Fellas, I'm going to give you the week off. I want to talk about nail polish and I'm pretty sure other than having a preference whether you like it or not, this article likely won't be your cup of tea.

I believe a lady should have her fingers and toes painted at all times - yes, even in the wintertime. I'm actually much more adamant about women having their toes painted because I think feet, in general, are weird and it's one step closer to making them a bit more appealing.

For me, personally, though, I cannot handle naked nails. I honestly feel naked without nail polish. When I'm out in public, it's as if I forgot to put pants on. I feel like everyone is staring.

I don't know, call me old-fashion, but I also am a gal who believes you should change out of your pajama pants before leaving the house. Maybe that makes me prissy; so be it.

I remember my Mam teaching me how to paint my own nails in her bedroom. I believe the color options were few, but there was a very soft pink and a fire engine red in her collection. I, by no surprise, honed in on the fire engine red. "No," my Mam told me, "You're not old enough for that yet."

It's hard to string together the conversation verbatim, but I recall the conclusion hinted around to the idea that women of ill repute wore red nail polish. Not that I had any idea what a women of ill repute was; I was only about four years old, for heaven's sake.

The naive little girl who I was, though, couldn't wait to grow up and be one of those women, just so I could sport fancy red nails. In hindsight, I'm glad I never went that route and I eventually realized the fun my grandmother was having with me that day. Had I not, I would have possibly wondered by my God-fearing, gentle, loving, peach of a grandmother would have such a color. God rest her soul, that's probably about as racy as she ever got. She was truly a saint, and for the record, I never saw her wear bright red nails once.

So, anyway, we chose the soft shade of pink and I didn't do such a bad job for my first time and I've been hooked ever since.

My history with nail polish reads like a love story complete with the honeymoon phase then the realization that the polish just wasn't what I was looking for.

A lot of my early collection, which I kept neatly organized in my nail Caboodle, were of the Avon variety because the lady who worked the front desk at the doctor's office my mom worked at sold it. It was a collection of mauves and pinks and, eventually, without soiling my reputation, I graduated to red.

Throughout the years, I've tried every gimmick nail polish there is because I just can never get enough.

Let's take a look back at a spattering of some of those:

Tinkerbell nail polish

Tinkerbell nail polish was awesome, but, in hindsight, it did exactly what you don't want your nail polish to do: peel off. But, much like covering your entire hand in school glue and peeling it off, that was the fun of it. It all peeled off in one sheet and that's something that will never lose its luster.

Nail pens

I recall it seeming like such a genius invention. Avon, of course, was the first nail pen I had tried. The plastic tube looked kind of like a marker tipped with a polish brush. The idea was to squeeze the tube, thus forcing the perfect portion of polish onto your nail, simplifying the task and eliminating the dunk and balancing of a wand to a bottle.

That was the idea.

What really happened is the right amount was never dispersed and the brush, no matter if you cleaned it or not, never remained clean and would get all hard and all discombobulated. Then, it would clog forcing you to just squeeze harder which, for me, resulted in a virtual disaster as the polish exploded from all the seams covering me and my brand new pink carpeting in my bedroom. No worries, a little nail polish remover will take that right out, aaaand, there goes the color in the carpet as well. Great. Now I'm grounded.

Press-on nails

Oh, Lee Press-On Nails. They were as cool as Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" video was to me in the late 1980s. It was a novel idea: Let's put some super glue on our nails and adhere this plastic talon. Surely nothing could go wrong there.

The problem was, at the same time of the popularity of the press-on nails was the perm. Now, although I always had a "pick" in my purse to tame my unruly mane of curls at any given point of the day, there was always occasion to scrunch your curls to make sure your style was on point. Press-on nails and permed ringlets of hair don't get along well because mine were always getting stuck, eventually flipping the nail right off and ruining my day.

Forget doing anything arduous with your hands, too, because those babies would flip off in an instant. They also left a nice residue of super glue on your nail bed, which was only able to be removed with a belt sander, I believe.


When I finally got a well-paying job out of college, the first thing I decided I, as a working class woman, was going to do was to start getting my nails done professionally. Luckily for me, I have always been blessed with very strong nails that grow very fast.

Little did I know, the best way to ruin that is to get acrylic nails. They whittle your real nails down with a Dremel, people. How can that be good? I realize this now and I do believe it works very well for someone with thin nails that don't grow, but for me, it ruined something good I already had going on.

I proceeded to get my nails done religiously every two weeks. Picking a color was like committing to man. I felt like all my freedoms were going to be taken away. What if I picked the wrong one? I had to have this on for like two weeks because I was obviously far too fancy to paint my nails myself now that I was at the ripe old age of 20. Clearly, picking up change wasn't important either, something, for some unknown reason is impossible with acrylic tips.

And don't get me started about the fear of fungus. Lord only knows who touches what and who doesn't wash their hands regularly then they just hop in a chair and shared equipment just starts drilling away at them. Ugh. It just makes me uneasy now. However, there are some very reputable nail salons and regular salons that do acrylics in the area, and if that's your thing, don't let me discourage you.

Nail strips

Ah, the answer to all of our prayers. How had no one invented this before? This is going to be a snap. You would think these would just come in a pack of ten and break the chains of wet nail polish, drying times and the other oppressive negatives that come along with keeping up your nail game. You would think, but you would be wrong.

They come in a pack of like 30 because that's about how many you are going to need until you get them all stuck on straight. The process, which you may have believed would be simple, is like playing "Pin the Tail on the Donkey." I think it may be easier blindfolded because with my 20/20 vision, I could not seem to line those suckers up right. I will, on occasion stick one on my ring fingers as an accent, but a whole set? I don't have the time nor the patience for that.

Nail polish

For the past couple of years, I've just done it the old-fashioned way - the way my Mam taught me and just painted them with regular ol' nail polish. The problem there is, I cannot stand it when my nails get messed up.

I often have the novel idea to paint my nails right before bed or right before going out for the night. Bad idea. First of all, no matter what kind of robot you think you are that you can program yourself to sleep with your hands neatly spread out on the top of your thighs while you are whisked off to dreamland, you can't. Nope. Not happening.

As soon as, or even before, you reach the R.E.M. stage of sleep, you will cuddle up in your bed sheets and so will your nails, resulting in the dreaded "sheet mark" effect on your manicure. No good.

Waiting for your nails to dry is the biggest pain in the rump about the whole process. I've had nail dryers, I've sprayed them with Pam cooking spray, I've gotten fancy quick dry stuff, I've ran them under cold water. Still, I always manage to mess them up somehow.

Gel polish

If my nail history reads as a love story, then, currently, I'm in the happiest relationship in my life. I discovered gel nails a handful of years ago. I really liked it, but just couldn't deal with the upkeep. However, recently, I fell back in love as I have a tendency to do.

This stuff really is my nail savior. It's quick and easy, just how I like it.

It consists of a base coat, two coats of polish and a top coat - something I was doing already. Each coat is "cured" under a UV or LED light lamp for about a minute and the end result is perfectly polished, perfectly shiny, DRY nails.

Seriously, you can bang them off your keys, open a can of soda or start digging in your garden after you get this done and you're all good - as long as you get it done right. The idea is to keep all the coats very thin.

I've gone to places at which they just slopped it on like they were shoveling you-know-what into a bucket and the end result was a lumpy set of nails which peeled off like Tinkerbell polish just days later. If you find a good place that knows what they are doing, you are pretty much golden. It can be pricey but it honestly lasts over two weeks, and they remain as shiny as the first day, all the way to the end.

To be honest, though, the pricey thing is something that does get to me. My theory is always why pay for something or buy something if I can do it or recreate it myself?

So, I made an investment. Through the power of a HauteLook event, I got myself my very own gel kit complete with an LED lamp, polish, top and base coat and cuticle oil which retailed for over $250 for a mere $52. Still a little steep, you say? Not for the money it will save me. With the tip and the service, it's about $25 anyway to get my nails done at the salon. This thing cost two trips and will hopefully last long enough to make it money well spent.

I'm pretty happy with it so far. I could have maybe taken my time a little more, but overall, I like it. I don't know if I'm crazy about the color; it's not exactly accurate to the swatch that represented it online, but that's neither here nor there because now I can invest in a whole collection of colors to last me a lifetime. Never again will I need someone to reach in my pocket or my purse for me while I stand helpless with wet nails. Gone are the days with dents and dings.

You can check out my newest manicure in my debut as a hand model in the photos accompanying the article on our new app on the front page. I think I'm finally in nail heaven.

(Jenna Wasakoski is an assistant editor at The News-Item)