Polish up your nail knowledge & reveal what your nails say about your general health.
To better understand your fingernail shape, let’s first nail the anatomy. The hard surface you buff and polish is called your nail plate. The distal edge, made up of old hardened keratin cells, is the white part you clip. The white half moon is the lunula. That’s the topmost part of the matrix, the only living part of your nail, where new keratin cells are formed. Your cuticle protects your matrix. The shape and size of your nails is determined by the shape and size of your matrix, which has a strong genetic influence.
Stubby, short nails are wider than they are long. These overly short nails can be hereditary or can be caused by nail biting around the cuticle. Chewing on the cuticle damages the matrix underneath, affecting nail growth. Long, narrow nails are indicative of rare genetic disorders like Marfan’s Syndrome or Ehler-Danlos. Spooned nails have a concave surface that’s either inherited or could be a symptom of anemia from a deficiency in Iron or Vitamin A. With clubbed nails, the fingers become rounded and bulbous with the nails curving over the ends of your fingers.
The health of your nails can be a window into your overall health. White nails with reddened or dark tips, also called Terry’s Nails, is a condition where the nail plate has become white although still attached. This condition can be symptomatic of liver, heart or thyroid trouble. Overly thick nails are often a sign of a fungal infection. Deficiencies in Zinc, Iron or Biotin can lead to thin, peeling or brittle nails. Ridged nails can signal a Vitamin B deficiency. Nails can become pitted because of injury or the skin condition psoriasis. Injury or overuse of fake nails can cause nails to pull away from the nail bed. If you have any concerns about your nail health, please consult your doctor to rule out more serious health issues.
The Nail Files
You have the shape you were born with and then there’s the shape the manicurist files. If your nailbeds are short and wide, opt for an oval nail tip to create the illusion of length. Narrower nailbeds benefit from a more square design. The simplest way to decide what’s best for you is to mirror the look of your lunula (half moon).
Just like shaping the ends of your nails can visually add length or broaden overly narrow nailbeds, the perfect shade of polish can also help you achieve beautiful balance. Lovely opaque nudes or pastels can make short nails and hands look long and graceful. Darker colors are more modern on shorter, more square nails. Vivid brights visually widen narrow nailbeds.