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5 Healthy Nail Polishes

Where Fashion Meets Function

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It’s become a must-wear accessory, but nail polish has an actual purpose. “It serves as a glue-like material to hold the delicate nail cells together and thus can be viewed as a nail strengthener,” says Dana Stern, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist who specializes in nails. But latest lacquers claim to go one step further, containing vitamins, proteins, and other nail-friendly ingredients to hydrate, protect, and even promote stronger, longer nails. So do they contain enough to really transform your digits? "That’s the key question,” says Stern. “Anyone can put a few drops of an ingredient into a formula, but it may be doing absolutely nothing,” she says. Since the FDA doesn’t regulate nail polishes, rigorous clinical testing isn’t required, Stern says. “Sometimes you just have to try the product and see.” Here, five that seem like they’re worth a swipe.

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Anti-Aging Formula

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Dermelect Cosmeceuticals ‘ME’ Peptide-Infused Nail Lacquers ($14;, contains a peptide called ProSina to strengthen weak, brittle nails. “Given that peptides are being successfully incorporated into skincare, this ingredient holds great promise for nails,” says Stern.  

A Healing Hand

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For cracked, peeling nails, LondonTown Lakur: Enhanced Colour ($22;, contains hydrating evening primrose and rapeseed flower oils, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial chamomile, and a host of nail nourishing vitamins including A, E, and B7.

Cool Coating

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Julep Color Treat Nail Color ($14;, includes an oxygen technology similar to that of a contact lens to create an invisible, flexible, water-resistant film over the nail. While she can’t speak to this particular technology, Stern says exposure to water can lead to brittle nails. “A protective barrier as described would prevent this phenomenon,” she says.


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Dr.’s Remedy Enriched Nail Care ($17;, was created by two podiatric surgeons to address discolored, brittle nails. The formula contains moisture-binding wheat protein, antioxidant-rich garlic bulb extract, and anti-septic, anti-fungal tea tree oil.

Marine Mani

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Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure ($8;, includes tiny, encapsulated spheres that contain sea minerals, pearl protein, and marine kelp. “Pearl proteins may be beneficial, as we know that the nail is composed of protein,” says Stern. “Kelp contains a rich array of minerals and antioxidants, and has significant moisturizing capability.”


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