I don’t have naturally healthy nails. Left to their own devices, they’re weak, brittle and peeling so I started trying out nail growth products to see which worked and which didn’t.
How fast can you grow out your nails?
Factors like age and genetics have an effect, but on average adult fingernails grow about 0.1 millimeters a day. One millimeter is about the size of the width of the point of a sharpened pencil. If you remove 90 percent of a pencil point, what’s left is much your nails grow in a day–which is why it seems to take forever to grow them out.
Your lazy nails don’t even all grow at the same pace. While the difference is very small, your pinky nail grows the slowest and your middle fingernail grows the fastest. And the bad news is the growth rate of your nails slows as you age.
There have been lots of studies about nail growth rates and how to increase them. The conclusion scientists have come to is that the growth rate of your nails is set and that there is only one thing that can make adult nails grow at a faster rate: pregnancy–but longer, beautiful nails seems like it’s maybe not the best reason to become pregnant.
So can we do anything to get longer nails?
Absolutely. There are treatments, serums, and supplements that will help you grow healthier, stronger nails. When your nails are healthy they will grow at the fastest rate your body allows. When your nails are strong and don’t split, crack, or break, they’ll seem to be growing much faster since you aren’t losing length to peeling and chipping.
The framework of your fingernails is made of a protein called keratin and they get their strength from a vitamin called biotin. When you can provide your nails with plenty of their construction materials, they’ll make strong nails as fast as they can. There are several things you can do to have happier, long nails.
Diet. You can support your nails by making sure your diet has enough keratin and biotin in it. Foods high in this protein and vitamin include fish, nuts, beans, avocado, egg yolks, quinoa, and bananas.
Keeping your nails properly filed smooth and shaped will preserve its structural integrity and keep jagged nails from snagging and breaking. If you want to grow out strong, natural nails avoid acrylic nails and gel manicures which can damage your nails leaving them paper thin and weak.
For nails with ridges in then, try a ridge filling base coat instead of buffing your nails smooth. Buffing only thins and weakens your nail plate.
If your nails are prone to breaking, keeping your nails polished when possible can be a great first step in the quest for longer nails. Those layers of nail polish and a good thick layer of top coat can give your nails the extra strength to prevent breaking. Think of nail polish as like a split for your nails. Nail polish also protects your nails from becoming waterlogged and soft, another time they are more apt to break.
But your fingernails are porous so which lacquers you put on them matter. Look for products that are three or more free, meaning they have removed toxins like formaldehyde and DBP that can damage nails. Many base coats are formulated for weak, damaged, or brittle nails and contain nourishing ingredients.
It’s possible for your nails to have all the keratin they need but still be breaking left and right because they are too dry. Just like the rest of your skin, your nails need to be moisturized to stay healthy.
There are some products below that address this, but some major problems can be addressed by simply adding a twice daily cuticle oil. It made a dramatic difference with how long I can grow my nails. Read my guide to the Best Cuticle Oils and Creams for more nail care tips and what works for me.
Nail health treatments.
There are a variety of treatments that can help your nails grow in strong and give you the length you want for those graceful French tips. Some are serums, polishes, and others are supplements. Let’s take a look at the best of the best for getting you the healthy nails you want.
1. Restorative Nail Cream by Londontown
This thick, coconut-scented lotion provides the protein and minerals your nails need to grow along with natural oils that keep your cuticles healthy and your nails from becoming dry and brittle.
I was sent a sample jar of this by Londontown (with no promise of a review) and my nails, which normally break like crazy are actually too long right now. That is unheard of for me. They are much harder than they used to be without being brittle.
I’m honestly amazed with how long my nails have gotten while I’ve been using this cream. I apply it two to three times a day just on my nails and cuticles and that’s it. It’s never greasy which I appreciate.
There isn’t a ton in the jar, but a little goes a long way. I just tap the top of the lotion and whatever sticks to my finger is what I use. It’s so silky and smells deliciously like coconut water.
When your nails are too dry, either from genetics or from using acetone nail polish remover, they are prone to cracking or peeling.
This Restorative Nail Cream contains lanolin, coconut oil, beeswax, primrose oil, lavender oil, rapeseed oil, and soybean oil to hydrate both your nails and cuticles. That is the aspect of this treatment that is fast-acting. You’ll see right away the huge difference of having properly hydrated nails.
It also contains protein and vitamins A, D, and E, as well as extracts of garlic bulb, chamomile, and cucumber which soak into the nail and nail bed along with the moisturizers, delivering these building blocks right where they are needed so you can grow stronger, more durable nails. Don’t worry, it doesn’t smell like garlic at all.
They suggest suggest applying this to your cuticles and nails, including the underside of your nails, two to three times a day. You will have to use it for a few weeks before you can see the results on your nails.
It comes in a gift-ready box with special moisturizing gloves you can wear overnight to speed up the process, but honestly I don’t used them. I’m still personally hooked.
- Fast acting moisturizer
- Delivers proteins and vitamins to nail
- Hydrating oils and botanical extracts
- You don’t need to wait for it to dry like polishes
- Coconut scented
- Contains PEG’s
- Not vegan (beeswax and lanolin)
2. Hair, Skin & Nails by 1 Body
Hair, Skin & Nails is formulated to help you grow stronger and thicker hair and nails. Your skin will become healthier too, but I don’t think it causes your skin to grow more, thank goodness. They suggest you take one pill twice a day and each pill contains 5000 micrograms of biotin.
The daily suggested intake for biotin according to Mayo Clinic is 100 micrograms so these pills pack a lot of punch.
Biotin is a water soluble vitamin, like vitamin C, so when you take more than your system needs, your body should convert the extra into waste. So if low biotin is causing your thin nails, this supplement will put a stop to that.
Hair, Skin & Nails also contains 26 other vitamins and minerals that contribute to total body health. Without listing all of them, it includes: iron, zinc, horestail extract, and vitamins A, C, D, E, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12.
Price: $21.04 (82 percent off MSRP)
- Non-GMO and soy free
- Loads of biotin and other vitamins
- No immediate results
- Should check with your doctor before starting any supplement
3. OPI Nail Envy
OPI’s Nail Envy is a nail strengthener that protects and improves the health of your nails so they have the durability to grow out long and strong. It’s a clear polish you apply to your nails. The directions say to apply two coats of Nail Envy and then apply another coat of Nail Envy every other day.
Nail Envy can be used as a base coat for other polishes if you don’t want to go around with bare-looking nails, but it’s still recommended that you continue the routine of one coat of Nail Envy every other day.
After a week, remove all the lacquer on your nails and start again with two coats of Nail Envy. It contains wheat protein and calcium to strengthen your nails and citric acid which is an antioxidant.
It will take some time for your new, stronger nails to grow out, but in the meantime the support of layers of this protein rich polish should help your current nails to grow out without breaking.
- Polish provides temporary strength while healthy nails grow in
- Can be used as base coat or top coat
- From high-quality, trusted brand
- Needs regular applications
- Contains formaldehyde and camphor
4. Best Cuticle Oil to Grow Nails Fast: Nutra Nail 5-to-7 Day Growth
Nutra Nail 5-to-7 Day Growth looks like another polish, but it’s more like a cuticle oil. It absorbs into your nails and cuticles to hydrate brittle, dry nails and deliver strengtheners right where you need them.
It contains keratin, soy protein, albumin protein, milk protein, calcium, and collagen. No matter what kind of protein your nails want to be able grow, this sort of variety almost guarantees your nails will be getting what they’re lacking. For moisturizers it contains corn oil, lanolin, and aloe.
Nails will grow out healthier and more supple with all these nutrients. However, it isn’t going to be noticeable in five to seven days. You’ll have to wait a few weeks to see a real difference, but the quick results will be that dry, brittle nails will be moisturized and stop peeling and cracking.
It’s recommended that you rub this serum into your fingers twice a day. You don’t have to wait for it to dry like polishes and it absorbs quickly so it doesn’t leave a greasy residue. Unlike cuticle oils, this one is definitely a nail treatment and it smells like they focused on making your nails stronger and not smelling like roses. But the scent won’t linger on your fingers so I think it’s worth it.
- Made in America
- No waiting for it to dry
- Six types of strengtheners
- Contains parabens
- Not vegan
- Doesn’t smell great
5. Julep Oxygen Nail Treatment
This is a breathable nail polish and nail treatment with nutrients to strengthen the nail surface. Using a special formula, Julep developed a polish that is opaque but has microscopic gaps in the lacquer surface that are just big enough for air molecules to pass through while still protecting the nail bed from harmful UV rays.
Your fingernails don’t literally breathe. They are oxygenated by our bloodstream, but I’m sure you’ve heard a hundred times from manicurists and you’ve seen in your own experience, it’s good to let your nails be exposed to air every now and then to give them a break.
If you have naturally weak nails that split, you probably need something with more support than this, but if your nails are damaged from wearing acrylic or gel nails, this may be exactly what your thin nails need: strengtheners and room to breathe.
Julep suggests applying one coat once or twice a week. It is a polish, so you have a choice of this Sheer Pink or Sheer Ivory, both of which look like the base of a French manicure. I love that Julep provide photos to see how each polish looks on a variety of skin tones. For strengtheners this nail treatment contains hexanal to harden nails and plant stem cells to nourish the nail bed.
Breathable nail polishes also have the benefit of generally being deemed acceptable for Muslim persons to wear because it won’t interfere with their wudu (ritual ablutions) before prayers. I would double-check with your local religious leaders first, as opinions have been varied. Like all Julep products, this treatment is five free so there aren’t hash chemicals like DBP, camphor, or formaldehyde in it.
- No everyday treatments needed
- Tinted with choice of two colors
- Five free
- Good choice for Muslim persons
- Breathable formula may be more prone to chipping
6. Amplixin Advanced Biotin Plus Supplement
Amplixin Advanced Biotin Plus Supplement is a cruelty-free dietary supplement meant to improve the health of your nails, hair, and skin. It reduces hair shedding, increases hair volume, and helps you grow stronger, healthier nails.
Each pill contains 8000 micrograms of biotin and the suggested dosage is taking two capsules a day with food. That’s a 160 times the normal daily dose of biotin, but no worries–it’s a water soluble vitamin so as long as you’re hydrated, providing your body with large amounts of biotin shouldn’t have any side effects.
For general nail and hair health, it also contains zinc, copper, iron, horsetail extract, collagen, vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, as well as several other minerals and vitamins. Each bottle has a month’s supply of pills and is formulated to be great for all genders.
Knowing that Amplixin Advanced Biotin Plus Supplement is made in America, gluten free, and GMO free helps me feel a lot better about putting it in my body.
- You’ll have all the biotin a body could ask for
- Made in America
- GMO, gluten, and cruelty-free
- Need to take it daily
- No immediate results
7. Nailtiques Nail Protein Formulas 1, 2, & 3
Nailtiques Nail Protein Formulas are some of the more well-known treatments for helping you achieve long, healthy nails. They can be worn alone as a clear coat or used as a base coat. They use strengthening ingredients like keratin, collagen, and calcium in different concentrations depending on your nails and what they need in particular.
Formula 1 is intended for nails that are naturally healthy but a little too flexible and need a boost of durability. This is also the formula that many people who have been using the other formulas move to once their nails are much healthier and no longer need such intense strengthening. You apply one coat three times a week and after seven days, remove and start again.
Formula 2 is the one that is the most universal and that, I think, most people will need. This one is for peeling, splitting, weak, soft, or bitten nails. You apply one coat of Formula 2 every day. After seven days, you remove all the polish and start again. If your nails sound like this, but you’re afraid they are beyond repair, Nailtiques makes a Formula 2 Plus for excessively damaged nails.
Formula 3 is for naturally hard nails that are thick but dry and brittle. It’s meant to maintain the nail’s strength but give it the flexibility it needs to prevent breakage. Formula 3 is worn the same way as Formula 2 with thin coats applied daily.
This isn’t a quick fix and it will take a few weeks for your healthier nails to grow out, but when they do there is an undeniable difference. In the meantime, the built up layers of polish are like an armor for your weaker nails, protecting them while it heals.
Be sure to use a non-acetone nail polish remover when using this product as acetone can make nails dry and peel. Read my guide to the Best Nail Polish Removers to find some great non-acetone removers.
Price: From $8.39
- Formulas catered to different nails types
- Coats provide strength while you wait for healthy nail growth
- Can be worn as a base coat
- It takes weeks to see the benefits
- Needs to be applied often
8. Bosely Professional Strength Hair, Skin & Nail Supplement
This is a supplement that I’m taking myself. The company did not send me the product to review or give me a discount in exchange for reviewing it. Bosely has no idea I exist and I’m just taking it for myself.
It has a much lower dose of biotin at 150 micrograms in each tablet which is still more than Mayo Clinic’s recommended daily requirement and Bosley suggests you take one to two tablets daily.
You’re not looking at thousands of micrograms of biotin like in other supplements so this is a good choice for people who would feel more comfortable sticking closer to the recommended daily amount. Bosely’s also provides folic acid, zinc, copper, horsetail extract, a range of vital amino acids, and vitamins A, C, D, B1, B2, and B12.
The tablets are vegetarian and cruelty-free. Bosley’s tablets aren’t much bigger than Tylenol and I don’t find them to have a nasty taste like some tablets do.
Like any supplement, it will take weeks or even months before I can see a difference in my hair or fingernails, but for such an easy and quick everyday step of taking a pill, I say it’s worth the wait, especially with how many positive reports there are that it strengthens and thickens your hair and nails.
Each bottle comes with a month’s supply if you take two a day, or 2 months if you’re taking one. This one is formulated for women and while I’m not sure why these are gendered, they also make a supplement for men. I will update this review with my results as I continue taking it.
- Closer to recommended daily intake
- Easy to swallow
- Vegetarian and cruelty-free
- Made in America
- Much less biotin than others
- Not a quick fix
9. Best Treatment for Damaged Nails: CND RescueRXx Daily Keratin Treatment
This is a protein nail treatment, similar to a cuticle oil and isn’t a polish. Coming from one of the top names in shellac nail polish, which is known to not be easy on your nails, you know this one is formulated to repair damaged nails.
RescueRXx is specifically said to address white spots, peeling, and splitting. It’s an oil base that you rub into your nails and cuticles twice a day. It works best over bare nails so the nutrients can be absorbed right into your nail, but if need be it can be used over polish or used before applying your base coat.
However, make sure you thoroughly cleanse the nail surface before applying your polish since the oils will prevent the lacquer from sticking properly.
It contains keratin to bond to the nail surface and provide strengthening and sweet almond oil and jojoba oil to condition your cuticles and hydrate brittle nails. This regular hydration will result in visible improvement of the look and feel of your nails within a week.
The rest of the benefits will follow within a month. The instructions say to use this for up to four weeks, so this isn’t a product you’re expected to use permanently like some of the others which is nice.
- Perfect for nails damaged after acrylics or gels
- Fast acting hydration
- Limited term of use
- From high-quality, trusted brand
- No waiting for it to dry like a polish
- Best used with bare nails
- Needs to be used twice a day
10. DermaNail Nail Conditioner
DermaNail was developed by dermatologists to strengthen damaged nails prone to splitting, cracking, or breaking. It’s a liquid and you apply one to two drops on your cuticles twice daily.
Because it’s not oil based, it’s important to not wash your hands for an hour after applying it so that it has time to really soak into your nails and cuticles. DermaNail only has three ingredients–two types of alcohol (one is a moisturizing alcohol) and acetyl mandelic acid.
Acetyl mandelic acid is alcohol soluble so the treatments needs to be alcohol based to carry it. This acid smooths out the nail surface keeping splits from becoming any worse so the nail can grow out without breaking.
This isn’t a quick fix and has one of the longest waiting times of the nail treatments we’ve seen. DermaNail says real results can take up to 16 weeks to be obvious.
That seems like a long time, but you can use it over nail polish so there’s no waiting to do your manicures and your nails will grow in healthier and stronger. Plus, the real changes will be to your new nail growth so makes sense that it will take a while to be evident.
I like that it is formulated by a dermatologist and has the approval of doctors as a way to improve nail health. Make sure you have a good cuticle oil around if your nails are brittle and dry since while this does contain a moisturizer, it may feel drying to some users.
- Dermatologist formulated
- Can use over nail polish
- Don’t have to worry about drying or smudging like a polish
- New nail growth is strong and healthy
- Takes a long time to see results
- Needs to be used twice a day
- Can’t wash your hands for one hour after applying