Have you noticed an alarming number of natural nail clients coming into your salon with brittle nails, so brittle they seem to shatter? Lynn Ivey, a nail technician at Hollywood Hair in Hemet, Calif., has seen plenty of them lately and attributes the phenomenon to the overuse of certain nail products. As a matter of fact, her own mother was a recent victim of brittle, cracking nails. Ivey said by the time she found out that her mother had been overusing a nail hardener for several months, it was too late. “Now her nails are so hard and brittle they are cracking way below the free edge.
If one of these rips off, it will definitely do serious damage.” Ivey has been patching the cracks with fiberglass. But the problem with nail hardeners and strengtheners is not usually the product, it’s knowing when to say when. Many people using them do not read the directions and tend to think that more is better.
“Most people think the cracking and brittleness are signs that they aren’t using enough, so they double or triple their application,” explains Doug Schoon, director of R&D for Creative Nail Design.
One of the principal ingredients in nail hardening products is formaldehyde. and overuse of this chemical can cause damage to the nail including extreme brittleness.
Natural nail care systems have been researched and developed around a set of instructions, says Nancy Waspi, national sales manager for Nail Tek by Prima Technologies. “That’s why it’s so important to follow the directions—especially on the hardeners and strengtheners.”
Waspi says the Nail Tek nail program is specifically designed to help clients grow and keep healthy, natural nails during and in between appointments. It is important for the nail professional to choose the right formulation for her client and them make sure she follows the nail care guide.
Simmy Bredal-Bell, nail technician at a Nail Trap in Clearwater, Fla., recommends that once the product has run its course and done its job, your client should be told to stop using it. “If your client feels she wants to continue using a strengthener on her nails, suggest a product that does not contain formaldehyde as a top coat in between manicures, or she can take her polish off three days before her appointment and apply the product by itself to give her nails some strength. If her nails are strong now and the only problem is brittleness, she really doesn’t need it anymore and applying it once in a while is sufficient.”
By the way, levy reports her mother’s damaged nails healed under the patches of fiberglass, and today she is no longer, um, cracked.