We all want strong beautiful nails but we might be going the wrong way about it. Take white spots on your nails for instance, before you pour yourself a glass of milk, you may want to listen to what the experts below have to say (spoiler: it’s unlikely to be down to a calcium deficiency). Here’s the thing, not every bit of advice handed down to us is legit, so to ensure our efforts actually help to give us stronger nails, we’ve scoured the internet for professional advice to work out what’s what.
MYTH: You need to let your nails breath
When you consider that – much like our hair – most of our nail plate is dead, it doesn’t make sense that they need to breathe. “Nails do not need to breathe. They receive their nutrients, oxygen and blood supply from the blood stream and not from the air,” dermatologist and nail specialist, Dr Dana Stern, told Nail Mag. “When a nail specialist refers to letting the nails breath, they often mean taking a break from nail polish and polish remover to help dry, brittle, peeling or damaged nails heal.”
MYTH: Cold water can dry your nails quicker
Not true. If this were the case, our nail therapists would be doing it in the salon. “Nail polish is a polymer, formed by a chemical reaction. Lowering the temperature lowers the rate of the chemical reaction, plus it actually slows the evaporation of the solvents in the polish,” chemistry expert, Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D, explained on Thought Co. “While the icy water may thicken the polish so it seems to dry more quickly, the only way to get a hard coat of polish is to let it dry.” You’re more likely to encounter dents in your polish if you try this method because even if it appears dry on top, it won’t be dry all the way through.
MYTH: Acrylics can damage your nails
Experts are in agreement that acrylics and gels themselves don’t damage nails. It’s removing them that creates problems. Picking, ripping and over-filing can all seriously damage the nail plates making them flimsy and weak. And soaking nails in polish remover is also bad news for healthy nails since it can dry them out, making them brittle and more prone to splitting.
MYTH: Drinking milk will get rid of white marks
Before you worry that you’re suffering from a calcium deficiency, it’s more likely to be caused by your nail polish. “White spots at the nail have many causes and are commonly keratin granulations. These are superficial white patches at the surface that form when polish that has been on the nail for a prolonged period is removed,” Dr Stern told Nail Mag. “What happens is the superficial nail cells are removed along with the polish, leaving white patches at the nail surface.” Often, they can be gently buffed away. If they appear to be deeper within your nail, it’s likely to be trauma-related from harsh removal. “These types of patches are within the nail plate, cannot be removed, and therefore must grow out,” says Dr Stern.
MYTH: You should file your nails in one direction
You’ve probably heard a million times that nails should be filed in one direction, rather than going “against the grain” but, according to Nails HQ, scientist are beginning to question whether that’s really the case. In a test conducted by Doug Schoon, scientist and author of Nail Structure and Product Chemistry, he concluded “after examining nail plates using various abrasive grits and nail filing techniques, I did not observe any differences in the condition of the nail plate, when comparing filing in only one direction with filing in a back and forth (see-saw) fashion.” However, what is important is the type of file and pressure you use. So long as you stick to files that have 180 grit or higher and keep the pressure gentle, you should be fine.
FACT: Men’s nails grow faster than womens
In a study conducted by the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, scientists found that men’s nails tend to grow faster than women’s although they noted that “the differences were not statistically significant.” The same study, which was conducted on twenty-two healthy American young adults, found that the nail on our pinky grows slowest and that fingernails grow much faster than toenails.
FACT: Our nails are the window to our health
If you’ve ever had an operation, you might have been asked to remove your nail polish beforehand. This is primarily because it can create a barrier for your oxygen monitor (usually placed on fingers) to measure the oxygen levels in your blood, but it’s also because our fingernails can tell doctors a lot about what’s happening to us. If our nails begin to turn blue, it’s a sign that we’re not getting enough oxygen. WebMD explained that pale nails can be a sign of anemia, yellow nails are usually a sign of a fungal infection and rippled nails can signal early signs of psoriasis.