Your Nails: Myth Busted

Newsflash: Your nails don't need to 'breathe'. Welcome our first expert to the blog, and dive into a pool of truths about nails, and how to care for them.
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Newsflash: Your nails don’t “need to breathe”

You know that saying you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone? I’ll shout it from the mountaintops for it has never rung more true! If there’s anything this quarantine has taught us, its what not to take for granted. There have been days, many days, where I sit in silence thinking about what my nail tech Tony (not his real name, even though he swears it is) is up to now. Tony has a real talent for nails, and I would know, being the recipient of formal education in Nail Technology from the great state of Hawaii. Aloha bitches, you’ve heard it here first; I’m a nail tech. I completed my Nail Tech training at the Honolulu Nail Academy, in Waikiki on the Island of Oahu at the ripe old age of 21. Much like an ogre, I too am full of secrets and resemble that of an onion with many layers when I accidentally skip my weekly exfoliating treatments.

There’s something about maintaining an element of mystery that’s hugely exciting to me. Nothing like channeling the ever-familiar new girl at school- positioned in the middle of an already tense plot-twisting teen dramedy. While my life sadly isn’t an episode of Gossip Girl, I’m always striving to keep my fans on the edge of their couches.

SO there I was a 21-year-old outcast living on an island, working two retail jobs with no car, riding my bike to class every morning at 7:30 am. An all-day affair, the course at HNA reminded me of S.A.T. prep, but with really fun crafts, and new friends from countries I could barely locate on a map. To quote the ever-brilliant Dakota Fanning, as I do in almost all my posts,” Fundamentals are the building blocks of fun,” which I also believe was initially said by Mikhail Baryshnikov. With that mantra in mind, I completed quiz after quiz, painted nail after nail, and sampled the many foods of my cultured classmates. I roamed around town with one hand of nails painted red, and the other, a french manicure. Often you’d find me at the local 7-11 picking up my favorite spam musubi (resist judgment, I was poor), with one single acrylic nail, and a pair of toenails painted, shaped, and styled as if they’ve lost their other half. I learned things, many things, some of which I would prefer to have maintained my ignorance. I became an expert on what I like to call our “finger canvases.”

Nail Basics​

Today, I sit before you, eating a tamale with a poorly paired salsa. Here for you, ready to save the day and your nails. While heroic of me, I’m not a practicing nail tech, so I decided to share #1 resource with you.

Enter, my instructor and 20+ year nail tech, Jes Taylor. A Mariah Carey doppelganger, and all-around badass nail guru, she’s got the skills and a persistent pulse on all things nails. I took to the streets (IG Stories) and asked the fans what burning questions they had on a search to deliver answers. No need to thank me, its what I do.

Now let’s get down to the FACTS. Here’s how this is gonna go. You’ll see a question, my response, and our expert Jes Taylor’s response. Enjoy!

Question #1: Do my nails need to “breathe”

KL: TOTAL MYTH. Nails receive their nutrients, oxygen, and blood supply from the bloodstream- not from the air. LOL. Sorry, it’s hard for me to not laugh at this, being so educated and all. Nail products like polish, gel, and acrylic prevent water from being absorbed, thus protecting the nail, and aids in keeping the cells that make up the nail together, so they’re less likely to fray and split.

JT: This is a common myth. Any nail enhancement can be viewed as a protective covering. If these coverings are applied correctly and conscientiously, meaning the technician is not overly damaging the natural nail, they will aid in the durability of the nail. If your nails are inherently weak, to begin with, then adding a protective covering can give that nail “strength.” What that protective covering will not do is change the inherent characteristics of the nail without the covering.

Question #2: Why can’t I get my nails to be stronger?

KL: I would take a look internally, health-wise, before you start pointing the blame on the products and coverings you’re using. Look into supplements that support the nails, and take as directed with physician approval. It’s also of paramount importance to remove nail coverings properly to maintain your ‘virgin’ nail strength. Hot Tip: If you’re a nail biter like me, stop.

JT: It depends on the original condition of the nail. If the nail is thin and hard to grow due to heredity or internal issues, the only way to give weak nails more strength to grow is to use some form of protective covering, i.e., gel, acrylic, wraps or dips. Sometimes certain medications may cause the nails to appear thinner for the duration of use and may return to normal when the medication is no longer required. Any damage to the nail either from the application of a covering or from the removal process will indicate whether the nail regains its strength. With removal, the evaporation of the acetone will take approximately 24 hours, and rigidity will be expected. However, to regain original strength, depending on the original condition of the nail might require 4-6 months through the total replacement of the nail from the date of removal.

Question #3: Is Gel Polish Less Damaging Than Acrylic?

KL: I won’t lie, I thought this was true, but I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong #growth

JT: Neither acrylic nor gel polish is damaging to the nails. What damages the nails are excessive filing of the natural nail plate to apply the product and incorrect removal of the enhancement either by the nail tech or by the client. Ripping enhancements off the natural nail causes severe damage by removing layers of the nail plate. An electric file or hand file can easily remove a tremendous amount of nail plate cells, therefore, creating thin, damaged nails. Adhere to the instructions for application, and there should be no apparent damage to nails. A conscientious nail tech is the best asset for limiting damage to the nail plate.

Question #4: How Do I Prevent My Gel Or Regular Polish Nails From Chipping?

KL: I haven’t had any polish be it gel or regular last longer than my interest in one of my fiancé’s computer games. Yes, I use my nails for utilitarian purposes like cleaning sticky stuff off the counter and scratching my dog, so it’s a suicide mission to expect anything less. That said, my longest runs with nail polish have been when I used a light-handed application and practice patience, allowing each thin layer to dry fully before applying the next. I’m also sure to “cap” the free edge by taking the last bit of polish after painting the base of my nail along the tip to lock it in place.

JT: Traditionally, nail polish should last about three to four days without chipping. This, of course, depends on behavioral factors, i.e., how often and what way you’re using your hands. Prepping the nail in both cases is essential, as well as using a quality base coat and capping the tips of the nails. Gel polish is typically only guaranteed for fourteen days with normal wear and tear. Using gloves while washing dishes or cleaning does help for a longer-lasting set for either one.

Question #5: Why Are My Bare Nails Yellow & WHY Is This Happening?

KL: Girl. Remember when I said I’m like an Ogre, well with an entire season of not applying my toe polish properly, my feet honored that semblance as well. There are a lot of reasons why this can happen, so I’ll give this one over to Jes. In my case, using improper base coats, was the culprit. I would skip the base coat entirely out of laziness, or the impulsive choice to wear a sandal when I had planned on a shoe to hide my Shrek feet. 

JT: The most common reason for yellowing of the nails is not using a quality basecoat before applying color polish. Nail polish, especially highly pigmented options, can stain the nails. In this case, the nails can be lightly buffed to remove yellowing. Using a commercial nail whitener or a DIY formula like a Baking soda + Hydrogen peroxide paste. Fungal or bacterial nail infections also can cause yellowing of the nails, but this yellowing usually is seen on one nail at a time. Infections, of course, would have to be treated by a physician. Most topical treatments fall short. An allergic reaction could also cause a yellow appearance in the nails. For concerns that go beyond a cosmetic scenario, you should always seek medical attention. Licensed nail technicians are prohibited from making a diagnosis, and unless they are certified as a medical nail technician may not service or “treat” medical conditions.

Question #6: Help, My Natural Nail Broke At Home, How Do I Fix It?

KL: I remember learning the tea-bag trick in class. I’ve used it since, but most of the time, I keep my nails ENHANCED honey, so if it breaks, its acrylic and I’ll have to take a trip to Tony because well, I trust him more than myself with my nails.

JT: First, wash your hands well, gently buff away any shine from the nail, being careful around the break as not to disturb it. Use a cotton ball dampened with alcohol to clean and dehydrate the nail. Using nail glue (not crazy/super glue) to adhere to the break, holding the piece together using a wooden stick if possible. Paint the entire nail with the glue and place a piece of tissue paper or clean tea bag on the break to act as a brace. Let that coat harden. Add another coat of glue over the entire nail, pay attention to saturate the chosen fabric. Let that coat harden. Add another layer of glue, let harden. Buff gently to smooth surface and apply cuticle oil.

Question #7: Is Vegan Polish Better For Me?

KL: Why am I still here… Ms. Jes?!

JT: In my opinion, vegan nail products are labeled as such to indicate that no animals or their by-products are used to create the product. If we’re talking about “clean” polish, the idea is that certain “toxic” substances aren’t present in the formulation of the product. Some name brand companies have already been replacing some common “toxic” ingredients for years—Formaldehyde, Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Triphenylphosphate (TPHP), etc. Typically, when you see 5 FREE or 10 FREE, that is in response to some of the common types of chemicals that are traditionally in nail polish. Please understand that some of these very same “toxic” chemicals could be present in other cosmetics. Know that manufacturers sometimes use this as their marketing tactics. Everything is “toxic.” When, in fact, toxicity is based on overexposure. Unless you are allergic to certain ingredients and use the products as instructed, there is little cause for alarm.

Question #8: How Do I Care For My Cuticles at Home?

KL: Push it, push it real good. Be gentle! I use wooden sticks and a nipper just for maintenance every couple of weeks. Be careful, my sweet fans.

JT: After a warm shower, gently push back the eponychium (living skin at the base of the nail) to reveal the cuticle tissue (dead skin) that is firmly attached to the nail plate. You can use a wooden pusher or spoon-shaped cuticle pusher. After pushing the eponychium back, scrape the nail plate gently to lift dead cuticle tissue. Cut dead tissue away carefully with a cuticle nipper or cuticle scissors. Condition the area with nail skin conditioner or oil. Do this every other week or as needed.

Our must-have’s for all things nails.

Stickey Base Coat


She’s Used It For 20 years. Does this really need an explanation?! With thousands of online reviews crediting this base coat for polish manicures lasting beyond a week, I can see the appeal. Stickey Base Coat is a soft, sticky 3-free base coat for healthy nails that improves nail color wearability and helps prevent surface staining of natural nails and enhancements. I’ve gone ahead and ordered this because it would be dumb of me not to at this point. I’ll be sure to post an update, but I have a feeling I’m gonna love it.

Dry Fast Top Coat

Seche Vite

She’s Used It For 20 years. Does this really need an explanation?! With thousands of online reviews crediting this base coat for polish manicures lasting beyond a week, I can see the appeal. Stickey Base Coat is a soft, sticky 3-free base coat for healthy nails that improves nail color wearability and helps prevent surface staining of natural nails and enhancements. I’ve gone ahead and ordered this because it would be dumb of me not to at this point. I’ll be sure to post an update, but I have a feeling I’m gonna love it.

Remove+ Nail Polish Remover


Check. Them. Boxes. Free of the Big Five and packing a punch, enter in the ring, the one remover to rule them all! This polish remover is an award-wining, gentle yet highly effective 3-in-1 nail polish remover, nail prep, and nail conditioner. The spill-proof container and pretty lilac color also don’t hurt its already stellar reputation.

Solar Oil Nail and Cuticle Conditioner


The Pro’s Favorite. Called a ”manicure in a bottle,” this blend of three natural oils and vitamin E serves double duty as both a nail strengthener and conditioner, as well as a cuticle softener. Made with natural oils (Sweet almond and Jojoba seed oil) These oils seem to penetrate the nail and skin vs. sit on the skin as mineral-based oils do, according to our resident Nail Guru Jes Taylor of Honolulu Nail Academy

Nail Envy


Something For Everyone: OPI makes an excellent topical nail strengthener, Nail Envy. It comes in many different formulations to fit a wide range of issues. Our personal favorite is the Original formulation. Be aware that strengtheners are not recommended for long-term use. Once your nails feel stronger, stop using this  formula and switch to their Maintenance formula.

About Our Expert

Ms. Jes Taylor: I’ve been a licensed nail tech in the state of Hawaii since 2001 and a licensed instructor at the Honolulu Nail & Aesthetics Academy since 2006. I am currently still servicing clients and a life-long learner. 

Currently, Honolulu Nail Academy and is offering a Full Online Course where students can earn hours toward licensure requirements for nails and soon for Aesthetics. For out of state online students, the academy can issue the required hours to accommodate each state’s requirements.

For more information contact HNA by clicking Here

Follow HNA On Social for the inside scoop: @honolulunailsandaesthetics 


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