You’ve likely thought extensively about your bridal hair and makeup, but there’s another part of your wedding beauty look that requires some planning and prep—your nails. And we’re not just talking about what color you’re going to pick for your mani and pedi; ensuring your nails are strong and healthy is also paramount. The easiest way to get them into tip-top shape? Work a nail growth treatment or serum into your routine. “These are such an easy way to prep your nails ahead of the big day,” says celebrity nail artist Sonya Meesh. “Growth treatments help strengthen and hydrate nails, which is key for having healthy nails,” they explain. And that’s important no matter whether you’re painting your nails regularly or not; growth treatments ensure that nails look beautiful without polish, but also that polish goes on smoothly and lasts as long as possible without chipping, Meesh points out.
As with your skincare prep, don’t expect these to work overnight. While it depends on the particular product, Meesh says you’ll want to plan on starting to use a nail growth treatment at least a month out, but ideally four to six months before your wedding. The good news is there’s no shortage of different types of nail growth treatments and serums out there, all of which can be used in many different wants, making it easy to work one into your routine no matter whether you always have bare nails or an acrylic devotee.
Here, the best nail growth treatments and serums for brides.
Dermelect Launchpad Nail Strengthener
Meesh is a fan of this brand, dedicated to nail health; this treatment is proof positive of said dedication. It’s a choice all-around option, effective for a variety of nail issues including softness, weakness, brittleness, thinning, chipping, breakage, and more. Credit the addition of a strengthening peptide as well a biotin. Also nice: It can be used solo, but also works well as a base coat if you want to apply polish afterwards.
Price at time of publish: $18
Orly Nail Defense Protein-Enriched Strengthener
Meesh also likes this affordable option, lauding it both for being super effective and very easy to use. Plant-based proteins help to strengthen nails and ward off peeling and breakage; it too can be used either as a stand-alone treatment or in lieu of a base coat under polish.
Price at time of publish: $9
Best for Ridges
Londontown Kur Fortifying Ridge Filler
Ridges in your nails can be caused by anything from aging to vitamin deficiencies to mechanical trauma to your nail. But no matter what the cause, they can be unsightly, not to mention make it super challenging to score a smooth polish application. Enter this nail primer, which helps to fill in ridges, creating a perfectly even surface on the nail.
Price at time of publish: $20
Best for Peeling
Nail Tek Intensive Therapy 2 Nail Strengthener
Soft, weak nails can often start to peel—leaving them even weaker. That’s where this treatment comes in, with a protein-based formula that helps seal the layers of the nail together. It’s a great pick for those who polish their nails regularly, as it’s meant to be used as both a base and top coat under color.
Price at time of publish: $10
ISDIN SI-NAILS Nail Strengthener
This pick is pricey but worth every penny. It helps to hydrate and bolster nail growth and strength and works on both nails and cuticles. Plus, the pen-like bottle with a brush-tip applicator makes it incredibly easy to swipe on easily anytime, anywhere. “I personally use this whenever I don't have any polish on. I keep it in my bathroom and brush it on my nails after I brush my teeth during my morning and nightly routine,” says Meesh.
Price at time of publish: $32
OPI Repair Mode Bond Building Nail Serum
You may have heard about bond building in haircare, but this newbie relies on a similar principle for your nails. The formula mimics the natural keratin found in nails and penetrates deep below to surface to recreate the protein bonds that keep nails strong, long, and healthy. What we like best is that there’s no shortage of ways to use it. It works great when layered underneath the brand’s Nail Envy treatment, though can also be used on its own. You can even apply it as a prep step in between gel or acrylic manicures to still reap some of the benefits.
Price at time of publish: $25
Best with Color
Essie Treat Love & Color Nail Polish
Want to bolster your nails while still sporting a fresh mani at the same time? This multi-tasking formula allows you to do exactly that. There are over 15 shades to choose from, all in a breathable, collagen-infused formula that helps to combat peeling and breakage. It’s a great time-saver too, since you just swipe this straight onto nails, no base or top coat needed.
Price at time of publish: $7
Best Base/Top Coat
Duri Rejuvacote 1 Original Maximum Strength Nail Growth System
Here’s another two-in-one option…or, technically, three-in-one. The treatment both strengthens nails and promotes healthy growth, relying on a mix of soy protein, wheat protein, and calcium. You can use it alone, or as a base coat under polish, and/or as a top coat. Either way, it dries extremely quickly in our experience, always a good thing.
Price at time of publish: $14
Best for a Quick Fix
Manucurist Active Glow
“This is a great treatment for those that want an immediate pick-me-up,” says Meesh, who adds that it’s a vegan dupe for a much pricier, designer product. In the long-term, it helps to hydrate and nourish nails, keeping them strong and flexible. But in the short-term, it leaves them with a gorgeous and healthy-looking rosy glow, a major boon if they’re a little beat up after acrylic or gel removal. In short, you get both a quick fix and a long-term solution—what more could you ask for?
Price at time of publish: $16
Sally Hansen Nail Growth Miracle Treatment
There’s no shortage of good-for-your nails ingredients in this treatment; think everything from keratin to collagen to vitamins. The end result is a formula that can leave nails up to 30 percent longer in just five days—color us impressed. And you don’t even have to apply it daily; it works when you swipe on a thin coat every other day.
Price at time of publish: $9
Barielle Nail Strengthener Cream
For those who prefer a nail treatment that isn’t polish like, this cream is the perfect alternative. It boasts a lot of the same ingredients as in other treatments—keratin, biotin, vitamin E—but in an easy-to-apply cream that you simply rub into your nails and cuticles anytime, anywhere. Don’t forget to use it on toenails, too, and don’t worry, it works even if you’re wearing polish.
Price at time of publish: $15
What to Look For in a Nail Growth Treatment
Consider your particular nail issue
Rather than just picking a product at random, Meesh suggests honing in on what your particular nail issues are. “Think about exactly what your needs are. Are your nails brittle? Flaking? Bendy? Rigid? Each symptom, or a combination of, will call for a different treatment,” they explain. While some treatments do address many different things, like our best overall pick, the Dermelect Launchpad Nail Strengthener, many are more targeted. For example, the winning Nail Tek Intensive Therapy 2 is especially geared towards peeling.
Again, exactly what type of ingredients you should seek out is largely dependent on the particular issue you’re trying to combat. Still, there are some nutrient-rich ones that are good to look for in nail growth treatments across the board, says Meesh. These include vitamins (such as biotin, a B vitamin), proteins (such as keratin and collagen), calcium, and peptides.
Most nail growth treatments look like nail polish and are meant to be applied as such—swiped onto the nail and then left to dry. But that’s not the only option. The winning Isdin Si-Nails Fast-Absorbing Hydrating Nail Serum Strengthener comes in a pen-like tube with a built-in brush; the winning Barielle Nail Strengthener Cream is meant to be used just as you would a regular hand cream.
What helps nails grow faster?
There’s not necessarily a miracle solution, and keep in mind that even if you’re using a nail growth treatment, it will take some time to see results, says Meesh. The stronger and more pliable your nails are, the less likely they are to break as they grow out. To that point…
What makes nails stronger?
Ideally, you’ll want to impart protein back into the nail, which is why ingredients such as keratin, peptides, and collagen are popular in many nail treatments. Some research also indicates that taking an oral biotin supplement may help make nails thicker, although this is something you’ll definitely want to talk to your doctor about before starting.
What causes nail breakage?
A whole laundry list of causes may be to blame. Everything from genetics to age can play a role, but so can certain grooming and nail habits, such as improperly removing (picking off) a gel manicure, says Meesh. Continued use of acrylic nails can also be damaging to the nails and ultimately contribute to breakage.
Meet the Expert
Sonya Meesh is a celebrity nail artist. They’ve worked with a variety of celebrity clients including Natasha Lyonne and Shania Twain.
Why Trust Brides
Brides contributor Melanie Rud has nearly 15 years of journalism experience covering the beauty and lifestyle space for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She’s also a recent newlywed.