How To Get Skinny… Nails In 20 Minutes

Do you pray for that “magic pill” that could help you slim down the chubby keratin that covers the dorsal aspect of your terminal phalanges? Well, fear not my friends, the wait is over.
Publish date:
January 2, 2014
shoppables, nails, manicures

Do you suffer from wide nail beds? Do the kids tease you in school for your fat ass nails? Do you pray for that “magic pill” that could help you slim down the chubby keratin that covers the dorsal aspect of your terminal phalanges? Well, fear not my friends, the wait is over.

Internet sidebar ad jokes aside, am I the only one who covets other peoples’ long thin nail beds, and stare creepily at them on the train/restaurant/party? I am blessed with short, small nail beds, and peely, thin nails. Thanks for nothing, Universe.

Somehow all of my boyfriends have had better nails than me. I give my boy manicures every couple of weeks so that he doesn’t start looking like this guy, because that would be his fate if his nails were left to their own devices. As I file down his miracle grow nails, the meaning of “Life isn’t fair” really hits home.

The condition of your nail can be improved with how you treat your nails (diet, moisturizing, filing), but genetics are really the big determiner of whether your hands will look like a gorgeous Bollywood actress, or like Frodo Baggins. Since my nails are more hobbit-like (although decidedly less hairy), I’ve figured out various techniques to make the rest of the world believe that my hands belong to a fairy goddess and not an inhabitant of the Shire.

I could go on and on about how healthy people look prettier. It’s a fact; if you are healthy, your body will function at an optimum level, and you will look better from your face to your nails. Eating a balanced diet of protein, carbs, fresh fruits and vegetables is like the most boring thing anyone can tell you but, whatever, Gisele isn’t eating Hot Cheetos and Diet Coke for breakfast. If you are already healthy, then you should also protect your body from the elements with sunscreen, moisturizer and gentle exfoliation. This also goes for your nails. For a full cuticle health update, check out Alison’s article from last week. Covered.

Now that we’re past all the lame healthy stuff, let’s get on to the instant gratification portion of this article. You can eat like a frat boy and soak your hands in lye on the daily and still get sexy slim nails with the following tutorial.

Choosing a lengthening shape for your nails is key. I suggest an oval or almond shape. Blunt square nails may look modern, but it’s not doing anything for your nails in terms of length. When you need a quick fix for presentable nails, length is your ultimate friend, so choose a nail shape that accentuates and elongates.

Push back your cuticles and then file your nails in single directional strokes on the outer edges to wear down the natural widening of the nail bed as it moves past the nail matrix. You always want the tip of your nail to be thinner than the base of the nail to avoid the tragic inverted triangle shape. The inverted triangle nail shape is like the mullet of nail shapes. Avoid at all costs.

Prep your nails with a base coat of choice. Right now I’m hooked on OPI’s Nail Envy. I feel like it’s helping me cut down on peeling and protects my nails from staining yellow due to my overuse of red nail polish. Because nail strengtheners can sometimes be too slick for nail polish to apply evenly on top, I usually apply one coat of Envy followed by a thin coat of Butter Nail Foundation. The formula is supposed to act like face foundation to even out any imperfections and create a matte clingy base for your polish.

Some people think that dark colors can make nails look shorter, but I think that with the correct application you can rock anything from navy blue to latex-black with ease.

I chose Cult Nails in Oxblood, which reads black, but with a softer super dark red undertone. It is the ultimate in colors for a chic fashion editor pedicure. The trick here is to focus the polish on the middle of the nail. This creates an optical illusion, like this Stella McCartney dress.

The middle stripe draws your eye right to it while the dark sides fall into the background, shaving off inches (or in this case millimeters). Diversion is the magician’s best trick. Paint a single stripe down the center of the nail and then slowly and carefully widen the color keeping the edges very straight up and down. Make sure to leave between 2 and 4mm of space between the edge of your nail and the color on both sides.

This takes a steady hand, but I’ve found that in the end, it helps me do a cleaner manicure because I am staying far from the cuticle and edges of my nail where pooling usually occurs and makes a mess. Dark polish works in your favor with this slimming technique because it draws all attention to the strong dark polish and the rest of your lighter colored nail just blends in to your finger.

The beige matte quality of the Nail Foundation is particularly helpful to keep up the ruse. Don’t worry if the space you are leaving on the sides of your nails varies a bit.

Now that your nail beds appear delightfully thinner, longer and daintier, protect your work with Butter Hardware. Make sure to just paint over the colored polish so that the matte nail edges don’t get shiny and ruin the look you just labored over.

Do you wish your nails were different in some way? Any tricks for faking great nails that I missed? Do you know why boys always have better nails?

Follow Pia failing on the streets of NYC @piabergman.