GelMoment, Nail Tips

Nail Anatomy (and why you should know it)

We all have nails. It’s a part of our body we see and use every day. But how much do you know about your Nail Anatomy? Probably very little, right? One of the keys to being able to do a salon quality manicure at home is understanding your nails, and how to care for them. So today, let’s talk about Nail Anatomy (and why you should know it).

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How many of these nail parts could you identify prior to today? I polled my community group, and they were shocked at how many they didn’t know! Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Matrix

The matrix is where the nail’s journey begins. The matrix produces the cells that become the nail plate. It will continue to produce these cells as long as it remains healthy, and receives nutrition. The width and thickness of your nail plate is determined by the matrix, while the shape of your fingertip will determine if the nail plate grows arched, flat, etc.

Lunula

The lunula is the visible part of the matrix. The matrix is a circular shape, and that’s why the portion that’s visible appears as a half-moon!  The lunula is most visible on the thumb, and the least visible on your pinky finger.

Nail Plate

The nail plate is the hard part of the nail, and it’s made of keratin protein. Several layers of dead, compacted cells pushed forward from the matrix cause the nail to be strong, but flexible.  The nail plate is where nail enhancements are applied.

Hyponychium

The hyponychium (also known as the ‘quick’) is the junction between the free edge and the skin of your fingertip, located beneath the nail plate. It forms a seal that protects the nail bed (the skin underneath the nail plate).

Free Edge

The free edge of the nail plate is the end of the nail, also known as the cutting edge. This is the portion of your nail you would use to scratch an itch!

Sidewall/Lateral Nail Fold

The sidewall of the nail is the skin that runs alongside the nail plate. The lateral nail fold is the crevice created where the nail plate runs alongside the sidewall.

Eponychium/Cuticle

The eponychium is the fold of (living) skin at the back of your nail that produces the cuticle (dead skin). Some people consider the cuticle and eponychium as synonymous and one entity. However, the eponychium is living skin, and should not be clipped or cut due to risk of infection. Cuticle is dead skin that ‘rides out’ onto the visible nail plate.

So what are you supposed to do with this information, you ask?

Knowing the difference between the cuticle and eponychium for example, will help you prepare your nail plate for the best lasting manicure.

Knowing how your nail grows and what determines it’s shape/length can help when you’re trying to achieve the perfect look to suit your hands.

And knowing all of these parts will help you as you read more blog posts on how to apply gel polish, how to prep your nail, how to care for your nails to keep them healthy and strong, and so much more!

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