Can OPI’s repair formulas strengthen our nails in just a week?

The treatments incorporate patented technology for healthier nails

Helen Wilson-Beevers
Wednesday 25 October 2023 13:05 BST
We used the serum twice a day, to see if our nails felt less prone to breakage
We used the serum twice a day, to see if our nails felt less prone to breakage (iStock/The Independent)

Looking after our hands and nails is a classic beauty ritual, whether you religiously apply creams and cuticle oils or are a stickler for booking a regular manicure. With current beauty looks serving up fun nail options galore, there are at-home gel kits, brightly coloured polish picks, nail stickers and more to explore.

For many of us, having well-presented nails offers a lift, so it’s important to take care of their condition in between coats of polish and salon appointments.

OPI is a leading name in the nailcare industry – it’s a brand loved for offering a vast array of polishes alongside its treatment products. So, we were excited to hear about OPI’s brand-new offering: repair mode. This bond-building nail serum incorporates a patented technology called ‘ulti-plex’, which is said to repair keratin (the protein nails are made of) bonds. As such, it should strengthen nails from within, meaning they are less prone to breakage.

Plus, the serum is billed as being a way to prevent nail damage caused by daily tasks such as washing up, and even claims to improve the look of ridges and discoloured patches. Our interest was piqued by this launch, so, we decided to try it for ourselves.

We also tried the brand’s cult nail envy varnish, which promises to protect against chipping, peeling and splitting, while enhancing your natural nail colour. Keep scrolling to see our full tried and tested reviews.

How we tested

Our nails felt slightly stronger to the touch after using the serum (Helen Wilson-Beevers)

We tested both OPI’s repair mode bond-building nail serum and nail envy formula for two weeks, applying them twice a day, as instructed. We looked at the products’ formulas, ease of use and packaging.

OPI repair mode serum review

OPI repair mode bond-building nail serum

OPI repair mode.jpg
  • Size: 9ml
  • Vegan-friendly: Yes

The nail treatment serum is presented in a sleek black bottle with green branding, and it’s lightweight to hold and use. There is a fine application brush attached to the internal lid, and we quickly found this offers mess-free precision. While swiping the brush across our nails, we noted a small amount of the runny liquid goes a long way, and it dries almost instantly.

The vegan-friendly formula looks shiny when first applied, before disappearing into the nail, and there’s no greasy residue either. Because of that, it took just a minute or two to coat our nails and for that layer of serum to have completely soaked in. So, following the instructions to apply it twice a day was easy, and we could do this even in a rush. Plus, the serum doesn’t have a strong smell, and we found the process of applying the serum satisfying.

We tend to stick to having short nails, as they can break or split with much length, so we were keen to see the results after a week’s continuous use. Right before testing, we removed gel polish, which can make our nails feel a bit weaker and slightly rough, so they were in need of some extra TLC.

After a couple of days’ use, we noted our nails seemed a bit stronger, while, a week later, we could feel they were less brittle. The results aren’t that noticeable at first glance, but we could detect an improvement when touching our nails.

A week in, and the surface appeared slightly smoother on closer inspection, too, which contributed to the overall condition.

After a fortnight of use, our previously damaged nails looked and felt far healthier. Because they were less brittle, our nails grew to a decent length without snapping.

We’re looking forward to seeing the longer-term impact, as we continue using this product. This is a quick and easy strengthening treatment for damaged, weak or brittle nails, and we’ve been impressed with the results so far.

  1. £29 from
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OPI nail envy pink to envy nail strengthener

opi .jpg
  • Size: 15ml
  • Vegan: Yes

Formulated with OPI’s tri-flex technology, the nail envy polish boasts a liquid shield that reinforces the nail with layer-building strength. Designed to protect against chipping, peeling and splitting, as well as giving a healthy sheen to your nails, the do-it-all formula promises big things – and it delivers.

The brand suggests applying two coats on first use and then one coat every day afterwards, and we found the polish glided smoothly onto our nails. The vegan formula is shiny and tinted, meaning our nails instantly looked enhanced, healthier and smoother. By the end of the week, the gradually built layer had prevented any breakage or brittleness.

If we apply a normal coat of varnish, we tend to see breakage and chipping within just a few days, while OPI’s tinted varnish only starts to chip after seven days. Upon removal of the polish, our au-natural nails were smoother, firmer and less brittle. Plus, the formula doubles up as a strengthening and protective layer underneath your favourite nail polish.

More than two months after regular use, our nails haven’t broken once and have a healthier sheen, even without a coat of OPI’s nail envy.

Available in 10 colours, you can choose a neutral finish that enhances your natural nails or a sheen such as red or midnight blue for a bolder look – all while benefitting from the strengthening formula.

  1. £17 from
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The verdict: OPI’s strengthening nail polishes

If you’re in need of a new nail treatment, OPI repair mode is presented in a luxe-looking bottle, dries fast and is satisfying to use. After a week’s testing time, our nails felt slightly stronger to the touch and smoother. Similarly, the brand’s nail envy formula strengthens and enhances nails, and comes in a range of colours. These reparative vegan-friendly serums will give brittle, weak or soft nails some strengthening TLC, so, we’d recommend giving them a try.

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