Mini series intro: a week of nail love from a vintage gal

In the last couple of years, I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on my nails. I am not one to keep a beauty secret, especially since I spent most of my life with nails that were decidedly not enviable! Any chance I get, I tell people that I use gel nail polish, and I do it myself at home!

I personally think it’s kind of the ideal solution for the vintage gal (or any gal!) who wants to keep her nails up but with minimum fuss.

Smart War Co-Eds Choose Their Favorite Cutex Nail Shades, November 1943 via The Beeds Knees Daily on Flickr Source: The Bees Knees Daily on Flickr

 

But a confession first: I’ve been meaning to write this up since September. I know, I know. So instead of one post, I’m going to break it up into a mini series for you. My procrastination is your gain!

For the next week, I’m going to do little series on my nail care routine, including hints and tips, as well as a review at the end! It’s mostly focused around my experiences using gel nail polish, so you’ll finally get the inside scoop.

By Gum, By Golly: nail care mini series

But a bit of background first, shall we?

I’ve been using gel nail polish for… I’m not even sure how long! I think it’s been about two years.

Painting my nails has always been a relatively fun beauty ritual, but it started off serving a purpose: I was always a nail biter (gross, I know, but true), and the only way to keep my nails looking remotely nice and to keep my fingers out of my mouth was to paint them. But I’m not a particularly suave nor delicate person, so they’d easily be dinged or chipped faster than you could snap your fingers. (And any polishes that purported they’d last for days or a week? Never, ever with me. Not a chance.) So I was used to painting my nails a couple of times a week if I wanted to keep them looking decent.

The other main issue? My nails aren’t particularly strong, naturally. Some women can grow healthy and strong nails that need no layers of polish to help protect them a bit, but I am SO not one of those women.

And because of aforementioned nail biting and not-terribly-refined nature, I always had a dickens of a time growing my nails at all! My nail beds are quite short and stubby, so when my nails have a free edge, it’s still way back on my fingertip. So I could never pull off the short polished look that many women with nice deep nail beds can; when I do it, I look like I have the nails of a 6-year-old girl. Alas. Decidedly not the glamorous vintage look I strove for.

Chen Yu Nail Lacquer & Lipstick, June 1945, via The Bees Knees on Flickr Source: The Bees Knees Daily on Flickr

 

So it was a constant struggle, as my nails would peel or break in the corners shortly after growing any length at all. I was always trapped in a cycle of short, stubby nails that just never looked all that good. Oh, how I used to wish I had beautiful long nails. Not super long, but just a little length, enough to look pretty and not short and squat! But it never happened. They’d break or chip or peel, no matter what I did.

But when I tried gel nail polish, everything changed. And I haven’t gone back to regular polish in 2+ years. Below is a comparison of my natural nails before and after. The photo from 2011 shows about the max length I could ever get them, using regular nail polish. The photo from 2014 was earlier this month, using gel nail polish.

nail comparison

Not that there was anything wrong with the way they looked before, but it’s a pretty drastic difference, isn’t it? Follow me through this coming week and you’ll learn how I’ve managed to transform my nails and nail care routine and how I keep them looking good in a relatively fuss-free manner!

  • Monday, April 28th – Why I love gel polish
  • Tuesday, April 29th – How I apply and remove gel polish
  • Wednesday April 30th – My 6 steps for happy nails
  • Thursday, May 1st – Review of the Couture Gel Nail Polish kit
  • Friday, May 2nd – My favorite polishes and the week’s round-up

Should be a fun week… hope you’ll enjoy it!

Filed: Vintage Dibs and Dabs

Tagged: , ,

Golly, 38 Comments!

  • I feel like I could have written this description about my own nails!! I’ve been a biter for over 20 years (hangs head in shame) and while I’ve been able to stop, my nails are so thin and weak I can’t get them to grow very well, and if I do manage that they don’t last very long at all. Really looking forward to the rest of this series!

    Reply

  • Wow! That’s a big difference. I’ll be reading avidly! I’m a natural nail biter too, so I have to keep polish on my nails to stop myself, so I’ll be very interested to read about your experiences.

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  • I have been looking forward to this ever since you mentioned you were doing it on Instagram! Can’t wait to read the whole series!

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  • I’m amazed at the difference between the before and after! I’ve never used gel polish before but I think I will have to get some after seeing those photos.

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  • I am actually very excited to read this series as I have very short nailbeds, limited time to fuss with them, and constantly chip any polish I’ve ever worn. I usually keep my nails relatively short because I play stringed instruments, but would love to see how I could have nicer nails. Thanks for sharing, and I’ve been admiring your nails for a while.

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    • Yes, stringed instruments definitely put a wrench in things. When I used to play guitar many years ago my short nail length didn’t bother me. But I do feel like even if I kept my nails much shorter and still used gel polish, I’d be happier because it takes more time to do them at the time I paint, but I have to do it soooo less often!

      Reply

  • Ok, I feel a bit stupid here, as I’ve never even heard of gel polish! This should be an interesting read :)
    I grow decently strong nails, but I work at a greasy manly factory and having painted nails just don’t work. They chip and get scratched, and well…doesn’t look at all good after just a couple of hours. I wish I could have lovely painted nails, and who knows. Maybe I can? Will be following this series for sure :)

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    • Don’t worry, I had heard of it in passing only and really didn’t know what it was until I saw an advertisement from Sephora for a kit, and it sounds brilliant… and well, the rest is history. lol

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  • Really looking forward too this, I work in the knitting industry and love to have my nails nice for working with my hands but I knit like the wind and so they chip more than they stay and get so frustrated with re painting them every two minutes! I’m not always a massively girly girl but my nails are usually an outlet for colour and cutsie-ness x

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    • I must admit, when I went back to look for old close-up photos of my nails before using gel polish I discovered I apparently tried to hide my nails a lot in knitting and sewing tutorials, but now it’s nice to not feel embarrassed about them. :)

      Reply

  • […] I’m thrilled about is a little mini series about doing your own gel nail treatments, thank you ‘By Gum By Golly’ my nails are in need of love and I have a girls night next week this will be perfect for a trial […]

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  • Oooh really looking forward to this mini series – I’ve been a long admirer of your beautiful nails. I’m very lucky – my nails are ridiculously strong and grow like the wind, they hardly ever break and I have to trim them every couple of weeks. I rarely use polish though, so this may be the kick up the bum I need! x

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    • Your nails sound lovely, lucky duck! If I weren’t a disgusting biter I’m sure I’d wear mine natural on occasion, but it’s so much fun to play with polish! ;)

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  • Kim Campbell April 27, 2014 at 2:15pm

    I am going to really look forward to this!!! I have short nail beds too. Strong nails but they tend to break after a certain length. Plus, I just adore beauty routines!

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  • I was not that excited about this series when you first mentioned, because I have all the same nail problems you mention, and I’m lucky if a regular manicure lasts me the length of the walk home from the salon!! I’ve been on the fence about trying gel polish (my mom does it regularly), and I think you might have just convinced me to give it a go–your nails are beautiful! (and your “before” pics are similar to mine!!) My husband will be happy with the experiment, anyway. He’s always bugging me to do my nails. (He’s totally oblivious to 99% of his surroundings, but nails? Men are so weird)

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    • Oh yes– I was definitely the type to paint my nails and walk into another room and find I’d already dinged them (how?!!!). Wait until you see the “before” pic tomorrow– not as good of a photo but my nail that you can see is cringe-worthy. I can’t even believe the difference myself! lol

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  • Really looking forward to reading your nail posts. I’m lucky that I have naturally Ok nails, however I constantly chip my nail polish and it never lasts long so would love to know more about gels. xxx

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  • I’ve given up on nail polish due to the chipping issue. I’m lucky that I can grow my nails to a nice length, but they look better unpolished usually and I also find if I use normal polish my nails start to dry out and split between the layers. Wonder if gel would fix that problem?

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  • I cannot wait for this series! I have been biting my nails since I was probably 3 or 4 (I switched habits, sucking my thumb to biting nails, eugh!), and they are super weak. I have short nail beds too, which really does just make it worse! I have the problem that when I put the effort into growing them and not biting them, they get even a little length and then one will break. And I cant handle having one shorter than all the others. So ALL the others must be cut (or bitten) short as well. Hope that with some of your ideas I might get to having pretty longer nails too!

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    • Yes, I’m exactly the same way! If I break a nail (which can still happen, but it’s less often), I trim all my other nails to match. I hate having them different lengths!

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  • Ooooo! I’m excited for this series. I am blessed with hearty nails – I can grow them long, but I never wear nail polish because I’m not dainty either. They’re chipped in a day or two, even when I get a professional manicure.
    I’ve always admired how nice your nails look and I’m really looking forward to learning more about gel polish.

    Lisa.

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  • I’m another who has never heard of gel nail polish. So I do hope that the first thing you do is to explain what it is! I call it nail varnish (not polish), by the way — is that a UK v US thing?

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  • look forward to reading this. i had a few gel manicures and got white marks on my nails as they are dry. all my nails broke off really short and it took a while to get them back. so i’ll definitely be reading to see what i was doing wrong!

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  • Really looking forward to this mini-series.

    I have a question. Whenever I polish my nails (regular nail polish) the skin around my fingernails and even the tips of my fingers tend to get very dry. Has this happened to you? Does this also happen with gel nail polish?

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    • Interesting, I’ve never had that happen and I’m not sure why. I wonder if you’re doing something different with your nail care routine when they’re painted vs. not, like perhaps avoiding putting lotion on your hands or something? I talk about some of the things I do to keep my hands/nails looking good later in the week, but one of the big tips is lotion and nail/cuticle oil daily. :)

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  • hi Tasha, your experience echoes my own. I too love the gel nail finish and the added benefits of length and strength.

    But toy shock and absolute horror…
    I discovered gel nails do have a potential downside. After two plus years of continuous professional in-salon applications – I missed spotting I developed a fungal infection on my big toe from it (which can take a year for a nail to recover from). Suffice to say I’ve stopped getting gel pedicures and decided to give my fingernails a break too.

    I did miss my gorgeous red manicure but have maintained my nail integrity ! So am living happily now without them but have stopped being a biter!

    For everyone, may this be a warning to check thoroughly in between applications. I always looked at my fingernails when the nail technician applied them but never looked closely at my feet! Now i have a ugly grey toenail as a reminder!

    Danielle

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    • Good reminder, Danielle, and I did mention this a bit in the post that’s upcoming later this morning. I’ve had no issue ever with fungal infections, although I’ve heard sometimes people who get their nails done at a salon can be a little more prone to it., perhaps in part because they aren’t able to get a close look at their nails all the time (especially feet) in the process. It’s a good reminder to inspect your nails up close if you’re going to the salon regularly– and if you’re getting pedicures, to inspect your feet, too. Anyway, glad your nails are healthy!

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  • I am really looking forward to this series! I too have short and flakey nails – not because I’m a biter but because they are in water a lot. I’ll be very interested to see how you maintain yours. On a side note, I was totally unaware green and yellow nail polish was a thing so long ago. For some reason, I thought it was a modern phenomenon.

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  • […] nail miracle for my previously short, stubby, and troublesome nails (which I talked about in my series intro post). Basically, its big claim to fame is long-lasting polish without having to get acrylic nails at a […]

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  • I’ll be interested to see how you remove your gel nail polish. I have the same type of nails you describe and when I’ve gotten them done professionally, they look great but I have to take a breather between applications as I know I’m not taking off the gel correctly (peel it off), naughty I know. Then, my nail is even thinner. I’ve been thinking about trying an at home system. Your nails look great.

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  • I’ve struggled with thin, flaky nails for years. I have never been a nail biter, but I do a lot of housework, and my long-term vegetarian diet lacked sufficient protein and collagen. My nails have become stronger over the last year and flake much less. I still do just as much housework, but I switched to a Ruby Stone nail file designed for delicate nails and I made changes to my diet to up the protein and collagen content. I got into the habit of adding a high-quality gelatin supplement to my tea as well. This has really made a difference for me. I used to have to paint my nails every two days or so, and now I can go a week or more between a manicure. I thought I would throw that out there as I haven’t found that (salon) gel manicures last on me if my nails are already in poor condition. If the gel is adhering to the top layer of nail and the nails persist in flaking, it just doesn’t work.

    I do see it has made a difference for you. Perhaps the salon I went to screwed up, but they charged enough, around $50 for a manicure that lasted just days.

    Reply

  • […] gloves but take it from me: it makes a huge difference. (Especially in winter!) Like I said in my series intro post, I’m not a terribly delicate person and so I manage to bonk my nails into things all the […]

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  • […] Sunday: Introducing a week of nail love from a vintage gal […]

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