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Dispel The Myth: Nails Don’t Need to Breathe

Nail technicians and clients have been saying for years that they should remove nail polish and/or enhancements to allow the natural nail to breathe. This could not be further from the truth. To prove this, it is important that nail professionals understand the overall makeup of the hand and foot as an entire unit.

Blood vessels provide oxygen and nutrients to the hand, fingers, and nails through millions of tiny blood vessels. The veins carry waste and carbon dioxide away. This intricate process is what feeds the matrix, so the matrix can produce healthy nail cells.

These healthy nail cells make up the surrounding soft tissue of the nail plate, eponychium, lateral folds, hyponychium, bed epithelium, etc. These are all living tissue. The nail bed is also living tissue consisting of a dermal and epidermal layer. The upper layer is similar the type of skin found on the inside of your mouth. This is also the layer that is attached to the underside of the natural nail plate.

technical finger diagram

The natural nail plate is a moveable solid and rides a rail and groove track to move out and grow. It is primarily comprised of keratin (just like your hair). The natural nail plate is not living – it does not breathe. Because it is made up of non-living keratin, it does not HURT to have your nails clipped – same as it doesn’t hurt to have your hair cut. The nail plate is healthy when the health of the nail bed, matrix and surrounding tissue are properly cared for – it does not need to “breathe” to be healthy.