mermaid magic manicure

It may seem counterintuitive that a girl who works with her hands all day every day would be so into manicures, right? I mean, ‘I broke a naiiiil!’ is the archetypal anguished screech of teen movie bimbo queens everywhere right? sitting around lacquering your digits is for high maintenance divas who don’t do manual work, surely?

Incorrect. I work in a physical environment, where I wash my hands literally hundreds of times a day, handle cleaning products and harsh chemicals, and put my hands and nails through a lot of physical knocks too, counting endless coins, unpacking boxes, and lifting heavy objects. And I still manage to rep a perfect set of talons. In fact, the tell tale sign I have not had any me-time is usually a polish chip. I’m in no way suggesting that perfect polish is a must for everybody, as it does take time, and makeup and cosmetics are a personal choice, but I can let a lot of other things slide so long as my nails look good. I talk so much with my hands, and they are constantly in play when I serve customers, that seeing them brightly coloured and shiny is a mood boost to me. Not to mention I work in an all male environment so the odd little signifier to myself that I haven’t morphed completely into one of the chaps is reassuring.

Plus, it’s pretty easy to maintain. Beauty-wise, I horrify my friends with how low maintenance I am. I don’t wear foundation a lot of the time, I use either jojoba oil or cocounut oil as cleansing and moisturizing multitaskers, and I hardly ever take off my mascara, because otherwise I have to spend ten minutes putting it all back on to get it as thick as I want. I’ll leave the house without a scrap of makeup on, and I can only brush my hair when it’s wet or I lose all curl definition. So nail varnish is great. you put an hour or so of prep in, and then for a week, you haven’t got to do anything other than maybe a bit of maintenance that you can do while having your morning cigarette. Easy Peasy.

Let’s not forget going mental with colour and texture here guys. I love colour, glitter, pattern, anything eyecatching, as we well know. And while I’m happy to go all out with carnival queen glitter eyeshadow or peacock false lashes for parties, it’s not really a work look. Unless you work in a roller disco (do you? Do they need a bar manager? Hook me up!). A splash of leopard print, polkadot, or glitter on the nails though? Much more easily incorporated. the anti-fun brigade probably won’t even notice to disapprove. unless they’ve spent a long time as a deputy head in a girls’ school (There was one time in my brief sojourn at a private girls school when I missed a whole period of German taking off a particularly glitter heavy sequinned heart number…. good job i’d been studying German three whole years longer than everybody else, ha!).

So anyway, after a rant to my mother about January blues-related bullshit yesterday, and a big wardrobe clearout, I decided to get my manicure on before work to make myself feel more like my lively and excitable self. And this is what happened:

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So this is what you’ll need: A base coat and top coat: I use OPI nail envy for both, it’s a strengthener and I am semi religious about it. A base colour, for which I chose Rimmel’s Sky High, a perfect turquoise blue I bought in the summer which makes me feel like a mermaid every time I wear it. A glitter polish of your choice. I chose Save Me by OPI, a mini I got in a Christmas present. I think it’s from the Nicki Minaj collection. Also pictured here is OPI chip skip, which is a product I am just recently getting excited about. It’s a primer you whack on before base coat that gets rid of any excess oil on the nail surface, and I’m finding my manicures last longer and look better cos of it. Not pictured are a nail file (well, two actually, I use a classic cushioned emery board for heavy duty work and a glass nail file for smoothing and finishing), and jojoba oil, which I use as cuticle oil.

So first you get rid of any old polish, file your nails, and then (with optional chip skip), base coat, and two coats of base colour, leaving adequate drying time between each coat, so you end up with this:

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Now, some folk might be tempted to call it a day at this. And I sometimes do. In which case, fine, put some topcoat on, pat yourself on the back, and call it a day. For the rest of us though, for whom there’s always room for one more rhinestone, let’s move on to glitter, shall we? So the first coat of glitter, you want to get a thin coat over the whole of each nail, like so:

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Lovely. So we let that dry, and then onto the second coat of glitter. Again, you want a thin coat, but you start at the top, and only paint to about halfway down the nail for this one, like so:

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Marvellous. It’s so hard to get a good picture of glitter but can you see the dual texture of this one? I love the strands, they remind me of cake sprinkles. So again let that dry, and then the last glittery bit, which, again, you start from the top. now, for this one you only want to paint the tip really, which is never going to be more than the top third of the nail (unless you really do never use your hands), which should look like this:

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Again, it’s very difficult to get pictures of glitter, but you can see the gradient effect going on. So that’s all the bit that requires concentration out of the way. You then just let that dry, add topcoat, for which I again use OPI nail envy (two coats in beneficial for glitter manicures as it evens out the surface and creates better shine). When that’s dry and while it’s setting I like to use jojoba oil on the cuticles and gently smooth it over the polished area to help it dry quicker. And the finished job should look a bit like this:

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