Confession: I did a bad thing. I peeled my gel manicure off. Instead of letting a professional secure acetone-soaked cotton balls to my fingers with aluminum foil to gently loosen the polish, I manically picked and peeled until my once-beautiful mani lay scattered in tiny piles all over my coffee table. Sigh.
I’m not proud of my actions. As someone who’s consistently worn gel for the better part of the last five years, I know better than anyone that I’ve broken the cardinal rule. Peeling off the firm lacquer in this way also takes off the top layer of your actual fingernails, so giving in to the urge can leave them flaky, flimsy, ridged, breaking—all the things you do not want nails to be and all the things that keep those babies from reaching their full-length potential. So now, in an attempt to nurture my nails back to health, I’m officially on a break from my beloved gel manicures. Honestly, my nails are so much happier for it.
I used to justify my gel habit by pointing out that the solidified polish made my nails stronger and able to grow longer than if they were bare, but now I’m switching gears to focus on adding topical nutrients, hardeners, and moisturizers to my regimen to achieve those same results. Whether you’re recovering from a gel-related mishap or just taking your nail-growth journey to the next level, there are some excellent buys on the market to help with every woe standing between you and the long, glorious nails of your dreams. Ahead, 13 growth-inducing products that will help you get here.
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated.