As an editor who works in the beauty space, I have seen my fair share of trends come and go. You want to rock neon streaks or ombre hair color? Great. Feel like you want to reconnect with your crimping iron? I’ll hold the cord while you enjoy an '80s staple. Flowing Raphaelite waves and the white girl weave phenomenon? Still cute, but hopefully ending its time on the red carpet. But, there is no other beauty trend that makes me stabby like nail art on a grown woman.
I wrote a piece for xoJane a while ago on “nail art” that you can do on your own, and it’s about as arty as I get on the hands: a solid base with two swipes of color forming a V shape, as created by nail expert Jin Soon Choi. I’ve gone through moments with nail transfers, multiple colors of polish and I’ve even had a second or two of fleeting flirtation with a custom designed accent nail, but the more I see grown women sporting full-on childlike cartoons on their nails, the angrier I get.
Do I feel this way about glitter polish? Absolutely not. For some strange reason, the idea of unleashing your inner drag queen on your hands in an explosion of Studio 54 flecks is not even a problem. I love a sparkle. I’ve had long-time affairs with everything Deborah Lippmann does when it comes to sparkly polish. Crushed gems, foil flecks, real precious metals -- bring it on and invite some friends. Life’s a disco, I love the nightlife, got to boogie.
Embellishment on the nails? This is when things start to get a little touch and go. I love a pyramid stud at the base of a manicure, but even that starts to be a bit much for every day life...for me.
Where I absolutely draw the line though is when actual cartoons appear on the nails of a woman over the age of 21. I think once you give up upside-down keg stands and move into the real world, you should stop doodling on your nails. I’ve seen grown-ass women with Strawberry Shortcake characters etched into their polish and other women just drooling over it. I totally lost it when Zooey Deschanel had a film strip and a movie camera running across her hands at the Oscars. Because her nail art proved a point to me: Who is going to take her seriously as an adult woman with cartoons running across her hands?
I’m not saying that ballet-slipper pink is the only way to go. I’m not even suggesting you stick to one color. If you want a Reverse French manicure with neon green tips and half moons, do your thing. You can even stripe the tips of your nails in two thin stripes or brush a color or two across a solid base.
However, when your nail designs require someone to take a thin pen and immortalize your love for Captain Caveman or your favorite childhood breakfast cereal on your fingertips, stop and think to yourself, "Do I need to be taken seriously this week?" If you do, please rein in the art until vacation time.
Bring out the crazy for a girls' weekend if you MUST. But in my opinion, we have enough issues with the infantilization of women as it is without giving anyone any ammo. Let’s keep the nail art simple and easy and maybe let the kids have the cartoons with breakfast cereal on Saturday mornings.
I’d love to hear from you. Are you a nail art fanatic, or are you over the trend as well?