I’m having an odd experience here at the keyboard. It appears that someone else’s fingers are doing the typing. The hands that tap and flit before me have shiny red tips that belong to the very glamorous. My own nails, the last time I gave them a cursory glance, were hard-worn, chipped and uneven.
It so happens that us girls generally sit in two camps. As if there was invisible dividing lines between those who’ve had certain experiences and those who have not. From childbirth, which is huge, to the seemingly most trivial. I’ll dare to admit that even first waxings, eyebrow plucking, hair-colouring moments have felt like mini rites of passage. After you’ve sat in both camps and passed from one to the other, you never quite relate to the old self again. How could I have thought that having children would spoil my fun or that an interest in making myself look and feel better was just silly vanity?
I’ve just had a proper nail manicure – the first in my life as it happens and, frivolous though sounds, there was a tiny life changing moment even in this.
The last person who painted my nails was my bridesmaid with a translucent gloss. We’d agreed on a natural look, but the older I get the more a ‘vampish’, ‘scarlet lips and nail’ girl’s inside screaming to get out. Having lost the youthful glow my desire to appear ‘au naturel’, has given over to ‘weary-worn’. Life, regrettably, is ‘me-time’ poor for high-maintenance beauty routines so I’m up for any quick fix solution that’ll make me feel less like a drudge, more like a female again.
I was looking for a bit of a treat for myself at The Clearing Spa at The Cornwall and found myself tempted Shellac gel, a new nail product designed to withstand the rigours of a busy lifestyle. “But how will it cope with weeding and gardening?” I asked Verity, my manicurist for this session, while she carefully filed my rough nail ends. I was having mixed feelings. Beautiful nails are a bit high-maintenance aren’t they and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to shirk house and home tasks in order to preserve them.
“The great thing about these Shellac gels,” said Verity showing me a range from pretty pinks, vivid reds, a deep purple to a statement black, “is that they dry instantly and last without incurring chips, scratches or smudges for weeks and keep their shine and shimmer.” To reassure me, she added, “We’ve ladies who come in for this treatment who garden or keep horses and they certainly don’t want to worry about needing to protect their nails.”
I’m now feeling just a little bit reinvented with red nail-varnished fingertips looking daring and divine. I can now choose to glam up like a diva and put on killer heels without feeling like a fake, I can emerge bedraggled from the sea in a wetsuit and feel a little like a ‘Bond girl’ or I can slum it all day in paint-marked jeans and an old sweatshirt and still feel like a woman. My sons have been stunned into silence; my girlfriends have squealed in excitement and my husband has taken me out to dinner.
Next time I’m treating my toes to this attention.