How long can you go before being called a hoe?
With nail trends messing up common sense, we wanted to know where to draw the line.
Caring for your nails can be hard and, if you go the extra mile to make them immaculate, you might lose sight of their perfect length. We know perfection is a myth, but practicality isn’t. We all have experienced at least once how uncomfortable it can be to type with an extra centimeter of protein at the end of your fingertips. Colour, shape, size, natural or shellac, the list goes on as nails often tell more about us than we even realize.
The prejudice against chipped nails, per example, is as old as nail polish. In a way it underlines a kind of slouchy posture towards appearance. When it comes to bigger nails the preconception lives on, since having nails like Kylie Jenner or Nicky Minaj can be a trend that stems from an understanding that long nails are provocative. However, they are still labeled as trashy. If in the 1950’s the pointy lengthy nails were considered sexy, in today’s beauty culture they often stir up mixed feelings.
But what does a good nail say about us and, most importantly, what makes a perfect nail? Size does matter. Sometimes short is too short and more than often longer doesn’t mean better, so we consulted two beauticians in London who gave us professional insight into the right length. As we like to keep things fair we went to two salons, one in East London and the other one in the West. If the East is considered cool and hip and the West is known for being either posh or classical, there should be plenty of room for differences, right? Turns out that when it comes to nail etiquette they’re closer than you might have thought.
Next stop: Shoreditch
In the East, the tendency is to keep it simple, according to Fleur McFlare, beautician at Foster London, in Bethnal Green Road, one of the most well-known beauty stops in this part of town. “A lot of people that come to me usually don’t have acrylics or anything. They have their natural nails, quite short, usually rounded and just very neat and tidy”. Surprised? “Around here, at least the people that I see, they don’t have too long nails, which is a lot nicer. I think you can go a bit long before the ‘ups, stop that, don’t go any further’”.
Overall, the few people that have the very-long-nail look are “very out there, they go out a lot and they get their nails done often”, explains Fleur. In her perspective, the maximum you can go with your nails would be about 1,5 cm as they shouldn’t be too long, just a little bit off of the nail bed (the skin beneath your actual nail). “Personally, I don’t like really long nails but obviously it’s whoever choice. Sometimes it looks really gorgeous and sometimes it can look a little tacky”. As if the length wasn’t enough of an issue, there is also room for preference shape wise. Fleur likes “square nails with a little bit of a rounded edge, so that they’re not too sharp”, the opposite to the current stiletto nails trend, “the pointy ones that come off, which are nice, but to an extent”.
Way out West
The nail menu doesn’t change that much in the West. At Groom, in Marylebone, beautician Soraye Lawrence tells JUDAS that she is noticing more shorter nails now. “If they’re long it’s the long pointed ones”, as we had previously spotted o the East Side. “That is sort of the trend that we are seeing now, just following celebrities”. In these cases, magazines are the go to index where celebrities’ nails spark the costumers’ desires. However, as Soraye explains, the perfect length here is more discrete. “Oh, it would be millimeters, so 4 to 5 millimeters and that should take it to the edge”. But having or not long nails depends on more than trends as the size of your nail beds play a big part. “It’s down to every individual because some people have short nail beds, so they want their nails to grow longer, whereas my nail beds are long so I can’t keep them short. If I polish them they still look long”, explains the beautician.
As much as it can come from anatomic predisposition to have a good length and shape, preference and trends still play a huge role when it comes to beauty ideals. On a personal level, your taste and your routine (e.g. chipping your nails while washing the dishes) will always tell a story about you to the outside world, either it's a true one or not. Either you want it to or not.