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 maniacally 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, breaking—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, 13 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.
Much like hair and skincare, healthy nails start beneath the surface. This one uses Japanese seaweed, aloe vera, rich bran oil, shea butter, and vitamin E to condition the cuticles and keep nails moisturized.
You've probably seen this product used in the salon, and that's because it actually works. The three-step system employs a unique protein formula to tackle weakness, thinning, softness, or peeling by sealing the individual layers of nail back together. This bond discourages the splitting and breaking that detracts from 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 trying to remove color, which can weaken the nails and keep them from growing.
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.