Apparently, I have really good nail beds. Nail technicians tell me this. It’s when the shape of your fingernail is long and a wide enough canvas to paint on a long stroke of nail polish. As someone who’s hated her hands her whole life, I take it as a compliment and wear it proudly by always having my nails professionally done in a plethora of colours. I’ve pretty much tried it all—gel extensions, SNS powder and acrylics—in a bid to show off my nail beds. And because of this, my nails have been through it. After my last spell of gels, my natural nails took a beating. I opted for an IBX treatment, which is essentially like Olaplex for your nails, helping to strengthen them over time. “Professional IBX treatments have become very popular,” says nail artist Michelle Humphrey. “This is a strengthening treatment that penetrates the nail plate and is proven to work. This is something you would need to book in with your nail professional.” They were so thin that I could actually feel the heat from the nail lamp through them. That’s when I knew I needed to up my nail care game.
The first thing nail technicians always recommend for easy at-home upkeep is cuticle oil. “At Lacquered + Stripped, we use a jojoba- and vitamin E–based cuticle oil,” says Laurie Nicoll, a nail tech based at Lacquered + Stripped in London. “Jojoba absorbs better than most other oils, as it’s similar to our natural sebum. I would recommend applying the oil to not only the cuticle but also the nail bed. This will help to nourish the nail and promote growth. Try to use your cuticle oil three times a day for the best results.”
Along with this, I always keep a nail file with me so if anything breaks or chips, I can file it down immediately to prevent snagging. And when it comes to at-home serums and treatments, I look for products rich in proteins. “Many are infused with ingredients like biotin and keratin to help further nurture the nail plate,” says Humphrey. “Serums are best used on naked nails to ensure optimum results and must be used a few times daily consistently to see results.”
Here are some of the best nail care products that have resurrected my fragile nails.
There are a ton of great hand creams on the market, but this is an all-round moisturiser that’s rich in lanolin, beeswax and glycerin for softer skin and moisturised nail plates.
Struggling with nail growth? The Hum Nutrition supplement range is top-tier, and this formula strengthens and grows hair and nails.
If you’re looking for a vegan, toxin-free formula, Nailberry is the brand for you. The Strengthen & Breathe range helps to boost nail strength and shine.
Crystal files are meant to be the best for nails as they aren’t too rough on the surface, so I use this when my nails are at their weakest.
First, this smells great. Second, it’s a great texture for an oil—not sticky and fast-absorbing.
This pack has three different textures depending on your needs. I save the coarse one for my gels and the finer textures are for my natural nails.
If you have a deep break in the tip of your nail and you can’t make it to the salon, you’ve got to clip it off before it rips off.
If your natural nails are looking a bit worse for wear, apply this polish on top of a strengthening base coat to add a healthy vibrancy.
Each of these capsules treats all 10 of your nails. Use for at least 14 days, and the intensive conditioning formulation will give your nails regained strength.
OPI’s nail serum is seriously impressive. Not only does it protect against breakage, but it also minimises the appearance of damage. I like to use this before applying a nail polish like the option below.
This cult nail strengthener is available in OPI’s iconic shade for anyone (like me) who can’t bear the sight of unvarnished nails.
This story was published at an earlier time and has since been updated.