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What is a Nail Shield?

By Pamela Pleasant
Updated May 21, 2024
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A nail shield is a protective coating that is placed directly over the entire fingernail. It bonds to the fingernail and keeps it safe while it grows out. This offers maximum protection against chipping, breaking, or a splitting of the nail. A nail shield can come in individual protective plastic strips that adhere to the nail. They can also come in liquid form and are applied to the nail, similar to nail polish.

There are several choices when it comes to choosing a nail shield. A calcium shield can make the nail thicker with increased calcium and this provides protection for nails that may be thin or weak. Keratin shields smooth out brittle nails, making them stronger on their own and this helps to produce smoother, stronger nails. Natural gels and protein are known for producing stronger hair and nails and gel shields can fortify weakened nails, sealing the nail edges. This prevents any chipping or tearing along the sides of the nail.

This type of shield cannot elongate the nail. It is not used as an artificial or decorative nail but it can enhance the look of the nail. A nail shield typically comes in a variety of colors and if it is applied correctly, it will look like a manicured nail. The shield can stay on the nail for up to two weeks and the color will remain, while the nail is being protected. A nail shield can also come in a transparent shade, if the nails are too short for a color.

Nails should be cleaned and buffed before applying a nail shield. The cuticles should also be pushed back. If a liquid nail shield is being used, it can be applied with a nail brush. Plastic strip nail shields can be applied directly to the nail and any excess can be filed off using a nail file. Any type of shield can be removed using and acetone-based nail polish remover.

Any time the nail is covered by a shield or nail polish for a long period of time, there is a possibility of a fungal infection. This can occur because there isn’t enough air flow to the nail. Certain brands of nail shields and nail polish contain formaldehyde and other types of toxic substances. These ingredients have been linked to cancer and other harmful diseases. There are many kinds of shields and polishes that are available and they do not contain these toxic substances.

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Discussion Comments

By dimpley — On Aug 19, 2011

My grandmother used to use nail shields religiously. She was one of those old school ladies who had her hair set once a week, kept her legs shaved spotlessly and kept her nails long yet neat.

She was truly the epitome of feminine in every way, and I find that I follow in her footsteps in the nail department at least. I don’t know, there is just something about a lady's hands having gorgeous nails that set her apart.

A nail shield can help short nails be able to grow out; even when you work with your hands a lot. Or they can strengthen already long nails.

Another trick is to soak them in gelatin; this provides a lot of strength, too. Truthfully, I never need nail manicures just because I do what my my grandmother did decades ago.

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