Monday, November 2, 2015

My Adventure with Manicures

Let it be a lesson to me not to promise a second part to a story right away. Here is Part I.  I actually wrote this on October 19, so there is an update at the end.

All of that is to give some background to what I'm about to say. Until about five years ago I had never visited a nail salon. No, not even for my wedding.

I'll pause to let the beauty gurus get their breath back.

I really regret not having my nails done for my wedding, though. I've been a nail biter/cuticle picker since way back, and my nails look horrible in the pictures, which wouldn't be so bad except that I inexplicably chose a close-up of our hands for a full page in the album. When I see that picture, I don't see the rings it's supposed to showcase; I see my short, not-pretty-at all nails. At least I had put on some clear polish, but it didn't help much.

So why didn't I get a manicure or pedicure before my wedding? It wasn't money (which WAS the reason I didn't go to the nail salon in the years since). In 1997 I had more discretionary income than I've ever had: I had my first full-time job, no car payment, and I was living at home because I was getting married in six months. I was supposed to pay my parents an absurdly low amount of rent but most of the time they forgot to collect it. I did buy my own wedding dress to compensate (big whoop.)

I guess I just didn't have "get my nails done" on my radar. Probably a few people I knew did, but no one I was really close to. No one seemed surprised that I wasn't getting my heels sanded and fingers and toes painted, let alone that I didn't have a professional hairdresser or makeup artist working on me.

And yet! I felt as beautiful as a Disney princess on the big day. My cousin worked magic on my hair, and an ecstatic glow seems to substitute just fine for a professional makeup job. So my advice to young brides is: don't believe the hype. You don't HAVE to spend a ton of money on beautifying yourself. Although if you don't have a cousin who is amazing at fixing hair--not just their own hair, but YOUR hair--then do spend the money to go to a salon. And definitely get your nails done while you're there, if you think you're going to have a picture taken of your hands.

The point of all this is to say that I finally treated myself to a manicure. At forty years old, I am tired of having nails bitten down to the quick and bleeding cuticles. I thought, "Hey, if my nails look pretty, I might not bite them!"

It only took me 25 years to think of this solution.

A month ago I got a gel manicure when I went in for a pedicure, and I loved the results. I forgot to take a picture, but they were pretty. I got a peachy-nude color, but you could tell I'd had a manicure. And I did not bite my nails or yank off a hangnail EVEN ONCE. So my nails grew and I can TAP on things and scratching is amazing.

The gel manicure was very durable, too. A regular manicure would have chipped in about 10 seconds on me, because I'm used to scraping things up with my nails, etc. But the gel held up for almost three weeks.

Here is what the second gel manicure looked like (as of Oct. 19).

I got a whitish polish with a shimmer in it, although the shimmer doesn't show here. I felt very on-trend. Are whitish nails on-trend? I've seen some cool ladies wearing it, so it doesn't matter what the magazines say. I still love the gel and the filing and everything that makes my nails pretty. But this nail tech wasn't as good as the last one. On several nails there was too much polish, even though she kept using her own nails to try to remove excess on the edge. Then when they dried there is no removing that polish. It looked okay in the shop, plus I'm the kind of person who says something's fine because I don't want to hurt their feelings. But outside I saw that the nails weren't perfect the way they were before. If it happens again I will tell the tech to redo them. I promise.

But they are at least okay (the picture isn't great) and my nails are still unbitten.

UPDATE: I am having the polish taken off today, and not getting another manicure right now. It would be too hard on my budget to maintain them even every couple of weeks. I hate the way the polish looks when it's growing out but I haven't had time to go to the salon till today, and the gel polish really won't budge with regular nail polish remover. The current look isn't pretty.

Ugh, what is wrong with my hand? Look at that swollen-looking forefinger and those wrinkles! Forget it, I'm not retaking the picture, it took too long to take with one hand in the first place.

I also just looked up the potential problems with gel manicures according to my Internet doctor, Web MD. Yikes. Besides the whole skin cancer risk from the lights, I don't want my nails to peel off in layers.

And before anyone suggests that I just do an at-home manicure, let me just say that when I do that, it looks like a two-year-old did it.

Sigh. It was nice while it lasted. Thank goodness for pedicures.


  1. Ugh, I can barely stand the feeling of nail polish on my hands - always feels like they are suffocating somehow - so I'm not sure I could live with the gel polish, especially if I couldn't take it off myself. I had no idea it was a salon-removal-only thing.

    In general I find salon going to be a big mystery box. What do women do there? What should I be having done there, that I am not having done there? I need someone to teach an evening class in Being a Grown Up Lady. Sigh.

    1. So interesting about the nail polish...that reaction makes a kind of sense to me, although I've never felt that way despite never wearing polish very often at all. If I'd known the gel polish was dang near impossible to get off at home, I never would have done it! (I did get it off at home, but it took for-freaking-ever.)

      I do often feel the same about salons, although I have now been inducted into the mysteries of facials (not worth the money), massages (the same, though I'm in the minority), salt scrubs for the body (the one at a salon was divine, but the Pinterest version made my shower so slippery I almost fell), bikini waxing (never again), and brow/lip threading (painful, but great results).

      For a nail salon, Grown Up Ladies sit around having their hands or feet held or pummeled, their nails trimmed and painted, staring at their phones while the nail techs chatter in their native language, only occasionally breaking into English to try to upsell them on other services by making them feel ugly if they don't upgrade. :-)

    2. Wow, I wrote a super-long comment about a super-long post. Apparently I have Things to Say about salons. Huh.