My Press-On French Manicure Makes Me Feel Newly Alive

My hand, holding, from left to right, an invisible penis, the leaves of a Boston fern, and a face mist
My hand, holding, from left to right, an invisible penis, the leaves of a Boston fern, and a face mist
Photo: Megan Reynolds
Shit I BoughtWelcome to Shit I Bought, a column where we recap the life-changing beauty and fashion purchases of various staffers—and also just stuff we bought on a whim.

For the duration of my time indoors, I have replicated many of my outside world rituals inside the house. On Fridays, after I have closed my computer, I do my nails. About a week before the quarantine commenced, I was very stupid and got a gel manicure as usual, thinking that I would be able to bop down to the nail place and get them removed, maybe in three weeks’ time. As usual, I was incorrect; after staring at my nail beds and picking at the edges, I spent three hours removing the gel, painted my nails, and carried on. Life is easier with nails that are short, but also, less fun. Being irritated, annoyed, or otherwise fussed about the condition and appearance of my nails is one of my stupider traits, but even in quarantine, I remain the stupid bitch I was before.

This realization finally drove me to purchase one set of Kiss Salon Acrylic French Nude Nails on a recent trip to Duane Reade for dandruff shampoo, a box of Andes Mints, and toilet paper. Frustrated with my inability to do my nails with any sort of, I vowed to give myself the nails I have always wanted: an impeccably flawless Carmela Soprano French manicure, ten beautifully rectangular acrylic rectangles that, in my mind, would add a bit of panache to my every day.

The French manicure’s 2019 comeback is part of the fashion world’s current infatuation with the ‘90s and early 2000s—fine and cute for the youth, but less so for the rest of us, who remember low-rise jeans and baby tees from the first time around and have yet to recover. The French manicures of my youth were chunky, rectangular affairs, unlike their late 2010s reboot. Ever the iconoclast, Kim Kardashian got a square-tipped, short, and stark-white French manicure in January 2019. Other celebrities followed suit, and lo, what was once deemed tacky, boring and predictable is new again!


I have experimented with the current iteration of the French manicure—long, tapered, almond shaped nails with a whisper thin curve of white at the tip—to pleasant results, but something about the old-fashioned, square French appeals to me, still. The bug for a classic French bit me after watching Cheer’s terrifying coach Monica Aldama scream at the lithe, flying bodies of her charges. Aldama certainly does not make me feel alive, but her mid-90s French manicure certainly does. A woman with a solid, squoval French manicure that extends just beyond the tip of her fingers wants shit done her way (the right way) the first time around and isn’t particularly interested in excuses. This is the person I want to be. Advancements in press-on nail technology have made it so that I can have the hands of my dreams.

Applying the nails was easy, though I admit that I removed the set I started out with because I did a terrible job. Thankfully, I think I learned from my mistakes, and the second try was smoother. Once they were locked and loaded, I was ready for anything. I washed the dishes three times, took a shower, and removed my contact lenses with ease. My fear that a nail would pop off and be eaten by the cat was unfounded. But in the shower the next day, the nail on my left index finger popped off, but I saved that fucker and glued it right back on. Jezebel former deputy editor Kate Dries informed me in an Instagram DM that I looked like Teresa Caputo of Long Island Medium fame, and I felt pleased to know that I achieved my goal. The little plastic Chiclets glued to my nails communicate capability and strength, even though the actual integrity of my manicure is not quite as strong.

Senior Writer, Jezebel

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My podiatrist always told me that more people should leave their feet alone for at least few months of the year — that we have cuticles for a reason, pedicures aren’t always necessarily great on your feet, and it’s okay just to let your toenails “breathe” for a bit. I imagine the same logic applies to fingernails. 

If home mani-pedis give you pleasure and a sense of normalcy, keep doing it, but this is also a good opportunity to rest and reset. Your nails will probably be a lot healthier at the end of it too.