There are two ways in which nail hardeners work. One is by simply providing a protective coating, allowing the nail to grow strong and healthy. Wearing nail polish every day does this just as well as nail hardeners that work in this way. The other way, the most common way, is by penetrating the nail and chemically reacting with the proteins in the nail plate, creating more cross-links, and creating a tougher nail.
The most common ingredient of nail hardeners that work chemically is formaldehyde. Although it is toxic at high levels, the law permits low levels of less than .5% to be allowed in nail hardeners with no warning label. Hardeners with up to 3% are allowed, but must have a warning label on the bottle.
Formaldehyde works with the keratin in the nail. Keratin is the protein that makes up the nail plate. Formaldehyde reacts with the keratin and causes the strands, which are already cross linked together, to create more cross links, hardening the nail. Although more cross-links mean a harder nail, too many links cause nails to become dry and brittle. This is why nails become worse when formaldehyde is over used. The nail can even become so brittle that it will lift off from the nail bed completely. Because of this scientists are working to create new ingredients that work like formaldehyde, but do not cause excessive the cross-linking that leaded to brittle nails. A balance between the hardness of many cross-links and the flexibility of the natural nail is the perfect toughness desired in a nail.
Another popular ingredient in nail hardeners is gelatin. For generations women have relied on gelatin as a nail hardener. Some say it works best eaten, some say it works best applied to the nail. Scientists say it does not even help at all, but many hardeners still included it as an ingredient. Even if gelatin does not work at a chemical level like formaldehyde does, it does help protect the nail while it is growing, giving it a change to become healthy, and harden its self.
Many other popular ingredients of nail hardeners are not proven to help either. Wax, vitamin E, and unidentified “trace minerals” are such ingredients.
Calcium is another popular ingredient. It is said to help the nail build it’s self strong, but there is little proof of it.
The nails own natural protein, keratin, is also a common additive. Although one could say it builds more cross-links, applying it atop the nail does very little.
Some also say adding ingredients that stimulate help to stimulate growth in the nail, and helps it to grow stronger. Such ingredients include garlic extract, eucalyptus extract, and various other herbs.
There are many that say that the best nail hardeners are the nails themselves. Taking care of your nails and yourself is the best way to keep them strong and healthy. Getting a manicure every week, even from yourself, makes sure the edges stay smooth, preventing breaks, chips and splits. Applying lotion everyday helps to keep them moisturized, and dry nails break more easily.
Also, taking a vitamin, everyday, and staying hydrated ensures that your body has the things it need to keep it’s self, and nails, healthy, tough, and beautiful.Also