Monday, 29 December 2014

Let's Talk About... Nail Polish

Once upon a time, there was a young girl. To be more specific, an eleven year old preteen ('little girl' or 'kid' would seriously drive her around the bend, putting her erratic hormones into action) who discovered a beautiful thing one day. Despite her hatred of scientific experiments, this girl nonetheless adored experimenting with her clothes, make up (which her mother used to apply onto her face - therefore avoiding a cakey application of Bare Minerals foundation) - and nail polish. 

Whenever her nails were painted, this girl was reliving The Wizard of Oz on constant repeat: within a layer of foul-smelling paint, her world had been transformed into one of tantalising technicolour! She would forever gaze happily at her gleaming fingernails, painted in all colours of the rainbow: ruby reds, pale pinks, princely purples. And, thanks to her mother's many years of experience in the paint application sector (and numerous sets by OPI), her nails were on a par with those you'd gush at on the catwalks - despite her tender years, she was very conscious of the fashion scene, and dreamt of becoming part of it. 

Nearly half a decade has passed since the girl made a life-changing discovery whilst wandering around Superdrug on a late spring morning, yet that magic has never been lost on her: in fact, it is more alive than ever. 

Seriously, once bitten by the nail polish bug, how can you ever return to a life before it was introduced to you? I certainly haven't and have no desire to do so anytime soon!

So, having now slipped out of storyteller mode, I am the girl who used to spend her weekly pocket money (which was at a much lower rate when I was eleven that it is nowadays) on bottles of nail polish from the supermarket, dazzled by the amazing colours swimming in an elegant bottle. With a budget that rarely went beyond the realms of New Look, I craved to have a piece of glamour portrayed in the fashion magazines that I used to read - if £2,000 coats were out of question, why deny myself a splash of high class nail colour? Like a bar of Lindt chocolate, I treated nail polish as a treat: a dose of indulgence that satisfied my need for style. 

As age has taught me, we are easily influenced by trends when we are younger and, instead of falling in love with the members of a then-popular boy band, I directed my addictive passion towards nail polish which, to this day, I still believe gave me more happiness than a mop-haired singer (if he even can) could ever offer. Personally, I think that it was a healthy interest because it promoted the ethos to take care of my nails which, as a nail-biting youngster (yes, even I wasn't immune from such a dirty and disgusting habit - I will never understand my seven year old self), I failed to do. Wearing nail polish instilled a sense of responsibility to look after not only my nails, but also my whole body. And, if I feel million times better for doing so, then I'm glad that I developed a fetish for painting my nails!

All in all, nail polish is great in many ways, including my pride in being a girl: it instantly makes me feel more feminine and confident in myself, although I doubt that everyone walking past me on a busy street will be staring at my fingers! I'm passionate in my belief that there is a positive about nail polish for everyone (even boys don't have to be left out on the phenomenon, though I think that girls wear pink better!), as long as you follow some guidance beforehand. My rules get straight to the point, believe me...

How to Have Happy Nails

1. Pay a bit more for a decent nail polish

Regrettably, I wasted a lot of hard-earned pocket money on nail polish when I started wearing it years ago which, despite time passing, is a wound that I'm still struggling to heal (losing money is one of my definite pet hates in life). The reason why? The nail polishes that I used to buy were cheap - and certainly lived up to their miniscule value. Within hours, my manicure would transform into a chipped mess, making me wish that I'd never bothered to paint my nails at all. And the result? I would end up throwing the bottle of nail polish - sometimes up to the value of £5 - in the bin. Not exactly a great way of spending money, I should let you know. 

After finally listening to my mother - who has been a life-long fan of OPI, perhaps the world's most well-known and best-loved nail polish brands - I've since upgraded to better known brands who have good reputations. Definitely not the types to be marred with the title of 'cheap and nasty'! Aside from OPI (whose red-coloured shades look juicier than an apple), my favourite nail polish brands are the London-based Nails Inc, Rimmel Pro Lycra (who produce nude shades that are perfect for wearing at school) and L'Oreal, whose Beige Countess shade I'm currently wearing. 

Stick with the pros - you won't regret it!

2. Buff and shine

One of the most joyous things of flaunting a fabulous colour on your nails is the shine that gleams if caught in the sunshine, which is created via buffing before applying a coat. Buffer blocks cost very little, yet perform an important job which makes your nails look their very best - and prevents them from lacking a special shine.

3. Let each coat dry

I tend to find that lighter shades (or the 'see-through' ones) usually require a second coat, so it is essential that you allow your first coat to dry for a while before applying another one. Although this means that you can't really come into too much contact with anything (unless you've mastered the skill of typing on a keyboard with your elbows, which hurts!), it is worth it because the paint on your nails will have selected and have therefore created a flat surface that is patiently awaiting its second coating. Using your elbows as replacement fingers does not last forever, I can assure you!

4. Choose an appropriate shade

Unfortunately for some workers and the majority of schoolgirls, nail polish can be viewed as a 'no-no' which, as much as I'm against the rule, I have no choice other than to except. So, what is a red-fingered teenager to do? Luckily, the nail polish industry doesn't just revolve around eccentric prints, glitter and sheer black shades: nudes rule supreme!

Long before I established myself as a nail polish addict, my actual first nail polish was a pearly pink nude by Rimmel Pro Lycra that was bought for me when I was seven years old: when applied, I could hardly tell that I was wearing it (even the pretty shine didn't give the truth away), and would wear it for weeks on end. Somehow, I lost the bottle a while ago, so bought a shade identical to it (called White Orchid) earlier today from the same brand. I almost cried with happiness when I saw it - gone are my days of going nude (literally, though only on my nails) at school!

Earlier, I mentioned a shade called Beige Countess by L'Oreal, a light taupey colour that, if worn with one coat, could very possibly be gotten away with at school. I'm wearing it with a second coat, but it doesn't look very noticeable from a distance, so I believe. Still, I'm short-sighted and often forget that some people see better than me - I just hope that my teachers are looking at things more important than my nails!

5. Remove it well

When it comes to waving farewell with what I hope is a long-lasting manicure, make sure that you use a decent nail polish remover. My personal favourite is one made by Sally Hansen (who also sell an awesome range of nail polishes) which, along with removing the polish efficiently, moisturises your nails instead of drying them out. Ugh, a dried out nail is not a sight that you'd ever want to see - especially if they are your own!

Simply use several cotton wool pads (the Lacura ones sold in Aldi are brilliant for eye make-up, let alone nail polish removal) and soak a bit of the remover before scrubbing around the nails. Wash your hands in warm soapy water before patting dry. Personally, I don't recommend applying nail polish for around a day in order for the nail to settle; mine always look pretty pale when the paint is taken off, so I prefer to leave it a while before doing anything with them.

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