I Wore Extreme Jelly Nails For A Week — & It Was Not Easy

Photographed by Anna Jay.
Photographed by Anna Jay.
I should start off by saying I am a complete acrylic-nail virgin — so getting a major set of talons like these was a big thing for me. I was intrigued by the pics all over Instagram (including Kylie Jenner’s post, which racked up over 4 million likes) but when it came to trying them out, I was a bit apprehensive given my inexperience. But when a colleague hooked me up with an appointment, there was no turning back. I kept them on for just over a week, relearning certain life skills (like how to flush the toilet, for example) along the way. Here's how it went...
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Day 1
4 p.m.: I leave work to go get my nails done at WAH Nails in London. They take two hours and I'm transfixed the entire time. Holli, the nail artist, has skills and the patience of a saint. (I should mention that while doing my nails she was also rocking her own set of extra long turquoise jellies.) The process is essentially the same as getting sculpted acrylics, but drops of color are added to the solution. They're then moulded to my finger, left to dry, and finished off with something glossy under a UV lamp. I also get some tips from Holli, namely: Don’t open cans, be careful with the fridge, and if you drop coins on the floor, you can forget about them.
6 p.m.: Annnnd they’re done! I love them! All the girls in the salon loved the color and kept coming over, desperate to see my lilac jellies — thus bringing out the diva I always knew existed inside of me. I leave feeling like a jelly-nailed goddess.
6:10 p.m.: Arrive at the train station to discover I can no longer do things, have to get a staff member to assist with taking my subway card out of my wallet. Feeling less goddess-like.
7 p.m.: Get home to a hungry boyfriend who now has to learn how to cook, pronto, as we’re absolutely ravenous and I cannot use my fingers anymore.
8:25 p.m.: I should add that this is day two of my period — relevant, I promise, because I didn’t think about tampon insertion/removal and promptly have a little panic. Sit on the toilet for a while and contemplate shouting for my boyfriend to come and give me a hand. Breathe and manage to remove the tampon. Even after nearly eight years of romance, I don’t think he’s ready for that. Is anyone ever ready for that?
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11 p.m. onward: I sleep quite badly. I feel conscious of the nails — plus, I tend to hold my socks when I sleep as a comfort thing (I know) and my new additions get in the way of my sleep ritual.
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Day 2
8:30 a.m.: Wake up and attempt to put on some jeans and a blouse; this takes 20 minutes too long so have to rush out the door to avoid being late for work.
9:30 a.m.(-ish): Arrive at work to a sea of mixed emotions about my new look.
9:35 a.m.: Typing and using the mouse on my iMac is now not something I know how to do. So many typos.
10:12 a.m.: Bathroom break. My sister is a wearer of acrylics and warned me that a button flush (which luckily I do not have at home) will no longer be possible. She was quite correct. I am now having to use my finger knuckle to flush at work. It’s painful and this makes me nervous because I pee about five times an hour. Weep.
Also, "save for web" — a vital keyboard command on Photoshop, which I, an art editor, use on a very regular basis — is almost impossible. Fun times.
11 a.m.: Snack time and I have to ask a colleague to take the sticker off my apple.
New method of flushing.
12:30 p.m.: Lunch. Another colleague has to open my container of sushi. What is life?
12:31 p.m.: Eat my sushi with my nails, thus far the only practical use I’ve gotten out of them.
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2:30 p.m.: Trip number 24 to the bathroom and my knuckle is now turning a lovely shade of purple.
3:30 p.m.: Chat with some colleagues in the kitchen who are all huge fans of the nails. They don’t mind that they can see my own nail through the gel; I do. One suggests that maybe having a color painted onto my real nail before the process could improve the look of them, which I have seen done on Insta (#jellynails) and do quite like the look of.
4 p.m.: A colleague forgets I have new nails and gets a shock when she spots them in our editorial meeting.
6 p.m.: A drink with work friends. It feels good holding a wine glass with my jellies out — full of sass right now. I stay for two.
7:30 p.m.: My boyfriend cooks again because I’m still without finger abilities, and I’m also a little bit tipsy so can only stand and observe (and offer guidance).
8:30 p.m.: In dire need of a shampoo and my additions make for a perfect head massage. Brushing through conditioner with my fingers never felt so damn good.
8:50 p.m.: Look down at my jellies looking all see-through, clean, and shiny. Still feeling a tad extra wearing them to bed, especially in my scruffy Maroon 5 T-shirt (purchased in 2007, I promise).
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Day 3
New method of typing.
8:30 a.m.: Go for an easier outfit this morning, leave for work on time.
9:30 a.m.: Sit down for my day. Typing still feels new to me; I’ve had to adopt an odd position with my fingers, spreading them wide and sort of bending the tips up? It’s strange and uncomfortable and produces all of the typos.
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1 p.m.: Lunch happens without any problems AND I discover that the nails are great for picking up eight Popchips at a time. Winner winner.
3 p.m.: Gah! The inevitable happens and I put some change down on the counter in the kitchen. I can hear Holli in my head warning me, but I insist on spending the next three minutes attempting to pick the coins up with my fingers. No good. A quick little flick into my palms, and I walk off and pretend nothing happened. I can feel others in the kitchen staring in disappointment — no one with acrylics tries to pick up coins with their fingers, goddammit!
6 p.m.: Leave the office to walk home (relieved I don’t have a train or bus commute as I’m still struggling with card removal from my wallet) and get tangled up/frustrated trying to plug my headphones into my phone. I’m still seeing the nails as cute, though, and find myself making even more hand movements than usual (I’m a huge hand-talker already) when speaking to my sister on the phone, knowing I am getting plenty of nail appreciation from passersby.
7 p.m.: I can now cook again yaaas. Getting well used to my talons, proud moment.
8:30 p.m.: It’s time for some face TLC (I’ll be honest, this doesn’t happen very often). A wash and exfoliate is on the agenda, and the nails don’t get in the way at all. I apply my favorite Herbivore Moon Fruit Night Treatment, which is purple, and as I rub it in it goes down behind my nails and makes me cringe. I finish off by washing my hands and running a cotton bud under my nails for the next 10 mins — the jellies have made me even more OTT about hand washing, as you can see anything and everything that gathers behind them.
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Day Four
8:30 a.m.: Spend ages this morning deliberating my ring choice. I usually wear quite a lot of hand jewelry but as my nails are saying so much now, I'm fretting over how many rings I can pull off! I decide on a standard four and be done with it.
9:30 a.m.: At work I speak to quite a few colleagues who are really interested in how the jelly nails are going. People also love to touch them. I explain that I have become more aware of food/moisturizer/gross things getting underneath them. I am however really enjoying how the jellies look, although they keep making me hungry as they look like sort of like little candies...
4 p.m.: Meeting at work and I attempt to draw a picture with a pencil (I’m a visual person, okay) before remembering writing/drawing is not an easy task. Put the pencil down and give up on that potential masterpiece.
6 p.m.: Walk home a bit buzzed after a few glasses of birthday wine at work and take a trip to my local supermarket for some dinner. The woman behind the counter is in awe of my lilac jellies and we spend a good eight minutes talking about them. She is sold on the color and transparent look and thanks me for bringing them into her life — she doesn’t have Instagram and hasn’t seen them before.
11 p.m.: Still not over being able to see anything that's collected behind my nails, so spend 20 minutes thoroughly cleaning them with a toothpick before going to sleep. Yep, I now carry toothpicks around exclusively for my nails.
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Day 5
8:30 a.m.: I'm now really enjoying the look of my nails and realize this morning that all week I have been subconsciously dressing with them in mind. Today I’ve gone for a little accent of pink with a cute pair of socks peeking out of the top of my boots. Who am I? So chic, if I say so myself!
New method of posing.
11 a.m.: Uh oh! Nail injury! I wish someone had told me not to try and stop a heavy glass door from shutting using only my index finger. A stub to the finger which has me worried that I may lose my actual nail.
12 p.m.: Index finger throbbing intensely.
2 p.m.: Still intense throbbing.
3 p.m.: I’ll stop saying throbbing now.
8:30 p.m.: A bartender is obsessed. And I am very drunk. This results in a 20-minute chat all about the nails (and my life). She was done after 18 mins but I am now that person.
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Day 6
4:30 p.m.: Go to get my nails off. It takes a good hour to remove them completely. I sit for around 40 mins with my hands submerged in pure acetone; the nails pretty much dissolve in front of me. This is followed by an industrial amount of nail buffing, filing, and cuticle oil.
5:45 p.m.: My walk home is strange. I feel less exciting now, to be honest. I think I miss my lilac jellies.
Meg had her nails done at WAH London by Holli Dolli (find them both on Instagram @wahnails @had_nails). This story was originally published on Refinery29 UK.
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