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So, do nails breathe?

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Do nails breathe?

Question:

I am confused. I see breathable nail polishes from quite a few brands now. So, does that mean that nails breathe?

Answer:

Sorry, no they don’t and there is no evidence to support this silly notion.

Here’s why: the nail plate isn’t alive and doesn’t have any lungs. Nor does it have any ability to absorb air into the nail plate. Nails do not require an external air supply and do not breathe nor do they exhale.  Also, 100% of the oxygen needed by the nail matrix comes from the bloodstream and 0% comes from the outside world. Everything the nail plate needs to grow properly and function is delivered and removed by the blood. When the nail plate is coated with any nail coating, including nail polish, moisture and natural nail oils will pass through the nail plate at slower than normal rates, but they aren’t “trapped”. The nail plate’s moisture content is increased by 10-15% and the natural oil content increases only slightly, e.g. 1-2%. Both oil and water in the nail plate serve to increase the flexibility of the natural nail plate.

Waste products are removed from the matrix and other tissues by the blood and are not released into the nail plate. Nail plates can grow and thrive in a completely air-free environment. All they need is a healthy flow of blood to the nail matrix, nail bed, and surrounding tissue.      

Clearly, nails don’t need to breathe for any reason. Those who say differently just don’t understand how the nails grow or function.  Some marketers use such claims to fool nail technicians into thinking their products are better because they allow the nail to “breathe”. But they don’t provide any evidence that this is useful. Claims that this improves the condition of the nails or prevents infections are unproven. In my view, these are false and misleading claims until proven otherwise. I don’t recommend letting such claims influence your purchasing decisions.

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