Do Your Nails Need to Breathe?

Do Your Nails Need to Breathe?

If you're like most women, you probably love painting your nails. It's a great way to express your personality and style. But have you ever wondered if you're doing more harm than good? After all, paint pretty much seals off your nails from the air. So, do your nails need to breathe? Let's find out.

The simple answer is no, your nails do not need to "breathe." Your nails are actually made up of dead cells that are held together by a protein called keratin. So, unlike other parts of your body, they're not getting oxygen from the air.

Your Fingernails are Already Dead

A fingernail is produced by living skin cells from the part of the nail called the matrix. The nails are composed of a protein called keratin (which is also found in your skin and hair). As the cells in the matrix grow, the older cells are pushed out and upwards towards the surface of the fingernail and harden. These are dead cells, meaning that they are not connected to any blood supply or nerve endings. This is why it doesn’t hurt when you clip your nails (or cut your hair). This is also the only part of your nails that you are able to paint with nail polish.

What Is Breathable Nail Polish?

You might have come across several brands of nail polish that claim to be "breathable". Their claim is that by having a nail polish that allows oxygen to go through, that somehow it is healthier for your nails. But is that actually true? Let's take a look at the science behind nail polish to find out.

The main ingredient in nail polish is nitrocellulose, which is a compound derived from cellulose—aka plant fibers. Nitrocellulose is combined with plasticizers like ethyl acetate or butyl acetate. Together, these ingredients give nail polish its unique texture and finish.

Does Breathable Nail Polish Actually Work?

Breathable nail polish includes something called K-Polymer which is a compound used in silicone based contact lenses to prevent them from drying up while you wear them. Although silicone can bind with K-Polymer (because it's a flexible compound), it CAN NOT bind with nitrocellulose in nail polish the same way. And for this reason breathable nail polish doesn't allow any kind of moisture or water vapor to go though it. You can find out more in the following video about the scientific facts and fiction of halal nail polish:

Contrary to popular belief, however, nail polish does not actually suffocate your nails. In fact, research has shown that nails treated with polish have the same oxygen and water permeability as bare nails. So if your nails are healthy and you're not dealing with any underlying issues, nail polish application shouldn't cause any issues. 


So there you have it—the truth about whether or not your nails need to "breathe." As it turns out, they don't. But that doesn't mean you should neglect them altogether. Be sure to give your nails regular breaks from polish, as well as clean and trim them thoroughly. Your nails will thank you!

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