The Secret to Healthy Finger Nails your Manicurist will Never Tell You

If you get a manicure on the regular you may actually be damaging your fingernails. Yes, they look nice once they’re done but the health of your nail under the polish is likely not good.  

What risks can manicures bring to your nails?

Basic polish, gel, powder or acrylics all bring risks to you when done in a salon. The truth is even the nicest looking place may not be sanitary. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a whopping 97 percent of nail salon foot baths tested in one study contained the bacteria M. fortuitum. Along with that there is no national law requiring tools to be sterilized. Right now, only two states (Texas and Iowa) require autoclaves (sterilizing machines) in nail salons, which means that less than one percent of salons potentially use them regularly. Let’s not even talk about the reuse of nail polish or powder from one customer to another. You can get diseases like hepatitis and aids from traces of blood as well as fungal infections like athlete’s foot. If your more curious about the Salon requirements relative to safety you can read more from the govt portal,

Another issue that effects your nail health are the chemicals found in the polish itself. We shared a previous blog about this issue and you can read more here if you missed it but the headline is move to vegan polish to be safe!

Lastly, is the damage you can do to your own nail beds by regularly applying chemicals used in the powder, gel and acrylic nail process. If your like me you also may be impatient about removing the gel and you try to take it off yourself. If you start peeling your nails to get the polish off you’r taking your top nail bed along with the polish. This weakens your nails and will take months to strengthen.

Want to better understand the benefits, risks and costs between various manicures? We like this post from pure Before you panic, there are some things you can do to protect your nail health.

So How do you get healthy finger nails?

The best thing you can do for your finger and toe nails is to stop polishing them. That’s right, just stop! Nail polish dries your nail beds, making your nail texture brittle. The general rule is to have the number of days with polish equal to the number of days without. This alternating strategy allows your nails to recover and strengthen themselves naturally. This could be a big ask for someone used to perfect nails but it is what doctors recommend. Doctors actually want to be able to look at your nail color and texture for changes as that can be an early indicator of health and illness. 

Once you’ve let your nails breath and restore themselves to a healthy state you can consider wearing nail polish again. We recommend buying your own vegan nail polish and trying to do your nails at home. This way you know the polish is safe both chemically and because it isn’t shared with others. You also know the tools you use are clean. If your uncomfortable doing your own nails we recommend bringing your own polish to a clean (as best you can judge) salon. You should ask if the tools and the soaking tubs are professionally cleaned and if so, how. If your salon is not willing to share the details then leave at once and find another location.

In summary, the best thing you should do for beautiful finger and toenails is to do nothing! Stop all the beauty treatments and let your nails repair themselves. If you can’t live without polish, invest in your own vegan nail polish and try to do them on your own. This approach will save you money and give you better nail health.

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Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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