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The nail plate is created in the nail matrix, where skin cells are modified and keratinised to become the hard, flat cells of the nail plate. It is the most visible part of the whole nail unit, covering the area from the nail matrix to the free edge and beyond. While it may appear to be one piece, it is constructed from multiple layers of nail cells. As it grows it moves across the nail bed, held in place to the dermis beneath by nail bed epithelium, and kept within the lateral nail folds by the nail grooves along each of the sidewalls.
The tough upper layers are slightly thicker than the lower layers and form a protective barrier. These upper layers should NEVER be buffed off during any nail service. Buffing the top layers off exposes softer layers below.
This can affect the adhesion of any artificial products, such as regular nail varnish, UV gels or powder polymer or liquid monomer. It also weakens the nail and opens it up to penetration by unwanted substances. The lower and younger layers are attached firmly to the nail bed epithelium which, in turn is attached to the nail bed by a series of grooves.
Nail technicians carry out physical and chemical procedures to beautify, extend and enhance the nail plate’s appearance; and as professionals we have a responsibility to maintain and enhance the nail plate’s health.
Ask the Experts
What is the function of the nail plate?
The function of the nail plate is to create a rigidity for the end of the finger allowing the fingers to function efficiently in all their dexterity requirements e.g picking up small objects. It is also a protection for the last bone of the fingers and toes which would otherwise get easily damaged
Will the nail plate continue to grow?
The nail plate is continuously formed from the matrix of the nail unit. Modified skin cells keratinise in the matrix and push older cells forward. The journey from the matrix (which is a delicate area under and behind the base of the nail) to the free edge takes approximately 5 months.
Do nails grow from the nail bed?
Nails do not grow from the nail bed. The nail bed is an area under the nail where it is attached to the end of the finger and provide the nail with essential oils and moisture to keep it healthy and flexible. Nails grow from an area under the skin at the base of the nail called the matrix