For those of us who are manicure-obsessed, do you ever wonder if you need to take time off from back-to-back manis? Do our nails really need to breathe, free of polish? It's time for Mythbusters, nail polish edition.
“Nails do not need to ‘breathe,” says Dr. Dana Stern, an NYC dermatologist and nail specialist who also has her own line of nail care products and polishes. “This is a myth! Nails receive their nutrients, oxygen, and blood supply from the blood stream and not from the air.”
Nail artist Cass Marie makes that same point. “If you ever see nail polish that says it's breathable, that's usually just a gimmick,” she says.
Cassie is constantly switching out her nail polish every couple days (those beautiful nails on her Instagram are her own). "The big thing you do want to be concerned about is keeping it moisturized," she says, and the way she combats damage from nail polish is religiously using cuticle oil every night before she goes to bed. She just keeps it on her nightstand as a reminder.
Nina Werman, Founder and Brand Director of high-end NYC nail spot Valley also argues that back-to-back manicures are good for your nails. "Regularly trimming nails and [using] nourishing cuticle treatments are going to improve the overall appearance and feel of a manicure more than anything," she says.
So, could nail polish help you grow long, strong nails? “The right polish can actually be good for you and can have a lot of potential nail benefits!” says Dr. Dana, who recommends a polish that is free of toxic chemicals. “Nail color prevents water from being absorbed and therefore can be protective. It also serves to keep the cells that make up the nail together so that they are less likely to fray and split. Polish can also be very beneficial for nail biters and pickers.”
If you are enjoying your weekly manicure routine without damage, then keep on polishing. Issues that could arise from polish include the following:
1. Brittle nails
Dr. Dana says that problems that could pop up is brittle nails from polish removers, which are “solvents and tend to be very drying and dehydrating to the nail.” Again, cuticle oil could help.
2. Keratin granulations
That’s those white spots you get when you wear cranberry red Christmas polish well into the New Year. “This occurs when polish is removed," Dr. Dana explains. "Along with the polish, the superficial layers of nail cells are also removed, leaving uneven, white, rough patches. These white patches and surface changes will grow out and fade with time.”
3. Nail yellowing
A good base coat can shield the nail from yellowing effects of polish, but some people's nails are more porous and prone to yellowing. The darker the polish, the more prone to yellowing, too.
Remover also plays a role. "Polish remover dissolves the polish and makes the pigments migrate and leach. This is why you may be seeing more yellowing with the no-chip gel manicures, which require 10-minute soaks in acetone for removal."
One solution Cassie's found for yellowing issues is using an old toothbrush and gently scrubbing her nails with a whitening toothpaste right after she removes black polish. Now that your nails are pristine, time for the most fun part of polishing: picking a color!
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