Rehab Your Nails: After Enhancement Nails

Alright ya'll...for this particular blog I have gone ALL the way back into the archives and found this picture from 2012. This is MY nails and this was actually taken AFTER I had done a full workup on my nails which were damaged from like, seven sets of acrylics in nail school. Hard to believe that this May I'll celebrate 7 years of being a nail tech...and seven years of not having to put my nails through repeated abuse. :P  At any rate this is a good picture because it's from a previous Rehab Your Nails post about caring for nails after you remove acrylic AND how to properly do it. So if you have on acrylic nails now and you're thinking of removing them yourself PLEASE pop on over there and take the time to read about how to do it properly. Improper removal is one of the leading causes of nail damage from enhancements. As a nail tech there is nothing worse than a client who chooses to remove a perfectly applied set of enhancements (and this can include plain gel polish even though it's not technically an enhancement) at home and then comes back for damage control. Once the damage is done it's SO much harder to repair than a proper removal is.  Now of course another reason for damage is improper application and that's typically caused by a tech using a drill incorrectly. But it can be caused by overfilling, over-prepping, under-prepping and lots of other things so for now, let's not focus on blame because to be perfectly honest with you....anything you put on your nail -- including polish -- causes damage. Some minimal and some not so much but you'll almost always end up with some kind of damage to your nail from regular use of product. So the question is how do you care for your nails when you've just had off enhancements?

In general nails will be thinner and weaker than they were before the enhancement and they may actually FEEL thinner since you'll feel a lot more when the enhancement is off. It's kind of like how the first time you apply lipstick your lips feel suffocated but after awhile you don't notice it anymore. So a nail strengthener can go along way to soothing the nail, adding strength, and also helping to alleviate that feeling of vulnerability. If the nails are very thin, like the ones in this picture (they may have a lacy appearance) then they should be cut to avoid painful breaks.  Regular use of oil and lotion will help the nails grow faster and healthier and of course, AVOID WATER. Like super avoid it at all costs. Water plus thin nails = disaster. If you like, you can apply a layer of clear (or colored) gel polish for awhile to add some thickness to the nail while the thinnest parts grow out. But I would caution against doing this unless you plan to wear it the full length of suggested time, which is typically two weeks. Removal of gel polish is hard on nails and nails that are already thin and weak will sustain extra damage. Last tip: give yourself time! Healthy nails take 4-6 weeks to grow from matrix to tip so don't get discouraged if you're not seeing a difference. See that picture above? The arrow indicates the damaged nail and below it is my healthy nail growing back in. It will take time but you'll see it!!


Rehab Your Nails: Stress Breaks

Today we're talking about STRESS breaks. Stress breaks are pretty common and they are called that, not because your nail is stressed out, but because the nail tends to break at the stress points. A lot of things can cause stress breaks so if you fall into this category of nail types it's likely that a few changes may eliminate this issue for you. Of course, it can also be hereditary and it can also be a cause of damage to your matrix, which we'll talk about further down in this blog. But let's start with how to identify a stress break.  If you look at your nails, do you see that point where they start to turn white?  That's where your free edge starts and your nail bed ends. That may be basic information to most of you but did you know that that area and a few millimeters below it is the stress point of your nail? This is where all the pressure gets absorbed and it's why your nail is most likely to break on the free edge or just below it. A stress break commonly occurs on the side of the nail and typically below the free edge. That's important! A break above the free edge is usually either a brittle nail or just a typical break which can happen to anyone. A break BELOW the free edge is going to either be from serious trauma or stress. If your stress breaks are caused by usage (ie opening cans with that nail, using it to pry things, repeated pressure on the nail in that area which can come from typing or other types of work...) then you can simply baby your nails with lots of oil and lotion and stop using your nails as tools. ;P  If your stress breaks are hereditary, you can help improve them by using oils and lotions daily, limiting the amount of daily wear on them by, again, not using your nails as tools, avoiding water (yeah, again.), and if they're really bad, using a layer of gel polish to strengthen nails. DO NOT use strengthener. This can actually make stress breaks MORE likely. Nail strengtheners are for thin nails and nails with too much flex. They are not meant for normal nails. If your stress breaks are caused by permanent matrix damage then that's going to make things a little more difficult for you. In my case, my nails have a specific growth pattern to them. Your nails do too and everyone's nails are a little different. Some grow straight, some curve gently, some curve a lot. As they start to come off the free edge, take a look at your c-curve.  If it's extra curvy or bends under on one side or the other this can also cause stress breaks since part of your nail takes more pressure than the rest. You can help fix this by changing the shape of your nails. And rounded nails will almost ALWAYS benefit a person suffering from stress nails. But in some cases the matrix damage may be causing part of your nail to grow thinner than another. Again this creates a constant area of breakage. So what can you do? Stick to a solid routine of oil, massage and lotion daily, and again...DON'T USE YOUR NAILS AS TOOLS! Stress breaks are my biggest issue and unfortunately, one of the best ways to avoid them is to skip regular nail polish changes. The more you expose these nails to remover, the more you dry them out and leave them prone to breaks. But since I don't plan to stop polishing anytime soon, I make sure to oil throughout the day and to only do waterless manicures. Unless I'm on a vacation or in the summer when I'm in water a lot, I generally see really good results from this routine and you will too! Always keep in mind that nails grow from the base not the tip. Any new routine should be followed for a minimum of four to six weeks to see results. :)

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