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Nail Industry Myths & Legends: find out if that age-old advice your mom -- and the beauty industry -- gave you was true or false



So you all know that the beauty industry provides a whole lot of confusing tips and tricks… there seems to be something new to try every other day (and many of this week’s suggestions counter last week’s). Whether you get your guidance from your favorite beauty magazine, the trendiest Instagram blogger you follow, or you stick with the age-old advice that your mama gave ya, today I’m here to give you the facts on a few nail-related myths and legends.  Read along for my own personal “True or False?” list: nails addition!


#1: Emery boards are bad for your nails, only glass files are good to use

FALSE. The only true negative to emery boards is how quickly you have to replace them, but depending on the coarseness of the grit, they’re great for taking length off your nails, and finer grit boards are great for nail shaping. That being said, too coarse of an emery board on natural nails can rip and tear the nail causing damage, so go for those boards that feel much more smooth to the touch.

Glass nail files ARE amazing and are great for shaping and cleaning up nails (including removing discoloration and bumps!) These types of nail files are definitely the most gentle on your nails but you also have to be gentle with them… they’re made of glass so they easily break! While you can store an emery board in your purse without fear of damage, you may shatter a glass nail file. Ughhh… decisions decisions.

#2: You need to take your nail polish off to "let them breath"

FALSE. This has to be one of the most asked -- and super silly -- questions we get in the nail industry. Nails actually do better when covered by nail polish as it protects them from the harsh chemicals our hands come in contact with on a daily basis (such as detergent and dish soap) as well as the environment. Finger and toenails are made out of a tough protein -- alpha-keratin -- also found in the hooves and horns of different animals, and take nutrients from the bloodstream rather than from the air. If that last fact alone doesn’t convince you that nails do not need to breath, please consider this… nails don’t have lungs… which means they can’t breath. hahaha

#3: Your nail tech should always soak your nails before giving you a manicure

FALSE. Nails are like a sponge. If you soak them in water, the polish you’re paying to have applied will not last nearly as long. Getting a waterless manicure or pedicure -- like what we provide here at Charme Studio -- allows for a clean and dry surface and long-lasting polish.

#4: The environment/weather affects nails

TRUE. Well, true to a degree. When it is warmer out your nails will likely grow faster as circulation in your body increases, and obviously then when it is colder out they will grow slower as circulation decreases. If there is already damage to the nail/nail plate it is possible that you’ll see the results quicker with warmer weather as the damage will grow out faster but it isn’t actually the weather that’s affecting your nails themselves… just affecting your circulation.

However, overly hot and overly cold temperatures can create dryness in the hands and feet which often leads to dryness/brittleness in the nails… so do utilize a cuticle oil if your environment shifts.

#5: Gel polish will always last 2 weeks

FALSE. Gel polish done correctly will last up to 2 weeks on the hands (longer on feet it seems!)… but your own activities affect the longevity as well. Let me explain…

We love to have our nails looking good 100% of the time, but the removal of your last gel polish does affect your next application. If your gel polish isn’t removed properly, your next gel mani won’t last because the nail plate will be damaged and trying to repair itself. A proper gel polish removal looks like a light buff on the top coat to break the seal of the gel, followed by covering each nail with acetone soaked cotton wrapped in tin foil, then finally pushing polish off of nail with a cuticle pusher being sure not to scrape the nail, and repeating the soaking process if necessary.

The nail tech must then prep the nails properly by filing, shaping, and dehydrating the nail plate of any products or oils (so that the gel polish will properly stick). Then being careful to not touch the skin, paint the nails. If all of that -- including the removal process -- was done correctly, your nails SHOULD last 2 weeks. However there is one caveat, if you’re someone whose hands are submerged in water a lot, and/or you’re in hot water (like a hot tub) or somewhere steamy (like a sauna), gel polish will not last as long.

#6: You should always make sure to cut back your cuticles

TRUE & FALSE. The biggest problem with cutting back any bit of the skin surrounding your nail is not knowing what exactly you’re cutting; people frequently don’t know the true anatomy of a nail and rather than bore you with all the scientific terminology I will say this… cutting that dead skin that is sitting right on top of the nail -- and therefore creates imperfections in your nail polish, can look a bit unsightly, and for some applications will actually cause chipping -- is perfectly fine. It is dead. It will not hurt, it will not bleed, it will not negatively affect anything. The problem is cutting the live skin just beyond the cuticle: the eponychium and the lateral folds (the skin down the sides of the nail). So I know I said I wasn’t going to get scientific but… If you get a hangnail (meaning any flapping piece of skin), very carefully cut it off. But for all other cutting of the “cuticle” you must be especially careful to cut ONLY the cuticle… otherwise you are breaking the barrier and therefore you won’t be able to keep out bacteria and prevent infection. Additionally, the more trauma you cause your eponychium and lateral folds, the more unsightly they become because the body creates thicker and thicker skin hoping to protect the nail plate in the future. In summary, be freakin’ careful! Don’t over do it! If you keep your fingernails and surrounding skin hydrated, you’ll notice you won’t even feel a need to cut the cuticles.

#7: You can make the whites of your nails whiter by soaking fingers in lemon juice or baking soda

TRUE. Well, this is essentially true. I guess I should say that it could work, but it all depends on your nails. Basically any type of deep cleaning to lift the nails of any staining could in fact make the whites whiter.  

#8: Running your fingers under cold water will dry nail polish faster

FALSE. I always get a good laugh when people suggest this idea. Polish dries when solvents evaporate so plunging your new manicure into cold water is such a terrible idea! While it may harden the very top layer making it APPEAR that your nails are dry, the layers below will absolutely not be and you will almost surely dent one -- if not all -- of your nails as the layers below will still be very much wet and impressionable.

#9: Dip Powder manicures are safer than acrylics

FALSE. Dip Powder is really just acrylic applied differently. Someone in the nail industry took an existing product and rebranded it with a new name, and many new FALSE health benefits (never believe it is natural or organic because there’s not a thing natural or organic about this product). The only positive to Dip Powder over acrylics is that the really intense smelling chemical used to bind the acrylic to the natural nail, is not used in Dip Powder. But realistically they’re both just as bad as you're applying chemicals to a potentially overworked nail plate.  

#10: Taking gelatin supplements will help my nails grow

FALSE. While there’s multiple protein supplements out there touting stronger, longer nails… the only one I know of that’s scientifically proven to help nails is Biotin (which is great for both hair and nails.) Keeping up with manicures -- at home or in a shop -- is the best way to keep your nail health at its best!

Hopefully all of your nail myths have been answered and next time you see a new beauty trick that seems a little bit too good to be true, just remember, it probably is!