needed reapplying. We’ve also mentioned if each polish is free from phthalates, toluene and formaldehyde, in case this is of concern to you.

 

BEST NAIL STRENGTHENER

Orly Nail Defense 

Formulated with proteins to help avoid breakages, we were impressed by how well this polish kept nails intact. Some growth was spotted too, and it left nails with a healthy-looking, rich sheen. It was also long-lasting, with no chipping in sight.

Key specifications
Type: Polish
Volume: 
18ml
Phthalate-free:
 Yes
Toluene-free:
 Yes
Formaldehyde-free: 
Yes

 

 

BEST BASE COAT

Yves Saint Laurent La Laque Couture 98 Base Coat

Not only did this base coat leave nails looking stronger and healthier in just one quick swipe, but it also left surfaces looking smoother. It took two weeks to spot a visible improvement in the overall condition of our nails, but we loved the shiny finish it provided in the meantime.

Key specifications
Type: Polish
Volume: 
10ml
Phthalate-free: 
Yes
Toluene-free: 
Yes
Formaldehyde-free:
 Yes

 

 

 

BEST FOR ANTI-PEELING
Essie Nail Care All-in-One Nail Polish Base Coat and Top Coat

A versatile product, this polish can be used as a base and/or top coat, while it works to strengthen weakened nails underneath. It did take us a little over two weeks to see results but our nails were left looking stronger, with less peeling and breakages than usual.

Key specifications
Type: Polish
Volume:
 13.5ml
Phthalate-free:
 Yes
Toluene-free: 
Yes
Formaldehyde-free:
 Yes

 

 

BEST NAIL TINT

Dior Base Coat Abricot

It would be tough to find a celebrity manicurist that doesn’t have this in their kit, and for a good reason. We loved the soft and subtle tint it provided (so much so that we could skip coloured polish all together), and it left nails looking smoother. We noticed less peeling after the first application, making it a must-have for any nail obsessive.

Key specifications
Type: Polish
Volume:
 10ml
Phthalate-free: 
Yes
Toluene-free: 
Yes
Formaldehyde-free:
 Yes

 

 

 

BEST FOR SENSITIVE CUTICLES

Dr. Hauschka Neem Nail and Cuticle Oil

If you prefer to skip the cuticle cut at the salon due to how sensitive your cuticles are, try this oil. It didn’t cause any irritation and helped improve the overall condition of our nail beds. There’s a handbag-friendly pen alternative too, so you can use it without the mess of a pump dispenser.

Key specifications
Type: Oil 
Volume: 
18ml
Phthalate-free: 
Yes
Toluene-free: 
Yes
Formaldehyde-free:
 Yes

 

 

 

BEST FOR DRY NAILS

Nails Inc Overnight Detox Mask

This treatment works while you sleep to give you glossy nails by morning. We found it gave tips a much-needed hydration boost. It also helped improve any bumpiness and eradicate rough skin on the nail.

Key specifications
Type: Polish
Volume: 
14ml
Phthalate-free: 
Yes
Toluene-free: 
Yes
Formaldehyde-free: 
Yes

 

 

BEST NAIL CREAM

Leighton Denny Renovate Intensive Nail Cream

If you prefer a cream, we found cuticles soaked this one up quickly, without leaving behind any greasiness. We also found that it was great at hydrating dry hands, and left nails looking and feeling stronger after the trial period.

Key specifications
Type: Cream
Volume
: 10ml
Phthalate-free: 
Yes
Toluene-free: 
Yes
Formaldehyde-free:
 Yes

 

 

 

BEST FOR FAST RESULTS

Sally Hansen Nail Treatment Growth Miracle

We found this quick-drying polish helped our nails grow faster than usual. The nail surface looked smoother too, while we also noticed significantly less peeling. Note: it did require a thicker coat than some of the others we tried in order to prevent chipping.

Key specifications
Type: Polish
Volume: 
13.3ml
Phthalate-free: 
Yes
Toluene-free:
 Yes
Formaldehyde-free: 
Yes

 

 

 

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This article originally appeared on harpersbazaar.com/UK