19 March 2017

Twilight Zone: Nails II

am still working on my post covering the pink prom dress. But in the meantime I wanted to get down a little nails related incident that happened in the last weeks which is still fresh in my mind and nose.
I’ll be going on about my nails in more detail soon under the Twilight Zone category as with this post. It seems that being retired is taking up more time than I thought hence causing delays in clearing the backlog of things I want to post about!

I may have mentioned in the past that I have brittle nails and they keep splitting into the nail bed and causing havoc with my stockings, if not we'll they are and do. This means I should keep them trimmed short which I don't like and never did. I try and see that they stay as far as possible on par with the end of the fingertip which should reduce mishaps but they still happen. I have to keep trying to find a length and form that looks a little feminine, tolerated by MrsA, and doesn't make a rattling noise when playing the piano!
Also I’m very reluctant in trimming all my nails back to the length of the latest broken nail (see index finger below). I know I should otherwise it looks terrible. Unfortunately I don’t have the luxury to go into a nail salon and have it repaired.

[Ed: it’s nothing to do with luxury, you would be just totally embarrassed and questions could be asked. Especially as the Misses is known in all the local places and you would have to make a day trip to find a place to have them looked at. And they would probably send you home as there nothing really to repair anyway.]

Yes your right, I would just have to shorten it. As a result, I have nails in different stages of length-ness and I must admit that doesn’t look nice either. Now and then I trim them all back mainly when I get that look from MrsA or when I realise I’m scratching the keys of the piano instead of playing them. As I dig out my manicure set I keep telling myself that they will grow back again and to date they have.

MrsA has the same problem with splitting and last summer bought Micro cell 3000 to strengthen them (paint once, paint over next day, third day remove and repeat). The problem was she never kept to the instructions. She always delayed applying and removing because she can’t stand the smell. And the smell will be the main reason for my skulduggery to come under the cover of smell-ness...
As the microcell product was almost transparent (it looks pinkish in the picture) I asked - ducking as I did - if I could try it for my nails and to my surprise she said yes! You can imagine that I’ll jump at any chance to paint my nails which is very rare due to the lingering tell-tale smell of remover and MrsA. not being away long enough to air the house and my fingers completely.

Having the possibility to wear varnish even if it's 'only' a cure is lovely! The varnish was clear and sadly only a bit shiny but I did have officially painted nails! The cure worked quite well and lasted for about six months. This allowed me to have my nails a little longer than normal without breaking or splitting before they started to become brittle again.

A couple weeks ago we were in the local drug store and MrsA was looking for a lipstick. I stuck around because she always asks me my opinion to colour and gloss which I do gladly. It’s a shame we can’t do this the other way round, maybe one day..
As I followed her from product line to product line I started to scan the nail varnishes checking out the new colours. It nice to have the chance to get in close to the multi-coloured makeup wall with the excuse of helping her find something and not just looking for colours I would like to wear.

Among the different collections I found nail hardeners and thickeners and as my nails were again splitting I got the idea to get MrsA to let me try this time a thickener. Also I was hoping it would have a better shine than the micro cell product. I must admit I had no idea what a thickener would do over a hardener apart from ending up with a thicker nail but I went for it anyway. I selected the essence as it had XXL on the label, bigger the better I thought, stupid I know but I had to start somewhere.
I needed an approval before putting it in our shopping cart. For anything like this the main stipulation is - as with the micro cell – no hint of colour. As some shininess was going to be unavoidable I got that look as if I was up to something, which of course I was...

To get her mind off the shininess I went on about the micro cell bottle being almost empty [Ed: it wasn’t] and the price of the essence product was much cheaper [Ed: it was 1,75 against 11,45] . In the end she nodded went back to browsing and in the cart the little bottle went.
That evening I looked it up in the net to see what I had selected. Found mixed reviews mainly positive but no info on length of use. One girl was using it as a general bottom coat. I doubt if I would be using it all the time. I would keep applying until I got that look variation ‘why so long?’ and then reluctantly go back to keeping my nails polished with a natural shine as best I could.
That was a learning curve! Which emery board to use and in what order and the saying ‘night and day, grey’ to remember the sequence but that only goes for a boards with black, white and grey, I also….

[Ed: .. More on this in another post, I think.]
Err, yep good idea.

Next day I trimmed the nails back just a little and applied. Well they started off with quite a shine and only faded when fully dried which was surprisingly quick. MrsA. remarked about my nails being slightly opaque. I said I don't think so, but she was right. Not much, but they looked good depending on the light. I played the milky-ness down as best I could. The last thing I wanted was to have to remove it again. She dropped the subject and with relief so did I. They looked this way in much better shape than they normally do, mainly due to spending some time trying to get a proper form. Also they really twinkled especially in direct sunlight and halogen lighting!
Didn’t have the feeling when out and with friends as if anyone was giving me funny looks. I think I was too concentrated with looking myself at my nails to see if anyone else was.

Last weekend came and MrsA was complaining that my nails were again too long and wasn't too happy with the nail thickener being shiny. I think it was the combination that got her going. All too feminine in her eyes and of course in mine too! It looked like I would be trimming drastically back sometime soon to keep the peace. I said I would do my nails while she was at rehearsals and air the place afterwards so that she would only be confronted with a minimum of smell when she got home.

What I didn't say was that after removing the now flaking thickener I had planned to paint my nails with MrsA’s dark purple vanish. Ages ago she bought it home from her manicurist following a mani pedi but hadn’t worn it since. I had been eyeing it for quite a while because I hadn’t this colour in my collection and I wanted to see what it looked like on me.
Following applying I would then take pictures, remove, trim and 'officially' apply the thickener again. All this would allow me to try-out and see my nails long and in colour even for a few minutes without her asking what the smell was because she would be expecting it.

Well I didn't get the timing right at all.

I started with the bad applying to the good hand, and realised it was not going well. I’m not sure why it was either too thick maybe old, or I hadn’t rotated the bottle enough in my hands (stirred not shaken). Using a thinner never crossed my mind at the time..
[Ed: you had no idea if there was one in the house let alone where to look if there was..]
.. Oh! That’s why it didn’t cross my mind.

Frustrated I aborted, removed the varnish as best I could and decided to get my coral red from somewhere in the cellar. I was kicking myself while searching my stash for not doing this beforehand as a possible backup colour. I only had an hour and a half and no real idea of the time I need for it all.
I started again and realised my bad hand was still not up to it even through the coral red went on better than the purple. I again panicked after looking at the clock and again aborted. I hastily removed what was there and decided to stick to just painting the bad hand using the good. I managed two coats followed by a clear top coat and still made a mess of it. I was just shaking too much, looking too often at the clock and thinking about what I still had to do instead of concentrating of the task at ‘hand’.
One does need a lot of practice with this. Clear varnish, as with the thickener, isn’t so bad but a colour can look terrible if not done well. I just don't have the opportunity to make a routine of it. I don't have time to perfect my makeup either. I would need an expert anyway to make anything of my face. A crinkled canvas is not the place to start learning!

So I took a few pictures with my phone which was not easy trying to get the angle and lighting right. Pity a few days beforehand the nail of my index finger had broken (gardening accident). Really need to plan this better in future, if I ever get the chance that is. I knew with my shaky hands there would be problems with vanish getting into places it shouldn’t. And there was, so after taking pictures I started franticly to apply the remover. From my last nail session with colour long ago, I knew it would take ages having to apply surgical procedures under a magnifying glass. Then I had all night, now it seemed and was, just minutes.

I used a lot of remover. I had opened the window but forgot to close the door of the room and so the draft distributed the smell all over the house. The majority of the varnish is easy to remove and relatively quick. It's the rest in the crevices between finger and nail that takes forever.
I used remover soaked Q tips to go at the recesses. For the really hard areas I scratched it away with a wooden tooth pick! I had to making sure I didn’t damage the nail bed doing this, drastic measures due to time progressing. Last time, colour turned up later at the nail bed. I just hadn’t seen it in the hectic, maybe it was invisible beforehand and grew out with the nail!

Time was pressing. I trimmed my nails, add a layer of thickener, let it dry, gathered all the smelly wipe pads and Q tips and deposited them in a bin bag and then in the dustbin at the bottom of the garden. I got changed and then drove to pick up MrsA.
On the way I realised that my fingers stank of the remover and possibly the car as well. I had the windows down for the entire trip; it was sunny but bitter cold. I was early and as I was waiting I left the windows down to let the cold air in and the smell of the remover out.
While waiting I remembered that we had promised one of the cast that we give them a lift home. I had totally forgotten about her! As I was contemplating if I would have to soon scrape the ice off the inside of the window screen, they finally arrived late with apologies. As MrsA. got in the back and our friend in the front passenger seat I raised the windows. MrsA remarked that the car was slightly cold. I replied that I had forgotten to put on the heating.
I was still conscious of the smell on the way back but couldn’t lower the windows. Neither said anything, and at home I didn’t get a remark to the smell in the car. Maybe she hadn’t smelt it in the back. It could be I was conscious of it as my hands were on the steering wheel almost directly in front of my face. Our friend with her front side seat was in full view of my shining nails in the sun light and maybe the smell but didn’t say anything, well not yet anyway.

The house was full of remover smell when we got back and as suspected I got that look. I just shrugged my shoulders. She wanted to see my hands. I tried to keep my distance and wave them around a bit. I was in panic that with her eagle eyes she would see any colour I missed! Even with not holding still, she could at least see that they were trimmed down.

As she put the kettle on for tea I got the passing comment that they were still too long and again painted but nothing more, which was a relief.

Just before writing this up I thought I would check my nails using a microscope camera. This is the little finger of the good hand where I had two attempts at applying the purple and then the coral red before giving up. You can see traces of the red vanish in the crevices (right and upper left). Also the thickener shows the opaqueness and signs of flaking at the end of the nail.

In the close up picture traces of the purple and red can be seen. When I redo the thickener I hope to remove any leftover colour. Thinking about it if I do this when MrsA is again at rehearsals, maybe I can get the timing right and try another colour, will see.
To date no close scrutiny or further comments.


  1. While reading over your post, it occurred to me that both you and MrsA were in your respective rehearsals at the same time. I hope that you both will be able to have your respective "shows", as well.

    1. I can see the results of MrsA's rehearsals at any time Conniedee mainly as I'm roped in to do the lighting and SFX. But there is no chance at this time that she will see the results of my rehearsals, apart from the clear varnish that is.

    2. Well, here's hoping the spotlight will soon be turned around to shine on you - and that you "nail" it on your opening night.:-) Varnishing over things, after all, seldom brings satisfactory results.

    3. Nicely put, I have to plan my opening night well, its permanent ‘dress’ rehearsals at this time. Letting now and then parts of the plot slip through (as with my nails, shaved legs and garters) to test the reactions of the audience. I wouldn’t say I have stage fright for myself; it’s just that I don’t want to be in the Limelight, even if I do have an evening dress in the colour when the time comes. No reviews in the tabloids are the best reviews, including from MrsA who will be sitting in the front row..

    4. I rehearsed my own soliloquy, "To be or not to be", for so many years until I realized there was no question to it at all. I could only step out on the stage of life with the attitude and belief that it was "to be". I always knew it, but I was hung up on the implication and possible ramification that came from rejection of the "not to be". I mean, what part of "not to be" did I not understand?

      A few years ago, I thought that I might have a knack for acting. After all, I'd been doing it somewhat successfully for most of my life. I auditioned for a part in a community production - as a woman for a part written for a man, but they were willing to rewrite it to a woman's part for me. It turned out, though, that they had me play a bigger and juicier woman's part, a sort of femme fatale role. I couldn't have done it had I not already found the confidence in myself "to be" just ME.

    5. It's a rare thing to find ones true role in life and have the opportunity to play it full time either on the boards or off..
      Just try and keep away from scripts with stepladders and electricians in it.. ;-)

  2. Oh the joys of nail varnish and the perils of clearing it off. Good post, BTW

    1. Hi Lynn thanks for dropping by! Need to start chatting again, bin too long. Yes varnishing is an adventure in the open or behind smelly closed doors! It's a world of its own at finger and toe tips. I hope to get the hang of it with repeating the 'cure'. My next nail post will cover stick on nails so stick around! [Ed: oh my gawd! What was that..] Leave it! I'll pun when I want too. Abi

  3. Now that was scary.... Don't let Mrs A get her hands on the microscope!

    1. Hi Calie!
      Yes a bit scary, she doesn't need the microscope she only has to read my face to know I've got something to hide then I get that 3rd. degree look and have to go into hiding (cellar) until it wears off, the look not the varnish.
      If I can keep the 'cure' going, I can get her use to the remover and varnish smell. This may give me the chance to go for gold, sorry colour again. Um.. Gold? Why not! .. Abi

  4. Ginkgo. When I first painted my toe nails it was weeks before it was noticed. I ave a shoe box full of horribly expensive nail polish but for years it kept me sane. With painted nails I let gardening and house maintenance slip and am now paying the price with broken nails but the ginkgo seems to help. Colour is no longer an everyday thing but special occasions only, sometimes my transition seems to be going backwards!

    1. Hi Coline!
      I'll try the Gingko thanks for the tip. No your not going back just balancing out. Your finding the 'you' balance and all the things that go with it. The nail varnish was an anchor, at that time a focus on who you wanted to be and should have been. As you said it kept you sane. Now it has been put in its place, it's not an anchor anymore just something for nice occasions. Part of your 'now makeup' in more ways than one.
      Now that I am at home I have more time to complete Abi by adding classical female clothing, dresses heels varnish etc. With this is the realisation that slipping on a pair of heels at every opportunity is started to wane somewhat. Don't get me wrong I love heels it's just that the pressure (and pain) is not as it was. It's just that I can wear them more often. I'm starting to balance out, still at a wrong angle but I'm working on it. Abi

  5. "I love the smell of nail varnish in the morning.
    It smells like...victory"

    Transpocalypse Now

    I try and remove polish outside the back door and then dump the tissue straight in the recycle bin so the smell doesn't linger.
    I've never yet managed to get that nice smooth glossy finish in your photo. Quite jealous.

    1. Hi Susie!
      I'm not sure I 'like' the smell, but it does remind one of going through the motions of applying or watching someone else do it.
      Yesterday I got that look again and filed the nails down and just as I thought I was finished I got that 'still too long' look, and so I went at them again. I varnished and she said they looked much better even nice. And I must admit they do with a lovely shine in the sun!
      As for the glossy finish, it was just the top coat that did that. Without it they looked ok, only with the last coat did the unevenness (and I have a lot of vertical grooves) disappear. A good top coat makes all the difference. Abi

  6. I, too, have nails that split and crack. I had tried several "remedies" including seeing dermatologist. He explained why my nails were as they were but had no solutions.

    A young nail tech suggested that I try gel nails. I did and they are great! I have been wearing them for over 15 years. They look natural, can be polished and polish can be removed, and are strong. the "down side" is that they must be filled about every 3 to 4 weeks.

    1. Good that gel works for you Carole. I have a girlfriend that has them. Close up they look more like 'armour-plating' than a cure! They work for her as she does a lot with her hands without any breakage. Yes the down side is maintenance and the costs which are not cheap in the long run. I would not have any chance to try gel, and will stick to some sort of varnish which is just about tolerated by MrsA. Abi x

      Update: the thickener is not ideal, I've have this week a thumb nail split along one of its 'fault lines', fortunately not to far into the nail bed and the nail of my little finger just broke as if there was a perforation line there! I wasn't over doing it either, I think I'll go back to the micro cell and be consequent and see what happens, more in my next nails post.