Okay, more accurately and a little less gushingly: I’m about 95% sold. There are a few drawbacks, but they’re pretty minor, and the advantages outweigh the drawbacks… in much the same way that the Brooklyn Bridge outweighs a potato chip.
I’m talking about shellacs, the new long-lasting manicure technique.
I got my first shellac job — I know, it sounds really filthy, like it’s slang for some obscurely perverse sexual act — about 3-4 weeks ago. I got my second one a few days ago… because that’s the time when it was just starting to chip. I am not kidding.
I’m not gentle with my hands, either. During those weeks, I was washing dishes, digging through my purse, scraping off stickers, picking at jewelry clasps, typing and typing and typing and typing and typing. The manicure survived. It did more than survive — it flourished. It looked every bit as awesome two weeks after I got it done as it did when I walked out of the salon. It was visibly growing out at the base long before it started to chip at the tips. When they say it’s long-lasting, they are not fucking kidding.
Which, for me, is a huge, HUGE plus. Time is the demon dog constantly yapping at my heels: I have
six ten twelve hours of work to do for every hour of time that I have, my email inbox is a Lovecraftian hellscape that makes me weep blood every time I open it, and I barely have time to eat and sleep and watch Project Runway. If I can hit the nail salon every few weeks instead of every few days, that’s an extra few hours that I can spend dismantling misogyny or demolishing religion. (And no, not getting my nails done at all is not an option. That’s crazy talk.)
And I love, love, LOVE the fact that you don’t have to wait for your nails to dry. Once a shellac job is done, it’s done. You don’t have to spend any time at all trying to get on with your life without using your hands… and you don’t have to be on that annoying, constantly vigilant “Are my nails dry yet?” watch. You can write, eat, dig through your purse, give a handjob, whatever… the second you leave the salon.
And, of course, very importantly: It looks awesome. The color is rich, and deep, and super-shiny. And the fact that it lasts for days, indeed weeks, means the awesomeness lasts and lasts and lasts. Having a perfect manicure without ever having to worry about it; never having to go out for a special evening with an annoying chip that probably nobody else notices but that’s making me fixate on it like I have obsessive- compulsive disorder… that’s a pretty gosh-darned exciting prospect.
So what are the drawbacks?
They’re mostly pretty minor. And in many cases, when you look at them more closely, they’re not actually drawbacks at all.
Drawback #1: There aren’t as many color choices. This is the big one. There are approximately eleventy-seven majillion color choices with regular nail polish; there are only a few choices with shellacs. So if you go into the salon for a shellac job thinking, “I’m looking for something in the lavender family, but with a slightly silver-blue tint, and it should be opalescent but not glittery”… chances are you’re going to be disappointed.
But I strongly suspect that this is going to change. And soon. Shellacs are getting more popular — for obvious reasons — and as they get more popular, manufacturers are going to make more colors. And I suspect this will create a snowball effect: the more available colors there are, the more popular shellacs will become… and the more popular they become, the more colors will start getting made…
Drawback #2: It’s more expensive. Except it’s not really. At my salon, a regular manicure costs $10, while a shellac job costs $25. But since the shellac lasts so much longer, it’s actually more cost-effective. I would have had to get three manicures, maybe four, in the time I spent not having my shellac job re-done.
Now, if you’re the kind of girl/ boy/ whatever who changes their manicure every few days to match your outfit and your mood, this equation won’t pan out. But if you’re like me, and you’re happy to get your nails done and then forget about it for a couple/few weeks, shellacs will actually be cheaper.
Drawback #3: It takes a little longer to do. Admittedly, I wasn’t in the salon with a stopwatch, so I don’t know exactly how much longer… but the process is a little more involved than a regular manicure, and a little more time-consuming. Not a lot more, but a little.
On the other hand, this is seriously counterbalanced by the fact that — as noted above — once a shellac is done, it’s done. The time from walking into the salon and walking out is a little longer… but the time from walking into the salon and being free to do whatever the fuck you want with your hands is much, much shorter. And this drawback is also counterbalanced by the fact that — again, as noted above — you don’t have to get them done nearly as often.
Drawback #4: You pretty much have to get a shellac job done at a salon. There’s special equipment and stuff — among other things, the polish has to be dried under a UV light. So if you’re a do-it-yourself-er when it comes to nails, then unless you want to invest in the equipment, you’re not going to be able to do it at home.
This is a non-issue for me, since I never do my own nails, since I suck at it. The pros do a much better job for very little money, and while I am generally speaking a cheapskate, manicures are a problem I’m perfectly happy to throw money at. But your mileage may vary. (I do know one person who bought the special shellac equipment so she could do it herself, and that would pay for itself in not too much time.)
Drawback #5: The removal process is a little intense. You have to soak your nails in undiluted polish remover for a full five minutes, and then they have to literally scrape the stuff off. (I’ve heard that you’re not supposed to get a shellac if your nails are weak.) So your nails are a little fucked-up afterwards: not disastrous, but a little chalky and less than ideal. So it’s not something you want to do unless you either (a) don’t care if your nails are a little fucked up and chalky, or (b) are willing to keep getting them done. Once you get a shellac job, you’re kind of committed.
But that’s totally fine with me. I am already committed. I am in love. Shellacs have ridden in on a white horse and swept me off my feet, and we’re going to live happily ever after. I never want another kind of manicure again.
P.S. If “shellac job” were a slang term for an obscurely perverse sexual act… what would it be?