Everyone is well aware of the aging process that affects the human body. We know the skin ages, the joints become arthritic, hair loss occurs, and so on. However, it is less well-known that the nails, too, undergo the process of gradual aging. The aging process of nails can be slowed down, and, in some cases, even prevented.

Young nails tend to be shiny and transparent, highly flexible, smooth-surfaced, fast-growing, and not subject to peeling or cracking. These youthful nails are well-hydrated and not unusually thickened. Elderly nails, on the other hand, are very different in character and appearance. They tend to lose their luster, appearing dull and somewhat translucent. Elderly nails break easily, and longitudinal ridges growing out from the cuticle are common. In addition, the nails grow more slowly and become dehydrated. As flexibility is lost, splitting and peeling occur.

Can anything be done to prevent or slow the aging process of nails? Is it possible to treat and improve the effects of nail aging? The answer to both questions is a strong yes because much can be accomplished on both counts.

In order to protect nails from growing old before their time, let us look at their functions. Nails protect the skin beneath them—the nail bed — as well as the tip of the finger or toe. They enhance sensation and fine motor skills, enabling you to pick up coins and button clothing, for example. Dermatologists know that nails are an excellent device for scratching and therefore may be used as a defensive or offensive weapon. The expression “I’ll scratch your eyes out” is well-known. Finally, as nail technicians are well aware, nails have a prominent cosmetic function in contemporary society. So what can be done to protect the nail unit structure from rapid deterioration? First, remember that nails are not tools. They should not be used as screwdrivers or scrapers, for example. Excessive exposure to harsh soaps and detergents also should be avoided. Over-frequent hand washing, which stretches then shrinks the nail cells, causes breakage and should be reduced. Just as skin must be protected from the sun, so must nails because sun damage also affects them adversely.

How do you treat already visible signs of aging? lightly buff nail ridges no more frequently than every ten days, and advise your client to regularly use a moisturizer to reduce peeling and splitting.

In summary, remember that the nail is an important structure that has many significant functions. It must be treated with respect and protected, not abused. If you follow these simple rules, the aging process, inevitable as it is, will surely be slowed down significantly and your clients’ nails will remain youthful-looking much longer. Additionally, their manicures and other nail services will last longer.

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