I recently invested in a nail dryer. Yes, that’s what I said: a nail dryer. I can see you’re puzzled so I will explain.
When you varnish your nails, as I do, you may find yourself applying three or four coats of paint. First there is the base coat, which protects your nails from discoloration and helps the coloured varnish stick; then there is the colour, of which you may require two (or more) coats; and finally, there is the top coat, a transparent layer that is supposed to protect the finish from chipping and scraping. That’s a lot of paint and it takes a while to apply. It also takes a while to dry.
When you first start varnishing your nails, you think you can do little tasks around the house while the varnish is drying. It’s easy enough to make a cup of tea without spoiling your nails, right? Wrong. Until you varnish your nails, you are simply not aware of how often you knock, scratch and scrape your nails. This is without using your nails as ersatz screwdrivers, picking your teeth, pulling out staples or undoing the clasp of your watch strap.
Nor is it enough to wait five minutes and then cautiously touch the edge of a nail to see if it is no longer sticky. Even when the surface of the nail is apparently dry, the layers of varnish are likely still to be soft. No more than a little knock against the tap while filling the kettle will scrape the varnish off. You therefore find yourself sitting for long periods doing nothing while your nail polish hardens.
This is where the nail dryer comes in. A nail dryer is really an enclosed fan with a hollow where you insert your hand. It blows air over your nails, hastening the drying process. The better ones also radiate ultra violet light. This is supposed to help harden the varnish.
Nail dryers cost anything from less than £10 to over £100. They are sometimes accompanied by a kit of tools and cosmetics. I’m sure that if you had one of the more luxurious ones you could spend hours making up and drying. I decided to go for cheap and plain. I reasoned that a dryer alone for £10 was going to be better quality than a dryer for £10 that had a lot of other stuff included. I’m naive like that.
In the end, I plumped for a little dryer for a tenner from Argos, everyone’s favourite catalogue store. I ordered it at the till, as you do, and then sat and waited for my number to come up. When it did, I was surprised how small the box was.
If you turn the dryer upside down, it resembles in shape and size an average breakfast cereal bowl. The right way up, it is a little domed thing resting on four tiny rubber feet. There is a hollow where you put your fingers to be blown on and shined on with UV light. I don’t know whether there is really any UV radiation. There is a mauve light but that is for show, of course, as you can’t see UV. Not for nothing is it sometimes called “black light”.
I soon realized that when you put your hand into the dryer, you risk damaging your varnish by knocking your nails against the back of the hollow. Also, while the four fingers sit in there comfortably enough, the thumb tends to languish alone outside unless you scrunch up your hand. Nothing is perfect in the sublunary sphere.
Does it work? Hm, well maybe. I think my nails possibly dried a little faster than without it but of course, you still have to sit still for a long time watching paint dry.
Like many things, painting your nails seems simple until you actually try it. Then you discover the difficulties. I don’t just mean the actual painting process, which can be tricky enough but other aspects. For example, if, like me, you are vegetarian, you will look for products not tested on animals and, if you are health conscious, you will want products that don’t contain dangerous chemicals. You would think all this is easy to find out but it isn’t. You need to work at it. Varnishing your nails is likely to become a hobby rather than just a matter of applying cosmetics. Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime.