Nailed It Salon

Healthy Natural Nails


I've had a few people ask me to do a post on how to obtain, and care for, healthy natural nails.  After all, that's what we strive for, right?  Who in their right mind would wear enhancements if their natural nails were healthy, strong, and beautiful?


The good news is that anyone can have gorgeous nails with just a tiny bit of effort!

The first step on the road to healthy nails, is a healthy body.  I know, I know. It sounds so cliché, but it's true.  Nail cells are manufactured in the same manner as the rest of your body's cells, if you don't provide your body with the fuel it needs to build those cells, then it can't create them properly.  So nourish your body with a healthy diet, and it will reflect in more than your nails; you'll also get healthy hair, skin, and overall body health in the process!


A good daily beauty regimen is the next step.  Cuticle oil (also called nail oil or penetrating oil) is a must, at least once a day, every day!  Other oils cannot take the place of products made specifically for your nails.  The reason for this is because the pores in your nails are very small.  In order for an oil to penetrate the nail plate deeply enough for it to do any good, it has to have special carriers to get the nutrients deep down inside.  Even oils made for skin, like Vitamin E oil, can't do the job on their own, they need help to be able to get past the surface of the nail plate.


Let's look at it this way.  I have a Sumo wrestler standing on my front porch, and he wants to come into my house, but the door is way too small for him.  I can push and pull him all I want, but he's not coming in without some major help.  So, to help him through, I get a tub of butter, cover him with it, and give him a little shove. POP With barely any effort at all, he's through the door and in my living room. 


Now, the Sumo wrestle is the Vitamin E, the door is a pore on your nail plate, and the butter is the carrier.  Get the picture?


Most companies use jojoba oil as their carrier, and honestly I'm unsure if there's an adequate substitute out there.  CND's Solar Oil contains jojoba, along with Vit E and other beneficial oils.  In my opinion it is the best on the market for nourishing your nails, and you'll see results within a week of regular use.


The reason using cuticle oil is so important for your nails is twofold.  One: it keeps them moisturized and flexible, which prevents chipping, tearing, and flaking.  Two: it fills the pores, which in turn keeps the bad stuff out, like water (which can actually dry your nails), dirt, and contaminates.


Lotion is also important in your daily regimen, especially if you put your hands in water a lot during the day.  Again, use good quality lotions made specifically for your hands.  CND's Sentsations, and Qtica Smart Spa lotions are my favorites.  Keep a bottle by the sink so you remember to use it as soon as you've finished drying your hands.  Regular application will keep your hands smooth, and your nails healthy.


This next one always tends to surprise people, but.  Keep your nails polished!  Polish is actually good for your nails, it protects them, and keeps dirt, water, and contaminates from penetrating your nail plate.  It also helps to strengthen your nails and keep them from chipping and flaking.  So keep the pinkies polished.  You don't have to use a color if you prefer a natural look.  A clear top coat every few days will do the trick, and if you don't like that glossy look, there are some great matte top coats made by China Glaze, Orly, and CND that will give you the strength without the shine.


Next, you need to recognize and understand the issues with your nails, then address them individually.


If your nails are thin, flimsy, and tend to fold before they crack or break, then you should use a nail strengthener as a base coat under your polish.


If your nails are rigid and prone to chipping and breaking along the free edge, then oil, oil, and oil some more.  DO NOT use nail strengtheners or hardeners!  Strengtheners are designed to make nails more rigid, already rigid nails will quickly become brittle and more prone to breakage.  So these types of products will only increase the problems you're experiencing.  Instead, use penetrating oils and lotions religiously to increase the flexibility in your nails, and eliminate chipping and cracking.


If your nails tend to flake and peel, use cuticle oil and lotions to increase the flexibility in your nail plate.  Also, be very careful when filing and clipping your nails.  Invest in a glass nail file, which burnishes and seals the free edge while filing to prevent flaking.  If you prefer an emery board, only use the fine side of the file, and don't see-saw back and forth on your nail.  File from the outside edges in towards the center, in a slow, gentle motion.  Keep your nails polished, as it will greatly reduce flaking, and if you must clip your nails, be sure to gently file them after you've clipped.  Clipping causes microscopic fractures along the free edge of the nail plate (as does aggressive filing), which eventually expands into a flake or split, so if you can avoid it, please do.


Last but not least, go get a manicure!  We like to see you at our table every two weeks, but if you can't swing that we'll settle for once a month.  Talk your nail tech about your problems and concerns, we can help you out.  Not only that, but we have a wide range of intensive treatments at our disposal that you cannot get at the local Wal-Mart or Sally's.


Plus, it feels really, really good!


Now when I say manicure, I don't mean at your local Not Safe Salon.  If you're paying less than $15 for a manicure, you might want to take a look around the salon and ask yourself if it meets standards.  If not, it's time to start looking for a new nail tech.  If you're not sure, talk to me, I can tell you what to look for, and if necessary put you in touch with some awesome techs in your area.

If you have any questions about your nail problems, or need help finding quality products for your nails, leave a comment here, talk to me on facebook, or hit me up on twitter.  I'd be happy to help you achieve those gorgeous hands you've been dreaming of!




P.S. Special thanks To Holly, who taught me so many things about nail products, and gave me the Sumo wrestler analogy way back in nail school.

Nail Structure and Terminology

After my last post, my proof reader (AKA my husband John) told me that I needed a reference chart, or a glossary, or something.  You see, I'm kind of a stickler about using correct terminology, because to do anything else just confuses life later on.


So this is just a boring, educational post that you can feel free to skip.  I'm sure I'll be referring to it later on though, and if I ever use a term you're unsure of, just come on back here and look it up.



To the left is a diagram I made in nail school to study for a test.  I think it will work well for our purposes today.  You can click on it to bring up a larger version if you'd like (as you can any of the images I post on the blog).  Hopefully, it will help you locate the structures I'm talking about on your own nail.


Free Edge:  This is the part of the nail that extends over the tip of the finger or toe. Or, as in my case, gets chewed up by nail biters.


Nail Plate: This is what most people would call the "nail."  It's a plate of hardened keratin that covers the nail bed on the end of your finger.


Cuticle: Is a film of dead tissue that covers the nail plate.  It should not be confused with the living tissue of the eponychium.  Cuticle creates a seal between the nail plate and the surrounding tissue, and prevents foreign materials and microorganisms from entering and causing illness or injury.


Eponychium: Is a ridge of  living skin at the base of the nail plate.  The eponychium should never be cut or trimmed, just gently pushed back. 


Hyponychium: This is the thickened skin between the fingertip and the free edge of the nail.  This ridge of skin creates a protective barrier that prevents foreign materials and pathogens from entering and infecting the nail bed.


Nail Bed: This is the tissue directly under the nail plate.  It has a rich blood supply, which gives it a pinkish color, and is very sensitive due to the large number of nerves attached to it.


Perionychium: Is the skin that touches, overlaps, and surrounds the nail.


Nail Grooves: Are the tracks on either side of the nail, that the nail plate moves on as it grows.


Mantle: Is a pocket at the base of the nail that holds the matrix.


Matrix: is a group of cells that create the nail plate.  You can see a little bit of the matrix under some of your nails.  The half moons that are visible on the thumbs of most people (also called the lunula), are comprised of matrix cells.  An injury to the matrix can affect nail growth in many ways, cause the nail to grow in an abnormal way, or it can slow growth or stop it all together.  The overall health of your nails, begins in the matrix!


So that's my little lesson today. There won't be a test, but we may refer back to this information from time to time.


Now you know.  Smile



Non-Standard = Not Safe

Among nail techs they have a lot of names.  McNails is one of the more colorful; Chop Shops is one of the more accurate.  You know the places I'm talking about, they're in every mall, have prices lower than a fast food restaurant, and air so thick with monomer vapor you get a high, or a headache, as soon as you walk in the door. 


You'll never hear a good tech call them that though.  Those are the names we use in the break room, or on the industry forums.  For you, our clients, we call them Non-Standard Salons, or NSS, because to do otherwise would be unprofessional, and just not nice.


We hate those places though, and we can tell you've been to one as soon as we glimpse your fingers at our tables.  We crusade against them, making sure you understand the damage that has been done to your nail plate, and the potential harm they can cause.  Yet people still go, lured by the low cost of services, and the walk-in convenience.


I think at times when I talk to my clients about non-standard salons, their eyes gloss over, and I can't help but wonder if the terminology is partly to blame.  What is non-standard, what does it mean? Non-standard prices?  Non-standard employees?  Perhaps all of us nail techs are just upset that they're stealing our business, and the fuss is just a way to try and get you to pay higher prices for the same product.  What makes non-standard such a bad thing? 


Non-standard, as it applies to nail salons, means that the salon in question does not conform to industry (and sometimes even state) standards for service and sanitation. 


Sanitation is important, it's what keeps you from getting sick.  How would you feel about a doctor who didn't wash his hands? Would you return to a doctor who re-used tongue depressors on different patients?  No?  So why go to a nail salon that doesn't wash and disinfect its tools, or uses the same nail file on ten or more people?


State and industry standards require that all reusable tools get scrubbed with soap and water, and then disinfected in a solution designed to kill any remaining microorganisms before they are used on another person.  Items that can't be washed and soaked (files, wooden pushers, buffers, etc.) are to be thrown away after a single use.  So here, non-standard means dirty, unwashed, used tools, and microorganisms.  Sounds yummy, doesn't it?


Now I can hear you saying, "But Anne, it's just my nails.  How bad can it really be?"  The answer is bad. Really, really BAD.  When I say microorganisms, what I mean is contagious pathogens: bacteria, fungal spores, and viruses, all of which can live, multiply, and be transmitted through your hands and nails.  Does that sound extremely icky yet?  Just in case it doesn't, let me continue.


IMGThe most common of these transmitted microorganisms is what people commonly refer to as a nail fungus or mold, but is actually a bacterial infection.  At the NSS they will tell you that it's caused by moisture trapped under an enhancement, and they will tell you that they can treat it with an over the counter anti fungal treatment.  In reality, it's an infection, spread by the use of dirty tools, that can only be properly treated by a doctor.  It might clear up on its own (depending on the strength of your immune system), or it could rage out of control without prescribed antibiotics.  If you develop dark brown, green, or black spots on your nails, please consult your physician.  Only he, or she, can tell you how serious the condition is, and prescribe the proper medications to alleviate it.


These types of nail infections are the most common problem found at an NSS, but not even close to the most dangerous.  As all nail students are currently learning in school:  In 2006 a salon in California transmitted a bacterial skin infection to over 100 clients through the use of contaminated foot spas.  This infection cased permanent scarring on the legs of most of the people infected, and even resulted in a few deaths.


That's right, deaths.  From a pedicure.  We're quickly progressing from gross to scary, and I'm not done yet.


I recently had a young friend come to me for enhancements.  While I sculpted some beautiful acrylics for her, she kept marveling over the fact that I wasn't hurting her, which caused me to ask about her previous experiences with nail services.  She told me about going to the mall to have a manicure, and leaving the salon with her hands bleeding in several spots.  She believed it was normal, and in case you do too, let me clarify that it's not!  You should never bleed during a nail service, and if a nail tech accidentally draws blood, all services should be stopped, the service area and tools should be cleaned and disinfected, and the cut should be cleaned and covered before the tech decides if he or she can proceed safely.  In this day and age, with blood borne pathogens like HIV and hepatitis C, is it even necessary to explain why?


So Non-Standard Salon is really just another way of saying Not Safe Salon, and now is the point where you have to ask yourself is it really worth it?  The money you save is money spent on disinfectant, and new files in a better salon.  It's money invested in nail technicians who are certified to use an e-file safely, or forego it and instead use hand files to prevent harming your nail plate.  The time you spend making an appointment, because a better salon doesn't take walk-ins, is time you can spend reassuring yourself that you made the right choice for your health, and knowing that the salon doesn't have time for walk-ins because they're booked solid with repeat customers who are totally satisfied with their healthy (non-bloody) hands, feet, and nails.


IMG_0001Now the next time you sit down at my table, and I see the rings of fire on your nails from where the nail tech at the local Not Safe Salon dug into your nail plate with their file, please understand that the friendly lecture I'm about to give you is not done out of a desire to pad my pockets with your money.  It's because I care about you.  I care about your beautiful hands, your beautiful family, and your wonderful life.  I don't want you to be a case file in a nail school text book.  I don't want to add your story to my next cautionary tale.  You don't have to come to me, but please, go some place where they'll give you the care you deserve!


You only get one body, protect it as if your life depended on it!



About Me

167789_1801848725267_1211302140_32103341_4575959_nIf you don't already know me, I'm Anne; the most unlikely nail tech in the world.  I only say that because for most of my life, I treated my fingers as a food group.  Yes, I'm a nail biter, and not only do I bite my nails, but all of the surrounding tissue on my fingers.


You'll notice that statement is in the present tense.  I didn't used to bite my nails, I still do, or at least I will if given the opportunity.


About five years or so ago, a friend and I went out for some much needed pampering and decided to get our nails done.  It was kind of a fluke because neither of us cared too much about how our hands looked, but we were splurging on something we wouldn't normally do.  So I had acrylic enhancements put on, and then a miracle happened.  The enhancements prevented my snapping teeth from tearing into my poor abused fingers.  In two weeks, my fingers were noticeably better, and in a month all of the wounds and damage I had inflicted to the skin around my nails had completely healed.

I was hooked!


I learned pretty quickly though, that if I didn't have enhancements of some sort on my nails, I would revert back to my biting, tearing ways within a week.  So in order to save some money, I started doing my own nails, and then my daughters nails, and then my friend's nails.  I eventually decided to go legit, and signed up to take a nail course at a local beauty school.


Anyone who's known me for any length of time is surprised that I'm doing nails for a living, but I love it.  It's creative, fun, and best of all, I can help people like myself who never thought their hands could be pretty, feel better about themselves.  It's a pretty amazing thing.


So I'm Anne, and I'm a nail tech.  If you decide to follow my blog, I'll be sharing some of my work, advice on caring for your nails, news and reviews on salons, products, services, and anything else related to the nail industry.  Hopefully, I'll also entertain you a little bit too.


So welcome to the new nail blog.  I look forward to sharing what I know with you!




Nailed It!
333 Main Street
Racine, WI 53405
Phone: 262-633-1555