Nails are BIG for autumn …
Our hands are deeply sanitised and therefore dry. And our nails are struggling too. This surely is one of the reasons clip-on nails are making a comeback – what lies beneath is just not worth looking at. Press-on artificial nails, huge in the eighties, are making a return, partly because getting acrylics done is perilous – what if salons close again and you’re stuck with them? And partly because they’re just fun – cheap, cheerful and ensuring you can’t possibly do the washing up. Just glue them on and you’re done, off to click noisily away at your computer and drive your flatmates/other half/dog completely mad, as you channel that imperious “Computer Says No” attitude.
But what do the experts think of press-ons? Are they knackering our nails? “We used to offer an ‘occasional nails’ service until a few years ago,” says Kate Verling of MINK Dublin salons. “It was essentially a professional application of tips plus glue for an occasion; we would shape and adhere properly, and they’d last for around 48-72 hours. The concept is perfect for, say, a Debs or a wedding when the client did not want to commit to having a full set of gels and then the upkeep etc. But we found it was the glue that caused the issue – clients picking away and causing damage to the nail plate underneath.” In her experience, Verling notes, “They are not for me, as the standard cut-out sizes for each finger you find on the high street usually don’t suit everyone’s nails, and can look clunky and fake. They need to be removed gently, always, with a soft buffer to protect the nail after the event.”
A better alternative? “Shaping what length you do have, and just owning it with a fabulously bright colour for the occasion,” says Verling. “A simple answer, but always effective and more flattering as the nails are your own.”
Covering up your own nails is always just a temporary fix, and sooner or later you’ll need to look after your actual nails. Which is where the experts come in. I had a signature manicure at the stylish pink MINK salon in Ballsbridge before lockdown, and it was a relaxing and luxurious experience, like a facial for your hands, that gave my nails a healthy boost. They also have an inhouse podiatrist, highly trained to sort any toenail issues and general foot health (all those lockdown walks might have played havoc).
I was intrigued to spot Manucurist Paris Green nail polishes stocked at Avoca. To be honest, we noticed the colours before the green credentials – the Grey Agata is a chic taupe tone that looks seriously sophisticated for autumn (it would be beautiful on a sitting room wall, too). It has a caring side too, being non-toxic (and vegan friendly, cruelty-free) and they replace the usual chemical ingredients with natural alternatives, such as bamboo extract and cotton, where possible. There’s a range of striking colours – Anemone jumps out, in every way, a fiery orange-red that has the punch of MAC’s Ruby Woo, and Pale Rose for the softest daily neutral. €14.95 in Avoca and www.Avoca.com.
Other more eco-conscious brands include ella + mila, at Skinfull Affairs, and The Kind’s Zao non-toxic and “free from” nail polishes (€10) – use two coats for the best finish. They also do a vegan polish remover. At www.thekind.co. I would always use a base coat for protecting nails from not-so health conscious polishes – some of the more toxic ones will really stain and dry out your nails otherwise. Manucurist’s gentle and fume-free polish remover will help, with sweet almond oil to moisturise nails rather than strip them when you’re taking colour off.
“There are so many ‘cleaner’ polishes out there and I’ve tried them all – Kure Bazaar, Nailberry etc,” says Verling. “The formulations are getting better and better but, in all honesty, I don’t feel the nail plate itself responds better or is healthier as a result of applying these. Nails Inc are very innovative when it comes to cracking a truly clean polish, with kale and other green things involved. In my opinion, we have a way to go yet before we can say the polish actually makes an impact to the health of the nail.”
Make-up artist Christine Lucignano recommends www.nailsindeed.com, founded by nail artist Signe, for an extensive range of gel colours (€12.90) that are “10 free”, so without any harmful ingredients from formaldehyde to added fragrance. I’d go for Blackest Black; having watched a Freddie Mercury documentary the other night, I’m inspired by his artful black nails, and Chanel are doing a beautiful matte black varnish as part of their Boy de Chanel range targeted at men.
What about other autumn trends? I loved the rich dark nails at Rodarte, the glitter-dipped fingers at Marni and jewel-encrusted nails at Simone Rocha. “Trends for autumn are interesting, as our clients were so used to having completely bare nails for so long during lockdown,” notes Verling. “We always offer to customise our gel polish in Mink, particularly nude shades, so they feel more suited to you and a little bespoke. This has been hugely popular: a return to a groomed short, squoval nail shape with precise cuticle work and a little nod such as a dot or accent. Our social diaries are not as busy, so clients are happy to sport something fresh, yet subtle. I am hoping as things ease, and events return, we will see this go a little bolder again!”
We’re taking our lead from the catwalks, which saw nails at a length that’s completely over the top and deeply impractical. If you’re finally getting out for a manicure, chances are you’re not going to go for a quiet subtle nude. Big bold nails are a key part of the glamour and drama of this season and part of the rebellion against being stuck indoors, washing up. We want long nails, and we want to go out!
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