Sunday, August 5, 2012

Manicure Woes

The good manicure, at last.
My mother has long, slender fingers. Pianist's hands. And, despite having seven children, and all the physical work that implied in the days before disposable diapers and frozen meals, she kept her nails long and tapered.

I remember envying those nails. I also remember being accidentally scratched or jabbed by them.

Meanwhile, I bit my own nails down to the nub. Given how short they are, it is unlikely that I was ever more than five minutes away from putting a finger in my mouth. Pretty disgusting.

To combat this compulsion, we tried painting my nails with a revolting-tasting nail polish designed to stop nail-biting. It didn't work. I learned that, after a few forays into my maw, the taste disappeared.

A boyfriend's mother once told me that she used to bite her nails, but that her grandmother had successfully cured her by offering to buy her a ring if she stopped. I don't think that would work with me.

In my thirties, I managed to grow my own nails. They were paper-thin, like babies' nails, in layers like laminate, flexible. They tore easily. I had to give myself a mini-manicure every couple of days. I wore rubber gloves when I washed the dishes (which was all the time as we had three children and no dishwasher). I tried all sorts of strengthening polishes; I ate jelly (which is said to strengthen nails) and took natural supplements. Nothing made one tick of difference.

I tired of the effort; I started biting again.

About ten years ago, I took the plunge into wearing artificial nails. I've done it off and on since then.

My worst experience in that regard is the time I swung my hand and caught one nail on the edge of a counter. It lifted the nail right back, but didn't break it. The pain was incredible - I actually wore a finger splint for a couple of days.

The next-worst experience was the time one of my manicurists gave me a wart. Yup. As he was filing my nails, I noticed the tell-tale lump on his hand. About a week later, I noticed a small lump growing on my fingertip. Treatment with CompoundW made short work of it, but, needless to say, I never went back. (The same manicurist tried to take my expensive nail polish by hiding it behind his cheap stuff after he had applied it to my nails. Unhygienic and unscrupulous.)

You're probably thinking the wart would be worse than the nail injury, but the wart really was easily dealt with, and the pain was quite piercing.

On one occasion, the manicurist thought she was earning Brownie points when she commented, "Oh, your ring is so cute! The diamond so tiny!"

I am quite happy with my rings, but by American standards, the diamonds are very modest. While many of my Colorado friends may have started out with small-ish engagement diamonds, they all had upgraded by their twentieth anniversaries. I could never justify spending that kind of money on a ring - there has always been something else I want more.

Recently, I started having my nails done again. (Keeping them short so I run less risk of doing a nailbed injury again.)

I walked in to a salon at our local mall and was fobbed off onto (what I later divined) was the apprentice manicurist. She was moody and sullen and applied the acrylic paste with such a heavy hand that after her most recent effort, it looked like I had applied gobs of shiny chewing gum to my finger tips. And she had done such a crappy job with the filing that they had facets all over them - and not in a good way.

I wish I'd taken a picture. I couldn't remember whether my artificial nails had always looked that fake, but I didn't think so.

Fed up, I tried a new salon. This one was larger, cleaner, and dedicated to nails. The manicurist was courteous and spent a good deal of time grinding down the excess acrylic that had accumulated over the previous months with the other manicurist. The end result is what you see above: simple, nice nails.

And to top it off, she admired my wedding rings without commenting on size.


  1. I just had a manicure done with the new "gel polish". It doesn't chip off and goes on thick sort of like an acrylic (but not). After each layer of polish they let it set under a UV light to harden. They are completely dry when you leave. I have to admit I got lucky and got Grandma's nails- they grow long and strong. But still, I'm enjoying this gel polish. Maybe it's worth a shot some time instead of the acrylic since it's not actually a fake nail (and therefore not as much risk of injury)?

    And while getting a pedicure in Singapore I was "complimented" by being told my legs were SOOOOOOO white, "like Michael Jackson!". Being fair skinned in Singapore is highly prized... wish it were so here in America!

  2. I tried that too (my manicurist called it shellac), but my nails aren'tstrong enough for it. The "polish" lasted really well, but my nails flaked apart. :(


What did you think? Any comments?

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