A Return to Nail Polish

I just polished my nails for the first time in over a decade, and it’s all Cristine’s fault.

If you don’t know who Cristine is, you may be more familiar with her YouTube channel, Simply Nailogical. Cristine’s videos aren’t just for nail polish enthusiasts, either; she’s so fun to watch that even though I didn’t think I cared about my nails, I couldn’t stop watching her videos once I started. After a few weeks of this, I realized I was staring at my own short, thin, abused fingernails and wondering if I could make any of her techniques work on them.

I’m not the most attractive person in the world, and I gave up on nail polish, makeup, and fancy hair products a long time ago because none of it seemed worth the time and expense. It didn’t help that I have short, chubby fingers, weirdly shaped fingertips with lots of hangnails, and paper thin nails prone to tearing. They tend to bend easily even with several coats of polish, and anything I tried to keep on my nails would chip off within the first day. Maybe, I thought, if I follow Cristine’s guide to making your manicure last, I can protect them long enough for them to grow a little stronger and longer. Once that seed was planted, I started to realize that I missed doing my nails, and I wanted to make time for it in my life again.

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Nail care and prep tools

I took my first baby steps today, in the direction of the intense love affair I had with nail polish when I was young. I had to purchase all new tools and polishes, which adds up very quickly, and I’m also really good at starting what I think will be a lifelong hobby and what actually ends up being something I do two times and then give up. So, I started as simply as possible, while still putting together a nail look fun enough that I want it to last.

I started with the nail care items you see above:

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Polishes, base coat, and top coat I used

I’d love to try some sponging gradients or some kind of nail vinyl pattern with these colors, but in the spirit of keeping things scaled down for now, I opted for all blue nails and yellow ring finger accent nails. What can I say? I’m a basic bitch.

My biggest concern right now is that with nails as short as mine, it’s very difficult to wrap the polish layers down onto the tip of the nail, so that’s where I except to see the first signs of wear.

Here’s what ended up on my nails:

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The finished look, complete with hangnails, fat stubby fingers, and bad painting skills.

I don’t know how long my first adult DIY manicure will last, but it was definitely fun to put on. Next time I use this yellow, I think laying down some white polish under it will result in less overall coats, but I really like the look of it with this matte topcoat effect. I may feel differently if all my nails end up chipped two days from now, but today I’m excited to grow my collection and try different techniques and materials. Because, to paraphrase Jenna Marbles: Life is too short not to have exciting fingernails!

UPDATE: It’s a little less than 24 hours later, and I was already starting to see some shiny gloss through the matte top coat at the tips of my nails, although no chipping yet. I added another coat of the matte stuff to be safe, and did my best to wrap the tips without blobbing it all over my skin. I can’t wrap the tips optimally without growing them out a lot, but I can’t grow them out a lot unless I can keep solid polish on them for a few weeks, so here goes nothing. I may have a lot of two-day manicures in my near future!

UPDATE, Monday, July 3rd:  Well, shit.

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I woke up to several cracks in the top coat on my longest, bendiest nail. Time to rethink this matte thing until the nails are longer and feel stronger. For now, I’m switching to this:

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After removing the previous colors, I upped my game using Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover, then painting around the nails with Pueen Latex Tape for easy cleanup later.

I added two coats of Essie’s All-In-One base coat. I tried sponging on a gradient of the two Defy & Inspire colors I used before, but the gradient look doesn’t work well using polishes of different opacity, so I ended up just applying the Big Brother color alone. Then I added a ton of the glittery Disco Ball from Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails XTreme Wear line – first sponging it on as Cristine recommends, then adding a thin brushed coat. After letting that dry, I finished with a top coat, this time using Seche Vite.

My hope is that the double base coat and glossy top coat will provide a harder finish than the matte one did, preventing the nails from bending and cracking the polish. “Hope” being the operative word.

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