The MetroCard Manicure: How To Beautify Your Nails With Your MTA Plastic

You can go to town on your nails with the thing that lets you literally go to town.

I’ve been prone to do things in public that I should probably do at home. Like put on my makeup on the train. Or eat while walking down the sidewalk. I’m a girl on the go, OK? But I must say, my latest discovery will actually be beneficial to strangers around me.

There I was, looking at my dingy nails while on the subway, but the only thing I had at hand was my MetroCard (the MTA transit card, for you non-New Yorkers or the cab-riding Manhattanites who’ve never heard of Astoria). Little did I know, this WOULD BE THE BEST NAIL CLEANING THINGY EVER!

Along with cleaning nails, it does a darn good job at other manicure activities. With my MTA card and the magic of Sally Hansen Nail Polish Strips (they last up to two weeks!), I went to town on my hands. The results are glorious.

You’ll need the strips, like the Sally Hansen Salon Effects strips in Winter Funderland, a clear top coat, nail polish remover if you need to clean up, and of course, your MetroCard. No other card will do--trust me, I’ve tried. A Shakespearean-ish poem is dedicated to this revelation at the end of the tutorial if you’ll humor me.

Optional: If you want to get fancy with a French manicure, grab a pair of scissors and nail polish of your choice for the French line. I used Essie Nail Lacquer in Licorice.

Here's what to do...

1. Have cruddy hands.

2. Clean under the nails with the round edge.

3. Use the round edge to push down the cuticles.

4. Apply the strips and pinch down the sides to secure. Cut the excess nail strip with a free thumb.

Do this for the rest of your fingers.

5. Use the flat edge to push down and clean the edges.

You can apply your clear top coat and call it a day, but the industrious among us might want to jazz up the manicure with a French polish. Of course, you can see the results better with a French polish that contrasts with the strips, but I wanted to go dark.

I like the idea of using the MetroCard for this because it helps me get a straight line when I can’t see my fingernail and, unlike tape, I know it won’t chip my polish. It can be tricky at first to master, but it’s worth it when you get it!

6. Cut the bottom of the MetroCard straight across.

7. Open the polish you’re using for the French line.

8. Starting with the thumb, wrap the strip around the base of the thumb nail, tighten, and push up to the point at which you’d like your polish

9. Swipe the polish across your thumb nail.

Try to do it swiftly so that it doesn’t bleed under.

10. Let the thumb dry before moving on, as you will need it when you apply the polish to your pinky.

10. For the index finger, place your nail slightly to the left of the center of the strip, fold it over to the left, and hold with your free fingers. Apply the polish and carefully let go of the strip.

11. Repeat step 10 for your middle finger.

12. For the ring finger, shift your finger just to the right of center, fold over to the right, and hold with your free fingers.

13. The pinky is tricky. You basically just wrap the strip around as tight as you can while pinching with your thumb.

Note: This was all applied to my left hand. You may have to flip the orientation for your right hand. Basically, just find a method that is most secure to ensure a straight line.

14. Apply a clear top coat; it makes the strips last much longer.

15. Take over the world


And now, a poem:

Munich, LA, London, your transit cards are OK, I guessI mean, they’re on par with Chicago and MinneapolisAmsterdam, Vancouver I love you bothBut when nails must be done with mon’y to spareThe MTA clearly wins and it’s soooo not close.