Gothic Nail Care FAQ

This FAQ contains answers to many questions about nail care. For more detailed nail care tips, check the other areas of this site.

(This is revision 2.2)

What is the Gothic Guide to Nail Care?
It is testimonial to the fact that I either don't have a life or have too much free time on my hands - probably a bit of both. It is also a collection of nail care tips, techniques and other goodies written with the gothic scene in mind. The Guide can be found at http://www.waningmoon.com/ with other projects of the Dark Wyccan.

Who is the Dark Wyccan?

How long should my nails be?
Probably shorter than many goths would prefer. Lifestyle plays a major role in this since the more active one is, the shorter nails need to be to avoid constant breaks. However, the general rule of thumb is to keep the free edge of the nail (i.e. the white tip) no longer than half the length of the nail bed (i.e. the pink part). For those who want longer nails, nail hardener with nylon fibers is very useful in minimizing breaks.

How do I file my nails?
File each nail tip from corner to center. Do not file back and forth or in a "see-saw" motion over the nail since that can cause ridges and splitting. Also, don't use a metal file since they are too rough on nails.

How should I shape my nails?
Well, in the mundane world, it is said that the ideal shape for a nail is straight sides with a square or oval tip. (Square being ideal.) Of course we are not of the mundane are we??? (Why am I suddenly having flashbacks of the "Goth Talk" skits on Saturday Night Live???) Anyway, goths are more likely to be concerned with aesthetics than practicality so just keep in mind that nails that are pointed are weaker and need more care and protection from trauma.

Also, nail shape should compliment your hand size and cuticle shape. Petite hands, for example, look best with long, rounded (almond-shaped) nails while heavy-set hands and wide nail beds look better with nails that are more squared-off. If the cuticle is oval then so should the nail tip, and likewise, square cuticles would look better with tips that are somewhat squared off at the tips.

Which vitamins benefit my nails?
The truth is, few things taken internally will alter the structure of your nail plate significantly. Lack of vitamins, for instance, is often the blame for many nail problems when in reality, vitamins make up less than 1% of the structure of the nail plate. (It is true, however, that one's health can affect nail strength.) Many people swear that Knox Gelatin mixed with orange juice and taken by mouth can help restore damaged nails, but this has yet to be proven clinically. However, some studies have shown that 2.5 mg of the vitamin Biotin taken orally each day can help produce stronger nails. (WARNING: Pregnant women should not take this supplement.) Taking colloidal minerals and a multivitamin daily may help increase the speed of nail growth.

How can I remove stains on my nails left by polish or hair dye???
Soak a Q-tip or an orangewood stick with a cotton tip in a mixture of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach and rub the cotton tip on the stain. You may want to follow up with some hand lotion to counteract the drying effect of the bleach. Here's a trick when dying hair: coat both sides of the exposed nail with a few coats of clear polish and let dry. Then use gloves as usual for the dying, rinsing and the first shampoo. Should the nails pierce the gloves (it happened to me!) the clear polish will help keep the dye from the nail surface. Just make sure to wash your hands ASAP in such circumstances and continue with a new pair of gloves. Also, make sure to remove the nail polish from the underside of the nail since you want some oxygen to get to the nail.

Is there any correlation between nail color and one's health?
Yes, nail color can indicate some health conditions, so, as a precaution, unexplained nail color should be discussed with a physician although there should be no need for panic. People suffering from circulation problems often will have nail beds of a blue or purple color. Keep in mind that regular use of nail polish can cause a harmless yellowing of the nails. Also, if your nails suddenly seem to be more brittle, it could be a hint that you are not taking care of your health.

Why are my nails so white and dry looking after I take my polish off?
Many nail polish removers dry nails and make them brittle - especially acetone. Always use non-acetone polish removers and apply moisturizing hand lotion regularly.

How often should I manicure my nails?
Once a week to every 10 days is good for simple maintenance. Professionals also commonly recommend that you visit a professional manicurist every 4-6 weeks, although then again, they may just be saying that for the business... who knows?

Should I be buffing my nails?
No, it is not necessary and takes away the layers that give the nail its strength. If you must buff the nail, do so only once or twice a year using a natural buffer. Also, buff in the direction the nails grow, not side to side, to avoid splitting.

How long does nail polish last? Can I increase its life?
Most polishes last a year, but some will last longer. Keep polish in the refrigerator to make it last longer. You can usually add nail polish thinner to polish that has become too thick.

What can I do for nails that keep peeling or splitting?
This may be a dehydration problem. Use an oil designed to penetrate the nail plate then follow up with a moisturizing cream. You may also want to increase your liquid intake.

What the heck do I do with my cuticles??
The cuticle prevents bacteria from entering the lunula (that whitish area at the base of the nail plate) by sealing the space between the nail's root and the skin. Removing the cuticle would leave the newly forming nail vulnerable to infection. Instead of cutting the cuticle, push it back gently with a rosewood stick or rubber-tipped cuticle-pusher. However, should the cuticle be hard and dry and sticking up, slightly trimming it is justifiable, but never remove the whole thing. Strong cuticle growth can be controlled with a cuticle softener or cuticle-removing liquid. Generally I recommend leaving cuticles alone unless they are causing problems.

I had tips with acrylic overlay and when they were removed my nails looked horrible, what can I do to build them back up?
Definitely go to a professional you trust to get them off as safely as possible since you don't want to damage the nail bed. Either way, the nails will be quite weak for some time. If you keep up on a weekly maintenance routine (like what I detail on my nail guide) and use protein-based nail hardeners your nails will show improvements in a few months. I would wait a few months before trying to grow long nails since they will be very likely to rip during this time. Be patient!

How fast do nails grow?
This varies from person to person and even between individual fingers of the same hand. Nails grow from between 1/500-1/20in. (0.05-1.2mm) per week, taking approximately seven months to grow out completely. Fingernails grow faster than toenails, and growth increases in summer time or warmer climates and decreases in colder climates or during illness.

Why doesn't my polish stay on???
There can be many reasons. Some polish is just of poor quality and doesn't last. Also, oils on the nail will cause the polish to peel so make sure the nails are clean and dry before application. Always rinse your hands thoroughly after using polish remover. If you use hand lotion and cuticle creams find out if they are polish friendly. I've also found that some sunscreen and bug repellent lotions mess up the polish.

Why does polish on my toenails seem to take forever to dry completely?
This is probably because feet are naturally a bit colder than hands and polish takes longer to dry on cold nails. Also, oil on the nail bed can be the culprit. Make sure to wash your toes and rinse them well first.

What do white dots on my nails mean?
White dots can be caused by many reasons, especially dryness or trauma (bumps and bangs) to the nail. Certain medications can also cause this, as can a zinc deficiency.

How do I avoid those bubbles in the polish?
Using thin coats will probably do it, but instead of shaking polish, try rolling the bottle between the palms of your hands. Also heat can cause bubbling so don't apply polish in direct sunlight or in hot rooms.

Is it true that eating Jello will make your nails stronger?
For the most part this is a myth. Yes, in theory gelatin, the ingredient in Jello associated with strengthening nails, does if fact do so, but you could not possibly eat enough to make a substantial difference. Once the consumed gelatin enters the blood stream, it is distributed throughout the body and thus the nails never get a concentrated enough dosage - same goes for milk and calcium. But Jello tastes good so enjoy it! Grrr... now I have a craving for raspberry Jello!

Should I use nail hardners/strengtheners?
Nails should have some natural flexibility to protect themselves from breaks so you may find using a moisturizing lotion or oil helps avoid breaks more than hardeners. In fact hardeners may result in more chips since they become more dry and have less flexibility. I even find this to be true of polish. I tend to get chips more when I use polish than when I go natural. If your nails split or tear easily then hardeners may help more.

You may distribute this FAQ as long as you refer back to http://www.waningmoon.com/nails/ as its source.

(Return to top)
[Introduction] [Gothic Nail Care FAQ] [Weekly Maintenance] [Nail Care Tips] [Nail Survival Guide] [Social Interactions and Sex] [Application Tips] [Design Tips] [Erotica] [Emergency Repairs] [Product Top Picks] [Just For Men] [False Nails] [Foot Corner] [Pictures] [Nail Reference Guide]