Friday, June 26, 2009
Fabulous Nails . . . Fast!
Having to cut back on my weekly manicures caused a mini beauty freak out.
Seriously, there was an internal debate about whether I could stand watching local TV if I had to cancel my cable subscription to be able to afford my regular sudsy soak at the nail salon.
True Blood won.
But no worries. DIY-ing a semi-professional mani look is easy peezy.
Like with a good outfit, start with a good foundation. The most expensive shades won't look good if your nails are raggedy. Gently shape your nails, being careful to file in only one direction. I've retired the square Carmela Soprano look for a softer square with rounded sides (or “squoval,” in nail-industry speak). If you're doing your nails yourself between salon appointments, just a few passes with the nail file will help maintain the shape.
I love the sexy, siren red on the third self at the nail salon. I’m insane for glittery pinks and shimmering purples in square bottles. Gunmetal gray? Slap it on me. White, eh, not so much but I’ll try anything once. Speaking of which, I'm out of the whole gray-nails phase, for the moment. Too high-maintenance for my low-key, lazy days of summer psyche.
Right now I'm into nails that are a simple, clean and unfussy. Like a refreshing lemonade after the winter's heavy wines and reds. Besides, who wants to spend time waiting for their nails to dry when the sun is shining?
I'm into neutrals (what the heck is "flesh-tone" anyway?)--like warm, shiny shades that kinda-sorta matches my skintone, but with a hint of shimmer. The bonus is that neutrals won't show flaws if you end up with a smudge or smear or if it chips. And they make your fingers look longer and leaner because the color is close to your skin tone--perf for showing off that sparkler on your finger, whether it's for real or faux.
Think of them like the perfect nude shoe for your nails!
Sheer formulas are a good bet but you can grab a cream or lustre version and just use fewer coats for a similar effect. Avoid frosts though. Not only do they scream "great-aunt Mabel down in Boca," any imperfections or chips will be more visible. Same with mattes.
Here are a few faves:
"Aston" by Butter is an utterly delicious toffee color with a hint of gold shimmer. It's like a caramel candy treat for your fingertips. Yum.
Another fave is this glitter-y gold called "West End Wonderland" which is also by Butter. Gold, glitter, glam ... what's not to love? It's an grown-up glitter (yes, there is such a thing!) than you can wear during the day to the office without fear of looking like a kid's art project run amok. And it's a gorgeous way to set off sun-kissed skin.
I'm a girly girl at heart, so naturally I love pretty much anything pink. But finding the perfect pink nail color that wasn't too pale, too white, too chalky, too Pepto-Bismol, too whatever, was a trial in patience. And I have the drawerful of rejects to prove it!
But persistence paid off. "Angel Pink" from Milani's French Manicure collection ($4.99 available at drugstores) is a petal-soft pink that is universally flattering (goes on lighter than shown). You can literally slap on a coat and two in the backseat of a cab when your boss pulls you into a big client meeting at the last minute and end up with perfect looking nails by the time you reach your destination. Er, so I'm told . . .
And somehow this formula makes the tips of your nails look whiter and brighter for a French mani-like look. Genius. It's not labeled as a quick dry formula but you can safely hunt for those pesky keys that keep following all the way to the bottom of your bag in about five-minutes. May the beauty gods smile on me that they don't discontinue this one!
Once your nail color dries, finish with a clear top coat for a Teflon coating and added shine. I use Oh So Wet! ($3.99, Sally Beauty Supply) but any brand from your local drugstore will do. Using a top coat can extend the wear of your handiwork (ha! pun somewhat intended) an extra 3 - 5 days. Really.
All told, you'll have fabulous nails in less than 10 minutes!
Prefer a French-mani? Get an oh la la look in just two steps.
Try Sephora's Easy French Manicure Duos ($8). It's an all-in-one tube with a dual-ended wand with a clear base coat on one end and a sheer topcoat shade in either pink or beige. It dries super fast, making it ideal for nail polish emergencies, plus you can just throw it in your makeup case when you're traveling without taking up space with two bulky bottles.
Voila! Best of all, you don't need to use those annoying, sticky stencil tip things that seem to require a freakish degree of dexterity to handle.
What tips do you have for fast and fabulous nails? Dish in the comments!