When my nails look good, there is very little that I cannot do. At least, that's how I feel anyway. Grownups have nice nails. Women who have their shit together have nice nails. And I've always wanted to be a grownup with their shit together, so for the last year I have shelled out a small fortune on regular manicures.
Up until recently it was mostly just shellac nail varnish worn like nail varnish on my natural nails but then, just before my book came out (and I realised that there would be quite a lot of focus on my hands, at least on Instagram!) I decided I needed them to look even more fabulous than normal and that it was probably best to remove the risk of chipping, so I opted for nail extensions. My nails were really short at the time and I thought a little length would be dreamy.
Well, I'm hooked. I didn't get crazy long ones for a few main reasons: I live on my computer and typing can be a nightmare if they are any longer than mine are now, I have a dog who requires some serious hands-on grooming and I generally just find long nails to be a massive pain in the arse. The ones that I had put on were only a tiny bit longer than my own but it made all the difference. So for the last two months I have donned some fairy fabulous talons (that people totally think are my own BTW), popping in every three weeks or so to have them filed down and filled in.
But what really are nail extensions? Is it true they are going to destroy our natural nails? And ultimately, are they really worth the hype?
1) What are nail extensions and how do they put them on?
So when you have these extensions put on, the first thing that they do is cut your natural nail short and glue a small piece of plastic (following the shape of your natural nail) on the tip. It's much too long when first applied but it's filed down to the right length and you then have a gel or acrylic mixture applied to the rest of the nail.
Gel nails are better for your nails but are fixed on in a UV light box which is a bit uncomfortable (by that I mean painful...) and acrylics dry after a couple of minutes on their own after they are in natural air. After the extensions are on I then get some shellac colour applied on top. It take a long time (probably an hour all told) but it's very worth it: I've not had a single chip and they look pretty natural which I love.
2) Do they really destroy your natural nails?
Acrylics do, yes. They do not allow your natural nails to breathe underneath them and that does make them very brittle and weak so they will be in bad condition by the time they are removed. If you have very short and broken nails anyway then you might not care too much about this but if you, like me, have reasonably good natural nails, then gels are the answer.
Gels do not cause damage to the natural nail and can be used to strengthen, protect and promote growth in the nail themselves. They're a spot more expensive but I personally don't really like the idea of killing my natural nails even if I have no intention of removing the extensions anytime soon. Gels it is for me!
3) Are they really worth the hype?
This totally depends on personal taste. There is a big part of me that feels like I'm 'cheating' and wasting my time with these, not least of all because they are now actually the same length as my natural nails underneath them BUT I have to say, not having to worry about chipping my nails and knowing that I can have it on for weeks at a time is actually pretty damn great. Previously my shellac nails would chip after a few days and that just does not happen with these so yes, they're worth my hype I think.
There is a small part of me that feels like I'm a fraud these but there is a bigger part of me that doesn't actually care enough to stop - they look great, they make me happy and it really helps me to feel like a grownup with her shit together... What more could a girl want eh?!