Life After Fake Nails: Oh Shit.

Man, fake nails are fun, right?

You can walk into a salon with a mess of tattered, uneven nubs and emerge with gleaming, cuticle-free talons in any shape you can imagine (it’s basically witchcraft). You get to pretend like you take care of yourself well enough to grow long, strong nails without even biting them. You can open soda cans with your index finger. You can threaten strangers. Nice nails say something. They telegraph I’ve got my shit together without your actually having to say that, which would be weird and probably unconvincing.

Sadly, everything in this world that seems too good to be true definitely is, and fake nails are no exception. They require constant upkeep, can get pretty gross if you aren’t diligent, and when you finally decide to remove them because they’re a massive, expensive pain in the ass? Your real nails are a fucking nightmare. Even gel nails wreak their lesser brand of havoc, trust.

If you’re anything like me, you’re both too lazy and too cheap to go into a salon to remove them. Plus, I mean, it’s fun to peel those things off!

I’d probably DIY my own surgery if I could.

"What? I washed my hands."

“What? I washed my hands.”

Don’t just not make questionable decisions in the first place . . . buy products to solve it for you!

Which brings me to my point (finally): Perfect Formula Nail Essentials are a goddamn lifesaver. Well, okay, nail-saver. And hey, with a name like Perfect Formula, they’d better be.

The Pink Gel and Regular are for sale in a mini duo at Sephora for $20, and you need them. Nothing strengthens my nails and gets them back into fighting shape like this stuff (and I do mean fighting—nails are nature’s tools, after all). I generally use the Pink Gel version because a) it’s cuter and b) it contains some sort of magical “optical brightener” that corrects yellow discoloration and makes nails appear whiter and less disgusting.

Power at your fingertips

Power at your fingertips

Both formulas are fortified with keratin, the naturally-occurring protein you’ve stripped from those pure virgin nails in your foolish quest of vanity and hubris. One coat for the first two days, then add a second coat. Remove and repeat the whole thing two days after that until you’re not a peely-nailed garbage person.

I love having products that fix bad decisions. It’s so much easier to beg forgiveness than to ask for permission, know what I mean?

You know what I mean.

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Nailed It

I’m hard on my nails. I’ve never really been a biter, it’s more that I treat them like my own personal pair of tweezers. My nails are tools; they help me get into packages, grasp errant hairs, scratch my cat.* A fresh manicure won’t curb this behavior, either. It will only serve to make me feel stupid after the fact, when I’m left with chipped nails and a weeping wallet (my wallet is in an almost permanent state of depression).

So when I got this hot tip from my friend Angela, I knew I had to share with you guys. There are STEPS!

  1. Buff your nails.
  2. Apply Essie All in One Base Coat ($9)
  3. Apply your color (Angela suggests an Essie color, though I used a couple others and they’re holding up great. LOVE my Laura Mercier in Cocoa Suede, $18)
  4. (The most important step) Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat ($8).

I wasn’t able to find Seche Vite on Target’s website, but I did buy it in the store. According to Angela, this has only recently been available outside of nail salons. This stuff is amazeballs, guys. It goes on a bit thick, but penetrates through to the other layers to sort of grip the whole shebang and form one big hard layer on your nail plate. Result? Even my recklessness hasn’t managed to chip my manicure. I’m four days in on this one, and not a chip, which for me is a damn miracle. It has a nice glossy finish as well as UV protection.

If you do find yourself with a chip in your polish, my favorite touch-up tip is this: Dip a Q-tip in remover, then buff it into just the area around the chip. Then go over with another coat of polish. This “levels the playing field”, as it were, so there’s no shelf-like dip around the chip (can you tell I’m not used to writing/talking about nail polish?). Then go over with your magic top coat.

Lastly, ever tried acrylic nails? Gel nails? Wraps? If so, you’ll know that they’re strong as hell and look beautiful, but when you finally do take them off they’ve left your poor natural nails weak and brittle. Nothing in this life is perfect, right?

While I was attempting to grow my weak little nails out of this barbaric process, I discovered Perfect Formula Pink Gel Coat ($30). It’s a bit pricey, but one bottle lasted me a year, and it sure beat the $40+ price tag of a fill. This stuff is also a miracle. One coat to start, then another coat on top of that two days later. Two days after that, you remove the whole thing and start over. It’s slightly blue-tinted to counteract any yellowness.  It dries superfast, looks beautiful, and makes your nails hard as … uh, well, you know.*

*Not a euphemism, guys.

*This one either.