An Ode to Nail Polish

In the last year, I have become one of many. I have begun to adore collecting little bottles full of bright colours and slathering them on the ends of my fingers. I adore choosing between those little bottles, between the glitter, the jellies, the creams.  That’s right; I have an addiction to nail polish. This is my ode to nail polish.

Yellow and green are Australian colours. I painted my nails black and white, with a fern during the Rugby World Cup

My nails and I have had an on-off relationship over the years. I’m a nail biter and always have been. My mother didn’t really try and stop it because it was a rather involuntary thing I seemed to do while reading a book. The issue was I was always reading so I was always biting my nails. I can remember getting that weird child-safe nail polish that you could peel off. I have a very strong memory of buying mint green nail polish on a holiday once. I tried fake nails for my school ball and laughed hysterically during the formal dances as they pinged off my fingers onto the dance floor. However other than that, my nails got thoroughly ignored. I worked in food service from 16 to 23, so no nail polish allowed. But all that changed for me in early 2011.

At the time I was unemployed, living in the basement at my in-laws and desperate for something to escape from everyday life. Slowly, I began to notice a real community on the Internet of nail polish aficionados. They spoke of the latest releases, latest colours and finishes. I was fascinated. One day, I dashed into town and with the little bit of spending money I had, I bought myself a pale pink nail polish and the OPI Black Shatter. I sat in the dark basement and painted my nails. Base coat, two coats of the pink, one of the black. I hadn’t seen anything like it before, and I was hooked. This had taken nail polish to a new level for me, and I knew I couldn’t go back now.

Eventually we moved out of the basement and into our own place in a new town. I now had an income and a job that would allow me to have painted nails. I was in heaven. My nail polish collection grew ridiculously.  From hiding in a drawer, it was soon in a small plastic tub beside the couch. Eventually the collection grew out of that, and it is now in the plastic tub and a large plastic drawer. I dare not think how much money I have spent on nail polish (particularly considering the inflated prices we pay in New Zealand. $28 for an OPI? I think not!), but the enjoyment it gives me is immense. It’s time that I have to spend on myself. I sit on the couch with some good tunes or a podcast going, clean my nails, carefully choose my next colour and paint them. I can match my nails to my outfits or my events for the week. A trip to court will require a muted colour, a weekend out means I can pull out my neons and my glitters. Nail polish has also stopped me biting. If I’m stressed, and my nails aren’t painted, I will bite them. If they have polish on them, they’re safe from the ravages of my teeth.

I’ve also found my nails have been an interesting point of conversation. I’ve actually had people facing criminal charges at court stop talking to the lawyer I was shadowing and say, “Wow, your nails are amazing.” A friend and I tried water marbling together a couple of a weekends ago as something to do on a Saturday afternoon (it did make eating cheese hard, my other favourite thing to do on a weekend).

Water colour marbled nails in pink green and yelloq

In cyberspace there is an absolutely astronomical amount of nail polish-related blogs (a quick Google of “nail polish blogs” gives nearly 18 million results). For those who have any question relating to nail polish, the Internet has dozens of people who will answer them for you. I enjoy reading the blogs, seeing what the new colours are, seeing what is going to be the next big thing (I think it is magnetic polish at the moment). There are some people who take it far too seriously for my liking (OMG YOU HAVE HANGNAILS, YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED, WHY ARE YOU POSTING YOUR DISGUSTING NORMAL HANDS ON MY INTERNET?!?), but for the vast majority of people, it is a fun distraction from everyday life. That’s precisely what it is for me. It’s something I do for myself.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to decide which particular shade of green I’m going to paint my nails today.


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Cesy grew up in a sheep farm in New Zealand. Accordingly some of her views are a bit strange.

72 thoughts on “An Ode to Nail Polish”

  1. I’ve always picked my nails off, instead of biting them, so I spent my entire life with really gross looking short nails. Then I realized that if I paint them, I can just pick the nail polish off, instead off the nails. Now I have awesome nails. The only problem is, I have to re-paint them pretty much every day, because I don’t like them looking all chipped. I’ve only gone one day without nail polish on in the past year, and that was because my daughter took all fifty of my bottles and painted my living room floor with them. I’ve replaced only 15 bottles so far, and am still sad about the rest being gone.

      1. Ha. She wasn’t even considerate enough to leave a pretty rainbow, mixed it all into a giant brown blob. I then lived with it for a year before anyone thought to tell me you can use nail polish remover on laminate without destroying it. Up til then I had been slowly scraping it off with a butter knife.

  2. I need to find a better way to store my nail polish. Apparently there’s a drawer set in IKEA that all the nail polish ladies love, but I don’t have that much polish and don’t want to commit to having something so large, encouraging me to fill it up. But the drawer I keep it in right now is hard to see what I’ve got. Does anyone have good ideas? Should I buy one of those sterilite bin things?

    1. I use a Sterelite drawer with plastic dividers in it. It holds most of my collection, but it’s slightly annoying in that the drawer doesn’t pull all the way out so no point entirely filling it up. I’d go to a place that sells household organisational stuff, take your tallest bottle of polish with you and have a look around!

      I think if my collection grows any further I’m going to have to upscale my storage. I don’t have access to IKEA in NZ, so I’m going to have to get clever…

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