ELIF: why is the tip of your nail white, when the rest of the nail is somewhat clear?

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ELIF: why is the tip of your nail white, when the rest of the nail is somewhat clear?

In: Biology

Your whole nail is the same level clear. The part that looks clear is because it’s attached to the skin so the light doesn’t refract as much. The white part of your nail looks that way because the light has more space to refract. Like an etched glass window. If someone stands really close you can make out some features. If they are far away they almost disappear.

Your fingernails are semi-transparent, the part of the nail over your finger is attached to the skin which makes it easier to see the underlying color. The edge which has grown past your finger has nothing attached to it so it appears in it’s actual color, a semi-transparent white. If you push something colored up against this white edge, you will be able to see that color through your nail.

It’s similar to putting tape on frosted glass, the tape (your skin) fills in all the little gaps on the glass (your fingernail) which makes it appear more transparent than usual. The semi-transparent white of your fingernail is it’s natural color, the skin attaches to it causing the skin to show more strongly through the semi-transparent white.