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Interesting facts about your nails, which you should know

Image:© john lee / Fotolia

Fingernails are made out of protein (a minimum of 80%), hydrating fluid (15 to 18%) and mineral salts (around 2%).

The three main proteins comprising the horny layers of the nail are fibrin, globulin and glycine. The first two form a parallel protein chain, connected by the third. This structure makes the nail more resistant to breakage. Now you know why protein deficiency makes the nails brittle.

The hydrating fluid is a very important element in the formation of a healthy, strong fingernail. Water is contained mainly in intercellular and extracellular lipids. Intercellular lipids provide the nail’s flexibility, while the extracellular lipids act as glue, which holds the cells together, forming the three horny layers of the nail plate.

There are many mineral salts in the structure of the fingernail, but the most important ones are the calcium salts, which, together with the lipids, give the nail its strength.

The five nail types

Nails can be divided into 5 main categories:

  • Strong, healthy nails, resistant to blow, do not split or flake.
  • Brittle nails, which break at the slightest impact.
  • Nails which have lost their natural coloring. Such nails grow with moisture absorption and do not maintain their former shape. They also bend easily.
  • Soft nails. They have the same characteristics as the ones which have lost their natural color with the distinct difference that the soft nail is more transparent.
  • Layered or split nail, which is usually the result of lack of proper hydration.

What are the reasons behind damaged nails? You should know that nail problems are not hereditary. Their health depends on the climate, your diet and any treatment they are subjected to.

Do not submerge your nails in water for long periods of time (doing the dishes without protective gloves is long enough). The horny layers have the ability to absorb water many times their capacity. Such are the nails which have lost their natural color and the soft nails, mentioned above.

The frequent use of chemicals, such as soap, detergent and other household cleaners can lead to drying of the nails. The frequent wetting and drying of the hands dissolves the extracellular lipids making the nails brittle.

The healthy nail has three firm horny layers, connected through enough extracellular lipids and has a good moisture balance. This information can help you diagnose your own nail problems and will give you some direction as to what to look for in a remedial product.

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