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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The truth about fake fingernails: a confession

Confession time: I am a finger-picker. For pretty much my entire life, I have picked at the skin around my nails whenever I get bored, stressed, or concentrate too much. Sometimes, I would pick the skin to the point that it bled, and my fingernails grew in all warped because I would mess with them down at the bottom where they're still soft.

It was gross.

Then it was time to get married, and I picked my fingers so badly on the way to a dress fitting that two of them were bleeding. I realized this had to stop -- getting blood on my white dress wasn't going to be very awesome, and I'd have to somehow hide my hands in every wedding picture. Not good.

It was time to take drastic action. And that drastic action was to go to the drug store and buy a package of glue-on artificial nails. I sat down and glued those bitches on, then painted them because they were super ugly, and went on with my life. And f**k if my fingers weren't completely healed in a few days.

26 years of finger-picking, cured in under a week. Now it's 9 months later, and I still sit down once a week to take off the old and glue on the new nails. Any time I stop wearing them, even for a few hours, I'll catch myself picking at my fingers again. So it looks like me and the acrylics are bound for life.

So, as I face down my life sentence, here is the straight dope on what it's like to wear acrylic nails all the time. Hint: THEY ARE THE SATAN. I HATE THEM. But I hate them less than having mangle-fingers, so I guess it's worth it ... ??


My nails do not qualify me for employment at the DMV, because I buy the short ones. They are pretty much the exact same length as normal human fingernails, to the point where people are sometimes shocked when I tell them the nails are fake. If I do not sufficiently clip my real nails before I put them on, you can see my nails poking out from behind them. They look normal.

Now THIS is a set of DMV-worthy nails!

But here's the thing: they come in packages with a bunch of different sizes, and if you want to get full use out of each box, you're going to have to compromise a little. For each finger, there is one size that fits perfectly and one size that is too big and will annoy the sh*t out of you. Inevitably, a couple of fingers are stuck with the too-big size.

The fingers with the too-big nails on them will click against the keyboard as you type.

If they are on your thumbs, they will make it much more difficult to text.

If you enjoy playing guitar (like me), they will make you look like a talentless hack who cares more about their appearance than their ability to function properly in the world.

This is embarrassing.

Also, they will make you want to chop off your fingers entirely.

You will have hideous bruises on your actual fingernails

I don't know how this happens. Perhaps I press too hard when I glue the new nails on, or perhaps I'm too rough when I take the old ones off, but the result is nasty green bruises on my real nails. Whenever I take the fake ones off, I am greeted with a horrible kaleidoscope of color that absolutely should not be there. If I ever decided to stop with the fake nails, I would have to paint my nails a dark color for like six months until the bruises grew out. It's that bad. It looks like I slammed every finger in a door one by one.

They're beautiful, I know.

"Breaking a nail" is actually excruciating

You attach these suckers to your real nails with what is essentially Gorilla Glue. They're on there pretty damn tight. By the end of the week, the glue will start to weaken and you run a chance of one popping off when you try to open a soda can with it, but for the most part, they stay on.

So ... you know that old female complaint of "oh man, I broke a nail!" like it's nothing?

SHIT BE DIFFERENT NOW. The glue is super strong, yo. So here we have a piece of plastic stuff that is super-glued to your real fingernail. In order for it to break, it has to catch on something and be yanked so hard that it actually RIPS THE ACRYLIC. WHICH IS SUPER-GLUED TO YOUR FINGERNAIL. AND IT IS STRONGER AND THICKER THAN REGULAR NAILS.

We're talking about a force nearly strong enough to rip off your nail, which, as you may recall, is TORTURE STANDARD FARE. It f**king hurts. I managed to catch the thumb nail on something the other day and ripped it, which led to me rolling around on the floor screaming.

Okay, so it didn't actually bleed or anything, but STILL. A little sympathy, if you wouldn't mind.

The rounded ends will thwart you at every turn

The reason acrylic nails keep me from picking at my fingers is because the ends are rounded. They have no good sharp point to dig into anything. This is good when you want your poor cuticles to heal; however, if you have one of those pesky itches on your back, or your leg, or ANYWHERE AT ALL, you can forget satisfyingly scratching it. The nails make this impossible.

You will want to invest in a mmmmmmbuttttttt-scratchaaaaa!

For the same reason, they also take all the fun out of picking your nose, if you were wondering. Not that I would know, of course.

After a week, they're prone to popping off

There is nothing more embarrassing than losing a nail somewhere and hoping it doesn't turn up in the stuffing at Thanksgiving. As I said, the glue is strong, but after a week it degrades to the point where the nails may pop off without too much trouble (don't worry -- you can feel them come off, so it'd be pretty hard to lose one without noticing).

I keep nail glue in my purse at all times, and it's a good thing, because I've had to surreptitiously glue a nail back on at work, on the train, in a restaurant, in the car, in the bathroom, on a boat, in a house, with a goat, and with a mouse.

It was a giant, radioactive mouse.


But don't they look fabulous? My fingers, I mean. Which are not bloody. The nails are okay too, I guess.

But come on; why couldn't I just have a regular addiction, like heroin or something? I bet heroin addicts can pick their noses just fine, even without a buttscratcher.



  1. You hit all the points on WHY I don't wear fake nails or get a mani every other week. "Ain't noboday got time fo' that". However, your nails look lovely and I'm glad it's helping you with you addiction ....Pip, Pip! Cheerio.

    1. Yeah, it takes me about 45 minutes to completely change out for a new set of nails at home. I really wish I could just eventually break the habit completely so I didn't need to wear them anymore, but alas, such does not appear to be my fate! I bet it's going to be one of those things that supremely sucks when I have little kids climbing all over me. Might just have to take up heroin.

  2. Are you sure that you aren't getting a fungus under the nail instead of it being a bruise? If the glue isn't covering the nail bed or if you get any moisture under the fake nail you can easily get a chance of a fungus on your nail beds. It's happened to me.

    1. I wondered the same thing, but I'm quite sure they were just bruises. They grew out slowly and changed colors the way bruises do, never got worse or spread, and ever since I've gotten more careful about how I put the nails on, I've been bruise-free!

  3. Try putting rubbing alcohol on your natural nail and letting it dry before reapplying the new set. I have worn salon acrylic nails for 10 years straight, ripped them off as violently as you can imagine, and never had a "green bruise". Green means fungus and will not come off as it is embedded in your nail. But the alcohol will kill it and stop its progression.