Nail Hardener vs Nail Strengthener

Its good that you have realized the importance of taking good care of your nails. The list of products and solutions you can use for this process are immense. This guide takes a look at the nail hardener vs nail strengthener debate, which features various unique details.

Best Nail Hardener and Strengthener on Amazon

Before we get started, take a look at some of these honoroable mentions from Amazon:

  1. Hard As Hoof Nail Strengthening Cream
  2. OPI Nail Envy, Nail Strengthener, Nail Treatment,
  3. Sally Hansen Advanced Hard as Nails, Nude, 0.45 Fluid Ounce
  4. Nail Tek Intensive Therapy 2
  5. Sally Hansen Mega Strength

Nail Hardener  vs Nail Strengthener – From a Glance

Should I use nail strengthener or hardener?
Source: Dreamstime

A nail hardener is a product people use to improve the strength of weak nails. A nail strengthener is a product people use to make nails more resistant to damage over time. 

Nail hardeners also contain products like formaldehyde. 

However, nail strengtheners contain polymers, and other ingredients. This help to form a protective layer over the nail for improved longevity.

Nail Strengthener 

Is nail hardener good for your nails?
Source: Dreamstime

Nail strengthener is a product you can use to improve the nails’ health and strength. It’s possible to use it for both artificial and natural nails. 

It is also available in the form of a clear liquid or gel. Users apply these products on nail beds and nail plates. 

Plus, they usually contain large amounts of nutrients, which brands include for improved nail health. These include ingredients like minerals, vitamins, and proteins. Nail strengtheners also provide various nail health benefits. 

These include durability against issues like flaking, peeling, and splitting. One way the strengtheners work is that they create a protective nail barrier. Doing this ensures they can lock in the moisture, which helps stop issues like breaking. 

Strengtheners also work well on dry nails and should sit on them for a few minutes before requiring cleaning. You will also find different forms of nail strengthener products. These include the cream, gel, and liquid types. 

Some brands also incorporate their products with antimicrobial ingredients for improved hygiene. However, using excessive nail strengthener amounts can cause nail damage.

Nail Hardener

What is the best thing to strengthen nails?
Source: SierraClub

Nail strengthener refers to a product that helps improve the structure of weak nails. It functions by setting a protection layer on the nails. The role of this layer is to stop breaking or splitting issues.

Usually, nail strengtheners are available in various forms. These include polishes, oils, and creams. Plus, they usually contain ingredients like creatin and biotin, which helps improve the nail’s structure.

Even though its possible to use nail strengtheners solely, it’s better to use them alongside other products and procedures. These include procedures like filing and products like nail moisturizers. Many people also like using nail hardeners as top or base coats.

Recommended Products: 

  1. Nail Gel Glue x Nail Tips Kit
  2. Cuccio Naturale Revitalizing Cuticle Oil 

The ideal nail strengthener will also encourage optimal nail growth and minimize issues like splitting. It can also reduce any likelihood of discoloration and makes the nails look rejuvenated.

We recommend using nail strengtheners twice a day for the best results. 

Similarities and Differences

Here is what you need to know:


There are various similarities between nail hardeners and nail strengthners, including:

  1. Both products are important for improving the longevity of nails.
  2. Both are also suitable for use on the nail surface.
  3. Both products also work well as top coats.
  4. Both contain ingredients that provide excellent nail penetration levels.
  5. Both products aim at stopping future damage to the nail. 
  6. Both products work well to stop nail-splitting complications.


Here are the main differences between nail hardeners and nail strengtheners:

  1. A nail strengthener helps provide a protective layer on the top nail section. However, a nail hardener has ingredients that strengthen the nail structure itself.
  2. Nail strengtheners help stop issues like peeling, chipping, and splitting. However, nail hardeners are ideal for addressing issues like softness.
  3. Nail strengthener includes ingredients like proteins and vitamins. Nail hardener features ingredients toluene and formaldehyde to improve the nail’s structure.
  4. Nail strengtheners help improve the appeal and gloss of your nails. However, hardeners encourage nail strength and growth.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Should I Use Nail Strengthener or Hardener?

Yes, you can use both nail strengtheners and hardeners. The specific option you settle for depends on your preferences and the expected results. However, you should also take breaks from using these products.

Is Nail Hardener Good for Your Nails?

Yes, nail hardeners work well for the nails. You only have to use it correctly and avoid excessive use of other chemicals like acetone. Doing this can cause gradual damage to the structure of the nail.

What Is the Best Thing to Strengthen Nails?

Using the correct nail care methods is the best way to strengthen your nails. That is because it taking good care of your nails for strength involves various techniques. These include well-timed breaks and products like strengtheners.

What Can I Use Instead of Nail Hardener?

You can use a homemade nail strengthener recipe instead of a nail hardener. The ingredients for this process include olive oil, garlic, and some lemon. Mix the ingredients with salt, and soak your gingers inside for a few minutes. Then, dab some coconut oil over your nails.

Do You Apply Nail Hardener Everyday?

No, you don’t have to apply nail hardener every day. While its product helps improve nail structure, you must take breaks from using them.

What Is the Best Nail Hardener for Weak Nails?

The best nail hardener for weak nails depends on your preferences and the popular brands. Two recommendations include the Orly Nail Defense Nail Strengthener and the Barielle Nail Strengthener Cream.

How Many Coats of Nail Hardener Do I Need?

We recommend you use at least two coats of nail strengthener. First, clean your nails with some acetone, then let them sit for a few minutes. Then apply the coat of nail hardener over your nails.

Can I Use Hard as Nails Strengthener as a Top Coat?

Yes, it’s possible to use Hard as Nails Strengthener as a top coat. You just need to apply a single coat of your nails and then the seal to cover its surface. Ensure you also condition your nails using cuticle oils after removing the hardener.

Does Nail Strengthener Go on First?

Yes, it’s possible to use a nail strengthener first. Doing this helps ensure it can provide the best hardening results on your nail surface. It’s also recommended you let your nails sit undisturbed for a few minutes after application.

So, there we have it – the nail hardener vs. nail strengthener argument is complete!

Nail hardeners are short-term treatments focused on hardening the nail plates. However, nail strengthener helps nourish the nails and makes them stronger. Regardless, both products are excellent but require care for the best results!

Katharyn Riedel

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