I did something so different today. I took off my nail polish. Yup. See, the radical part about it is that I’ve had manicured nails for nearly 14 years. I honestly cannot remember not wearing a polish. Once you commit to getting your nails done, and it is a commitment, it’s hard to stop. Maybe that’s why it was time.
Ya see it all began when I was working in television production and constantly on the go with piles of scripts in my hands. I used to do my nails myself, but because I was so active with my hands, they would always chip or break within a day or so and I’d have ugly chipped nail hands –very unprofessional looking and so frustrating.
Years ago, a friend introduced me to a new concept: Acrylic wraps! The manicurist brushes an Acrylic coating over your nails, buffs them and paints them. Because there is now a thick hard layer on top of your nails, they won’t break and because the nail edge is so much thicker, the polish won’t chip! Amazing! This service allows you to go two; sometimes even three, weeks between nail appointments. And there’s no removal involved, only “filling in” what’s grown out. Now that was worth the time and money!
However, as I began educating myself on health and nutrition, I learned that Acrylic coating wasn’t great for your nails. The chemicals that enabled the sturdiness and beauty of these manicures included things like formaldehyde, toluene and methyl methacrylate (MMA) which are toxic to our kidneys, liver, hormones and known to cause birth defects especially in unborn developing boys. Sooo, I switched to gel fills, as opposed to acrylic, and enjoyed that for a few years.
Gel fills are supposedly “less toxic” to your nails. Okay, I bought it. Until a manicurist I was seeing in Santa Monica, CA accidentally stabbed my nail bed while using an electric file and it got infected. In fact, for the past four years, I’ve had what I call a “boo boo” nail. My nail has been every color from green (indicating fungus) to white (indicating it was no longer attached to the skin!) and most recently more pink, as a healthy nail bed should be. I proceeded to try every nail boo boo fixer on the market from white vinegar to green tea to emu oil with no avail. It’s been a long journey and eventually I switched salons, to a gel polish and to a manicurist who has been helping my nail to heal and grow back to its healthy self without a hassle.
Gel polish is supposed to be even less toxic to your nails. In fact, brands like O-P-I and Essie have gel polish that are categorized as “3 Free,” meaning they are free of the most toxic of nail polish ingredients: formaldehyde, toluene and the plasticizer dibutyl phthalate (which is actually banned for use in cosmetics in the entire European Union, but not in the United States.) It brushes on just like regular nail polish and looks like regular nail polish, meaning that there’s no thick layer on top that gives the appearance of tips or “fake nails.” Another bonus to using OPI gel polish in particular, the color is set using LED light, so there is no concern for UV light overexposure. I really dug my gel polish manicured nails. There’s no drying time so I can get out my wallet without ruining my nails or staining my bag. I inevitably always have to go to the bathroom after getting my nails done, so with gel polish there’s no problem there either. But I digress.
Although I have great affection for my current manicurist, always receive compliments on my nails, just love the 2 weeks of hassle free beauty hands, and O-P-I does have this greener, safer line… this break from polish is probably warranted. Not having a bi-weekly 60-90 minute nail appointment also saves me time and money. Heck, my healthy nails sans polish still look great (even though I soaked off the color myself which took too long, smelled terrible and was not very thorough as I see lilac remnants.)
As a lifelong learner, I’m curious to notice if there are any changes in my skin, the health of my nails, and even my hormonal balance. This is an experiment of both natural beauty (hehe) and non-toxic living. And if I just can’t stand the nakedness and lack of color expression on my nails, there’s always BYOP (bring your own polish) with water-based brands such as Scotch, Keeki, or Acquarella. There’s just something special about the look and feel of nails professionally manicured. And that hand massage is nice too. It takes a while to get rid-off habits.