Lab Rat: Can a Top Coat Strengthen Nails?

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Photo: Kent Rogowski/Courtesy of Powder Pink

On the list of beauty concerns, the strength of my nails ranks way, way down in importance — probably somewhere above the hair quality of cilia, but below earwax.  So when Perfect Formula's Gel Coat Color — a gel-like top coat, touted as a "Suit of Armor" for nails — crossed my desk, I was dubious. Was Perfect Formula really the perfect formula? Cue suspenseful music.

The formula contains hydrolyzed keratin, which is a fancy way of saying that Perfect Formula is protein-rich, keratin being the structural protein that makes up your nails. Even for the non-ambidextrous, the top coat was easy to apply, and it dried very quickly (in about two minutes). Once dry, my nails had a gel-like resiliency and hardness. The pale pink color actually brought out the whites of my bare nails, with a slight tint; it brightened my nails, and with additional coats, looked like a ringer for Essie's classic pink, Mademoiselle. My nails have never been so ladylike and polished.

As to whether my nails were actually stronger, I'm not sure. They certainly weren't weaker. I did bend a nail the wrong way and it didn't snap or break. But perhaps the most impressive sign of success: When I went to a nail salon and they removed Perfect Formula, my nails didn't have those overly dry white spots that they normally have to buff out.