Have you ever felt pain while applying nail polish remover or other nail treatments? According to Dr. Jessica Krant, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and founder of the Art of Dermatology practice, it’s a sign that you’ve damaged your nails.
Similar to your hair, the outermost layer of your fingernails are dead, which is why you’re able to clip your nails without feeling pain. However, underneath this layer lies sensitive nerve endings and blood vessels. So if you’re feeling pain during nail treatments, the top layer has likely been compromised, says Dr. Krant.
“Over-manicuring or extended smothering of the nail with polish, gels or acrylics can lead to thinning and weakening of the nail plate, which makes the protective nail surface into more of a cellophane wrapper than a hard shell casing,” Dr. Krant told TIME.
In order to allow your nails to recover, Krant recommends giving them a break and allowing them to breathe between manicures and other treatments.
“The nail plate is an active exchange barrier that transmits oxygen, moisture, and nutrients,” Krant continued.
She also suggests moisturizing your nails daily with thick hand lotions.
“Many simple nail issues are created by over-drying and over-manicuring,” she said.