I’ve always had an issue with biting my nails. I say biting, but what I actually mean is that I have a history of inflicting such brutalities upon my fingertips that you would shudder to know of them. Biting, picking, ripping: I’ve done it all. The destruction is the result of a condition known as dermatillomania, a facet of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in which one is compelled to pick at one’s own skin. Yeah, it’s gruesome stuff. A little over a year ago, I made the decision to stop that behavior as it relates to my fingernails, though the fact that it is a mental condition meant that the behavior simply shifted elsewhere. When I finally ended the reign of terror inflicted upon my aching, bloody fingertips, I realized that I must have shocked my poor nails into weakness, because they were incredibly thin.
I started out with what I happened to have from the few times I’d managed to grow my nails out long enough to actually paint (i.e. I could see the white part). Because it was a familiar name, I went with Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails base coat in clear to strengthen my nails. I used it for a month or two and noticed very, very little difference. It was a little gluey and seemed to peel off with such ease that I couldn’t get away with wearing only the base coat for a day or two. Now, I know many swear by this stuff. That’s great; I’m thrilled if it works for you, because it’s cheap and easy to find. I went through a bottle of that out of a personal resistance to buying another bottle, and then a few other treatments too boring to even name. Eventually I went searching for a different little helper, and I walked out of Ulta one day with a bottle of Essie Grow Stronger Fortifying Treatment Base Coat (that’s a mouthful, right? I’m just calling it Grow Stronger from now on) and way too many colored polishes. I went with Essie because I trust their product, having become a convert after being turned on to Ballet Slippers, a pale sheer pink that at least three lady magazines swear by. Short story: I love Grow Stronger. It’s awesome. The only thing it won’t do is clean your house and take care of your pets. Now go get some. Here’s the longer story:
After three or so weeks, I noticed a huge difference in my nails. I was going to say it was a thick difference, but that didn’t make too much sense, and then I was going to say it was a huge, thick difference, but that just sounds filthy. Anyway, my nails were much thicker! And they were stronger, and remain stronger after a few months of use. Prior to using Grow Stronger, I could easily bend my fingernails, which is a little disconcerting and led to a constant fear that one would just pop right off. Now there isn’t any give at all, and I’m not worried about breaking one whenever I feed my Coke Zero addiction. I split one of my nails a few weeks ago, leading to a thin, weakened little claw that I had to file down to where the split ended in the hopes that it would grow back normally. There’s still a bit of a division, but it’s getting much better and isn’t nearly as thin.
The other thing I like about this base coat is that it’s really very pretty on its own. It can stand alone as a polish if necessary, which is rather helpful if, like me, you spend a good hour painting your nails and blowing them dry with your monster of a hair dryer. One thin coat will give you a clear, typical base coat, good for strengthening and creating an even base for your color. I know some people think that Grow Stronger is too pink, but I think they’re just being heavy-handed with it. If you apply a thick coat, you get a very pretty sheer pink that dries within a few minutes. The thin coat dries even more quickly, obviously. A word of caution, however: don’t let this stuff get too warm. Like most nail polishes, it turns gummy if left in a hot place for too long. I didn’t know that and had to replace a bottle. Apart from that, I think it’s pretty perfect.
(Note: I purchased this product with my own money. No products were given or gifted to me, and all reviews are 100% my own opinions.)