Wednesday, March 4, 2015

let's talk about manicures.

I feel weird about manicures.

I’ve only had two manicures in my life thus far: the first was for my wedding (at age 26), and the second was for Christmas 2014 – mostly to cover up my ugly winter nails.

My first manicure (and my only pedicure) came relatively late in life for a handful of reasons. First of all, I’m cheap. A manicure costs money, and a manicure is something I could do myself – albeit poorly, but it was still something I could accomplish without paying someone else to do it. Secondly, for the majority of my life, I was under the impression that manicure = fake nails. Fake nails seemed way too high maintenance for the likes of me, and the thought of taking them off made me more than a little bit squeamish.

There have been a handful of times in my life in which I thought about doing something just because everyone else was doing it. Shame on me, I know. Fake nails at prom is a prime example. I briefly entertained the idea of fake nails for my senior prom – after all, they were as standard an accessory as cubic zirconia jewelry from Claire’s. However, my innate thriftiness stepped in just in time. After all, I reasoned, I’d already spent $80 on my prom dress (the dress was $160, and my mom offered to pay for half. However, $80 was – and still is – a staggering sum for a dress I knew I’d only wear once) and $30 more on my sparkly prom jewelry and sparkly prom shoes, so there was no way I was about to spend $40 on some silly acrylic nails.

That was the one and only time when I considered fake nails, and I’m so glad my inner penny-pincher talked me out of it.

I didn’t think about getting a manicure all the way from prom up until I got married. Even when I was planning for my wedding, I hadn’t given much thought as to what my nails would look like until Mom offered to take my bridesmaids and me for manicures and pedicures the day before the wedding.

This was something completely out of my comfort zone, but I was excited to give it a try. (By this time, I had figured out that fake nails weren’t mandatory.) I opted for bright red wedding fingernails and French-tipped toes.
I will be the first to tell you that when I am in a fish-out-of-water situation (such as getting a mani/pedi for the first time), I am super awkward. We got to the nail salon, and I had absolutely no idea what was expected of me.
Everyone else knew exactly what to do.
I needed instruction every step of the way from the nail technicians, and I don’t blame them one bit if they were making fun of me behind my back. I cringed at the pedicure (callus buffing? OUCH) and winced at the manicure (cuticle trimming? GROSS), but was ultimately pleased with the results. My nails looked WAY better than anything I could have ever done, and I was promised that this super polish would last for quite a while.

Little did I know that my manicure had been done with gel polish.

The red polish on my fingernails stayed for a long, LONG time. It looked mostly fresh for about two weeks – but as you know, fingernails do tend to grow. My fingernails were looking a little sad when I finally attempted to take the polish off… but it wouldn’t budge. And then it hit me: gel polish. You couldn’t get that stuff off with just regular fingernail polish remover. As I was in Luverne, I couldn’t just scoot somewhere to have the polish removed. Plus, I didn’t want to spend money to get the polish removed (typical), and I didn’t want to wait until I could get to Sioux Falls (aka, the next day). So I consulted the all-knowing internet, and it told me to soak cotton balls in acetone and wrap said cotton balls around my fingers with aluminum foil. I did just that, and I looked ridiculous. I had to let my fingernails soak for thirty minutes, at which time the polish should come right off.

It didn’t.

Some of it came off, but the rest stayed on in sad little red streaks. I spent the rest of the evening picking away at it until finally giving up and painting over it with regular polish.

Note to self: no more gel polish.

I stayed away from the nail salon until Christmas 2014. Now, I don’t know about you, but my wintertime fingernails look 100% terrible. I don’t know what their problem is, but each winter, they split like crazy. I wanted decent-looking fingernails for the Christmas season, so my only solution was to cover them up with nail polish. Doing so myself was indeed possible, but it required an entire evening of sitting around and waiting for my nails to dry. (Obviously, I buy the cheap nail polish.) An entire evening that I did not have.

On a whim, I moseyed into a nail salon at the mall and signed myself up for a manicure. Once again, I was super awkward. Everyone else at the salon was a seasoned manicure-getter, but I had no idea what I was doing. I’m fairly certain the nail technician thought I was a total idiot – he had to tell me where to put my things and when to soak my fingers and when to head to the UV drying light. I chose red polish (again), and I have to say, for the cheapest non-gel manicure I could get, that polish lasted for a damn long time.

Long-lasting polish or not, I’m not going to make manicures a regular item on my to-do list. While I do like the way my nails look when professionally painted, I don’t find it particularly pleasant to get them painted. Not only am I super awkward, but I felt like an elitist snob strolling in and asking someone to paint my nails for me. Plus, the nail fumes were amazingly potent. I don’t know how the nail technicians stand it.

So for now, it’s back to my cheap bottles of nail polish and my less-than-perfect home manicures. And I’m ok with that.

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