The Nails Have It!

Confession time: I have a love/hate relationship with my nails.

On the “hate” side, I’ve always have very thin (and sharp!) nails that broke easily–especially when they had just gotten to a decent length or right before a big day. On the love side, there’s nothing short of a new pair of shoes that puts more pep in my step than having nicely-done nails.

But polish chips so easily and needs a lot of upkeep, upkeep that I don’t have time for. Comparatively, acrylic nails only have to be seen-to every 2 weeks but the damage they do to the natural nail bed (and the 3 months it takes to recover healthy nails after one of my trysts with the salon) is atrocious. Not to mention the inconvenience of having to leave to house, be on someone else’s clock and the hour-plus for a full set and 45 minutes per fill.

What’s a girl to do?!

Polishes, acrylic nails and tools.
So many tools, so little time.

Obviously I’m not the only one who struggles with the time it takes to keep up pretty nails. In addition to all sorts of quick-dry and 1-step polishes, faux-acrylics (what we used to know as Press-On Nails) have come a long way. I’ve become quite fond them for a couple of reasons:

  1. I can do them at home, no professional assistance required. After all, I’d rather watch what I want to watch instead of a Vietnamese soap opera. (Not to mention whatever they’re playing on the television! Seriously, I could tell you some stories.)
  2. The quality is consistent at a low price-point. At an average price of $5 per package, if you’re good with a nail file you can get 2 sets out of each package. Nice nails for 7-10 days for $2.50? It’s hard to beat.
  3. My nail beds are just as healthy when I take off the nails as when I put them on. Because there’s no drilling, natural nails are not affected. The glue is easily dissolved with acetone and the rest just files off. This suits my frequent “I’m tired of dealing with them” moods quite well.

While glue-on acrylics are very simple and theoretically ready-to-g0 right out of the package, it’s a good idea to choose each acrylic carefully and then do some basic shaping with a nail file to match it better to the shape of your nail. And always start with a good basic manicure that includes grooming your cuticles.

Still, glue-on acrylics aren’t the be-all, end-all of manicures. As much as I love them for their ease of use, it does require carrying around a bottle of nail glue for repairs as necessary. Because they are not sculpted onto the nails like regular acrylics, they can lift a little easier, but it’s a small price to pay.

Enter nail strips.

Somewhere between a sticker and an overlay, items like the professional-grade Minx line and the consumer-grade Salon Effects by Sally Hansen and ANG allow you to apply a perfect covering to your nails that stays put for a week to 10 days or more, if done right. Depending on the brand and where you shop, it can be between $5 and $20 for a set. But, again, if you have short nails and are careful, you can easily get 2 applications per kit. What I love most about these strips is that it takes no glue to apply them and the upkeep is minimal. Unlike acrylics (of any sort) they bend with your natural nail and seem to strengthen thin nails while being worn.

The selection at my local big-box store is limited unless you want the bright solid versions. I prefer the patterns, myself, especially the subtle one like the fishnet pattern shown in the picture below (a little blurry, sorry, it was a cell-phone picture from a couple months ago when I last used this pattern).

Nails featuring fishnet overlay

And I’ve just heard that Sally Hansen has come out with a fun assortment of Halloween styles just in time for my favorite holiday! If I hadn’t already purchased the purple-spider nails for this years BYOP, I’d totally be placing an Ulta order now!

Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed a significant jewelry change in the first picture of this post. It was a happy coincidence that the last 3 weeks have had me taking better care of my hands and nails, as my left hand is going to get a lot of looks for the foreseeable future. As of Friday, September 30, I’m engaged!

Make sure to come back tomorrow for the promised manicure-promoting giveaway!

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