Coffee heat rising

Nail Protection: A pretty good product

Over the past few months, my fingernails have slowly slipped into the category of “blighted neighborhood.” But last Easter when I fell, it was like Hurricane Katrina meets Daughter of Snagnail. In addition to dislocating the shoulder, the fall sheared off the nail on my ring finger halfway down the quick, tearing apart the cuticle in the process.

Oh well.

A month and a half later, it’s about healed and the nail has almost grown back out. In the interim, the other nails grew even shaggier than normal, because my arm and hand hurt too much to fool with manicuring them. It was as much as I could do to occasionally massage a little shea butter into my fingers.

Late in life, one’s nails tend to split longitudinally as a natural result of aging. One of my thumbnails cracks as soon as it grows an eighth of an inch past the quick, which is annoying, not to say ugly as pussley. I’ve considered going back to acrylics, but I really don’t like that stuff. In the first place, it wrecks your natural nails—the manicurist has to rough up your nails by filing off the surface. In the second place, nothing that stinks that bad can possibly be good for your health. And in the third place, trotting in every ten days to two weeks for a fill gets expensive.

So I’ve thrashed around looking for something that I could paint on—at home, not at a salon—and have it hold my nails together through repeated dips in water and detergent and through constant batting against a keyboard. Hard as Nails has never performed impressively, to my taste. It’s your basic high-gloss nail polish, no more nor less given to chipping and peeling than any other polish, and certainly not much protection against the vagaries of housework, yardwork, and office work.

However, the outfit that makes Hard as Nails has a new product that seems to work really well: Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Hard as Wraps Nail Gel. This stuff claims to contain “acrylic gel” and nylon. Note that it’s not the same as the stuff  manicurists use to do gel nails—that product should be applied professionally, and it’s even worse on your nails than regular acrylics.

Hard as Wraps goes on the same as nail polish. However, it dries (in about the same time as regular polish) to form a tough, rather thick coating that works almost like filler, a product I haven’t found on the market in years. One coat almost fills the deep vertical groove in my thumbnail. Two coats leave the nail almost smooth, and three coats have protected that nail from splitting for a week. Even though it’s very glossy, I think you could use it as a base coat or as a top coat with your favorite colored polish. I’m leaving it clear, and it looks pretty nice. That’s saying something, given the condition my nails have taken on.

A few caveats:

It’s harder to remove than regular polish. Don’t think you’re going to wipe it off with a dab of polish remover on a scrap of tissue paper. You’ll need some good cotton balls or pads and plenty of remover, and plan to spend a few minutes at the job.

Don’t shake the bottle before applying. This will cause the product to bubble as it dries on your nails.

Remember to let each coat dry well before applying another coat. If one layer is still tacky when a second coat is applied, that also can cause bubbling.

As in applying any polish, less is better than more. Better to apply two or three thin coats than one thick coat. Glopping it on also will lead to bubbling problems, plus it won’t dry as fast.

I’m impressed, though. This Hard as Wraps product actually does protect nails from day-to-day wear and tear, the way the old Hard as Nails promised to do. It’s worth a try.

Image: French Manicure on acrylic nails. ImGz. GNU Free Documentation License.