Most people don’t know just how amazing their fingernails are. They are much more than just some stuff that grows out of your fingertips. You might think of them every couple of weeks when you get a manicure but otherwise, they are seriously ignored, which is unfortunate when you understand just how important they are.
Not only can your nails make that diamond ring look even more dazzling with a nice coat of pink lacquer, there are a lot more to them than you realize. Your nails can give you great insight into your overall health and well-being - you can tell how healthy you are just by looking at them. How crazy is that? You have all (ok some) information about your health right at your fingertips (literally). For those that think they’re not so interesting, you might think again after learning these crazy things you didn’t know about your nails. They’re pretty life-changing!
15 Fingernails grow an average of 3.5 millimeters per month
Pretty amazing fact right? That’s just over a tenth of an inch! Your nails on your dominant hand tend to grow faster too so that’s why you might feel like your nails, on one hand, are stronger and have faster growth than the other. I bet you just looked at your hands to see if this is true. Toenails, however, grow an average of 1.6 millimeters a month and are generally much thicker. They are made up of the same matter but it seems that toenails just growth thicker naturally. Of course, many women say when they are pregnant their nails (and hair) grow more and are far more strong than when they are not pregnant.
If you do notice that the nails on your dominant hand are indeed growing faster you can fake out your non-dominant hand by tapping your fingers on the hand when not in use and enjoying the occasional hand massage.
14 Nails and hair are made of the same stuff
Weird right? It is true that nails and hair are made of the same things. Both nails and hair are made up of keratin and the reason they look different is that they are just put together in a different way. This also means that the same foods that are good for your hair are also going to be good for your nails. So make sure your diet is rich in vitamins, healthy antioxidant fruits and veggies, good protein, and a variety of minerals to help maintain health and growth. Since keratin is a protein, you really need to focus on healthy oils and fats so that your skin, hair, and nails are moisturized and strong. It’s also important to know that you won’t see great growth or overall nail health if you eat a lot of processed foods. They just don’t have the nutrients that your nails (and hair) need to be healthy.
13 Men’s nails grow faster than women’s nails
Okay, so it is true, men can grow hair and nails faster than women can... it is a scientific fact. The only possible exception to this, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, is during pregnancy. On a funnier note, imagine if guys got pregnant, they might not be able to keep up with those things!
However, just like women, men can see the health of their nails affected by their diet, age, and general health. So if you know a guy that complains that his nails never grow, you might let him know that it could be a sign he should see a doctor.
Since men’s nails grow faster, they also might want to consider getting regular manicures. It's not something only girls do, so man up and get yourself pampered too! Since they grow faster they are more prone to hangnails, ingrown nails and more. There’s no shame in taking care of what you’ve got.
12 Nails are what makes us mammals
If you have not noticed, most mammals have claws to help them with daily tasks. It is our fingernails that distinguish primates (including humans) from the rest of the group. In an article from LiveScience Reports they explain why nails are so important to us as mammals:
“Scientists suspect primates sort of lost their claws and fashioned broad fingertips topped with nails to aid in locomotion. While claws would have provided excellent grip as our mammalian ancestors clambered up large tree trunks, they would have been a nuisance for larger-bodied primates trying to grasp smaller branches while scrambling across tree canopies for fruits. Rather, primates developed broader fingertips made for grasping.”
Imagine how life would be if you had claws and not nails. It would be a chore to drink that venti latte and don’t even get started on how you would put in contact lenses or apply false eyelashes!
11 Biting your nails is called onychophagia
Biting your nails rates right up there with twirling your hair, picking at yourself and shaking your foot when it comes to nervous habits. It is estimated that about half of children between the ages of 10 and 18 bite their nails, according to WebMD. However most stop by the time they hit age 30. For the most part, nail biting is pretty harmless, although it should be noted that it is a bit on the unsanitary side. There is a possible health risk, which includes contributing to skin infections and aggravating the nail bed. Plus biting your nails just makes them look bad.
Recently, nail biting along with a few other “pathological grooming” habits, can be classified as a type of obsessive compulsive disorder in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. So if you feel like you have an issue with this, you might want to talk with your doctor.
10 Nails need to breathe between manicures
Hate to say it but it is a fact that you need to let your nails breathe between each manicure (which is a scary fact for those that wear acrylic nails) if you want to maintain your health.
If this doesn't sound like your routine you might want to reschedule that weekly mani/pedi appointment and let your nails breathe a bit before the next application of polish. At the very least, take your polish off a few days before your next visit if you can’t live without that shade of scarlet on your nails. You might not realize it but your nails are made up of living tissue that needs oxygen. If you smother the nail and the nail bed that is beneath it, you limit the ability of the nail to fight off infections and nail fungus.
Additionally, nail polish is a chemical and is really quite drying to the nails. If you notice that your nails are dry and cracked it could be too much polish and nail polish remover.
9 Your nails are a window to your personal health
A well-trained dermatologist or doctor can tell a lot about your overall health just by examining nails. How awesome is that? If only all check-ups could be easy and harmless and all you have to do is show your hands to see what's up. Some doctors will actually have you remove polish before a physical and even before surgery so that they can see your full nail bed.
Here are a few things they can tell about what’s going on inside you from your nails:
- nail bed discoloration (blueish means lung disease)
- Capillaries in the cuticles (autoimmune disease)
- Ridges in the nail bed (prior health issues like a major trauma to the body)
- Yellow, white, or banded nails can sometimes mean very serious or even life-threatening disease
If you notice a dark brown patch on or around your cuticle, as well as a brown streak across the nail plate you should seek assistance from a dermatologist right away.
8 Your nails grow faster depending on what season it is
Yes, much like the growth of your hair, the seasons can determine both the rate that nails grow and the thickness of the nail. Since hair and nails are made of the same material, this makes sense because many say the hair on their body also grow at different rates depending on the season.
This also pertains to the seasons of your life. As you age and experience hormone changes as well as the normal aging process, your nails' texture will also change. Just like everything else in your life. You can stack the cards in your favor by keeping track of your health and making sure you take vitamins and exercise but for the most part it’s all going to come down to your genes. So if you want to know what your nails will look like when you get older, just take a peek at your parents'.
7 Stress is really bad for your nails
How much more evidence do you need that stress is bad for you? Well, you can add stress to the list as horrible for your nails. When you are really stressed, your body will divert nutrients away from places like your nails and hair. This can cause your nails to stop growing, become brittle, split and even fall off.
Stress also makes you more likely to bite your nails and pick at them. Although stress is pretty hard on your whole body, you need to remember that when it comes to the human body, there are priorities. If you are living in a state of stress, your body is going to use all the nutrients for major organs, controlling your blood pressure, and generally just getting your body to stay together so you can function. Nails (and hair) are not required for living so they often are the first to go when you don’t take care of them.
6 Nails on a chalkboard really do make you freak out
Everyone knows that nails on a chalkboard makes your skin crawl but do you know why? Well, you can obviously answer that yourself and say because hello have you ever experienced it? But there is more to it. For that answer just turn to turn to basic science. It seems that nails being pulled across a chalkboard actually register at a frequency that rings differently in the ear. There is also the psychological effect as you’ve been conditioned over time to know that the sound of nails on a chalkboard is just a bad thing.
No matter what scientists may say, it’s not a good idea to do it even as a joke. Running your nails across something like the texture of a chalkboard can be very damaging and cause tiny tears and chips in the nail causing breaks, splits and permanent damage that won’t heal. So stay clear of this one if you should ever happen on an old-fashioned chalkboard.
5 You Shouldn't cut your cuticles
We know that they are not always pretty and hurt like heck if you damage them but they play a major role in the health of your nails and fingertips. Not only do they seal in much-needed moisture, they also help protect from infection. So next time you head out for a manicure and the manicurist goes for your cuticles with the clippers just say no. It’s better to soak and then properly condition them rather than cut them away. If you have really thick cuticles, ask that she soak your fingers a little longer and then lightly push them back. Just don’t over do it.
If you are washing your hands, you should also pay special attention to this area to make sure you are protecting your nail beds (and body for that matter) from bacteria and germs. If you have never had an infection or cut on your cuticles, consider yourself lucky.
4 The thickness of your nails is genetic
You really don’t have much control over your nail shape or even how quickly your nails grow. However, if your nails constantly break or peel that might be more a sign of your nails being dried out and not something to do with your genes.
Remember that every time your nails come in contact with soap, hand sanitizers, polish, polish remover and even cheap hand cream, it can cause your nails to dry.
To protect your hands and nails use a thick hand cream regularly or coconut oil and make sure that you massage it in and do it more than once a day. Most people think to condition their hair every time they wash it but people rarely remember that their nails need just as much TLC. This is one area that you really don’t want to skimp. Look for brands that don’t have a lot of nasty chemicals and of course, whenever possible, have added nutrients.
3 Your nails need blood to survive
This fact seems pretty obvious, kinda. Like most things on our body I feel like you can know this to be true, but do you know why? Have you ever smashed your nail bed and got one of those horrible purple nails that fall off? Well here’s why that happens: the nail plate needs blood flow, oxygenation, and nutrients to grow and a crush injury can disrupt the microscopic connections that provide the nutrition and oxygen that an already growing nail needs. So it dies, falls off completely, and after some time it is replaced by a new, perfectly healthy nail when the nail bed is able to reattach to a freshly growing nail. However, if the damage happens at the root of the nail, which is under the cuticle, you might find that you’ve become permanently scarred. This might mean that you’ll always grow a misshapen nail or in some cases have a part of your nail that just does not reattach.
2 White spots don't mean a calcium deficiency
It is a silly wives' tale that white spots mean a calcium deficiency and that not drinking enough milk is the reason why you don’t have nails that everyone envies. As mentioned, there are many things that could be happening within your body if your nails are less than stellar. So instead of just blowing off the fact that your nails are a mess, ask your doctor. Also, all those tales of soaking your nails in cream or whole milk to “strengthen” them are false so do not waste dairy on that! If you really want to help your nails ask your doctor about a supplement that is packed with minerals and vitamins that are focused on nail growth.
It is also false to think that applying acrylic nails is somehow helping them grow stronger or faster. Acrylic nails, which were invented by a dentist, simply smother your nails.
1 Nail polish originated in China as early as 3000 BC
People have been decorating their nails for thousands of years. The ingredients included things like beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, and vegetable dyes. Just like lipstick and eyeliner, polish was a way to showcase one’s beauty. In Ancient Egypt, nail polish was used to represent status making it very clear who you were.
The lower class painted their nails in nude and light colors, high society members on the other hand had red nails. This only goes to show that red polish has always been iconic and associated with wealth. Manicures have also been around for thousands of years too. It was very common for nails to be treated with sacred oils, soaked in rose water, and then dried with silk (if you were one of the elite). Of course, many of these primitive beauty treatments stained the nails and had to be soaked off with multiple treatments. This is one other reason why changing colors wasn’t really an option for even the most elite women.
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