Here’s What Happens to Your Nails When You Stop Getting Manicures, According to a Dermatologist

Our nails have seen better days thanks to social distancing. Now that we’re no longer visiting the salon on a bi-monthly basis, we’re starting to wonder if there’s any benefit to giving our nails (and bank account) a breather during self-isolation.

That’s why we turned to California dermatologist Dr. Peterson Pierre, who weighed in on what actually happens when you stop getting manicures (and it’s quite alarming). Here’s what he had to say.

Are manicures bad?

The answer is…sorta. According to Dr. Pierre, most polishes, acetone and other nail products contain harsh chemicals. By forgoing the nail salon, you’re allowing your body to undergo a mini detox. “You can avoid chemicals, particularly the toxic trio: DBP, toluene and formaldehyde, which have been linked to asthma, birth defects and even cancer,” he explains. That’s not to say these chemicals will definitely cause health problems, but it does mean giving your nails a chance to breathe is a good idea.

Not to mention, your nails may show a physical change. “Constant use of acetone and the UV lamps involved in gel manicures can weaken the keratin in the nails and cause a rough surface leading to brittle nails and even breakage,” Dr. Pierre adds.

Will I notice a difference if I stop getting manicures?

Most likely. Dr. Pierre says that taking a break from the salon will not only “allow your nails an opportunity to rehydrate and repair,” but it will also eliminate exposure to unwanted germs. “Your cuticles get a chance to heal and you eliminate your chance of a fungal infection because up to 75 percent of U.S. nail salons fail to follow state protocols on disinfection,” he explains.

How do I look presentable in the meantime?

We suggest getting your hands on an at-home kit (like this one from Sephora), so you can maintain what’s left of your manicure. While Dr. Pierre recommends taking a break from polish, the basic tools will help you achieve a hangnail-free appearance for the time being. (Pro tip: If your nails are prone to breaking, trim them short to improve regrowth.)

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