I am a reformed nail biter, have a lot of health conditions and take various medications which means my nails are naturally very thin, weak and often peel. Without a nail hardener, my nails won’t grow past the tip of my finger as they break straight away. I have tried hardeners from many brands (including many before I became cruelty free) like OPI Nail Envy (both the original and sensitive and peeling formulas), Essie, Duri Rejuvacote (1 and 2), Revitanail and Sally Hansen. The vast majority didn’t help my nails at all, and many made them worse. There was only one that I saw any improvement with but it contained formaldehyde, and that is an ingredient I really don’t want to use. I gave up on using hardeners for a while as I hadn’t found the right one, but a good cuticle oil can only do some much for very weak nails. I had heard great things about the Pretty Serious nail hardeners, so I bought them, but I must admit I wasn’t expecting much because of my previous hardener experience, I was however pleasantly surprised with the results.
The Pretty Serious Rock On! Nail Strengthener helps to ‘revitalise weak, peeling and break prone nails’. This hardener will not make your nails brittle as the formula strengthens without hardening to allow for flexibility and therefore less breakage. Many formaldehyde based hardeners will make nails brittle if you use them too often, and I have also found that they create a stronger c-curve which then changes the smile line on my nail too – you won’t have these problems with the Pretty Serious hardeners. Rock On is the better known of the Pretty Serious hardeners and has many fans. This hardener certainly works, I noticed a difference in the strength of my nails within a few weeks of use. The one problem I have with Rock On is that it can exacerbate my peelies if I leave it on for 2 or more days. I have spoken to lots of other people who use this hardener and I am the only one with this problem, so it must be unique to my nail chemistry. I avoid this problem by taking the hardener off and reapplying it every day or by using a coat of Harden Up on top of Rock On. When I use it like that, my nail peeling is reduced and my nails are much stronger.
The Pretty Serious Harden Up Nail Strengthener ‘helps thin and overly flexible nails find their inner strength’. Harden Up is my favourite nail strengthener, I have gone through so many bottles of this. Harden Up has a slight yellow-ish tint to it when in the bottle but it is completely clear when on the nails. Once dry, Harden Up gives my nails an instant protection that Rock On doesn’t. I think it must be the Harden Up dries harder than Rock On but I’m not entirely sure, I just know that my nails are less likely to break with a coat of Harden Up on them. I notice the my nails do feel stronger after using Harden Up for a few weeks continuously and I can maintain them by only needing to use Harden Up once a week – I usually use it twice a week though as I take it off whenever I do a new manicure.
Pretty Serious have kindly sent me a list of ingredients in each hardener, I don’t know a lot about ingredients, other than what to avoid, but I am including them for those who are interested (I would have paid more attention in chemistry if I knew I could use it for cosmetics in future).
Rock On ingredients:
Butyl Acetate, Ethyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose, Adipic Acid / Neopentyl Glycol / Trimellitic Anhydride Copolymer, Acetyl Tributyl Citrate, Isopropyl Alcohol, Benzophenone-3, Alumina, Trimethylpentanediyl Dibenzoate, Hexanal, Polyvinyl Butyral, Silica, N-Butyl Alcohol, Barium Sulphate, Diamond Powder, Titanium Dioxide, D&C Violet #2.
Harden Up ingredients:
Ethyl Acetate, Butyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose, Adipic Acid / Neopentyl Glycol / Trimellitic Anhydride Copolymer, Acetyl Tributyl Citrate, Isopropyl Alcohol, Styrene Acrylates Copolymer, Stearalkonium Bentonite, N-Butyl Alcohol, Acrylates Copolymer, Benzophenone-3, Polyvinyl Butyral, Trimethyl Pentanediyl Dibenzoate, Silica, Phosporic Acid.
Many people use these hardeners as a base coat in a typical manicure, but I don’t. I use one of the hardeners (or both) and then use the Pretty Serious All Your Base Ridge Filling Base Coat before I apply any colour to my nails, to ensure I have extra protection against staining. I do frequently wear the hardeners by themselves as I love the look of healthy natural nails. The majority of the time, you will find my nails just wearing one coat of Rock On with one coat of Harden Up on top. They just look like naked nails, but with a shiny finish. I do some extra things to try and stop my nails breaking like using a good quality cuticle oil and ensuring I always have something on my nails (usually one of these hardeners) whenever I shower or expose my nails to water for a long period of time.
My nails aren’t looking their best right now, but I wanted to include photos of them looking average so that you can see that I still get some length even when my health has badly affected them. You will see that my smile lines are all over the place and not well defined which can make my nails look dirty even though they’re clean, but that is such a huge improvement on what I used to have. My nails don’t grow long enough to even have a smile line without these Pretty Serious nail hardeners, so I highly recommend you try them. The peeling problem with Rock On seems to be isolated to just my nails, as Rock On helps a lot of other people with their nail peeling. I do however prefer Harden Up as I love having that little bit of extra strength and protection that it gives when it dries down. The majority of the time, you will find me wearing both of them as they work really well together. Both hardeners come in a normal 11ml nail polish bottle, so you just apply it like you would any nail polish. They won’t break the bank as Rock On is $10.95 and Harden Up is $9.95. Will you be trying them in the future?
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