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13 best nail strengtheners to treat brittle nails

Your nails can be a visual manifestation of other health issues.
Woman's hand in warm sweater showing manicure
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Having your nails look and feel good isn't just important for aesthetic reasons. Their condition could also be tell-tale signs that something is amiss with your overall health. If you’re suffering from thin, breaking or brittle nails, there are simple steps you can take to understand and gain control over them.

To find out why your nails weaken and how to strengthen them, Shop TODAY called in Dr. Angela Lamb, a certified dermatologist and associate professor and director of Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology, to explain more.

What causes brittle nails?

According to Dr. Lamb, damaged nails can signify different things in different people. "Nails often manifest vitamin deficiencies or can be a normal sign of aging," said Dr. Lamb. "Eczema or psoriasis can be found in the nails, too. Often when a patient has been diagnosed with psoriasis, the first place I look is their nails."

However, our nail thickness, hardness and growth is often determined by our genes. Lamb compared this to the way our hair grows since they're made up of a similar type of protein. "For the same reason some people have curly [or straight] hair, [and] some people grow long [or] short [hair], it's all dependent on genes," said Dr. Lamb. "But there can also be pathology problems with your nails: paronychia, fungus, yeast [or] eczema."

Be cautious not to misinterpret nail issues with nail diversity. "Sometimes there are just normal changes," said Dr. Lamb. "For example, I have fast-growing thin nails, [while] some people have thick, durable nails [that] grow slow." If you're concerned about the growth or texture of your nails, a dermatologist can help steer you in the right direction.

What can help strengthen your nails?

First things first, Dr. Lamb said to make sure you're not vitamin deficient. A diet that lacks key nutrients like biotin, iron or magnesium can result in brittle, thinning nails.

Additionally, Dr. Lamb advised ensuring that your nail technicians are keeping their equipment sanitized and clean. She also mentioned that lacquers and nail hardeners are great for daily use. "Nail polish doesn't always thin your nails; it can act as a very good protectant," explained Dr. Lamb.

Based on Dr. Lamb's advice, we’ve selected some highly rated products for brittle and thin nails that you can incorporate into your routine starting today. Take back the health of your nails once and for all!

Best nail strengtheners and products for brittle nails

MAVALA Scientifique K+ Keratin Hardener Strengthener

Dr. Lamb highly recommended MAVALA's products, including this keratin nail hardener. Promising to harden the nail plate by reinforcing them with crystal resin tears, this is a great product if you suffer from breaking nails. Amazon shoppers love it, too — it currently has over 2,400 five-star ratings.

Nail-Aid Keratin 3 Day Growth Nail Treatment & Strengthener

With a whopping 12,700 five-star ratings on Amazon, shoppers clearly love and trust this product. Claiming to improve the state of your nails in just three days, this strengthener contains a keratin amino acid treatment that absorbs right into your nails.

OPI Natural Nail Strengthener

OPI is a trusted brand on the nail scene, and its nail strengthener does not disappoint. This is a two-in-one nail polish base coat and nail strengthener, so it's like you're getting two products for the price of one.

ella+mila Nail Care Nail Strengthener

Formulated for weak, thin and splitting nails, this vitamin E-equipped nail strengthener has proven to strengthen and improve the health of a lot of shoppers' nails.

One reviewer wrote, "I went through one complete round of the directions to heal and strengthen my nails. Now I use this as my base coat every time and my nails have been staying healthy through continuous manicures."

Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Clear Nail Strengthener

This Sally Hansen nail strengthener was another recommendation from Dr. Lamb. It contains hydrolyzed protein actives and Vitamins A, C and E to reinforce and resist damage to your nails.

ORLY Nail Defense Nail Strengthener

If you suffer from peeling or splitting nails, this is the nail strengthener for you. It's a protein-enriched product that can be used as a base coat or as the only coat on your nails.

Barielle Nail Strengthener Cream

If you prefer a cream over a liquid-based nail saver, try this strengthener from Barielle. This cream was originally formulated for the hooves of million-dollar racehorses, but was then was reimagined for the jockeys — and now is available for everyone.

Dior Huile Abricot Daily Nutritive Serum

If you want to add some opulence to your nail routine, consider this active oil serum that protects and hardens keratin in your nails. It's jam-packed with argan oil, camellia oil and apricot oil.

"[It's] well worth the splurge. I’ve tried countless cuticle oils and this will be my go-to from now on," said one enthusiastic shopper.

Isdin Si-Nails Nail Strengthener

People claimed to have harder, more hydrated, less brittle nails within just 28 days of using this product from Isdin. It includes silanediol salicylate (which promotes silicon growth in your nails), pistacia lentiscus oil (which promotes keratin growth), and cationic hyaluronic acid (which helps moisturize your surrounding cuticles).

Barefoot Scientist Inner Strength Nail And Cuticle Renewal Drops

Made with 10 amazing ingredients including celery seed extract and rosemary leaf extract, this nail and cuticle serum has it all. One reviewer mentioned how much this product helped her nails, saying, "I have tried everything to correct my splitting, peeling, weak nails. So when I saw this product, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. My nails began feeling smoother and frayed less within three days."

Essie Strong Start Nail Treatment Base Coat

If you frequent the nail salon or love painting your own nails, add this base coat to your collection to protect them! With over 13,400 five-star ratings on Amazon, we're sure you'll love this product as much as other shoppers have.

Beauty Secrets Nail Hardener & Thickener

Free of formaldehyde and toluene, this high gloss nail hardener strengthens nails by cross-coupling proteins in your nails with your nail fibers.

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