Is it possible for natural nails to be permanently damaged if a drill is used on them? Only if you're careless.
Yes, but it’s very unlikely. In order for permanent damage to occur, the damage must reach the matrix. A tech would have to either apply too much pressure for too much time near the cuticle, which would build up extreme heat that can penetrate to the matrix (this can also cause the nail to lift off the nail plate). Or use an improper bit that is too sharp or coarse for natural nails near the cuticle and cut through the nail plate. That allows either an infection to penetrate the matrix or for products applied after the cut occurred to penetrate to the matrix, thus damaging future nail growth.
Remember, most damage to clients during nail services is done by the technician, not by products or equipment. Hobby and craft drills designed for use on wood, ceramics, or other products should not be used for nail services. The torque (force) is too high for use on nails. -- Nancy King
If properly used, a drill will cause no damage to the natural nail. The operative word here is “properly.” The two most common problems I see are drill line sand drill burns. Drill lines (or rings) are usually seen around the cuticle area. They can occur when a tech holds the drill at an improper angle. For instance rings happen if a heavy-handed tech uses the edge of her bit to file down product around the cuticle area. This problem can also occur when trying to remove the pterygium from the natural nail. The second problem, drill burns (or “hot spots”), occur once again if the tech is too heavy-handed and stays on one area of the nail too long without moving.
Both of these problems can occur with hand files, although the drill is running faster and can cause the damage must faster. Fortunately, both can be eliminated with proper technique. If you are thinking about using a drill, take a course and learn about the different drills and bits and which can be used safely on natural nails. There are specially designed bits for natural nails and certain ones, like carbide bits, that should never be used on the natural nail plate. -- Debbie Krakalovich