Have you ever wondered whether your nails can absorb anything? You might be surprised to learn that the nail plate is highly resistant to most substances, making it a natural barrier that protects the body. In fact, only water and certain naturally occurring oil-soluble substances, like squalene, can penetrate easily through the nail plate. While the phrase your nails are like a sponge that is a myth that is over exaggerated - check out other nail myths here
It's interesting to note that substances can be either oil-soluble or water-soluble. Oil-soluble substances will dissolve in certain oils, while water-soluble substances will dissolve in water. Some substances are soluble in both water and oil, but not many fall into that category.
While some oily substances can penetrate the nail plate, they move more slowly than water, and migration only occurs for substances that mimic the natural oils in the nail plate. Oil concentrations in the plate can increase with each additional topical application. Repeated applications will allow the nail plate to maintain higher levels of oil, which can benefit those who prioritise natural and transparent products. Our nails relationship with oil and water is one of the reasons acetone is used so often in prep and is found in most brands primers/dehydrators
The natural nail plate is a powerful barrier that prevents most substances from absorbing. Any oil or oily substance that won't penetrate the skin is also unlikely to penetrate nails. Even high-quality, penetrating nail oils build up inside the nail plate and become trapped, which makes them difficult to remove.
Overall, the natural nail plate is an effective barrier that's not easy to overcome. While a few select substances can penetrate through the nail plate, most cannot get past the outer surface of the nail plate. This makes the nail plate an excellent defense against potentially harmful substances, protecting the health of nail techs and clients alike.