Thursday, December 4, 2008


It's official, going to the salon is "out" and doing your beauty routine from home is "in."

Well, at least that's what I like to tell myself. I haven't gotten a haircut since June, which is also the last time I got my hair colored. I know my roots are incredibly long, but I delude myself in to thinking it looks good. And when my bangs finally got so long they began to impair my vision, I did not break down and visit my favorite hairdresser... instead I cut them myself.

homestyle bangs

I also gave Aaron a haircut the same day so he could save on the $50 salon visit. Sure he's been wearing a hat ever since, but I like to believe that's weather induced rather than shame over his "homestyle".

But perhaps my biggest beauty sacrifice due to the recession has been my nails. Now, I've never been a girly girl. Growing up I would ridicule the color pink, dolls, and flowers choosing instead to collect Transformers, play in the dirt, and wear pants. As I've matured I've learned to own my girliness instead of running from it. I actually own skirts now, enjoy soap operas, and wear my hair in something other than a bowl cut. Still, it was as big a shock to me as anyone else when I started getting my nails done...

It all started innocently enough. Last fall I walked into the
nail salon around the corner from my house. My goal was to enlist the nail artists into airbrushing designs onto our collars, thus saving us painting time in-house. They quickly turned down the offer but I still insisted on watching an airbrush demonstration so I could see the tricks of the trade.

"If you want airbrush you have to buy nails," they said.

Surely they must be mistaken. I already had nails. My nice, short, bitten-to-the-quick nails surrounded by hang-nailed cuticles. I insisted they could use my natural canvas.

"No, airbrush no stay. You have to buy acrylic nails, then we do airbrush." They wouldn't budge.

I emphasized that I worked with my hands and, therefore, could not function with fake nails, but after much back-and-forth we compromised with them promising to cut my nails as short as possible. In exchange, I chose the tackiest airbrush design I could think of. Behold:

tropical nails

For additional tackiness, I even got a naked lady on the thumbs

naked lady basking under palm tree

I swore I would take them off within a day or two, but everyone at Paco Collars insisted I keep them, pointing out the fact that I'd used company money (it *was* research) and therefore my nails were really company property and had to stay. At first I fought it, but I was outnumbered.

I struggled through learning to live with the nails. I had to learn to re-type, use tools in constructing dog collars, and found these new, plastic nails were actually impossible to bite, thus thwarting my life-long nervous habit. I cursed them every chance I got, but then something magical happened: they grew on me. Literally. It had been two weeks and my nail beds were beginning to show so I had to make a choice, get them removed or get a filled in and redone. I chose the latter, and thus began my new nail obsession.

Every 2-3 weeks I'd go to a new salon, get a fill, and test drive their designs. I went to many shops in the East Bay and the San Francisco, a different one every week, actually, but the best one was still the first. I learned that airbrushing nails is a dying art and so is, apparently, updating your nail shop signage. The result is that you go into a shop because of the prominent "Airbrush Design" sign only to learn they stopped the service many years back and then you're stuck getting a paintbrush design, oh well.

For a while I kept diligent track of my nails and mental notes on the shop, convinced I would start a nail blog. But I never got around to it and also failed to document some of the best designs. Here are some, though not the best.

These are the "tuxedo nails" I got for BADRAP's "Tuff Love", a black tie event:

tuxedo nails

Carolyn really like these because they looked like eyelashes. Dango thought they were boring. My opinion falls somewhere in between the two and more towards indifference.

eyelash nails

These ones were pretty '80's and you can measure my poverty at the time by how grown out they are. I took this picture at the gynecologist's office.

waiting for the gyno

On the recommendation of a Office Depot clerk, I went to New York nails up Mission Street. Yes, they were by far the cheapest airbrush nails I got, but the reason is because the designs/colors are limited and the staff very inexperienced. The result is that they cut my cuticles and left me with a design that looks more like it should be on a My Little Pony's butt rather than your fingers. I went to visit Aaron afterward and complained it looked like I'd gotten "My First Nails".

chip clip

When we moved to the cottage this summer I realized I could not justify spending the money on bi or even tri-weekly visits, so I went in to the shop around the corner and had the acrylics removed. It was the most painful thing in my life, and I later found out the guy did it all wrong and actually damaged my nails quite a bit in the process. The end result is that my nails had the appearance of having "tree rings" from every acrylic fill and it has taken me until now to grow them all the way out. Even so, my one thumb nail still has one ring left to grow out, but it's getting there.

Now my nail routine is much more reasonable. I bought a few bottles of cool polish and every Monday night I sit down, watch Gossip Girl, and do my nails. Sure, it's not as extravagant, but neither is overt consumerism. Here's my version of nails done homestyle

marking holes --

Sure, they're not as fun, but definitely more economical.

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