Nailed It! The Art of Home Manicures

In My Dreams

Nailed it

After almost six months of sheltering-at-home, I thought I had nailed it. Yes, I thought I finally had mastered the art of applying nail polish to my own fingernails.

At first, it was a challenge. You see, I was a mani-novice. I’d never once had done my own nails! Plus, I had to contend with that confounded gel-fill goop slowly peeling off my nails. After finally figuring out how to get that mess off, things, unfortunately, got worse: I confronted decades of damage caused by harsh salon treatments. My nails were paper-thin and rippled.

But I’m a trooper. Also, vain as Hell.

So, I ordered nail polish by the dozens.

OK. I ordered three colors and base coat. And orange sticks. And cuticle remover. And two more colors of polish for good measure. (I already had polish remover and topcoat to repair torn pantyhose.)

Nailed It. Not Quite

At the recommendation of a friend, I also purchased a product called Nail Envy, a base coat on steroids for maimed digits like mine. She guaranteed the results would be glorious.

My first manicures were more mess than mastery. But, as the months went by, my skills improved, and my poor paws looked decent, even good.

I bought more nail polish. My “collection” of colors grew. I now was into “organic” polishes, costly but supposedly healthier. After five months, I thought I had nailed it! Hooray and hoorah!

But curse you, YouTube and Facebook! It was there, on those two sites, I started watching manicure videos which demonstrated flashy, fancy manicure designs — designs which made me realize how lame and limited my one-color mani-skills were.

The Ladies Who Manicure

My fixation with manicured nails dates back to childhood. My mother and grown-up sisters-in-law all had long ruby-red nails. All were regular devotees of the beauty shop. I grew up inculcated in the belief that dagger-length nails were a core element of feminine perfection. So strong is that belief, that even now in the Time of COVID, I strive for that perfection or at least some facsimile of it.

Of course, yesteryears’ “simple” stylish long red nails are passé, as I learned from YouTube and Facebook. Today’s manicures require much more. Today’s manicures are works of art.

They require an array of colors. They require images painted in minute detail — animals, snowflakes, Picasso-eque figures, hearts, flowers, designer logos. And they require glitter, tiny faux gems, matte finishes, shiny tape edges, chains, and 3D butterflies!

It is, in fact, my contention, that if Michelangelo was working today, he could have spared his back and eyesight, skipped the Sistine Chapel, and gone straight to ladies’ nails!

Now to paint this manicure magic on yourself I imagine is impossible. So, I am cutting myself some slack. After all, I can barely write a legible grocery list and to draw a straight line is beyond my skillset entirely.

Nail Ninjas

But even knowing my limitations, I almost succumbed to temptation and bought some of the tricks of the nail ninjas’ trade — the brushes, the shiny skinny tapes, the glitter (OK. I bought the glitter. I mean who can say no to glitter?) the press-on nails, and the stickers (OK. I bought some stickers.).

And while I’ve never been a super-slave to changing fashions of the season, since I’m stuck sheltering-at-home and hooked on manicure videos, I’m also started reading articles about the hot fall fashion trends in nail polish.

Here are a few of those trends:

  • Mismatched Topcoats – two-tones of color or finishes, matte and glossy
  • Negative-Space Art – here the idea is to paint the entire nail, except for a small area, leaving room for a tiny, unpainted design, say a heart
  • Glass Extensions – they’re long — really long. They’re pointy — really pointy. And they’re definitely glassy looking. Kinda scary too!

Post-Sheltering Treat

So, though I have mastered the techniques of Home Manicures 101, I’m still riddled with major mani-doubt. And once again, I’m yearning for a trip to the nail salon.

Worse yet, while never a slave to the clothing fashion trends, it seems I’m now a nail fashion faddist! Quick! Get me the glitter polish! Also, a set of those crazy glass extensions!


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