Sunday, May 14, 2017

Russian Manicure Part 1 - Video reviews

If a nail trend has ever given me the willies, its the Russian Manicure (a.k.a combined manicure, Korean manicure, machine manicure). The effect is clean and stunning....and almost always not something that is within scope of a nail tech's license. Having said that, I will say that there are certain parts of the technique that are useful and can be done by a well trained nail tech without damage to the client. But there are other parts of the procedure that literally amount to minor surgery. Lets break this down.

First, a side note. Lets remember throughout this that the eponychium is living tissue and should never be cut. From the book "Nanotechnology in Dermatology":
"The skin bordering the proximal nail plate is called the eponychium. It does not end at the nail plate, but instead folds back underneath to create a tight seal which prevents pathogens or contaminants form gaining access to the matrix area... [It] serves to help protect and cushion the matrix. This tissue is often mistakenly confused with the cuticle... The cuticle is a vital part of the seal that protects the matrix from pathogenic invasion, which explains why this area should be treated with care when manicuring."
Back to our regularly scheduled post:

In the first video, they are using a variety of bits to "clean" the cuticle and eponychium.
  • First, a fine small diamond cylinder bit is used to remove visible cuticle stuck the nail plate. This could be okay, as long as the bit is very fine and care is taken to not over file. There is quite a bit of "dust" on the nail when they do this which is nail plate dust. I don't think that bit is very fine.
  • Second, a needle bit with a blunt edge is used and they instruct you to go "as deep as possible" into the nail grooves. My problem here is that they start pushing under the eponychium to "clean" the cuticle - and in the process are breaking the seal that the eponychium gives to the nail matrix.
  • The third bit is a corundum (stone) bit - which is porous and not disinfectable. You would need to use a new bit for every client. They are using it to smooth the nail plate. This is the third time they have gone over the same area around the sidewalls and eponychium of the nail with a rapidly spinning bit. I don't care how soft the bit is, at this point you are starting to take layers of the nail off.
  • Fourth they use a tiny diamond football (or bullet) to go over again to go even more deeply into the nail folds.
  • A round diamond bit is used to clean raised skin (they keep calling it cuticle but its really living tissue). They also use it to file down the hard, dry skin at the corner of the nails. That makes sense to me, its the same as filing calluses on the feet .

Even worse is the video where they do the same manicure but add scissors. They say that there are 2 instances that you need to use scissors - the first is when your client has "damp cuticle" and is too elastic to get with the machine and the second is for new techs who are not comfortable using the round bit.
  • In this video they show a client with healthy eponychium that is a bit overgrown. They first dry out the moist eponychium with baby powder and then push back the stuck eponychium, (again they keep calling it cuticle, which is wrong)
  • They then use the diamond bit to remove cuticle on the nail plate (which they keep calling pterygium, which is also wrong) and to push up under the eponychum that they pushed back in the first step. Their goal is to raise that eponychium off the nail plate in order to be able to grab it with scissors later. They use the same bit along the sidewalls
  • They powder the skin again to dry it and then use a scissors to cut off the raised eponychium., This is the part where I can't help but cringe.
  • Next they are using a corundum (stone) bit to remove the cuticle that is leftover on the nail plate and smooth the nail plate. Again these bits are porous and not disinfectable.
  • They next use the round diamond bit along the edge where they just cut off the eponychium to further raise the skin "for later cleaning" and then file any raised skin off using the same bit as well as filing down any hard skin on the sides of the nail.
  • They use another corundum (stone) bit to smooth the skin around the nail. 
  • Then they push back the eponychium with a pusher again. How much trauma can this finger withstand??
What are your thoughts on these procedures??

Part 2 of Russian Manicures -  the Consequences and Experts Weigh In coming soon!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

My answer to Quora post: What are the drawbacks of wearing acrylic nails?

I frequent as a means to try to do my part in busting myths about nails. (Sigh, it really does feel like an uphill battle sometimes.) I thought that it would be good to share my response to this question here as well 🙂

All images are not mine and were taken from Google images.

First, a disclaimer: as a licensed nail tech, I truly believe that any type of artificial nail can be worn without damage or infection if done correctly. I’ve worn nails for over 20 years and neither I nor any of my clients EVER had the issues I am going to describe below. TLDR at the very bottom
OK. The first drawback is the lack of education in the nail industry. You are more likely to find a poorly trained (or even untrained and unlicensed) nail tech than you are going to find one that is well-trained and knowledgeable about the science of nails. Even nail techs who are licensed are only trained in the basics, so you need to look for one who is not only licensed (in the US, other countries may not have licensure) BUT also has a lot of continuing education under their belt Just having a license is not enough.

Untrained/under-trained nail techs often do not understand the chemistry of nails. They don’t understand (or care) that mixing product brands and being sloppy with application (liquid all over the skin) can lead to overexposure and can cause allergic reactions or dermatitis in their clients. Once a client becomes allergic to products, they can never again wear artificial nails because almost all of the various products we use are chemically related. (Some are chemically different, but who wants to go through this every time they try a new product just to see if it doesn't happen again?)

Damaged natural nails. Nail damage is not inevitable when wearing artificial nails. Acrylic itself does not damage the natural nail. Improper application and removal damages natural nails. And untrained/under-trained nail techs are almost always just following procedures that were taught to them by other untrained/under-trained nail techs. When applying acrylic nails, the tech only needs to use a very fine file to gently break up the blocks of oil n the nail There is zero need to shred or etch the natural nail with today’s advanced acrylic products. But an untrained tech doesn't know that so they use a coarse file or an electric file with a coarse sanding band to remove layers of the natural nail (makes me cringe to think about).

Then when they file the top of the acrylic nail or do a fill, they are improperly using an electric file again at the wrong angle and they cut into the the natural nail causing “rings of fire”which you can see through the acrylic in this pic:

And then when nails are removed, they are either picked or pried off, which brings layers of the natural nail with it:

Bad removal vs good removal: (not my image, got it off the internet :))

MMA. This is a post unto itself, so I will try to be brief. MMA is an illegal (the FDA says it is hazardous and deleterious when used on nails) acrylic nail liquid that is still used in cheap nail salons because it is so cheap. It doesn't stick well and REQUIRES rough etching of the natural nail (thinning and damaging it) to get the product to adhere. But once adhered, it is overly hard and attaches too rigidly to the natural nail - meaning if you break a nail, instead of the acrylic breaking, it tears your natural nail off the nail bed. It is also extremely hard to remove and so most salons who use it will pry the acrylic off the natural nail, further damaging it MMA is the reason the myth that acrylic nails damage the natural nails still exists. (Gross pics follow)

Unsanitary salons: Fungus is not something that is destined to happen with acrylic nails, but it can happen if the salon you frequent is unsanitary. So can other infections such as mycobacteria , pseudomonas, and even Hepatitis.

So yes, there are risks with wearing artificial nails if you go to a nail tech who is poorly trained (and sadly, its something like 80% of nail techs that fall into this category)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Once and For All, UV Lamps are SAFE

In November, 2008, a study was published that claimed that UV Nail Lamps caused cancer. In this study two healthy women with no family history of skin cancer developed melanoma after repeated use of nail salon UV lamps. Of course, the internet grabbed on to this story and ran with it. The problem is, the study was faulty. First of all, the sample size was 2 people. Two. Both who live in Texas - which, if you don’t know, is a very sunny southern state in the US. The study also made faulty conclusions based on the UV output of tanning beds, which are significantly stronger than the UV output of nail lamps and they assumed the UV-A energy exposure from nail lamps would fall within the estimated range determined to be potentially carcinogenic.
Since then, at least three additional studies have been completed, all coming to the conclusion that UV Nail lamps are indeed safe.
The Lighting Sciences study in 2010 concluded that “UV-B output is less than what occurs in natural sunlight and is equal to what a person could expect from spending an extra 17 to 26 seconds in sunlight each day during the two weeks between nail salon appointments” and “UV-A exposure is equivalent to spending an extra 1.5 to 2.7 minutes in sunlight each day between salon visits, depending on the type of UV nail lamp used.”
In December, 2012, The Massachusetts General Hospital /Alpert Medical School at Brown University study concluded that "Nail lamps are safe for over 250 years of weekly manicures, and even then there would be a low risk of skin cancer”. They also concluded that “Although some sources of UVA and UVB contribute to the development of KCs [keratinocyte carcinoma], UV nail lamps do not appear to significantly increase the lifetime risk of KC. Dermatologists and primary-care physicians may reassure patients regarding the safety of these devices.
Testing by Sayre and Dowdy in July 2013 found that found that UV nail lights were even safer than expected. “All of the various UV nail lamps submitted for evaluation were found to be significantly less hazardous than might have been anticipated based on the initial concerns raised…” They also confirmed that UV nail lamps are NOT equivalent to tanning beds or indoor tanning lamps, largely because nail lamps use vastly different types of UV bulbs which produce different ranges of wavelengths with significantly lower intensities.
In addition, “The study demonstrates that UV exposure is so low that a worker could put their hand under a UV nail lamp from this study for 25 minutes each day without exceeding established internationally accepted safe limits or ‘permissible daily exposures’.”
In numerous interviews and research, Dr. Sayre has stated that the use of UV nail lamps does not contribute to the risk of getting skin cancer and that the emissions from UV nail lamps are safer than that of natural sunlight.
In 2013, The Skin Cancer Foundation put out an official statement that “even the most intense of these devices presents only a moderate UV risk – a far lower risk than that presented by UV tanning devices”. Of course, to play it safe, they still recommend sunscreen, as they do with any UV exposure.

So, in conclusion, UV lamps are completely safe. There is no evidence that these lamps cause cancer and there has never been a cancer case proven to have come from these lamps in the 30+ years they have been in use. You may wish to mitigate risk by wearing sunscreen if desired.