SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT YOUR NAILS...

NAIL ANATOMY

Over the years I have come across many clients that have been misinformed and lead on to the wrong path. It could be something someone said, or something someone read that stuck in their minds. Things like, Nails breathe, sweat and need rest from overlays, tips or extensions. Well let me set the record straight once and for all… IT’S ALL A MYTH!! Nails do NOT eat, breathe, sweat and they do NOT need regular rest from tips or overlays. They might need to rest after a torturing nail session, but other than that you are safe. That being said, please just bear in mind that I am only referring to the nail system and products that I am using. I usually inform my clients on how to maintain and care for their nails, but here I would like to give more insight about the nails function and structure, so let’s get started.

FROM THE MATRIX UP

Nails are just a layer of dead keratin and they provide a rigid backing to protect the delicate finger tip, which we use to grasp items and distinguish textures. Nails themselves allow us to pick up small items and scratch itchy skin. Nail growth begins in the matrix, which is the nails “heart”. The matrix is a bed where special skin cells form the nail plate and is situated under the proximal fold. Damage to the matrix can cause permanent deformity, and can even cause the nail to stop growing completely.

Nails are firmly implanted beneath the skin by the nail root. The root is implanted in a groove under the proximal nail fold just above the matrix. The nail root and matrix are protected by the proximal fold, which is the fold of skin at the base of the nail. Above the proximal nail fold, the white half moon at the base of the nail is the lunula, which is an extension of the matrix. Because the nail plate is still hardening as it grows over the lunula, it is soft and easily damaged.

The nail plate itself is composed of dead keratin. In the nail matrix, keratinocites are compacted and flattened as they push forward towards the nail plate. These flat compacted cells form the hard nail plate.

The nail bed is the pink skin that extends past the lunula. The nail bed is richly supplied with blood capillaries that oxygenate the nail bed and give it its healthy pink tone. The bed secures the nail plate. You can quickly check blood circulation by squeezing your nail bed.

The cuticle adheres the proximal nail fold to the nail plate at the base of the nail, and the nail plate to the nail bed at the nails free edge. The cuticle seals the nail bed and matrix from air and water. Without this protection, these two areas would create a warm, moist pocket for germs to grow.

Do nails breathe or sweat?

The nail plate is made of dead keratin and does not require oxygen. The nail bed, cuticle and matrix do however require oxygen because they are composed of live skin cells, but they are supplied by the numerous capillaries that feed the fingertips and nail bed with oxygen-rich blood.

Sweating is the body’s air conditioning system, cooling the body from the inside out. The nail bed however does not have sweat glands, so it can’t perspire. While the nails do contain allot of moisture, it does not build up under artificial nails. The moisture that causes problems under artificial nails is when the product lifts and moisture gets underneath. This is a common problem, because we all come in contact with water allot, some just more than others.

Vitamin and mineral supplements

Nails don’t eat, and they don’t need vitamins and minerals. Because nails are made of dead protein, they cannot be strengthened by vitamin or mineral supplements. While severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies can affect the nails, most people are rarely affected by genuine vitamin deficiency. On the other hand, a protein deficiency will affect nail health, but most people consume three times more protein than the body needs.

Nails are firmly implanted beneath the skin by the nail root. The root is implanted in a groove under the proximal nail fold just above the matrix. The nail root and matrix are protected by the proximal fold, which is the fold of skin at the base of the nail. Above the proximal nail fold, the white half moon at the base of the nail is the lunula, which is an extension of the matrix. Because the nail plate is still hardening as it grows over the lunula, it is soft and easily damaged.

The nail plate itself is composed of dead keratin. In the nail matrix, keratinocites are compacted and flattened as they push forward towards the nail plate. These flat compacted cells form the hard nail plate.

The nail bed is the pink skin that extends past the lunula. The nail bed is richly supplied with blood capillaries that oxygenate the nail bed and give it its healthy pink tone. The bed secures the nail plate. You can quickly check blood circulation by squeezing your nail bed.

The cuticle adheres the proximal nail fold to the nail plate at the base of the nail, and the nail plate to the nail bed at the nails free edge. The cuticle seals the nail bed and matrix from air and water. Without this protection, these two areas would create a warm, moist pocket for germs to grow.

Nails don’t need rest from artificial products

The top layer of the nail is thinned by the application of artificial products, but this does not cause damage to the matrix or affect new growth. A nails strength and thickness is determined, in part, by the nail bed’s response to its environment. When the nails are covered by artificial products, the natural nail is not exposed to sensations of water, air or temperature. In response the nail becomes thinner. When the artificial product is removed, the nail bed once again can monitor the environment and the nail will grow thicker and stronger to protect the nail bed and fingertip.

How fast do nails grow?

Nails grow 3mm to 6mm per month, depending on a person’s age and health, and it takes three to six months for a nail to completely grow out from the matrix to the free edge. Nails grow faster during youth, in warm weather, during pregnancy and when they are recovering from an injury. Additionally, nails on the right hand (or left if you are left handed) grow faster. Funny enough, nails on the middle finger grow the fastest.

So there you have it. Next time someone tries to lead you by the nose, you can give them a lesson or two about their nails.