Fashion is at a weird place right now. Think of our children looking back at the digital photos: ladies with Technicolor hair teeter around on oversized Lego shoes, praying they don’t topple over and impale themselves on their spiky handbags. Twenty years from now, giggly sorority girls will throw 2012 themed mixers, donning vintage galaxy Lita boots, pastel ombré wigs, and 3-D manicures as they do their first keg stands.
Don’t get defensive: I know not everybody dresses like this. I appreciate the eccentricity, the colors, the patterns, the cutouts, the fuzzies, the glitter. Wear what you want! As a hatchling beauty editor, and regardless of my personal style, I’m intrigued watching people experiment with their looks in any capacity, especially when it comes to beauty. Foregoing strawberry blonde for royal blue and including a vile of rhinestones in “everyday” makeup bags is pretty great. What’s even more fun is watching the beauty bigwigs try to keep up as the isles at CVS hurriedly go from neutral to chromatic. Making creativity more accessible to the masses is revolutionary; but then again, at this point, is it even really considered “creative” or “revolutionary?”
It feels as though we’re in this never-ending journey of one-ups. More cutouts, brighter colors, stranger prints in weirder places, more offensive words screen-printed across poly-cotton blends, glow-in-the-dark glitter pubic solar system mobiles—I don’t even know anymore!
The whole phenomenon confuses my inner rebel and stunts my inherent want to be original and slightly different. So much so that rather than participating in the trends, I find myself curling into a ball, rocking back and forth in a clinically austere ash grey sweat suit, as my colorist paints my entire head of hair one shade, one tone from root to tip: a natural blackish brown, lest someone confuse my golden mop as an attempt at ombre and wants to sit and talk about it.
Is anybody else suffering from the sensory overload? The worst part about it is that I love a good ten digits of nail art, but this form of self-expression (really though, it’s an art when it comes correct) has quickly become a main player in the current trend of absolute outrageousness. I can’t even check up on my favorite suburban 12-year-olds and South Korean television hosts on the Instagram popular page without seeing some chick that’s glued a toddler’s converse to her ring finger, sprinkled it with glitter and blueberry donut holes, being like, “Voila, playas, step up your nail game!”
NO! I refuse! I consider myself the Christopher Nolan of nail art, avoiding 3-D despite the current fad. So let’s take a minute to appreciate the minimal-ness of a good, naked nail.
Step 1: Clip your nails! Skip this step if you’re happy with the length. Another option is to take a coarser file than you’d normally use to shape your nails to sand off some length in one fell swoop. Pick your poison—just make sure to collect your trimmings in a neat pile and leave them on Jane Pratt’s desk for her to find first thing Monday morning.
Step 2: Shape your nails with a finer-grade nail file, like this one from CND. I like a rounded oval because I’m boring and stupid and sometimes scratch myself in my sleep like a dumb baby whose parents make them wear mittens to bed. I hold the file slightly underneath the nail and file across in long strokes to form the curve.
Step 3: You know that weird dusty residue that’s left beneath your nail after you file? It’s, like, the bane our collective female existence. The beauty supply store has hundreds of strange files and tools to choose from, mostly, I think, so we get intimidated into believing that we’ll never be able to understand what it takes to achieve at home what that annoyed and hurried manicurist can achieve at the strip mall. I just kind of guess what they’re for and buy them out of boredom and because they’re neon pink. This little guy ended up being great for clearing my under-nail of that infuriating file residue.
Step 4: ALERT! I’M SAYING SOMETHING IMPORTANT! Butter London Melt Away is one of the few beauty products that I buy over and over again. The name says it all: it melts your cuticles into a whitish slurry. I make sure to paint it onto the hard skin on either side of the tip, ‘cause we’re about to cut it off.
Step 5: Push the whitish slurry pudding off of your nails, toward the cuticle. You might even scrape off any flakiness around the crescent, or am I the only one who gets weird flakiness there? I’m probably deficient in some sort of nutrient.
Step 6: Clip off the cuticles and those little hard corners at your fingertips. It’s basically dead skin that you can’t exfoliate, so you amputate. There might be blood; don’t be a pussy.
Step 7: You’ve got a couple of options when it comes to buffing. The buffing blocks that are readily available at drug stores usually have different surfaces to sand, polish, and shine. I like to take a fine grit block from the beauty supply place and just finish sanding off any of that weird flakiness I talked about earlier, and also smooth any ridges. Go for a block with a bit more grit to roughen up the surface of the nail if you plan to paint. The texture will help the polish grip. It’s, like… resurfacing an armoire kinda sorta?
Step 8: Wash your hands with soap and water to remove any of the leftover melt-y slush and dusty nail powder. This would probably be a good time to clean off that tacky bar stamp and to learn to be an adult. Take some fancy cuticle oil, like CND Solar Oil and brush it all over; it doesn’t really even matter as long as it’s in the general fingertip area. Rub it in.
Like, seriously, rub it in. Sneer at the chick with the miniature Subway sandwich toppings glued onto her frighteningly sharp acrylics across from you on the bus as you snap open a can of Diet Dr. Pepper with ease. Then you need to offer her some through a bendy straw because we should all be nice to each other, regardless. And she could probably toothpick your eyeball out with her left index finger like a soft martini olive.