Once upon the ‘80s, nail art was pure tackiness: multicolored, stenciled designs airbrushed on to unwieldy acrylic nails. You know, the fashions you still see on posters all over the walls of certain nail salons today. Unlike almost every other signature of the decade (besides, of course, shoulder pads), it’s one I could never countenance. Those giant acrylics were just too long, too thick, too much.
However, these days, nail art has evolved into something else. Thanks to the proliferation of websites like Pinterest, all of a sudden everyone is interested in adding a dash of artfulness to their everyday lives, and that includes what they’re putting on their fingernails. A couple of months ago, a stylish friend of mine told me about a phenomenon she had seen on a nail blog (surprise! those exist): newsprint nails, a technique involving transferring ink from actual newspaper onto nail polish. Extremely intriguing, especially for someone like me who is particularly invested in the intersection of beauty trends and the printed word.
Not long after, I found myself at Facing Thayer, the Thayer Street spa and beauty boutique, for a shellac manicure, the UV-cured gel polish that lasts for two weeks without chipping. My nail tech Krista told me about a new technique she had been playing with: the glitter fade. She had taken super-fine Martha Stewart glitter and found a way to integrate it into a shellac, creating a kind of sparkly, non-traditional French manicure. It really solved the problem inherent with both nail art and the French: the immediate tendency they have to chip. I had to try it. The first time, Krista used ballet slipper pink with iridescent white glitter. It was a really lovely blend of sophistication and fun; on my subsequent visits, we’ve done gray with a purple glitter fade and coral with a blend of two orange glitters. To me, it’s a really fun way to mix up the traditional manicure, and it seems to be catching on in popularity (I’m sure that my sticking my fingers in the face of every willing observant and proclaiming “it’s a glitter fade, it’s a real thing” helps, too).
Abby Backlund, owner of Facing Thayer - which is celebrating its fifth anniversary this month - says that more and more people are calling and asking for the glitter fade, which is one of the first (maybe the only) local examples of the national trend toward innovative nail decorations.
Spurred by this creativity, Krista and I have been experimenting with even more fun forms of shellac nail art. Recently, she’s been showing off what the blogs are calling galaxy nails: deep blue polish covered with varied layers of different color metallics and glitters, meant to evoke the depth of the cosmos. Me? I’ve got a lot to say about what I’m sporting right now. Just read my fingertips.