13 Products That'll Save Your Damaged, Brittle Nails After Peeling Off a Gel Manicure
Few things discourage a nail polish lover like a gel manicure gone wrong. It has the highest highs—glossy, super pigmented color that lasts at least two weeks—and the lowest lows. Cue scene of us crumpling to the bathroom floor after compulsively picking off every last bit of said gel nail polish.
What was once a pristine, professionally done manicure is now a graveyard of broken nail dreams. Keyword: broken. Not to mention, brittle and peeling. If you’ve ever dealt with damaged nails, you know it’s a slow road back to healthy cuticles and nail beds. Sometimes it’s not even the gel mani; nails can be just naturally weak and brittle.
Luckily we’ve found a handy collection of nail treatment products to get our nails back into fighting shape when things go south. You’ll find entire nail systems dedicated to repairing nails after gel manicure disasters (we've all been there!), and you’ll find genius one-off strengthening polishes, cuticle creams, and reparative treatments to target your main concerns.
Here are the best products to help damaged, brittle nails get back in tip-top shape.
OPI Gel Break System
This three-step system is perfect for those who have been wrecked by too many gel manicures—but also don’t want to give up nail color altogether.
First, start with the serum-infused base coat. Next, move onto one of the Gel Break nail colors (pick from classic shades like “Properly Pink” and “Too Tan-tilizing!”). Finish with the protective top coat, and you’ll be recovering in style.
BUY IT: $13.95 each; amazon.com
Hum Nutrition Killer Nails Supplements
Talk about low effort and high reward. Give your nails a boost from the inside-out with a plant-based biotin supplement that comes fortified with high-potency ingredients necessary for nail growth.
BUY IT: $20; sephora.com
Cuccio Cuticle Oil with Milk & Honey
Much like our skin and hair, damaged nail beds are just begging for added hydration, which makes adding a cuticle oil to your routine an absolute must. This cult-favorite cuticle oil has over 1,100 five-star reviews on Amazon alone. (And the people don’t lie.) Honey helps to naturally soothe and moisturize, and lactic acid from milk works to refresh and stimulate the skin.
BUY IT: $6.85; amazon.com
Nails Inc. NAILKALE Superfood Base Coat
That’s right: Superfoods aren’t only meant for your smoothies. This antioxidant, five-benefit base coat comes infused with kale extract to strengthen damaged nails—which means this is already the healthiest thing we’ve put in or on our body all day. It’s deeply nourishing, anti-splitting, and equipped with keratin hardening.
BUY IT: $15; sephora.com
Nails Inc. Gel-less Gel Nail Polish Remover Kit
What really strips and mangles your nails? Picking off gel polish at home. If you often find yourself too busy to stop into the salon to get gel polish soaked off, this is exactly what you need to keep from repeatedly damaging your nails. It comes with a conditioning polish remover to further ensure your nails don’t come out totally stripped and brittle.
BUY IT: $19; jcpenney.com
Essie Ridge Filling Base Coat
One of the peskiest side effects of brittle or damaged nails is undoubtedly the uneven ridges that develop on your nail plate (often paired with discoloration!).
This occurs when your nails are prone to peeling or have experienced different stages of growth due to acrylic nail refills. This base coat provides a smooth and flat canvas for when you’re polishing damaged nails.
BUY IT: $9; ulta.com
Dr. Hauschka Neem Nail and Cuticle Pen
Consider this your on-the-go cuticle companion. The convenient, travel-ready pen deposits a nourishing formula made with neem leaf to prevent breakage and chamomile to soften nail beds. Throw it in your purse, and always be prepared.
BUY IT: $19; dermstore.com
Butter London Hardwear Shine UV Topcoat
Because, yes, you need sun protection there, too—especially if dealing with damaged nails. Let this ultra-shiny, chip-resistant topcoat protect your manicure and your nail beds.
BUY IT: $18; ulta.com
Ella + Mila Soy Nail Polish Remover
The last thing that brittle nails need is exposure to any more harsh ingredients, like acetone. (That gel manicure was enough to strip them down as it is, am I right?)
Instead choose an acetone-free polish remover that also boasts good-for-you ingredients like this soy-based product. It’s enriched with vitamins and lavender essential oils to promote healthier, moisturized nails.
BUY IT: $11.50; target.com
Barielle Nail Rebuilding Protein
Peeling nails? They’re no match for this nifty rebuilding protein. It uses hydrolyzed wheat protein to help rebuild, fortify, and bond weak nail layers. Any ravaged and peeling post-acrylic digits will be transformed in no time.
BUY IT: $10; dermstore.com
Deborah Lippman Intensive 2 Second Nail Primer
This nail-cleansing prep treatment is easy as 1, 2...yepp, that’s it. Apply it before your strengthening base coat to ensure your longest-lasting manicure ever, which means your nails have more time to recover between manicures (and you get to avoid harsh nail products like polish remover for a little longer!).
BUY IT: $14; sephora.com
Majestic Pure Revitalizing Nail Treatment with Tea Tree
This all-natural nail serum is made with tea tree, clove, and eucalyptus oils to simultaneously strengthen your nails, moisturize your cuticles, and promote nail health with antifungal properties. While it can be used on both hands and feet, it is a favorite Amazon find for people looking for toenail treatments.
BUY IT: $15; amazon.com
Dior Nail Glow
If you’re laying low on the nail color for a while, this topcoat-ish color gives the ultimate barely-there, your-nails-but-better glow. It’s like a healthy pink flush for the nail beds—and you won’t even miss your OPI “Bubble Bath” in the meantime.
BUY IT: $28; nordstrom.com