Sunday, December 25, 2011

Peace On Earth

K  I  A      K  A  H  A      C  H  R  I  S  T  C  H  U  R  C  H
Christmas Nails:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Manicure My Ride

If motorbikes got manicures, they’d look like this!
Until recently, I’d never heard of Henderson motorcycles. Then I found this gorgeous picture of a customized 1930’s art deco model, and was keen to learn more.
It turns out the story of Henderson burns brightly and quickly...

...In 1911 the Henderson Motorcycle Company was founded in Detroit Michigan.
It produced 4 cylinder motorcycles for local and overseas markets, including New Zealand. They were the largest and fastest motorcycles of their time, and appealed to sport riders and police departments. In 1931 the company owner chose to end the motorcycle side of the business and concentrate on bicycle manufacture. Without prior warning, he gathered his staff together and bluntly told them, “Gentlemen, today we stop”.

Well, that’s the bad news... the good news is now I know what I want for Christmas…

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Burgers and Nails – The Ultimate Combo

Whoever came up with the idea for this Tumblr deserves a whopper-medal.
Burgers and Nails is loaded with hand-held burger images (like the one above) submitted by fans. It combines two things very dear to my heart: food and manicures.
Lots of fun, but be warned: don’t go there if you’re hungry or vegetarian…

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Putting on the Ritz

Inspired glamour from the 1920’s and 30’s

It's still fresh! Art Deco looks as good now as it did nearly a century ago. The architecture, furniture, objects, fashion, jewellery, makeup and nails all positively ooze with style.

Though never there, I feel nostalgic – seduced by the glamour of Hollywood and her stars; palm tree-lined boulevards, sunsets, red carpets, black limousines, diamond necklaces, shimmering dresses – stepping out! I watch the beautiful and famous from my living room...

...Taking a break from reality was something the art deco designers understood well. They looked at ordinary, functional, everyday things and thought about how they could make them extraordinary. Back then they cared about specialness and poured heart and soul into creating something unique. Now we see or touch that thing and its specialness rubs off on us. More than therapy, this transfer is essential like food, water, shelter and love.

Puttin’ on the Ritz is a popular song written and published in 1929 by Irving Berlin and introduced by Harry Richman in the musical film Puttin’ on the Ritz (1930). The title derives from the slang expression “putting on the Ritz,” meaning to dress very fashionably. The expression was inspired by the swanky Ritz Hotel. Interestingly, the widespread carefree attitude characterized in this song starkly contrasts with what was happening in the world then.

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of it varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s. It was the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 20th century. It originated in the U.S., starting with the fall in stock prices that began in September 1929 and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday). From there, it quickly spread to almost every country in the world. The Great Depression had devastating effects in virtually every country, rich and poor.

In 1931 Napier was devastated by New Zealand's worst earthquake on record, 256 people died and the city needed rebuilding. Before this tragedy Napier was nothing special to look at, but she was rebuilt in the mid 1930’s at the peak of Art Deco's popularity. Today there are two cities in the world that are renowned for their Art Deco architecture. One is Miami, USA. The other is Napier, New Zealand. On the tenth anniversary of the earthquake, the New Zealand Listener reported that Napier had risen from the ashes like a phoenix, “Napier today is a far lovelier city than it was before.”

We’ve just suffered New Zealand’s second worst earthquake.
I believe they’ll be saying similar things about Christchurch in ten years time.
This article is a toast to the past and the future.

Image Credits (top to bottom):
1. Art Deco nail design by Sophy Robson for an article in Dansk magazine.
2. Art Deco building in Morro Bay, California. Photo by Puliar.
3. YSL Fall 2010 Manicure Couture
4. Style &Vibe photo montage by Michelle at Pocketful of Dreams blog. L-R: 1. Le Voyage 2. Trousseau by Johanna Johnson 3. Art Deco Miami 4. Art Deco Nails Dansk Mag 5. LA Art Deco 6. Viva by Johanna Johnson 7.  Terry Tynan Art Deco Lamp 8. Art Deco Lady 9. Las Vegas Palm Trees
5. Violet Vixen photo montage by Michelle at Pocketful of Dreams blog. L-R: 1. Rita Heyworth 2. Crystal Renn Vogue Spain. 3. Elie Saab. 4. Christina Hendricks 5. Red Dress 6. Stephen Webster 7. Christina Hendricks 8. Rita Heyworth Beauty
6. Dita Von Teese
7. Napier in 1931 after the earthquake that destroyed the city.
8. The Daily Telegraph building, Napier, New Zealand. Photo by Dave Walsh.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

5 Tasty Nail Shapes to Love

Is square the new round?   next
Choose from these five basic nail shapes: oval, square, squoval, round and pointed. In the past women have always gone with rounded or oval shapes. Nowadays square and squoval (squared oval) styles are also popular, with pointed (stiletto) shapes gaining ground.

1 Oval
The oval is an attractive nail shape for most women’s hands that can accentuate femininity and gracefulness. Orly educator Elsbeth Schuetz says the oval is interesting because it can work on either long or short nail beds; longer to accentuate a long nail bed, or shorter to complement a shorter nail bed. The oval can add length to a nail while retaining the softer curves of the round shape.

2 Square
The square nail is the classic acrylic shape – straight side walls, two sharp points on the tips, and a balanced C-curve. It is the staple shape for the traditional French manicure and is used frequently for detailed nail art designs.

3 Squoval
The squoval nail has the length of a square nail but the softer edges of an oval – hence the name squoval. Kupa’s Vicki Peters says the squoval came out of clients’ demand for the square shape but without the harsh edges. Squoval nails add versatility, enabling short, wide nail beds to carry the length without appearing oversized. According to Peters, the term squoval was first coined in 1984 by Paula Gilmore, a prominent educator at the time.

4 Round
The round nail is more conservative. It’s frequently used to create a softer, less noticeable look, and is also a common choice for male clients because this shape mirrors the natural contours of the nail. Round shaped nails can also soften hand features by providing a well-kept and subtle nail outline.

5 Pointed
The pointed nail is a less common preference. According to Greg Salo of Young Nails, the shape first gained popularity in Russia and has become quite common in Eastern Europe, but it has yet to gain widespread appeal in the West. Although Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Rihanna and other celebs are adding to its popularity with their striking stiletto nails.

So what’s your favourite shape? I’m curious to see what everyone’s preference is!
If you'd like to, please fill out our (completely anonymous) poll.

What nail shape do you prefer?
Pointed free polls 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Treat Me like Royalty every day

If you really need convincing...
In retail (and this includes beauty services) the value of a product or service is whatever customers are prepared to pay for it.
Perception is everything. If a Christchurch nail salon or beauty spa charges $80 for acrylic nails and someone perceives this salon is worth it, they'll happily pay the $80. Now let’s say The Royal Nail charges $45* for essentially the same treatment (which we do) and the same person asks themselves, “Why do they charge only $45 for acrylic nails?” They may even equate cheap with nasty, telling themselves our service is probably inferior. “I'm much ‘safer’ spending my $80 at a more expensive salon”.

Treat Me like Royalty every day
Treat Me (by Trade Me) is a cool website offering daily retail bargains in cities throughout New Zealand. Deals up for grabs usually offer at least 50% discount off various products and services. If you haven't visited this great kiwi site yet, go ahead and enjoy!

Just so everyone is aware, the ‘Treat Me’ graphic above was created specifically for this blog article as a parody. Though it resembles a genuine Treat Me deal, it is not in any way associated with the real Treat Me website.

So far we haven't offered any Royal Nail deals on Treat Me. This is because our every day prices are so good already! If we knocked 50% off our $45 acrylic full set we'd be running at a loss!

Best value Acrylic Nails and Gel Nails 
in Christchurch
The Royal Nail isn't the cheapest or the most expensive Nail Salon in Christchurch, but it is the best value. A claim that would ring hollow if it wasn't echoed by our many loyal and happy customers. They seem to like our commitment to quality, our friendly staff, our hygienic salon and our fair prices.

Enough with the trumpets! I've forgotten the essential retail truth that most people equate high prices with excellence. Since this is so, our reasonable prices could be working against us. Am I wrong? Should we raise our prices to gain more respect?

*Current price at 17/09/11.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My boyfriend just got a manicure!

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or Brokeback Mountain? You decide.
No man’s land
Your boyfriend exits The Royal Nail with a stunning manicure...
Does that make him gay? Yes it does.
I'm kidding, he's probably no more gay than your mum is...
In reality, manicures and pedicures are popular with both our straight and gay clients.

What kind of guy gets a manicure?
Lets face it, if a man’s job involves physical work where his hands and fingernails get a hard time, it's less likely he’ll want or need a manicure. A bricklayer’s manicure would be ruined in no time. We don't have many gardeners asking for treatments either. In reality though, we get all kinds of guys coming to us.

I'm happy when men visit us for a treatment; to me they’re gutsy. Just the phrase alone, “Nail Salon”, screams femininity. No man's land! Imagine The Royal Nail as a Wild West saloon... The swing-doors open as a cowboy steps in. He orders a manicure and the whole place goes silent as every female stares into his very soul.
A little dramatic, but maybe this cowboy is secure. Maybe he knows exactly who he is and who he isn't. Maybe he likes well groomed nails and appreciates how relaxing a spa pedicure can be. Or maybe he's just vain.

To groom or not to groom?
Why is that even a question? Women think grooming is important, so why shouldn't men? Okay so a lot of guys like the ‘rugged’ look and a lot of us like to look at the rugged look. But for me there's rugged and there's unkept. I draw the line at greasy hair, egg stained stubble; pungent armpits; dirty nails and smelly feet.

It's not just sensitive urban professionals and IT geeks coming in for treatments, we also get farmers. Yes, farmers. And sometimes we get overseas visitors, like the sleazy fat guy who fell asleep during his spa pedicure. When he woke up, I swear he thought one of us would be lying next to him in bed, naked!

Of course, very few of our male clients really have it all together, and even less are sleazy. They're just regular guys who care about personal grooming, and what's good for them is good for everyone – right?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How To Stop Biting Your Nails

Why Do I Bite My Nails?
Forget your hands for a minute; what's going on in your head?
Initially you might think there's no “why” when it comes to nail biting. You just started doing it one day and kept doing it until it became a habit. That might be true for some nail biters, but for many the real causes are things like boredom, hunger, stress, fear or anxiety. We tend to start biting nails whenever confronted with a stressful event or moment.

Maybe the first time you bit your nails was also the first day of school or perhaps it was a more serious traumatic event. Biting your nails was something physical you could do to relieve the stress, fear or worry you were probably feeling. Discovering the motivation for biting your nails, can lead to finding more constructive ways of dealing with your feelings. Think about where are you when you bite them most? What are you doing? How do you feel, both physically and mentally? If you see why you're biting, you may find ways of dealing with it. You won't always be able to remove the source of your stress, so find something else to do. Talking to somebody about your feelings can help.

Nail biting isn't an easy habit to quit. If you're tired of the stubs, bleeding, infections and pain, I recommend the following tips to help promote normal, beautiful nail growth.

1 Keep Your Nails Groomed
For some nail biters, it's about obsessively “fixing” problems with their nails. One solution is to personally keep your nails groomed. If you can afford to get a professional manicure at least a few times a month, spending the money may function as a deterrent. Polishing your nails with colored or clear polish can also help because you won't want to ruin the work. You could even consider getting fake nails or tips (an acrylic or gel full set). This will give your real nails a chance to grow, and the added expense might be enough to make you leave your nails alone entirely.

2 Apply a Deterrent
At the pharmacy, you might have seen creams, oils or nail polishes specifically designed to stop nail biting. Since nail biting is an unconscious habit, the reasoning goes, you’ll be startled into awareness when you taste the nasty solution on your fingers and stop what you’re doing. Many of these products are also marketed to stop thumb sucking.

Ingredients for these products are typically hot, such as cayenne pepper extract, or bitter, such as Bitrex or denatonium saccharide. The latter is a nontoxic chemical compound often added to toxic products such as antifreeze to discourage children and animals from drinking it.

Some nail biters have successfully kicked the habit this way, while others get used to the taste or are too disgusted by it to keep it on their nails. Some people try other deterrents such as applying stickers or bandages to their fingers, or wearing a bracelet, as a reminder not to bite them. In winter a pair of gloves is useful. Dentists can also fit you for a mouth guard if your nail biting is seriously damaging your teeth.

3 Distract Yourself
Once you become aware of your nail biting habit, you could try directing that energy into a different action. For some people, that means keeping their hands busy so they don’t have a chance to unconsciously put them in their mouths. A stress ball – basically a little rubber ball that you can squeeze in the palm of your hand – might help. Whenever you find yourself starting to nibble a nail, take out the stress ball instead. It's not quite the same, but if you stick with it, the urge to bite your nails may disappear.

If you’d rather do something more productive with your hands, consider taking up a hobby that involves constant handwork like drawing or painting. Try also distracting your mouth. Eat something healthy (like carrot sticks) or keep a stick of chewing gum handy for those weak moments.

4 Seek Treatment
If your nail biting is extreme – meaning you regularly bleed, have lost nails or have permanent damage due to your habit – it may be time to seek help. Onychophagia is actually part of a group of behaviors that fall under the diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD). If your nails are severely damaged or you suspect you may have an OCD, consult your doctor or a psychiatrist. They may suggest medication, therapy or a combination of both.

5 Take Pictures
Before you quit nail biting, take some photos of your scungy, chewed up nails while they look their worst. Once you quit and your nails finally look great, take some more photos as a “before and after” comparison and a graphic reminder of why you’re never going back!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Strong Nails, Strong Men and...

Aside from strong nails, strong men and the occasional strong cocktail, as snow and ice engulf Christchurch, I can't overstate the importance of strong coffee. Since the demise of the inner city in February, some of Christchurch's best caf├ęs are now history.
So where to for great coffee, food and service? Addington Coffee Co-op, that's where! 

A shameless plug for my favourite cafe
(guilty as charged). But just try their Jailbreaker coffee, "it's so good it should be illegal"–
and what's more it's all fair trade!
Addington Coffee Co-Op
297 Lincoln Road, Addington, 
Christchurch. Ph. 943 1662

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nervous Laughter...

This creative bag-promo was designed by David Mously for Stop 'n Grow, a European
nail-biting deterrent. Strategically-placed handles create the dramatic effect. Initially German pharmacies distributed about 10,000 of the bags before the campaign spread elsewhere. We could probably sell truckloads of this stuff right now in Christchurch...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Beyonce and Lady Gaga
lead the Nail Art revolution

Lisa Logan wearing Minx - I thinx
Nail art has been popular for a long time in the US. As far back as the 1990s it was closely linked with r’n’b and hip hop culture. Prominent artists such as Lil’ Kim, Mary J Blige and Foxy Brown were known for their extra long acrylic nails often decorated with ostentatious designs.

Lady Gaga wearing Gold Lightning by Minx. Photo by Meeno
Two years ago, there was a resurgence in the trend with pop stars like Beyonce and Lady Gaga sporting intricate designs applied via a method called Minx, which involves thin film-like adhesives being applied to nails. Soon Lily Allen, Katy Perry and others jumped onboard and Minx was one of the hottest nail trends of 2009. In 2010 nail art went funky with designs like nautical stripes, leopard print and lace on offer from a variety of salons. At the SS10 shows, Vivienne Westwood’s catwalk models had nails adorned with dots while lace talons featured on the runway at House Of Holland.

Katy Perry wearing Oompa Loompa by Roald Dahl
So are nails the new fashion accessories? Caroline Manley, regional manager for UK salon Nails Inc, thinks so, ‘In a recession, nails are an affordable luxury, if you can’t afford the latest dresses and styles, it’s easy to go a little bit crazy on your nails and have something trendy in that way.’ Nails Inc offer customers the sophisticated and aptly named 'crystal pedicure'. The process involves having 500 Swarovski crystals individually applied to your toenails. It takes just over an hour and costs from $220 NZD – pricey but sure to get you noticed.

Translating catwalk trends into nail art is something for which London’s WAH Nails are renowned. They’ve achieved cult status for their ability to recreate pretty much any design or pattern on their customers' nails. From SpongeBob Squarepants to the Chanel logo, nothing is off limits. For spring/summer they predict that colourful leopard print, candy stripes and 3D embellishments will be the biggest trends.

Sophie Robson: sometimes less is more
Where there’s a hot trend, bloggers won't be too far behind. So it’s no surprise there's been a rapid rise in the number of nail art blogs popping up online. One of the most popular was started by Sophy Robson. This DJ turned superstar manicurist has had her nail work displayed in Vogue and Grazia and also worked on campaigns for major fashion and make-up brands. ‘There’s a current obsession with statement nails, which means they’re an accessory in their own right,’ says Robson. ‘Therefore the time is right to make nails as fabulous as possible, either with the colour of the moment or a unique design.’

It seems the nail art trend is here to stay, and with so many amazing designs on offer, it’s the perfect way to wear the latest trends without a full-on fashion overhaul.

If nail art isn’t your thing, make sure you check out the latest OPI colours instead. We've got a huge range here at The Royal Nail.
If you’re looking for nail art inspiration, here are several blogs we recommend:
fuck yeah nail art! –
Sophy Robson –
very emily –
The Illustrated Nail –
WAH Nails –

Original article by Tallulah Doherty for

Monday, May 9, 2011

Luscious Liquid Lacquer

This super-glossy 'nail polish' splash featured in a series of Kinetics advertisements. Amazingly, the splash was created on a computer by UK artist Tim Cooper. See more of his work and others at Behance Network

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Nail Polish and Lipstick Colours –
Mix or Match?

Fashion is fickle. Trends come and go. Personally, I like what I like whether it's in or out of season. Though eventually I'll probably stop liking it because I'm so fickle. As to the question of coordinating or varying lipstick and nail polish colours? The answer of course is yes!

Many women work to create a coordinated look from head to toe while others like to mix and mash. Accessorizing well is not limited to jewelry, scarves and handbags. Makeup counts too. The right nail polish and lipstick can help pull your look together. It's a good idea to find out which hues work for your skin tones, style and the season you're dressing for.

Laetitia Casta: red combo
Lighter skinned women look great in rosy pinks, sheers and light pastels like blue and lavender. Darker skinned women look best in deeper hues like red, orange, gold and purple and their lips look especially great in plum and rich browns.

Personal style plays a huge part in your nail polish and lipstick choices. A conservative woman with a shy personality may find it difficult wearing a sunny yellow nail polish or a bright attention grabbing hot pink lipstick. A flashy dresser may not feel comfortable wearing a subdued clear polish or sheer lip gloss. Mix and match looks and products until you find your ideal colours and styles.

Milla Jovovich: rasberry combo
When it comes to seasonal selections for nail polish and lipsticks, there are many choices. For autumn, try gold, sandy brown and plum polishes/lipsticks. These warmer tones mirror the changes happening in nature. Don't worry about perfectly matching the polish to the lipstick. Earthy hues work well together in a variety of shades, and these colours look great with autumn wardrobes of suede, wool and tweed.

Eva Longoria: chocolate combo
Dress your lips and nails in lush colours to play up the winter season. Opt for colours with dark berry tones like mulberry, cranberry or deep reds – somehow these work nicely in the cold of winter.

By the time spring rolls around, you'll want to break away from the deep hues of winter. Opt for softer, fresher colours like light peaches, pinks and corals. For a daring spring look, try baby blue or lavender nail polish, complemented by sheer lip glosses in clear hues or light purples and pinks.

Summer nails and lips can be less fuss than any other time of the year. For summer, have a little lighthearted fun with some bright hues including lively corals, fabulous fuchsias, funky blues and sunny yellows. Lipsticks are equally lively – try glosses in bright pinks, reds and grape.

When in doubt any time of year, there are nail polish standards that look great on just about everyone. For universal elegance and beauty, try nude coloured polishes or French manicures. Both are sophisticated, subtle and never look overdone.

Nude Polish
French Manicure

Saturday, April 2, 2011

No piranhas were harmed
during this pedicure

The fish pedicure fad caught on in the US after a Virginia salon began offering it in 2008. Thousands of customers have tried the unorthodox treatment, where their feet are immersed in warm water filled with scores of Turkish miniature toothless carp (otherwise known as Garra rufa). The fish nibble away at dead skin while leaving healthy flesh untouched.

Fish pedicures have been banned in 14 US states over concerns it may spread person to person infections via open wounds. In response, salons claim to use constantly filtered UV-lit tanks to keep them disease free.

By all accounts, the little fish are big on tickles – see Travel reporter Samantha Brown in the video below. Healthy or not, effective or otherwise – if nothing else, the fad is fun!

Sorry Christchurch, we don’t offer fish pedicures at The Royal Nail.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


London ad agency JWT promoted Rimmel’s Quick Dry nail polish by placing large, eye-catching sculptures outside Rimmel retailers on high streets. Giant bottles appeared to float in the air and pour nail polish onto the street. This surreal spectacle highlighted the product’s quick drying benefits. Pretty cool eh?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Christchurch weeps

Seven days have passed since Tuesday 22 February 2011.
The Royal Nail re-opens today.

Last week I was in Cathedral Square for a 9 am appointment. Being early, I wandered to the Cathedral and read a sign enticing tourists to scale its tower for 'fabulous 360° views of the city and beyond'. My thoughts were, “I’ll go up there another day when I have more time.”
As it happens, this was my last chance to do so…

... Around 1 pm the magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck Christchurch.
I was at home. My family and I are thankful we're alive; neither our house nor the salon was severely damaged and our neighbours and friends are doing well physically—although I'm not so sure about their (or my) emotions. It’s an effort being positive when friends have lost their businesses or jobs. In a strange twist of fate, my neighbour’s house was broken into by burglars the night before the earthquake. My family’s income is halved as my husband can no longer work in town.

There is so much uncertainty and too many stories of heart break and death. But there are also blessings; the narrow escapes and the thousands who selflessly give whatever help they can. I’m constantly switching between moods of gratefulness and sadness/anxiety.

I hope you and your loved ones haven't been hurt too badly.
May you find peace and comfort within the chaos...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Make you look so Sexy

You might want to change nail salons if we start sounding like this...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Double your Pleasure...

Dress-Smart and The Royal Nail
Dress-Smart is the only outlet mall in Christchurch where you can save up to 70% on premium fashion brands, and get treated like royalty! 
Why pay more than you have to for top labels at other malls? 
Why not combine your fashion savings with a relaxing, professional nail treatment
at The Royal Nail?

The Stores...
Discover incredible bargains at Dress-Smart's over 50 top brand outlet stores including: Bendon, Glassons, Max Fashions, Adidas, Amazon, Canterbury, Cotton On, Just Jeans, New Balance, Puma, Asics, Timberland, Country Road, Rip Curl, Kathmandu, Andrea Biani, Jewel Time, Sunglass Hut, Sunglass Style, Wild Pair, JK Kids, Pumpkin Patch, Salon Club, Scent Outlet, Barkers, Hallensteins, Rodd & Gunn and more...

The Drive...
Don't live or work near Hornby? Dress-Smart seem too far? 
Our customers are from all over town and all walks of life, and trust me, none of them seem to mind getting here! There's only one Dress-Smart in the whole South Island. So get in your car, get over and get inspired! 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday, January 1, 2011

How to Keep Strong Healthy Nails

Are Your Nails Fit?
Take a good look at them – how strong and healthy are your nails? Are there ridges, dents, or areas of unusual color or shape? Many nail disorders can be avoided through proper care, but some indicate an illness that may require medical attention.

Healthy nails are smooth, without ridges or grooves. They're uniform in color and consistency and free of spots or discoloration. Distorted, discoloured or otherwise unsightly 'abnormal' fingernails and toenails are very common problems experienced by people of all ages in the community. Damage to the nail may be caused by an injury, fungal disease, or other skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. Nails with white lines or spots due to an injury, will eventually grow out with the nail.

As there are many potential conditions which cause nail abnormalities it is important to seek medical advice for correct diagnosis and the most effective treatment.

W H A T   T O   L O O K   F O R

1  Ridging of the nail
Ridging in nails can be either along (longitudinal) or across (transverse) the nail. Longitudinal ridging is harmless and normally becomes more prominent with age, but it can also be associated with medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lichen planus and injury to the nail.

Transverse depressions often appear some weeks after an illness or fever and grow out with the nail. Alternatively they may be caused by longstanding or severe eczema around the nail fold and also trauma from pushing back the cuticle.

Transverse layering or nail splitting is a frequent abnormality which involves splitting of the free end of the nail into layers. It is commonly seen in people who frequently immerse their hands in water as part of their work or home duties.

2  Thickening of the nail
Thickening of the nail can occur as a result of dermatological or general medical disease, and is most frequently seen in the toenails of the elderly. It often results from the long term use of ill-fitting footwear and neglect of the nails.

When psoriasis and other skin conditions affect the nail, they often lead to thickening of the nail (refer skin diseases and nail disorders below). If a fungal infection is suspected to have caused the nail thickening a sample of the thickened nail can be collected and analysed by a laboratory. If this confirms a fungal infection specific treatments are available. 

3 Lifting of the nail plate
A normal nail is translucent and its pink colour is provided by the nail bed. The end of the nail appears white because of the air beneath it and if the nail becomes separated from the bed, the white colour will extend down the nail. This condition is often a result of repeated minor injury to the underside of the nail, (for example, excessive cleaning under the free edge of the nail).

4  Discolouration
Medications, chemicals from hair dyes, some nail lacquers, nicotine and creams such as Dithranol can all cause discolouration of the nail.

Antibiotics can cause nail lifting and brownish discolouration of the nail plate. Agents used in chemotherapy may also cause discolouration. Bleeding beneath the nail plate can cause dark discolouration.

Melanoma is another important cause of nail discolouration and may involve the nail bed, nail and/or cuticle. You should see your doctor if new or changing pigmentation of the nail or around the nail occurs.

5 Inflammation of the nail fold
Bacterial infection of the nail fold causes redness, swelling, tenderness and pain usually around the proximal nail fold (see diagram above), sometimes with pus formation. The most common cause is bacterial infection with Staphyloccus aureus. This condition is often seen in nurses, hospitality workers and anyone involved in activities where nails are immersed in water for periods of time. Damage to the cuticle, through immersion in water or over-zealous manicuring, also predisposes to this form of inflammation.

Keep your nails dry and clean. This prevents bacteria, fungi or other organisms from growing under the nail. Clean under the nails regularly and thoroughly dry your hands and feet after bathing. Wear rubber gloves when using soap and water for prolonged periods.

6  Nail biting
Nail biting is associated with infection around the nail folds and can cause deformity of the nail plate. Don't bite your nails or pick at your cuticles. These habits can damage the nail bed. Even a minor cut alongside your nail can allow bacteria or fungi to enter and cause an infection (paronychia). There are many different reasons for habitual nail biting, and as just as many remedies to solve it! You might apply a foul tasting bite prevention cream to your nails (available from any pharmacy), or seek advice from your doctor on the most appropriate treatment.

7  Hangnails
A hangnail or agnail is a small, torn piece of skin near a fingernail or toenail. Hangnails are usually caused by dry skin or (in the case of fingernails) nail biting, and may be prevented with proper moisturization of the skin. Never pull off hangnails — doing so almost always results in ripping living tissue. Instead clip off hangnails, leaving a slight angle outward.

8  Skin diseases and nail disorders
Many nail abnormalities stem from skin diseases which need to be treated to enable the nails to return to normal. Some common examples are:

Psoriasis causes scaly red skin patches and visible abnormalities of the nail including pitting of the nails, with individual pits about the size of a pinhead. Psoriasis can also lead to onycholysis (lifting of the nail plate) and thickening of the nails.

Eczema / Dermatitis
This superficial inflammation of the skin causes itching, a red rash which may blister, weep and become crusted leaving the skin scaling, thickened or discoloured. Often the fingertips and surrounding skin can be affected by eczema with swelling (and possibly infection) of the nail fold tissues. This is often seen in infants who suck their thumbs.

Fungal skin and nail infections
Fungal infections of the skin ('tinea','ringworm') are contagious and may appear as itchy and occasionally painful rashes of the skin. Once the skin is infected the problem moves to nails which can be identified by thickening, a change in colour and sometimes crumbling of the nail.

'Jock itch' and 'athletes foot' are common fungal infections which can spread to other areas of the body and nails. Diagnosis is usually confirmed by taking a sample (scraping or clipping of the nail or a sample of the debris under the nail). This sample is then examined and tested for fungal infection.

Several topical and oral treatments are available from your doctor to treat fungal nail infection. Fungal infections can be caught in many situations, but taking a few simple precautions will help avoid them. Some of these precautions are:

Wear jandals/sandals in communal showers
Dry feet and body thoroughly
Do not share towels and clothing
Wear loose fitting clothing, cotton underwear and socks
Wear cotton gloves under rubber gloves if hands are often in water
Avoid harsh or irritating soaps/detergents
Change shoes regularly. 'Air' them in the sun

Lumps and bumps
Viral warts may occur in, around, or under the nail plate and may result in nail deformity. Cysts can occur towards the end of the finger and this can lead to a longitudinal depression in the nail. Uncommonly, skin cancers (including melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma) can occur in the nail plate area and any non-healing, growing bleeding or discoloured area should be shown to your doctor.

I N   S U M M A R Y

No Nail care products can give you healthy nails. 
It's easy to neglect them, but a little basic nail care can go a long way toward keeping your nails in a healthy condition.

Wear shoes that fit properly. 

Shoes that place excessive pressure on your toes or pinch your toes may cause your nails to grow into surrounding tissue.

Special considerations: Manicures and weak nails.

If you rely on manicures to make your nails look good, keep a few things in mind. Don't have your cuticles removed — it can lead to nail infection. Also, check to be sure that your nail technician properly sterilizes all tools used during your manicure. Using unsterilized tools may transmit yeast or bacterial infections.

Watch for problems.
If you have a nail problem that doesn't seem to go away on its own or is associated with other signs and symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor to get it checked out.