Interesting nail facts

Affiliate Disclosure: I receive a small commission for purchases made via affiliate links.
How to cite: Wong M. Interesting nail facts. Lab Muffin Beauty Science. February 13, 2012. Accessed June 22, 2024.

First off, the best and worst thing about working in a chemistry “wet lab”:

We wash our glassware with acetone. On a productive day, I can go through a litre of the stuff! This means:
* I always have acetone on hand for nail art – yay!
* My polish is almost always messed up by the second day.

Onto 8 interesting facts about nails:

1. Nails, like hair, are made of the protein keratin, which contains lots of the amino acid cysteine. Cysteine contains a thiol (SH) group, which can form strong disulfide (S-S) bonds with other cysteines, which is one of the reasons why keratin is so strong.

2. The only living part of the nail is at the base of the nail. Most of it is hidden under the skin.
3. The light coloured crescent moon part of your nail is called the lunula. It’s where nail cells are formed, and usually it’ll be biggest on your thumb, and smallest on the little finger.

4. Your fingernails grow around 3 mm (0.12 in) each month – the actual rate depends on lots of things, such as diet and genetics. Toenails grow much slower (12-18 months for complete regrowth), and men’s nails grow faster than women’s.

5. Your nails look pink because they’re see-through! As your nail grows from the base, the older cells (nearer the tip) are flattened and turn translucent, which is why your nail tends to be whiter at the base. The pink colour comes from the blood in the skin under your nail.

6. Irregularities in your nails may reflect past health problems – for example, white marks on your nails can be a sign of zinc deficiency, while koilonychia (nails that are flat or concave, rather than the normal convex) is a sign of iron-deficiency anaemia. Often though, marks on your nails (especially if it’s only on one nail) come from something as simple as jamming your finger in a door.

7. If you have brittle, thin nails, biotin supplements may help them grow thicker and stronger.

8. The idea of colouring nails for cosmetic reasons has been around for about 5000 years! The first colours popularly used were (as you might’ve guessed) various shades of red.

Hope you learned something new from that! 🙂

Skincare Guide

Related Posts

15 thoughts on “Interesting nail facts”

  1. What kind of chemistry do you do? I’m an Organic Chemistry grad student, so your picture is ever so familiar to me! I always wear gloves when cleaning because acetone dries my skin out so badly, so methanol and dichloromethane are far greater hazards for my nail art!

    • I’m an organic chemist as well 🙂 I wear thin nitrile gloves when washing (the washing up gloves are too bulky and make me break things) so the acetone soaks through after about five minutes. I’m usually quite good with changing gloves often, but if I forget, the gloves stick to my polish and ruin my nails 🙁 I use chloroform a lot and that destroys my nails too!


Leave a Comment