I am not sure what came first, the chicken or the egg. I am not sure if I love nail polish because my nails grow long or if my nails grow long because I pay them a lot of attention. I find there is a direct correlation between keeping your nails painted and maintaining a decent length. My nails started getting rather long in the sixth grade. I figured since they were so pretty, they should be adorned. Of course, it didn’t hurt that my aunt was going to cosmetology school and frequently used me as her guinea pig. I was the only one in the family who would sit still long enough to let her practice. Thus, my love affair with nail polish began.
I have a few rules for my nails. I hate complicated designs. Remember in the 90’s when people would get airbrushed images on their nails? Yea, no. I did once allow my friend in cosmetology school to affix appliqués of animals on my nearly 3 inch nails because she begged. I of course hated it but everyone I met loved them so I kept the look for two weeks. Yes, in high school I started an experiment to see how long my nails would get. Turns out, ridiculously long.
I like unusual colors. This was harder in the 90’s when there were only a few nail polish lines and most stuck to shades of red and pink. I once discovered this gorgeous yellow at Woolworth…okay this story sounds like it’s from the 1920’s. I swear there were Woolworths in Michigan until the late 90’s. I adored that color. It complimented my brown skin perfectly and gave my nails a natural pop. That and a glittery wine became my signature colors. My aunt convinced me that we should have signature colors to stand out. Hers was a pale shimmery silver. In college after my beautiful yellow was discontinued, I moved on to a pumpkin orange. Due to a friend, I stopped filing my nails oval five or six years ago. My mom has naturally oval nails and I think they are an awesome shape. I decided to stick with my natural shape which is very rectangular. This shape doesn’t lend itself to boring reds and neutrals.
I never use nail polish that could ruin my nail bed. I saw this glorious new invention with pearls and no. This applies to a lot of textured nail polish. Finally, I shy away from variations on French. I think French manicures only look good on perfectly sculpted fake nails. My nails are real and French never works properly.
So I have my favorite brands of nail polish and as a 25 year nail polish veteran—I’m never without cover—I know of which I speak.
First, my new favorite thing is Zoya. It’s all natural, vegan and tailored for natural nails. The weirdest thing about this nail polish is that it needs only one coat, because it is so thick. It has wonderful colors and last forever. However, it is primarily available online with paid shipping. That means my $8 or $9 bottle can run up to $15 if I only buy one bottle. I usually load up when there’s a sale. This 4th of July, you got two bottles free if you got a bottle of Liberty pixie dust. The texture was cool. My only quibble is pixie dust has no sheen. Even with a high gloss top coat, it has a dull finish. I like sheen.
For sheen, I like the super cheap Wild and Crazy. Since every plaza has a dry cleaners, nail salon and beauty supply, I can always find my lovely $2 nail polish anywhere. I love the colors and the ease of application. It rarely bubbles. I hate bubbles. Of course if you wait 3 to 5 minutes between coats, you can avoid bubbles, but I apply a lot of coats: nail strengthener, base coat, 2 coats of nail polish and top coat. This coupled with an impatient Aries and there can be bubbles. The problem with Wild and Crazy is that it chips easily. It’s not shrinkage but full blown chunk of nail polish just gone. It’s good for a week max.
Finally, I like two brands for their polish capabilities though their colors are boring: Borghese and Essie. It is hard to find a stand out color. But the polish lasts forever, a good 10 days. It’s beautiful, thick and smooth. It’s usually available at Ulta or Rite Aid. So it is not too terribly difficult to procure.
I try other brands from time to time. In a pinch I will use a nail strips, though I haven’t found one with the ease of use of the originator, Avon. I absolutely detest the ever popular OPI. It cracks if you do not constantly add top coat and who has that kind of free time? But the above are my signatures.