Common Nail Myths–Debunked!
By Jan Nordstrom-Arnold, Co-Founder, CND
Contributing consultant: Doug Schoon, Schoon Scientific & Regulatory Consulting
There are many untruths about nails and nail care that have permeated our industry. To help uncover the facts, we’ll debunk the fables and unravel the mystery behind some of the most popular nail myths.
Let's start with the nail unit.
- "Nails need to breathe."
- "White spots in the nail are a sign of calcium deficiency."
- "Chemicals are damaging to the nail plate."
- “Biotin, vitamins, and gelatin make nails stronger and grow longer.”
The nail plate is made up of dead layers of hardened keratin held together by proteins and physical interconnections between the cells called desmosomes. Desmosomes are like tiny rivets that hold nail cells together.
New nail cells grow in the nail matrix. These cells are pushed up by newly forming cells below and eventually are pushed out beyond the eponychium. As they travel, they flatten and become interconnected with other cells in the nail plate.
The nail plate is designed to protect the living nail bed tissue beneath it.
Debunking the Myths:
Nails need to breathe.
False. Nails are dead; they don't breathe and do not need a “break” from protective coatings. Wearing a coating on the natural nail is recommended to add toughness and protection from daily wear and tear.
White spots inside the natural nail are a sign of calcium deficiency.
False. White spots inside the nail plate are nail cells, and not a sign of any type of deficiency. These spots are formed by large groups of nail cells that remained round and white because they never fully matured. Rather than flatten, become translucent and join with the nail plate, these cells remain immature. This is usually caused by mild damage to the matrix area. The natural nail is dead keratin and does not contain or benefit from calcium.
Chemicals are damaging to the nail plate.
False. Most nail damage is caused by mechanical force, such as aggressive filing that reduces the nail’s thickness by stripping away layers of nail plate with a file, buffer, or electric drill. The same can happen by picking, prying, or scraping off polish or any other type of coating from the natural nail plate.
It's important to practice proper nail preparation, gentle filing techniques, proper coating removal, and thorough home-care instruction to ensure the client’s natural nails are protected and their integrity preserved.
Biotin, vitamins, and gelatin make nails stronger and grow longer.
False. Nothing you ingest is scientifically proven to accelerate nail growth. Your nail matrix, hormones, and genetics determine the make-up and rate of growth of your nail plate. Also, personal fitness and good nutrition allow your body to function at its best. This includes good circulation and the production of natural oils and moisture to keep your nails tough and resilient.
Now let's look at chemicals we use.
- "Chemicals are bad."
- "Acetone is bad."
- "Acrylics and gels damage your nails."
Everything we see or touch is a chemical, except light and electricity. Water is our most widely used chemical. It is the essence of life, but if you don’t know how to swim, it could kill you!
Chemicals don’t harm the nail plate–mechanical force does. Chemicals, when used safely, can be highly beneficial to the nail.
Debunking the Myths:
Chemicals are bad.
False. An educated nail professional understands the responsibility of working safely with chemicals. Proper preparation of the nail, correct use of all chemicals (including nail polish, UV gels, and liquid & powder) and proactive home-care recommendations will help assure safety.
Acetone is bad.
False. Acetone is the most used chemical in nail products, and it is safe when used correctly. It is also very effective in removing nail polish, UV gel polish, and most nail coatings. Acetone is a great solvent because it cuts through coatings quickly and evaporates rapidly. Non-acetone removers take more time, do not thoroughly remove residual coatings or pigments, and often leave an undesirable residue. Acetone has a temporary drying effect on the tissue around the nail, which is replenished with the skin’s natural moisture, so it’s important to have clients regularly apply lightweight, penetrating oils to seal in moisture and condition nails and skin.
Acrylics and gels damage your nails.
False. Remember, the nail plate is a hard, durable surface and coatings help maintain beautiful, healthy nails. Polish and gel polish can offer light protection for nicely shaped “blessed” nails. UV gels can lend important strength for “challenged” thin, weak nails. And, monomer/polymer systems and UV gels can transform “cursed” ski-jump, bitten, or problem nails. Recommend these services to provide protection at every level and learn the correct protocols to assure safe application and wear.
No doubt you’ve read or heard about many of these industry myths. We can help debunk common nail myths with facts, education, and professionalism. Knowledge is power and it’s vital that professionals stay updated on technical information, commit to ongoing education, and practice safe servicing.
Leave the fables to books and movies–share your professional nail knowledge and earn the trust of every client!