Tiny paintings.

Yes, my little obsession with Calgel nails is still in effect! First there was orangey-red, then super-shiny black…and now I’ve gotten a little bit flashier with black ombré tips and with my current set, a glittery gold gradation over black. I form loyalties to businesses very quickly if they do good work and have happy employees, so I’m still going to Sakura on the Lower East Side.

The ombré tips are the work of Selina. I think I spent close to three hours (!!!) having them done, which I can’t really see ever doing again no matter how cool my nails looked when I was done. After applying the nude gel, Selina carefully mixed black and clear gel in various ratios, then meticulously applied the range of black/gray shades with a tiny brush, layering as she went. I was mesmerized. That manicure stayed intact for close to a month, but by the time it was removed the new nail growth was crazy. It feels weird to have (natural) nails this long for the first time in my life.

Because of bad planning on my part, Daniel actually wound up sitting in the salon through the entire glitter manicure. I’d gone in intending to just go back to simple, solid black, but the stylist, Sandy, managed to convince me that what I really wanted was a whole bunch of glitter. And who am I to argue? After the gold micro-glitter went on, Sandy applied the larger, holographic pieces of glitter one at a time. I’m not sure how long the whole thing took, but I’ll bet Daniel could tell you.

This is one SPARKLY manicure, guys. It’s like having a disco ball on each finger. After I was finished, we went out to dinner at Milon—a.k.a. The Most Sparkly Restaurant in New York/”upper left”—and the Indian disco music pretty much kicked in as soon as I walked in the door. Truth be told, after almost three weeks I’m kind of tired of having this much glitter on me at all times. I’m thinking next time I’ll go for something nice and subtle

p.s. Several people have asked on Instagram about how I keep my cuticles looking decent. I guess the biggest contributor is always wearing rubber gloves when I do dishes and clean. I don’t understand how anyone can stand to wash dishes without gloves on! I always push my cuticles back a little bit with the towel when I dry my hands after washing them. If my hands are really feeling dried out and scaly (which is often this time of year) I use Weleda Skin Food—Evan swears by it as well. It seems expensive, but you only need a tiny dab so a small tube lasts a long time. At night, I do my best to remember to rub some oil into my cuticles. I just use sweet almond oil mixed with jojoba oil. It’s easy to make your own and store it in a little dropper bottle on your bedside table.

I sound like a girl.

39 comments
  1. KariNov 12, 201210:30 pm

    just gorgeous.

    [Reply]

  2. audreyNov 12, 201211:10 pm

    Lovely, thanks for sharing.

    [Reply]

  3. lisaNov 12, 201211:25 pm

    daniel deserves a prize! those nails are pretty snazzy though!
    olive oil is magic too!
    i like your links and have ya seen the latest theselvedgeyard?
    circa ’91 – your hood!
    http://theselvedgeyard.wordpress.com/

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Trying to figure out where exactly that is…Plymouth Street, maybe? (I really miss the supermodels of that era!!)

  4. Daniel @ Manhattan NestNov 13, 201212:05 am

    TWO HOURS. But I was completely enthralled through most of it, particularly during the glitter application.

    Also, I’m just completely tickled that I’ve been mentioned in a post about nailz. #dreams

    [Reply]

  5. NameNov 13, 20121:23 am

    The last sentence made me laugh out loud :D
    I love the “ombre” style, it really is art!

    [Reply]

  6. JulesNov 13, 20122:37 am

    So pretty! I’m going to believe that the hand in the nude with black post was Photoshopped. My ego doesn’t want to believe hands so smooth and perfect and pale exist.

    Do you use just the regular gloves from the supermarket? Those don’t fit me. I have long, pianist fingers (probably from playing classic piano for 10 years) and the gloves feel tight and cheap to me!

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Hah! The second ombré photo (the one where my hand looks like it’s made out of glass) is actually an Instagram photo…and you know the magic Instagram filters work on anything resembling the natural human aging process. I don’t have any age spots on my hands or anything, but I’d say they look like the average hands of a 37-year-old who’s done a lot of manual labor over the past decade. ;)

    As far as gloves go, I like the Casabella ones. They’re a little more expensive, but they’re heavier weight and last like 5x longer than supermarket rubber gloves before they get a hole in them somewhere. They also have a little “lip” at the end so water doesn’t run down inside (EWWWW). The only real downside is that they only come in pink, which is at odds with my kitchen…but I can deal. I guess I could store them under the sink if it really bothered me.

    And I have giant man-hands.

  7. NellNov 13, 20123:17 am

    Aside from adoring the nails (I can’t find anywhere in Melbourne yet that’s getting all fancy like that but I’ll keep searching!)… ‘I sound like a girl’ made me laugh out loud at an in opportune moment at work … Oops!

    [Reply]

  8. GracieNov 13, 20123:21 am

    A very lovely girl :)

    [Reply]

  9. JenNov 13, 20123:40 am

    The ombre manicure is off the charts awesome!

    [Reply]

  10. lizNov 13, 20128:32 am

    I’m reading this while eating my lunch having taken the leap and had my first gel manicure. As I type I have the most glossy dark grey drops on the end of my fingers. It was one of those things I kept meaning to try but didn’t get round to. But instagram envy kicked me into action. I think I might treat myself to ombre at the end of the year as they look so…well…perfect! And the nude with a line are brilliant too. Thanks for the inspiration.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Dark grey! Did they have to mix that for you custom? The Calgel chart at my salon doesn’t have a dark grey. :(

    (Or maybe you had a different kind of gel used?)

    Liz /

    It’s an experiment. A gel sandwich with normal polish in the middle. (I’m a fussy boots and wanted dark grey rather than black… we’ll see if it works!)

    Anna @ D16 /

    Oh wow, I didn’t even know you could put gel on top of regular polish! Yeah, definitely let me know how that works out. That would open up the whole world of neon, too…

    liz /

    If it lasts I’ll instagram and let you know. (I got the sense it’s not an official thing so I’ve probably got someone into a whole lot of trouble but hey, maybe no one reads comments (!) and London’s a long way away…) And neon….eyyp!

  11. PollyNov 13, 20128:38 am

    I love the different sizes of glitter, makes them so sophisticated, though I think the nude/ombre are my favorites still. What’s it going to be next?

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    HAH, yes, different sized pieces of glitter is definitely a sign of sophistication. You’re my kind of lady, Polly. :D

    I think next time I’ll go with the nude/black lines I linked to in the post.

  12. InêsNov 13, 20128:50 am

    Muito muito bom!!

    Love it!

    [Reply]

  13. KrystaNov 13, 20129:34 am

    Ok, wow both of these manicures are so so awesome!

    [Reply]

  14. EsteeNov 13, 201210:38 am

    They’re pretty, sure, but this stuff can not be good for your body.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Actually, Calgel isn’t so bad. It’s “3-free” (more about what that means here), unlike most regular nail polish. Also, since it lasts 3-4 weeks, I’m exposed to far less solvent in the form of acetone (it comes off with regular nail polish remover) than I would be if I was doing my nails weekly or bi-weekly. Even the UV light that’s used to “cure” the polish isn’t really a risk—it’s less UV exposure than your hands get in an average day.

    I’m definitely not trying to make a case for Calgel being some kind of all-natural product, but compared to regular nail polish (or worse, stuff like acrylic or fiberglass nails), it’s not too horrible.

  15. EsteeNov 13, 201211:00 am

    Fair enough! Plus, they really are very pretty.

    [Reply]

  16. natalieNov 13, 20122:56 pm

    I read in a previous post that you use to do your own nails all the time. Have you looked into doing your own gels? I have seen a couple different kits around(including the uv light)and I am really curious about them.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Yes, I have, but it’s worth it to me to have my nails done by a professional every now and then. I don’t want to accumulate new gadgets and special polishes and stuff. I really appreciate the skill level involved with doing these kinds of manicures…and I definitely don’t have that skill. ;)

  17. katrinaNov 13, 20129:44 pm

    nail envy. intense nail envy!

    [Reply]

  18. riNov 14, 20123:03 am

    Totally beautiful!!!

    [Reply]

  19. erinNov 14, 201210:59 am

    Do you have the manicurist remove the Calgel when you change them? I have been wanting to do these forever, but always get a little nervous because I’ve heard it can be so hard on your nails. My nails are on the thin-peely side anyway (it’s amazing how many people have told me is from years of being a vegetarian – something I totally don’t buy and think is much more closely related to my sensitive/dry skin) and have worried about them being wrecked by the gel. I ask because I feel like a lot of your skin recommendations either work really well for me, or already things that I’ve found success with – which leads me to believe we might have somewhat similar skin/hair types. Your nails are so gorgeous, by the way.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Hi Erin! I tend to have very thin/peely nails, too, but I don’t think it has anything to do with not eating meat. My nails were like that when I was kid, too, and also when I took a 3-year “meat rumspringa” a while back. My mother’s nails tend to be like that as well, and she and I have similar skin types…so I think it’s safe to say that it’s all related. Lucky us. ;)

    I actually haven’t found the Calgel to be hard on my nails at all. I think it makes a HUGE difference how they’re removed, though, and yes, I do have the manicurist remove the Calgel for me. They charge small fee on top of the next manicure to do it. The way my salon removes the Calgel is by using the same method I do for removing glitter polish: Saturate a piece of a cotton square with acetone-based nail polish remover, place on nail, wrap finger in aluminum foil, wait 10 minutes, wipe off. Most of the time it all comes off cleanly, and any stubborn bits of gel just get pushed off easily with an orange stick. It’s all very non-traumatic! Other than abrading the surface of the gel to allow the remover to penetrate the top layer, there’s no filing involved at all. My nails look fine when the Calgel comes off. A little dry, maybe, but also very long and very strong since they’ve been protected from chipping/breaking/peeling for three weeks.

    erin /

    This is great – thank you so much for all the info, Anna. I’m definitely going to give it a try. :)

  20. Cori MageeNov 14, 20125:08 pm

    Ok, I’ve been slightly obsessed with the nude + black ombre tips since you first tweeted them. I might have to try this…

    [Reply]

  21. Abigail @ abigail*ryanNov 14, 20127:05 pm

    Loving your gel mani’s… they look awesome, and your gal at Sakura is definitely doing a really fantastic job! I’ve only ever had one gel manicure done professionally, and my nails were quite wrecked and much more damaged than from the gel kit I use myself at home (which I get 10 days to 2 week mani’s from).

    I’m currently wearing taupe base with black glitter fade, which isn’t too glittery and I like it a lot!

    Looking forward to seeing your next ones :)

    [Reply]

  22. JanneNov 16, 20123:23 pm

    Luuuuwin the nailz!!!

    And the ring….don’t even get me started; FAAAB!

    [Reply]

  23. MonicaNov 17, 20121:31 pm

    B-e-a-utiful.
    I want to do the gold sparkle one on my nails, but I don’t own black nail polish… but not for long!

    [Reply]

  24. DusaNov 18, 20123:19 pm

    Glitter makes everything better. The end.

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    Yes.

  25. SabrinaMar 13, 20136:46 am

    Beautiful! I don’t have black nailpolish because I never wanted to paint my whole nails black but the way you use is is amazing. I think I should reconsider my decision. The next drugstore is just on the opposite side of the road.

    [Reply]

  26. TuckerJStyleMar 17, 20136:13 pm

    I have had the pictur of ur ombré nails in my phone since u originally posted it ! I am also a but of a nail but but more importantly ever since I saw it I have been on a HUNT for that thumb ring, WHERE DID U GET IT?!

    [Reply]

    Anna @ D16 /

    It’s from H&M, but I’m not sure if they still sell it. I actually spray painted it black:
    http://www.doorsixteen.com/2012/09/12/tiny-diy-cheap-ring-makeover/

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