Mary first came in to the salon on the last day in January 2013. She had delayed in coming in to see me after she and I had a brief phone consultation right after Christmas of 2012. She told me that she had a New Year's resolution goal to have her own natural nails
again but she really didn't think it was possible. She had been wearing acrylic nails for approximately 30 years. I told her that damage happens from the first time you apply artificial nails due to filing across the top of the nail and persists with fills and lifting. I told her that if she was interested in getting her own natural nails back, I could help her achieve that goal. I have seen all kinds of damage to the natural nail and, at the time, I was unaware of how chronically acute her nail condition was. Mary has been involved in the beauty industry and she had delayed in seeing me because she was embarrassed by her nails.
Day 1 - OMG!
She had told me her nails were bad, and when I saw them, all I could think of was how long this process would take. Mary had some of the worst damage I had seen in a long time and that damage was extensive! This was no easy fix and the biggest thing she needed from me was encouragement!
The ring finger on her right hand was practically gone!
I was truly concerned and told her that the most important thing she could do is to start treating her nails with Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca Essential Oil) 2-3 times per day
and use cuticle oil
every day. I examined her ring finger and noticed that it hadn't gone down into the nail matrix yet, but it was daringly close! Any closer and a physician would definitely be required!
There was still Hope!
Her left hand was not as bad as her right but it still needed a lot of time to heal.
Mary's nail prognosis was hopeful but it would take time and patience for her to get her nails back, and it was still questionable on if there would be any permanent damage to the nail matrix.
Mary's nails were thin and ragged so I gently filed the edges that had a little "white tip" with a 400 grit file to smooth the edges. I cleaned up her cuticle
area and put some clear polish on what there was of her natural nails. Her home regimen included Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca Essential Oil) 2-3 times per day
, Cuticle Oil
1-2 times per day and a coat of clear polish every other day. She needed to come in about every 2 to 3 weeks for a manicure. I also told her that if she noticed any of her nails getting worse that what she saw currently or any infection getting worse, she needed to contact her physician. (Thankfully, that was unnecessary!)
Day 100 - Marked improvement!!!
I am amazed at the improvement, just with Tea Tree Oil. But now I notice another problem, and it is one that is common for this level of damage. Mary has a tendency to pick at her fingers, especially if she sees an imperfection. Mary's left hand is looking much better but her right is still suffering. Her ring finger (which was her worst case scenario on Day 1) looks better than her middle finger. Her middle finger has been the brunt of obsessive behavior because it is one of the prominent nails of her dominant hand. Now it's time for focus on maintenance instead of cures.
I give Mary a gentle manicure and only smooth out the very tips of her nails so there is nothing to snag or catch her attention in that manner. I start her on a regimen of nail polish to be applied every other day after today's manicure. I still want her to treat her nails daily with Tea Tree Oil
and cuticle oil
, but now I want her to start with a clear polish on her nails to help her maintain some strength and I need to minimize any peeling or chipping that may draw her attention to her deficient nail.
As I mentioned earlier, this is "no easy fix", this takes time and patience. In place of a regular top coat, I use a product I recently found at my local Sally Beauty Supply called Gelish Mini VitaGel Recovery
by Gelish brand Gel Polish. This product does need a UV or LED light to cure it but I found that it works fabulously for damaged or weak nails. I love the two different formulas, one is called Recovery and one is called Strength. If you don't have a UV or LED light, you can use Jessica Cosmetics Restoration
, for post acrylic damage, or you can try Starting Over
, a Salon Sciences brand that you can purchase through your local Sally Beauty Supply.
When the nails look like they do at this stage, they still need a lot of care. The nails need to remain covered with a strengthener made for recovering nails and remain covered for the duration of the regrowth.
I don't hear from Mary for a while again. Finally, when I do hear from her, it is to take pictures of her nails again and the growth she has achieved! I can hear the excitement in Mary's voice.
Day 200 - All I can say is WOW!
Mary is in awe of how strong her nails are and how great they look. She never thought her nails could be this strong!
Mary's nails are now on the road to permanent recovery! There is still some issues that need to be addressed, but her nails are strong, resilient and they look so-o-o much better than they did when she first came in. Mary's nails can only get better from here and it is always gratifying to see the transformation from disaster to healthy nails!
Check out the right hand!!! Amazing! Isn't it?!
According to Mary, her nails have never looked this great or have they been this strong! She says her nails were always weak and flimsy, now they are strong, yet flexible and withstand breakage even if she is a little hard on them.
It is amazing to my clients when they finally achieve healthy natural nail growth and they can't believe how strong and healthy their nails really are!
And the most important secret to artificial nail recovery is?...
After patience, the three most important topical items for artificial nail recovery are;
- Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca Essential Oil) - great for damage recovery because it prevents and helps to heal bacterial and some fungal infections.
- Post Recovery Nail Strengthener - gotta keep those nails covered to minimize nail anomalies and irregularities. There is also a gel polish called Recovery, by Gelish, that can help with covering and strengthening the natural nail. However, a UV lamp and regular and proper removal of the gel polish is required.
- Cuticle Oil - to keep the cuticles smooth and the natural nails hydrated and flexible. Of course, I recommend Bella10 CutiOil because of it's all natural blend that softens the cuticles and hydrates the nails. When used regularly, CutiOil will minimize breaking and peeling of the natural nails and help eliminate hangnails.
Artificial Nail Recovery IS Possible!!!
If Mary can do it, so can you. All it takes is Patience and a little Perseverance! Take the challenge! Your nails can be better than they were before artificial nails!
For more tips on natural nail care, check out