taking care of your nails

July 19th, 2007

Oddly enough, this is a conundrum which seems to affect only women. Few things are so gender biased as nail care. See, for men it's very easy. Wash and cut, you're done. But women have a whole maze of ideas and bad advice to navigate. And for this reason they get it wrong a whole lot.

What you're basically saying is that your nails are so ugly/dirty/disgusting that this fugly nail polish is actually nicer to look at anyway.


Let's start with the basics. Do you know what species you are? Yes, human, correct. Here's the thing. Men and women are both human. Their hands and fingers are exactly the same. And the rules for nail care are thus also the same. You cut the nail where the skin of your finger ends.

It's like women sometimes want the shape of their nails to be like the nails of members of the animal kingdom. Instead of ending them where the skin ends, they want to extend them for no apparent reason.

It's odd how controversial this rule is. See, leopards have long nails, don't they? Yes, because it's also a weapon. They need to have long nails, it's an environment thing. If you lived in a really tough neighborhood, you'd need some protection too. But you're not a leopard, are you? That's right, and weird nails won't make you one either. For a panther it's pretty important to have long nails. If it wants to pierce the skin of a fruit (or peal an orange), it doesn't have a Swiss army knife. But you have all kinds of tools in the kitchen you can use.


This one's even worse. Some women advertise their nails 3 blocks away. It's almost like all you can see is the nails sometimes, because they're so at odds with everything else in the environment.

See, there is something called contrast, and color balance. They teach this in art school, but we can't all go to every single school, so it's useful to know the most basic things anyway. The basic idea is that if the contrast of two adjacent things is high, something is wrong (it's unpleasant to look at, it signals a conflict). Contrast is a principle present all the time, the contrast between your clothes and your skin, the skin and the hair, the skin and the shoes, the socks and the pants etc etc. In most cases people do an okay job of it. But somehow the idea is completely lost when it comes to nails, people have no good sense anymore. I mean you wouldn't paint your hands red, would you? That just seems stupid. Well, there you go.

Even a leopard has more sense than to paint its nails red, or fluorescent yellow, or purple, or what have you.

The idea is that the nails are actually part of your hands, so you want them to appear as such. Some light color that doesn't contrast too much with the skin is passable. As is blank polish. But what you're actually doing is painting over the surface of a piece of wood so it won't get damaged. But since your nails aren't wood, the whole procedure is completely obsolete to begin with. I guess you don't varnish your fingers for protection, do you?

The checklist

I guess that was a lot of information to take in, so here's a short checklist to remember.

  1. Are your nails longer than to comfortably play the piano? If yes, then they need trimming.
  2. Are you trying to flag down a jumbo jet? If yes, your nails need a good scrubbing to reveal oh yes, the nail.

If your answer to both is no, you're in the clear.

:: random entries in this category ::

3 Responses to "taking care of your nails"

  1. John says:

    Wow. First suits, now this. You really have it in for fashion. :)

    When is the article on the obscenity that is the high heeled shoe? Invented as a fix for a problem where a horse rider's shoe would slip in the stirrup, they became fashionable among the French aristocracy, and have been in and out of fashion since, in spite of the fact that they cause a number of foot and tendon problems, and are hopeless for running in. Next to all of that, painting your nails seems fairly harmless to me.

  2. numerodix says:

    Well, since you concede I do post on fashion, I would have to say that the high heel, dangerous as it may be, is not particularly offensive in terms of aesthetics, next to painted finger nails for example. :)

    Although from a practical point of view, practicality being an important value of mine, it does deserve a kick up the backside.

  3. erik says:

    Gotta love the ones that have each finger nail painted a different colour. I like to point that one out the same way you would point out soup on someone's face.