Fall Weather Can Make Your Nails Dry and Brittle—Use These Pro-Recommended Nourishing Nail Treatments To Prevent That

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Not so fun fact: Winter is coming... for your nails. That's right. Just like hair and skin, your nails are susceptible to the dryness and weakness accompanied by the cooler air and colder temps. Be it brittleness, flakiness, cracking, or peeling, Old Man Winter (and late autumn) can wreak havoc on our fragile fingertips.

Have no fear—a few swipes of a nourishing nail treatment a few times a week can whip your nails into shape before the thermometer starts to drop. As Essie global lead educator and celebrity nail artist, Rita Remark, tells us, strengthening polishes and nourishing products can prep your nails ahead of time, so they're ready for sweater weather. "Strengthening treatments work two ways. They can help bond together and repair a weak nail, and they provide a shield against the elements," she explains. "Using a nail strengthener and a cuticle oil together are a great way to prepare your nails for the winter."

Experts In This Article
  • Rita Remark, editorial manicurist and educator in New York; lead nail artist of Essie Canada and Essie’s global lead educator

And it's not just adding density to those delicate digits—you'll want to add moisture, too. As we've previously reported, brittle nails are also commonly caused by a cycle of repeated wetting and drying of the fingernails—something that tends to get worst come winter, thanks to more exposure to dry heat. Rather than wetting them with water (which inevitably just dries them out), quench their thirst by applying a rich hand lotion and massaging it deeply into your skin and cuticles (you can also use a cuticle oil). Remark says that using a moisturizing or strengthening base coat can help prevent polish from further drying them out, too.

Fall is here and winter is knocking at the door, so knock back with a fist full of healthy, long and strong fingernails that are prepped for the cold months.

OPI, Nail Envy Original

A fan-favorite amongst beauty buffs, OPI Nail Envy will give you longer, healthier nails your friends will certainly swoon over. The clear lacquer can be used on its own or as a base coat to prevent polish from weakening or drying out your nails. If your fingertips really need some TLC, it’s buildable and recommended to add a coat once a day for a week to get ’em back into shape. The secret to its protective powers lies in its formula, which is enriched with hydrolyzed wheat protein and calcium your nails will appreciate (and admirers will covet).

What reviews say: “Lots of polish out there that claiming to strengthen—THIS ONE DOES! Get yours for troubled nails, you will be thrilled,” — Amazon customer

Isdin, Si-Nails (15% off with code GOOD15) — $32.00

No time for a professional manicure? No problem—ISDIN’s nail treatment pen takes all of one minute to use and can be applied anywhere, thanks to its click ‘n go design. Each “pen” contains a strengthening treatment designed to promote growth and bolster brittleness over time. For the best results, apply it once a day for 1-2 weeks, making sure you get everything from the cuticle to even underneath the nail (yes, really). That felt tip makes application super simple and dries in a flash, which is particularly helpful when you’re on a time crunch. Don’t forget to use the exclusive W+G code GOOD15 for 15% off when you try it!

What reviews say: It works much better than treatment lacquers that eventually have to be removed and usually make nails look worse afterwards thanks to the products used to remove them. I have far less splitting and peeling and my severe nail ridges look smoother from this product. My only problem is getting used to using hands that now have fingernails after a lifetime of them barely having anything growing beyond the nail plate,” —ISDIN customer

Essie, Hard to Resist Nail Treatment — $11.00

Want a powerful polish with a bit of tint? Essie’s got you covered. Instead of using it every day, you only have to use it once: Simply apply two coats to clean, dry nails, let them dry, and go. Its built-in nail bonding technology is like spinach for your nails, strengthening them to protect from future damage while instantly giving them a harder feel. It doubles as a glossy clear coat, too, and is tinted with juuust a touch of color (in pink or violet) to give your nails a healthy looking glow.

What reviews say: “I’ve been using this for a few months now and it’s my go-to nail treatment/polish. It gives such a nice shine and a VERY subtle pink tone to your nails. I’m pretty hard on my nails, so they break a lot. I’ve never had long nails before, so I bought this to finally get nice nails, haha. The polish does peel off pretty easily for me. But again, I’m hard on my nails! The good thing is that you can reapply it and it looks like new. Definitely recommend!” — Ulta customer



ORLY, Breathable Calcium Boost Strengthener — $12.00

Remember the “Got Milk” ads of our youth? Imagine that, only for your nails. This vegan calcium-based concoction by ORLY is infused with all the goodness you need to grow your nails big and strong or reverse damage. To really “nail” its effects (lol), use it once a day for a week, layering that top coat in thin, even strips. You’ll notice that it’s lighter than other strengtheners, thanks to its breathable formula that lets your claws get some oxygen. Combined with vitamin B5, vitamin C, and argan oil, and your nails can skip that glass of milk altogether.

What reviews say: “This calcium booster exceeded my expectations. My nails stopped splitting, and as a bonus this polished looks good and shiny. I put it on every night for several nights in a row, then remove it, and start anew,” — ORLY customer

Sally Hansen, Hard As Nails Serum — $6.00

Few treatments are as classic as Sally Hansen’s Hard As Nails serum, which you can find at virtually any drug store. This easy-to-use, budget-friendly treatment is loaded with restorative proteins and vitamins that bring your nails back to life (and let them grow to their fullest potential). True to its name, they not only get harder, but healthier-feeling from the cuticle down. Use it once a day for a week to get nails that are, well, hard as nails.

What reviews say: Does exactly what it say—My nails were very brittle due to chlorine from frequent swimming, so [I] tried this. Now my nails don’t break from swimming, and are the longest they have been for a long time. Would definitely recommend,” — Amazon customer

Dr.'s Remedy, Hydrating Moisture Treatment — $21.00

It’s only autumn (and not even), but soon enough, the air is going to get cold and dry, and your nails are going to be thirsty. Quench ’em with this hydrating treatment by Dr.’s Remedy, which infuses nails with long-lasting hydration to get them through the chilly months. As for the formula, there’s plenty of good stuff, including biotin, wheat protein, lavender, and tea tree oil, your fingertips can sip in serenity.

What reviews say: “A foot doctor recommended this stuff when I complained about my fingernails always splitting and cracking. This stuff actually works! For the first time in my life I have actual working fingernails that grow so long I need manicure scissors to cut them… I can’t recommend this polish highly enough,” — Amazon customer.

Olive & June, Nail Strengthener — $14.00

Olive & June is a goldmine for vegan, cruelty-free, nontoxic nail polish that is good for your nails, and their nail strengthener is no different. Underneath that cute pink bottle is a potent formula that penetrates nails deep down to the nail bed, healing them so they can go long and strong. Its star ingredient? Celery seed extract, which helps everything from filling ridges to preventing breakage, peeling, and flakiness.

What reviews say: I’ve been using O&J products for a few months now and I am in love with some of the products—this one included. My nails were severely damaged, thanks to acrylics and gel polis—and after about three months they’re finally starting to look great,” — Olive & June customer

Typology, Hand and Nail Serum — $16.00

Another hydration hero to keep handy when the temps dip. Typology harnesses the power of plant to put your best foot, er, hands, forward. Drop a few drips of the silky serum onto your hands and massage its magic into your skin, working it into your palms, cuticles, and nail beds. Between the vegan keratin and hyaluronic acid, you’ll feel like you just walked out of a dreamy spa session—but for half the price.

What reviews say: “I have eczema and this stuff helps keep my hands from cracking when used with hand cream. Will definitely repurchase,” — Typology customer

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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