"Give nails a break from polish to let them breathe."
This summer we spent a fair amount of time in our local beauty parlour, topping up our mani and pedis whenever the mood took or the colour chipped. From time to time this little rule kept on cropping up: "Give your nails a breather between polishes. It's good for them." But is it? Lynn Gray, a nail ambassador for Mavala, says no. "Nails do not have a respiratory system so they cannot essentially breathe," she says. "In fact, the nail you see is in fact dead. The living part of the nail is found within the matrix which is underneath the base of the nail." But, London's top podiatrist, Margaret Dabbs has other ideas. "Nail varnish can be very toxic and because of the intensity of the colour and the chemicals this can be massively dehydrating on the nails. This dehydration can affect the nails in various ways, including ridging, scaling, brittleness, discolouration, and it can also cause white flecks to appear on the nail. Whilst the nails are covered with polish the damage to the nails will continue, but also with the nail covered you cannot see the damage that is being caused so by the time you do see it the damage is done. Polish-free days are essential when looking after your nails as it allows them time to breathe and recover, rehydrating naturally. Your nails will be in much better condition if you take a week between each polish as they will have had enough time to revitalize and strengthen." Um, looks like we might actually want to believe in this beauty myth.
The solution: If you want to give your nails a "breather" try the Margaret Dabbs Super Shine Buffer, £7, available at Margaret Dabbs, to polish your natural nails until they gleam like freshly buffed mirrors. If you do notice some white flecks or nail irregularities, slick on a couple of coats of Mavala Mava-White Optical Nail Whitener, £9.40, available at Feel Unique. This cosmetic treatment leaves dodgy-looking nails pearly white, though beware: There is a UV quality to this liquid so the next time you go clubbing, your tootsies are going to glow in the dark.