Monday, July 7, 2014

Jungle Red Nails!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Here at Jungle Red Writers, we're not afraid to take on the most topical issues in the news. The World Cup, the Supreme Court, hurricane season, I.S.I.S - nothing stops us from debating the burning topics of today.

But wouldn't you really rather talk about nail polish?
I was laid up with a 24-hour migraine a few days ago - we've had a round of illnesses and accidents befall the Reds recently - and one of the few consolations I had was looking at my manicure. Yes, I am that shallow. My nails are done in "For Audrey" by China Glaze, a shade that comes as close to Tiffany Blue as copyright will allow. They look like the bottom of a pool in August, and I swear, having pretty nails makes writing more fun.

I try to keep my nails up year round, since, like a lot of us who type
for a living, they break and shred if not protected. But in the cold season, I tend to very neutral and discreet shades with a little shine, like China Glaze's "Fast Track" and Sally Hansen "Gilty Party." 

When summer (finally) rolls around, however, my nails are ready to party. I like shockingly bright blues, corals and greens. And of course, I have to have color (usually contrasting) on my toenails, since I spend all summer in sandals and flip-flops. I actually had a moment at the first BBQ of the season we attended when I realized every other woman had a nice pedicure, and there I was, with my sad bare winter toes, bringing the tone down. I was embarrassed. (I told you I was shallow.) I've remedied that with a tomato-red polish (Sally Hansen "All Fired Up") that can be seen from up to a block away.

So, Reds, let's talk nails. What do you use? Do you go for fancy effects? Do you have an aspirational polish or a secret to the perfect application? Here's mine:

If-money-were-no-object-product: Scotch Naturals Nail Polish. Toxin-free, paraben-free, biodegradable and they have lovely colors in absolutely beautiful bottles.

My nail secret: I don't get professional pedis. Ross does my nails for me. He says it's just like painting the Revell battleship models he did as a kid.
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Loooooove mani/pedis! But not that into polish — I know it's a small thing, but I don't want toxic chemicals on my body or to add anything more to the pollutants in the environment. I usually do my nails myself, but once-in-a-while splurge for a professional job — love buffing as an option to polish for shiny nails. Julia, I'll have to check out Scotch Naturals — that sounds great!
DEBORAH CROMBIE: I've never been able to do my own nails, in any color. Lack of manual dexterity is my excuse. And I can't keep regular nail polish on my fingernails more than a day, if that. But a few years ago my right thumbnail started splitting vertically. I tried everything to fix that nail, even Super Glue (and yes, I take all my vitamins...) It is apparently a permanent fault line (you West Coasters know about that) and I've since discovered other people that have them. So I started having my fingernails done in acrylic, which was a huge pain in the bum. When shellac polishes came out I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I have my fingernails done in shellac and my toes in regular polish. The only problem is getting the colors to match. I tend to wear plums and magentas in the winter, blues and greens in the summer. And I love my deluxe pedis!!!  I had a manicure in London, something I've seldom done because it's so expensive, at Julie's in Notting Hill Gate. Such fun!
Oh, and check out the nail art on my toenails, done by lovely Lily at my local salon. She outdid herself!

PS Julia, remember the scene in Bull Durham where Kevin Costner does Susan Sarandon's toenails? Sigh...

JULIA: I know, right?

HANK: Ohh, yes.

RHYS BOWEN: Manicures are mostly a waste of time on me. I sit in the shop thinking of all the things I could be doing. Then I come out with perfect nails, try to do a spot of DIY and one nail has already chipped. Doomed to failure I'm afraid.

But I do love a good pedi. Sitting in a chair that massages my back with my feet in warm water is very nice, especially when I do it with my daughter or a friend in the next chair and we chat.
And one of my small mysteries of life is why my toes look great in red nail polish when they are done at a professional salon and they look as if a small truck ran over them when I do them?
LUCY BURDETTE: I don't bother with fingernails anymore because I have to keep them so short to type. But once a month I love a pedicure! I walked on the wild side for July 4:). Though she did first try to talk me into blue.

HALLIE EPHRON: Every Christmas Santa leaves me a bottle of nail polish in my stocking. It’s a tradition. Don’t ask. The upshot is that I have about a dozen used-once bottles of nail pollish. I love getting my nails done but I truly don’t have the patience for it and almost immediately ruin them. Toenails are harder to ruin so I do paint them in the summer. Never thought about toxicity. Yikes!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Rhys, you cannot do it yourself, that's why. It's impossible to use the non-dominant hand to do the other hand, and besides, one hand will always be wet while you're doing the other. And if you get a ding, you cannot touch up. Give up. And toenails, forget it, It's just physically not possible. It's not a DIY deal.

I am so used to my red-nailed manicure (OPI "Malaga Wine") that I feel weird without it. And you know fuddy-duddy me--when I decide to GO WILD I use something crazy unusual, like "Day at the Beach," which is sort of sand colored. (Incredibly brave, right?) I have to admit feeling a little embarrassed to have a pedicure (though I do it regularly)--it seems too indulgent. Although obviously it doesn't stop me.
Gel!  (Same as shellac.) A life-saving thing. I'm all about gel now, cannot do without it, it lasts three weeks and is impervious to everything. My color is...Number 33. Which is red.

And sisters, I cannot deal with blue. Or green. Sorry, but I think fingernails can be red, pink, tan or french. End.  And you know there's a color made by Nars called JUNGLE RED, of course. But it's--brown, seems to me.

JULIA: How about you, dear readers? Conservative or crazy colors? Buffed, natural, acrylic or gel? And does a nice mani or pedi make you feel as good as it does us?


  1. ::sigh::
    I am so not a "color" person . . . my favorite "go-to" polish is a neutral beige sort of color. But it has glitter in it. Does that count????

  2. Fingernails? Forget it. I wear them short and do a lot of gardening. If anything, I put a clear polish on, Nail Envy if I can find it, which hardens them. I was a lifelong nail biter until I was fifty, so I have to keep them as smooth as possible - any tiny rough edge and I'm worrying it to death.

    But I love a pedicure in the summer, and have been wearing a sparkly turquoise for a month now. Interesting, Julia, that Ross does your nails. My beau Hugh applied the turquoise for me - he's a professional painter and he did a great job, although he drew the line at the nail clipping and pumice stone part of the pedi. ;^) I'm going to look into those Scotch polishes.

  3. I never had a pedicure until after I was 40, but I love them -- in February I was in California and got glittery gold polish (knowing the toes would be shod when I returned to the frigid northeast).
    I had a nice pedi the beginning of June -- red for Pentecost.
    I think it is time for another.

    Fingernails -- forget it.

  4. Gel! If you have a mani with gel polish you virtually cannot chip it. Really! Give it a try. The manicure tech puts on a coat, you put your hand under lights that bake it, another coat, another baking - and so it goes. Greatest invention since sliced bread.

    But. In between the expensive mani/pedis, I do like to do my own fingernails. And I like to do them in a variety of fun colors. I especially like doing them in a variety of fun different colors - a different color for each nail. I love to do that.

    My toenail color of choice is OPI "I'm Not a Waitress"

  5. I'm wearing OPI Lucky Lucky Lavender on my toenails, still from my birthday pedicure.

    I don't really like polish on my fingernails. It only looks good if I let them grow long, and then I can't get anything done.

  6. The one time I had gel, it was the devil to get it off myself and it ruined my nails under it. Seems like you have to do it all the time or never. It certainly did not chip!

  7. Uh oh, because like Edith I hate polish that's too hard to get off. So maybe gel isn't for me.

    This is inspiring me... Thanks, Julia!

  8. Um, I'm a guy. What is this polish of which you speak?

  9. Hallie, you can soak off the gel. That's what they do in the salon. In really nice salons like Julie's in Notting Hill, they put a polish-remover soaked cotton pad on each nail and wrap it with foil. Brilliant! But usually somewhere between three and four weeks, the gel starts to peel and I just pick mine off. Your nails will feel a little rough but you just buff them and they're fine. Like Kaye, I think gel polish is the greatest invention since sliced bread.

    For those who want to go non-toxic on regular nail polish, I should have mentioned Butter London. Fabulous!!! (And yes, it is English, but you can get it at Ulta, Sephora, or a good department store.) Terrific colors. My problem with it is I can't find matching gel colors for my nails. Sigh.

  10. Wonderful topic! I have to have my nails done ... DONE! If the slightest chip is evident I'm like naked in public!!! I wear Wicked on my nails - kind of like Hank's dark color... this makes me look dignified and sophisticated! A few months ago I started trying out new shades on my feet... green, like in apple, not so great. Various shades of blue, my fave. yesterday I went for a hot pink that looked great in the bottle and got it on my hands too... but today, am not happy - the hot pink does not have the dignity and wise wisdom that my standby Wicked has... so, next week, off with the Hot Pink, back to the traditional dark Wicked. More appropriate for a Crime Wrier. Thelma in Mannhattan

  11. I love nail polish but was not blessed with long, strong fingernails. I keep them short for typing, so I generally paint them clear. I paint my toenails regularly and I love all colors, though generally I'm an OPI girl. I must look into these gels you speak of!

  12. I ordered some Scotch polish last year. I loved the colors in the bottles, but I didn't like them on my nails. They just weren't shiny enough even with the top coat. If I'm going to spend that much for polish, I want neon signs to pop up from my nails and say, "Hey, look at me!" I have since found a sweet little nail salon, not far from my house, and now I go every two weeks to have my nails done with acrylics; however, I paint my own toenails, because I can't stand to have my feet messed with. (If I had been in Susan Sarandon's place, I would needed 100 takes to get that scene done.)

  13. I keep my finger nails in immaculate condition, but I can't keep polish on long enough to get out the door of the salon, so none of that. Toes are another thing altogether. I adore all the new colors, do almost anything but red. I've no objection to red, but it is so last century. Love getting a pedicure. My current favorite is a pedi on the porch, offered by Maxim's on Park Ave in Rochester NY. It comes with a glass or two or three of white wine. What more could you want?

  14. And Debs, love the flowers. I haven't done nail art yet. Hmmmm, maybe this week. My daughter is coming, so we can have a bonding moment perhaps!

  15. I chewed my fingernails as a girl. To train myself out of it, I started polishing them. They are now (generally) pretty strong (although a couple have cracked off, including just one this morning). I can keep that to a minimum if I limit the length of my fingernails. In addition to the writing, I'm a tech writer so I'm on the computer ALL DAY EVERY DAY. I've learned to do lots of things with longer nails. They are unpolished right now because my husband cannot stand the smell of nail polish and he's been home. But it's warm, so now I can go outside. I do crazy colors. I do crackle topcoats. I do glitter-inflused (I have a color called Cha-Ching for the holidays - red with silver glitter and another OPI called "My Sleigh is in the Shop" - killer pink). My daughter went through a nail art phase, so last year I had Union Jacks. Love a casual workplace that allows that. Right now, my toes are silver for the summer (Sally Hansen's Pedal to the Metal - the all-in-one). I don't usually do my toes in the winter - what's the point when I'm wearing socks and boots?

    My daughter is now on an "animal friendly" kick so she has informed me that all the polishes I usually use are tested on animals and she won't buy any more (yes, my 14-year old and I share polish). And I adore the look of a good French manicure too.

    I love professional jobs, but they are so expensive. Plus no matter how long I let the fingernails dry, I muss them up as soon as I leave the salon. So it's mostly a DIY thing for me. Sometimes my girl and I trade services.

  16. Ann in Rochester, the Pedi on the Porch sounds divine! I'm picturing a way to recreate it at home..we have a porch...maybe with champagne instead of white wine!

    Suzanne (and Susan): another toxin-free, hypoallergenic polish I've read good reviews of is Zoya. I do notice most of their offerings are in pastels and neutrals. I wonder if toluene or DBF is what boosts the intensity of the hue.

    Speaking of the ingredients in polish, ladies, please don't just toss your old bottles into the trash. Treat them like paint; dispose of them at your transfer station or at a retailer like Lowes that accepts hazardous waste.

  17. BTW, we talked about gel manis a couple years ago, after I got my first one:

    I love the way they look, but my problem is, I like to change up my color a lot more frequently than once every three weeks! I have, however, started getting a gel manicure before going on book tour. So many people looking at your hands while you sign books, and no time really to D-I-Y or sit down at a nail salon.

    Mark, if you have a lady friend or significant other, may I suggest you take a leaf from the Kevin Costner playbook and learn how to do toenails! According to Ross, it's no difficult than, and I quote: "Painting my 1:600 scale model of the Bismark."

  18. What a fun conversation to begin the day! I love the well-groomed look of polished nails, but time at the key board destroys them immediately. And I am way too clumsy to do my own. Alas, it's strictly for special occasions. A book signing would certainly be one. You've inspired me to think about gel, as my fashionable daughters have been urging. But a good pedicure is heaven! And lasts and lasts.

  19. oh my. I guess I'm a barbarian. I've had exactly one manicure in my life, as maid of honor in a wedding during college years. Never had a pedi. The only time I attempted to wear nail polish was when a friend was selling Avon back in the seventies. So I struggle along with my short nails, bedecked with nothing but garden dirt at times. Mark, wanna get a beer?

  20. You're not supposed to take it off yourself! Just go get the gel. It'll last THREE WEEKS! Then, if you want bare nails, go to the nail place and have it taken off. It takes five minutes, they put little pads of polish remover on each nail, and then it , um, undoes.

    The only thing that happens if you try it at home is that you will rip your nails to shreds.

  21. MArk Baker, we cannot reveal that. Pretend you aren't hearing any of this.

  22. Got my first pedicure for my 50th birthday and now I'm hooked. Once a month, even in winter -- hey, I still get to enjoy looking at them, briefly, between the shower and the socks.

    Deep depression when OPI discontinued Kennebunkport, the perfect red. (No political commentary on my part, I pinky-swear!) Now I hear from my salonista that they're discontinuing our substitute, Quarter of a Scent-cherry. What to do? What to do? (Color suggestions eagerly welcomed.)

  23. Leslie, try China Glaze Red Pearl, it's gorgeous! I never get a mani, but indulge in a pedi at least once a summer...would love it if my hubby would paint my piggies :-)

  24. What beautiful nails you all have! I do love the look of nail polish on fingernails and toenails, and I feel positively elegant with it on. But, alas, I usually only wear polish for special occasions. My daughter is quite adept at doing her own nails, and I envy her beautifully colored nails. I am a slob at the DIY nail care, so it is necessary for a professional job when I do need polish. And, I admit it is a heavenly feel, sitting back in the massaging chair with my feet in the warm water. Right now I have a problem with my two big toes, having lost the nails due to a smashing.

    Debs, I have had that thumb nail splitting problem on and off for years. Oh, Hank your wine color in the OPI looks like what I usually go with. Julia, I admire your gutsy blue nails, and having Ross to do your toes may win him husband of the year. Oh, you all have made me want to get some color going.

  25. I'm sorry to say I've been woefully neglectful of my mails since Baby A was born 4 months ago. It's so bad that I chose pumps over sandals for my book launch event last week because I was too embarrassed to show my toes. But when I do get a chance to do them I tend to choose a soft pink in the winter and a bright pink or red in the summer. For my fingers, I've fallen in love with the Sally Hansen Salon Effect Nail Polish Strips. They are so easy to apply and are surprisingly durable - regularly lasting 3 weeks or more. My favorite is Love Letter, for obvious reasons. I'd post a pic I took last summer of my fingers decked out in them if I could.

  26. I have only had a pedi a few times and it was heavenly - actually had them in winter and had burgandy polish on them - I enjoyed them

    I'm always self conscious of my toes in sandals or flips as I have one really tiny toe nail and another toe that has had surgery so the nail is partially gone - guess I should just say to heck with it and have it done anyhow

    Love, Love to have a manicure - just not in my budget these days, when I worked, I spent a lot more on me at salon, having hair colored, cut (permed 80's) manicures

    my nails are so soft now, even if I make effort to keep polish on them,they always seem to be breaking and or peeling :(

    Colors - I use to always wear a sparkly burgandy-ish color in warm weather, in fall, I loved deep browns, winter I'd generally go for plums, maybe deep red for Christmas

    Now I want long polished nails again :)

  27. Leave it to the Jungle Reds to brighten my day with a conversation like this! My nails have been clipped short my whole life thanks to my love of martial arts (seriously, you cannot make a proper fist with long nails). To compensate for their lack of glamour, I usually wear polish. Until recently, I was strictly into reds or neutrals, but last year I discovered blue, which is now my favorite color to wear!

  28. Per my dermatologist, I take Biotin (about 2000 units although she originally recommended 3000) and I no longer have breaking, bending nails. Not expensive. Works wonders.

  29. Mary! "China Red Glaze Pearl" sounds wonderful -- I'll ask/look!

  30. Thank you, Julia and all Reds. This is by far the funniest and most entertaining post I have read here, yet!

    Until this very moment, I'd always been conservative regarding nails—fingers and toes. But suddenly I find myself craving turquoise fingernails with at least one nail festooned with coral dots and toenails done just the opposite. I think that would make me laugh and be silly and enjoy myself tremendously.


  31. I love, love, love to wear nail polish! And although I tend to color outside the lines :), I do my own nails once a week to once every 3 weeks or so. I wore Revlon's Intrigue for my parents' 50th anniversary party a few weeks ago, and the polish on my toes is still going strong.

    I will say that I am blessed with strong nails--I usually have to trim them at least once a month because I don't want the pain (physical & vanity) of them breaking. My secret to dealing with household jobs is RUBBER GLOVES!!! I swear I didn't think you could do the dishes w/o them until I was in my teens--my mom always wore them.

    I like colors that lean toward glitter--"frosted" was a term at one point. I don't like matte colors, I don't have my nails done, and haven't had good luck with "all-in-one" type products.

    This post and discussion has made my day! Sometimes you just have to get with the girls & talk about nail polish :)!

  32. Well, I do agree that toes look especially nice with red polish on them, it just seems to brighten up a person's day, right?
    However, red is a bit too bright for me to wear, you see, I'm a guy and I tend to go for the more earthy colors.
    A guy wears his toes polished?? Sure, why not? I mean, how many times have you thought "oww, that guy really needs to do something about his toenails, they look gross..."
    Exactly! Not that every guy can or wants to do this, but this guy enjoys having great looking feet too.
    Do you doubt me? Imagine for just a minute what it might look like if a guy took care of his feet like you do and had his nails done with a neutral olive or gray, maybe even a deep green. Not too bad, eh? And they don't even have to be glossy, maybe a matte finish to look less 'finished'.
    Well, I am enjoying this discussion and also enjoy my toenails polished, as many of you do.