products to repair and protect your nails

Jene J. Long

While a return to the new normal may be in our sights with schools and shops reopening soon, it is still unclear when salons will finally open their doors or how they will adhere to social distancing.

For the past few months, we have been unable to visit our favourite nail technicians, which has given us the perfect opportunity to take a break from our regular gels or acrylics and treat our nails to some TLC. But it hasn’t been easy. With the constant washing of our hands and use of hand sanitiser, our nails have been progressively weakened. Ageing and biting can also play a part in making them more brittle.

But there are ways to stop damage in its tracks and leave you with healthier, stronger nails by the time lockdown is over. From drinking water to a vitamin and mineral-packed diet, your lifestyle can help improve their overall health. It is also important to take regular breaks from gels, harsh chemicals, toxic polishes and soaks and when you finally go back to your fortnightly shellac – whatever you do, do not peel it off (however tempting it may be). You should also move towards acetone-free nail polish remover and softer emery boards designed specifically for weaker nails.

For dry, damaged, cracking or peeling nails, nail strengthening serums will become your saviours. You tend to apply them like traditional nail polish where they can double up as a base coat and work to fortify the nails underneath.

We have gathered the best.

Duri Rejuvacote Heal and Cures Split Cracked Nails

Rejuvacote can act as a base, top coat or just a glossy lick of paint that works to encourage growth while also reducing the chances of chipping, splitting or your nails becoming more brittle. In just a few weeks, you will notice real change to your digits where they will appear more resilient, stronger and so much longer, particularly if weakened from back to back gels.

£13.49 | Amazon

Mavala Scientifique K+ Nail Hardener

Packed with keratin protein and natural crystal resin tears from the pistachio treat, this unique formulation is designed to harden your natural nails. If you suffer from constant breakages, just apply this to clean nails free from polish and leave for one minute before following with your traditional mani. Use two or three times a week for stronger, fortified nails.

£16.50 | John Lewis

essie Nail Care Strong Start Nail Polish Base Coat

Fortify your natural nails with the help of this base coat from polish specialists essie. It is packed with ingredients like Biotin and Vitamin E to encourage your nails to strengthen and leave them healthier than ever. Use as part of your regular mani to prolong its life without chips or peeling off, while also treating your nails to reinforcements.

£8.99 | LookFantastic

CND Rescue Daily Keratin Treatment

CND has created this effective treatment to restore your nails that are prone to breakages, tearing or peeling. It is formulated with keratin – the main protein found in your natural nails – that forms a bond to strengthen them. This is combined with jojoba oil and sweet almond oil to nourish and condition the skin around the nail. Apply directly twice a day for two weeks to maximise the benefits and leave you with healthier, stronger nails.

£16.52 | Amazon

nails inc. Back to Life Recovery Treatment and Base Coat

Use this polish as the first step in your at-home mani to repair the nails underneath and prep them for colour. The potent formula is packed with five rejuvenating oils to counteract damage caused by gels, acrylics and nibbling. Giving new life to your nails, use twice weekly to fortify them and prevent peeling.

£15 | LookFantastic

Nail HQ Protect & Repair

Enriched with ginger, rice protein, soy protein and hydrolysed collagen, this formula gets to work boosting the condition of your natural nails. In just a couple of weeks, you will notice your nails growing longer, stronger and faster. Use between gels to give your nails a break and some much needed TLC.

£8 | Beauty Bay

Sally Hansen Nailgrowth Miracle

Give relief to weak and brittle nails with this formula that is called Miracle for a reason. The powerhouse formula includes the nourishing combination of peptides, collagen, biotin and keratin where you will notice a difference in only a couple of days. If you are a notorious nail bitter, this will help bind moisture to your natural digits to strengthen and prevent breakages.

£9.95 | LookFantastic

Holika Holika Nails Finger Glove

K-Beauty has got it spot on when it comes to innovations especially in the field of masking where this products plays a fun twist on the classic face sheet iteration with individual finger pouches designed to repair your nails. The Nails Finger Glove from Holika are numbered to suit each digit and should be left on for 20 to 30 minutes so your cuticles and nails can absorb the conditioning formula. They are even kitted out with special smart finger sheets so you can continue to use your phone during that time.

£2.36 | LookFantastic

Dr. Hauschka Neem Nail and Cuticle Pen

Treat yourself to a nourishing mani on the go with the help of this innovative product from Dr. Hauschka. It can be pressed gently on the nails and cuticles to release just the right amount of the protective formula. It is made up of an infusion of neem leaf extract, keratin, apricot kernel oil, chamomile, and anthyllis plant that work in tandem to strengthen, soften and treat nails to protect against breakages and brittleness.

£17 | LookFantastic

Margaret Dabbs London Nourishing Nail & Cuticle Serum

Similar to the Dr. Hauschka pen, this nourishing formula can be applied as a conditioning treatment to very specific areas. The treatment is crafted from an infusion of emu and tea tree oils that strengthen the nails and leave them looking shiny and healthy. It softens the cuticles with antibacterial properties so you can easily push them back during your at-home mani while also protecting against irritation, breakages and more.

£12 | LookFantastic

Clarins Hand And Nail Treatment Cream

If your hands are more closely representing those of a lizard’s, you need to add this Clarins hand and nail cream to your beauty regime ASAP. The nourishing formula keeps your hands soft and supple with a pleasant fragrance and without greasy residue, while also strengthening the condition of your nails.

£23 | FeelUnique

Weleda Citrus Hand & Nail Cream

There is a reason why this product is hailed as a Holy Grail item by beauty editors everywhere. It is an intensive and effective cream that works to soften and moisturise your hands and nails with the nourishing combination of lemon oil, carnauba wax and lanolin. You can apply to your hands, skin and nails to leave them strengthened and feeling soft and smooth. It even has a lovely citrusy scent.

£11.95 | LookFantastic


Duri’s Rejuvacote works wonders to improve the condition of your nails. In just a few uses, you will notice your natural nails have been transformed to stronger, longer and looking the best they have done in ages. This has long been our go-to during our breaks for gels to protect our nails.

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