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Nails 2 – Manicures and Gel Nails

Our master class with Cali continues!

By Cali

This time around it’s about manicures and gel nails. My path to living my life with colorful nails in male mode. Since many are not able to experience manicures and nail art, I’m going to explain many different techniques and show their results, or at least those techniques I have experienced. Over the last 6+ years, I have had at least 120 manicures, most with different designs. I have been documenting them with pictures, thus the hardest part was picking a small number of pictures to accompany this post. I also apologize in advance to those who do not have the luxury that allows you have colorful fingernails. I consider myself lucky to be able to wear colored fingernail, even to work. The most important thing you need to have to wear colored is confidence in yourself. treat your nail color as a normal everyday thing. I hope one day nail polish on men will be commonplace. Already many celebrities wear nail polish and there are polish/gel brands that are marketing their polishes to the male crowd. The internet is full of sites with men displaying their painted fingernails.

If you never have had a manicure, you should try one. You don’t need to get polish; you can just have your nails buffed. If you feel bold, get a polish, and if you are fierce go all out. I hope the designs you see below will inspire you in some way. Your fingers are ten small canvases for you to display art on. Use them. Enjoy them. Just have fun!

Some notes I’ve learned.

(1) Manicurists/pedicurist want to do something different. Putting only plain color on over and over is boring and not very creative. They enjoy the opportunity to do something different.

(2) If you have a manicure with or without color, learn to protect your investment, wear gloves when doing dirty jobs such as gardening.

(3) You would be surprised by what you will hear while getting a pedicure or manicure.

For years, long colorful fingernails intrigued me. I was envious of women with beautiful nails. But didn’t have the courage to get a manicure even though I was already getting regular pedicures. Then one day out of the blue a fingernail split from the tip to the root bed. Six years earlier I gotten my fingers jammed in an engine block and damaged the root beds of some of the nails. I tried all the “male” techniques: super glue, band aide, even duct tape; but nothing worked. One day a woman said to go a nail salon and get the nail covered with acrylic. Since I had exhausted everything else, I tried it. And with a gel topcoat (clear) it worked. After several months I wanted to see if I could go without the acrylic and that experiment lasted two days until the nail split again. From then on, I have gotten an acrylic nail.

As your nails grows you get a crescent moon shape between the acrylic and the nail bed. This is what needs to be filled in and is called a “fill”. The manicurist uses a Dremel tool to grind off the color and take the bulk of the previous acrylic down. You don’ want a big hump on your nail. A Dremel is also used to shorten and shape your nails: straight across, rounded, or pointed (stiletto). All the manicurists I have used over the years have an assortment of bits that they sterilized between clients.

Acrylics are a combination of a liquid monomer and a powder polymer that form a paste which is bonded to the natural nail. To apply, the manicurist dips a brush in warm monomer, then collects

some powder on the tip of the brush. When these two meet, the powder turns to a gel-like consistency and is brush onto the nail. In a few minutes the acrylic dries (hardens) and the manicures can then file and shape the nail. A Dremel is often used here to smooth the top of the nail and create the tip you want. Fine filing by hand usually follows. The length of the nail can be increased with acrylics by applying a mold on the underside and then covering it with acrylic.

One day my manicurist was running low on polymer, so she combined some left-over polymer with sparkles to the acrylic polymer she was using on me, and I then had a sparkly nail. She labelled this mixture as my “special mix”. This went on for months, with three nails eventually having issues. Sometimes I would get a full manicure without color as well. Always wishing I had the guts to ask for a FULL SET OF NAILS with COLOR.

Here’s a picture showing the sparkles in the special mix.

My manicurist retired and I started seeing a much younger manicurist in the same salon for my acrylics. Sometimes she would embed a jewel into the acrylic. When Halloween came along, I asked for black gel nails with glitter…and that’s when the rabbit hole opened and swallowed me up.

I loved these nails, and after just two weeks of colored nails I was hooked.

I am intrigued by fades and ombres, so I asked to those. I also like glitter and sparkles. Here’s just a few ombre pictures.

This younger manicurist was a fantastic artist eager to take on any challenge I might come up with. I could come in with a concept and we would work out the details. Here’s my Easter Egg collection and two different cheetah designs.

My manicurist would go to nail shows and come back with the latest thing on the market. I and another client were always the first two clients she would try it out on, the guinea pigs. I enjoy being the guinea pig, because people at work would stop me and ask to see my latest nails. First are Cat’s Eye nails. Very interesting technique where you use a magnet to move metallic pigments in different directions before curing the gel.

A foil is a very thin sheet of metal, a leaf, that is peeled off with tweezers and applied to the nail and then cover with a high gloss topcoat. Here’s a gold foil over a white background.

Another method is a chrome. A based color is put down first. After the base coat is cured, a metallic powder is put on and is rubbed with a special tool until it shines. Finally, a topcoat is applied and cured. The result is based on the base coat. In these pictures I asked for a Rose Gold. As you can see, the base coat is this bright orange, but the result is a Rose Gold.

These have a more holographic shine to them.

Here’s more designs. For the holiday’s I can go wild. The first is called “Christmas zebras on Acid”. This was a “show stopper”, always getting asked to see my nails.

These are, Purple Zebra, is a variation of Zebra nails. I had Zebra nail in many different color combinations. It’s a fun design.

Then the pandemic hit, and nail salons around here were closed for months. During this time my nail artist moved back to her hometown. I miss her abilities and cutting-edge ideas. Another woman in this small salon has taken me in. They are booked for months and can’t take new clients, openings are rare. It’s taking me a while to get back to more color. Currently I am exploring lighter designs with my nails. It’s hard to see the color below. Three fingers are Pink Abalone and the other two are a thin gold chunky glitter. At some angles they look clear, at others they sparkle. Because I have surgery scheduled, my next manicure will be clear.

Remember, be confident in everything you do.


6 Responses

  1. Cali,

    It is wonderful seeing all your beautiful nails. I think most of us are envious and wish our personal circumstances would allow us to have nails like yours! I do haven polish on my nails right now (OPI Baby Take a Vow), but I feel insecure and hide them when around guys. Living in the Southern US will do that to a person, especially during these perilous times. Strange that I feel no such distress when out as Lisa, when I proudly show off my nails to men and women alike! Anyway, love hearing about and seeing your creative nail art. I have heard that gel nails severely weaken nail beds even more over time. Do you ever give your nails a rest from the gel, or do you not have that concern?

  2. Hi Lisa,
    I fully understand hiding your nails in the southern region of the US at this time in history. I am disappointed that other forms of body art (tattoos, peircings, etc.) are aceptable, but changable art such as nails are not. I just now getting back into more colorful nails.
    I have damaged nail beds, so I need to have several nails covered in acrylic to keep them together. For uniformity, I have all my nails first covered with acrylic before the gel. Therefore my nail tech doesn’t need to use chemicals to remove the gel, she used a dremel to grind off the gel and reduce some of the acrylic, never touching the nails themselves. Since I need the damaged nails covered in acrylic and the gel helps to maintain the acrylic, I can’t go without the gel.
    I see many women do gel on their toes and watch as chemicals and heat are used to remove the gel. I have never done gel on my toes, but might if I were to vacation on a tropical island.

  3. I love your nails!
    I took the plunge for my birthday last year and never looked back. Today my natural nails are deliciously long, tapered talons, always painted. I’m not shy, either. I’ve worn Christmas and Valentines red, blues, greens, golds, with or without glitter. This week they’re periwinkle with a holographic flakie topper on my thumbs and ring fingers, and I thinking about Barbie pink.
    Never any pushback, just compliments, and so much fun plotting our next manis with my office manager (my claws are longer — she’s jealous).
    So, attagirl!! You’re a treasure!

    1. Thanks George.
      I took the plunge on Halloween 2018 when I went full color. Until then I only had 2 nails with gel over acrylic. I have been mild with my finger color and have been getting Pink Abolone for the past few months.
      Try an ombre.

      1. An ombre is on my list, nail art, too! Thanks for the encouragement (like it’s necessary). This week I’m rocking Be Mine, a red shimmer. Try a red, hom, you’ll love it.

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