Nail Care for MTs

By Silva Hagopian

Hand and nail care are especially important to bodyworkers, as their hands are the conduit between client and therapist. Rough hands and nails can be disruptive and uncomfortable for the client. Massage therapists must tend to their fingernails often to prevent debris and bacteria from accumulating under the nails. Cutting or filing the nails short and keeping them free from any dirt or foreign matter is often the extent of how therapists care for their nails. But how can you baby your nails a little more?

Cuticle Oil
Cuticle oil is a vital component of natural nail care. Not only does cuticle oil moisturize the cuticle, it also fortifies the nail plate with essential hydration to keep the nails from becoming brittle or developing peeling and dryness. The key is to use a little bit (one drop per hand), and take about eight seconds on each nail to massage it into the nail root and the nail. This will stimulate blood flow and circulation to the area, which delivers oxygen and promotes a healthy nail and cuticle.
Therapists will often say, “I use lotions and creams all day long. Why do I need cuticle oil?” Good question. The molecular structure of lotions and creams are often formulated to penetrate skin, not nails and cuticles. Cuticle oil is specifically formulated to penetrate the nail and cuticle, keeping it flexible and supple.

Other Tips
To help keep your nails strong and your cuticles nick-free, consider wearing rubber gloves when doing housecleaning, yard work, or other activities that are hard on the hands. Don’t clip your cuticles; instead, soak your nails in warm water for 3 minutes (adding a few drops of essential oil if you choose) and then gently push the cuticles back with an orange stick. If your nails are fragile, consider a change in diet. Iron deficiency can cause a brittle nail, so adding legumes, beets, fish, lean red meat, and spinach to your menu might strengthen them again.
Finally, just as you tell your clients, make sure you drink lots of water. Hydration is always important for maintaining healthy cuticle beds and nails.

Silva Hagopian is a natural nail care specialist and director of education for Dazzle Dry in Scottsdale, Arizona.