Best Nail Strengthener for Brittle Peeling Nails

Don't nails just look incredibly cute after fresh gel manicures? Indeed they do. Unfortunately, most nail polishes don't particularly offer much when it comes to nail health. In fact, some of them might even make nails weaker, especially when they are removed in the incorrect manner. But there's certainly more to nail damage than just using the wrong nail polish or removing it in the wrong way.

What Causes Nail Damage?

There's plenty of factors that can lead to dry, brittle and weak nails, sometimes even to the extent of breaking off. For starters, there are the habitual nail biters who might find themselves gnawing on their nails from time to time. Eventually, their nails end up whittled down to just the nail beds, almost the point of non-existence (tongue in cheek, of course).

Habitual compulsions aside, nail health can also be affected by how you treat them. Say, for instance, you peeled off a gel manicure-which you should never really do-your nails are more than likely to grow weaker. Or it could be in the cold bleak winter, and your nails are just as flaky as your hands. Or perhaps you have been exposing your nails to too much water, or even hand sanitizers during this dreadful pandemic. On other occasions, it just might be age catching up with you. As we grow older, our nails, just like our skin or hair, tends to deteriorate in general health.

All this is to say, brittleness in nails is major concern for a substantial number of people. Regardless of the circumstances, the best nail strengthener can make a world of difference for your nails. These polishes, and treatments are great at nail strengthening, infusing your nails with the essential nutrients to gradually restore your brittle nails back to health.

Why a Nail Strengthener?

The best nail strengtheners come infused with essential vitamins, proteins and hydrating oils that help to make nails harder and stronger, hence preventing splitting or breaking. Whether you have been going intensely on gel polish, work with your hands a lot or your nails are just naturally brittle, a good nail strengthener can be one of the most effective ways to get your weak nails back into excellent shape.

The current market has plenty of choices to choose from when you are looking for an ideal nail hardener. Some of them can even be used as a polish replacement, others under the polish or even for post-gel manicure. As such, picking out what would be best for your nails can get overwhelming. Therefore, we rounded up 5 of the best nail strengtheners on the market that work quite exceptionally.

1. Essie Strong Start Nail Polish Base Coat

essie All-In-One Base Coat + Top Coat + Strengthener Nail Polish, 0.46...
  • Base Coat, Top Coat and Strengthener: This all-in-one clear polish can be used both as base coat and top coat, and also as a nail...
  • Multi-Purpose Polish: This hard working base and top coat formula features argan oil and is designed to create the ideal foundation for...
  • Iconic and Trendsetting: Whether you’re going for a quick-dry gloss, a plump look, or a soft-touch matte finish, choose an essie top coat...
  • America's Nail Expert: We inspire a love for the manicure experience with a wit and style that's become the go to for salon professionals,...
  • essie Nail Luxury: For more than 35 years, we've been a color authority and leader in nail luxury, committed to high quality standards with...

This nail strengthener from Essie is made with ingredients like biotin and Vitamin E to help strengthen weak, brittle nails, making them harder and healthier. It can be used on its own, but some people also use it as a base coat. The latter extends the lifespan of a manicure, while also reducing chances of peeling, chipping or even breaking. When used as a base coat, it can help to even out ridges on your nails.

The strengthener is fairly easily to apply, thanks to its well-textured formula, brilliantly-designed bottle and thick brush. Some users have even reported that this strengthener might even helped their nails to grow longer! However, you might need a bit of patience with this product, since the improvements take some time to set in.


  • Applies smoothly.
  • Works well under varnish.
  • Improves strength in nails remarkably well.


  • Has to be applied quickly.
  • Dries a bit slower than expected.
  • Can get slightly thicker than desired when it dries.

2. Nail HQ Strengthener

This is undoubtedly one of the best nail hardeners that you'll find on the market. It includes ingredients such as coconut oil, keratin protein and alpha hydroxy acids. Nail HQ promises that this strengthener can work wonders even for the weakest nails, eventually making them stronger and healthier.

You can use this strengthener as a base coat or wear it along other polishes. Nail HQ recommends applying it on clean dry bare nails every 4 to 5 days. A remarkably consistent formula, plus a thick brush attached to the cap make it very easy to apply. This is an excellent choice for someone looking for rapid changes. It dries up quite quickly and you can expect to see changes within 2-3 days! Its shiny finish also leaves your nails looking smoother and healthier.


  • Neat base coat, hence longer-lasting nail varnish.
  • Does not peel off.
  • Nails might even get thicker.


  • The strengthening effect might not last as long as desired.
  • Packaging is not premium standard.
  • You have to remove the strengthener before you can add more layers.

3. Nails Inc Nailkale Superfood Base Coat

Nails Inc Nailkale Superfood Base Coat - .47 oz
  • Keratin hardening
  • Keratin activation to stimulate nail growth
  • Hydration and anti-breakage and anti-splitting protection
  • Deep nourishment
  • Healthy looking, brighter nails with a high gloss finish

This nail strengthener, infused with a kale extract, assures you of nothing short of stronger, healthier and smoother nails. It contains a blend of vitamins (A, C, E, F and H), as well as other superfood extracts like aloe vera and grape that nourish and protect your nails from splitting and breaking. Not to mention making adding a bit of sheen too.

It's made as a nail strengthening base coat, and is ideal for people who want to see immediate improvements. It comes in an attractive package that feels pretty nice in the hand. It also has a fine texture, which makes it very easy to apply. If you are looking for a nail strengthener with quick results, still gets the job done and looks good too, this is the product for you.


  • Pleasant shine on the nails.
  • Helps with peeling and breaking nails.
  • Decent brush size.


  • Might not be ideal for people who want a serum-like product.
  • The scent can get overwhelming.

4. Sally Hansen Diamond Strength

You have probably heard of Sally Hansen before, particularly the Mega Strength nail hardener. The recent Diamond Strength is equally a testament to the high quality we have come to expect from Sally Hansen's products.

The Diamond Strength is designed specifically to strengthen brittle nails, thanks to its titanium and micro-diamond crystal formulae. It forms a protective shield, that immediately bonds with nails to form a shatterproof protective coating. It is also quite effective in preventing nails from peeling and cracking, plus excellent moisture retention that promotes active growth and minimizes breakage.

The Sally Hansen Diamond Strength is also pretty good at sealing in colors, which means your manicure gets a longer lifespan.


  • Forms a protective layer.
  • Easy to use.
  • Adds shine to nails.
  • Locks nail color.


  • Might dry up too quickly for some users' preference.

5. Opi Natural Nail Strengthener

OPI Natural Nail Strengthener, Protective Nail Polish Base Coat, 0.5...
  • OPI natural nail stregthener is a 2 in 1 Nail Polish base coat plus nail strengthener
  • Your go to 2 in 1 OPI nail polish base coat and nail strengthener treatment
  • Prevents discoloration and yellowing of nail from nail polish color application
  • Nail Polish treatment builds layers of protection to help natural nails grow strong
  • Combine with OPI Nail Polish available in 200 plus polishes including OPI's most iconic shades

The strengthener comes in the characteristic nail lacquer bottle, spotting a long cap, which makes holding the brush much easier. The brush size is reasonably wide, thus it's very easy to apply. Unless you have small nails, just two strokes of the brush and you'll be set.

Opi Natural Nail Strengthener has a smooth texture and consistency, hence it goes on nails quite easily. It also has a good rep of drying up quite quickly. By the time you are done with the second hand, the first one will be ready for applying nail polish. If you are looking for an affordable nail strengthener that still gets the job done quite well, this is a good place to start.


  • Even and smooth application.
  • Gives nails a healthy shine on its own.
  • Protects nails from staining.
  • Prevents chipping and peeling quite well.
  • Dries up quickly.


  • Packaging is not premium.

What Should You Look for in the Best Nail Strengthener 

With so many products available on the market, it is important to check, double-check and sometimes triple-check before you pick out the best nail strengthener for you. A wrong purchase can end up doing more harm than good to your nails, making it even harder to get them back in good shape. These are factors that you should consider when you are looking for a nail strengthener.

1. Clinically-Tested Products

As you might already be aware of in the cosmetic industry, many products will often make claims and promises they can hardly live up to or provide substantial proof to validate them. Consequently, it would only be well advised to research the brands that have actually tested their nail strengtheners before mass production. Ultimately, this is the most effective way of finding out if you are getting the right key ingredients in your product, and by extension, whether it will work out for you as intended.

2. Proteins

Essentially, nails are made of protein-keratin. As such, it is important to consider a nail strengthener that prominently consists of proteins, keratin protein itself or wheat protein, which help your nails to grow harder and stronger.

3. Biotin

Biotin is also part of the ingredients point. This substance has been tried and tested by several top brands for it nail health enhancing capabilities. Biotin is a must-have ingredient in your nail strengthener if you really want your boost your nails' health,

Quick Tip

Some of the ingredients used in nail strengtheners, such as formaldehyde and phthalates, can be unsafe for users. But, most cosmetic products you'll find have been scrutinized thoroughly, by law and regulation, to ensure that such ingredients are safe. Nevertheless, if this still unsettles you, you can always avoid such ingredients and look out for other options that don't have them.

Fortunately, our product guide mostly contains nail hardeners that are free of formaldehyde, pthalate and toluene.

How Do You Use a Nail Strengthener

Generally, you use nail strengtheners the same way you would use a nail varnish or some specific types of cuticle oil. The idea is to apply a strengthener frequently, then your nails will gradually come back to life. However, it is worth noting that this only works if you use the nail strengthener correctly. Therefore, you must always check the instructions provided by the manufacturer for more information on how to use their product.

In addition, you can also use a nail strengthener like a base coat. This helps to prolong the lifespan of your manicure, which is by an measure a welcome bonus.

Frequently Asked Questions Nail Strengthener

1. Does a strengtheners help nails grow?

If used properly, yes, nail strengtheners can work miracles on your nails when they absorb all the necessary nutrients. The right ingredients can enhance your nail growth since your nails will mostly be well-sealed and regularly hydrated. See, nails are just like a sponge. If a sponge is dry, it inevitably becomes hard, which often leads to splitting and cracking.

2. How often should you use a nail strengthener?

Generally, we recommend using a nail strengthener at least once a week. This is frequent enough to keep your weak nails on an upward trajectory as they get gradually revitalize back to health. In addition, you can also apply cuticle oil daily,or every other day. This helps immensely in keeping your nails hydrated.

3. What is the difference between vegan and cruelty-free?

More often than not, you'll come across these terms on various products during your shopping rounds, including nail strengtheners. Some people might be inclined to think these two are synonymous, but in reality they mean two different things.

A "vegan" label indicates that none of the ingredients in the nail strengthener have been obtained from animals or animal products. On the other hand, "cruelty-free" means that the manufacturer did not test the product on animals during development. These might be factors to keep in mind when getting a nail strengthener. If you fall on the latter category, the Leaping Bunny logo is a symbol recognized all over the world for cruelty-free products.

Bottom Line

If you are looking to put your nails' woes behind you, finding the best nail strengthener is undoubtedly the easiest and most effective way to go. Hopefully, our guide will help you to narrow down to the most viable product for your needs. After which, you can slowly watch you nails spring back to life and glory.

Good luck nourishing your nails!

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