Monday, June 14, 2010


Deb: All my life I have had crappy little nails. Genetics I guess. My Mom’s are the same. They crack and split. I have tried a myriad of products: hardeners, strengtheners, fancy creams, and cooking oil. And because my nails were always a mess, I got into a VERY bad habit of biting––nay, ripping the skin from around them. Sounds sexy, doesn’t it? 

A grown woman ripping the skin off around her nails with her teeth. Worse part was that it became an unconscious activity. Having dinner with friends––ripping into my fingers. Business meeting––drawing blood. Being presented to the queen ... you get the picture. Our evenings in front of the TV were peppered with my husband’s voice saying, “Quit biting … Quit biting … Quit biting.” The sad thing is that I asked him to stay on me about it so I would stop! Didn’t work. I would go to bed with my fingers caked in Polysporin and covered in Band-Aids. 

So, finally, I bit the bullet instead of my nails … and I got gel nails. Not long luxurious nails, but short, clean, neat nails with a pale pink polish on them. And you know what? They have changed fundamentally who I am. These nails have transformed me! With their magic qualities, they have shifted my DNA totally and I am now “nail woman”, a gal with confidence who brazenly points out various and sundry things with my manicured finger. Gone are the days of pointing to a menu item with my knuckles. I am constantly gazing at them proudly, all neat and polished, devoid of ripped, bloody skin! My hands and I have a whole new relationship. We are sympatico. We understand each other. We belong to each other. Up until my gel nails, I think my hands thought they were Frankensteined onto me, someone else’s freak of nature, not mine. But not now, uh uh. They are proud to belong to me and I to them. So I just have one question. What the hell do I do about the inside of my mouth that is newly ripped to rat poo? Gel lips anyone? 

Barbara: I have nail/hangnail issues too. Not like Deb, with the antiseptic creams and cast-like casings wrapped around bleeding stubs. But, like Deb, when my nails look nice, I feel like, well, maybe not a million bucks, but certainly a solid 99. A little sassy, a bit more confident, a little prettier. And if I do polish my nails, I definitely pick at my hangnails a lot less. So, again like Deb, a little effort makes a lot of difference. 

But here’s the rub: I am way too cheap for gel nails––not only do you have the initial expense, but they have to be kept up every couple of weeks. On the other hand (couldn’t resist), I am too frustrated with “old-fashioned” nail polish––you apply it, it looks great, then two days later the edges are chipping, the finish is fading, and now you just look like you either don’t give a shit, or like there’s some strange fungal disease eating away at your nail beds. Oh, and the interminable hour of waiting for the application (or applying it yourself) and then the drying, where even turning the pages of a trash magazine becomes major surgery. I love me a good spa treatment, but manicures are just torture for me. Take my hands away, take my mind with them! 

Makes me wistful for the days when I sucked my thumb for stress relief … Was that so bad, I ask you? It didn’t destroy my nails, fingers, or skin. It didn’t beg infection to winnow its way into bleeding cracks. And I never did it in front of people! Why did my parents insist on stopping me?! 

Anyway, I will say this: Deb’s nails look GORGEOUS! And I am cheap and jealous, jealous, JEALOUS.


  1. The gel nails look beautiful, and I'd love to try them ... But ... I'm someone who keeps her nails short and trim, and a lot of it has to do with time. I just don't have the time to give to maintaining my nails, so I keep them simple and go on my merry way :)

  2. I do the same thing. I have no nails what so every. I have even tried the fake nails and because my orginal nails are so short my fake nails fall off. I tend to bite my nails when I am board or the bigest when I am nervouse. That's how my boyfriend can tell when I have something really nervouse comeing up because I bite my nails. I have tried everything, I have even tried setting on my hands to keep me from biting them but it dosn't seem to work. When I am with my boyfriend he holds my hands so I will not bite them. The sad thing is he does it too,BUT I think that is my fault,I think he might have learned it from me.

  3. I have Deb's nails, kind of soft so they tear at the corners. Wearing nail polish helps; I don't know why. I'm not a biter since I was 15, but the weight of the nail polish seems to make me more aware of the nails so I'm more careful, or harden them enough so that they get a chance to grow out. And then I love looking at my short stubby fingers, as they appear longer and even a little bit dainty and elegant when the nails are long. But nail polish seems to come off every time I do the dishes. And now, since I'm in the garden, they don't seem to come clean, ever! It's horrible going out in public with them, but I'm getting to the point where I hardly care (what is happening to me? is this normal? an age thing?) So I have given up, till fall, when I'll make another attempt at goodlooking hands. Have thought of gel nails, but have a question: what happens to your own nails, underneath? Do they get enough air? Do they remain healthy?

  4. Oh man--Deb, I inherited your bad nails too--but also Barbara's cheapness, plus my own iteration on the mix... I am fundamentally low maintenance and just can't be bothered. Oh, I AGREE that pretty hands make a huge difference--I have really long fingers and can look quite elegant from the wrist down if I DO take the time, but I can't make myself!

    I see hope though. My hubby is going through nursing training... I am hoping I can get him to practice his grooming of others on ME! (do you think it will work?)

  5. Yeah, gardening is a killer for the look of nails. Still haven't resolved that one. And, Tart, if your hubby does step up, give us a shout, maybe he wants to coach the other hubbies??? Actually, what am I even saying? My dear guy has given me many a manicure over the years -- he used to make model cars and airplanes and I think he relates to the teeny-tiny brushstrokes. It's me! Can't be bothered!!

    As for My K's question about the gels -- Deb is in on set every day this week and may take a while to weigh in. I, of course, have no answer...

  6. I did the fake ones for a while, too much trouble, couldn't stand sitting still every few weeks getting redone. Bought a 7 sided buffer thingy at wally world and rubbed down the ridges, started buffing regularly and put some conditioning oil on. No polish. The buffing helps to strengthen. Not near the work, and halfway decent looking nails.

  7. Is it just me or do more women seem to bite there nails then men? I don't know why but that is what it seems like to me. Like I said,for me it's more of a nervouse habit, so if anybody has any suggestions on how to stop this nasty habit please let me know. I would love long beautiful nails.

  8. Ack! I've bitten my nails since I was a toddler. On the rare occasion that I leave off biting them for enough days that they get some length on them, I can't stand having any length to my nails! So, I end up butchering them with the clippers down to a length comparable to when bitten. I drives me crazy to have nails --- they get in the way of me using my fingertips.

    I like the look of nail polish, but I don't like how it feels. I'm far too conscious of it when I wear it. This may sound weird, but I can feel when I'm wearing polish. Someone above mentioned the weight of it, I guess that's it. But, it's very irritating and distracting to me. All the colorful, pretty polish bottles at the store sing to me, but I know their chorus will become a gratingly off key cacophony if I obey their siren song and paint my nails. I don't even want to THINK about what Deb's lovely gel nails would feel like if I wore them.

    Even if I weren't a nail biter, I'd pretty much always have ugly hands. I'm just too practical and rough on them. I USE my hands, and I usually have an assortment of scratches and calluses.

    I've had one manicure in my life, and it was a sweet gift 14 years and few months ago. My then-fiance (now ex-husband) was at sea, I was stressing over a job change, and I got the call that my Granddaddy had died. My neighbor and her sister-in-law (good friends) came over wondering why they hadn't heard from me that afternoon and found me laying in the living room floor crying after hanging up the phone. They got me up, took me to the mall, treated me to a manicure (including this really luxurious thing where I dipped my hands in hot wax), and got me a soda. Sweet ladies. The polish was chipped and ugly after 2 days, though. LOL Oh, and the next morning, I awoke to pounding on my front door. That neighbor's hot water tank had sprung a huge leak in the night and flooded the downstairs of their townhouse and mind. MASSIVE mess. So, it's weird the associations that are summoned up in my mind whenever I notice a manicure parlor. LOL

    Anyone else have trouble with their hands drying out and cracking when it's cold, icy, and snowy in the wintertime? I go through vat loads of lotion each winter and still can't defeat having cracked, whitened skin on my hands. Sometimes, they even bleed. *shudder*

  9. Can I offer a suggestion to those who don't like the time or fuss of nail polish? Insta-dry nail polish. I just discovered it and it has changed my life! Okay, maybe not my life, but definitely my hands.It honestly dries in 90 seconds and if you clear top coat it, it will last for a week. Probably not as nice as gel nails but perfect for the time crunched cheapo. Oh yes, it works just as well as a cuticle biting remedy.

  10. Boy, seems like everyone deals with the nail issues. I have tried pretty much every method mentioned and unmentioned and as I said, I finally went for it. Here's the way I look at it for the self professed cheapies out there; you only need to get it done every two weeks so if you break it down it amounts to $15.00 a week. Think how easily you blow 15 bucks on stuff you can't remember. And for me, sitting there getting it done is sweet because it forces me to just relax without multitasking. Working for me! My hands and I are BFF's now.

  11. I've never heard of Insta-dry polish. Is it readily available? That sounds like my kinda thing.

    As for dry, cracking hands, I shouldn't market stuff, but I do swear by Glysomed cream. Nothing fancy. But the only cream that completely fixed cracking skin for me, hands and feet (and I've tried hundreds!). I put it on twice a day, morning and night. Baby's bottom.

  12. argh, typed a whole comment and forgot the damned captcha that, on this blog, hides under the bottom line of my screen, grrr.

    now Im annoyed (at me not you) and wont tell you what i wrote except to say it involved irridescent purple, sparkly pomegranate red, and zoot suit blue. And my nails. And regressing. And being a girly girl. Put those together as you will. <3

  13. Gae! So sorry! Wish we could find a solution to this captcha bug!

    Anyway, I will add that I have seen fb pics of those fab nails of yours! LOVE it. Like dying your hair crazy colours, daring nail polish is a great way to express your rebellious side.

  14. FYI - my wise psychic spiritual guru once told me that we bite our nails when someone near to us is always criticizing us about small details. Thought that was interesting.

  15. Very pretty nails :) My problem is trying to floss my teeth half an hour or so after redoing my nails in the morning. Ugh! Somehow I always manage to take the polish right off my index fingers.


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