After Months of Gel Extensions, My Natural Nails Felt Like Paper—This Techy Tool Nursed Them Back to Health

Photo: Stocksy / Lucas Ottone
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If you offered me a million dollars to tell you the last time my nails were bare, I'd immediately accept that I can't have the money because I have no idea. My nails stay done—yes, even during the dark and lonely days of the early pandemic. It was around this time that I upped my DIY game from regular polish to gel, and I haven't looked back. I took this to the next level last fall by introducing Gel-X extensions from Aprés into my routine. Though these tips are better for your nails than traditional tips, after using them for almost a year, my nails aren't as healthy as they could be. And earlier this year, while redoing my extensions, I realized my nails felt like straight-up paper. The best thing to do for my nail health would be to give the polish a break, but you'd have to pry my UV light from my cold, dead hands for that to happen.

Experts In This Article
  • Dan Pardi, PhD, Dan Pardi, PhD, is chief health architect at Restore Hyper Wellness.

I figured the next best thing was making the Stimulail nail-strengthening device a part of my nightly routine. Stimunail ($68) is a tool that uses heat, vibration, and LED light to strengthen your nails over time. Simply place your fingers in the holes and rest your palm on the Stimunail logo, and it starts a three-minute nail-wellness session.

Stacey Steinmetz, brand founder and cosmetic biochemist, developed Stimunail as "something quick and easy that anyone could use at home, something cool and high-tech, [and] something that challenged everything we've been taught about caring for our nails," reads the brand's website.

Red light, which is able to penetrate deeper into the skin than other forms of light, aids in healthy cell function, healing damaged cells and promoting new healthy growth. It does this by reaching the mitochondria of the cell, aka, its powerhouse.

"Mitochondria contain light-sensitive molecules (called chromophores) that are able to absorb the red light, '' says Dan Pardi, PhD, chief health architect at Restore Hyper Wellness. “So when you are exposed to this type of light, mitochondria are stimulated to produce more ATP, the energy molecule that drives most of our metabolic processes.”

The gentle heat and vibration both boost circulation to the area surrounding the nails. Because our blood is what carries nutrients throughout the body, upping blood flow to the fingertips means the nails get a boost of nutrients that allows them to grow strong and healthy.

I've been using Stimunail every night for the past few months, and every time I change out my gel extensions, I notice my nails are stronger than the time before.

My 3-step nighttime nail-and-hand routine

1. Stimunail

This is the star of my routine, and what I credit with most of my growth. Before bed, I make sure to get in my Stimunail session. This often happens while watching TV on the couch or reading my Kindle in bed. I place my hands in and let the device do all the work while I chill.

2. Cuticle serum

Once I've had my final bathroom break and know I'm in bed for the night, I apply cuticle serum to my nails. Right now, I'm loving the Chillhouse On the Mend ($25) and Olive&June Cuticle Serum ($30). Both are pens, so I can target the serum right where I need it (while lying in bed in the dark!) without making a mess.

3. Retinol hand lotion

I finish off my routine with a retinol hand lotion to help promote cell turnover and boost collagen production, keeping my hands soft, radiant, and free of fine lines and wrinkles for as long as possible. Lately, I've been reaching for The Body Retinol from Nécessaire ($55). It's got a buttery yet lightweight texture and is boosted with alpha-hydroxy acids glycolic acid and mandelic acid to promote skin-brightening exfoliation.

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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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