Manicures are nothing new. In fact, the manicure we know today, originated over 5,000 years ago from places like India where women used henna to add color to their nails. And while we use those “classic” emery boards plain metal nail files to shape our nails now, the people of Southern Babylonia used tools made of gold to manicure 4,000 years ago. And you know when your manicurists asks if you would prefer your length short, medium, or long? Well the elite in China 3,000 years ago preferred extra-long particularly the Dowager Empress of China because the length of a person’s nails used to show a person’s social status. So while painting smiley faces like Rihanna, showing support for your favorite basketball team like Khloe Kardashian, dipping into gold like Beyonce, crossing the Atlantic with Solange, or getting quirky with Katy Perry are contemporary in terms of design, the act itself is noting new.Christina Aguilera, Taylor Swift, Victoria Beckham, and Jessica Biel show off their nails with a standout classic color of red. Red is a color choice that has endured time. The Ming dynasty favored shades of red and black which were reserved for the elite. While Egyptian Queen Cleopatra is said to have painted her nails a deep red hue, Queen Nefertiti preferred her red a ruby shade. In the history of the United States during World War II, there is a sentiment of cosmetics and patriotism having a strong relationship with women across the country wearing vibrant shades of red nail polishes and lipsticks to show moral support of their servicemen.
Whether you were born in this decade or another nails have always been one way of expressing individuality and character. From elegant french tips, leopard print, chrome, 3D Art, to the au naturale buff & shine with clear coat. But one thing that has changed is time; with the busier we are sometimes we don’t have time to get into the chair of a professional manicurist and have to resort to a do-it-yourself approach to primping and pampering your nails. And while there are many products and tips that can be shared about doing your own nails, I just want to take the time to discuss one topic that is important to me; drying time. Sometimes we have a a few minutes to apply a couple of coats of polish before we head out the door but we hesitate because we have to factor in the likelihood of nicking, smudging, and still having what’s left of our handy-work still be wet by the time we get to where we need to go. When I need to expedite my drying time I use Seche Vite™ dry fast top coat ($8) which is my favorite top-coat because I can literally apply it and in about a couple of minutes I can gently touch my nails leaving me free to go without worrying about minor incidents that might happen while hopping into the car and getting on my way. However, if you apply your favorite color very thick or need to layer colors, you should note that those layers will need the drying time but Seche Vite™ dry fast top coat will act as a protective barrier leaving high shine. A cheaper and more accessible alternative is Sally Hansen’s MegaShine ($5) however it seems to be a little more runny and takes a little more time to fully dry. When I’m applying multiple coats I always have a can of hairspray which cuts drying time so I can get to the next coat quicker making applying a base color and glitter finish a little less messy for an impatient person. The only drawback is, the alcohol in hairspray (and actual products made for fast nail drying that I’ve tried) can cut out the shine factor so a top coat is a must unless you’re going for a semi-matte look. As far as nail looks go, red may be classic, 3-D may be daring, but sheer and naturale has always conveyed a sense of elegance and honesty. For Kate Middleton‘s big wedding day, the beautiful brunette, even though probably flattered, passed over Katy Perry’s tribute manicure. Middleton’s manicurist Marina Sandoval from the Jo Hansford salon revealed ”Catherine wanted something very natural and I felt these matched her skin colour beautifully. She wanted something off-white and bridal, so these were absolutely perfect.” Sandoval combined Bourjois So Laque Ultra Shine Nail Enamel in Rose Lounge, a very sheer pink and Essie Allure ($8,essie.com), a sheer beige tone. The natural nail look for her big day seems to show a preference Middleton has when she revealed her engagement ring to the public. Sidenote: Did you know Mariah Carey completed 500 hours of beauty school and even worked as a hair sweeper in a salon; Carey has said “Honestly, if I’m not working with someone who’s a really great makeup artist, or someone who really knows how to do hair, I’ll be like, ‘No, you can’t do it this way because hair grows from the roots, not the ends, and cutting it isn’t going to work…’ and quoting all this theory I learned in beauty school. They’ll say, ‘How do you know that?’ And I’ll be like, ‘I have 500 hours of beauty school!’”
So whether you prefer french tips or something a little more daring, the options are endless in deciding on which polish is going to match your mood or elevate your do. And while you might be more apt for something a bit more festive, just always know while the manicuring has evolved through time; expression of self through your nails is and will always be in style.