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

Doug Schoon copyDoug Schoon

Q: I know the nail plate can absorb moisture and oil. Can it also absorb acetone or other chemicals found in gel polish, acrylic or lacquer?
A: An unbroken nail plate is very difficult to penetrate. Acetone is very volatile and evaporates too quickly from the nail plate to penetrate very far. Besides water and nail oils, any ingredient in nail products that does penetrate the surface will be restricted to the upper layers of the nail plate. So, in short, it is unlikely that any significant amount of the nail products mentioned above can absorb beyond the surface or upper layers of the nail plate.

Q: My teacher told me that soaking nails too long in water would dry them out. That doesn’t make sense to me. Is this true?
A:It’s a very common misunderstanding that soaking the nails dries them out. Water cannot cause anything to become dry. I think that what your teacher is trying to say is that excessive water exposure can damage some nail plates when they are repeatedly exposed to water and then dried out. Excessive water exposure can cause tiny cracks to rapidly grow into larger ones or the nail plate to peel more at the free-edge. This damage is sometimes confused with dryness, even though it is not the same.
So, how does water cause this damage to occur? When water is absorbed, the nail plate swells (which may cause cracks to grow) and the surface of the nail plate becomes softer and more prone to damage. Softened nail plates are easier to damage with physical actions, such as prying, picking, scraping, filing, etc. While water gets the blame, heavy-handed nail techs usually cause much of the surface damage. Be cautious! A good general rule to remember: When the nail plate is soaked in water or other solvents for more than 60 seconds, expect the surface to be more susceptible to damage for the next hour.

Q: We have a difficult client who has ridges in her nail plates. She won’t allow any techs to buff them because she says it causes them to crack and bleed. How can I explain to her that buffing is OK?
A:Actually, I agree with your client. It’s normal to see shallow grooves on the nail plate of people older than 30 and it’s considered a normal sign of healthy aging. The nail plate develops shallow grooves when an aging (or damaged) nail matrix makes fewer new nail cells in certain areas; the ridges are, in fact, the edges of these shallow grooves.
I don’t recommend filing to remove these ridges. Why? Buffing away the ridges will thin the nail plate down to the bottom of the deepest groove on the plate. Yikes! A reduction in plate thickness often leads to poor adhesion of nail coatings, and excessive plate thinning can also cause the nail’s surface to peel excessively and/or crack at the free edge. Rather than filing or buffing, it is far better to use an opaque base coat to fill and cover the grooves. This will maintain the thickness and integrity of the nail plate. Overlaying the nail plate with a thin layer of any type of artificial nail coating can also camouflage the grooves and reinforce the nail plate.

Our next Guest Editor is Jackie Truong, Director of Education for LeChat. Have a question for Jackie?  Email it to [email protected]

–Dina Ciccarelli

To see this full article pick up the October 2017 issue of NAILPRO

[Image: Courtesy of Doug Schoon]


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