Saturday, July 28, 2012

Debunking Internet Nail Care Myths

     This week I will not be doing a tutorial. Sorry if you were expecting one I had a pretty unpleasant flare up of my Dyshidrotic Eczema at the beginning of the week and while the blisters have receded by now the skin on my hands is really tight at the moment and make it hard to do small muscle skills such as nail art. Plus...they just look gross and no one wants to see that...even I don't want to see them. But they are healing up fast and should be good to go for next week. So instead I decided to do a post about debunking internet nail care myths.
     This post was inspired by my inability to sleep the other night do to the DE itchiness. Instead of sleeping (like normal people) I was up late the other night watching "tutorials" (In quotations because some of them should be call misinformation extravaganza but more on that in a minute) on YouTube and realized how much misinformation there is out there about nails, nail care, and all thing manicure related.  Let me just start by saying I do not have a nail tech or beauty license but due to my skin condition that affect primarily my hands, and feet and even my nails (much to my dismay) I have had a lot of discussions about skin and nail care with  many MD's (Or "Mini Deities" as a my favorite Psych professor Dr. Joe calls them) about the topic. I don't know about you but I'm more willing to believe the person with the medical degree than some of the people who post "tutorials" on YouTube. Don't get me wrong there are some brilliant vloggers out there who legitimately know their stuff (off the top of my head 'SimpleLIttlePleasures' is Freaking amazing and I love her videos) but the bulk of them just seem to feed people misinformation.  And that makes me sad. Because if people get the wrong advice it could do more harm than good or put them off nail care, nail art, and nail polish, all together. And those are three of my favorite things in the world I don't want to see them tarnished.
     So, ok yeah I blathered a bit up there. I'm prone to that so sorry but I thought I'd do a post about some of this misinformation and maybe try to clear up the craptacular advice that some people are giving out.  But before I get into it I would just like to say I am not a medical professional, or a nail tech. What I am about to tell you is what I have been told (sometimes a plethora of times) by medical professionals (MD's, NP's and RN's), nutritionists, and nail techs that I have personally visited and paid for their counsel and input. I am just passing what I have learned from them on to you guys.

Myth One: Nails need to breathe.

Myth Busted: Seriously why do people still believe this? The human finger nail is made up of Keratin that's the same stuff that your hair is made up of. Does your hair breath? No, no it doesn't. It doesn't have tiny little lungs and it certainly doesn't breathe. The keratin that makes up your nails (and hair) is dead. Dead things by nature do not breath. Go turn on True Blood and see for yourself I'll be right here when you get back. Okay, I know I can be a little sarcastic and blunt but come on why do people still think dead cells breath? I found so many "tutorials" that said it was important to let nails breath...and well ladies it's so much crap. I've asked many a doctor and they all say emphatically no nails don't breath.  So there is no need to remove your fake nails, or to make sure you leave your nails unpolished for any length of time to allow for them to breath.  As a matter of fact leaving your nails to breath could result in breakage, peeling, and overall weakening of the nail due to chemical exposure and everyday wear and tear.

Myth Two: Use salt to exfoliate/whiten your nails

Myth Busted: I don't know who started this idea but I don't know where to start with the bad. Salt really? Okay whoever follows this hasn't paid attention in history class. Before the invention of the refrigerator salt was used to preserve meat because it dried the moisture out of the meat. Are you trying to turn your nails and hands into preserved meat? Using salt on your nails will only dry both your nails and your skin on your hands out.  And as any nail tech, beautician or doctor will tell you, when skin in overly dried out you run the risk of cuts, peels, tears, and infections. This goes for your nails too. The enemy of nails and indeed skin in dryness. You want your nails moisturized, not dried out. Dry nails peel, chip, show poor growth, split and are more prone to bacterial and fungus infections.  Applying anything that is drying on a regular basis can be damaging to your nails. Salt is one of the worst things you could use on your nails. Also it's worth mentioning that it's also a good idea to have a good pair of Rubber gloves to clean with because cleaning chemicals also dry out and weaken your nails.  I personally have had my nails polished almost every day for the past 19 months and my nails are strong, grow fast and have  stopped peeling as they used to PNPE (that's Pre Nail Polish Era). Just ask anyone I know . I give the best back scratches in town and they are my natural nails, no gel overlays, no acrylic. So please feel free to wear whatever you wish whenever you wish and don't worry about a dead cell breathing.
     On a similar area to using salt is the over use of whitening that seems to run rampant in "tutorials" if you have a good base coat you shouldn't need to whiten your nails more than once a month (Unless you are a smoker because that causes yellowing of the nails). And even then you should whiten sparingly as it dries out the nails and always, always moisturize like crazy afterward. I rarely whiten my nails but after I do I do an Olive Oil soak for 15 minutes per hand and that replenishes all the moisture that the whitening caused.

Myth Three: Nail treatments make your nails grow faster, stop peeling, and/or somehow improve your nails in some way.

Myth Busted: As I stated before your nails are dead cells. They are done getting better. The only way a polish can make your nails stronger is by adding another layer for strength while they are physically on your nail. Once the polish or treatment is removed from the nail the help it says is provides is over and done with. Dead cells don't get stronger, they don't peal less and nothing you apply to the nail surface is going to make your nails grow faster. I know total buzz kill right. Sorry. I'm only telling this so you don't waste your money on claims polish can't deliver. But there is hope if you have problem nails. If you want to have stronger, healthier nails it needs to start in the nail matrix. By the time you see the nail plate emerge from under your cuticle it's already too late to make it stronger. To get better nails you have to start with good nutrition. Lots of vitamin A, H, and E, as well as lots of B vitamins. Also drink a lot of water, you need to keep the moisture level in your body up. You can also take a good multi-vitamin and a Biotin supplement.

Myth Four: The more you take (i.e. higher mcg) a supplement the better.

Myth Busted: I've been over this with doctors a lot...and I mean a lot. As soon as I tell a doctor I am a vegetarian I immediately get to have a vitamin supplement conversation with them.  And I've been a vegetarian for over 20 years and have discussed it with more doctors than I could count on my fingers and toes combined times 2.  Not sure why all doctors feel the need to discuss this with me, maybe they are used to newbie Veggies. But like a good little patient I smile and listen and go over the same thing every doctor has told me since I was kid and first decided to forgo eating meat (with the help and guidance of my wonderful loving mother who was a regular old meat eater but understood me better than just about anyone). Anyway I digress...I have had the supplement discussion so many times I should have it memorized by now. But don't worry I'll give you the short, short version. No matter how high the dose your body will only take from it what it needs and you will pee out the rest. That's right there is no need to take high dosages of any supplement because it's not going to pile up in your system and super charge anything. Your body says 'hmm I need some vitamin A' it goes to the digestive track takes the amount of vitamin A that it needs and then you eliminate the rest. It's also worth mentioning that high doses of some vitamins can also be dangerous so don't go crazy ladies. Be sensible. The one over dosage that seems most rampant in the nail community (at least that I've seen) is that so many people take really high doses of Biotin (which is also known as Vitamin H or coenzyme R). So called super high potency 5,000mcg (micrograms) supplements are by far and away more biotin than you are going to need and taking more biotin (while it won't harm or so I have been able to find out thus far) than you need means you are just passing it through you unused. According to The U.S. Food and Drug Administration an adult should take between 100-300mcg a day of Biotin a day. So if you are taking 5,000mcg of Biotin your body is absorbing at most 300mcg and you are eliminating the extraneous 4700mcg of Biotin. So go with the lower dosage doubling up isn't going to help you any. Plus as an added bonus the lower mcg Biotin is cheaper than the higher mcg biotin. I scored my 1,000mcg (the lowest mcg I could find) at Target the UP & Up (In store) brand 100 tablets for around $2. While the higher mcg Biotin supplements went for around $8-$12 (varies by brand). It just seems silly to me to pay more for extra mcg when you body won't use it anyway.

Myth Five: You should see the evidence of supplements working right away.

Myth Debunked: Okay so I did some research and found out that it can take from five to seven months for a nail to grow from nail matrix to the free edge of the nail. This varies from person to person and could be less or more time than this. Most people's nails only grow 1/2mm to 1mm (millimeter) a week. So you should expect at least 5-7 months (possibly longer) of taking a supplement before you see any improvement in your nails. Yes I know this seems like forever but you will be glad you started once you see the change it will make in your nails a way down the road. It took me almost a full year before I started to see a difference in my nails. But they are stronger, and longer at this point in time than they have ever been in my life. The funny thing about taking supplements (such as Biotin) is that you will most likely see the difference in your hair before you notice it in your nails. For example my leg hair seems to grow faster now and I have to shave it more frequently...Don't say I didn't warn you.

Myth Six: Cut/remove your cuticles they just get in the way.

Myth Debunked: I still can't get over how much misinformation is out there about cuticle care. I found a ton of videos on YouTube that stated you should cut your cuticles. Gah! WHY!?!?! The humanity!!!! You're cuticle is what stands between you and all the germs, bacteria, fungi, ameba, microbes, viruses, and dirt that your hands come in contact with on a daily basis. It's your tinny little infection protection flak jacket. I can't stress this enough, how very important your cuticles are and there roll in keeping things that want to infect you out of your body. Don't ever and I mean ever cut your cuticles and for the love of nail beds everywhere don't ever let anyone cut your cuticles either. Need some incentive to not cut your cuticles do a Google picture search for 'fingernail infections,' or 'fingernail fungus' and get ready to get queasy. I'll wait go ahead I'll be here when you get back....Did you go look? Nasty right? Not only do they look painful in the extreme, but they can permanently change the nail bed or lead to full removal of the nail plate all together by a medical professional. I don't think anyone wants that. I know I don't. So cherish your cuticles they keep all manner of evil invading nastiness out of your skin.
     Associated with this is that I found a disturbingly large amount of YouTube videos that said to not push your cuticles back...Okay that's just silly. Cuticles can grow up onto the nail further than they should be and can be pushed back without any damage. So long as you use a clean sterile cuticle pusher or orange stick. This will not damage your nails, or cuticles so long as you are gentle. To ensure cuticles push back easily, wash your hands, and apply lotion before pushing back cuticles to soften them first. Pushing your cuticles back will not harm you. The belief that it will do so is just silly. Every nail tech I have ever worked with has pushed my cuticles back and I push them back regularly and have never had a problem. Just don't use dirty tools and don't be aggressive with it. A gentle push is all it should take.

     Okay rant over I discussed everything I jotted down while watching Youtube videos that made me crazy. I just get so upset with how much misinformation is out there and I don't want anyone to think that because this faulty information didn't work nothing will work. I love my nails, nail polish, and nail art I don't want anyone to turn against it because they got some bad advice from people who are misinformed.  Any way I hope this helps I know it's a little ranty and I'm sorry for that I just want the best for my readers and thought the best way to do that is to debunk the nail myths that can do more harm than good. If anyone has any other nail related questions let me know and I will try to answer them as best I can. Just leave me a comment below and I'll get back to you on it. Until next time, stay classy and stay polished.