Nails exist to protect the sensitive tips of your fingers and tops of your toes from injury, as well as providing structure to those areas. They also help us pick up small items and serve as a way for us to protect ourselves. Nails grow from the matrix, which is the root of the nail and which lies below the skin-nail fold called the cuticle. Cells from the epidermis just below the matrix slowly move up to the surface of the skin. Because of the matrix, cells at the tips of your fingers and toes get crushed tightly together and form into layers, pushing your nail forward. Nails above the cuticle are not alive and are made of keratin, just like your hair. The half-circle at the base of each nail is called the lunula. It is part of the nail plate. White spots may develop on fingernails indicating a temporary change in the rate the nail is growing. Fingernails grow 1/8 of an inch a month, three to four times faster than toenails. Nails will continue to grow back if torn off as long as the matrix isn’t damaged. As you age, nails grow more slowly, become brittle, and sometimes thicken.