My nails have always been my crowning glory. As I'm a hair under five feet tall, a hand model is the only kind of model I'll ever be mistaken for, but I'll take it!
I was forced to cut my nails off and leave them bare when I attended Aveda Institute for Esthetics and I’ll admit I didn’t really feel like myself. I have really tiny hands, so short, unpainted nails make me look like I have the hands of a young child (as opposed to my usual long, dark nails that make me look like I have the hands of a young child forced into oversexualized beauty pageants).
I think finely crafted nails are one of the best accessories you can add to any outfit. I can feel OK without blow drying my hair, I wear very little makeup on a daily basis, and I can even survive with the absence of jewelry. But if my nails aren’t done, I feel like a bird with its wings clipped. I like my nails long and hard, like my men.
Here are some tips that help facilitate my ideal nails:
- Nail Hardeners: I really like Sally Hansen for these. I use their Hard as Nails Nylon+Retinol Strengthener as a base coat and the Ultimate Shield Top Coat on top. These go on smooth, without those annoying little air bubbles, and they dry pretty fast.
- Growth Gel: Sally Hansen again. I swear I do not work for them, but if they are reading this and would like to hire me, my email is in my bio. I am really crazy about the VitaSurge Growth Gel. This stuff is not bullshit, it really does work. I stopped using it for a while, wondering if maybe my nails get so long because I’m just genetically gifted and it had nothing to do with this product. Not true. It’s all the gel. Use it a few times daily for maximum growth. It smells lovely!
- File them “round” or “pointed:" I know some of you are really attached to the “square” look for some reason, but you'll be able to keep your length longer if you go rounded. The edges of a square manicure will inevitably catch on everything and make your nails much more prone to breakage. I also think square-shaped nails look strange long, but that’s more of a personal preference thing.
- Get somewhat regular manicures: If you can afford to do this, you should. Somewhat regular manicures promote nail growth because they circulate the blood in your hands. Pushing back the cuticles also promotes nail health and lengthens the look of your nail bed.
- Vitamins: I love vitamins, you really can see a difference in your skin, hair and nails when you take them regularly. Biotin and vitamin E will help with weak, brittle nails. If I stop taking Biotin for a few days, I definitely notice a difference. The state of your nails apparently reflects the state of your whole body, which I choose to believe only when my nails look good.
- Gel Polish: This one is debatable, since they remove this shit by scraping your nails to oblivion. Not the healthiest thing ever, but I have noticed that when I gel, my nails never break. This really comes down to personal preference.
- "Nude” Polish: Beige-y brown opaque colors will make your nails look longer. The closer the color is to the color of your skin, the longer your nails will look. If you’re pale, choose a lighter sand color, if you have darker skin, choose a matte brown shade. Match your undertones as well; pink-based colors for those with cool complexions and yellow-based shades for warmer skin tones. My favorites are Jazz, Playa Del Platinum, and Sand Tropez by Essie.
- Hand Lotion: Using hand lotion regularly will moisturize your cuticles as well as your hands. You can buy some fancy specialty nail lotion if you’re into that sort of thing, but whatever you’re already using will work fine. I use the “Excess” hand cream by TokyoMilk Dark because it matches my perfume, but you can use whatever.
- Buffing: Gently buffing your nails will polish out ridges and give you smoother looking nails. This is especially a good option for those that prefer bare nails, as one side of the buffer usually adds shine.
- Use a conditioning remover: Your nails will be less damaged if you use a non-acetone or conditioning nail polish remover because the chemicals aren’t as harsh. You may have to rub a bit harder to get the polish off, and it usually takes a bit longer, but the results are worth it.
I write this post with a heavy heart, as one of my nails unceremoniously broke on the train last night after I smashed it into the door. I will be starting from scratch, but my nails are usually super long and thick.
Your nails should be pretty healthy within a month. It might be a pain in the ass to maintain all of this, but I think it’s worth it. I feel instantly put together when my nails look great. I sometimes stare obsessively at them like a lovesick weirdo. Even texting feels more glamorous!