Handy

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have man hands.

I get them from my Dad.

I know.

Look at those meathooks. And where the hell is his thumb in that picture? Youch.

There are some benefits to being well endowed in the hand department. I can palm a cantaloupe. When I grocery shop, I don’t need a cart. I can knead bread like nobody’s bidness. I wallpaper alone, with one hand tied behind my back.

As a busy house-frau/writer, I am constantly using my hands for things like cleaning up biohazardsmassaging kale, and typing Hoo-Hoo-Haiku. Having pretty hands or nails isn’t a top priority for me; I don’t have the time, patience, energy, money, or desire to invest in that part of my body.

But I’ve always admired pretty hands/nails on other people and so two weeks ago when I took my daughter to my hometown for a girls’ weekend with my mom and aunts, I thought I would treat myself to a Gel Manicure and see what all the fuss is about.

I had never had one before, but my aunt, who has beautiful hands and fingernails, gets them all the time and said it was a great way to go. She encouraged me to get a French Gel Manicure like hers for a natural but polished and put-together look. And I thought, “when in Rome!” even though I was only in Pittsburgh.

It was a little scary. For starters, the dude doing me didn’t speakie English so good. We were having a hard time communicating about anything other than “pick you color.” And he totally didn’t get my jokes. I hate that. What is the point of having a stranger dig out your toe jam if you can’t enjoy a witty repartee about things like having some wine with my cheese?

Then, right before he started to apply the gel polish, he took a really big scary file and roughed up the top surface of my previously healthy nails. GULP! No going back now.

(Edited update: make sure you read Juanita’s awesome comments at the very end. She is a licensed manicurist and has shared some fantastic info about proper soak-off GEL manicures and nail salons in general!)

But several coats later and some time between coats with my fingers in a UV light box, and here’s what it looked like when he was done:

I could not have hated those nails more if they were applied to my face.

I seriously felt like I suddenly had ten thumbs. The nails themselves were so thick, especially at the tips because of their Frenchiness that my fingers were rendered totally useless.

Food in my teeth? Sorry, toots. Savin’ it for later, or until I can locate a toothpick.

Booger? Forgetaboutit. Not that I would EVER pick my nose (in public).

Wrapping a present for my cousin’s future bride? No can do. Anyone have a gift bag I can use?

And overall, it just wasn’t ME. I felt so weird with those shiny fancy thick fingernails! Like tits on a bull. 

There was one good thing about those thick industrial strength nails though: pot scrubbing. I could scrape the scorched food stuck to the bottom of any pot like it was buttah.

And when I was gardening, I found that I could dig a hole just like a rabid Honey Badger! No shovel needed!

Of course, with all that pot scrubbing and bare-handed hole digging, my French Gel Manicure didn’t last very long (only about a week before it started to chip off at the base). And thank GOD for that. I couldn’t WAIT to get those things off.

Having already dropped my weekly grocery budget at the salon on two spa mani-pedis for me and my daughter, I decided I would figure out how to get those gel nails off by myself at home and save some moohlah.

So I found a tutorial on YouTube.

And as luck would have it, I had all the supplies on hand: acetone, cotton pads, aluminum foil, and a cuticle stick.

In hindsight, definitely a mistake.

Although I’m normally a big fan of DIY tutorials, there is always an element of risk involved in doing something by yourself that one typically pays a professional to do.

Working with highly flammable and toxic chemicals is probably one of those things that should be reserved for the pros.

And I felt like an idiot sitting on my couch with my ten individually foil-wrapped fingers watching TV with my husband.

Although we did have better TV reception that night, ain’t gonna lie.

But it sure was hard to play my sixteen simultaneous Words with Friends games on my phone while I was waiting for those acetone soaked pads to do their magic in those little metal saunas. (FYI, “twat” IS a word.)

Don’t worry. I found a way to pass the time…

But I gotta tell you… I suspect that acetone is not very good for your skin. At one point in the process, I could feel each of my nail beds throbbing, and not in a good way. And they were hot! And when I finally pulled the foil tents off, the natural curve of my nail beds was totally exaggerated. Instead of a gentle ( curve, it was more like a C curve. FREAKY!!!! It eventually went back to normal, but still. That can’t be good.

And I must not have done the foil thing long enough, because the gel was not soft enough to scrape off.

So I did it again.

And it still didn’t work!

And after the second time I thought surely that YouTube bitch was just messing with me so I just poured some straight acetone into a bowl and soaked my hands. And even THEN it was a struggle to get those suckers off.

I ended up having to file and buff the remnants of that gel off my formerly decent (albeit big and manly) natural nails.

And now my fingernails are as soft and weak as cooked penne! Dammit! I had to cut them way back and hope that I didn’t do any permanent damage with that stupid little foray into fancytown. I don’t think I did.

So I learned my lesson. At least it was just fingernails.

Today is Tuesday, so if you’re here looking for one of my (in)famous “Just the Tip Tuesday” bits of advice take your pick:

1.) The phrases “When in Rome!” and “If so and so jumped off a bridge, would you?” are not interchangeable. Go to Rome, fine, just don’t jump off the bridge when you get there.

2.) There is nothing natural looking about a shiny thick bright white French manicure on hands that can manually juice a grapefruit.

3.) I’m not a fan of Gel (a.k.a. Shellac) Polish. And I’m guessing doctors aren’t either, particularly for long term use.

4.) …but if you get Gel Polish for a special occasion, have it professionally removed at a salon, unless you are a glutton for punishment, have an excess of free time, and a penchant for serving as a human antennae.

5.) An easier, more cost-effective way to feel like Ms. Fancy Hands is to buy a set of these:

Feel free to buy me a set too: size EXTRA LARGE.

xoxo,

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


About The Bearded Iris

Leslie Marinelli is a writer, humorist, blogger, life hacker, and invisible vessel for grandchildren and PTA donations.
This entry was posted in practical and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Handy

  1. Suzanne Lucero says:

    I feel for you. Here’s my manicure story.

    Back in the day I used to sit in front of the TV watching Monday Night Football and give myself a complete manicure: clean cuticals and shape nails; put on base coat, let dry; put on colored coat, let dry; put another colored coat (I mean 2 coats of the same color, not one coat one color and one coat another), let dry; put on clear top coat, let dry. It took me three hours, once a week (hence the Monday Night Football on the TV) but I had a knock-out manicure that would last a whole week without chipping, fading, or cracking.

    Of course, that was BC (before children).

    These days my nails are lucky if they see a 30-second clip job each week. And filing? Last time I used my emery board it was to take some rust off the tip of a faucet so I could screw the garden hose on it.

  2. Oh man, you were brave to remove that by yourself! I remember getting them and having them removed. The stuff they use? Stung. Cannot believe you soaked in that!

    Your nails will recover. After the existing weak-as-penne nails grow out, the new nail will be like your former man hand nails.

  3. Bernie Bickers says:

    Beard; Man Hands; at least you don’t have a big Adam’s Apple or we’d all begin to wonder…

    And while we’re on the subject of gender, where the hell did you find a Man-icurist? The staff is always female. I’ve walked by a thousand of those places in NYC and the only men I’ve ever seen inside are slightly spaced-out husbands/boyfriends holding their wives/girlfriends purses for them while they wait (myself included).

    Heh heh…you got nailed in Pittsburgh…

  4. Kate Y says:

    Twat! Did Kristen use that word? ;)

    I have only had a manicure like that, right before I got married, and I felt like I was wearing flippers on land. Only on my hands. I couldn’t pick anything up. Change on a counter? Forget it! Just keep it. Never again. My nails are short (and usually uneven), but they’re mine. And I’ll keep my stubby, sausage fingers just the way God gave them to me, thankyouverymuch.

    • OMG, change on the counter! Wish I had thought of that example!! “Just keep it.” SO FUCKING TRUE!!!! And amen to that about just keeping what God gave you. I testify! God has a purpose for my man hands, and those gel nails were just getting in the way. Now excuse me while I go smack my children.

  5. During the school year (you know, when I sit back at my desk & let your little darlings teach themselves) my fingernails can survive a gel manicure. But, during the summer, when I’m reeeeallly slaving away, gel nails – any kind of nail thingys – don’t work for me. I did buy myself a UV Nail Dryer & some Shellac polish just before school ended, but I have yet to use it. Once the house is totally decluttered & I’m done scrubbing & cleaning my butt off (ha, ha… not MY butt it’d take years of scrubbing to get rid of that thing) I’m going to do it for myself…

    I also removed mine the last time I had them professionally done. I thought I had the REAL acetone stuff…. but I didn’t – I had to get 100% acetone at Sally’s Beauty store. Yeah, that flashy tin foil was fun… NOT….

  6. I am glad that you didn’t get them applied to your face. Good job making practical use of them though. I’ve never tried digging a hole nails first (badger style), oddly, it sounds really fun.

  7. Heather says:

    I admit it… I too have man-hands (damn girl, one more thing we have in common!!)… Well, I’m not sure if they look man-ish but they sure as hell don’t look feminine. I got a manicure – and f-ing TIPS!! – for our wedding 9 years ago. First and LAST time. We went to Aruba for our honeymoon and they looked spectacular but on the plane ride home I got bored, and I have a penchant for picking at things – zits, paint chipping off the wall, you name it, so I started picking, then peeling, then yanking those annoying fuckers off. They looked HIDEOUS and it suddenly occurred to me that I was starting a new job the following day… Live and learn (and tell your new employer that you have a non-contagious fungus)….

  8. FiveOGrrl says:

    Thanks be tuh geezus you didn’t get a bling “grill”. How so women do anything beside porn (straight) with coke spoons on each fanger? Nasty. Ewww and the nasty fungus stories associated with nail salons, even a honey badger wouldn’t slap the shit out of that larva. Stick with your oven mits….can u open this jar for me, Manhandeiqueerah?

  9. Kristen Kotrlik says:

    Oh man. I had my nails done for my wedding, and I will never ever do it again. I will have Labial rejuvenation before I have my nails fucked with again.

    Seriously- why do we women put ourselves through this shit? It’s not for the guys…they just want 3 things- they want a beer, something to eat, and they want to see something naked. (thank you, Jeff Foxworthy).
    I think we should revolt. Stop shaving, no more hair coloring, and gain lots of weight.

    (Or at least everyone else should….then I will look the best.)

    • Kristen Kotrlik says:

      Oh…and TWAT is the best word in WWF. Next to qat.

    • WORD! And I will never have labial rejuvenation because I think my extra long labia are working for me like eyelashes to keep the debris out.

      We need to start a revolution. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.

    • Amanda says:

      Ditto, I too got them for my wedding. I will never get them again. I don’t think it helped that I had a HORRIBLE experience at the salon itself. They didn’t feel right and half way through my two week long honeymoon I wanted them gone already. I like the bearded iris tried taking them off at home. I’ve still got bits and pieces left on my nails and I’m just waiting for my nails to grow long enough for me to cut them.

  10. Michelle says:

    Girl, you crack me up. I love reading your blog! I had acrylic nails back in the day….and for some crazy reason toyed with the idea of getting fake ones again. Glad I didn’t!

  11. Dawn@LightenUp! says:

    Nutbar. Your fingers were burning, your nailbeds curved…so you did it again?
    Totally something I would do.

  12. Jen says:

    Oh Manhands,

    Everyone has screwed their nails up like this. They tend to stay weak and thin for 3 weeks. Every time I go in for a pedi they say,

    “OHHH Honny, you need your upper lip wax?” or “OHHH Honny, you hand need work!”

    We don’t need to speak the same lang; I just answer “NO” to everything said to me. Best of luck!

    Jbird

    • LOL!!! “OHHH Honny!” So true. I’ma just say NO to everything from now on! Better yet, I’ll just do them myself. Short, sweet, natural, and practical! Thank ya thank ya thank ya!

  13. Well, that’s it. I am never getting that done to my nails. I did always wonder, so thanks.

    And funny you mention the honey badger. It’s not an animal I have EVER thought about before, but just today I was shown this, which you might have seen:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r7wHMg5Yjg

    So you can imagine my surprise when I come along here for a quick read and find you mentioning the Bad Ass.

    • Yessiree! That very honey badger (as narrated by the fabulous Randall) is the very basis for every honey badger comment I’ve made in the past few days. I am OBSESSED with Randall and his narration skills! He makes me cackle out loud like a mangey hyena!

  14. Maggie says:

    I just love your blog! So much so that I just nominated it as one of the top 50 mom blogs of 2010. If anyone cares to vote, this blog is currently on page 17 if you list the nominated blogs alphabetically: http://www.babble.com/babble-50/mommy-bloggers/nominate-a-blogger/index.aspx

    • Oh. My. GOD! Maggie! You are so sweet! Thank you so much for nominating me for that! Nobody has ever done that before. What a huge honor! I will post that on my FB fan page and see if we can get more than just that ONE “like.” Thanks again!!!

  15. Iris. You poor thing. One of my bridesmaids thought it would be a good idea for me to get false nails the day before my wedding. NOT! I had to come home and blow up about 100 balloons with these sharp daggers on the end of my fingers. And then there was the honeymoon in Bali. Although it did help with swimming. I was cutting through the water like a shark! (Don’t even talk about the problems with toileting, if you get my drift! LOL)

    A lesson learnt. Thanks for the warning.

    Anne xx

  16. I’ve had my nails done a few times, and I always end up ripping those suckers off after a week. It’s impossible to function with them. Forget cooking or cleaning, I can’t even wipe!

  17. Allysgrandma says:

    OMGawd I was howling at your story. Just what I needed after being manhandled with another nerve conduction study and EMG’s on Monday in Redding, CA, then driving to a lovely bed and breakfast in SF, and a fake doctor on Tuesday at UCSF Pain Center who was more worried about my 2.mg of Valium at night and one…yes one pain pill a day. And he thinks I need another rheumatogy evaluation, second opinion because mine obviously knows nothing…..At least I was happy that Olive Garden had a limoncello drink. I had a biggie!

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  19. melissa says:

    alright, i have been avoiding the computer like the plague so i could get alot of other stuff done. so i decided to treat myself and try and do some catch-up on the blog. i came across this entry and wanted to share a secret love of mine that i recently found. i can’t afford to do the artificial nail thing nor can i stand the smell of those places anyway. i have 3 kids and a husband so i mostly cook meals at home and that doesn’t allow for long fake fingernails. but i do like to keep a small amount of length on my natural nails. mine always seem to peel on the edges so i get them decent and then they break or i find the peeling of them too enjoyable. or maybe a bit of both. i came across sally hansen’s hard as wraps nail polish. not to be mistaken with hard as nails. the hard as wraps kind has extra stuff in it. costs about six bucks a bottle and often goes on sale at walgreens or cvs when you can buy one and get the second half off. i bought it since i found one box that said money back guarantee since i have no problem calling and asking for my money back if the product is junk. so here are my list of pros and cons for the polish:
    pros
    cheaper than a manicure
    stays on a long time
    leaves a really hard shiny surface
    you don’t need to rough your nails up to use it
    not thick like the other gel nails
    you can remove it with regular nail polish remover
    cons
    has a slightly stronger odor than regular polish
    takes a while to dry (i usually paint mine after the kids are in bed and i have about 20 minutes or even longer to let them dry)
    it takes a time or two to get down the right method (you need to do it slow but not too slow becuase it will string on you and you can get some bubbles on the surface)
    cost (but still cheaper than a salon visit and if you don’t like it it is super easy to remove

    hope you get a chance to try it out. it might even help on your nails now while they grow out. happy polishing!

  20. Melissa says:

    For about 6 months I faithfully wore the acrylic nails applied at the salon and had them refreshed every 2 1/2 to 3 weeks. They were cute, but for me, it was sheer torture to go to the salon and spend all that time and money twice a month. When I finally decided enough was enough I splurged and had them professionally removed at the salon and I had to chuckle when reading your ordeal because it was pretty much the same as what you went through. The salon dissolved the acrylic nails and my natural fingernails in a bowl of acetone. When I paid my bill and left, my nails were tissue paper thin. They are back to normal now, but it took about 4 weeks for that to happen. Crying over my thin nails, I googled the gel nails to see if they were better or easier then acrylic and read some horror stories that convinced me I didn’t need to go down that road too. Thanks for reaffirming the decision for me to go au natural. LOVE your blog!

  21. Amy4Scents says:

    I just found your blog, and I am SO grateful for this post! I had a big presentation, so I did the same thing… jumped off the bridge in Rome. I couldn’t even get my credit card out of my wallet to pay the salon! I was going to try to remove them myself this afternoon, but you have saved me from jumping off another bridge. (hehe) Love your humor and will continue reading more!

    • Phaedra Chaney says:

      I have been getting gel polish on my freakishly long natural nails for about a month. I have had one soak-off so far with no damage. However, I apply cuticle oil every night before bed, and that seems to help immensely with dryness. I am due for a polish change again in about a week, and my best friend is also my nail tech, so hopefully she isn’t steering me down the wrong path!

  22. Jennifer says:

    Gel nails are the devil’s handiwork. I got them on my toenails. They looked great for a couple of weeks but then my toenails grew and started to look like donkey hooves. One night I was making my way to the bathroom in the dark, kicked a potty chair, and my toenail hoof cracked right down the middle. YOWCH. Long story short, I had them melted off via acetone and now my toenails are paper thin. Very pretty.

  23. Juanita says:

    As much as I *totes* get the humor, I’m sad. Why? Because I’m a manicurist, that’s why, and I’m sorry to see you were the victim of an evil manicurist. From your description, I know that
    1. Your nails were damaged in the so-called “prep” phase by aggressive over-filing;
    2. I can see the application was sloppy just from the pictures alone, but also by your description–they should never be thick.
    3. Your tutorial failed to mention *gently* filing the topcoat before removal. That’s why it took so goddamn long; you have to break that seal or it can’t soak off. Either that, or,
    4. You didn’t actually have soak-off gel. If that’s the case, you never actually soaked off the gel, you only seeped acetone UNDER your nail and eventually broke the bond between it and the product. And if it was not soak off gel, it should have NEVER gone on your nails, unless you’re committing to it like acrylics. Those require maintenance, just like the others. And that shit has to filed off. Carefully. Very carefully.

    I do soak-off nail polish regularly. My clients LOVE it, and it only takes me 10 minutes to get it off. I never whip out a scary file for prep; I gently (Do you hear me, you nail-hating bastard manicurists? GENTLY!!!) buff the shine off. That’s all that’s necessary; we’re not digging back to fucking Viet-Nam (yeah, I said it).

    The vitriol is because I CONSTANTLY am educating my clients on product knowledge, proper care and maintenance, and state regulations on sanitation because of all the stupid yahoos out there doing this ALL WRONG and getting so much bad press. I have to keep my prices competitive with these assholes, but I’m worth twice as much. Next time, do your homework and remember, you do get what you pay for. Funny story, yes, but it’s killing me……

    • OMG Juanita – I feel your pain. I’m so sorry if I maligned your whole industry with my rant. I definitely did NOT do any research before hand, which was really dumb on my part. Based on your feedback, it sounds like I definitely got a bad job. Is there a way (like a website) to find qualified manicurists in my area who are as caring and conscientious as you are?

      • Juanita says:

        Oh, I so wish there were. Not knowing where you live, I can only suggest you familiarize yourself with your state regulations. My state–CA–has a consumer portion of our cosmetology and barbering site that gives *some* useful tips, along with access to the legalese. I know that’s a lot to go through, but it would give you a starting point. Then you’d know what you’re looking at and for when you do visit a salon. You might also call a local cosmetology school and ask if they’d be willing to sum up for you. But they’re pretty bare-bones on what they teach, so they might not be up on the latest products. You can always go to manufacturer websites, but some don’t allow much consumer access. Word of mouth can be good, BUT so many people are misinformed, they don’t even know if they’re being harmed or mistreated–and sometimes the techs are unaware, as well. Upscale can be better, but not always, and that’s where knowledge of regulations counts. I’ve been in some very chi-chi la-la joints that had ABOMINABLE health practices. And some hole-in-the-wall places that were impeccable.

        Some things to look for:
        1. New files, buffers, pumice bars, orangewood sticks, etc EVERY DAMN TIME. The only disinfectable items are nippers, drill bits (NOT sanding bands), metal pushers, clippers, and the like. These are to be scrubbed with hot soapy water BEFORE being completely submerged in a hospital grade disinfectant, EVERY DAMN TIME. EVERYTHING else is either given to the client (not stored for them) or broken AND thrown away.
        2. Does it look clean? Dusted? Clean towels? Are there people eating at their desk? Is their hair pulled back? How do their nails look? They don’t have to be fancy but they’d better be clean!
        3. Are you asked to scrub your nails BEFORE any work is done? Did the nail tech wash THEIR hands first, too?
        4. Do they use their hands to get product out of jars, or their hands? (Guess which one is the right way!)
        5. Can they answer your questions about sanitation, products, and care easily and thoroughly? Because they should be able to.
        6. Most states have outlawed razors or any type of metal grater (uh, Ped-egg, anyone?) for callus treatment in a salon setting (metal files are ok). No matter how long they’ve done it or how good the results, it’s considered a surgical procedure.
        7. Smell is not necessarily a problem but ventilation is. They should have adequate ventilation and should be able to explain it to you, so ask, don’t assume. It may be there but not obvious.

        I’m so sorry if I was harsh. So sorry. I LUURVE a good rant, and you have every right! It’s the crappy techs who boil my blood. And I think you’re hilarious. If you have any other questions, let me know. I’ll help all I can.

  24. Juanita says:

    Correction: I do soak-off GEL polish regularly.

    • Juanita – thank you SO much for all the great info. I have updated the original post to refer readers to your comments because I truly appreciate the information and want to help others avoid the same thing that happened to me. I honestly have never seen a salon that has the standards you mention above, and that is truly frightening. Guess I’ll be doing my own mani-pedis from now on unless one of my local friends can steer me toward an impeccable salon in the metro-Atlanta area. Thanks again!

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  27. Nicole says:

    I am enjoying your site as I slowly pick the gel polish off my acetone soaked, devasted nails. Never again!

  28. Tiffany says:

    So I am sitting at the table trying to remove this junk off my finger nails and google-ing how to remove and I have lost all hope looks like ima have to splurge and get them professionally removed, bummer I have a three yr old and each time I go in to the nail salon she comes out with a mani pedi including flowers.. Jeez

  29. April says:

    Thanks for this humorous post! I am calling the nail salon now for an appt to have the gel removed . . . . and while I liked it and it lasted a long time, I hate not being able to take it off easily when I want to.

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  31. ReliabilityB says:

    I got a manicure voucher on a deals website not knowing it was gel (wasn’t adertised as such). I was going for a short break for my 30th birthday, but I had work the next week, and I’m a chef so I can’t be wearing nail varnish in the kitchen! Got there and it was gel. Not happy. Had it before. It’s the worst of both worlds. Chips on my fingernails after three days (hhad it once before with a different salon), but WON’T come off. So the day before I went back to work I went to get it removed and they wanted to charge me half the price of the actual manicure just to get it off!!! I strolled over to the market and bought some acetone for £1.50 and went home and foiled them. Then soaked them. Then peeled the stupid hellish stuff off. Now it looks like I’ve got bits of superglue attached to my fingers. NEVER AGAIN.

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