I Got Fake Nails: My Name Is Rachel Marsh, and This Is My Story

It all started four weeks ago.

With my best friend’s sister’s wedding.

She had set up a group appointment at the nail salon for all of us to get manis and pedis a few days before the wedding. So I called my work and told them I’d be coming in late since I had an “appointment” which wasn’t a lie, shut up, and I met everyone at the salon.

“Well, it will be nice to have freshly painted nails without having to then spend the rest of the day picking the polish off of my cuticles,” I thought to myself, because that’s what happens when I paint my own nails even though I’ve been doing it for somewhere around 23 years at this point and should know how to keep the polish within the nail.

But anyway.

During my pedicure, while trying really hard to enjoy the mechanical massage chair cover and trying even harder to ignore the cheese grater-to-callous interaction, the nail guy (what are they called?) asked Hillary (the bride) what color she wanted us to have our nails painted.

She picked out a nice maroon-plum color for our pedicures, then told the nail guy (hang on, let me look it up) that, for our manicures, we were all going to get a glitter ombre atop gel nails.

If this was a movie, it would have repeated the shot of her saying “gel nails” in that extreme slow motion where her voice gets really deep and slow (“geeellllll nnnaaaaiiiillllssss”), then it would have panned to my face where I look like I’ve just been told I’m the one getting married on Saturday instead.

“You should have seen your face when she said ‘gel nails,’” my best friend told me later, confirming the suspicion that I’m bad at hiding my sudden emotional distress.

Let’s go ahead and get this straight: I consider a “good nail day” one where all of the white on the tips are freshly cut off, almost to the point where you can see the soft, sensitive part underneath. Every few days, once the whites start to appear, I cut them off immediately and a “good nail day” has been achieved again.

Some people might consider them “nubs.” I consider them “shut up, that’s how nails are supposed to be.”

So while the nail guy (it’s called a “nail technician”) was applying coat after coat of the longest nails that my stubby fingers have ever seen, I tried my best to focus on that weird daytime game show that Wayne Brady hosts (let me look it up) and not think about how I would survive with these Wolverine-like claws attached to my hands.

By the way, that show is called Let’s Make a Deal.

Life with Post-Wedding Nails

After the wedding, when Hillary (the bride, remember?) no longer cared that our nails were long and glittery and matching, I painted over them with a dark red polish. 

Why didn’t you just remove them, Rachel?

That’s a great question, thank you for asking it.

Every time I asked someone how I would go about removing these gel nails (do I just scrub them with nail polish remover? Pick them off like a scab? Will them away?), they would immediately break eye contact, and mumble something about “buffing” (what does that mean?) and “acetone” (what the hell is that?) and “wrapping your hands in aluminum foil for a long period of time” (wait are you serious?) and then they would change the subject and treat me really nicely after that.

So I put up with these garishly long nails (that my coworker pointed out are “wow, not even that long, Rachel”) and settled for covering up the glitter instead.

The problem was, I apparently didn’t do a good enough job (seriously, how long does it take until you can paint your own nails well?) with the polish because the glitter kept poking through at the tips.

And then it looked like I had done this intentionally, but, like, really poorly (although admittedly better than if I had attempted this on purpose).

Regardless, I would still get compliments on these glitter-tipped nails (talons) from people, to which I would then explain why they were wrong about the compliment by going into the whole story about the fake nails and how I didn’t even want them and the entire thing about the aluminum foil and the accidental glitter tips – to which I would watch a slow but intense regret for ever giving the compliment in the first place.

So I decided it was time to look into the buffing-acetone-aluminum-foil thing.

The First Attempt at Removal

Okay, so according to the internet, you’re supposed to:

  • Use a nail file to scrape off the top layer of the gel nail

Well I don’t have a nail file, so I’m sure I can skip this step.

  • Press a cotton ball soaked in acetone onto your nail

I assume nail polish remover is the same as acetone?

  • Wrap the acetone-soaked cotton balls around your fingertips in aluminum foil for 30-40 minutes

Well, I have stuff to do that requires my hands, so I hope 10 minutes will do the trick.

  • Remove the aluminum foil and cotton balls, and use a wooden pusher to scrape off the remaining gel.

These nails are just going to pop right off, I’m sure of it, so I’m not going to need that tool. Besides, I don’t even know what that is.

It may come as no surprise that this didn’t work at all.

So I cut them with the thickest nail (hedge?) clippers I could find because if the nails were going to remain, I just couldn’t handle the length anymore.

…My nails looked like a parody of a manicure.

The Second Attempt at Removal

Okay, these gel nails must have gotten the hint that they’re no longer wanted so this second attempt should go much more smoothly.

  • Use a nail file to scrape off the top layer of the gel nail

Well crap, I forgot about that part and still don’t have a nail file so I’m just going to skip it again.

  • Press a cotton ball soaked in acetone onto your nail

BOOM! I have acetone this time. 100% acetone, baby. Says it on the label *finger guns*

  • Wrap the acetone-soaked cotton balls around your fingertips in aluminum foil for 30-40 minutes

Timer has been set. Schedule has been cleared.

  • Remove the aluminum foil and cotton balls, and use a wooden pusher to scrape off the remaining gel.

Still don’t know what a “wooden pusher” is. Let me just try to pry the gel off with my own nails.

It may come as no surprise that this only *kind of* worked.

The Third Attempt at Removal

Okay, the second attempt at removal actually made it much worse and now I’m more determined than ever to get these things off.

  • Use a nail file to scrape off the top layer of the gel nail

I DID IT! I GOT ONE AND I USED IT!

  • Press a cotton ball soaked in acetone onto your nail

YUP, DONE. 100% ACETONE, FINGER GUNS AGAIN.

  • Wrap the acetone-soaked cotton balls around your fingertips in aluminum foil for 30-40 minutes

HOW ABOUT **45** MINUTES?

  • Remove the aluminum foil and cotton balls, and use a wooden pusher to scrape off the remaining gel.

I still don’t know what the hell a wooden pusher is.

It may come as no surprise that this only like 80% worked.

So then I just cut them as short as my nails could handle and painted over them and acted like none of this ever happened.

So anyway, if you see me out in public, please be sure to compliment my nails. I’m sure I’ll accidentally go into the whole backstory about the glitter tips and the wooden pusher and Let’s Make a Deal and you’ll immediately silently rescind your compliment…but it sure would mean a lot.

One comment

  1. […] Sure, it’s been challenging and certainly wasn’t an easy resolution to keep up with (easier than dedicating time to the treadmill though, let’s be honest). Sure sometimes the third post is made at 11:59 p.m. on the last day of the month. Sure sometimes I can’t think of anything better to write about than an Applebee’s cocktail, or my brother trying online dating, or my own fingernails. […]

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