We may love the way our manicured hands look and how certain nail polishes bring out the shine, but with the good comes the bad. Although anyone can have weak nails — and genes and nutrition play a major role — constantly coating your nails in polish means they'll need some extra love. Luckily, the best nail strengthening polishes for weak nails are infused with vitamins that help protect brittle nails and moisturizing ingredients for improving your overall nail health, as well.
Manicures can leave many people's nails feeling brittle and rough, or even cause them to bend to the touch. But, instead of making changes when it comes to the type of nail polish we use, a lot of us — myself included — rush to cover the damage with another coat of any old cherry red polish. And, while that certainly works to please the eye, it does nothing to help strengthen the nails.
But it doesn't have to be that way! With so many innovative nail products hitting the market recently, including nail polish treatments and colored polishes with nourishing ingredients, there are nail treatment options that can strengthen nails, prevent them from splitting, and even give the cuticles a dose of much-needed hydration. Key ingredients to look for? Keratin is a family of proteins naturally found in nails and hair that keeps things healthy. However, wheat protein is another popular choice. Other great ingredients? Calcium and vitamin E boost strength and moisture, respectively, and one of these bottles even harnesses the powers of kale to give your nails a boost. When it comes to giving weak nails a boost, these nine nail strengthening polishes are some of the best out there.
1. The Best Base Coat: Nails Inc Nailkale Superfood Base Coat
Ah, superfoods, you can eat them for better health and apply them to your nails for a healthier, stronger manicure, thanks to Nails Inc Nailkale Superfood Base Coat. This base coat contains ginseng, lemon, aloe vera, grape, pomegranate, and vitamins A, C, E, F, and H — all of which combine to provide a strengthening treatment that can be used three times weekly (two coats alone or under colored polish). Plus, it's infused with kale extracts so that the superfood can give you a boost inside and out.
According to one reviewer: "I used to think that all base coats were more or less the same--in fact, I kind of viewed them as fancy clear polish. But that's not the case, and if you try this once, you'll see what I mean."
2. The Best For Nail Growth: ella+mila Nail Strengthener
If you suffer from nails that are constantly splitting, ella+mila's First Aid Kiss nail strengthener was designed with you in mind. This 7-free formula (including free of formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP) contains vitamin B5 to stimulate growth and vitamin A to be an antioxidant for thin and weak nails. In addition to a treatment, this can also be used as a base coat. And, as that adorable little elephant on the bottle might suggest, it's also vegan, animal-cruelty free, and certified by PETA.
According to one reviewer: "I just started using it as a base coat under colored nail polish and immediately noticed a difference. My nails are stronger, not peeling anymore, and my manicures are lasting a few days longer than usual. This will definitely be my permanent base coat moving forward. Highly recommended!"
3. The Cult-Favorite: Quimica Alemana
A cult-favorite, Quimica Alemana is a nail strengthener from Colombia that is known for its intense formula — it's a polish that many reviewers say has done more to strengthen their weak, peeling, brittle nails than any other product, but that actually comes with a few words of caution. When beginning to use this, it is recommended that you protect the skin around your nail with cuticle cream and only apply the clear treatment once a week until your hands and nails get used to it (it can actually cause stinging or burning). However, more than 1,500 reviewers have given this product five stars for how well this treatment works.
According to one reviewer: "This is truly the best nail product I have ever used! The pictures of my nails have had the same coat on them for a week. I literally have to file my nails down because they get so long. You won't regret trying it."
4. Best Tinted Formula: OPI Nail Envy Nail Strengthener
Many reviewers who say they had soft or thin nails before using OPI Nail Envy rave about how strong and long their nails have grown since incorporating this polish treatment packed with wheat protein and calcium into their nail-care regimen. Start by applying two coats to dry nails and then, after one week, remove with nail polish remover and apply the polish again. This works as a base coat and also comes in a clear Dry & Brittle formula, as well as neutral shades like Samoan Sand, Hawaiian Orchid, and Bubble Bath.
According to one reviewer: "I brag on this product nearly every day. My polish stays on the entire week (when used as directed), I get compliments on how nice my nails look, and best of all, I no longer have ridges in my nails and they don't break," one fan wrote.
5. The Best For Peeling Nails: duri Rejuvacote 1 Nail Growth System
The key ingredients in duri Rejuvacote 1 Nail Growth System are keratin and calcium, which work to mend split, weak, brittle, peeling, and cracking nails after two to three weeks of consistent use. Apply one base coat to clean, dry nails (taking care not to apply to your cuticles or any cuts/wounds) and then add a colored polish if desired. After seven days, remove the treatment and start over, applying it every other day until your nails become stronger and healthier. Reviewers who say they've been wearing artificial nails for years notice an incredible difference in their natural nails since using this base coat, with most focused on how seldom their nails now peel and how quickly they've grown. You may experience a slight stinging sensation the first few times you use this polish, but customers say it often goes away and that it's still worth it.
According to one reviewer: "From the first application, my nails feel so much stronger. My one nail has damage to the nail bed so there is a permanent split down the nail. This product seems to even help the split. I am excited to continue utilizing Rejuvacote on my nails. I highly recommend this product."
6. A Protein- & Keratin-Rich Strengthener: Nailtiques Nail Protein Formula
With hydrolyzed keratin and calcium, Nailtiques Nail Protein Formula 2 is a highly-rated treatment that addresses soft, weak, bitten, peeling, or thin nails. Apply the treatment daily (alone or under colored polish) and continue to do so until you notice a difference in your nail strength. Each week, remove this clear polish with a non-acetone nail polish remover and begin the treatment process again.
According to one reviewer: "I’m so glad I did because this truly worked. After using the full bottle there was a remarkable difference. My nails were stronger and 95% of the peeling went away. The thing is you have continuously use the product," one customer wrote. "My nails are better and getting stronger with each bottle (on my 3rd). After using this first two bottles, I do use for up keep now."
7. The Best Vegan & Organic Formula: Karma Deep Nutrition Nail Strengthener
This Karma Organic sheer nail strengthener nourishes nails while giving them a lovely tint and sheen. The bottle is free of formaldehyde, DPB, and toluene, and is specially formulated to even tackle fungus around the cuticles. The chip-resistant formula is a favorite of Amazon reviewers.
According to one reviewer: "My nails were super brittle and weak from gel and acrylic nails. But this nail polish has made my nails so strong and they grow so quickly! My nails don’t break and I have to file them once a week because they’re growing so well! The Only nail that has broke was the one I slammed in the door. Right now I am applying this polish 2x a week and I was seeing great results within the the first 2 weeks. Highly recommend."
8. The Best Matte Strengthener: Zeva Naill Guard
This 3-free clear coat dries in minutes to a matte finish, smoothes ridges, and protects and strengthens nails. The secret killer ingredients in Zeva Nail Guard are three resins: polyester resin to make nails more durable, epoxy resin for adhesion, and nitrocellulose to make nails stronger. Use it as a base coat or a ridge filler.
According to one reviewer: "I had acrylic nail tips for years and I often now get gel manicures and peel the polish off (I know!) The worst part of deeply ridged nails is how streaky and ugly nail polish looks. I cannot believe how well this works. These ridge fill products have been on the market for years, but this is the first to work. Thoroughly impressed and relieved! I will stock up on more for sure but it lasts a long time." Others love its fast drying time and how the matte finish makes them look like they have great, bare, natural nails.
9. A Treatment That Improves Nail Flexibility: Jessica Bend Don't Break Nail Treatment
With hydrating polymers including nitrocellulose and no formaldehyde, Jessica's Bend Don't Break is designed to minimize breakage and peeling, while strengthening your nails and improving their flexibility. Apply two coats once a week (as a base, alone, or as a glossy top coat) and reviewers say your nails will stay moisturized and protected from the elements. It also has moisturizing argan oil and strengthening wheat protein. According to users, it will last on your nails for about a week without peeling or wearing off — then start over and keep using it to maintain the strength and health of nails.
According to one reviewer: "This polish is awesome! My job is tough on my nails, and it doesn't chip at all. It's also less expensive then others I've tried. I can already see that my nails have grown and haven't split!" one fan noted.
This article was originally published on May 1, 2017.