Nails Do Not Need to Breathe!

In the world of professional nail care, myths and misconceptions can often lead to misguided practices. One such prevalent myth is that nails need to "breathe." This article aims to debunk this myth and provide a deeper understanding of nail physiology for professional nail technicians. 

The Nature of Nails

Nails are composed of keratin, a protein that forms the hard structure. They are an extension of the epidermis and, unlike living tissues, do not require air or oxygen to maintain their health. Nourishment and oxygen are supplied via the bloodstream, specifically through the nail bed and matrix, not through direct contact with air.

Misconceptions About Gel Nail Polish

The idea that nail polish or artificial enhancements suffocate nails is a misunderstanding. In reality, these products offer several benefits to the nails:

Protection Against External Factors

  • Physical Barrier: Nail polishes create a protective shield against daily wear and tear. This barrier is especially crucial for people whose nails are frequently exposed to water, harsh chemicals, or physical activities that might cause damage.
  • Chemical Defense: Regular exposure to detergents and cleaning agents can weaken nails. Coatings provide a defense layer, reducing direct contact with these potentially harmful substances.
  • Prevention of Nail Damage: By acting as a protective layer, nail polishes can prevent common issues like chipping, splitting, and breakage, thus maintaining the nail's integrity.

Strength Enhancement

  • Reinforcing Brittle Nails: Some nail products are specifically designed to fortify the nails. Ingredients in these products can bond with the keratin, increasing the nail's resilience and reducing breakage.
  • Support for Weak Nails: For individuals with inherently weak or thin nails, these products can add a much-needed layer of strength, preventing bending and breakage.
  • Enhancement of Nail Structure: Regular use of these strengthening polishes can gradually improve the overall condition and toughness of the nails.

Moisture Retention

  • Prevention of Dryness: Contrary to the belief that coatings dry out nails, they can help in locking moisture into the nail plate. This is crucial for maintaining nail flexibility and preventing brittleness.
  • Balance of Nail Hydration: By forming a barrier, nail polishes can maintain the natural hydration levels of the nail, preventing excess water absorption and subsequent swelling and weakening of the nail structure.
  • Improved Nail Health: Moisturized nails are less prone to peeling and splitting, contributing to the overall health and appearance of the nails.

Health Monitoring

  • Importance of Proper Application and Removal: While coatings are generally safe, proper techniques in applying and removing them are crucial. Incorrect methods can lead to damage, such as surface scratching or peeling of the natural nail.
  • Monitoring for Underlying Conditions: Periodically leaving nails unpolished allows for the examination of the natural nail. It's important to identify and address issues such as discoloration, ridges, or signs of fungal infections.
  • Ensuring Overall Nail Wellbeing: Responsible use of nail cosmetics, coupled with regular health checks, ensures the long-term health and beauty of the nails.

The myth that nails need to breathe is not supported by scientific evidence. Nails, being keratinous extensions, receive their nourishment internally, not via external air. Proper use of nail polishes and enhancements can offer numerous benefits, including protection, strength, and moisture retention. For professional nail technicians, understanding these facts is crucial for providing optimal nail care. Educating clients and implementing best practices will dispel myths and promote healthier nail care routines.