Litmus Test: Hardcore Nail Decor

by Team Intern

For graduation, my bestie and I wanted to go all out–drop some serious doughcoin on something totally extravagant and somewhat irresponsible. I’m pretty sure most people in our situation would pull a collegiate cop-out and buy a bunch of booze. But we young, fabulous, bachelorettes of the arts passed up the bodegas in favor of a nail salon and a set of superfly, super-long, acrylic nails.

I’m not sure how to rate the current popularity of elaborately decorated nails. They seem to own a little niche in the culture–something cool and fascinating but too often rejected by timid observers. Kind of synonymous with the cultural response to harem pants or metallic leggings. And like harem/metallic pants (OMG, is there such a thing as metallic harem pants?), fancy nails pop up every so often on rule-bending celebrities like Katy Perry, (unafraid to dress like a Christmas tree, unafraid to love seriously snazzy nails).

more after the jump!

For all of the BUSTies unfamiliar with acrylics, they work like this: an extremely talented, nimble-fingered nail artist buffs you down to the nail beds, then brushes a coat of gluey goop onto the remaining nails. The goop then cements lengthy, plastic, fake nails on top of your old, buffed ones. From there, the technician works their magic, filing and blending the fakes into the desired shape (ex: square or round tipped) and clipping them to the desired length. Mine ended up being a comfortable half/three-quarter inch from cuticle to tip (timid to acrylic nail regulars, daring to someone whose natural nails have rarely crested the tips of their fingers). Once your fingers are properly dried, the magic begins; colors, airbrushing, sequins, piercings, and intricate designs are all, literally, at your fingertips.

My nails ended up a cheery pink with scalloped white airbrush designs, though it was a hard sell between that and a stencil of my star sign, a dollar symbol, or President Obama’s face. Staying neutral was motivated by the impending presence of family (Commencement, y’know), though taking it easy on the outrageousness also saved me from nail art’s major Achilles heel: over-doing it. I learned quick that having unnaturally long, unnaturally sturdy appendages on my fingers was, well, a little awkward. I couldn’t imagine adding more bells and whistles (and there are plenty of ’em to choose from)–more to get caught on, more to bump into, more to inhibit my ability to, y’know, hold a pencil/type/button anything.

That said, I love over-the-top nail art (see some faves below). A line exists, certainly, between beauty and insanity, but nail art toes that line so effortlessly, so perfectly defines that bizarre cosmetic limbo, that it should be lauded–not shunned. It has it’s pitfalls: besides the cost of installment, a good nail job doesn’t go away quietly. Either you get them professionally removed (more dollars to the salon), or wait for them to grow out and fade away. Keep in mind the recovery period for weakened nail beds as well.

To me, glitzing it up was totally worth it. Sporting foxy fingers is at least as fun as it is inconvenient; the way your hands adapt to the lengthy new nails draws upon some inherent inner sassiness that makes them move with sudden grace and queenly panache.You can’t open a car door or operate a key very smoothly, but, in my opinion, there’s no better way to put some spirit in those spirit fingers.

So: acrylic/crazy nails. Totally boss or totally trashy? Weigh in, ladies and gentlemen. The finger forum is open for business.

~Anna C

above photo courtesy Lost at E Minor

below photos courtesy Katy Perry’s Blog at Tumblr (sushi nails, aw yeah)


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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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