Client Health

The Truth About Hormones and Nails

There’s a theory floating around that suggests hormones can wreak havoc on nails, causing the product to lift and nails to “fall off .” Is there any truth to the tale or are the affects of hormones the stuff of urban legends?

“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.


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.”


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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