About two months ago, I got a fascinating email about nails from Sandra Lopes. It came at an opportune moment because I was again drooling at the thought of sexier nails. But, as I wrote in my previous nail article, due to the size of my hands and other issues, wanting big, sexy nails felt like dreaming the impossible dream. But Sandra's comments on her own nail experiences gave me some hope that, with the right products, I had a shot at better nails. As you will see, I made some great nail progress due to Sandra's generous email message.
Incidentally, Sandra has her own blog, Rantings From a Crossdresser, which is a really interesting read. She focuses on the big issues of being trans, which I neglect here. She's sadly become inactive, but her blog is still around and still valuable.
Sandra's first suggestion was to try KISS's "imPRESS Nails." KISS products are always high quality, and the imPRESS nails look beautiful. These are gorgeous "gel" nails, and like their other nail products, they come in many different colors and designs. Each box includes a few "accent" nails. Nice!
KISS's innovation is a double-sided adhesive pre-attached to the nail body, avoiding the muss and fuss of glue. Application is effortless, and you are minutes away from a full-blown manicure with these things. To apply:
- Pick the sizes that fit your fingers, and lay them on the table in front of you. The size is stamped on the fingernail. KISS recommends picking the smaller size if you are between sizes. The adhesive pull tab also marks the nail's cuticle side.
- Clean your nails. KISS provides a nail wipe, or you can use alcohol.
- Pick up a nail, pull off the tab, and place it carefully on your nail. Press on the middle and then on either side. That's it.
If any adhesive is showing under the fingernail, you can cover it with clear nail polish. KISS says it takes about an hour for the adhesive to reach its full strength, so be a little careful after you first put them on. Once the hour is up, you can file and reshape them if desired.
I have used them several times and think they look beautiful. And they are Dom de Luxury approved. While not difficult to remove (I use nail polish remover and the stick that comes with the nails), I have never lost one.
Problems with imPRESS Nails
They are pricey. The list price is USD 7.99, but you can usually find them for less, sometimes as little as USD 5.35. They come with 30 nails, but one pack serves many differently sized people, so many of those nails won't fit your fingers. If you have smaller hands, you might be able to get two manicures from one box, but I have only been able to get one and one-half. Two imPRESS boxes at list price will cost you more than most bottles of OPI, my current fave nail polish, and you will get more than two manicures from an OPI bottle. So from an economics perspective, nail polish wins easily. Many women report they can wear imPRESS nails for two weeks or a bit more. That mitigates the price issue, but only if you wear nail colors full-time.
If you have big hands like me, you will have different problems. KISS makes these nails for cis women who have smaller hands than trans-women. So the fit isn't always as perfect as I would like. I've been in touch with KISS, and they seem interested in addressing the size problems. It would be great to have these nails in larger sizes!
I love the look of these nails, and the ease of application is hard to beat. And no about of nail polish will give me the nice, long beautiful nails that come in the KISS boxes. So I recommend them, and if you have smaller hands, I believe you will probably be delighted with them.
KISS has a special website for imPRESS nails: Impress Manicure Website. You can join their imPRESS Manicure VIP club for free, and they offer some nice discounts to members and a bigger selection than you typically find in stores. They also have free shipping on orders over $30.
Rolling Your Own
If imPRESS nails aren't your thing, Sandra had some great suggestions for rolling your own. She recommended two products, both of which I ordered, from AliExpress. My first time using AliExpress, and it was fine. The products came from far away, so it took a while, but they got here, and the price was very reasonable.
Sandra recommended Rolabling Nailart Store which offers 500 nails in assorted sizes for $4.73, a price I find completely amazing. Even if half of the sizes were too small for me, the price was amazing! Unfortunately, these nails did not work at all for me. I don't know if I got a bad batch, but the curvature of the nails was so extreme that only the edges of the nail (on the left and right) were in contact with my nail! I tried these out on some friends, including a few Asian women. The nails were too curved even for them, so I suspect I got a bad batch. The photo shows the problem (sorry for the focus).
Disappointed but still determined, my next step was Walmart. As we all know, Walmart gets most of its stuff from China, and, guess what? The stuff they sent me was also too curved! I know people who have had good luck with Walmart nails, but perhaps they went to the store. I don't recommend mail order.
I was a gurl on a mission, and I wasn't about to be defeated by the Chinese Nail Conspiracy. The next product I tried was "Precision Fit Plus Size Natural Nail Tips" from the "Terrific Tips" company. I am now officially in Nail Heaven. These nails fit me perfectly, and the price is reasonable. I got mine from Sally Beauty (here's the link), 100-tips for $6.69 plus shipping costs. And they are 'blank, white" nails; you can decorate! And, of course, Terrific Tip has "normal" sized tips if your hands are smaller than mine. They advertise these nails as suitable for people "with alternative lifestyles." Well, that's us!
Shaping and Decorating
To paint and decorate the nails, you need something to hold them steady. I used duct tape, and it works great! Use one piece for each hand and get the wide stuff. Make sure each piece of tape is long enough to hold five nails and fold the ends of the tape by an inch or so to make a non-sticky handle.
It's a huge convenience to be able to shape and decorate the nails before you put them on. The Terrific Tips are square, and I wanted a stiletto shape. They were easy to shape; I used scissors and didn't need a nail file or guide marks. After I shaped the nail, I put it in "finger order" on the duct tape.
The duct tape held the nails beautifully while I polished them. I recommend a top coat, always. I also added Rhinestones to my nails. The nails were so long that I went a little crazy. I used "Gem-Tac," which dries clear and doesn't have toxic fumes, to do the gluing. E6000 is stronger but stinks, and I try to avoid it when I can. The Gem-Tac worked great for me.
You'll also need something to pick up the rhinestones. I used a "Crystal Katana ." I've avoided buying this because I think it is overpriced (it's around USD 26-USD 28). I've tried other, less expensive solutions that don't work well. I have to admit the Katana does a great job. Tweezers are hard to use, and other solutions (such as wax pencils) leave a coating on the rhinestone that dulls the shine.
And you'll need rhinestones. I bought some Aurora-Borealis (AB) rhinestones from Amazon for around $10. There are plenty of choices. The AB rhinestones give off a rainbow of colors, which is nice.
To put the rhinestones on the nail, squeeze a tiny amount of glue where you want it to go, dropping the rhinestone on top of the glue with the Katana. Let it dry for 24 hours before you try to wear it.
This is where I ran into a spot of trouble. Sandra also recommended some double-sided sticky tape to fasten false nails on. She suggested the Allmedure Store, also on AliExpress.com. She buys them in bulk since they are popular items and tend to disappear fast. I bought several.
Sandra recommends placing them on your nail first and letting them warm up (most adhesives work better when they are a bit warm), then pulling off the cover and attaching the nail, holding it down for a bit to make sure it works.
The first problem I had was making all the nails too long! Inexperience strikes! As I attached more nails, I found it increasingly difficult to do so. Once I finished one hand, I couldn't manage to get any on my other hand! I am trying to come up with a solution for this (if any of you have one, please send it to me, and I will give you credit!). I know that some women leave the nails on one hand shorter. Perhaps using shorter nails for my right hand's thumb and index finger would work since those are the only ones I need to attach the adhesive and nails.
The other problem was also related to the length of the nails. Typing is very hard with them on; sadly, the nail attachment did not survive this test. So it might be that long nails are not in my future (sob). However, I was in a rush to attach and use them, and I may not have given the adhesive a fair shot. Next time I will give the adhesive longer to set and bond and see how they perform. So the jury is still out on these adhesive pads. I notice there are some other adhesive products available for nails, so if these Chinese pads don't work, I can always try some other ones.
I filmed my efforts so you can see how I did it. Please remember this is my first time, don't judge me. The video is decent, and I think it should give you an idea of how to do this. The hard part is finding the right nails; the rest was pretty easy. I hope you find it helpful:
UPDATE: Problems Solved!
I have solutions for all the problems. Here they are:
The best adhesive: Nailene Ultra Adhesive Tabs. These are much stronger than the stuff I got from AliExpress but substantially more expensive. However, they held the nails on incredibly well. I paid about USD 20 on Amazon for a pack of 4; each pack has 24 sticky tabs. You'll use 1/2 pack on both hands, so that's $1.25 a hand. Not that awful, but not that great. Here's a link to the product on Amazon.com /p>
Attaching long nails: To deal with the problem of attaching long nails, I made the nails for the thumb and first finger of my left hand shorter. I was then able to attach all the nails successfully!
The Procedure: Make the nails as I described above, remembering to make the nails for the thumb and index fingers of one hand a length that you can operate with. I chose the left hand. Since I am right-handed, I reasoned the left hand would be less visible because I tend to use it less. Then clean your nails and the underside of the false nails with alcohol (I used 99% isopropyl). Let dry. Really. Let it dry. Then continue as follows:
- Place adhesive tabs on all your fingernails, leaving the top protective cover on the tab.
- Place nails on both hands' 5th (little finger), 4th and 3rd fingers. Just pull off the protective cover, then press the nail onto the sticky tab in the middle, then on each side of the nail.
- Place the shortened nails on the index finger and thumb of the target hand. For me, that is the left hand.
- Use those two fingers to finish the other hand.
I loved how these looked, and so did Dom. The longer nails have a beautiful way of making manhands look more graceful and feminine; it's fantastic. I think the short nails on those fingers were not especially noticeable. I have to say, wearing these nails is tough! It is hard to do anything in them, from typing to picking things up. But Dom tells me this will get easier with practice. It is similar to wearing heels, which were very hard for me at first, but now I don't even think about it. I recommend these procedures and products to anyone who wants to up your nail game!
Thanks for reading!
I hope this has been helpful. I'm always happy to get good suggestions and nice comments. If you have some, feel free to contact me!