All about the nails

As a trainee beauty therapist I have to know a lot about the body and what not, so I thought I’d share my knowledge with you lot! Hopefully it won’t be too boring! So this is all about the nails! Now we all dream of pretty, perfect nails, and not only that but we want them to be healthy and strong. So here’s all you need to know about the nails, including tips to achieving those lovely nails… 
The nail structure
This is a structure of the nail, it is made up of many parts:
The Nail Structure
What each part does
The Nail Plate: This is the body of the nail. It’s made up keratin which is protein, this is what makes the nails strong.
The Matrix: This is the only living part of the nail. It is sometimes called the root and it is situated at the base of the nail. It has a rich blood supply to help growth.
The Nail Bed: The nail bed contains blood sells and nerve endings. It connects the Nail Plate and keeps the nail in place as it grows. This is the part of that gives the nail it’s healthy pink colour.
The Free Edge: This is the part of the nail that you file. It is the hardest part of the nail.
Nail Grooves: Nail grooves have ridges like a railway track, these help growth in the right direction.
The Nail Walls: Nail Walls are skin which help to protect the nail from damage such as knocks, they also hold the nail in place.
The Lunula: This is also known as the half moon. It lies over The Matrix, this is where the Matrix and the Nail Bed meet. The Lunula is a pearly white colour.
The Cuticle: The Cuticle’s main function is to protect the Matrix by forming a barrier from infection.
The Hyponychium: This is found under the Free Edge and it’s function is to protect the Nail Bed.
The Eponychium (cuticle): This is an extension of the Cuticle which also protects the Matrix.
The Perionychium (cuticle): This surrounds and protects the nail.
Nail Growth
There are five stages of nail growth, they are:
  1. Cells divide in the Matrix. This is known as Cell Mitosis.
  2. New cells are pushed forward by constant cell reproduction.
  3. Cells undergo hardening, this is also known as Keratinisation.
  4. The growing nail is guided along the Nail Grooves and Side Walls.
  5. The Free Edge is formed away from the finger. 
Things that affect nail growth
  • Diet
  • Poor health
  • General health
  • Drugs/Medication
  • External damage
  • Season of year
  • Occupation
  • Pregnancy
What to do and what not to do:
  • Don’t use you hands as tools.
  • Do wear gloves when washing dishes, cleaning or using hard chemicals.
  • Don’t bite nails.
  • Do go for regular manicures or give yourself a manicure. Manicure’s help nails to grow, improve appearance and strength of nails. If you don’t want to splash your cash or if you don’t have a clue about how to do a manicure, check out my basic manicure tutorial. Oh and don’t forget your feet are just as important as you hands, so why not go for a pedicure?
  • Don’t file in a saw motion, this damages nails and increased the likelihood of them snapping.
  • Do use base coat and top coat when applying enamel to the nails. Base coat gives colour polish the perfect base to stick to and it prevents staining whereas top coat ensures that your polish lasts as long as possible and gives a nice shiny finish. 
Natural nail shapes
  • Ski jump/spoon – The nail curves up and grows outwards at the Free Edge.
  • Bitten nails – Nails are short in appearance and can often have torn cuticles and sidewalls.
  • Fan – The nail grows outwards at the Free Edge creating a fan like shape.
  • Oval – The Free Edge is rounded and the nails forms an oval shape. This is the desired natural nail shape. It compliments shorter and wider nails.
  • Claw/Hook – The nail grows downward in a hook like shape.
Filed nail shapes
  • Square – The nail is filed straight across at the Free Edge creating a square shape. Suits longer fingers with narrow nails. This is a very popular shape. It can be rounded at the edges to create the Squoval shape which prevents breaks.
  • Pointed –  Filed at the corners of the Free Edge to create a point in the middle of the nail. Not practical at all. Nails are likely to break very easily however, it does seem to be a really popular shape at the moment.
  • Round – Rounded at the Free Edge. Good for those who have jobs where they use their hands a lot but require short nails, e.g. nurses, beauty therapists. A downside of the shape is that it can unfortunately make hands look chubby.