Do Nail Hardeners Really Work?

Nail hardeners are very common in all woman’s beauty procedures. They assist in strengthening weak nails. Nail hardeners are made up of synthetic resin formaldehyde that function primarily to strengthen the bonds between the artificial layers of the nail plates (lamellar fibres). They may be applied as a topcoat, which you apply over your favorite nail color, or they may be used as a base coat, the first coat of polish you put on your nails before applying nail color.

There are some experiences in the past of people claiming that some systems of nail hardening failed them, and it looks like every time a brand releases a new product, it argues that it is going to do better than the previous ones. This brings about the question, “do nail hardeners really work?”

Nail hardeners make your nails feel harder and less brittle, preventing them from splitting or breaking.

Chemical strengthening is one of the various methods by which hardness is achieved. Chemical hardening mainly involves bonding the protein in the middle layers of the nails to the keratin protein in the outer layers. When this happens, the keratin molecules become more tightly packed, making the nails hard and less liable to breaking or fracturing.

How Does Nail Hardener Work

Nail hardeners will not change your nails in a week, but they can help you maintain a healthy and attractive appearance. They’re particularly useful for traditionally challenging nails like weak or thin nails that are prone to breaking or splitting. If you want beautiful nails, you should try them.

Nail Hardeners work in two types and you have to choose between these two before applying the product:

1. Cross-linking Hardeners

This type of hardener reacts directly with the protein present in the nails through chemical bonds. The protein looks like a crosspiece forming a step of a ladder (rungs) that feels unfastened together, loose and unsteady. The ladder can be made stiffer and stronger by adding an extra crosspiece (rungs) to connect both sides.

Using ingredients like calcium and formaldehyde, cross-linker products make the nails harder by creating chemical bonds that fasten the protein chains together.

The issue with cross-linkers is that they can actually make the nail become so hard and brittle which will eventually allow the nail becomes liable to break more easily.

2. Reinforcing hardeners

This hardener works with the ingredients that cover the nail on the outside. Using ingredients like nylon and sulfhydryl protein, reinforcing hardeners strengthen the nail’s natural structure by basically adding a layer on top of the nails. It is important to note that reinforcers need to be reapplied often for them to continue to be effective because they wear off.

How to Apply Nail Hardeners

You’re getting ready to paint your nails and you want them to be harder. How do you do that? Applying nail hardeners does not have to be tricky. You just need the proper information and you need to follow the steps precisely.

Applying nail hardener can be very easy by following these simple steps;

  • First, clean your nails to remove any polish, then wash and dry your hands thoroughly.
  • In three strokes, apply a thin layer of hardener onto your nails: one down the center and one each along the sides of the nail.
  • Allow the hardener to dry completely, then apply your favorite nail polish or shade over the nail hardener. You can leave it and go natural too.

If your nails are dry, brittle, and damaged, you can repeat these steps every day or every other day for one to two weeks. Damaged nails require regular nail hardener use, as repairing does not occur with just one application. You can change the use to once a week for upkeep once you realize your nails are more potent.

Although there are concerns about the safety of nail hardeners because of the strengthening ingredients used in these products like formalin, methylene glycol, and formaldehyde, however, these ingredients have been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as long as their level of concentration is no more than 0.2 percent of the total weight.

With the low level of the ingredients, limited exposure to inhalation, and quick-drying times of the nail hardeners, the products are considered safe to use.

What Causes Nails to Become Weak?

Have you ever looked at your nails and wondered what makes them become weak? Is it from biting them? Not getting enough calcium? Well, wonder no more! I’ll explain the causes behind weak nails and what you can do to improve them.

1. Lack of water

Nails can become weak and dry if you don’t drink enough water, like our hair and skin. You have to make sure that you get to drink at least two liters of water a day.

2. Unprofessional

Taking off gel nails or painting your nails without a break between appointments weakens them. So you have to ensure that you remove them professionally or afford them the proper DIY removal treatment.

3. Chemicals

Too much exposure of your nails to chemicals like detergents and bleach makes nails become very soft and eventually split or break. Make sure you wear rubber gloves when dealing with those detergents.

4. Vitamin deficiency

Vitamin C deficiency can also block your nails from growing. Make sure to include food that is a good source of vitamin C in your diet, including pepper. Taking supplements can also enhance the quality of your nails, just as it improves the quality of your hair and skin too.

It is important to note that these methods require a bit of patience. However, a strengthening or hardening product, on the other hand, can make a big difference to your nail appearance in just weeks.

Best Nail Hardeners That Actually Work for Brittle Nails

1. Nail-Aid Keratin 3-Day Growth Nail Treatment & Strengthener

This product contains a treatment of keratin amino acid which absorbs straight into your nails. It claims to improve the condition of your nails in just three days, and shoppers love and trust this mail treatment with a number of five-star ratings.

Nail-Aid Keratin 3 Day Growth Nail Treatment & Strengthener, Clear, 0.55 Fl Oz

Check Prices on Amazon

2. OPI Natural Nail Strengthener

This brand is trusted on anything nails, and this nail strengthener doesn’t disappoint. It’s a nail polish and strengthener put together in one, making it looks like getting two products for the rate of one.

OPI Natural Nail Strengthener, Protective Nail Polish Base Coat, 0.5 fl oz

Check Prices on Amazon

3. Essie Strong Start Nail Treatment Base Coat

To protect your collection, you should add this base coat to it if you are the type that visits the nail salon or love painting your nails. With the number of five-star ratings on Amazon, you are sure going to love this product as much as others.

If you frequent the nail salon or love painting your nails, add this base coat to your collection to protect them! With nearly 10,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, we’re sure you’ll love this product as much as other shoppers have.

essie Strong Start Nail Strengthening Base Coat, 0.46 Ounce

Check Prices on Amazon

4. Barielle Nail Strengthener Cream

This product from Barielle is good for you if you prefer to use the cream over a liquid-based nail hardener. This cream is available for everyone now but was initially formulated for the horses’ hooves used in a million-dollar race and then formulated in a new way for the jockeys.

Barielle Nail Strengthener Cream Helps Improve Nail Growth.For Healthier and Stronger Nails. Prevents Splitting Cracks and Ridges. Resists Splits Peels and Breaks.Can Be Used with Nail Polish. 1 Ounce

Check Price Amazon

5. Mavala Nail Hardener

This product doesn’t contain formaldehyde, and it focuses primarily on binding the keratin fibers in your nail plates. If your nails usually break while growing out, this is a great product to use as it will harden the nail plate, reinforcing them with crystal resin tears.

You may have to remove any polish or products on your nails before applying mavala nail hardener on your bare nail. Use it twice a week for the best result. It will allow your nails to grow out without breaking.

MAVALA Scientifique K+ Keratin Hardener Strengthener | Protect Nails | Avoid Breaking and Splitting | Supports Natural Keratinization | Multi-color, 0.16 Fl Oz

Check Prices on Amazon


Nail hardeners can definitely be effective for strengthening nails. They do not work on the nail itself, but generally on strengthening the nail plate or nail bed. If you have seriously damaged nails, it may take longer to see results, but they can strengthen weak nails within a few weeks.

Many people prefer to use more than one product to get the best results; additionally, you should use a hardener every day before applying any polish and ensure that all ten nails are equally treated.

To sum it all up, nail hardeners do work and have become increasingly popular in recent years. In fact, women who spend a lot of time grooming their nails overall can significantly benefit from a top-quality nail hardener. However important is to pick the right product that contains high-quality ingredients and is recommended by experts.

Leave a Comment