Friday, April 13, 2012

Nailing it: Polishing Up My Act

Every year about this time, I get the urge to crack open a bottle of polish and sport colourful nails.  And the notion lasts a couple of weeks, until my lifestyle intervenes and I realise I can't be bothered with the upkeep of my home-manicure, let alone pedicure.  I spend too much time wrist-deep in hot soapy water / mud!

I have never been to a nail salon.  When I lived in London, fancy nails were all the rage.  My daughter's keyworker at nursery school had the MOST amazing nails ever, with tiny caribbean sunsets painted on them, embedded "diamonds", golden tips, stunning crescent moons... all deeply unnatural but absolutely eye-catching!  Dalston was the place for nail salons back then.  Maybe it still is?

But my flirtation with nail art stretches no further than the occasional wedding-induced coat of paint.  Three summers ago I bought a bargainous multi-pack of Butter London polishes (5 for £10) and at various times since I have tried out all the colours on hands or toes... and they made me smile, they really did!  But all good things must come to an end and they have all started separating and drying out.

So, with Me Made May around the corner, and my pledge to try a bit harder with my "look", I thought it might be time to re-grow my picked-at mis-shapen nails and invest in a few fresh nail polishes.

Now... you may not have heard of Butter London.  The reason I chose them back in 2008/9 was that they are "3 free".  From their own website:  "butter LONDON products are formulated without the use of the harmful ingredients like Formaldehyde, Toluene, DBP or Parabens. butter LONDON was the first company to sell non-toxic nail lacquer in the United States."

You hadn't thought of nail polish as being toxic?  Just think of the smell!  It is evil stuff!  Those poisons leach into your body in the same way that the chemicals in a mother's hair dye can reach an unborn child.  I realise I am sounding a bit preachy, but this stuff bothers me!

So if I am going to paint my nails (an unnatural activity, I admit) I at least want to choose my polish responsibly.

Time has passed, so I thought I would have a look to see what is available nowadays:

Jaffa, £12

Butter London is still around and still making amazing fashion colours.  I fancy Jaffa.

But I also discovered a new high-end brand, Scotch Naturals which is based in the USA but has given its colours suitably Scottish-inspired names.  The name of the colour is very important, don't you think?  If only I could have a job inventing the names for colours...!

It is available in the UK from a couple of websites.
It is even "cleaner" than Butter London, containing only: "water, acrylic polymer emulsion, butoxy diglycol and non-toxic colorants".  Inevitably it requires special care - but there are instructions for the perfect finish on the website which sound very therapeutic and soothing!
Velvet Kilt, £13.50

I really like the look of Velvet Kilt:  a deeply mysterious purple!
You will have noticed that neither of these options is cheap... but I definitely view this as a luxury one-off pampering purchase.

I did find some cheaper brands:  Suncoat Girl is aimed at kids and costs £5.99.  It also "peelable".  I really truly cannot bear the thought of peeling off my nail colour - shudder! 

The adult range, Suncoat, is £7.95, but the colours are very pedestrian.  (Or grown-up, depending on your point of view!)

Boosily looks like another teen-targetted range, but I am attracted to two of their colours:  Sweet Tangerine and Blue Dragon.  At £5.75 each, it might be worth trying. (Ingredients for the blue one:  Water (60%); dibenzoate, monoether, copolymer, mica, iron oxide, titanium dioxide, carmine, ultramarine.)

Sweet Tangerine
Blue Dragon

 I bet there aren't many kids buying this stuff for themselves - it will be their guilty green parents who buy it as presents, to attack the ranks of Barry M and Collection 2000 polishes their teens snap up at Superdrug!  (Ask me how I know...?!)

My next Google hit was Priti polish.  Ooh!  Now this is very attractively-marketed. 

It was launched with a mission statement: "to support organic farmers and decrease the amount of chemicals poisoning the earth and it’s inhabitants-one manicure at a time. Priti NYC are all completely non-toxic & made without toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DHB) and formaldehyde."

There are some beautiful shades on the American website.  It is quite hard to find in the UK.... but I tracked it down for £9 here.  I am seriously tempted to try this brand.

 Starry Trail Violet is a delicious nude.

California Bluebell is.... blue!
Etoile Violet is the colour of  my velvet shorts  ;)

And Snapdragon is a relatively-subdued orange /coral.

Have any of you tried any of these brands?  Do you seek out "green" nail polish... or does Rimmel do the job for you?

Of course... you might all be polish-refuseniks, like I am myself most of the time.  But I just fancy a little bit of a flirtation with this.  It's fun dammit!


didyoumakethat said...

Painting my nails is one of my most favourite sofa activities in the whole world - I will even put the knitting down to paint my nails. I went for a manicure and pedicure last weekend at my local manicurist, two minutes from the house. The poor woman shaved half a mountain of dead skin off my feet. (Too much information?) The venue is very basic, but they're local and relatively cheap. Score! But nine times out of ten, I paint my own nails.

Gail said...

I'm a little obsessed with nail polish! I like the Butter London polishes, but my favorite brand by far is Zoya - it's 4-Free and has incredible wear. I also really love Essie and China Glaze. Funnily, I wrote a nail post yesterday to post today!

Roobeedoo said...

Karen - I don't know where you find the time for manicures with all the things you do!

Gail - ooh! I look forward to reading your post. I actually came across Zoya on a UK website after I pressed "publish" so I am interested to know what you think of it!

To Boldly Sew said...

I LOVE having painted nails - it cheers me right up. Sadly though my lifestyle conspires against me - it's generally frowned upon in my work as an osteopath, but now I'm on maternity leave it's hard to find the drying time! I've gone from doing the whole base coat - 2 coats - top coat and having to have perfect nails to a quick 2 coats and not worrying too much if I get the odd chip. So slovenly! I tend to be an OPI girl, which I think avoids one of the nasties, but I've been keen to try Butter - the only thing stopping me is having way too much polish already. Thanks for the other options though!

Clare said...

I try not to draw attention to my hands or feet as they look like they've been chopped off a man and grafted onto a woman. Having said that, I love browsing the colours of nail polish. The Jaffa one is my favourite.

sulkycat said...

I never have bare toenails - at the moment they are metallic silver foils with tiny diamantes, which has caused much merriment at hospital when I get my knees and feet checked. Fingers tend to be metallic blues when my hands are working enough to paint them. I have an MRI coming up soon and dreading them telling me to remove my toenail foils!!

Tanit-Isis said...

I have a fabulous manicure in the photos from when my oldest daughter was born (speaking of toxic chemicals and pregnancy...) ... it's possible that was the last time I really took care of my nails. Nowadays, like you, I just seem to have to *do* too much stuff with my hands.

Have fun, and good luck with adding this to your challenge! There are some lovely shades in your list there :)

Scruffybadger said...

No. I have found maintenance of nail polish too inconvenient. Until now that is! You describe them all so deliciously and the colours.......I predict you wearing alternate colours on each finger during may, purple and orange. And you might convert me too!!

Anonymous said...

When I see the long nails with things glued on and such, I wonder what germs they are harbouring. I don't want anyone with those really long nails touching me or anything I have to eat.

That nude polish you showed is a lovely shade. I like the colours that don't scream.

Your recent pics portray a totally different woman from the one shown at the beginning of your blog. You are so glamorous now.

juicyknits said...

I never thought there was organic nail polish. Good to know, I'll have to look for some as well. So far my favourite has been Opi nail polish. It holds really really well. But I bet it's poisonous, as you say.

Shannon said...

Painting my nails is such a pleasure. My house may be in chaos, but it really brightens my day to have some shiny color on my toes :) The colors you've picked are yummy!

Carolyn said...

I don't do my fingernails; like you my hands are too busy to keep them looking nice! but I loooove to paint my own toenails once a week. Well, I do live in a climate where toes are out and on show for more than half the year; so almost all women here do the same thing... And you are right; it is fun!
I love all the colours you have picked!

Cee said...

The best nail polishes around at the moment (and they really, really are) can be found at It's an independent business, pretty much run by one lady (Adina) and occasionally inspired by her cat, Tristram! I sense you might like the fact it's an independent venture, and they're the big "3 Free", and not tested on animals?

In all seriousness, the colours are so imaginative and I love the ideas behind them (there are two collections, inspired by English myths and legends) and I heartily recommend them! I do promise I don't work for them...

Roobeedoo said...

Ooh! Cee - thanks for that tip! I'm off to have a browse! :)

LinB said...

I don't bother painting my nails, but I love to see beautiful colors on other peoples digits. I worked one time with a woman who had been on a team that named colors for a cosmetic company. It's not as romantic a job as it seems. She said that by the end of each season, they were all punch-drunk on words and just wrote down any weird combination of sounds that came from their tired, worn-out brains.

Linda said...

Oh how I hate polish on my fingernails. My hands feel as if they're suffocating and overheating, plus I am freaked out by the chemical removal process.
These polishes look like just the thing for teenage daughter, tho. And yes, today I was in Boots with her while she looked at rows of gunk - specifically eyeliner gunk. Another 'eeewww' for me!