Nail Health...Inside and Out

By Jan Arnold, Co-Founder, CND®

Silky hair, radiant skin, and resilient nails reflect your overall health. Proper nutrition, daily exercise, and adequate rest can help you look as great as you feel! Science has yet to produce evidence that any vitamin or nutrient will boost the health of your hair, skin, and nails. Rather, it’s important to commit to healthy living.

Specifically, regarding nails, we know that nail type and condition are also influenced by genetics and the matrix of the nail. The matrix is found under the cuticle area and is often called the “mother of the nail.” It produces the cells that make up nail plate layers and determines the length of your nail bed, as well as the thickness and shape of your nails. We can’t change what the matrix dictates, but we can influence how we care for and protect our nails!

A professional manicure helping someone have healthy nails.


The matrix is constantly producing new cells that press up and out to make the nail plate layer. These soft round cells (like little white squishy eggs) pass under the eponychium, to open and flatten out. This forces the proteins and cystines inside the cells to “glue” each layer to the next. The result is hundreds of tiny dead keratin layers forming a very hard surface to protect the blood vessels, nerve endings, and living tissue in the nail bed.

The nail plate is hard yet porous, with tiny spaces and voids throughout. The body produces oil and moisture that migrates up from the nail bed through the nail plate, keeping it tough and resilient. As we age, the body has a harder time sending these natural lubricants to our extremities.

Therefore, it is important to practice what I call the 3 C’s of healthy nail care:

CARE: Build healthy nails.                                                                          

This includes a commitment by the client to a regular regime of hand and foot salon services to help control nail length and shape. It keeps the surrounding skin healthy and provides a proper level of protection for the nails, infusing conditioning oils into the nails and surrounding skin, to keep these areas supple and nourished. Committing to a care-focused regimen with CND Pro Skincare starts the important maintenance of skin’s microbiome on the hands/arms and feet/legs. The program is explained by the nail professional at time of service, and then the recommended products travel home with the client for continued, visible results.    

If nails are severely damaged, a keratin builder, such as CND Rescue RXx, might be recommended by the nail professional to help rebuild the broken nail structure bonds for a fortified base that can then be coated and serviced over time. This keratin builder can be applied in service and then must be carried out at home by applying to bare natural nails twice per day for a week or two, before service is resumed.

A regular schedule of professional service will provide the correct blueprint for the path to healthy nails. What starts at the nail table then must travel home with the client to continue the commitment. This includes clearing away unwanted cuticles and tissue around the nail plate by using a daily glycolic and lactic acid blend which is found in CND Cuticle Eraser; this product will micro exfoliate dead dry skin around the nail plate. Doing this daily will prevent build-up of unwanted cuticle tissue around the nails and keep hang nails at bay.


A person maintaining healthy nails.

CONDITION: Maintain healthy nails.

Conditioning nails and surrounding skin daily, preferably right before bed, allows the valuable lightweight and benefit-packed oils in CND SolarOil to work their magic. As you sleep, these oils will penetrate through the nail coating and tiny spaces of the nail plate itself, filling them with oil and pushing out damaging moisture that can break layers apart. This process is known as “plasticizing the nail” to restore resilience which will prevent against brittleness and breakage.  

COAT: Protect healthy nails.

Protecting nails with a coating that’s recommended for clients’ unique nail needs will prevent nail delamination, chipping, and breakage while helping to seal in conditioning oils during wear. A protective coating acts as a shield for the rigors of daily use, or abuse, of your nails. Depending on nail condition, this could be anything from a natural nail strengthener to a light base and top coat, a thin layer of gel, or a full-blown strength and transformation–a hardy nail enhancement coating using liquid and powder. For compromised natural nails, CND Strengthener RXx is a fast-drying vegan formula with celery seed extract and tsubaki oil, rich in essential fatty acids to create tougher, longer, and stronger nails. The nail professional will analyse the type of coating necessary, and then recommend the correct level of protection required.

Now let’s debunk some common nail-care assumptions:  

True or False: “My nails need to breathe.”

False. Nails are made up of dead keratin and don’t “breathe.” What nails need is conditioning oils to keep them tough and flexible. All coating polymers, gels, and gel polishes allow microscopic levels of lightweight oils into the nail layers (among the best is jojoba oil). If used daily, these oils have a cumulative effect, driving them all the way through the layers.

True or False: “I need to remove my nail coatings (from polish to gels and liquid & powder) to periodically give my nails a rest.”

False! In fact, the opposite is true. Maintaining your professionally applied nail coatings will keep nails protected and is one of the best ways to promote nail health.

True or False: “Chemicals harm nails.”

False! The only thing that can harm nail keratin is mechanical force. This includes roughing nails with a file or buffer, scraping nails to remove a coating, peeling off a coating, chipping off polish, etc. Correctly using and maintaining coating systems is critical to good nail health.

True or False: “Taking supplements such as biotin, calcium, or gelatin helps build nail strength.”

False! There is no evidence of any supplement influencing nail strength or health. What we do know is that good healthy living benefits everything–including our nails.

According to health experts, your nail health can be a strong indicator of overall wellness. So, are you ready to commit? A lifetime of excellent health habits is good for you, and great for your hair, skin and–most importantly–your nails!

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