Nail Clinic: 'Tis the Season

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Learn how to adjust your nailcare services during seasonal temperature changes, and give nails some much-needed TLC.

If you live in an area that experiences changing seasons, you’ve probably already noticed that your clients’ skin and nails change right along with them. Even in a climate that undergoes minimal temperature shifts, there are still big problems: In the arid climates of the West Coast, skin retains less moisture than in more humid climates, such as those found in Southeast regions. Researchers have even found a link between climate and the rate at which people age: Dry-climate skin enjoys less elasticity than in more humid surroundings and, therefore, develops fine lines and wrinkles more rapidly. There are many other ways in which temperature changes can affect your clients’ nailcare needs; in this Nail Clinic we examine the seasonal changes you experience and how to keep your clients’ skin and nails healthy in spite of harsh weather.

Cold-Weather Care
When the temperature drops and your salon is flooded with people eagerly awaiting the soothing, hot water in a pedicure tub, you know it's time for winter services. Most of the changes you see in your clients’ nails and skin this time of year are a result of chilly weather. “With colder temperatures, there is less humidity in the air, causing dryness,” remarks Ella Toombs, dermatologist and director of aesthetic dermatology at DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C. “And nails that are dry tend to fracture and break more easily.”
Your clients can easily protect their vulnerable nails through fall and winter by hydrating them daily with cuticle oil and even food-grade oils, such as olive oil or vegetable oil. “I ask clients to put olive oil on their toenails as often as possible to help with dryness,” says Diane Gibbons, 17-year veteran nail tech and owner of Diane Gibbons’ Nail Salon in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts. “If the client has dryness around her fingernails and cuticles, I suggest that a few days before coming in for a manicure, she take off the polish, soak her nails in warm olive oil and really rub it in. Amazingly, olive oil is a great solution for dry nails!”
While nails are high on your priority list, don’t forget that skin is also susceptible to harsh winter conditions. To combat dry skin, offer hydrating manicures as well as retailing products that clients can utilize at home, like a thick cream. “The purchase of an item tends to promote use of it,” explains Barbara Reed, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver and dermatologist at The Denver Skin Clinic. Reed recommends that clients apply a thick cream, put on damp cotton gloves and cover hands with a plastic bag or plastic gloves to promote absorption; they can leave this on for a few hours or overnight. Toombs agrees that religiously applying a thick cream to hands, nails and cuticles at night before going to bed is an effective treatment. “This acts as a protective barrier—a sealant around skin—preventing moisture from being sapped. A product may not add moisture, but it will allow the body to keep what moisture it has,” she says.
Reed also notes that severe symptoms, such as skin cracking or redness, may require a trip to the dermatologist, so call your client’s attention to any skin issues that look out of the ordinary.