Tag "Calgel"


It’s been a looooong time since I did a manicure post, but I couldn’t resist sharing this latest one. I’m a little bit obsessed with it! I can’t stop looking at my fingers.

I’m still really into Calgel manicures, but custom designs can get pretty expensive. Lately I’ve been getting solid-color Calgel (expect to pay ~$40 and for it to last about four weeks) and painting my own designs on top with regular nail polish. Last month I added white dots to a black base, and yesterday I took a little more time to paint black triangles on top of the palest, prettiest pink.

I wish I had process photos to share, but I did this at 1AM and I honestly wasn’t expecting it to look so nice! It’s easy to explain how to do it, though. You really just need two things: a bottle of nail polish and regular old Scotch tape! Use the Scotch tape to mask off the area you want to paint, carefully brush on the polish, immediately remove the tape (remove the tape strips in the reverse order of which you applied them so you don’t make a mess), et voilà!

A few things:
1. Painter’s tape doesn’t work well for this. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t. Stick with regular Scotch tape.
2. You can definitely do this on top of a regular nail polish base, but it needs to be really dry first. I’d suggest waiting at least 4–6 hours.
3. If you have a little smudge to clean up, just carefully use a clean orange stick dipped in non-acetone nail polish remover. Yes, even if the smudge is on the actual nail.


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.

I’m pretty unfancy when it comes to jewelry. Aside from a few things that were gifts, the only jewelry I wear (if I wear any at all) is cheap stuff—really cheap stuff. Last weekend I found this neat “diamond” ring at H&M for $5, and even though I didn’t like the weird faux-antique finish of the metal, I decided to buy it anyway and try giving it a little makeover.

I’ve never tried spray-painting jewelry before, but I figured that since matte black Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer has proven itself to be incredibly durable on my door hinges, window locks and other hardware around the house for the past six years, it would probably hold up pretty well on a ring, too.

I washed the ring with soapy water, dipped it in rubbing alcohol (this might’ve been unnecessary, but I figured it couldn’t hurt), let it air-dry completely, and then applied two light coats of Rust Reformer. After letting it dry overnight, the ring looks PERFECT. The black finish is flawless, and and the ring looks a million times cooler now. It’s my new favorite piece of jewelry! (Side note: Doesn’t it remind you of AM Radio’s himmeli mobiles?)

OK, so before my mother has a heart attack: That’s not a real tattoo. It’s a Tattly. I’m kind of obsessed with temporary tattoos right now—I have a huge stash, and they’re perfect for non-committal types like me. I love what Tina has managed to do with Tattly—she’s having fun with a medium that was previously relegated to children’s novelty items, and using it as a means to promote artists and designers. (My Scribble Tattly was created by James Victore.)

And yes, that’s a new Calgel manicure, this time in black. The orange-red Calgel lasted for exactly two full weeks before the new growth started to make me crazy (which I knew would happen, since my nails were very short and the color was very bright!), but it stayed shiny and completely chip-free the entire time. This is what it looked like an hour before I had it removed. I have no doubt I could have gone at least 3–4 weeks if it weren’t for the new growth! Oh, and for those of you were wondering, the removal process at Sakura was simple and painless. A tiny acetone pad was held in place with aluminum foil over each nail for about 5 minutes (exactly the same method you’d use for removing glitter polish at home), and then the gel basically fell off of my fingernail with a gentle push from an orange stick. There was no damage to my nails whatsoever, but from what I gather, the outcome really depends on the technique used by the salon you go to. I’m going to keep the black on for three weeks, and then I want to try a fancy gradient manicure

It’s no secret that I love having fancy fingers and toes. There’s just something about having nicely painted nails that makes me feel complete. I like looking down at my hands and feet and seeing shiny little jellybeans of color. It’s fun. I don’t wear much jewelry, so colored polish functions as an accessory I can’t lose. It makes me feel pretty and done.

I very seldom pay for manicures or pedicures—maybe once every couple of years, tops. I’m good at doing my own nails. It’s one of those things that seems really tricky and messy at first, but with practice it gets easier and the results are very satisfying. Doing your nails is an easy way to FINISH a project, and that can have a pretty profound effect on my state of mind. (And yes, I do realize we’re talking about nail polish here.) Also, I’m loathe to pay someone else to do what I can do myself, especially when even the best manicure tends to chip within a few days.

Lately, though, I’ve been really busy working on freelance work at night, and I’ve been defaulting to bare or clear-coated nails most of the time. I decided to pay someone to give me a special manicure that will last longer than one done with regular polish. (Funny—exactly one year ago, I was experimenting with another long-lasting manicure option! There’s just something about late August, I guess.) After doing some research into the various options, I decided to go with a Calgel manicure. If you’re curious about what Calgel is, exactly, this site has a detailed description.

One salon name comes up over and over again once you start looking into Calgel-certified salons in NYC: Sakura. After reading a bunch of reviews on Yelp, looking through their impressive gallery of wacky-cool nails on Facebook and, of course, soliciting feedback on Twitter (Gala actually replied to me from the salon, which is a pretty good endorsement!), I went ahead and booked an appointment.

My nail stylist was Selina, and she did a great job. I usually wear my nails short, which sometimes prompts a pitch for extensions of some sort (if you haven’t seen comedian Anjelah Johnson’s routine about nail salons, watch it right now—it’s dead on), but Selina was fine just giving me a natural, rounded shape to go with my bright orange-red color selection (it’s #59). The whole process from start to finish took less than an hour, and considering my nails were totally DRY at the end of that hour, that’s pretty impressive. Calgel needs to cure in layers under a UV light, so there was a lot of switching hands and rotating of thumbs…and then it was all done!

My nails look really nice. The finish is so smooth and shiny, and the edges around my nail bed are flawless. I’m very happy with the outcome! The total cost was $40 for a solid color (stuff like gems, glitter and gradations obviously cost more), and I was given a customer card for a discount after I earn a certain number of points from repeat visits. I like stuff like that.

Calgel manicures can last as long as month (!!) without chipping, but since I have such short nails and chose a solid, bright color, new growth will be really noticeable—so I’ll probably go back in two weeks for a color fill-in at the base. Once my nails are longer, I’ll try something fancier like a black-to-sheer gradation (amazing, right?) that won’t show regrowth as much. Knowing I’ll get an entire month out of a pricey manicure makes the cost sting a little less!

It’s only day one with my Calgel manicure, but I’ll let you know how things are looking after a couple of weeks. I have high hopes…