The Negative Side of Artificial Nails

Although artificial nails have become an important fashion item among ladies, they also have their negative effects

|  By Chinwe Okafor  |  Oct. 21, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

ARTIFICIAL nails remain a hit among women who simply look pretty wearing them. They are fashion nails placed over a lady’s fingernails for beautification. Some ladies, who do not have the time to take care of their natural nails, opt for a set of artificial nails attached to their natural nails whenever they attend social functions. The nails demand very little maintenance and are easy to wear and remove than the natural nails.

Some ladies feel that another way of complementing dressing which is really making waves among women today is fixing artificial nails. Amaka Obiekwe, a graduate of Anambra State University, said that artificial nails add glamour to her dress sense and makes her stand out from the crowd. “I attend public functions a lot and apart from standing out with my attire and accessories, my nails attract attention to people around me. I am not a nail freak though, but I love the perfectly fixed ones. I make sure that whenever I want to fix my nails, a beautician who knows how to do it all attends to me in a nail studio,” she said.

A nail technician doing her work
A nail technician doing her work

There are other reasons why women fix artificial nails. Kemi Akindele, an apprentice said she fixes her nails because she chews the natural nails. “My nails are short and I bite them often. Fixing artificial nails helps me to keep them in shape because chewing my natural nail poses a great challenge to their maintainance. I therefore go for artificial nails because with them, I am spared the stress of keeping natural nails,” she said. Joan Nworah, a hair-stylist and nails technician said artificial nails are very close to the natural nails and just like hair and eyelash extensions, have come to stay. Looking good is good business and it demands that one bears the cost.

“Artificial nails are relatively affordable because the kind of nails a person wants depends on the price. They vary in designs and this makes their prices vary. They include: the acrylic nails, silk nails, glass nails, French- tips and gel nails to mention a few, and they cost between N500 and N2, 500 and that depends on the kind of nail you want and the expertise involved,” she said. Although fixing of artificial nails has improved the beauty of a woman, it could also be dangerous if not well managed.

Funke Abayomi, an apprentice in a nail studio in Lagos, said that artificial nails are available in different designs, colours, and shapes ranging from simple colours such as yellow or blue to flamboyant designs such as animal print and mixed metabolic colour. Artificial nails can either be long or short, depending on one’s choice. If she wants to step out in casual or corporate attires, she must make sure she opts for a dress that goes with whatever colour that she uses in painting her nails and also be conscious of the type of accessories to use. Gel nails are more expensive than acrylics, but they may hold the colour longer without chipping.

Juliet Okoli, a nail technician, said nail fixing was not part of Africans life, adding that women could accept other accomplished method of beautifying the nails. She said that fixing of the nail is very common among young women because there are some who don’t feel comfortable if they don’t fix the nail while some others go extra mile to spend the last cash on them to fix their nails. “I am not saying that the act of fixing the nail is not good, but it should be minimised as it could be dangerous to health.”

Perfectly fixed glass nails
Perfectly fixed glass nails

She, however, wants fellow nail technicians to help ameliorate the effect of nail fixing  by using good and improved nail cosmetics. “Nail fixing may cause accident to the cuticles, which can also lead to bacterial infections. The artificial nail fixing, if fitted properly, would not be problematic but fixing it for a longer period could damage the nail. Long term use and poorly fitted nails can seriously damage the nail bed and as well hamper natural nail’s growth. The most common problem associated with artificial nails is a bacterial infection that may develop between the false and natural nails.

“When artificial nails are applied to the natural nail surface, minor types of trauma to the artificial nails can happen from something as harmless as scraping a nail against a firm surface. This can cause separation of the nail from its nail bed. This allows bacteria and fungus to potentially enter the separated area which could cause infection,” she said. According to her, most hospitals would not allow their employees to have artificial fingernails due to the risk of harbouring infection, which could be transmitted to patients.

She added that it could as well be injurious to salon workers, who are exposed to chemical fumes from artificial nails. “Nail fixing also affects salon workers, who face exposures to other chemicals used while fixing the nails such as toluene and dibutyl phthalate,” she said. But not every lady likes fixing nails. Utonwa Obi, a graduate of Abia State University, does not like fixing her nails because she feels uncomfortable with them. “I have good fingernails and I ensure that they’re clean at all times. So, I don’t see the reason why I should fix artificial nails. I don’t buy the idea. It’s not an African culture,” she said.   She added that nothing can substitute healthy, strong nails, which demand a balanced diet with lots of proteins, plenty of water, and enough milk.

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