In Defense of Chipped Nails

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I used to be a beauty editor. Few can tell because I avoid doing my hair at all costs, my daily skincare/cover-up routine stops at Step 2: moisturizer/SPF and I’m mediocre-to-below-average at braiding anything other than a classic three-strander. But what makes my past career hardest to believe is probably my chronically chipped nail polish.

My nails are painted 98.76 percent of the time, but they’re chipped more often than they are solid blocks of color. And by chipped, I don’t mean a speck of nail showing through. I mean the manicure equivalent of the time I cracked and re-cracked my iPhone screen so badly it mildly hurt to scroll and I could barely make out the passive-aggressive statuses on my FB feed. There was a whole chunk of screen missing from the top left corner and the guy at the Apple store had to “go to the back” (show his coworkers) to “check something” (report me) before “seeing what he could do” (revoke my custody).

With such severe chipping, you’d think I’d “just get gels!!!” as friends tend to suggest. But I’ve grown to like all the resulting negative space. There’s something therapeutic about making a $15 to $20 mani last as long as humanly possible, until one day, I scrape off the few remaining flecks of polish to reveal a completely clean slate. It kinda feels like watching Dumbledore’s bird explode in Chamber of Secrets. My manicures are Fawkes.

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I’m definitely one of those “lazy girls” outlets write personalized guides for. Getting manis more regularly or gels in general goes against everything I believe in: shortcuts like dry shampoo, makeup-remover wipes, “smudged” it’s-okay-you-effed-up-your-liner liner, sheet masks with leftovers that you just rub back into your face instead of rinsing off. All “effortless” in one way or another and perfectly acceptable. Even post-makeout lipstick got invited to Fashion Week. All while chipped nails get shunned.

I think it’s high time society officially embraced them — at the very least, as a trend we all forget about in a season. I vote that someone (Rihanna? Anyone? Bueller?) or the collective “we” finally make them a thing, just this once. In the grand scheme of ridiculous nail art trends, it’s not asking for much (Exhibits A, B and C for your review). Sneak it under the umbrella of Normcore. Just think how perfectly a scuffed mani would pair with mom jeans and an expensive-ass hoodie!

Trend politics aside, there’s no denying this low-maintenance look is the easiest to achieve of them all. Chipping your nail polish requires nothing more than not giving AF. You may already be doing it this very instant. If you’re unsure (or just an overachiever), follow these expert tips to get started:

How to Get Chipped Nails

1. Wear bottoms that are really hard to take off to your manicure appointment. Try high-waist jeans with a crotch that is entirely buttons.

2. Make sure you have to pee immediately following said manicure.

3. Develop a severe canned-seltzer addiction and do all the can-opening. This will work with any beverage that comes in a can, actually. I’m just projecting.

4. Type on a laptop or desktop keyboard for roughly 12 hours of your day.

5. Wear as many extra zippers as possible.

6. Keep your nail polish remover somewhere really annoying to get to, like alllllll the way under the sink in your bathroom, behind all the other products you never use but haven’t thrown away just in case you need them one day.

7. Literally just do whatever else you do on any given day.

Welcome to the dark side. We’ve been waiting for you.

Photos by Tory Rust and Louisiana Mei Gelpi. 

Erica Smith

Erica Smith

Erica is the Managing Editor at Man Repeller. Her horn can pierce the sky!

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