MythBuster: 10 Things You Thought You Knew About Your Fingernails

Photo: Tristan Fewings/ Getty.

Your nails are more important than you may think.

Sure, we may dress them up to match an outfit or pamper ourselves with a manicure, but rarely do we give fingernails and toenails much thought beyond that.

However after speaking with Alison Bowhill-Hayes, a beauty therapist at Sally Hansen, we found out not only how important nails are to your anatomy but she also shed some truth on some common misconceptions people have about nails.

While nails can sometimes indicate the state of your health, they also aid the sensory features of your hands and have a protective function for your fingers and toes.

From nail health to polish tips, here are the mythbusters Business Insider has learned from professional manicurist Bowhill-Hayes.

1. The white flecks in your nails is due to a lack of calcium in your diet.

These spots are actually called leukonychia and have nothing to do with your diet, they are actually a bruise. When you hit your nail, or the base of the nail, which is also known as the matrix, air bubbles can develop between the nail plate and the nail bed.

2. The half moons at the base of your nails are a reflection on your nail health.

This crescent-shaped whitish area of the bed of nail is called the lunula and doesn’t reflect anything to do with your health. The lunula is most noticeable on the thumb; however, not everyone’s lunula is visible and often people don’t have them at all. They are similar apart of the anatomy and are generally a genetic feature. As long as the nail has a nice pink to it, that means it is healthy.

3. Cutting off the excess skin around the nail is cleaner.

When you go to a nail bar it is common practice for the person doing your nails to snip away at excess skin, often including the cuticle. Never do this, and if your nail therapist is doing it ask them not to. Not only is the cuticle a protective barrier, stopping infection getting into the matrix but the more skin you cut away, the more grows back, often overgrowing as a protection mechanism to the trauma of cutting it off. In 2000, the NSW Health Department passed Guidelines on Skin Penetration in beauty salons to protect people from this act. Under the NSW Public Health (Skin Penetration) Regulation skin penetration operators and their premises must meet a number of public health requirements in order to be allowed to carry this out.

4. Putting nail polish remover in your gluggy nail polish helps to thin it out.

Wrong. Putting acetone in your nail polish pot will completely ruin your polish. If you need to thin a thick polish, buy a thinner from your local beauty therapist or beauty shop.

5. I only use organic nail polish because it seeps into your bloodstream.

If nail polish seeped into the blood stream it would not be on the market. It is impossible for nail polish to seep into your bloodstream because the nail itself is dead skin cells and can’t be transferred into the blood supply. Once, many years ago, formaldehyde was once used to keep the liquid stable but as technology has advanced, this is no longer needed.

6. Nail polish doesn’t have a use-by date.

You should only keep nail polish for up to two years. Another nail polish tip Alison suggested was to apply a coat of polish every couple of days after getting a manicure. This not only keeps it looking fresh but it also will allow it to last longer.

7. You can only get foot fungus if you have bad hygiene.

50% of people have some form of foot fungus. “It is the hardest thing to get rid of and the easiest thing to get,” says Alison. While it is true that you should wear thongs in public showers, it is also possible to get fungus through wearing acrylic nails. The fungus infection can be anything from innocuous soft flaking skin to clearly infected crusty, smelly skin.

8. Nail imperfections are the first signs of illness.

While some vertical lines on the nails can reflection poor circulation and horizontal lines can reflect stress, ridges or divets are often hereditary. Sometimes these markings can be buffed out but unfortunately they will usually grow back.

9. Drinking milk makes your makes your nails stronger.

While this may be true for growing strong bones, Alison said the secret to strong and healthy nails is: “Moisture, moisture, moisture.” She recommends treatments of vitamin E, hand creams with vitamin E in them and hand massages to stimulate blood flood. She said taking silica and biotin supplements will also help.

10. Nail biting is ugly but it’s not going to kill you.

“I would say to somebody who bites their nails – just go and lick the toilet bowl,” says Alison. Biting your nails not only is kind of gross but it also is potentially dangerous. Your nails are an ideal location for bacteria to thrive, and that includes potentially pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli and as you bite your nails, those bacteria easily transfer into your mouth and the rest of your body, where they may lead to infections.

Now Read: What Doctors Can Tell About Your Health Just By Looking At Your Nails

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