While often overlooked, nail condition and appearance is a significant indicator of one’s overall health. From dry, cold climates to frequent gel or acrylic manicures, there are a myriad of factors that can damage the nails and cuticles.
“If you get your nails done frequently, I’d suggest proper nail polish removal, taking nail supplements and using cuticle oil [to] prevent brittle nails,” advises Los Angeles-based celebrity and editorial manicurist Zola Ganzorigt, who has worked with the likes of Hailey Bieber, Jessica Alba and Sydney Sweeney.
Brittle or cracked nails can be quite the headache, but using conditioning products can add an increased layer of protection to the nail bed through vitamin-rich minerals, natural ingredients and nourishing formulas that improve overall health and appearance.
Though it may be difficult to pinpoint the root cause of brittle or dry nails, experts say it is usually due to vitamin deficiency, lack of hydration or over-manicuring. “The most common [cause] is a lack of proper hydration, especially in the wintertime,” explains Jin Soon Choi, celebrity nail artist and founder of JinSoon nail spas in New York City. “Nails also grow brittle from constantly wearing acrylics or gel. Even natural causes like age can factor into the health of your nails.”
As with skin care, a nail care routine can help repair and maintain healthy nails. “If someone has brittle nails or breakfable nails, it can be cured within two to four weeks by using nail-strengthening products, taking vitamins and minerals as well as monitoring your lifestyle,” says Amy Ling, CEO and founder of nail brand and spa Sundays.
From innovative polishes to tried-and-true natural products, nail experts provide the best products for improving nail strength, appearance and overall health.
“As a nail artist, I believe nail care is as important as skin care,” Choi explains. “I formulated [HyperRepair] with skin ingredients like glycolic, lactic and malic acid and essential nail vitamins C, E and B5.” Brittle nails will see a difference in strength after two applications of the nourishing base coat, according to the manicurist.
“My favorite nail hardener is Quimica Alemana,” New-York based manicurist Mo Qin — who touts celebrities like Ashley Graham, Emily Ratajkowski and Beyoncé as clients — shares. “I use it on my own fingernails and it makes my nails strong within a week.”
The cost-effective option is a favorite amongst industry manicurists and at-home users alike due to its impressive ingredient list of strengthening ingredients like vitamin E, arginine, keratin and tea tree oil.
This lightweight nail strengthener by Olive and June features a blend of celery extract that protects the nail surface and also aids in healing weak and brittle nails.
Lin swears by the B.03 strengthening base coat. Its impressive ingredients feature vitamins A, C and E to help nourish and restore the cuticles, while the inclusion of soybean oil replenishes natural moisture.
Nail care is one of senior lifestyle editor Rachel Lubitz’s New Year’s resolutions, and she’s been loving this treatment from OPI. It delivers calcium and protein to the nail bed for strength and conditioning. The polish can be used alone or as a base coat, and it also comes in several tinted shades.
Nail strengthening creams and treatments
Those looking for a more traditional, moisturizer-like product should check out Barielle’s Nail Strengthener Cream. The lightweight product contains both keratin and biotin, which are proven to improve nail growth, appearance and overall health. “Biotin is a B-complex vitamin,” Qin explains. “It promotes healthy cell growth and aids in the metabolism of protein-building amino acids that are essential for nail growth.”
“The Argan + Rose Moisturizing Hand Cream is good for on-the-go hydration, especially in winter months when the hands are dry and dehydrated,” Choi shares. “It has all natural and organic ingredients, humectants, emollients and occlusives to keep the hands and nails hydrated.”
Lubitz has been using this lotion to prevent her nails from tearing or cracking, and says she saw a difference within three days of use. It helps weak nails become stronger, and promotes growth for already healthy nails, with nourishing oils, vitamins, beeswax, glycerin and silk protein.
With over 11,000 5-star ratings, OPI’s Nail and Cuticle Oil is a cost-friendly option that conditions the cuticles, thanks to ingredients like grape, sesame and sunflower oils.
In addition to a well-balanced diet rich in biotin and omega-3s, Lin also recommends the Cs.02 Hydrating Cuticle Serum. Featuring a blend of vitamins and natural oils, the serum can be used daily or when needed to deliver moisture and hydration. “When the weather gets cold, make sure to apply cuticle serums to hydrate your nails,” Lin says.
Castor oil is an age-old natural treatment for the skin, hair and nails. The oil is masterful in moisturizing the cuticles and contains undecylenic acid, which helps to treat brittle or unhealthy nails. This top-rated set comes with a dropper for easy application.
“The Ex-Tract Honeysuckle + Primrose Cuticle Oil is a facial-grade oil with all-natural ingredients to hydrate the cuticles and nail beds,” Choi shares. “I use it at least twice daily to keep the cuticle healthy. I also use it with the HyperCare Cuticle Pusher + Reducer to gently push my cuticles back if needed.”
Boasting natural ingredients like shea, apricot and almond oil, this travel-friendly option from L’Occitane is silicone- and paraben-free and is dispensed with a brush tip for seamless application on the nail bed.
This multifaceted strengthener from Typology is meant to be used daily and contains key amounts of plant-based keratin and hyaluronic acid that focuses on nourishing the skin and strengthening nails.