Apparently, I have really good nail beds. Nail technicians tell me this. It’s when the shape of your fingernail is long and a wide enough canvas to paint on a long stroke of nail polish. As someone who’s hated her hands her whole life, I take it as a compliment and wear it proudly by always having my nails professionally done in a plethora of colours. I’ve pretty much tried it all—gel extensions, SNS powder and acrylics—in a bid to show off my nail beds. And because of this, my nails have been through it. After my last spell of gels, my natural nails took a beating. I opted for an IBX treatment, which is essentially like Olaplex for your nails, helping to strengthen them over time. “Professional IBX treatments have become very popular,” says nail artist Michelle Humphrey. “This is a strengthening treatment that penetrates the nail plate and is proven to work. This is something you would need to book in with your nail professional.” They were so thin that I could actually feel the heat from the nail lamp through them. That’s when I knew I needed to up my nailcare game.
The first thing nail technicians always recommend for easy at-home upkeep is cuticle oil. “At Lacquered + Stripped, we use a jojoba- and vitamin E–based cuticle oil,” says Laurie Nicoll, a nail tech based at Lacquered + Stripped in London. “Jojoba absorbs better than most other oils, as it’s similar to our natural sebum. I would recommend applying the oil to not only the cuticle but also the nail bed. This will help to nourish the nail and promote growth. Try to use your cuticle oil three times a day for the best results."
Along with this, I always keep a nail file with me so if anything breaks or chips, I can file it down immediately to prevent snagging. And when it comes to at-home serums and treatments, I look for products rich in proteins. “Many are infused with ingredients like biotin and keratin to help further nurture the nail plate,” says Humphrey. “Serums are best used on naked nails to ensure optimum results and must be used a few times daily consistently to see results.”
Here are some of the best nailcare products that have resurrected my fragile nails.