Lunchtime Beauty Q&A: Should Nails ‘Breathe’ Between Manicures?

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Photo: Mike Kemp

Q: Will my nails be healthier if I give them time to “breathe” in between manicures?

A: Nails are made of keratin, the same hard, durable protein in your hair. “They don’t actually breathe, and nail polish doesn’t ‘suffocate’ the nail plate,” says Philadelphia dermatologist Susan Taylor. But nail polish and acetone removers do dry out the nails, which can lead to chipping, splitting, and breaking. She suggests going sans polish for a week in between manicures and pedicures, and massaging moisturizer onto the nails and cuticles regularly. “They need to be conditioned just like your hair,” manicurist Jin Soon Choi concurs. “Plus, pigment from polish can stain the nails, so taking a break allows the yellowish tint to grow out.” Every other manicure, Choi likes to buff bare nails (instead of painting them) and then apply cuticle oil on top “to give them a clean, healthy, and natural shine.”