I blame YouTube for my strange desire to have stiletto nails. I am obsessed with YouTube beauty guru Nicole Guerriero. Obsessed. Every video she puts out is gold. She’s recently given them up, but she rocked stiletto acrylics in shades of red and pink for a good year, and there was something terribly appealing of the clacking of her plastic tips against makeup packaging. You know the scene in Amelie when she shoves her hands into a tub of beans for the visceral pleasure of it? This is the attraction I have to stiletto nails.
I also love unabashed girlie glamour (see: my fascination with Dolly Parton, Dita von Teese, and Liz Taylor). Nothing says “I am a woman, and I enjoy every minute of it” like a set of wildly impractical tips. So, the promise of writing this article was enough to finally put me over the edge and get myself a set of 80s businesswoman nails.
Problem #1: The first thing I learned is that acrylics are for ladies who have time. The whole process took over an hour, and I was instructed to come back every two weeks for a fill. Two short-tipped ladies got manicures and chair massages in the time it took me to get these bad boys put on. If you have not experienced this process, let me break it down for you. First, your nails are roughed up slightly with an emery board. Next, long, unshaped plastic tips are adhered to your nails with superglue. For a terrifying ten minutes, I had long, curved talons with squared-off edges that drooped down from my fingers a good three inches. Once all ten tips are glued on, the nail tech chops them off with a nail clipper to a more reasonable length. Then, shaping.
I told my nail tech I wanted almond nails.
“Yes, pointy. Almond. Stiletto.”
“Okay, pointy nail.”
Like the intrepid (forgetful) soul that I am, I neglected to bring in a picture and figured this was close enough. For the uninitiated, “pointy” acrylics come in two flavors. “Stiletto” can mean a more dagger-y shape, and “almond” nails are still pointy but a little softer. Think Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface. Luckily, the ladies at Clover Nails intuited that I am more Sleigh Bells than Nicki Minaj and gave me a tasteful almond shape.
Next, your nails are buffed to smooth out the hard line between the plastic and natural nail. File and buff, file and buff, for another ten minutes. Then, my nails were painted with a clear acrylic primer, dipped in acrylic powder, painted again, allowed to dry, and buffed and filed again. Phew. Lastly, I got them polished a matte cotton candy pink (Essie Guchi Muchi Puchi). If you’re getting Barbie nails, get Barbie nails, ya know?
After drying, I ran a few errands, feeling like my friend’s bulldog when we put on her rubber snowshoes: clumsy, awkward, and like I don’t know how my paws work.
2. Haggard fingers. I don’t think my nails will be quite as wrecked upon removal as my mother led me to believe when she forbade me from getting acrylics in junior high. I also intend to cheat and just trim and file them down as they grow out to avoid the carcinogenic $20 acetone bath that is professional removal. But still. I can’t imagine that getting these off is going to be easy.
3. Lesbi-honest. These nails are for straight girls or those involved in a long-distance romance only. If you like the ladies, these are not the tips for you. Nothing says “I am not into women” like a freshly painted set of talons. You could seriously hurt somebody.
4. You could get fired. I have a respectable 90 WPM typing rate. Not so with stiletto tips. Although I did get the satisfying tappa-tap-tap, I imagine Dolly Parton had in 1980′s seminal office comedy, Nine to Five (a seriously underrated film).
5. Blindness. Removing my contact lenses with pointy acrylics was a harrowing experience for my corneas. I have essentially committed to rocking my spectacles for the duration of this manicure which is the opposite of glamour.
6. Bust out the leggings. I understand now why Katey Segall wore so much spandex on Married with Children. Navigating buttons and zips with these bad boys are tough.
7. You know the saying, “A woman is only helpless when their nail polish is drying?” Congrats, that is now you all the time. Good luck with pop tabs, plastic packaging, or opening a bag of chips. Lord forbid you to have to pick up a bobby pin or loose change.
8. Living in fear that you will break one. Not only looks tacky but can bend back your natural nail and cause searing pain. Crying over broken nails is real.
9. Mistaken for 1980s time traveler.
10. They are obnoxious. I can’t stop tapping on things. I am a fidgety person by nature, and drumming my nails is infinitely more satisfying (and loud) with these on.
Now, for the pros!
1. You have to move your hands like a fucking lady. Basically, keep your fingertips flat at all times if you expect to operate a touchscreen or anything with a button. I think this affectation gives a little elegance to your hands. I feel solidarity with my well-manicured vintage heroines, namely Liz Taylor, Jerry Hall, and Betty Draper (love her, don’t care if she’s mommy dearest).
2. You’ll make new friends! I had three women compliment my nails on the 30-minute trek home from the salon, spanning 2 different boroughs and three very different stylistic categories.
3. Better skin. If you suffer from dermatillomania (aka, you pick at your skin even though you know touching your face popping zits is the WORST THING EVER for your complexion), pointy acrylics will help you kick the habit almost immediately.
I don’t think I’ll be keeping these for long, but it isn’t all bad having nails the color and shape of Jordan almonds. Would you try it?