Nail Care - Nail Nutrition And Nail Treatments

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The treatment of toe and finger nails is catered for through health and cosmetic procedures commonly referred to as manicures and pedicures. Good nutrition is another essential needed for the health of finger and toe nails. In this article, we discuss nail nutrition and the different types of nail treatments.


Manicure - Care for the fingernails

Pedicure - Care for the toenails.

Fingernails and toenails are made of a tough protective protein called alpha-keratin. Alpha-keratin is synthesized through protein biosynthesis, utilizing transcription and translation. As the cell grows, it fills with alpha-keratin until it reaches maturity and then die. The dead keratinized cell then forms a strong non-vascular unit of keratinized tissue.

Soft alpha-keratins, such as ones found in the skin, contain a comparatively smaller amount of disulfide bonds, making their structure more flexible. Hard alpha-keratins, such as those found in nails, have a higher cysteine content in their primary structure. This causes an increase in disulfide bonds that are able to stabilize the keratin structure, allowing it to resist a higher level of force before fracture.

Nails can dry out, just like skin. They can also peel, break, and be infected. Toe infections, for instance, can be caused or exacerbated by dirty socks, specific types of aggressive exercise (long-distance running), tight footwear, and walking unprotected in an unclean environment. Common organisms causing nail infections include yeasts and molds (particularly dermatophytes).

The best way to take care of the finger and toe nails is to trim them regularly. Filing is also recommended, as to keep nails from becoming too rough and to remove any small bumps or ridges that may cause the nail to get tangled up in materials such as cloth.

Nail tools used by different people may transmit infections. Standard hygiene and sanitation procedures avoid transmission. In some cases, gel and cream cuticle removers can be used instead of cuticle scissors.

Nail disease can be very subtle and should be evaluated by a dermatologist with a focus in this particular area of medicine. However, most times it is a nail technician who will note a subtle change in nail disease.

Good nutrition is essential for the health of finger and toe nails.

The effects of nutrition on nails

Protein is a building material for new nails; therefore, low dietary protein intake may cause anemia and the resultant reduced hemoglobin in the blood filling the capillaries of the nail bed reflects varying amounts of light incident on the nail matrix resulting in lighter shades of pink ultimately resulting in white nail beds when the hemoglobin is very low. When hemoglobin is close to 15 or 16 grams, most of the spectrum of light is absorbed and only the pink color is reflected back and the nails look pink.

Vitamin A is an essential micro-nutrient for vision, reproduction, cell and tissue differentiation, and immune function. Vitamin D and calcium work together in cases of maintaining homeostasis, creating muscle contraction, transmission of nerve pulses, blood clotting, and membrane structure. A lack of vitamin A, vitamin D, or calcium can cause dryness and brittleness of skin and nails.

Insufficient vitamin B12 can lead to excessive dryness, darkened nails, and rounded or curved nail ends. Insufficient intake of both vitamin A and B results in fragile nails with horizontal and vertical ridges. Some over-the-counter vitamin supplements such as certain multivitamins and biotin may help in growth of strong nails, although this is quite subjective.

Essential fatty acids play a large role in healthy skin as well as nails. Splitting and flaking of nails may be due to a lack of linoleic acid. Simply incorporate vegetable oils with high percentages of linoleic acid (e.g. soybean oil and sunflower oil) into your diet.

Iron-deficiency anemia can lead to a pale color along with a thin, brittle, ridged texture. Iron deficiency in general may cause the nails to become flat or concave, rather than convex. Heme iron is absorbed fairly easily in comparison to non-heme iron; however, both types provide the necessary bodily functions.

French manicure.

Hot oil manicure.

Dip powder manicure.

Paraffin wax treatment.

Nail Care Treatments

The treatment of toe and finger nails is catered for through health and cosmetic procedures commonly referred to as manicures (for the hands) and pedicures (for the feet). Manicures and pedicures are procedures to groom, trim, and decorated the nails and manage calluses. They require various tools such as cuticle scissors, nail scissors, nail clippers, and nail files. Artificial nails can also be fixed onto real nails for cosmetic purposes.

  • Manicures:

    • French manicures:

      French manicures can be made with artificial nails, which are designed to resemble natural ones and are characterized by lack of base color, or natural pink base nails with white tips. The nail tips are painted white, while the rest of the nails are polished in a pink or a suitable nude shade. However, it is also as common to perform a French manicure on natural nails. Another technique is to whiten the underside of the nail with white pencil and paint a sheer color over the entire nail.

    • Hot oil manicures:

      A hot oil manicure is a specific type of manicure that cleans the cuticles and softens them with oil. Types of oils that can be used are mineral oil, olive oil, some lotions or commercial preparations in an electric heater.

    • Dip powder manicures:

      Dip powder manicures are an alternative to traditional acrylic nails and gel polish. Dip powders have become popular due to ease of application. They are similar to traditional silk or fiberglass enhancements, with the fiber being replaced by acrylic powder. Both methods rely on layering cyanoacrylate over the natural nail and encasing either the fiber or acrylic powder. While a single layer of fiber is typical, multiple alternating layers of powder and cyanoacrylate may be used in dip nails.

    • Paraffin wax treatments:

      Hands or feet can be covered in melted paraffin wax for softening and moisturizing. Paraffin wax is used because it can be heated to temperatures of over 95 °F (35 °C) without burning or injuring the body. The intense heat allows for deeper absorption of emollients and essential oils. The wax is usually infused with various botanical ingredients such as aloe Vera, azulene, chamomile, or tea tree oil, and fruit waxes such as apple, peach, and strawberry, are often used in salons. Occasionally, lotion is rubbed on the hand or foot before being coated in paraffin. Paraffin wax treatments are often charged as an addition to the standard manicure or pedicure. They are often not covered in general training and are a rare treatment in most nail salons.

      Professional services should not include dipping clients' hands or feet into a communal paraffin bath, as the wax can be a vector for disease. Paraffin should be applied in a way that avoids contamination, often by placing a portion of the wax into a bag or mitt, which is placed on the client's hand or foot and covered with a warm towel, cotton mitt, or booty to retain warmth. The paraffin is left for a few minutes until it has cooled.

Regular pedicure.

Dry or waterless pedicure.

Paraffin pedicure.

Stone pedicure.

French pedicure.

Athletic pedicure.

Chocolate pedicure.

Margarita pedicure.

Champagne or wine pedicure.

  • Pedicure:

    There are various different types of pedicures. Some of the most common types are as follows (names and products may vary from spa to spa):

    • Regular Pedicure:

      A simple treatment that includes foot soaking, foot scrubbing with a pumice stone or foot file, nail clipping, nail shaping, foot and calf massage, moisturizer and nail polishing.

    • Spa Pedicure:

      Includes the regular pedicure and generally adds one of the following- Paraffin dip, masks, mud or seaweed treatment.

      Spa pedicure.

    • Dry or Waterless Pedicure:

      A pedicure typically including nail shaping, cuticle cleanup, callus smoothing, moisturizer with massage, nail polish or buffing, but definitively without soaking the feet in water. Often the callus smoothing, nail shaping, and cuticle cleaning are all performed with an electric file.

    • Paraffin Pedicure:

      A treatment that includes a regular pedicure but also includes the use of paraffin wax. The feet are covered with layers of paraffin wax to moisturize feet.

    • Stone Pedicure:

      Basically a foot massage that involves the use of different essential oils that are rubbed with the help of hot stones for the massage of the feet and legs.

    • French Pedicure:

      A regular pedicure that involves the use of white polish on the nail tips with a sheer pink color on the base.

    • Mini Pedicure:

      This focuses mainly on the toes with a quick soak, nail shaping and polish, but does not include the massage or sole care. This is designed for an appointment between regular pedicures for generally well maintained feet.

      Mini pedicure.

    • Athletic Pedicure:

      Similar to a regular pedicure for both the genders. It includes either a clear polish or toenail buffing. Usually, the aromatics used will be more cooling, such as peppermint, cucumber, or eucalyptus.

    • Chocolate Pedicure:

      A pedicure which may include a chocolate foot soak, chocolate foot mask, or chocolate moisturizing lotion.

    • Ice Cream Pedicure:

      A pedicure where a "bath ball", which looks like a scoop of ice cream, is chosen. The soak is followed with a foot scrub (usually vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry) and topped with a whipped moisturizing lotion. Red nail polish simulates the ice cream's "cherry".

      Ice cream pedicure.

    • Margarita Pedicure:

      A regular pedicure which includes a salt scrub, soaking water with fresh limes, a lime-based massage oil, and moisturizer.

    • Champagne or Wine Pedicure:

      This is a regular pedicure usually featuring a grape-seed scrub, grape mask peel, and finished off with a grape seed oil or moisturizing massage.



There are several nail shapes, the basic shapes being; almond, oval, pointed, round, square, square oval, square with rounded corners, and straight with a rounded tip. The square oval shape is sometimes known as a "squoval", a term coined in 1984. The squoval is considered a sturdy shape, useful for those who work with their hands.

Nail shapes.

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