How to get a mani



I’d always been a bit mystified by how anyone keeps their nails looking nice. Even with a totally normal desk job my nails always looked a bit chipped and raggedy and also –urgh – dirty (I can’t be the only person whose nails get really dirty all the time for seemingly no reason, surely?). I sort of resigned myself to nice nails being just not for me, like bikinis or soup as a main or camping.

It turns out, however, that everyone was getting fucking manicures! For years! And leaving me out by just not saying anything!

Well, no more. I now get manicures and let me tell you, having nice hands to look down at rather than grubby little stumps is so so cheering.

So here’s what you need to do: First find a salon. You want a busy looking, run of the mill high street salon* that does ONLY nails – not a hairdresser or spa that does other stuff too. This is because they are the best value and because the staff are doing nails all day and therefore are very well practised, which is obviously an advantage.

Anyway, once you’ve found a place that looks good, go in and say hello and say what you’d like (and for god’s sake say please and thank you) and wait.  

I used to get a gel polish manicure (i.e. Shellac, which is actually a brand of polish) which costs £25.00 and is very good because it dries instantly, looks very glossy and neat and lasts about a fortnight. To get the polish off though, you have to soak your nails in acetone and I found I got a bit sick of the colour. It lasts around 2 weeks so if you’re getting them regularly we’re talking £50 a month, which is a bit much.

I now ask for an acrylic overlay on my nails, skipping the extension: It makes them super strong and I can change the polish myself with acetone free remover. Also, polish lasts a lot longer than on your natural nails. This is about £20 to get done initially, then £13-15 to get the grown out gap near your cuticles filled in (ask for ‘acrylic infills’). It lasts 3 weeks, so much cheaper than gel polish twice a month.

Welcome to the nice nails club!

* You may notice that a lot of nail salon owners and staff are Vietnamese. This has an amazing story behind it involving Tippi Hedren of all people, which you can read about here:

Claire Rigby