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Commonly held beliefs about nails

Are you sure you really know your nails? The beliefs we hold about them are not always based on scientific evidence. Here, we go over some of the commonly held beliefs to untangle the true from the false.

1. White spots on nails are due to a calcium deficiency
FALSE
Contrary to popular belief, the small white spots that frequently appear on nails are not due to a calcium or zinc deficiency. Actually, they are generally due to bumps and knocks which alter the keratin locally.

2. Wearing coloured nail varnish all the time makes nails turn yellow
TRUE
Nails are porous and tend to absorb the pigments in the varnish, which can eventually lead to yellowing. The stronger the nail varnish colour and the more frequently you apply it, the yellower your nails will become. However, it is easy to avoid this by using a clear base coat under the varnish which will also help it last longer.

3. Artificial nails damage natural nails
TRUE
Artificial nails make natural nails thinner and softer, because they block out the air and UV rays that naturally harden nails. What’s more, the gels, glues and resins used to apply artificial nails are harsh on the nails and weaken them. When artificial nails are applied incorrectly, fungal nail infections can appear. To avoid this problem, there must be no humidity trapped between the artificial nails and the real ones. In any case, it is best to keep artificial nails for special occasions only.

4. Eating habits influence nail health
TRUE
Our diet has a direct influence on both our nails and our hair. An imbalance or deficiencies can weaken the nails, making them dull, dry, soft or brittle. For healthy nails, eat foods high in protein, iron, zinc, magnesium and vitamins.

5. Nails are made of the same substance as hair and body hair
TRUE
Like hair and body hair, nails are mainly composed of keratin, although it is structured differently. That is why the foods and food supplements recommended for healthy hair are the same as those recommended for healthy nails.

6. Nails always grow at the same rate
FALSE
Like hair, nails grow faster in summer than in winter. They also grow faster for men than women (discounting pregnancies), and for children than adults.

7. Cuticles serve no purpose: it’s ok to cut them for prettier nails
FALSE
The cuticles (the small bits of skin at the base of nails) prevent humidity and bacteria from penetrating to the root of the nail. Thus, they play an essential role in preventing bacterial and fungal infections. They must never be cut during a manicure.