Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Having fun with your nails can also cause a lot of wear and tear. If you like to experiment with gel and acrylic nails from time to time (raises hand), you might notice that your nails are feeling weak and brittle—and this could be a sign that you're not feeding them with the necessary nutrients.
It's a normal side effect, which makes nourishing our nails that much more important. Just like skin, nails can start to show signs of age. Weakened, brittle, and peeling nails are not fun (or cute), which is why you need to keep nail-strengthening products around to keep your digits in tip-top shape. Fortunately, nail brands offer strengthening polishes in hardworking formulations packed with essential vitamins to bring your nails back to life. (Remember that you can supplement these polishes by taking vitamins and trying natural remedies like using coconut oil for stronger nails as well.)
Check out our selection of the top nail strengtheners and you’ll have the long, strong nails you want in no time.
Best Overall: CND Rescue RXx Daily Keratin Treatment
Weak, flimsy nails will be a thing of the past once you start using this daily keratin treatment. It has been clinically proven to boost nail health in just one week thanks to its triple threat of ingredients. Keratin protein, which is naturally a main component of nails, bonds to the nails to strengthen them; sweet almond oil conditions and softens rough textures; and jojoba seed oil works as a carrier oil to deeply penetrate into the nail, helping other ingredients sink in while working to nourish and hydrate nails.
Best Budget: OPI Nail Envy Nail Strengthener
Hydrolyzed wheat protein and calcium are the star ingredients in OPI’s Nail Envy Nail Strengthener, which transforms even the weakest, most damaged nails into harder and stronger nails. The maximum strength formula will trigger growth within two to three weeks. Simply use the exclusive ProWide Brush to paint on two coats to dry nails. After one week, remove it with nail polish and apply the polish again.
Best Polish: Essie Treat Love & Color Nail Polish & Strengthener
You don’t always have to go with clear polish when working to strengthen your nails. Essie’s Treat Love & Color Nail Polish & Strengthener comes in a range of pretty, sheer hues that work to fix brittle, dry nails in just a week. The formula contains a blend of active ingredients, including collagen and camellia extract, that penetrate the nail to work their magic. Even better, the polish is free of harsh, damaging ingredients like formaldehyde, DBP, and toluene.
Best Drugstore Option: Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Hardener Treatment
The OG of nail strengtheners, Sally Hansen’s Hard As Nails is a tried and true classic. The clear formula has a mix of film-formers to shield nails from splitting, cracking and chipping, delivering long-lasting protection. You can wear it solo or as a base coat, but either way, you can expect tougher, stronger nails. Dubbed “the original nail clinic in a bottle,” it helps nails grow longer and stronger. For maximum effect, apply it under nail tips for extra protection.
Looking for a nail polish? We rounded up the best drugstore nail polishes.
Best for Peeling Nails: Nails Inc NailKale Superfood Base Coat
You know how a veggie-packed smoothie can leave you with healthier-looking, brighter skin? Well, this “superfood” base coat is basically a green smoothie for your fingertips. The potent combination of antioxidants, kale extract, and keratin works to trigger nail growth, nourish, prevent breakage and splitting, and deeply hydrate.
Best for After Acrylic Nails: Deborah Lippmann All About That Base CC Base Coat
Acrylics can sometimes leave your nails in pretty bad shape, with visible damage like white spots and peeling. That’s where the Deborah Lippmann All About That Base CC Base Coat comes in. Essentially a filter for your nails, the base coat glides on to cover, conceal and correct those imperfections. The multitasking formula boasts 10 nail treatment benefits, too. The hydrating complex with panthenol brings major moisture, plus it strengthens, brightens, primes and fills ridges to get a smooth finish.
Best Cuticle Oil: CND SolarOil Nail and Cuticle Conditioner
Healthy cuticles equal healthy nails—it’s pretty hard to have one without the other. It’s easy for nails to become brittle and dry, which can lead to cracking and splitting. Combat that with cuticle oil, like this twofer from CND that both strengthens and conditions. It contains jojoba oil and vitamin E to prevent nails from drying out, all while softening cuticles.
Take a look at our picks of the best cuticle creams available for purchase.