Nail polish, a colourful account
When I was 12, most nail varnish came in red, pink or french manicure. If you wanted anything else, you had to leave behind the high street and department store. I ventured, after school, to Kensington Market and Camden to buy Stargazer and Barry M nail varnish in neon and brighter colours. Both were punk/goth brands and only sold in stores owned and run by lecherous older men in markets. (By the way, if you remember what Kensington Market and Hyper Hyper are, then you have revealed yourself to be British and middle-aged.)
Then Pulp Fiction happened. The Chanel Vamp/Rouge Noir hysteria is well-archived in nail polish histry. Miss Selfridge started selling 40 shades of nail varnish….. the world went crazy for a few years. At one point I owned actual drawers full of nail colour in every shade but I went for quantity rather than quality and through moving away to uni halls then dump after student dump , I ended up giving away everything. For the past few years I’ve had about 10 bottles, in shades red, pink and french manicure. Snore.
Coming to Korea has created something of a nail polish midlife crisis for me. Korean nail varnish is good, cheap, available everywhere and available in a wide variety of colours. My favourite colours are blues, greens and purples. My favourite hues are blackened, brights, milky brights, and greyed/mushroomy shades. My favourite finishes are glitter/shimmer flecked, creams, holo, duochromes and flakie glitter. I don’t like chalky pastels, neons, mattes, chunky glitter or hex glitter. I hate nudes, sheers, semi-opaques. I like but can’t master jelly finishes (too streaky). I’m on the fence about nail art and Konad stamping – not now, but maybe I’ll delve at a later date. As for application, I never do just tips, just a straight forward all over colour application. So I’m only adventurous with colour, not anything else.
To wear nail polish, you have to have good nails. Through trial and error and extensive, obsessive online blog reading, I have discovered and now practice handcream, cuticle oil/balm (love Burts Bees lemon cuticle balm), glass nail files and exfoliation of my hands. I haven’t touched nail clippers in months- they cause nail splitting and peeling which used to be the bane of my life.
It IS possible to change the condition of your nails. I don’t grow them too long (max 2mm past the free edge), I’ve discovered that the oval works best rather than a squoval or pointed. I live and die by Seche Vite. I’m not too fussy about nail polish remover: a cheap acetone one works fine for me, as long as I’m diligent with the rest of my manicure regeime. (Back in the UK, I loved Cutex nail polish remover.)
Etude House has the widest selection of cheap nail varnish with the Face Shop and Skinfood coming in very close behind. Olive Young and Watsons carry large racks of nail polish like VOV, Castledew and Carat which all have beautiful shades. I’ve had varying degrees of success with Missha and Innisfree, (real hits and misses). Tony Moly have some great jewel toned shimmers.
I’m mostly an a DIY manicure/pedicure girl but there are plenty of good manicure places around here. You can learn a lot from watching a good manicurist at work especially when it comes to cuticle care.
I’ve also indulged in some Dior, MAC and Chanel too. Okay, a LOT of Chanel. I have a nostalgic past with Chanel, due to Rouge Noir and their 90s nail polish releases. Would you believe that at one point I had Metallic Vamp, Very Vamp, Vert Sacrilege, Ciel de Nuit, and Brun Sortilege, and then I sold or gave them away? Madness. I did get Jade Green recently, thereby putting myself on the waiting list to buy a make-up item for the first time in years! To be honest, the polish wasn’t worth it (it’s not great) but the chase was fun.
OPI is available here, but in the UK and Korea, we don’t have Sephora. And I’m dying to get me some “Metro Chic” and “I’m with Brad”. There aren’t enough greyed mushroom shades here. Grrrr. I’ll just have to wait for the Spring Chanel release.
(Photo from the New York Times Style magazine)