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I'd never wanted acrylic nails. Why would I want to sit in a salon for hours on end to leave with talons that turned everyday tasks into Herculean efforts and didn't even look that good? No, thanks — not for me. Then I met Alice Longyu Gao. Alice, a video producer in New York City, gets her nails done every month. She doesn't get the plain acrylics I was used to seeing though; she gets a Japanese, jewel-encrusted manicure that takes over three hours and costs a cool $180. Despite my stance on acrylics, I couldn't stop staring at Alice's Marie Antoinette-inspired set. I figured it wasn't fair to knock something before I tried it, so I asked to tag along to Alice's next appointment at RounGe NYC and get my own. Check out the process in the video above, then read on for what life with embellished nails was actually like.
My Sailor Moon-inspired nails, which I've now had for just over a month, are just a touch longer than my natural ones, but fully equipped with pearl moons, golden hearts, and tons of pink, blue, and white gems. Wearing them makes me feel like a wildly different person — in a good way. They're so absurd and lavish, but I dig them. And I'm obsessed with photographing them against burgers, dog fur, you name it. (Did I mention the compliments? I've never received more. From subway riders to cashiers to commenters on FB Live, everyone wants to talk about them.) That said, I can't deny the fact that living with bedazzled acrylics isn't necessarily a walk in the park. Typing and texting takes 10 times longer than it should. Buttoning jeans, opening soda cans, bowling (yes, I bowled)...it's not easy, folks. My friends and boyfriend will probably be very happy when the nails are removed and they no longer have to help me with basic tasks. The biggest surprise was how long the acrylics have lasted. Other than one heart-shaped jewel that fell out, they look great over a month later, minus some regrowth. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I'm not sure I'd pay $180 and wait three hours in a salon to get my nails done again just to go back to my normal life. But if I ever become a pop star? You bet I'll make them my signature.