Nail hardener vs nail strengthener, are two terms that are often used interchangeably. However, when it comes to nail care, most of us still don’t know the difference between them.

In this article, we will look at how to tell whether you need a nail hardener or a nail strengthener, review the differences between them, and finally, we will look at some of the best options currently available on the market.

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Nail Strengtheners vs.  Nail Hardeners

The main difference between a nail strengthened and a nail hardener is that a nail hardener will make your nails more resistant to breakage, but a nail strengthener will actually build up the nail itself.

Although, both nail strengtheners & hardeners are good for you. However, choosing between the two is dependent on the type of treatment you’re looking for. 

Nail strengtheners are designed to keep your nails tough & flexible. The formula penetrates your nails which makes them stronger.

So if you have soft, uneven, dry, or damaged nails then strengtheners will aim to fix that. Whereas a nail hardener is a widespread treatment for feeble nails.

They contain chemicals such as formaldehyde that strip the moisture out of your nails,  resulting in harder nails. However, prolonged use may cause further damage so it is best to use hardeners with precaution. 

Are Nail Hardeners Bad for Your Nails?

Nail hardeners are not bad for your nails, but they are bad if you’re using the wrong one.

If you’ve been using the same nail hardener for years, it’s probably time to switch it up a bit.

Your nails can become accustomed to the chemicals in the nail hardener and stop responding to them as well as they did when you first started using it. At this point, it might be time to try something new.

Nail hardeners are a great way to get your nails looking healthier, but it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects.

The biggest issue is that nail hardeners can make your nails more brittle and prone to cracking or breaking. This is because they dehydrate your nails and make them less flexible, which can lead to breaks. It also makes them more susceptible to peeling off the nail bed.

There’s also a risk of developing an allergic reaction if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the product.

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Are Nail Strengtheners Bad for Your Nails?

Nail strengtheners are not bad for your nails. In fact, they’re great for them.

Nail strengtheners help your nails grow by adding strength and support to the nail plate. This helps prevent them from breaking and splitting.

It’s important to note that nail strengtheners are not a substitute for taking care of your nails, whether it’s by washing them daily with soap and water, drying them thoroughly after each washing, or applying lotion regularly.

You should still be taking these steps even if you’re using a nail strengthened.

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5 Best Healthy Nail Strengtheners

It can be quite frustrating trying to grow healthy nails & not being able to achieve the desired result. If you need your nails to be rescued from all that breaking we’ve assembled a list of some of the finest products you can use to make your nails stronger. 

1. Barielle Nail Strengtheners

Barielle Nail Strengthener Cream Helps Improve Nail Growth.For Healthier and Stronger Nails. Prevents Splitting Cracks and Ridges. Resists Splits Peels and Breaks.Can Be Used with Nail Polish. 1 OunceCHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

Got weak & brittle nails? Here’s a product you can use every day to strengthen them & provide the protection your nails require.

That’s not everything it does though. This fast-drying formula encourages healthy nail growth. It’s perfect for nails that have been weakened by the removal of artificial nails. In a few weeks, you’ll be able to notice results.

It’s free of paraben & sulfates. Apply it before & after applying your regular nail polish for the best outcomes. 

2. CND SolarOil Nail & Cuticle Care

Nail & Cuticle Care by CND, SolarOil for Dry, Damaged Cuticles, Infused with Jojoba Oil & Vitamin E for Healthier, Stronger Nails, 0.25 Fl Oz


If you’re struggling with rough cuticles & breakage of your nails then this one’s a must-try. As it is clinically proven for its results, the keratin protein & jojoba oil softens your cuticles, moisturize your nails & prevent peeling & splitting of your nails.

Moreover, its quick-drying formula enables you to just put it on & get on with what you’re doing. Daily usage is recommended. 

3. T.I.P.S Nail Strengthening Conditioner Duo

TIPS Toe Nail Conditioner 2 Pack


Presenting an unbelievable defense method, this product comes in two bottles that hydrate, condition, moisturize & strengthen your nails. Don’t mistake it for a nail hardener as it is for long-term use.

So if you’re looking to get rid of vulnerable nails that chip, crack, peel, or are dry then this is the one for you.

In a couple of weeks, you will watch your nails improve by texture. It will further condition your cuticles as well. Apply daily before washing your hands or an hour later after you’ve washed your hands. 

4. Nails Inc. Nailkale Superfood Base Coat

Nails Inc Nailkale Superfood Base Coat - .47 oz


An antioxidant base coat that is infused with kale extract to stimulate your nail growth. The keratin hardening aids in avoiding peeling & drying after fake nails have been taken off. It’s perfect for growing out nails that are hydrated & nourished. This coat prevents further breakage & splitting. 

5. Nail Tek Intensive Therapy-2 Treatment Nail Tek Intensive Therapy 2, Nail Strengthener for Soft and Peeling Nails, 0.5 oz x 1-Pack


If you’ve got your acrylics off recently this one’s the perfect after-care treatment. It’s a hardener that can be used daily for soft & peeling nails. Furthermore, it improves weak, thin, or soft nails & promotes strength & flexibility in your nails.

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5 Best Nail Hardeners that Are Safe for Your Nails

Let’s take a closer look at five of the best nail hardeners on the market today

1. NAIL-AID 3-in-1 Gel Base

NAIL-AID 3-in-1 Gel Base + Top + Hardener, Clear, 0.55 Fluid Ounce


Achieve a beautiful, hard, long-lasting manicure with NAIL-AID 3-in-1 Gel Base. This base strengthens and conditions nails while providing a smooth surface for color. Silicone in this formula adds extra durability and prevents chipping, smudging, and scratching.

This can be used for both natural and artificial nails. NAIL-AID has been specially created for both nail professionals and newcomers to the nail polish industry that wants to dabble in something new.

2. Sally Hansen Good Nail Hardener

Sally Hansen Good. Kind. Pure. Vegan Nail Polish, Hardener, Plant Based, 0.33 Oz , Nail Hardener, Nail Growth Serum, Nail Strengthener, Top Coat and Hardener, Healthy Nails, Packaging May VaryCHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

With Sally Hansen Good Nail Hardener, you can get ready to rock the world! This Sally Hansen polish is made with pure mineral protein hydrolysis formula. It will help strengthen your nails and prevent nail breakage for stronger, healthier nails.

This fast-drying polish strengthens, roughs up, and seals the entire nail with a unique formulation that even works on natural nails.

3. Delore for Nails Hardener

Delore for Nails Hardener and Nail Polish Dryer.25-Ounce (Pack of 2)CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

Delore for Nails Hardener is a revolutionary treatment that hardens weak, soft, and peeling nails with a revolutionary new formula.

This hardener can be used on natural nails, acrylic, and gel nails to help extend the durability of your manicure.

It also works to increase the strength of brittle, dry nails and even makes them healthier by nourishing the nail’s upper layer while it dries.

4. QUIMICA ALEMANA Nail Hardener

QUIMICA ALEMANA Nail Hardener (protective barrier prevents chipping, peeling and splitting) - Size 0.47 Fl.oz


QUIMICA ALEMANA Nail Hardener is a professional quality nail hardener that is tested and proven to deliver results. It will protect your nails from cracking, splitting, discoloration, and peeling, leaving them healthy and strong.

his product will also help to even out existing ridges and features within your nails, creating a professional-looking finish.

5. Nail-Aid Biotin Ultimate Strength Nail Treatment

Nail-Aid Biotin Ultimate Strength - Nail Treatment & Strengthener - Clear, 0.55 Fl Oz (08873)


Nail-Aid Biotin Ultimate Strength Nail Treatment is clinically proven to help strengthen nails and increase overall nail health.

This treatment is designed to help strengthen weak or brittle nails. The formula, enriched with biotin and calcium, repairs damage while promoting stronger, healthier nails.


While we certainly can’t tell you which one is “best,” that does depend on what you’re looking for and how your nails will be affected.

The important thing is to understand the difference between nail hardener vs nail strengthener and apply it to your routine accordingly.

This will likely entail a bit of trial and error, but once you’ve found the right product, your nails will show marked improvement in no time at all.

Disclaimer: This article, other beauty and fashion tips on SheBegan are contributed by experienced fashion professionals, beauty & cosmetics experts. Read our full research and editorial process here. Also, our posts may contain affiliate links, read our full affiliate disclosure

Zahira holds a PhD in Cosmetics Surgery and Pharma. She worked with Mashable's and some other beauty, skincare and wellness blogs. She is also a well-known personality and educationist and has a large number of social following. She also writes on the female empowerment motivational topics in her leisure time.

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