Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Rehab Your Nails: What is a long nail bed?

Do you have short nail beds? Long nail beds? Wide nail beds?  Do you even know the difference?  It's difficult to tell sometimes since there is no defined length or width for nails.  The reason for this is that everyone's fingers are a different length and width.  The size and shape of the nail should be in proportion to the size and shape of the nail bed and the fingers.  When your nails are within proportion, they are at their strongest and most appealing.  So how do you know what length and shape to make them?  Well that's where it gets a little tricky...let's take a look at a few nails shall we?


I bet it didn't take you very long to figure out what the issue here is.  The nails are too long.  Some of you might be intrigued by this but I'd bet less than 10% of you looked at this picture with any kind of envy or adoration.  These nails are way out of proportion. Now let's look at another picture:


Again I'm sure it doesn't take very long to figure out the problem here. The nails are way too short.  Not just SHORT but these nails are actually some that have been bitten and you can see where the nail bed is becoming injured and growing a new "skin" which will keep these nails stunted for life.  It's easy to spot the problems when they're super obvious  but how can you tell when nails are just slightly dis-proportioned?  My intention here is not to make fun of anyone or look down on anyone so I didn't want to pull any pictures from the web for this lest anyone should come across them and feel badly about themselves. So let's look at my nails for a minute:



I'm lucky because I have naturally long nail beds which means that unless I grow my nails to ridiculous lengths, they are always in proportion.  Here's how you can tell if you do too:


I've labeled the width and length of my nail bed here.  I want you to notice that I did not include my free edge when I did the length.  I'm showing you my nail BED not my nail PLATE.  It's important to see the difference.  The nail plate you can control. The nail bed you cannot.  You can see that the length of my nail bed not only exceeds the width but is more than double the length as the width.  This is a proportioned nail.  Why?  

Aesthetically speaking the preferred width to length ratio is 50%.  In plain English that means that the width of your nail should be no more than half the length of the bed.  If the width is more than half the amount of your bed length then your nails are wide.  If the length is less than twice the length of the width, your beds are short. If the length exceeds the width by 50% your nails are perfectly proportioned and if it exceeds it by more than 50% (as mine do) your beds are long. Now that you know what makes a short nail bed, the next question will be how to fix it.

  You have no control over the width of your nails.  So the variable here will be the length. The easy thing to do is to grow nails to the length that will be twice (or close to) the length of the width of your nail bed.  The perfect length for everyone will vary BUT  there are a few things to keep in mind when growing your nails out.  One thing is that there is a perfect length for your nail type, structure and usage level.  You probably already know what this is because your nails will begin to break after that point.  You can increase it by changing your habits, diet, or adding strengtheners to your routine.  Another thing to remember is that your nails have a delicate structure and you don't want to  unbalance them.  Nails should never exceed in length the total length of the nail bed.  You can see the line I showed you on my nails to display the length of my nail bed.  If I were to measure that line and reposition it to start at my free edge (the area where it first begins to look white) you would be able to see the maximum length my nail bed will support.  Growing your nails past that point not only looks unbalanced but also weakens your nail.  Try this trick at home to see what I'm talking about:

Place a pencil or pen on a table.  Now move it towards the edge slowly, so that the end of it begins to hang over the edge of the table.  Inch it forward slowly and wait for the point where  it falls off.  It should be at just over half the length of the pencil.  Every millimeter your nail grows slightly weakens it's structure, just like with the pencil and at some point, it will become too much.  Keep those tips in mind and you'll be on the way to beautiful proportioned nails in no time!!




Please note:  These opinions are that of trained professionals and facts from many years of research. No two people have the same nails and you are the only one who can say if you like them or not.  This is to be used as a guide for those who want to achieve healthy, structurally proportioned nails and is not to be looked at as an assault on anyone's individual opinions or choices.   

11 comments:

  1. A very informative post, thank you very much :).

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  2. So interesting! Thanks for the thorough explanation because I never really understood what narrow and wide nail beds meant!

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  3. I am one of those people who ruined their nail beds with nail biting. This is a great, educational post. Thanks for sharing it.

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  4. I love validation! My beds are square due to chewing until I was 13. I learned on my own that growing the plate to just past double the bed length (for me that's 3/4" from cuticle to tip) works best for both asthetics & strength. I recently met a long time goal of 1" nails & while they looked fantastic, they were too long. They got in the way & often my nail beds hurt. Thank you for sharing such useful info!<3

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  5. i love it when you get all scientific but wow that first photo freaked me out !!!

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  6. I wear my nails really long. I have to say the picture brought me to your blog and pintrest.
    I have read a lot of your blog and now I am hooked.

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  7. I will admit that I looked at the first pic and did think how cool those nails would be for design work...

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  8. I was really curious about nail beds and length. My friend had just recently gotten her nails done and I noticed they looked a lot shorter but still long, I'm guessing her nails are just the nail bed since her nails were trimmed and filed when she had them done and I had noticed that her nails still looked long even though she had no free edge and I just figured she has a long nail bed (looks a lot like your nails). Of course I'm jealous because my nail beds seem wide and short (but not as short as the second photo in this post). Time to grow them out again! lol

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  9. I was blessed with the long nail bed too so I don't really have to grow out my nails but the problem is that they do grow too fast and honestly, I'm such a lazy person. But I try to keep up with them as much as possible.

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  10. Hmmm what a pretty long nails she got there. I bet there will be hundreds of nail designs available for that. LOL. But I'd rather like my nails short and clean... ;-)

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  11. You are lucky! I have short nail beds and unless I grow my nails out I think they look like little toddler nails. So sad!!! I appreciate the info you put into this post and linked to it in my last post :)

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