Getting a HANDle On Beauty And NAILing It

Watching “Beauty And The Beast” may be enjoyable, but attaining beauty can be a real beast. Nevertheless, women strive for outer beauty because Prince Charming is apparently superficial and cares more about how our toenails look while trying a glass slipper than the personality of the foot owner. Forget inner beauty; it’s all in the packaging.

And nailing beauty often relates to a woman’s nails. The founder of essie Cosmetics believes that “If a woman’s nails aren’t done, she’s not totally dressed.”  Eek!  I’ve unknowingly gone to the market or out to run errands only partially clad. What a fashion faux pas!

Nailing your nails is a huge concern for the modern American woman. In 2017, approximately $8.53 billion (that’s BILLION with a “B” as in beauty) was spent on nail salon services in the United States. And these services were provided at one of the 56,300 nails salons in this country. At a average of  $21 for a basic manicure, women are willing to shell out good money to look good starting at the tips of their fingers.

In case you don’t know your beauty vocabulary, a manicure is the cosmetic beauty treatment for fingernails and hands. Manicures are a beauty treatment HANDed (pun intended) down over the centuries. They are believed to have first been done in India about 5,000 years ago when henna was used as polish. Apparently, an Indian woman was the first lady in red.

Manicures (or “manis” for short) involve filing and shaping nails, pushing cuticles, clipping hangnails, giving liquid treatments, providing a hand massage and applying  nail polish. Sounds pretty tame, right? Nope, your brain is taxed by all the decisions involved with achieving just the right look.

:If your nails are to be filed, a decision has to be made as to the shape into which they will be transformed. Ignorant me, I wasn’t aware that there were at least seven shapes to choose from. Square, oval and round are three options which are pretty basic. Almond shape? That name makes me want to chew on my nails for a nutty taste. Stiletto? Is that the shape you choose in order to channel Cruella Deville? And wouldn’t I run the risk of poking my eye out trying to get my contacts in with stilleto nails? Coffin? Is this the appropriate shape for a funeral or a Halloween party? Squoval? I have a hard time saying that shape much less visualizing it.

In some cases, the natural nails aren’t filed because artificial nails or fake nails are used. These are extensions placed over one’s fingernails as fashion accessories. At least these accessories are attached, so you don’t worry about misplacing them like you might your clutch.

Fake nails are not a modern innovation. Throughout history artificial nails have been common symbols of status across the world. In the Ming Dynasty, for example, noblewomen wore extremely long nails to indicate they were not commoners having to engage in manual labor. Yup! No dish washing or typing for them. Greek women in the upper class formerly wore pistachio shells over their nails to show their position in society. Well, at least those fake nails were natural.

Then there’s nail polish to be applied to either your fake or natural nails. Nail polish is also known as nail varnish. Eww! That’s sounds industrial. What color to use must be determined. I hate to break it to you, but there are more colors to choose from than those found in the rainbow. Why essie Cosmetics alone has produced around 1,000 colors. And that’s just ONE nail company.

A current trend is to have nail polish colors come in clever names. Thus, one has to pick not only a flattering color, but a name that is chic or appealing.  The Emperor’s New Clothes, for example, is a great name for a clear polish.

Doing my Internet research I found that one of the top colors for this summer is Jinsonn’s Sandbar. Yes, that’s a name that conjures up the beach and a tropical paradise. But wait! Even better, the polish is vegan-friendly. Say what? Are people eating their nail polish? I know folks bite their nails, but are they consuming them nail polish and all? Yuk!

Once the fingernails are painted, then there’s the question of whether the toe nail polish should match the fingernail polish. Is matchy-matchy too cutesy? Using the same color might be considered boring, but if the colors are different, then care must be taken to utilize colors and names which don’t clash. Wearing Republican Red on your fingernails and Democratic Denim on your toenails just isn’t PC, ladies.

Royals have strict rules when it comes to nail fashion. Fake nails are verboten to Kate and Meghan as is bright colored nail polish. Queen Elizabeth’s go to polish is essis’s Ballet Slippers, a pale and understated pink. Meghan got a jump on her duchess training by wearing this shade for her wedding to Prince Harry who I am certain was oblivious to what Meghan had painted on her nails for this big event.

Royal or commoner, having manicured nails is all fine and dandy, but polished nails are simply window dressing. I may be in the minority here, but beauty is not about the color nail polish gracing your real or fake nails. Real beauty comes from being perfectly polished. I’ll take a well-mannered, caring and kind lady over one sporting almond nails painted in Pretty In Pink with or without matching toenail polish any day.

Just WONDER-ing: How do you define beauty? If you are a man, how much attention do you pay to a woman’s nails? If you are a woman, what do you do to make yourself beautiful?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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