Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Do you want shorter nail beds?

Some people are probably thinking WTF?!  Why would you want that?!  Believe it or not I get about one hit a week from people searching the topic.  Normally people want the opposite of this and I showed how you could achieve longer nail beds in a previous post found here.

Actually I've had the tutorial pictures for this post prepared months back, but I am a bit hesitant to post because I thought I might get some back lash with the method.  Hopefully people will read the post in it's entirety.  Either way maybe a few words of caution first ...


More on how later in the post but first, why would someone want to do this?!  How about some pictures?

I suppose some people would actually want to shorten their nail beds while others just want to even out the smile line.  It's all about what you find aesthetically pleasing.

Not all nails are created equal. Sometimes they grow all weird at the free edge. What we are really talking about is skin connected to the nail called hyponychium.

This picture shows one nail that grows pretty even (in black) while the other (in red) is a bit wonky.

Lets look at the hyponychium from underneath the nail ...

Some people have this skin grow up the nail free edge while other people will not even notice it. 

It's this skin (in blue) that you can GENTLY manipulate to even out or shorten the nail bed.

Manipulating this skin is not a permanent fix.  It will grow back ...

I swear it grows back.  Here is one hand where I GENTLY pushed back the skin.

Here is the same hand months later.

Finally the HOW TO:

There are a plethora of ways to go about doing this.
For example, you could put your hands in warm water for a couple of minutes or even better do this after a hot shower.  Doing this after a shower with cuticle oil is the way to go if it's your first time. 

Some tools.  It looks a bit scary, but that is why I stress pushing back the hyponychium SLOWLY and GENTLY.  This shouldn't hurt ... ever.

So, let's grease up first k?

Apply oil to the cuticle.

Apply oil underneath.

Wait 5 to 10 minutes for the oil to penetrate and soften the skin.

Use the tools GENTLY and SLOWLY to push back the hyponychium to create the smile line you find appealing.

After the skin is pushed back your nail will be clear underneath.  You can see this on two of the nails in the picture.  After the nail dries it will go to the normal free edge nail color. 

Is this safe and should you do this?!  That is up to you.  All I am saying here is that I've been there done that and survived, lol.  If you don't feel comfortable poking yourself underneath your nail then don't do it.  However, if you are doing it gently and slowly it should not hurt and it will grow back.


  1. I've always wondered about this. Sounds a little scary, but I love that you give the how-to info for those who want to try it.
    Now I'm off to read your tutorial on LONGER nail beds!

  2. neat, i never even knew that some people had this issue, thanks for the informative post!

  3. wow, that last picture looks eerily similar to the way my nails grow, even the bit of callus on the middle finger. weird! although i don't have much of a problem with smile lines. great tute! :)

  4. Great post, I hate how some nails can grow in totally different than others

  5. that is so funny cuz i've always always done this but never realized why i was doing it, i always just thought my skin was going wacko so i thought everyone did it! i would see pictures of wonky smile lines and i'm like, oh that beezy needs to push her wacko skin back hmm mmmmmm haha ;)

  6. That is a great idea! I do not have this issue, but I think it is great for those who do. I'll make sure to refer back to this if anyone ever asks me about it!

  7. @Jackie S. - Thanks! :D

    @Sinead - yea man, long nails beds is where it's at, lol. Sometimes I just want to push back random peoples cuticles LOL.

    @Manicure Addict - yea that hyponychium can hide on some people.

    @Sarah - Thanks! Yea darn that writing callus ... and I don't even write that often anymore :/

    @Danielle - I know right, there is something so appealing about symmetry :D

    @Kelligonzo - LOL, see you like symmetry too, by nature, it's like we are programmed to fix the wonker. LOL you want that beezy to push her hyponychium back and I want to push their cutes back hahaha

    @Minty - awww thanks man! *hugs

  8. I have the same problem and I do it on a very similar way to you. I use cuticle remover instead of an oil and I use a cuticle trimmer sometimes to cut the excess after pushing it back.

  9. OMG there's a word for the skin that grows underneath your nails?! That does bother me when it's not even, but most of time, no one can see it because it's hiding under polish hehe.

  10. @Beauty Addict - oh you actually remove it? hmmmm

    @GothamPolish - very true, but I love my sheers and this bothers the heck outta me sometimes.

  11. omfg I have that and I hate it. I'm forced to live in mortal fear of breaking a nail, because I just know it'll hurt like a mofo.
    I'm gonna start doing this right away, so thanks for this post!

  12. @ChaosButterfly - oh yea ouchers. Maybe this will give you an extra millimeter, but then your nail bed looks smaller. However if it's constantly covered with polish no one knows but you :D

  13. Such an informative post on nails! It's nice to learn this kind of stuff, thanks!

  14. yay! :) Thanks for reading and commenting!

  15. Haha, I love this post because now I know that I am not a freakish person :P

    I never push it down because it hurts too much, but I also don't have uneven nail "smiles" because of it. So I never really thought about pushing them.

    The only bad thing about these for me is that if I break a nail it hurts baaad and it looks weird :/

  16. yes exactly, ripping past the quick hurts like a mo fo.

  17. Any advice for people who 'want' that skin to grow longer on their nails? My free edge starts WAY back into my nail bed and it's ugly to tell you the truth. Too much free edge = short looking nail beds.

  18. Hi Anonymous,
    The only thing you can do is not to pick at the skin under the nail. Be gentle and avoid cleaning your nails too harshly. Use a soft tooth brush to clean under your nails, but otherwise just try to let it grow unharmed. Otherwise, see my other post on trying to lengthen the nail bed by pushing back the cuticle.

  19. Loodie, this post is perfect for me! BUT I REALLY want to know the opposit - my hyponychium just disappear, I don't know why!!!

    Can you help me? I'd like to discover how I can get more and more hyponychium, then my nails won't look shorter the way they are.


  20. Awesome post. I've been wondering about the "skin under my nails" (as of now I know is called hyponychium) for quite some time since I started growing my nails long. My skin grows a lot and I thought there was something wrong with me, but now I'm relieved. Thanks for the info.


  21. As a musician, I began researching this topic so that I might be able to file my nails shorter. This is actually a very important thing for my profession so that I might be able more efficiently play my keyboard instrument, to prevent my nails from clicking on the keys, and to just gain better overall control. Though perhaps uncommon, this is one reason why people would want to shorten their nail beds.

  22. @*andei pensando* - The only thing I can suggest is that you not pick at the skin under the nail. Be gentle and avoid cleaning your nails too harshly. Use a soft tooth brush to clean under your nails, but otherwise just try to let it grow unharmed. Otherwise, see my other post on trying to lengthen the nail bed by pushing back the cuticle.

    @Bunny Nails - nah you are completely normal.

    @Anonymous - Thank you so much for your comment!! What a great explanation.

  23. Hi there :)
    I would like to thank you for this post so much :)
    I use to pick under my nails and bite it as well. I stopped biting when I was 12 but was picking until I have read you post. Now after 6 months my hyponychium need to grow only 2mm more in case of middle fingers and 1mm in case of the rest and it will look PERFECT! I was really big deal for me. Before it took ages to grow my nails to be able to use nail polish and it was so easy to hurt myself because nails was not enough attached to finger.
    Now my nails look almost the way I like :)
    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Aww, Agata that is wonderful! I am so happy for you. Have fun with polish ;)!

  24. I actually did this recently and while I liked the way it looked, I was told that doing this causes your nails to grow back at a slower pace. Did you find that to be true? I was wondering why my nails weren't growing as quickly these past few weeks and then I ran across a video today that stated that doing what I did is a cause of slow nail growth:(

    1. They grow slower based on what fact? Just because they thought they noticed their nails grow slower doesn't mean they actually did. Unless they somehow measure the average growth rate before and after doing this with a ruler and a timer, I don't believe it. I need hard evidence so, no I don't believe that to be true. Nail growth is mostly determined by your genetics and the health of your cuticle. This process does not damage your cuticle so I don't think it would slow nail growth.

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  26. Can the wonky ones grow back too? I mean to become straight again. I have that problem from cleaning them too vigorously and it made the line "wonky" as you said. I just want to know if you do it too much will it become permanent?

    1. Yes they can grow back! The picture right before the "how to" begins shows just that. Just let them be and don't clean under your nails so roughly. Use a soft bristly brush and be gentle. Good luck!

  27. My gosh, this was such a great and informative post! Thank you! I'll probably start doing this on my next mani. Only problem is one of my hyponychium (right pointer finger) actually separated from my nail! I was trying to do the teabag repair technique to make my nail stronger from a rip and I guess when the glue hardened - my nail wasn't used to the curvature of the hardening and it separated! Probably the most painful, dull ache-ing experience I've ever had. Fortunately, it's grown out and is almost healed.

    Just wanted to vent? but THANK YOU .. now off to read about how to make my nail beds look longer. =)

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  29. i used to bite my nails, and had a really short nailbed my entire life. But after using gel nails they grew, soo quickly.. Of course this wass wonderful, only they grew too long and they are making the ends of my fingers really sensitive! Thank you for this tip!

  30. Hi

    Do you know if filing the skin underneath will make it smooth? I'm studying music and my primary instrument is the guitar. The thing that annoys me is that the nail bed on my index and middle finger deliver a sharp tone. I'm hoping there's a way to make it smooth and if not, I'll go ahead and try this method. Any help will be appreciated. :)