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Tuesday, 04 March 2014 16:06

What’s your recipe for treating nails that have been damaged by acrylics?

Written by   Amos Lavian

It is a fact: nail polish lasts longer on acrylic nails and a trip to the nail salon can be reduced from weekly visits to once every few weeks. But what is given up in exchange? What happens to the physical nail due to this artificial resurfacing? And what toll does the acrylic application and re-application take on the natural nail?Acrylic nails are essentially artificial nails that are bonded over natural nails with chemicals, resins, powders and polymers. The nail technician prepares the nails by cutting, filing and shaving down the surface of each nail, making it prime for adherence to the acrylics. Then the acrylic stays on the natural nail for weeks at a time. Like skin, nails are porous and absorb the chemicals and compounds right into them. Exposure to the chemicals on the nail beds and surrounding skin can lead to infection, nail loss, and, in some cases, severe illness.

Removing acrylic nails can prove to be even more damaging than the adherence. Soaking for up to 40 minutes in a strong chemical solvent is the common method where at times an electric tool is also needed to buff them off. There are also times that the manicurist may flick the nail as a method of removal and this may cause damage to the top layer of the natural nail; then follows the drills and buffers used to smooth out the visibly ridged nails. The result may be nails that are thin, brittle, ridged and significantly weakened.
There is no magic wand to instantly restore your client’s natural nails.

These simple steps can restore the nails back to a strong and healthy state.

  1. Nourish and moisturize- Keratin (protein) is a major component that keeps the nails healthy, flexible and strong. Applying artificial nails regularly can cause the natural protein levels in the nails to be stripped and diminished. The use of a keratin rich, moisturizing cream on the nails and the surrounding cuticles will help combat the damage. Look for moisture binding ingredients, such as green tea, vitamin E or shea butter, and massage the nail beds three times daily.
  2. Breathe- Acrylic nails that are damaged tend to look whiter because they have been oxygen-deprived. Allow natural nails to breathe and apply polishes that do not contain potentially harmful ingredients. Avoid ingredients such as formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate chemical hardeners and preservatives. 
  3. Lightly buff and camouflage- Slight buffing of any acrylic residue is recommended but the urge to file down the nails should be resisted. An excellent alternative is to camouflage the damage with a concealing, strengthening and ridge-filling base coat. 
  4. Protect- Clients should keep their hands moisturized and out of harm’s way. Avoid water or detergents. Do not let the nails become further dehydrated as it may lead to additional painful brittleness and nail peeling.
  5. Exercise Patience- Nails grow approximately three millimeters every month. The goal is not to temporarily smooth out the nail damage, but to grow stronger nails.

Always keep the nails slightly shorter than usual and continue to treat them with keratin-rich formulations. Prevention is key so the use of a strengthening basecoat and thickening top coat to protect the nails can extend the life of any manicure. A little maintenance will go a long way and, before you know it, your client’s naturally beautiful nails will be on display.


Amos-Lavian-2014An ingredients and formulary specialist with 15 years of experience in the beauty industry, Amos Lavian has set out to de-clutter the oversaturated antiaging world with Dermelect Cosmeceuticals, his line of universal, multi-tasking treatments. An innovative collection, Dermelect targets specific beauty issues and skin changes due to aging, environment, stress, hormones, menopause and pregnancy. Ahead of the latest trends and on top of ingredient breakthroughs, Lavian has worked for some of the leading beauty companies in the business, where he was instrumental in the creation and marketing of successful beauty lines, acquiring extensive experience in merchandising and business development.

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