I was in celebration mode on August 25, 2016, the day a personal essay had been published in a national newspaper for the first time. I waltzed into a nail salon for a manicure and pedicure. For many women, this would be routine. For me, it was a rare event, and the first time I’d had both treatments simultaneously.
“Do you want regular polish or gel?”
“What’s the difference?”
“The regular lasts a few days. Gel doesn’t chip. It will last several weeks. It’s ten dollars more.”
Gel seemed to be the better deal on a cost-per-day basis. I decided to splurge on my fingernails, as they take a bigger beating than my toenails.
During the manicure, the technician casually mentioned that regular nail polish remover doesn’t work with gel. “When it’s time to have it taken off, you will need to come back and have it removed professionally.”
“What does that cost?”
“Five dollars if you have it redone. Ten dollars if not.”
So, I thought to myself, gel nails are at least fifteen dollars more in total. Oh well, they would still be a better value.
I enjoyed beautiful nails for several weeks, got compliments, and felt more feminine – more put-together. I understood why so many women make professional nail care a priority. I decided to shelve my usual practicality and get with the program.
The first time I had gel removed, the industrial smell of the purple liquid the technician used alarmed me. “What is that stuff?”
“Grape juice,” he said with a twinkle.
I didn’t want to know. I was hooked.
On December 23, I chose a beautiful festive red. Within a day, I tore off some of the nail and more of the polish on my left index finger while loading a heavy item into my trunk. I repaired the damage as best I could, using pink polish I had on hand. Days later, a chip of colour came off my right thumbnail as result of flossing my teeth. And so it went.
After several applications – and removals – of gel polish, my nails had become weakened and less functional. Rather pitiful-looking, also.
It has been a fun run, but I’m done. I’m humbled. My nails now sport a clear polish designed to strengthen damaged nails.
I’ll find other ways to feel feminine and put-together.