PRESS ON NAILS ARE BACK, BITCH
I got my first manicure when I was eleven years old. My mom treated me. I remember I chose a pale pink shade, like the inside of a seashell. And then immediately ruined them by going swimming afterwards.
I was not one of those cool girls with a Caboodle filled with different nail polishes. Growing up, I really couldn’t have long nails because I played piano AND I bowled...like on the varsity team in high school.
I remember trying press-on nails once, with that separate bottle of glue. They looked super fake and didn’t fit well, I think they lasted maybe an hour and ruined my actual nails.
When I lived in New York for a year in my late 20’s, I got manicures because it’s super cheap. Manhattan is so rife with nail salons that it drives the prices down. You could get a mani-pedi for $18. No joke.
After moving back to Chicago, I always kept an eye out for the cheaper places, not willing to fork over more than $15 to get my nails done.
Most of the times, the women doing my nails were Vietnamese. Because I’m East Asian, the conversation would always veer to the question of my ethnicity. Most were surprised when I told them I was Japanese. Some of them tried to say a few things in Japanese to me and had a confused look on their faces when I told them I’m fourth generation. Not that they didn’t understand, just that it was so unusual.
To be honest, it’s always felt uncomfortable for me to have my feet cleaned by an Asian woman. I hate the subservient feel of it all and even though they are being paid and tipped, it still seems wrong on some level. Like, literally a woman is scrubbing the calluses off my heels and digging crap out of my toenails. And I get it: In the name of beauty, we pay people to rip the hair out around our vagina, squeeze blackheads out of our nose, thread unwanted hair from our eyebrows, etc. But it often feels like a disproportionate amount of the women who do this are either WOC or immigrants.
A friend sent me a really great article talking about the beginnings of the Vietnamese run nail salons. It happened mainly in part to actress Tippi Hedren of Alfred Hitchcock’s class “The Birds,” who helped a group of Vietnamese women who came to California from the war learn how to do nails and run their own businesses. These same shops have been passed on to their daughters and granddaughters. It’s also a testament to the ways in which immigrant groups support their fellow newcomers by teaching them a trade and giving them jobs.
Still, regardless of this heartwarming explanation, I still haven’t been able to get over my issues entirely.
Getting your nails done a few times a month starts to add up. While I don’t work a hard labor job, I’m not exactly careful with my nails. A day or two after a manicure, I’m sure to chip at least one nail, which I will fixate on and eventually take the polish off all of them, consumed with the imperfection.
When Sally Hansen came out with Salon Effects Nail Strips, I was intrigued by the concept. It was essentially a sticker made out of nail polish. There were tons of great colors and patterns. I even found a woman at a flea market selling a bunch on the cheap. They seemed to last a bit longer than if I painted them and with no dry time.
But they still had their issues. They weren’t always that easy to get on and they would peel. An aggressive dish or hand washing would often cause the tips to disintegrate and with my OCD, I’d end up scraping them off my nails after a few days.
Then I came across my friend’s Insta photo of her amazing nautical themed nails. An assortment of different blues and whites with a gold anchor on one of the accent nails. They were press on nails by KISS.
I immediately found them online. They have their own website. I found a coupon code for 30% off and free shipping and immediately bought five pairs. Also, if you become a VIP member (for free), shipping is only $.99 for every order.
I watched some YouTube videos on how to put them on and more important KEEP them on. Tutorials instructed me to push down my cuticles and file the nail down, but not too much so there was something for the fake nail to adhere too. A trick I remembered with the nail strips was to clean your nails with polish remover first, which seems counterintuitive, but you really do need a clean surface. The kits already come with a little cuticle pusher, file, and “prep pad.”
I’ve since learned that doing it the night before is the way to go. They have a longer time to set and there’s less of a chance to jostle them out of place.
These suckers can last up to a week.
My only complaint is that sometimes they stay on TOO well. I should probably just YouTube a good way of getting them off without damaging my real nails.
There are a ton of super cute designs and colors and they even come in two different shapes, oval and square. They are not obnoxiously long, though I file them a bit to look more “natural.” ImPRESS has sales all of the time, but you can also purchase them at Walgreens and CVS. You get THIRTY nails for proper sizing. If they made more of the tiniest pinky nail, I’d be able to get two sets out of one box easily. Don’t worry, I already emailed them to ask if they would consider doing this.
Since I started my press-on nail adventure I’ve realized that having my nails done is totally for me. It’s a beauty routine that has nothing to with what men think or like. It’s for Instagram and compliments from other women, usually cashiers, baristas, and waitresses who I give the hard sell to on cost and durability.
I really need to ask if I can be a brand ambassador.