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My X-Treme Dip Powder Nail Fail

I’ve bitten my nails for as long as I can remember – literally my whole life. I’ve closely examined childhood photographs, and my nails were short and bitten down even then. I’ve tried everything to stop; that bitter-tasting nail polish that’s supposed to deter you from mindlessly gnawing on your hands? I developed a taste for it – it had kind of a spicy, cayenne-like appeal. I’ve gotten professional manicures, which were chewed off like a literal rat within 48 hours. The only times I’ve ever had long natural nails were after I’d had acrylic nails applied and let them grow out for 3+ weeks. Then, for a few blissful months, I finally had the long nails I’d dreamed of. (Actually, the nail tech had filed my nails down WAY too far when she put them on, and I had a huge ridge in my natural nail where she’d fucked up my nail bed until that grew out. But still – long nails!)

Then, one afternoon, I woke up from a nap, and in a fugue state I BIT ALL OF THEM OFF.

Since then, I’ve had the same short, miserable little nails I’ve had most of my life…until COVID-19. For some reason – oh wait, it’s because of a global pandemic, that’s right – I’ve *completely* lost any impulse to bite my nails. It’s miraculous. Turns out, all it took for me to stop biting my nails was a crippling fear of death!

So I decided: why not try out this new Nail Dip Powder phenomenon I’ve been reading about while I’m in lockdown and see if I can let these babies grow out with a little added fortification? My sister had them done once, and they looked beautiful and lasted for a month until she took them off. It would be just like going to the salon – but at home!

My mother is a kind and generous soul, and after I mentioned that I wanted to try doing my own dip powder manicure, she sent me a dip powder starter kit from Amazon. I waited with bated breath for it to arrive. And when it finally did, I decided to use it the first night (after a lengthy round of disinfecting each bottle and pot and the case it came in, etc. etc. I digress).

IT WENT VERY, VERY BADLY. I’m not even going to provide much commentary on the following photographs, which are humiliating and aesthetically the opposite of what people want to see online. Please enjoy.

Caroline Nierman Dip Nail Polish Fail 1
This was attempt 1. I thought I’d go for a goth look to accompany my miserable mood. There are no words. This was the point at which I realized I had made a terrible mistake because I learned that dip powder is PLASTIC. I knew I had to take it off – WITH ACETONE. BECAUSE IT’S PLASTIC. This was not going to be a fun task.
Caroline Nierman Dip Powder Nails Removal Fail 1
You have no idea how much it legitimately hurt to get the dip powder off to this point. After all that work, my nails looked like the nails of a loose, cut off hand that had been pulled out of the Hudson River in a garbage bag. Back to the acetone, and the filing, and the scraping – and the PAIN!
Caroline Nierman Dip Powder Removal Fail 2
Finally back down to some degree of normalcy – aka, the point when most people would put the acrylic dip powder away and not decide to re-do them…but I am not most people. Why, why didn’t I stop here? Because I had the bug – and I was going to try mauve nails next.
Caroline Nierman Dip Powder Nail Fail 2
This is when I really leveled up in terms of ‘disgusting, terrible looking nail fails.’ After I applied the mauve dip powder, which already looked like garbage, I got tired of waiting for it to dry and I applied a topcoat of Seche Vite on top. I take it you are NOT supposed to do that, because as you can see, this result was…this. This is the manicure you’d get if you went into a nail salon and said to the manicurist, “Listen, just fuck me up,” or “I want my nails to look like they are all ABSOLUTELY COVERED in fungus and/or mold.” THIS WAS AN EVEN WORSE FAIL THAN THE GOTH NAILS. I couldn’t even fall asleep with this travesty on my nails. So, at 2am, knowing full well that I should let my nails rest overnight…it was back to the filing, and the acetone, and the scraping, etc. etc. Wanted to kill someone or myself at this point.
Caroline Nierman Dip Powder Nail Painful Results
After all that, this is how I settled into bed for the night: with my shredded cuticles and whisper-thin nails slathered in Neosporin, with some having to be covered with bandaids. I topped them off with a couple of Tylenol Extra Strengths -for good luck, and so I could fall asleep.

It’s been days since this fiasco, and after many coats of nail hardener and slathering my (already dry as a bone) hands and cuticles in creams and oils regularly, they’re beginning to feel like normal nails again. I’ve asked my sister for some hand cream that has the word Hoof in the name for my birthday; apparently that helps grow healthy, strong nails. Hopefully that will help.

In the meantime, the nail dip power kit has gone right into my makeup drawer, where it will probably stay forever – or until I am afflicted with another bout of hopeful (delusional) optimism about my nail art skills.

Ouch.

I'm a comedy writer born and raised in NYC.

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