[04 Nov 2013] Manicure Monday

Nail polishes are so fun but more often than not, prolonged wear leave us with yellowed nails. Or totally stains our nails blue/green/purple/red. ESPECIALLY RED.

Formaldehyde and stains in the polish react with the keratin in nails to make them discoloured and brittle.

So not attractive and makes any classic French manicure impossible. There are many reasons other than wearing polish that may discolour your nails though:

1. Health
If you have yellow nails and don’t wear dark nail polishes, then the yellowing can be caused by a serious condition. In rare cases, yellow nails can indicate a more serious health issue such as diabetes, severe thyroid disease, lung disease or psoriasis. You will want to notify your doctor as soon as possible.

2. Fungus
Nail fungus occurs more frequently in toe nails, but can appear in fingernails as well. It starts as yellowing and leads to the nail plate separating from the nail bed. This is usually quite painful. When nail fungus has been present for a long time and left untreated, the nail begins to get thicker, peels or crumbles and there is a foul odor.

3. Smoking
Smoking can cause yellow nails as well. Nicotine and tar are sticky substances that grab on to the smoker’s hands while holding a cigarette. Often tar is responsible for the brown stains and nicotine for the yellow nails. The most ideal solution is to quit smoking. But since it is difficult to quit, smokers will see the stains continue to build up as the years pass.

But since this is Manicure Monday, we’ll deal with discolouration by polish, and the 2 biggest lies related to this.

We all have our own ways to combat the yellowing and the most common method seems to be letting your nails breathe – aka going around with naked paws till the colour returns to somewhat normal. Guess what? Breathing is a lie.

100 layers of flattened, dead keratin don’t breathe. Dead is dead. What really happens here is that your nails soak up water doing chores, washing hands, bathing and makes them feel less tight and you think it’s better. Friction plays a big part here too. Most females rummage around their bags on a daily basis and some buffing action takes place, which removes layers of your discoloured nail to reveal less yellow layers underneath.

On to the arguments.

  • Some say that your nail is not actually “dead” until it reaches the free edge. There’s logic in this BUT keratin is a protein and doesn’t need any oxygen whatsoever to breathe.
  • Argument number 2 usually comes from those who removed their gelish/enhancements and see their soft, sad, “oxygen deprived” nails beneath. Remember how your skin looks like after you’ve removed a plaster? Same thing here. While being protected from environmental abuse, your nails have actually achieved a high level of moisturisation.
  • Most overused statement ever: “But my nails get pink after a month!” Ever heard of growing nails babe? Of course your fresh new dead keratin is a spanking pink! It’s never been coloured!

Nails also become brittle after consistently wearing polish cos most removers have acetone which strips your nails of its natural oils and dries them out. Put it this way, if your nails needed to breathe, you should stop washing your hands or bathing cos you would be drowning them every single time.

Buffing is another hugely popular “cure”. I already mentioned above about the friction thing, so buffing is just a targeted and concentrated method to get rid of the yellow.

I know of girls who file their nail surfaces and buff them after to achieve natural pink and shiny nails. Bad move ladies. It’s not so bad if you’re using a fine emery board every now and then to even out ridges for that satin smooth polish finish but actually filing the beds just thins and weakens your nails.

Next week, I’ll blog about how to prevent or remove discolouration. See you then!


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