Nail Hardeners & Me: My Quest for Decent Nails

My nails, for the past two or three years, have had a serious problem with peeling. I've mentioned it in passing before, but the longer I deal with it, the more exhausting it is. It isn't helped, probably, by the fact that I'm a fidgeter: when my nail polish chips, I have to peel it. And even when I don't have polish on, if I notice a nail starting to peel, I have to peel the little flap of nail off. I can't stop myself. I was that kid in elementary school who loved getting glue on my hands so I could peel it off. 

About a year ago, I started using Sally Hansen's Hard As Nails. It's a nail hardener, so I thought it would make my soft, peeling nails harder and less likely to peel. Wrong-o. It didn't really do anything except act as a fancy (expensive) clear undercoat. 

A few months ago, I decided to branch out and try Essie's "Grow Faster" base coat. On the box, it promised to harden nails and help them grow without breaking. That sounded pretty awesome. It's a great base coat, but I didn't notice it helping my nails in any way at all and I was pretty religious about using it, even when my nails were otherwise polish-less. 

Recently, I started doing research on what could be causing my peeling nails and my conclusion is pretty much that it's just the way my nails are. I've tried taking biotin and hair/nail supplements (which just made me break out really bad); I've completely altered my diet in the last year; and I work out a lot. My mom's nails peel pretty badly and so do my sister's, which leads me to believe this is just kind of one of those unfortunate family traits. However, while doing research, I stumbled upon the fact that there are different types of fingernails. 

You know how some people have curly hair, straight hair, fine hair, thick hair...? Well, it turns out everyone has a different "type" of fingernails -- which is news to me. Fingernails all kinda seem the same, right? Again, wrong. As it turns out, fingernails that are prone to peeling are sensitive -- often more sensitive to chemicals and common nail polish ingredients than other nails. That's kind of explains a lot. 

As it turns out, most nail polish brands make specific nail hardeners and strengtheners for sensitive nails -- most of which aren't sold in stores, but only online. For example, OPI's famous Nail Envy comes in "for Sensitive and Peeling Nails," which looks awesome. And Essie makes a special "Sensitivity" base coat. That's pretty awesome. A friend also recommended trying this product, but I was concerned by the chemicals in it; if push comes to shove though, I know from her experience that it works really well!

One of the articles I read recommended Sally Hansen's Miracle Cure specifically for sensitive nails. Despite some bigger brands having specialty formulas for sensitive nails, I decided to go with Sally Hansen Miracle Cure, because I knew my local Wal-Greens carried it. 

I have had it on my nails for a few days now and while I'm writing this post to be scheduled out later, it feels really nice on my nails and unlike some other base coats and strengtheners, it stays shiny and pretty on my nails, even after a few days! I'm really excited to see how well it works. Reviews I've read have said that while it's not a miracle cure (but who really expects that?), it is really effective for sensitive nails. 

Do you have any strengthener recommendations? 


  1. Have you tried Nailtiques? It's the only thing that worked for me! Try protein formula #2! It's magic.

  2. I would definitely not recommend you try the basecoat I recommended! (haha). For your nails I think something gentler would be wise. I'm not sure if you read the reviews, but lots of people reported pain after application, and I can definitely attest to it. When I first started using it I definitely felt a burning sensation and even now if my nails are particularly weak they can still be a little "achey". After months of use, I think my nails have built up some strength so the chemicals don't penetrate my nail bed like they used to (this is also evidenced in the directions, they state to start with one stripe down the middle of your nail every week before you move to covering the entire nail). However, the glossy smooth feeling you get with Sally's Miracle Cure is similar to the feeling I get with mine, so I would imagine that it has a similar effect.


Thank you for reading my blog! :]
xo Michelle

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