top of page

When to let your nails breathe

Self isolation/lockdown from COVID-19 has allowed me to relax some of my beauty routines like painting my nails. I’ve just been changing from pjs to tracksuits every day. It’s nice, and saying I’m very comfortable is an understatement.

With nowhere to go but another room in the house, and my camera always off in Zoom meetings, it’s giving my body the chance to just take a break from painting my nails.

So what is the effect of not painting your nails?

How often should you let your nails breathe?

Technically, your nails can’t breathe. Your nail plates are made of non-living keratin that stay healthy through your blood vessels that oxygenate healthy onychocytes cells.

So if you’re nails are looking lacklustre, dry, or cracked, it’s not due to lack of oxygen. It’s about what you’re putting on your nails.

According to Dr. Dana Stern who is a board certified dermatologist, the main culprit for nail damage is acetone, a strong solvent in a lot of nail polish removers, which dries up the onychocytes.

But prolonged nail polish use, which according to Dr Stern is greater than one month, results in keratin granulation. This is when white, rough patches form on the nail “when the polish is removed along with the superficial layers of nails cells.”

If your nails are dry, cracked, or peeling, Dr Stern recommends taking a minimum of 3 weeks without nail polish, and acetone based removers.

Once your nails are back to being healthy, and if the occassion calls for it you can go back to your favourite nail polish shades!

Does hand sanitiser dry your nails?

Although hand santisers help kill 99.9% of bacteria on our hands, alcohol based/waterless hand santisers also dry your nails.

According to Zoe Draelos, M.D from, Dermatology Consulting Services, and clinical dermatologist in High Point, N.C, "when you flick the edge of the nail and it doesn't crack, that's the water in the nail. The water allows it to deform in a plastic fashion as opposed to a brittle fashion."

The alcohol in alcohol based/waterless hand sanistiser strips the moisturise from your nails which causes them to crack, peel, and become brittle.

Does your skin need a bit more moisture? I discuss skincare tips here, and why licking your lips is bad here!


bottom of page