Nailing It

At the recent US launch of the German nail polish brand gitti, I thought about how getting my nails done has become part of my (ever-expanding) list of non-negotiable maintenance essentials. Fun fact. New York has plenty of nail salons, and often there are two or three on the same block. Manicurist loyalty was not a thing to me. I was the type who would get a quick mani on the way home from work or en route to wherever. But meeting my long-time manicurist was a game changer because my nails were growing and healthy for the first time. We even did sneaky basement manis at her home during the tail end of the pandemic. Don’t judge.

Nutrafol is also part of late-in-life growth. After consulting with them, I started taking the supplement. My hair was not only super healthy, but my nails were unbreakable.

My first foray into nail envy started with my chic grandmother. She always had the longest red talons, which she did herself. They were exceptional and a strange mix of fashion meets frightening meets dragon-lady vibes. As for me, I started getting regular manicures at my mother’s prompting when I got engaged. In the Vera Wang strapless wedding gowns and updos era, it was all about Essie’s Ballet Slippers. Simple. Chic. Pretty.

I have a stylish friend who dislikes my long “scritchin” nails and finds them tacky. She is a minimalist in every way and keeps her nails polished always, but short and clean. Sometimes, I miss my short nails when opening a can of LaCroix, picking up something off the floor, or fastening my jewelry. Otherwise, I enjoy them, and though I was team square nails for years, I am now very much in the oval camp. The rounded shape makes the fingers look long and tapered. I did go pointy for a minute but no. Not for me. I’ll leave that to Khloé Kardashian.

Since nails were top of mind, a conversation on Jen Romolini and Kim France’s excellent midlife podcast, Everything Is Fine, sparked my interest. It was all about “old lady nails,” whether or not long lady nails were aging. To be fair, the chat was inconclusive. But in my opinion, my long nails don’t feel “old” to me. They feel a bit indulgent and a bit luxe, but not granny-like. As for colors, I tend to go for a classic French manicure which I will sometimes switch up with a bright or black tip. I do like lighter colors on long nails and, to me, they keep the hands looking more youthful. And I always put sunscreen on my hands before getting a gel manicure as those dryers can be damaging.

Even though I will probably never do my own nails (I am not skilled), I love the idea of a good at-home manicure as a self-care moment. And the aforementioned conscious beauty brand gitti just launched in the US this month and is focused on clean innovation, sustainable packaging, and feeling good in your own skin. Their long-lasting, 7-day color is up to 82% plant-based, and they are constantly working to improve their formulas as the clean beauty market adapts and evolves. Their female founder is also fabulous, and their color range runs the gamut from classic to trendy. My personal favorite is this peachy keen pink. 

Some other nail brands on our radar include Olive and June toxic-free line of polishes and nail tools. Olive and June also creates press-ons that are beyond easy to apply and look like a fresh mani.

Dazzle Dry is another non-toxic nail polish line that has a fast-drying formula for anyone who is prone to smudging after painting their nails.

I asked Jenni Baum-Minkus, founder & CEO of gitti, 3 questions about nails of a certain age, and here’s what she said.

How can nails have an ageless appeal?
Nail polish is a timeless beauty staple that helps elevate your look regardless of your age. Picking your favorite nail shape and nail color allows you to express yourself — no matter how old you are. Playing with shapes, finishes, and colors allows you to express your mood. Classic shades like reds and nudes are a favorite for a curated manicure, while bolder colors and designs can be used to make a statement.

How do you approach nail polish and age?
I advise wearing your favorite color and painting your nails — no matter how old. Life is precious and should be celebrated in all its stages.

How can you keep your nails healthy as you age? How do nails change as you age, and what nail care should you incorporate?
Studies have shown that, with aging, nails grow thinner and are more prone to ridges and splitting. By following the right nail care routine, it is possible to support the well-aging of the nail plate, keeping it strong and hydrated, reducing breakage and splitting. That’s why we will be introducing shortly an essential nail care routine to support nail health by targeting the main nail concerns which we have developed from scratch in collaboration with our laboratory.

For DIY types, gitti also offers a strengthening nail hardener to strengthen weak nails, a smoothing nail primer to even the nail surface and smooth color application, and products to exfoliate, restore, and nourish nails. Because your nails need love, too.

Nail polish is a lovely way to express and pamper yourself, regardless of age and stage. Tell me your tips in the comments and can’t wait to hear from you and see how you nail it right now. And go and get your gitti on right here.