How to fix brittle nails for a strong and healthy finish, according to the pros

The pros share tips for combatting brittle nails, from the protective treatments they recommend to the nourishing nailcare products...

A close up of someone's hands with damaged and brittle nails/ in a cream and beige gradiant template
(Image credit: Getty Images/Cavan Images)

If you're a frequent manicure-getter, damaged and brittle nails often come with the territory - but according to the professionals, these simple tips can make a world of difference to your delicate nails...

Though the 2024 nail trends promise chic and polished-looking talons, if your nails are looking and feeling brittle (with peeling and tearing commonplace) this can impact the overall finish of your mani and can then be exacerbated by further treatments, like gel and acrylic nails. Thankfully though, you may not need to swear off your go-to 'Bubble Bath' nails or French tips altogether.

We've quizzed the nail experts on their go-to tips and recommendations for achieving stronger and healthier-looking nails - both in salon and at home...

The tips the pros recommend for stronger nails

Weak and dry nails can be very uncomfortable and sometimes make us feel a little self-conscious - especially if you're in between treatments or have opted for an au-natural look. Ultimately though, we've all experienced less than healthy nails at one time or another but there are several things we can do to refresh and protect them.

In fact, there are five strengthening nail tips, in particular, the nail pros recommend for elevating the feel and look of damaged and brittle nails - and they don't all involve traipsing to the salon.

What causes brittle and weak nails?

For those wondering 'why are my nails so brittle?' Juanita Huber-Millet, Founder and Creative Director at Townhouse says: "Brittle nails can result from various factors such as exposure to damaging chemicals and improper methods of gel or extension removal. Like with skin, a healthy diet will do wonders for your overall nail health!"

Our got-to nail strengthening staples

1. Opt for a protective and lasting treatment

If your nails are weak and in need of some TLC and you're looking for a more long-term and hardwearing solution, Huber-Miller recommends an IBX treatment or opting for BIAB nails.

IBX treatment: "For a nourishing boost, add an IBX treatment to your next in salon manicure - a natural, salon-grade strengthener that has truly transformed my nails.

The 10-minute in-salon nail strengthening treatment is, "Ideal for damaged, weak, brittle and peeling nails, it's conditioning monomers penetrate the nail surface to fill in grooves and ridges and prevent breakage," explains Huber-Millet: "The result? Longer lasting and stronger nails that can better withstand environmental wear and tear."

BIAB: "Builder gel is a fantastic way to strengthen and nourish the natural nail, it is suitable for all nail lengths and comes with the added benefit of extending the longevity of the finish," says Huber-Millet.

2. Use a cuticle oil, daily

Cuticle maintenance and cuticle oil especially, are true heroes in your nail care routine, as according to Huber-Millet, keeping your nails hydrated and moisturised is essential to their overall health and look. She recommends using a cuticle oil regularly - as does Kirsten White, Founder of London Grace.

"Using a good nail treatment like our London Grace Renew + Revive is a great way to combat brittle nails," remarks White, as it's, "Formulated with a blend of 6 mythical oils the treatment delivers amazing hydration and reconditioning results." White then advises applying your chosen nail treatment twice a day.

3. Add a handcream to your handbag

A hand cream is also an easy and nourishing addition to your arsenal, more so when used in tandem with cuticle oil.

Huber-Millet says: "Another crucial step is maintaining constant hydration by moisturizing regularly with cuticle oil and hand cream throughout the day. These practices have been game-changers for me in achieving healthier and stronger nails."

4. Use a high-quality nail file

Using the correct tools when doing your nails at home (or maintaining them, post-treatment) is also essential. White recommends investing in a high-quality nail file, "to shape your nails regularly," as this can help to prevent breakages.

A glass or crystal nail file (like this Tweezerman file, at Cult Beauty) for instance, would make a great addition to your kit.

5. Add a strengthener to your nailcare kit

A nail strengthener can also be a game-changer in your routine. If you do your nails at home - using traditional polish - you can apply one of the best nail strengtheners as your base coat, before then adding your chosen shade. We'd also recommend using a strengthening treatment in your breaks between nail appointments, especially if you've experienced damage.

If you favour minimalistic nail looks, you can also swap a clear coat with a nail strengthener - like OPI's Nail Envy or Manucurist Active Glow, for a glowy but protective option.

Naomi Jamieson
Digital Beauty Writer

Naomi is a Digital Beauty Writer from woman&home, where she covers everything from skincare to fragrance but specialises, particularly, in makeup and nail trends. Through her work, Naomi gets to share her trend expertise and share her own shopping recommendations and product reviews. Previously, she worked as a Lifestyle News Writer for My Imperfect Life magazine, where she used her savvy for TikTok to bring readers the latest beauty buzzwords, fashion movements and must-have products. 

Before that, Naomi split her time between both GoodTo and My Imperfect Life, whilst training for her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ, for which she earned a Distinction. Interestingly though, Naomi actually has a background in design, having studied illustration at Plymouth University but leapt into the media world in 2020, after always having a passion for writing. Now, when she isn’t reporting on the best perfumes and latest beauty releases, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping...