The Science of Nails

Do Hormones Cause Artificial Nails to Lift?

Though doctors cite a lack of scientific evidence that hormones influence product lifting, some nail technicians say their clients’ experiences provide all the proof they need.

While plenty of scientific evidence exists to support the fact that ingesting hormones influences natural nails, such is not the case when it comes to artificial nails. Science can neither prove nor disprove that hormone treatments cause lifting problems because no scientific medical studies have been conducted. But while the medical community says there’s no correlation between hormone medications and enhancements, many a nail technician claims to have proof positive right in her own lab – the salon.

“If nail technicians make observations about lifting, there may be some truth to it,” says NAILS own Nail Doctor, Richard K. Scher, M.D., head of the Section for Diagnosis and Treatment of Nail Disorders at Columbia University-Presbyterian Medical Center. “However, without [the publication of scientific studies] providing evidence, definitive statements cannot be made.”


Nail Techs Offer Anecdotal Evidence

With no medical evidence to support either viewpoint, nail technicians have been free to interpret incidences of lifting in clients who are taking some form of hormones. Jo Laki, owner of Jo’s Naughty Nails in Hamlin, Pa., says she questions every client who comes into the shop about the medications they take and records the information faithfully on each client card. Because of this policy, she is aware of three clients who are taking different forms of hormones: a 45-year-old teacher’s aide on thyroid medication, a 60-year-old retiree taking both hormones and heart medication, and a 50-year-old teacher on estrogen therapy.

Laki concluded that the occupations or hobbies of the two working clients couldn’t be the cause of the lifting because the adhesion problems occurred even when the two teachers were on summer vacation. She questioned the clients about other habits or hobbies that may cause their acrylic to lift, and saw no reason to have unusual lifting.

Finally, Laki focused scrutiny on her own procedures. She troubleshooted her prep and application and was satisfied that the lifting couldn’t be a technical problem.

“I am especially careful about my preparation and application on these three clients,” says Laki. “I don’t leave any dust on the nail plate. Twice on each nail I spray on alcohol and use lint-free wipes to remove the dust. I apply a dehydrator and then primer. I apply the acrylic product so that I do a minimal amount of filing. And I keep product off the skin and away from the cuticles.” Laki says she doesn’t have any consistent lifting problems with other clients she services regularly. Satisfied that she had done enough detective work, Laki decided to work with the problems of these clients. Now, each comes in every 12 days for a fill, instead of every 14-17 days.

Some technicians report other changes in adhesion that seem to occur only in clients taking hormones. “New clients who are taking birth control pills usually have a two- to four-week period where problems with lifting will occur,” says Debbie Doerrlamm, owner of Wicked Wich Nails in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. “I notice the same thing with my clients who are taking other forms of hormones. Eventually, the body seems to regulate itself and lifting problems disappear. But for some reason, the nail plates seem to reject the acrylic at first.”

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