Sunday, February 2, 2014

I Failed at Nails

Phooey to fake nails

I had beautiful nails for five years. Not mine exactly, but I denied they were fake. They were enhanced. The manicurist applied a kind of putty that hardened quickly and made my nails strong enough to open pop tops. They were, of course, artificial nails. I took them off cold turkey a few weeks ago, not because I feared artificial nails might ruin my real nails. They had ruined my real nails.

Every two weeks I cringed in fear when the manicurist pulled out that electric file to maintain them. My nail beds had become so thin, just the sight of that thing had me gritting my teeth. She tried to be gentle and apologized profusely whenever she hit a sensitive spot. I think I understand what the torture of pulling-your-nails-out-one-by-one must feel like.

Despite their appearance in the photo below my artificial nails were not ripped off. That's just the way nails look after five years of abuse. Note the craters, white spots and peeling bits. Hope you weren't eating lunch.



My life in nails is a relatively short one.  I worked as a graphic designer, so getting a manicure would have been an exercise in futility. I might paint my nails for a special occasion but could never master using my left hand. Chipping nail polish drove me crazy, and I didn't have the patience to let them dry. The only artificial nails I knew about were glued on to make yours look like Fu Manchu's.

Come retirement or career change or whatever, having nice nails seemed attainable and a long delayed treat. In the meantime someone, possibly the devil, invented "solar nails", polymethyl methacrylate, a liquid and a powder that is mixed together and hardens on the nail. Your own nail keeps growing, so the "nail" needs to be "filled" every two weeks. That requires sanding, puttying and sanding again, two hours' time and $25.

My new nails looked natural, not too long. I had the most fun choosing nail polish (which doesn't chip on solar nails). Manufacturers give them wonderful names. My favorite was called "Bling Dynasty" and was a nice soft gold. Fu Manchu would have loved it. I forged a nice friendship with my manicurist and learned a lot about Vietnam.

Not my hand
but could have been

All that is over now. This is going to be a long haul. Your nails grow about 1/10 of an inch a month— slower in cold weather, quicker in warm. At this rate it will be a year before my nails are even the ordinary specimens they were before. Maybe. It's possible they will always be weak. I'm thinking gloves should make a comeback.

Never...

9 comments:

  1. I had acryllic nails for about a year back in the 1990's when they first became widespread. I loved how they looked but the maintenance was tiresome and grow out period was murder. A word of encouragement: your nails will get a bit stronger even before they are fully grown out. Some supplements such as MSM may help. Keeping them short for now will minimize those Yowch! moments.

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    1. Thanks for your encouragement! Funny that I had never heard any of the negatives and was under the misconception mine weren't "Acrylics". Funny that you don't hear the things you should sometimes while busy picking out nail polish...

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  2. I echo the comment before mine! One year to have normal healthy nails again. NEVER NEVER NEVER should anyone go the artificial route.

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  3. Ditto. If I can stop only one woman from doing them...

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  4. I used products by a company called Trind: Nail Balsam and Nail Repair to get past the worst of the fake nail transition about 10 years ago. It helped.

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  5. Oh, darling girl! So sorry for your owwwies. I've never had the patience to enhance, and art school chemical fingers made it impossible years ago.
    Please don't be insulted, but do try old fashioned Bag Balm while your healing. It's amazing for whipping sad cuticles into shape, and helps with the nail bed itself. A bit in the morning and a little more at night, rubbed in.
    Of course you want to heal ... but gloves are still cool. Michelle Dockery looked gorgeous in Downton Abbey last night, in her black, above-the-elbow gloves with her beaded slip-dress. By all means, bring them back.

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  6. Bag Balm— hah that's funny— no I'm not insulted, and sometimes the old fashioned remedies are still the best. Thanks for your support. Who knew I would hit the "nail" on the head with this post?

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  7. I've failed at nails too. I've tried silk wrap (time intensive and pretty much pointless) and gel nails (less time intensive but requires removal at the salon two weeks later). I've painted my own, purchased special keratin enhancing potions that are supposed to make my thin nails strong and hard. I worked HARD at getting them to grow and look pretty. Then one day I just stopped. I haven't had a manicure in a month and I'm not sure I want to bother. They just chip and tear a few days later. Sigh. So I understand both your enthusiasm and your pain.

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    1. Once again, amazed (and relieved) that I am not the only (otherwise intelligent) person who got caught in the "nail trap"— and paid the price. You know that expression "watching paint dry"? Well, "watching nails grow" is the same thing. Thanks for your empathy!

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