Nail & Skin Disorders

What Are Brittle Nails?

So common they hardly rate as a condition, brittle nails are often nothing more than the body’s response to environmental conditions. A trip to the nail salon can be an informative and satisfactory first step to making brittle nails beautiful.

Having brittle toenails as well as fingernails can indicate a systemic problem rather than an environmental cause.
<p>Having brittle toenails as well as fingernails can indicate a systemic problem rather than an environmental cause.</p>

Just as the causes of brittle nails are often easy to determine, they are also easy to treat. When clients come in complaining that their nails always split and won’t grow, techs can offer a number of helpful suggestions. If the client is in a lot of water, suggest she wear gloves to protect her hands and nails. If that’s not possible, say in the case of a bartender, suggest the client hydrate her nails regularly. Dr. Daniel suggests a moisturizer that contains urea. Other treatments could include Biotin, a B complex vitamin. “Between 25%-30% of patients respond to this treatment when they take 2.5-3 milligrams a day for four to six months,” says Dr. Daniel. Silica or orthosilic acid may also help clients who suffer from brittle nails. Despite the circulating tale, gelatin has not been proven to help. Another recommendation from Dr. Daniel is a familiar one: soak hands in water for a few minutes before bedtime and then add a generous amount of moisturizer, such as aquaphor or hydrophor, to the hands. Place cotton gloves over the hands and wear overnight.


“Nail technicians have an entirely different arsenal to work with than doctors,” says Dr. C. Ralph Daniels. Nail techs can treat brittle nails in a number of ways. The first is to work with the client, educating her in ways to keep hands moisturized. Techs can also offer clients in-salon moisturizing treatments, such as paraffin, and they can sell clients hydrating products, such as their favorite cuticle oil, that clients can use at home. These maintenance suggestions are good for clients who cannot wear enhancements on the job. Techs can create an extra-hydrating nail service and market it to clients with brittle nails. Be sure to use a natural nail strengthener under the polish, and apply cuticle oil to clients’ nails before they leave.

The second recommendation a tech can offer is beautiful nail enhancements. Nail enhancements do not pose any risk to clients with brittle nails. If clients have brittle nails because of exposure to detergents or soaps, it may be beneficial to apply one nail on the pinkie to make sure the enhancement product doesn’t aggravate the client’s dry skin. It is still important, even with enhancements, for clients to keep their cuticles and hands hydrated in order to minimize a reaction to the nail product. 


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