The One Beauty Product Missing From Your Quarantine Nail Routine

Megan Decker

If you've been chewing your cuticles every morning while watching the news reports, or ripped off your gel manicure two months ago and are still dealing with the damage (weak and dry nail beds), you could probably use a rehab manicure.

Luckily, you don't need to wait for your local salon to reopen — all you need is a good nail strengthener. "Flaky nails are best treated with keratin-boosting products," explains Kerrie, a nail technician at the UK-based beauty-on-demand service Blow LTD.

To help steer you through the sea of clear glass bottles — barely-discernible from the base and top-coat polishes — we've broken down the best protein-rich formulas on the market, ahead. Scroll through to pick your favorite speed-recovery treatment, then take a deep breath before texting your mom back.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

Nail Tek Intensive Therapy


If your nail beds are weak and soft, with little growth past your fingertips, this is an easy strengthening treatment to add to your next Amazon order.

Nail Tek Nail Tek Intensive Therapy 2- For Soft, Peeling Nails, $, available at Amazon

Onyx Professional Hard As Hoof Nail Strengthening Cream


This viral $8 gem has racked up thousands of reviews and helps fortify your nails against chips, splits, and breakage.

Onyx Professional Hard As Hoof Nail Strengthening Cream, $, available at Amazon

Tenoverten The Foundation Strengthening Base Coat


A single layer of this clear base coat repairs peeling nails, prevents cracking, and acts as a glue to any polish you sweep on top of it. The best part? Like all Tenoverten polishes, the formula is cruelty-free and doesn't have any of the harmful chemicals you wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole (like formaldehyde).

Tenoverten The Foundation Strengthening Base Coat, $, available at The Detox Market

JINsoon HyperRepair


The ingredient list for nail artist's Jin Soon Choi's new base coat reads more like a fancy skin serum: A trio of AHAs refine the nail surface, while a potent cocktail of vitamins B5, C, and E help nourish and restore healthy nails damaged by gels.

JINsoon HyperRepair, $, available at JinSoon

Nails Inc. Nailkale Superfood Base Coat


This Nails Inc base coat — infused with keratin, aloe, vitamin E, and, of course, kale extract — is a $15 investment in hard, glossy nails for however long it takes you to drain the bottle. There's a reason the Sephora landing page has more than 150 glowing reviews.

Nails Inc. Nailkale Superfood Base Coat, $, available at Sephora

CND RESCUERXx


This professional nail treatment from CND uses the power of keratin proteins and moisturizing jojoba oil to magically lift those pesky white speckle bruises from your nails.

CND Rescue RXx, $, available at Ulta Beauty

Chanel La Base Protective And Smoothing


If you're loyal to Chanel's signature glossy Le Vernis polish formula, you'll want to invest in La Base — a nourishing serum that smooths and safeguards nails with a blend of vitamin E and Argan oil.

Chanel La Base Protective And Smoothing, $, available at Violet Grey

OPI Natural Nail Strengthener


If you want a strength aid that you can pick up at your local CVS, this $10 OPI clear polish will help you grow your nails long and strong in just a few weeks. Simply paint a single layer on clean, dry nails weekly — maybe while you're binging Too Hot To Handle.

OPI Natural Nail Strengthener, $, available at Ulta Beauty

Dior Nail Glow Nail Enhancer


Think of this sheer pink Dior polish like a Lip Glow for your hands. Brush a light coat on bare nails, and watch as your pinks go pinker and whites go whiter for a your-nails-but-better effect.

Dior Nail Glow Nail Enhancer, $, available at Nordstrom

Orly Bonder


If you're looking to give your nails a detox following a long string of gel manicures, this Orly Bonder acts as an invisible first coat of protection; it strengthens brittle nails while extending the lifespan of your at-home manis.

Orly Bonder, $, available at Ulta Beauty

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