I am never going to be a hand model. Years of boxing (yes I used to do this as an actual sport – hence the nose) and the fact that I carry weight on my fingers ‘sausage fingers’, the Chanel ‘rouge noir short chic nail’ look was never going to work for me. I, therefore, needed to grow my nails slightly longer, that was not happening either and they didn’t grow nicely so again, not stunning. This made me consider dipping my fingers (literally) into the world of acrylic nails.
Now don’t get me wrong, acrylic nails or ‘enhanced’ nails as I like to call them do not scream high fashion. I had visions of looking like I should be on a talk show in America with them screaming about the true identity of my baby daddy with long bejewelled talons, square-tipped and sharp as razors. So I needed a look that would work for me that was elegant, fashionable and not too ‘lady of the night’.
I looked at a variety of styles and then fell in love with Lana Del Rey’s look. In hindsight, there was no easing myself in gently, over an inch long and pointed. The points were useful too, no need for a fork for anything microwavable I could just pierce at will. I didn’t anticipate how different my first visit to the salon would be either. Previously I’d had gel nails and went to high street spas or beauty salons and chatted with the technician to pass the time. To achieve the look I now wanted it was going to be a salon in the city centre, where instead of a nice candle burning the smell was pure chemical and everyone wore surgical masks. I gingerly sat down at the counter and the man that was going to do my nails spoke little English, I couldn’t tell if he was smiling or not as I could only see his eyes, he did tell me his name was Kevin (I do not think this was his birth name) and we built a solid client relationship over the next few appointments. This relationship was largely silent aside from ‘yes, no, pain, hello, thank you and goodbye’ being exchanged. I never realised how much Kevin meant to me until he saved my life by performing surgery on me (slight exaggeration). On a night out I slipped and in order to remain upright I grabbed the edge of the bar, my fingertips didn’t quite make it but my nails did. One didn’t smash, it just bent back at a right angle (along with half of my natural nail bed). I can only imagine this must feel similar to that of childbirth (joke, calm down) if you were giving birth through your f**king finger. To make matters worse, it didn’t come off in its entirety, so despite the fact I was losing blood rapidly (well it was bleeding A LOT) I had to enlist a friend to rip it off (we were both screaming at this point). Needless to say, I was a trooper and stayed out and on recalling the story in a bar a nice man with a broken arm gave me his sling, it was truly that bad. The next day, I went to see Kevin. He looked at the trauma and assessed his options. I couldn’t watch but needless to say within the hour he had salvaged what I had left and within two weeks (glutton for punishment) I had a new nail attached (over the scabbed raw flesh) and no one would ever know. Kevin left to go to London in June 2017, he didn’t tell me, we didn’t say our goodbyes, to say it hurt would be an understatement. Kevin, if you are reading this, I miss you.
Over the years I have refined my look, they are still as long but with a softer tip that are called ‘squoval’. Now the mannequin part. In order to not look like Joan Collins or a hooker I have stuck with nude rather than red. The nude gives the illusion of ‘mannequin hands’ (yes this is a real thing) as featured in Vogue 2011 (google it). Finding the perfect nude to create a look that your skin and hands are the same colour (like that of a mannequin!) is no easy feat. Nudes vary so much with pinky, white or yellow tones and obviously matching to your own skin on your hands is difficult. Also, I didn’t realise how much your hands change colour over the year, even if you never leave the UK. Below is my pick of the best in terms of colour, longevity, and quality.
The expensive but worth it nude
Tom Ford Nail Lacquer, Toasted Sugar £30
This is the bee's knees of nail varnish (ahem lacquer). Although pricey you only need one coat and it stays shiny forever. I have only had to change this polish when my nails start to grow so it lasts around 2 weeks without having to touch it. Call this an investment and the bottle is stunning for your dressing table.
The middle range pink tone nude
Essie, Not just a pretty face #11 £7.99
This is really nice for the summer when you can get away with more of a pinky tone, especially if you have a tan and you are not trying to get an exact match. I normally go for two thin coats with this and then apply a top coat. If you type a lot it will start to wear a little at the tips but otherwise is good quality and stays put.
The manicurist favourite nude
OPI, Samoan sand, £13.50
I find OPI brushes the easiest to use and unlike many brands, you can get right to the end of the bottle and use the entire product. Again, I would go for two coats with this. It is part of the soft shades collection and therefore the colour is sheerer. This is one of the most versatile nudes as it compliments a variety of skin tones and doesn’t have any yellowish tinges when you apply a top coat.
The inexpensive range of nude
HM, Milky tea £3.99
I really love the colour of this, super sheer and gives me that real mannequin look. The only downside it doesn’t last as long and needs a good two coats. The bottle is a little smaller too so it tends to run out faster but then for the price that’s totally fair enough. This is a good starter if you are just getting used to this look too.
Enjoy trying this look, it is not for everyone and you will live a life of never being able to fasten your own necklaces and learning how to put on tights without ripping them instantly. You will learn to adapt and have skills you never thought that you could have, I can put my parting in my hair without a comb for example, ta-da!