Brittle Nails

The best nail hardeners and strengtheners for healthy-looking nails

Posted by for Beauty

Looking down at dry, thin nails stripped of their natural sheen? Resurrecting nail strength can be pretty easy, if you just update your nail care routine.

Even if you’ve been trying your best with at-home manicures, all this extra hand washing not only leads to dry hands, but also equally dry nails. Give it a week, and nails can become weak and brittle, made even worse if you’ve committed the ultimate beauty sin: peeling your gel manicure off. After a month, nails can be pretty bendy, peely and flaky indeed.

But turning the tide on flimsy nails isn’t too tricky. In fact, rescuing nails from their weakest point can be made a whole lot easier with the introduction of a nail strengthener or hardener. But with a plethora of this kind of nail product on offer — there’s a whole lot of options to scroll through — where exactly is the best place to start? As well as finding out what causes brittle nails in the first place, we’ve narrowed down ingredients and formulas with the power to bring those poor nails of yours back to life.


What causes brittle nails?

“Brittle nails are caused by a lack of moisture” says manicurist, Jenni Draper. One of the main ways we lose moisture is through constantly washing our hands. “Hand wash can strip the skin of moisture repeatedly alongside simply drying your hands, but brittleness can also be down to a deficiency in your diet.” 

How to treat brittle nails?

Introduce a cuticle oil: For extremely dry nails, it’s important to replenish the moisture that’s lost. The most effective way is to add a cuticle oil to your nail routine. “Apply and massage in a cuticle oil at least twice a day” says Draper. “This will add more moisture to the nails and help the new nail growth to be healthier and stronger.” We love Famous Names 95% Organic Nail Treatment Oil, £2.99.

Invest in a hand cream: A consistent routine of hand washing hugely affects the skin’s hydration levels. “Have a hand cream and cuticle oil by the sink. After drying your hands, apply a small amount of hand cream and a drop of oil into your hands and massage it in,” recommends Draper.

Maintain nail length: It’s no secret that shorter nails are slightly easier to manage, but why is that? “You’re less likely to catch and break them on objects when they’re shorter” says Draper. “You should file them down regularly with a nail file and be careful not to file in a ‘seesaw’ motion, as this will dry them out even more.”

Stay off the nail polish until they feel stronger: The nails contain natural oils, and when wearing nail polish this is disrupted.  “Avoid nail polishes and nail polish remover as these strip the nails of their oils. When both polish and remover dry on your nails it can actually make the nail brittler” advises Draper.

Use a nail hardener: A nail strengthener and hardener serves one simple, yet very effective purpose. It’s rehabilitation for your dry, cracked, lack-lustre nails. The slightly thicker liquids aim to repair and renew the nail’s natural sheen, thickness and rigidity. 

The best nail strengtheners and hardeners:

  • Best for ridges: Oriflame The One Hardener, £4.95

    Oriflame The One Hardener
    Fortified with strengthening ingredient hexanal, this formula in particular targets the ends of your nails which are most vulnerable to chipping and splitting.


  • Best for all-round strengthening: O.P.I. Nail Envy Nail Strengthener, £20.50

    OPI Nail Envy Nail Strengthener for Brittle Nails
    Enriched with calcium and hydrolyzed protein, this formula helps to prevent nails from splitting and peeling.


  • Best for smoother nails: Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Strengthener, £3.78

    Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Nail Strengthener Treatment

    Packed with renown strengthening ingredients retinol and copper peptides, the treatment is reinforced with nylon to fortify nails.


  • Best for extremely weak nails: Mavala Scientifique K+ Nail Hardener, £12.95

    Mavala Nail Hardener
    This hardener makes use of strengthening agent keratin whilst also having lemon and eucalyptus oil to nourish and re-engergise the nail area.


  • Best for conditioning and hydrating nails: Nailberry Strengthen & Breathe Oxygenated Strengthening Base Coat, £17.50

    Nailberry Strengthening Base Coat

    Developed with an oxygenated technology, the Nailberry strenghthening formula allows air and water molecules in to nourish and strenghthen nails.


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