Nail Myths Debunked: A Comprehensive Guide for Professional Nail Technicians


In the nail industry, misconceptions and myths abound, often leading to confusion and improper nail care practices. As a professional nail technician, it's crucial to separate fact from fiction to provide the best care for your clients. This article aims to debunk common nail myths and provide accurate information based on nail science.

Myth 1: Nails Need to Breathe

Nail Myths Debunked

Debunked: The myth that nails need to "breathe" is a common misunderstanding. In reality, nails are made of keratin, a type of protein, and are not living tissues that require oxygen or air to maintain their health. This misconception often leads to the belief that applying gel polish, builder gel, or other protective coatings is harmful to nail health, which is not the case.

Nails receive their nutrients and oxygen from the bloodstream and not from the air. Therefore, applying gel polish or extension tips does not affect the nail's ability to receive nourishment. These protective coatings can actually be beneficial for nails in several ways:

  1. Protection: Gel polishes and builder gels like PureBuild provide a layer of protection against physical damage, wear and tear, and exposure to detergents and other chemicals. This can help prevent chipping, splitting, and breakage.

  2. Strength: Some nail products are specifically designed to add strength and toughness to the nails, which is particularly beneficial for individuals with brittle or weak nails.

  3. Moisture Retention: Contrary to the belief that coatings "suffocate" the nails, they can actually help in retaining moisture within the nail, preventing dryness and brittleness.

  4. Health Monitoring: It's important to note that while nail coatings are not harmful, they should be applied and removed properly. Regular intervals without polish can be beneficial, not for the nail to “breathe,” but to monitor nail health and ensure there are no underlying conditions like fungal infections.

    Myth 2: Acetone is Harmful

    Debunked: Acetone, commonly used in nail polish removers, is generally safe when used properly. It's an effective solvent for removing nail coatings, thanks to its efficient dissolving properties. The key to its safe use lies in handling it correctly — using it in a well-ventilated area and minimising skin contact to avoid irritation. While acetone can temporarily dry out the nails and surrounding skin, these effects are not typically harmful and can be mitigated with proper nail care. Therefore, the belief that acetone is harmful is largely a myth, as long as it's used responsibly and in accordance with safety guidelines. Check this article out about acetone used in prep routines

      Myth 3: White Spots Indicate Calcium Deficiency
      Nail Myths Debunked

      Debunked: The myth that white spots on nails are indicative of calcium deficiency is a widespread misconception. In reality, these white spots, medically known as leukonychia, are usually not a sign of any nutritional deficiency. Instead, they are typically caused by minor trauma or damage to the nail matrix, which is the tissue under the nail that produces cells that become the nail plate.

      When the nail matrix is injured or compressed, it can lead to the formation of these small white spots or streaks on the nails. This minor trauma can be caused by everyday activities such as tapping nails on a hard surface, typing, or even overly aggressive manicure techniques like cutting the cuticles too closely or harsh nail filing. It's important to note that these spots are not typically a cause for concern and are usually harmless.

      The white spots are essentially areas where the nail cells didn't fully integrate or keratinise properly into the nail plate due to the disruption caused by the trauma. As the nail grows, these spots usually move upward and eventually grow out, disappearing over time.

      It's also worth noting that while these spots are most often the result of minor physical damage, occasionally they can be a sign of allergic reactions to nail polish or hardeners, or fungal infections. However, these cases are less common and usually have accompanying symptoms.

      Contrary to the myth, issues like calcium or other nutritional deficiencies tend to manifest differently in the nails. For example, severe calcium deficiency can lead to more significant changes in nail health, such as brittleness or changes in nail shape.

      Myth 4: Chemicals Damage the Nail Plate

      Debunked: The belief that chemicals are the main cause of nail plate damage is a misconception. In fact, mechanical forces, such as aggressive filing and improper removal of nail coatings, are more likely to harm the nails than the chemicals in nail products. Modern nail products are formulated to be safe for nails, and proper nail care practices are essential in preventing damage. Gentle filing techniques and careful application and removal of nail products are crucial for maintaining nail integrity. Therefore, it's mechanical handling, not chemicals, that plays a larger role in nail health, debunking the myth about chemical damage to the nail plate.

        Myth 5: HEMA will give you an allergy

        Debunked: The myth that 2-HydroxyethylMethacrylate (HEMA) will invariably cause an allergy is an oversimplification. HEMA, a common ingredient in nail products, is recognised as a potential 'gateway' allergen, meaning it can increase the likelihood of developing an allergy. However, it is not the sole cause of all nail product-related allergies.

        Allergies are complex reactions that can be influenced by a variety of factors, including individual sensitivities and the frequency and manner of exposure to the allergen. While HEMA has been linked to allergic reactions in some individuals, many people use products containing HEMA without developing allergies.

        The nail industry, aware of the potential issues with HEMA, has made significant advancements in chemical formulations. Modern nail products are increasingly being developed without the need for HEMA, utilizing alternative ingredients that reduce the risk of allergic reactions while maintaining product effectiveness and quality. This evolution in product composition reflects the industry's commitment to safety and innovation, ensuring that nail treatments can be both effective and less likely to cause allergic reactions. Therefore, while HEMA is a known allergen, it is not the definitive cause of all allergies in nail care, and its use is becoming less prevalent due to advancements in product formulations.

        Myth 6: All lamps are the same its just businesses trying to make money
        Nail Myths Debunked

        Debunked: The myth that all lamps for professional products are the same is a misconception. Different lamps vary significantly in key aspects like wavelength, irradiance value, LED quantity, and placement, which are crucial for effective curing. The right wavelength ensures proper curing, while the irradiance value dictates the intensity of the light, affecting the curing process. The placement and number of LEDs are also essential, as they determine the evenness and efficiency of curing. Furthermore, different gel polishes require specific curing times, which can only be achieved with compatible lamps. Therefore, choosing the right lamp a necessity for achieving high-quality, durable manicures, debunking the myth that all lamps are essentially the same.

            Myth 7: All Chemicals are Bad

            Debunked: The myth that all chemicals in nail care are harmful is incorrect. In reality, when used correctly by an educated nail technician, these chemicals can be safe and effective. Knowledgeable technicians understand how to properly apply and handle these substances, adhering to product guidelines and employing adequate ventilation. They also use personal protective equipment to minimise exposure and educate clients about the products and their safe use. This approach includes customising treatments to individual client needs and staying updated with the latest industry developments. Therefore, the key to safely using chemicals in nail care lies in professional expertise and responsible practices, not in the blanket avoidance of all chemicals.

              Myth 8: Alcohol Sanitiser is best to sanitise

              Nail Myths Debunked

              Debunked: The myth that alcohol sanitisers are the best option for all in nail care is misleading, particularly considering individual skin sensitivities. Alcohol, while effective in killing germs, can be overly harsh, especially for those with sensitive skin or conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Its drying and irritating effects can compromise skin health, which is crucial in manicure services. Non-alcohol-based sanitisers, such as those containing hypochlorous acid, present a gentler yet equally effective alternative. Hypochlorous acid sanitisers, like HONA PurecCean, kills 99.9999% of bacteria without the adverse effects of alcohol, making them a preferable choice for clients with sensitive skin. This understanding debunks the prevailing myth, highlighting that alcohol sanitisers, despite their efficacy, are not the optimal choice for every client in the nail care industry.


                  As professionals in the nail industry, our responsibility extends beyond beautifying nails to nurturing and protecting them through informed and safe practices. Debunking common myths with factual, scientific knowledge is essential in elevating the standards of nail care. By keeping abreast of the latest scientific insights and adhering to responsible practices, we not only enhance the quality of our services but also build trust with our clients. It's imperative to stay educated and continuously challenge misconceptions, ensuring our expertise contributes to healthier, happier nails. Let's commit to leaving myths in fairy tales and base our professional practices on solid, scientific understanding, reinforcing our role in providing safe, effective, and trustworthy nail care.