A nail hardener is a treatment to quickly harden your nail plates whilst a nail strengthener is used to nourish your nails in the long term to promote stronger and healthier natural nails.
But the term nail strengthener and nail hardener are commonly used interchangeably. This is because some products can do both nourish your nails and make them rigid quickly.
Which One Should You Use
A Nail Strengthener should be used by everyone who has nails that are peeling, weak, and brittle.
They are especially useful if you constantly use acrylic nails and other harsh nail products such as gel polishes and dip powders that weaken your nails over time. Citation.
I would recommend using a nail hardener if you are trying to grow your nails out but you are struggling to do so because they have a tendency to chip and break easily.
Nail Hardeners allow your natural nails to grow longer without breaking easily. They do so by reinforcing your natural nails.
Formalin or Formaldehyde-based nail hardeners make your nails super rigid which is why it is one of the most widely used ingredients in nail hardeners.
But over time when used excessively and consistently, they have a tendency to make your nails brittle and weak.
Now you can use products that use formaldehyde but I won’t advocate using them too often.
You should only use it to temporarily make your nails tougher which allows them to grow out. And use it in conjunction with a nourishing nail strengthener to promote stronger nails
Also, formaldehyde in large amounts has been shown to have adverse health effects. Citation.
How Do They Work
1- Nail Strengtheners are generally similar to clear base coats. Except they contain nutrients such as Keratin, Vitamin E, and Biotins that are absorbed into your nails to promote healthier and stronger nails.
2- Nail Hardeners work to quickly make your nails rigid. Their are different types of hardeners such as:
Cross-linking Hardeners: they work by binding the Keratin protein in your nails more tightly making your nail plates harder and less flexible.
Reinforcement Hardeners: they are very similar to base coats, they work by forming a protective coat over your nails making them feel more rigid.
Cross-Linking Hardeners are generally more effective and popular than reinforcement-based ones. You can recognize cross-linking hardeners by looking at the ingredients
What Ingredients Do They Use
Nail Strengtheners usually use the same ingredients as a base coat such as nitrocellulose except they contain large amounts of nutrients and vitamins to promote stronger and healthier nails.
Cross-Linking Nail Hardeners contain ingredients such as formaldehyde resin, epoxy resin, calcium, hydrolyzed keratin. These ingredients focus on binding the keratin in your nails to make them more rigid.
But most products today tend to contain a bit of both ingredients. This is because you tend to get the best results when a hardener and a strengthener are used in conjunction with each other.
So most products will have a hardening agent and nourishing agents.
Example of a Nail Hardener and a Nail Strengthener
A great nail strengthener that focuses entirely on nourishing your nails is Sally Hansen Miracle Nails Nailgrowth. It is super rich in vitamins and other nutrients such as Keratin to strengthen your nails.
It easy to use just apply to your nails like regular nail polish and let it dry for two minutes. Miracle Nail Growth can also be applied over your nail polish.
For a basic nail hardener, you can use Mavala Nail Hardener. It primarily focuses on binding the keratin fibers in your nail plates. And it doesn’t contain any formaldehyde.
Mavala is also applied just like regular nail polish but it must be applied to your bare nail so you will need to remove any polish or products on your nails before applying. You also need to avoid getting it on your cuticles.
Try to use it twice a weak to allow your nails to grow out without breaking.
For stronger nails, you need to have well-nourished cuticles this is because your nails are made in the cuticles.
And because of this, I recommend using a cuticle oil every day to keep your cuticles moisturized and healthy.
You can click here to read my guide on how to select a good cuticle oil pen for your needs.
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