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Rebecca Santiago | Is So Vain

Hard as nails

Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 15:02

I’ve been trying to start this column for a while now, but every time I try to type, I find myself gazing at my keyboard in quizzical fascination instead. Interesting things are happening on my nails right now — things such as microbeads and polishes and postmodern nightmares — and it’s just not conducive to writing, man.

So, today I’m going to talk about my complicated feelings toward nail art, which not even my therapist wants to hear, but too bad, kiddos! Anyway, aren’t you just the teensiest bit curious as to why I have microbeads on my nails?

Technically, I don’t think these are beads at all, because don’t beads have holes in them ... historically? Instead, these are hole−less “caviar pearls,” recently gifted to me by a magazine editor (whom I worship).

“Oh!” I said, staring at the three kits of — why, God, why — Nail Rock she’d pressed into my hands. “These are ... uh —”

“The ugliest thing in the world,” she confirmed. “I thought you could use them for your column.”

“Hideous,” I agreed, deeply relieved. (She owns real Louboutins, guys. Her opinion counts.) “Column title: Trends that work for absolutely no one!”

You will notice, however, that this column is not called “Trends that work for absolutely no one,” but “Hard as nails.” It’s because these stupid caviar nails are growing on me, and I’m having a “hard” time coming to terms with that.

I never promised clever headlines. Anyway. Though manicures have been a beauty mainstay for many moons, nail art has been “having a moment,” as we say in the fashion biz, this past year. Everybody’s walking around with friggin’ watermelons and newsprint on their fingertips, and it’s making handshakes and high−fives pretty stressful.

Some people accredit the trend to a disastrous economy, because polish is a cheap way to level−up your look. I heard of a study that attributed the craze to touchscreens: the more you swipe, the more you notice your fingers, no?

Nail caviar, so named because it covers the nail in caviar−like bubbles, is not even the craziest nail art trend. Sally Hansen, for example, makes a magnetized manicure kit, which involves waving a magnet over wet nails to make crop−circle−y designs. The London−based nails inc sells polishes that mimic textures like leather, feathers, and concrete. Ciaté, inventor of the caviar manicure, also makes a velvety−type polish.

Honestly, I think it’s all kind of bananas. When I whipped out the caviar nail kit at my apartment, I announced to my roommate, “We’re putting gross crap on our nails together,” because I thought it would be the worst.

But! Truth be told, I’m digging it. Because it’s a pretty overwhelming look, I went for an accent nail, which means I only caviar’ed one nail on each hand. I painted on two layers of gold polish, which came with the kit, and dipped my nail into the pot of caviar before it dried. After a little gentle patting−down and a drizzled−on topcoat to keep the colors from smearing, I was set!

For, like, a day. Two layers of polish is a transient adhesive for beads−that−aren’t−even−really−beads. At present, these frothy−looking caviar clumps are clinging to my nails like some festive fungal infection. Hello, gentlemen suitors!

There is no real moral to this story, except that I hate this nail art trend like I hate Taylor Swift: vehemently. And yet, people, she’s so right — I did know he was trouble when he walked in. So, shame on me, now.



Rebecca Santiago is a senior majoring in English. She can be reached at or on Twitter at @rebsanti.

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