Frugal Friday: Trying out a DIY Shellac Mani/Pedi

Here’s the thing about my fingernails: they’re weak and brittle. And I bite them whenever I am under a writing deadline, which is pretty much a constant in my life nowadays.

Here’s the other thing: in the paralegal field, all the ladies have nice nails. I was pretty much the only person in my class to have natural nails. Everyone else had solar nails, gel nails, or some other artificial type of nail.

Here’s the final thing: I hate going to the nail salon. I could never really lay a finger on why I disliked it so much (pun intended) until April Whitefield-Madrano laid out the facts in a brilliant blog for The Beheld. Brilliant because, in her words: “As I sat there while this woman bent in front of me to button my coat–after, of course, washing my fingertips, rubbing my arms and back, clipping off the dead skin around my fingernails, and then carefully painting ten tiny canvases–I couldn’t help but feel a bit like one of those creepy dudes who frequents Asian dating sites.” Eeeeexactly.

So here I am, stuck between the need to look professional, which includes having perfect nails, and the lack of having naturally beautiful nails–along with a strong aversion to nail salons. I finally found the solution when I stumbled across modest fashion blogger Tricia Thomas‘s Guide to DIY Shellac Nails. Eureka!

I ordered a bundled set of supplies from a retailer on eBay: for less than $90, I got a UV lamp, base coat, top coat, and two shades of shellac polish. The entire process of doing a manicure took about 20 minutes; pedicure took 30, so I was able to relax in front of the TV and watch “The Secret Millionaire” as I worked. The result: a bright, shiny, tough mani/pedi that needed no extra coddling or pampering and has lasted 2 very rough weeks. I lost one toe polish to the pool–but keep in mind that my daughter and I were swimming 3 hours a day. An ordinary pedicure wouldn’t have lasted through the afternoon.

I am thoroughly pleased with the shellac process and love that I have an inexpensive alternative to artificial nails. I love being able to do the work at home, and I love having control over when I get it done. If you are looking for a way to have beautiful nails without spending all your time or money at the salon, I strongly recommend this method!

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