Confession: I rarely get a manicure or attempt to paint my nails because I'm too hard on my hands. I'm a frequent hand-washer, I type like a baboon, and I'm constantly putting them through the wringer doing the dishes, opening packages, and the like. Before I know it, my nails have that awful peeling, chapped look that makes my skin crawl. Try as I might to preemptively nourish them by taking biotin gummies and frequently applying cuticle oil and hand cream, they still break like a tortilla chip. The only fix that's somewhat improved their appearance is a gel manicure, but it's far too expensive to spawn into a habit, and I'm convinced that the spine-tingling removal process in which the nail tech scrapes the paint off your nails with a metal tool is making them even worse for the wear.
I figured my fate was cut out for me as a brittle-nailed girl until I recently tried a sheer pink-peach shade from Zoya's Naked Manicure collection. I'd gotten the bottle backstage several New York Fashion Weeks ago and figured it was a nice neutral color I could always keep in my arsenal. What I didn't know was that it would completely change the state of my nails.
Rather than serving as any old nail polish, the Naked Manicure system is fortified with keratin fillers and finely ground vitamins and botanicals to promote micro-circulation and oxygen exchange. After applying two coats of the Pink Perfector shade (second bottle from the left) on a whim before shooting some close-up hand shots for Byrdie, I was shocked at how firm my nails were as if several layers of nail had been magically added. Before, if I'd pressed down on the tip of my nail, it would very easily bend, but post–Naked Manicure, bending them is a tough task. They also look incredibly healthy (as if gently buffed, not shiny) with not even the slightest indication of peeling or breakage. I can only imagine how much stronger they would be if I'd used the other steps of the kit (base, Pink Perfector, and topcoat—I'd skip the white-tip polish as I'm not too fond of a French manicure, although it is quite sheer).
The reason it works so well is that your nails are made of structural proteins called keratin, so by applying a liquid form of keratin to the surface of your nails which then absorbs into the grooves, you're bolstering the integrity of the nail. The crushed botanicals and vitamins also feed the nail nutrients to help them grow long and strong sans breakage. The benefits aren't short-lived, either: Your nails will continue to see improvements long after you remove the polish.
Another cool feature of the system is that the Perfectors come in varying shades to suit every nail need: If your nails are yellowing, the lavender shade will help neutralize. There are also deeper tones to fit every shade range.
I'm completely amazed at how much stronger my nails have become since using the polish and can't see myself stopping anytime soon. And since my nails look so good, I've added the below steps to my routine to get me that much closer to hand-model status.