The other day I opened up the medicine cabinet in my bathroom, and aside from daily staples like sunscreen and moisturizer, there on the second shelf almost a dozen bottles of nail polish—lined up like little soldiers—stared back at me. Then I opened a drawer and another dozen or more bottles, lying neglected and hidden from the light of day, looked up longingly as if to say, Pick me! I want to be the color du jour!
And then it hit me. I am a total junkie. And my drug’s initials are O.P.I.
I’ve always known I was a lip product addict—there are six-to-eight lipsticks or glosses in my handbag on any given day. But the polishes, they’ve taken me by surprise.
When I moved overseas, I shipped my polishes and other beauty supplies because in Sydney, OPI is 20 bucks a bottle. I even doubled up on some of my faves (Lincoln Park After Dark, OPI on Collins Avenue, Sweetheart), which in hindsight is ludicrous. I’ve never gotten to the end of a bottle of polish before it has gone thick in my life. Though I have to say that it takes a long time for an OPI polish to go.
In the times I was home for a visit, I bought the same basic colors again, and they stayed at my house in the States. Eventually, I moved back to the U.S., and if you can believe this—I paid to ship my polishes back again. Even knowing that I had polishes there, as well as immediate and inexpensive access to more. For some reason, I couldn’t just abandon all my little beauties, all those bottles of vibrant color. I just couldn’t leave them behind.
So now I have Lincoln Park After Dark and OPI on Collins Avenue in triplicate. I have doubles of OPI Natural Nail Base and Top Coat, a couple I’m Indi-a Mood For Love, a Big Apple Red and an O’Hare & Nails Look Great. I’ve added You Don’t Know Jacques and Black Onyx and Hot & Spicy. And there are scores of other OPI shades amongst all those. And I’ve moved on from only OPI (great). There are now bottles of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri, a China Glaze, and an Essie. Because at least for this girl, there just can never be too much nail polish.
An Obsession Dissection
I think most women have some sort of beauty product addiction. For some it’s eyeshadow. Or lipliner. Or body cream. For me, I now know, it’s nail polish. And it is definitely an obsession. Because I don’t buy a new lipstick until I run out or really need a new color. But I keep buying polish even when there is plenty to be had.
And you know why? Because seeing those glorious bottles of color every time I open my medicine cabinet just makes me feel good. And I get the same joy when I look down at my fingers and toes and they gleam back in lacquered perfection. Polish is the ultimate girlie-girl marker, and on the surface it may seem insignificant. But isn’t it the most telling sign of self-love, of time made for one’s own sanity?
Nail polish is one of the few beauty products that is absolutely unnecessary. It is an indulgence on every level, especially if like me, you prefer to handle your own manicures and pedicures. Doing your nails is labor intensive, time-consuming, and as we ladies know, a process that simply cannot be rushed. And all for a few days of enameled bliss.
I think there is just something in some girls’ DNA that dictates an inherent need for nail polish. I am one of those girls. And my two-year-old niece and namesake apparently is too. Several weeks ago, after seeing my Essie Pink Parka-ed toes, she said she wanted pink toes too. Who am I to deny her this tiny indulgence? After some coaching about the required stillness and drying time, we embarked on this rite of passage together. Then we stood and marveled and the perfect pinkness of our toes.
And so it begins.