Monday, July 14, 2008

Do Nails Breathe?

Way back when, I decided to get fake nails. I love the way manicured nails (short, long ones) look, so I got them done last year ...you can read about it here if you want. After having them for a couple of weeks, I happened to be talking to an executive in the nail industry who described the nail bed and the nail's breathing. She went on about the need for less toxic materials being used on the nails. I went to the nail salon to take them off a few days later, fearing that I was suffocating my hands! Eeek. Back then, it didn't make sense to me and it still doesn't, although now I found a nail professional that shares my opinion but backs it up with facts, which I think are interesting.

As much as I'd like to get the nails and have pretty hands again, my work just does not support the beauty of it all. I bust open big pails of butters and oils, am formulating sugar scrubs, cream, shea butters. I wear UN-latex surgical gloves when I need to mix with my hands and I am constantly getting into the dirt when I plant in my garden, so having nails makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for my lifestyle, but one day perhaps I will be less hands on in scrubs and dirt. :) Maybe.

Penny is the nail professional I speak of and she writes Sugarlicious blog and Zularis Naturals Natural Nail Care blog and if you are into nails and nail care, you should definitely read some of her posts.

She has given me permission to reprint her post on the topic of nail breathing. Thank you, Penny.

Busting Nail Myths - Do Nails Breathe?


I was talking with someone the other day about nail enhancements....AKA artificial nails. Seems they were having their enhancements removed to allow their nails some time to "breathe". Oh my....I could almost feel my head about to spin as I encountered what must be the number 1 nail myth around. It's bad enough when the regular person on the street thinks their nails are breathing. It's even worse when a nail tech thinks the same thing and passes along incorrect information to their customers.

The truth is your nails DO NOT BREATHE! EVER!!!! The only breathing taking place in your body happens in the lungs. Your nails are made up of keratin...a fibrous protein. This is the same stuff that your hair is made of....and your hair doesn't breathe either. Once the nail grows from the matrix (the part of your finger that the nail grows out of) it is basically dead. It does not feel, has no blood supply, etc. Which is why you can trim your nails as well as hair without feeling pain.

Because your nails do NOT breathe there is no logical reason for removing all your nail enhancements to give your nails a rest. The enhancement covers the dead portion of the nail so your nail will continue to grow out. At times, whatever material your enhancement is made of, may begin to age or breakdown after being exposed to various chemicals, etc. When this occurs the material covering the nail can become brittle, begin to discolor or even crack/flake off. Some people keep their nails too long and the constant banging on the nail can also cause problems with the enhancement. This is why it is important to regularly maintain your nails once enhancements have been applied. If a problem is caught early then your tech can re-balance the material rather then soak off the entire enhancement.

As a side note: people sometimes also refer to their skin breathing as well. Actually what they are talking about is the fact that the body controls it's internal temperature through perspiration. If you didn't sweat then your internal temp would rise and damage your organs. Nails do not sweat either....but that's another popular nail myth to be tackled in another post.

6 comments:

Anne-Marie said...

As someone who has pretty consistently well manicured nails, despite all the gunk-playing!, this post made me very happy to read. I've always wondered what I was leaching into my body with my (vain?) nailcare habits. =)

Carrie ~ Gigi said...

Very good info~ after all these years I thought nails DID breathe. Go figure!

Anonymous said...

That is true, Nails do not breathe. They grow from the matrix bed which is where the natural nail is formed. The matrix contains nerves, lymph, and blood vessels to nourish the matrix cells. The matrix will continue to create new nail cells as long as it is nourished and is kept in healthy condition.

Hope this information helps! :)

Anonymous said...

the only reason why i thought the nail breathe is, why does it always turn yellow after wearing cutex for a while????

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! Finally some truth. Thanks for clearing it up.

Anonymous said...

Very good blog as a recently qualified tech I agree but I do think perhaps think it is advisable to soak any enhancements off from time to time just to check that there is nothing happening under them as you may not be able to see any infections that could be occuring or is this yet another nail myth would be interesting to know