The secret behind 20 years of nail goals? It's not the polish
In the world of #selfcare, manicures and pedicures typically take top billing. For some reason, it’s relaxing to have a relative stranger rub acetone on your nails, push back or clip your cuticles, and apply a fresh coat of color that will likely last you a week, tops.
And in the Philippines, nail salons can be a dime-a-dozen. There are the ultra-posh ones that might as well cost an arm-and-leg and of course, your friendly neighborhood manikurista whose life mission is to fix all ingrowns in her immediate vicinity. And then there are mid-range salons – staples in malls, condominium complexes, and university areas – with services price just right.
Rappler (meaning myself, to be specific) recently got the chance to visit Tips N’ Toes salon in Megamall, an institution itself – it’s been in the equally iconic mall for 20 years, after all.
That Jennifer Tipton-Angeles’ little empire of manicures, pedicures, and nail art has existed for two decades isn’t a big wonder. The salon boasts of celebrity clients, including no less than the Megastar, Sharon Cuneta.
But amid the steady buzz of nail filling and massage chairs, Jennifer tells me the secret to success isn’t a steady stream of influential clients – it’s the ladies whose steady hands clean, groom, and shape every nail to perfection.
Some of Tips N’ Toes attendants have been working there since the beginning – so much so that nail-shaping and nail art have become second nature to many of them.
“Tumanda na nga dito (I’ve grown old here)!” jokes Ate Alma, who has seen clients grow into women, until they eventually brought their own daughters to the salon.
And for an acrylic nail virgin like me, it was nice to have ates who were experienced enough to explain each step as it happened and patient enough to let this millennial document each and every step.
The process is straight forward: the nail attendant dips the brush into a solution and then into powder, forming an acrylic bead, which is then placed and formed onto the natural nail.
The smell might take some getting used to but if you’re like me and believe that kaartehan over matter is a thing, it’s a scent that you can – and will – bear. The (fake) nail is shaped, and gel polish is applied and voila! – Instagram-worthy nails that will leave any YouTube influencer shaking.
If you’re feeling really extra, you can have stones and appliqués placed on your nail or you can scroll down Instagram for your #nailart goals – which, more often than not, the ates of Tips N’ Toes can copy without even batting an eyelash.
Enough of the process. How much does it cost?
Acrylic nails cost upwards of P1,200, and additional embellishments cost extra. Suffice to say, it’s not something you’d indulge in regularly.
Jennifer says if you're dishing out that much for nails, it’s important to pay extra care and attention to your digits. The obvious – minimize exposure to water, don’t stress your (fake) nails, and definitely don’t go on a beach trip just after you have the procedure done.
The less obvious? Come back to the salon after a week or two to have it touched up because when your nail starts growing, the acrylic might lift, allowing water to seep in – a potential formula for a fungal infection (yikes).
The length they put on me was, admittedly, too long for my liking and it made replying to the influx of texts, instant messages, and emails all the more difficult. The application was also rather thick and while it didn't feel heavy, it was another thing to get used to. Perhaps in the rush to service a horde of media members, the gel manicure wasn't the cleanest.
It was weeks later, in the same salon sans the fan fare, that the nails and the manicure were tweaked more to my liking. A good centimeter or two were chopped off, the nail itself was filed down to be thinner and the manicure – this time, the regular kind, was divine.
Having “fake” nails didn't change my life. It did, however, add a dose of fun and finesse and #gandako to my day. While that sounds shallow and silly, finding an extra dose of happy in a world where dread fills the news is always welcome. At the same time, it made cooking meals and doing laundry extra challenging – something I didn't quite expect.
The nails lasted unbelievably long on me. As I type this now, I’ve had them on for over a month and they have shown no signs of giving up, except for the left middle finger – an apt reference to the times we live in, I suppose.
Having acrylic nails also had an unexpected result: because it was physically impossible to pick at them, my cuticles and the skin surrounding my nails got a chance to heal – practically unheard of because when stress and anxiety strikes, I always pick at the skin surrounding my nails.
For practical and financial reasons, I wouldn’t recommend nail extensions as a regular treat. But for special occasions (weddings, debuts, inflation finally going down), treating yourself to diyosa nails is a definite go.
Word of warning, though: The acrylic application and the gel manicure took around 3 hours total so bring a book and get ready to contemplate the meaning of life.
If you’re not ready to commit (and that makes most of us), Tips N’ Toes, like most nail salons, offer regular manicures and pedicures (P500), gel manicures and pedicures (P650 and P750), as well as the usual foot spas (P650++).
It's been said that lipstick sales spike whenever the economy – or at least disposable income – goes down. My nails and cuticles are testament to the fact that when my mood is down or sour, I find comfort in a bottle of lacquer. – Rappler.com
(Full disclosure: Tips N' Toes invited Rappler to their media event and provided their services for free. Our opinions and streams of consciousness, however, are our own.)