Confession: I did a bad thing. I peeled my gel manicure off. Instead of letting a professional secure acetone-soaked cotton balls to my fingers with aluminum foil to gently loosen the polish, I manically picked and peeled until my once-beautiful mani lay scattered in tiny piles all over my coffee table. Sigh.
I’m not proud of my actions. As someone who’s consistently worn gel for the better part of the last five years, I know better than anyone that I’ve broken the cardinal rule. Peeling off the firm lacquer in this way also takes off the top layer of your actual fingernails, so giving in to the urge can leave them flaky, flimsy, ridged, broken—all the things you do not want nails to be and all the things that keep those babies from reaching their full-length potential. So now, in an attempt to nurture my nails back to health, I’m officially on a break from my beloved gel manicures. Honestly, my nails are so much happier for it.
I used to justify my gel habit by pointing out that the solidified polish made my nails stronger and able to grow longer than if they were bare, but now, I’m switching gears to focus on adding topical nutrients, hardeners, and moisturizers to my regimen to achieve those same results. Whether you’re recovering from a gel-related mishap or just taking your nail-growth journey to the next level, there are some excellent buys on the market to help with every woe standing between you and the long, glorious nails of your dreams. Ahead lie 23 growth-inducing products that will help you get here.
Sally Hansen is one of those brands you can always look to for great nail treatments. This one is a concentrated peptide serum enriched with biotin that you dab onto each nail. Give it a few days, and you’ll notice stronger nails that are able to sustain length much better. Keep this nourishing cuticle oil on your desk or nightstand to apply whenever your nail area is looking a little dry. That extra hydration and TLC will go a long way when it comes to growth. This serum is infused with cold-pressed golden jojoba and vitamin E, making it the perfect conditioner for nails, hands, and skin on any other part of your body that’s in need of a little extra love. Much like hair- and skincare, healthy nails start beneath the surface. This one uses Japanese seaweed, aloe vera, rice bran oil, shea butter, and vitamin E to condition the cuticles and keep nails moisturized. A vegan-powered product that is a nail strengthener and growth enhancer. This essential oil blend helps repair damage and encourages growth while also improving the appearance of nails. In order to grow, your nails have to remain healthy. This product’s aloe nutrients have you covered. Applied directly, this nail serum increases nail strength and durability while restoring smooth appearance. This four-step system employs a unique protein formula to tackle weakness, thinning, softness, and peeling by sealing the individual layers of the nail back together. This bond discourages the splitting and breaking that inhibits growth. This vitamin-rich formula promises strong, long nails that resist breakage. You can thank added calcium and protein for the hardening effect of this base coat by OPI. This is one of those products I remember always seeing on my mom’s vanity growing up. It helps strengthen weak nails with vitamin B5 and green tea. Keratin is a super vitamin for nails. And why not get stronger, healthier, and longer nails in three days? You can never go wrong with shea butter. It’s abundant with soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, which explains why it’s great for your nails. Aside from the basic ingredients, this product is also equipped with cupuaçu butter, which restores your nail’s moisture balance and enhances growth. Ridges in the nails can stem from damage, genetics, or age, but filling them in with a base like this one protects against heavy staining from nail polish. Less staining means less polish remover and buffing to remove color, which can weaken the nails and keep them from growing. Using the healing essences of tea tree oil, this treatment renews your nails’ natural beauty and is great for repair and discoloration. This heavy-duty Swiss cream is meant to restore health to damaged nails by adding essential amino acids, lipids, and kerato-balancing vitamins. By nourishing the outer layer, nails are strengthened and encouraged to grow. “My nails are incredibly brittle and weak, with lots of peeling. When I use this cream at least once daily, my nails grow long and rock-hard and stay that way. It’s a miracle cream,” writes one Amazon reviewer. Calcium, vitamins, and hydrogenated jojoba oil are to thank for the nail-saving effects. This natural formula contains nail-growing nutrients like almond oil, lemon peel oil, cacao butter, and rosemary leaf extract. This apricot oil–based moisturizing cream is great to soothe hangnails and torn cuticles. This ultra-rich hand cream helps aid in moisture retention and improve skin’s smoothness for silky, soft hands, and absorbs quickly without leaving hands feeling sticky or greasy. A go-to product for rehydrating both your nails and your hands. It’s healing properties will increase durability and enhance growth.