Tag Archives: nail polish

Girl Talk: How Black Nail Polish Changed My Life

I’d always thought black nail polish was only for goths, but against my jeans and plain pink t-shirt, my manicure looked perfect.

I’ve always been too self-conscious to sport a style of my own, and unlike my friends, I’ve never felt comfortable in what the masses are wearing. My personality—dark, satirical, literary, depressive—doesn’t always go with pretty or dainty. The look I’d like to go for is attractive with a jaded undertone, something that says, “fun could happen here,” as long as we’ve acknowledged in advance that life is abysmal.

One evening in May, after leaving my downtown editorial job, where I’d had some wine on an empty stomach with a coworker, I stumbled into the CVS near my Upper East Side apartment. A bottle of black nail polish caught my eye. Standing in a row with other contrarians, like blue and taupe, it was dark, defiant.

At home, waving the blackened brush over my fingertips, I felt like Geppetto in his workshop, crafting some new being with high aspirations for a better life. The result was miraculous. Black nails. Wow. Who knew? I’d always thought black nail polish was only for goths, but against my jeans and plain pink T-shirt, my manicure looked perfect.

For the next few days, I went out of my way to let people see my nails: I wrapped my fingers around the bar on the 4 train. When recording a video blog at work, I touched my face to get my hands in the shot. I put the world on notice. Things were different.

Clothes were different. I went shopping alone and felt confident as I picked out shirts and dresses, thinking, these will go great with my black nails.

My mom hated it and seemed hurt. “You’re 26 years old. Why are you doing this?”

My friends approved. “I think black looks good once in a while … it’s elegant,” said Cathy.

“Once in a while is fine for you,” I said, “but I want my nails to be this color permanently. I finally feel comfortable in my own skin!”

I carried around the bottle of polish and touched up my nails all over town: at work, in restaurant bathrooms. I branched out and polished my toes as well. I felt complete, studded in black. My anxieties about having no style of my own evaporated as I settled into my new nails.

One Saturday afternoon when I was visiting my mom in Queens, she asked if I wanted to get a manicure and pedicure. I hated going to the salon, but my feet were calloused from weeks of walking around Manhattan in sandals, and my nails looked disheveled thanks to my habit of polishing them and then rummaging through my bag for an iPod or wallet.

“Hmm. OK, but I’m getting black,” I said.

Mom looked horrified.

The salon had one lonely bottle of black, but I handed the technician my own, feeling sentimental. We, the polish and I, had made this transition to confident fashionista together.

He looked me up and down, sighed, and raised his eyebrows. “Oh. OK,” he said.

As he began scrubbing several weeks’ worth of black polish off my nails, two girls walked in. I caught a glimpse of them in the mirror. With their short shorts, tight t-shirts, and tan lines they looked 17.

“I told my dad the only reason I’m getting a job this summer is so I can get my nails done every few days,” one girl said to the other.

I shivered at the high-maintenance remark, remembering again why I hated nail salons, where the conversations touched on all things superficial and reality TV. When my manicure was finished, I admired my fingers. They looked much better than when I did them myself. People were going to notice. Leaving Mom to finish her manicure, I hopped over to get my toes polished.

As the same technician got to work, the female employees at his side had their eyes on my feet and fingers. One pointed to my hands and spoke in Korean. Billy, at my feet, nodded, spoke back, and laughed. He showed her the bottle of polish I brought. They both rolled their eyes and got back to work. I started to sweat.

They’re talking about me … Does it matter? Maybe? No … It doesn’t matter. I’m unique! I’m awesome, I’m …

The woman lifted her head again, spoke, and gave me a look of disgust, all to the pleasure of the man polishing my toes.

They hate me. I’m an idiot, I thought. My eyes darted from one disapproving scowl to the other, and my heart started racing. Just then, two ladies, who were both carrying bottles of delicate pink, sat in the empty pedicure chairs on either side of me. They spoke in Russian, and I felt their eyes graze my fingers. It was too much to bear. An old familiar pang of social anxiety struck my stomach, the kind that called when I didn’t know in high school that pointy-toed boots were out of style, or in junior high when the butterfly hairclips I bought were too large.

Another nail technician joined the fleet at my feet. “Nice color!” she said. The gaggle burst out in laughter and my face turned the shade of the Russian girls’ nails.

I tried to say, “It suits me.” The words got lodged in my throat.

His job finished, Billy led me over to the drying station. As I sat down, nauseous, and close to tears, the 17-year-old girl walked toward me, her nails a new, bright shade of red. “I’ve got to get this off,” she said to her friend. “Should I get black instead?”

I nearly yelled out. Yes! Yes, get black, PLEASE, GET BLACK. I watched her lift the dark bottle from its shelf and had to suppress a “THANK YOU!”

When I was through drying, Mom and I headed back out into the thick summer air. As I reveled in the comfort brought by the nail polish choice of a teenager, I recalled being 8 years old, overhearing my mother complain I was wearing my hair in my eyes because my older cousin Nancy was doing it. I am still that girl, seeking someone else to validate my appearance, needing more to hide behind than this black coat.

Photo: iStockphoto

The Superhero Pedicure

Captain Pedi to the rescue! Some geeky chick made this Marvel superhero-themed pedicure. [BuzzFeed] Keep reading »

Enough With The Alexander McQueen Tribute Products

That fashion designer Alexander McQueen committed suicide earlier this year was tragic enough. That a group of vultures are using his death to line their pockets with cash is plain sickening. It’s one thing when a trendsetting and chic magazine like Visionaire pays homage to the designer by devoting an entire issue to his iconic frocks. It’s quite another when a nail polish manufacturer uses the McQueen name to hawk a set of hideous, muddy-looking shades. That’s what Butter London has done with a line of new polishes it claims were inspired by McQueen: All Hail McQueen, a hideous taupe, Bumster, which looks like something you’d find in a diaper, Marrow, marrow, really?, and Victoriana, a bluish-green that’s neither here not there. All one has to do is take a cursory look at these polishes to see they have nothing to do with McQueen’s genius. What this company has done is attached some over-written copy and a sick idea to a product-like-any-other in order to sell their load of crap. It’s bad enough that McQueen is gone, but to associate his brilliance with this drivel is to degrade the fashion legacy he created. [Hot Beauty Health] Keep reading »

And Now “Mad Men” Nail Polish

Mad Men” costume designer Janie Bryant wins my award for multitasking and branding this year. Not only is she extraordinary at outfitting the cast in ’60s-era fashions and designing a QVC line based on “Mad Men,” but she’s also adding nail polish to her growing to-do list. Bryant has partnered with Nailtini, a brand based in California, to create four limited-edition nail lacquers based on the hit show. She says she was inspired by the fabrics of the era, velvet, satins, and lamé — the stuff a glamorous cocktail dress is made of. The colors will be Bourbon Satin, a brown; French 75, a gold; Deauville, a platinum; and Stinger, an iridescence. The lacquers will retail for $14 each at CVS’ Beauty 360 and Duane Reade’s Look stores. All we need now are “Mad Men”-inspired foods and all of our senses will be touched by the show. “Mad Men” fever is now an epidemic! [WWD] Keep reading »

Go Au Naturale With Your Nails

With all the health concerns regarding beauty products, it was only a matter of time before someone created natural nail polish. That day has come thanks to Urban Outfitters, meaning natural and safe nail polish is readily available for your fingers and toes at the reasonable price of $12. The retailer just added A Beautiful Life’s products to their beauty section, so the masses can now paint their fingers with a polish that’s free of chemicals like DBP, toluene, and formaldehyde. Though it could be some time before your local nail salon starts to carry all-natural nail polish as an addition to their regular selection of Essie and OPI, the colors won’t leave you lacking for a quick home manicure. A Beautiful Life created polishes that are quite similar to your current favorites, including fuchsia, orange, and seafoam green — so your fingers can be fashionable and chemical-free. [Stylecaster] Keep reading »

A Brief History Of Nail Polish

Anything can become weird if you think about it too much. Like how if you say your name over and over again, it begins to sound like nothing but weird sounds? That’s kind of what happened to me yesterday when I zoned out during my manicure. As I watched the polish going on my nails, I got to thinking, How did we ever think to cover up our nails? Who did it first? Why? What did people use? When did the shiny lacquers we have now become commonplace? Style nerds, rejoice: I’ve compiled a brief history of nail polish for you to digest.

  • Class Act: Nail polish is thought to have originated in China as early as 3000 BC when the Chinese used to paint their nails (with a mixture of egg whites, beeswax, and arabic gum) according to the colors of the ruling dynasty. Apparently, wearing nail polish was a marker of class: only the upper class sported it. If you were lower class and tried wearing nail polish? Death penalty. (At least, some sources say.)
  • Keep reading »

Why Is It So Hard To Make A Non-Cheesy “Gossip Girl” Collection?

The time has come to sadly admit it: “Gossip Girl” has jumped the shark. We know, we know. It had so much potential back in the days when uhh-mazing people like Anna Sui were designing themed collections for Target and headbands were cute again. Then Little J got stuck in a blender with Courtney Love and made the “walk of shame” look a thing (oh the horror!) and Vanessa and Dan (ew! Seriously, you guys, that’s like incest!) and is it wrong that we want to motorboat Serena’s boobs? So, naturally, the retail side of things had to go downhill. Keep reading »

Forget Plain Matte Nails, Texture’s Where It’s At

I had a hard time comprehending matte nails when the trend took off last year. I mean, isn’t the point of a manicure to make your nails shine? Then add the confusion over top coat to the mix — do you forgo a top coat completely or do you search for a matte one too? And choosing to go matte is more difficult than picking a nail color. All that being said, I’m considering taking the matte plunge with a polish from Orly’s Plastix Collection. These polishes mimic the texture of plastic, vinyl, and pleather in a matte finish with fun bright colors so you needn’t fear any references to domination fetishes. The collection launches later this month on OrlyBeauty.com, where polishes normally retail for about $7.50. [Nylon] Keep reading »

MAC Planning Name Change For “Juarez”-Inspired Products

Dang, when people complain, MAC really does listen. Last week, Jessica told you about the makeup brand’s collaboration with designers Rodarte, which was inspired by the culture and colors of Mexico. Two nail polish shades were named “Juarez” and “Factory,” which we deemed insensitive and offensive, because the town is notorious for the number of women who have been raped and murdered with little or no response from police. MAC first responded by saying that they planned to donate a portion of the proceeds to benefit the city’s crime victims, but even bigger steps are being taken today. According to The Cut, MAC sent an email around to editors saying that they are now planning on changing the names of the products in the collection. No word yet on what those changes will entail, but thumb’s up to MAC for taking the complaints seriously. Let’s hope they’re still planning on those donations though. [NYMag.com] Keep reading »

MAC/Rodarte Responds: They Will Donate A Portion of Proceeds To Crime Victims In The City

We spoke; MAC and Rodarte listened. After my post yesterday about the MAC/Rodarte makeup collaboration which I think tastelessly names new nail polishes “Juarez” and “Factory,” MAC has released a statement to NYMag.com’s fashion blog, The Cut: Keep reading »

  • Zergnet: Simply Irresistible

  • HowAboutWe

  • Popular