Of all aspects of my beauty routine, nails are way down the list. I'm good at some things to do with beauty: I cleanse, tone and moisturise morning and night with near-religious fervour and do my best to get in a mask and exfoliation session once a week too. I also try to exfoliate and moisturise my body as often as possible, and am pretty good about getting to the beauty salon once a month to get everything waxed as well. I'm also the one that you see doing her makeup on the commute so that colleagues don't see her looking like the Bride of Frankenstein.
Other things are highly dependent on money and time. I just don't have the spare cash to go to the hairdresser more than about twice a year, and don't have the time or patience to maintain my nail polish every time it gets chipped. Hence why I can be frequently found seeking solutions on this latter point in particular. I've tried nail wraps, press-on nails, and gel nails. But these all too often are either difficult to apply, don't come off easily enough, don't last the distance once you have got them on, or damage your nails in the long term. So, in short, I usually end up leaving my nails looking au naturel.
None of this is helped by the fact that my nails are weak. They break so easily and I only feel that none of these products - including conventional nail polishes - can do them much good.
Nonetheless, I did stop when I visited the weekly market in St-Ambroix recently and saw a representative of Ongléo doing demonstrations. The source of my intrigue was that I had never seen the technique or product type before - you'd think that companies like JML or QVC would have had a field day over something like this before now, but non.
So how does it work? You take a flat, thin metal plate, which is engraved with a variety of designs, either for the middle of the nail surface, or intended to be imprinted across the nail tip in the style of a French manicure. You paint your nails with a base colour of your choice (even clear is OK) and leave this to dry before proceeding, though, the reason for this being that the design needs a base to cling to rather than just the naked nail. Paint nail varnish across the design that you want to use, and then scrape away the excess using the blade provided. The blade handle has a set of dots on either side, and it can be helpful to know that you need to have the smaller set of dots facing you as you scrape away. The plate comes with a stamping device too, and this is what you need to push down hard into the varnish-filled engraving. Then push this down onto your nail and lift away to reveal the imprinted design. When you've done all of your nails, finish with a top coat to protect the pattern.
Sounds easy? It looked pretty easy too when the representative was showing us, so we ended up being convinced into buying a set each. For €15, the metal plate, stamp and blade was ours.
Understandably, our first attempt was not great as the technique does take practise, with the most difficult aspects being which way to have the blade facing, not using too much polish (or not enough!), and pressing down hard enough (firstly on the metal plate, then on the nail) to leave a decent imprint. But with this being my half-term holiday, I was determined to have another go. So about a week later, with the initial design fading, that's just what I did. And here's the result:
You'll note that conveniently I've only chosen a few of my best nails to show you. My left thumb nail didn't go too badly either, however.
Once you've got the hang of the technique this does all go more quickly and can create an impressive result (bear in mind that the above was only my SECOND go). However, I still wouldn't say it was super quick; I doubt I'll be doing it every week or anything. I'll be even more impressed with it if the effect is truly long-lasting.
In any case, this is a fun and inexpensive way to get some good patterns on your nails. I'll definitely be practising my technique so that I can sport the US flag design that came on my plate in time for Obama's RE-INAUGURATION in January :D Yeah :D