“The short answer is that hormones absolutely do affect the nails,” says Doug Schoon, chief scientific adviser for CND. “A better question is ‘what effect do they have on the nails?’” Changes in hormones could cause the nails to become drier, more porous, or brittle. This, of course, will make a difference in the way enhancement products adhere.

“Changes in hormones could make a good client a bad client or a bad client a good client,” says Schoon. For example, if a client traditionally has problems with lifting because of oily nails, a change in hormones could dry her nail beds, creating the perfect working surface for nails. Conversely, if hormonal changes cause the nails to become oily, a client could begin to have problems with lifting.

The distinction here is that since hormones control so much of the body, a change in them could alter the cells in the fingernails and toenails, and that change could affect how the product adheres. The result of a hormonal change could cause techs to notice changes in lifting, separation, and adhesion.

EFFECTS ARE EXAGGERATED

While it’s true that a change in hormones could change a person’s nails, the effects of hormones become exaggerated when they are blamed for poor adhesion during normal hormonal fluctuations. One theory that recycles from time to time is the idea that clients shouldn’t schedule nail appointments around their period. (The thinking here is that the product may not adhere as well if it’s applied during that time.) Since this monthly change is a cyclic movement of the hormones, it creates the overall structure of the client’s nail. “Nails don’t change every month with a woman’s period,” says Schoon.

Schoon says that in order for hormones to be the culprit of a change in the nails, the change in hormones needs to exist for a period of four to six months. Hormonal changes would be expected in female clients when they begin to take birth control pills, get pregnant, or hit menopause. We all know the pill affects hormones, so it’s natural to want to blame a recent change to a client’s nails on the pill. However, though changes to the body’s hormones happen quickly, these changes won’t present themselves on the nails until a client has been on the pill for at least 4 to 6 months. It’s the same with pregnancy. “Everyone thinks prenatal vitamins make nails grow fast during pregnancy,” says Schoon. “They don’t. If a woman kept taking those vitamins after she had her baby, her nails wouldn’t grow any faster than they did before she became pregnant. It’s the hormones that the body is producing that cause the rapid growth.”

THE ROLE OF THE THYROID

Dramatic illness, or problems related to the thyroid, can also cause changes to the body’s hormones that eventually show up on the nails. “The thyroid is the hormone regulation center,” says Julie Barnes, a nurse practitioner from Binghamton, N.Y. “Any problem with the thyroid is going to have an effect on the hormones,” she says. “However, as long as a medical professional is treating the thyroid, it should be fine to continue nail services.” Barnes suggests techs use their knowledge and relationship with clients to act as a first step in recognizing thyroid problems. Thyroid disease could cause onycholysis, the loosening and softening of the nails. “If a nail technician is doing a client’s nails and she notices a change in the nails, she should suggest the client go see a doctor.

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Hormones can be altered during a are affecting her nails is this: over what length of time has there been a change in hormones? Once it’s been determined that there is a valid reason to suspect that the nail composition is changed due to hormones, then it’s the responsibility of the tech to evaluate the needs of the client with new eyes. “Techs should adapt their technique to the change in the nails,” says traumatic illness or during the treatment of that illness. If the condition continues for a significant amount of time, the hormonal disruption will eventually be evident on the nails. Cancer is an example of this. “Chemotherapy affects the whole body,” says Schoon.

The issue for techs to remember as they try to decipher if a client’s hormones Schoon. For clients who have experienced a hormonal change due to menopause, this may mean that the nails will become dryer or more brittle. Techs may be able to extend the appointment an additional week because of a dry working surface and a reduction in nail growth. When a client is pregnant, her appointment may need to be reduced to only two weeks to accommodate the rapid nail growth.

WATCH FOR CHANGES

If the health of a client changes, and the client requires medications that alter hormones, techs should watch for changes in the nails. Some medications can cause such changes to a client’s nails that the best service to offer her would be a natural nail manicure instead of enhancements. Techs should honestly assess the changes in their clients’ nails and suggest the best service to meet their changing needs.

Clients may come in and say that changes in their hormones caused their nails to “fall off.” They could suggest an antibiotic or medication changed their nails. This is where those urban legends begin: Changes in hormones won’t make nails “fall off.” The changes will happen over time, not suddenly and dramatically. If clients return with severe lifting, poor adhesion, or multiple air pockets, they may want to blame it on their hormones. As a professional, you can consider this possibility, but if this change in adhesion happened at only one fill, you’ll know it’s not a problem with hormones. Analyze the conditions of the last nail service: Was there a change in product, application, or prep? Were there changes in the client’s routine or exposure to a new chemical or to excessive water?

If you find that a client who had responded well to enhancement services in the past begins to experience an uncharacteristic amount of lifting over the period of a number of months, ask her about her health. You could be the first professional to help her identify a nagging problem she wasn’t facing. If you suspect that hormones are affecting the client’s nails, refer the client to a medical professional.