Guest Editor: Ask Doug Schoon, Scientist, Author and Educator

Doug Schoon copyDoug Schoon

Q: What causes white spots on the nail plate, and what are the best ways to avoid them? —Karen Zuckerman, via email

A: White spots occur when the surface of the nail plate suffers damaging forces. Forceful scraping or prying with a wooden or metal pusher can dislodge layers of nail cells, creating tiny pits across the natural nail surface. The white spots associated with UV gel manicures are almost always caused by improper removal, which is more likley to occur when nail coating products are over-cured or when nail coatings are left on the nail for too long; both scenarios can make nail coatings more difficult to remove.

Proper removal requires that nail coatings be soaked in removal solvents, typically acetone or a blend of acetone and other solvents. When sufficient time is allowed, those remover solvents will gently break apart the coating and break the adhesive bonds attaching the coating to the surface of the nail.

Q: Some gel polish (non-wipe) top coats don’t leave a sticky residue. What’s the difference in the formulation? —Sarah Taylor, via email

A: Oxygen can block the curing process of gel polish top coats near the surface, keeping the upper layers from curing properly. As a result, this sticky layer is called the oxygen inhibition layer, or inhibition layer for short. While it is possible to formulate a UV gel that doesn’t create an inhibition layer, there are disadvantages. The ingredients used in these formulas cure faster, but this creates a higher tendency to overheat and burn the nail bed, which can lead to onycholysis, a condition in which the nail plate separates from the nail bed. The same ingredients can reduce the color stability of the coating and may cause it to become brittle over time, and these ingredients also have a higher tendency to cause adverse skin reactions, so be especially cautious of prolonged or repeated contact.

I also recommend that you use caution when removing the sticky layer. Using cotton soaked pads to remove this layer can lead to skin contact and increase the potential for irritation or allergy. Instead, use a plastic-back cotton pad and/or wear disposable nitrile or vinyl gloves to help avoid skin contact with this uncured layer. Again, any uncured or improperly cured UV gel can cause adverse skin reactions if prolonged and/or repeated contact occurs on sensitive individuals, so be sure to avoid skin contact. When properly applied and cured according to the manufacturer’s directions, all UV gel products can be used safely.

Q: Why do some nail plates curl when exposed to acetone? —Donna Givings, via email

A: When the nail plate is soaked in acetone for 10` minutes or more, approximately 2 percent to 3 percent of the water content of the nail plate is temporarily removed—which is enough to temporarily alter the shape of the nail plate. (The same thing occurs when a sponge changes shape as it dries out.) Once the acetone is removed from the nail, the lost moisture will be automatically replaced by moisture from the underlying nail bed and surrounding tissues—usually within eight hours—and the nail plate will reverse to its original shape. (Similarly, when you wet a dry sponge, it reverts to its original form.) Keep in mind, changes in shape are much more noticeable on thin or highly flexible nail plates, and not as noticeable on thick nail plates with less flexibility.

Have a question for Doug? Email it to [email protected]

To see this full article pick up the September 2017 Issue of NAILPRO

[Image: Courtesy of Doug Schoon]

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