Do Nail Strengtheners Really Work? Here's What To Know

Nail strengtheners may be overhyped, but weak and brittle nails are never worth it. In fact, they're often a result of nutritional deficiencies, over-treatment, or other wear and tear. Brittle nail beds are also entirely preventable, which brings into question the power of nail strengtheners. It is, however, a skill that must be practiced to achieve the best results. Whether you've spent the summer perfecting the orange-hued manicure or wondering whether you need to be using cuticle oil every day, nail care can be a daunting and complicated topic to navigate. Thankfully, there are incredibly effective tools to strengthen nails and their barriers. 


According to celebrity manicurist Jin Soon Choi, "Nail strengtheners create a barrier on the nail to help restore nails to a healthy, hydrated, strong, and nourished state by promoting nail growth and health while preventing brittleness and breakage," she explained to Harper's Bazaar. There are also scientifically-backed reasons why nail strengtheners are effective for the nails and nail beds. We've got all the answers for you on how they work and application tips.

How nail strengtheners work

Nail strengtheners are composed of active ingredients — like hydrators, reinforcers, and other moisturizing ingredients — to protect brittle nails from breakage and other damage. Dermatologist Dr. Kiran Mian explained that nail strengtheners "can help reinforce structure in brittle nails, allowing them to be resistant to breakage," she explained to Today. "Your nail concerns will determine which will be best for you."


Depending on your nail concerns, you can incorporate other hydrating ingredients like glycerin, vitamin E, or biotin. It will also force you to address the common ways you may be damaging your nails by over-treating them with acrylics or gel manicures, while not giving your nails enough time to breathe. Over time, the nail and nail beds will repair themselves and build a defense force against your next nail paint application.

How to apply nail strengtheners

While there's a general understanding of how to apply nail polish, nail strengtheners have their own unique application process. For some, you can apply the strengthening coat the way you would regular nail polish, with a few strokes enough to work its magic. According to Glamour, the best process includes cleaning hands until dry, trimming until satisfied with the length, applying a thin coat of nail strengthener, and repeating the process the next day with a second layer. Continue to apply daily for best results.


Over time, you'll notice that the surface of your nail and nail bed has strengthened, often bulletproof against manual labor or an otherwise stressful situation for nails. If you're someone who regularly wears nail polish, you'll especially notice the importance of a nail strengthener and how essential it is to the improved application and aesthetic of wearing nail polish. In addition, make sure you allow yourself some time to breathe, eat foods rich in nutrients, and treat your nails with care.