True, some yellow and green polishes look like something you’d find floating in a bog. But they can also look like shamrocks, Big Bird, or The West Wing’s Donna Moss. When I was finally old enough to pick out makeup beyond Dr. Pepper–flavored Lip Smackers, my mom guided me through the Walgreens cosmetics aisle, helping me choose subtle shades of lipstick and modest tubes of concealer. While she begrudgingly agreed to let me bring home 1999’s hottest nail-polish shade (metallic navy blue), she made a sweeping comment about the yellow and green polishes that I’ve never been able to shake: “Those colors make your nails look like they have a fungus.” Her words still echo through my head every time I browse the nail-polish aisle—although I did manage to block out her voice long enough to try the mint and seafoam-green polish trends (I still love them). But whenever I spot non-minty greens and yellows of any kind on the shelves, I’m baffled. Who wears them? Of course, no color is without a gross association—red is a classic manicure color, but it’s also the color of blood, an F on a school paper, or an F on a school paper written in blood. With that in mind, I decided to give yellow and green nail polishes a fair shake. Below, I analyzed five shades and tried to pinpoint exactly what they reminded me of, fungus or otherwise. 1: Sinful Colors in “Unicorn” If it was a fungus, it would be: This doesn’t resemble a fungus so much as a moss—specifically Donna Moss from The West Wing. It’s the color of her hair, and just like Donna, the polish seemed a little bland at first, but finally won me over. But it looks more like: Lemon icing on a Girl Scout cookie. 2: Sally Hansen I Heart Nail Art in “Sunny Side Up” If it was a fungus, it would be: Scrambled-egg lichen (fulgensia fulgens). But it looks more like: One of Big Bird’s feathers. There’s nothing gross about Big Bird. 3: Sinful Colors in “Innocent” If it was a fungus, it would be: The scary, nuclear-green algae that floats along the banks of the Mississippi in my hometown. Algae isn’t a fungus, per se, but it’s still pretty gross. But it looks more like: A pear Andy Warhol might have painted. 4: Revlon Nail Enamel in “Posh” If it was a fungus, it would be: Boreal felt lichen (apparently also available in throw-pillow form) But it looks more like: A shamrock. 5: Maybelline Color Show in “Walk in the Park” If it was a fungus, it would be: Not a fungus—more like peat moss. At midnight. But it looks more like: An extremely wearable shade of nail polish. It’s still green, but it’s such a dark shade that it looks more like a black polish with a little shimmer. Photo: Andrew Nawrocki, GrouponRead More
Sandra Araceli Salon
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Sandra Araceli Salon
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When you ask Ashley Crowe to do your nail art, you’d better have a creative theme ready. She’s already done Basquiat and Missoni, so I went with Alfred Hitchcock.One of my friends once went to Ashley Crowe for a manicure inspired by The Shining. She walked away quite satisfied, with the Overlook Hotel’s memorable carpet pattern painted on her nails.Now that it’s time to get my own custom manicure, though, I don’t know what to suggest.“Well, what do you want to do?” Ashley, known to her fans as AstroWifey, asks me.The endless possibilities make it hard to focus. “I really like Hitchcock movies,” I offer. “Maybe something with The Birds?”“Ok, cool,” she says. Then, without missing a beat, “Did you know that Tippi Hedren was really involved with starting nail salons in America?”It’s some kind of weird manicure kismet.Nail Art, Emphasis on the ArtAshley’s concept nail art has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art. She’s renowned for her intricate, one-of-a-kind manicures, all of which are based on a theme of her client’s choosing.I can only hope that I chose wisely.As we sit down at Ashley’s manicure table, I see three issues of Tipsy tucked beneath the glass top. Ashley publishes the magazine here in Chicago, then distributes it internationally. When it first came out, it was the only zine in the country dedicated to nail art—the kind that goes beyond snowflakes and chevron stripes into museum-worthy territory.The most recent issue, for example, features international artists painting nails to look like unnervingly realistic x-ray scans, and affixing actual lizard bones to models’ fingertips. These aren’t the manicures you’d wear in waking life, and they aren’t DIY-friendly. They’re the stuff of surreal dreams.A Portrait of the Artist as a Young WomanMy manicure, however, starts simply enough: Ashley paints on two coats of white, no-chip polish. As she works, she explains how her interest in nail art progressed from a more traditional sort of creativity.At 17, already an accomplished drawer, she earned a spot in a competitive after-school program that had a painting curriculum. She liked painting, but was “overwhelmed by canvas…It always felt a little too large, and I didn’t know how to come up with big enough ideas.”She soon realized that fingernails, far too small a backdrop for most artists, were just the right size for her work. So, she practiced painting techniques on her hands (her very first design was an homage to Keith Haring). When people began to comment on her nails, she started a blog that documented her designs. And when her readers demanded designs of their own, she obliged—she enrolled in nail school, honed her skills in a salon, and finally set up her own studio.From a Manicure Studio to the MCATo paint Birds-inspired designs over the white base coat, Ashley swaps the nail polish out for acrylic paints. As she sifts through a set of paintbrushes, she tells me about her involvement with the interactive MCA exhibit Homebodies.Ashley partnered with artist Dzine to replicate the living room where his Puerto Rican mother had performed nail services. The interactive element was Ashley herself: amid shag carpeting and plastic-covered furniture, she gave conceptual manicures akin to those photographed in Tipsy. The exhibit’s organizers even encouraged her to turn people away if they weren’t willing to embrace an avant-garde design (like the one pictured above, which Ashley created for the exhibit).“[I did] just the craziest things you could think of,” she says. “And that was definitely a learning experience for me…[having] 100% true creative control [to] go really extreme, without any boundaries.” As a result, people walked away with wire-wrapped faux bird eggs on their thumbnails and acrylic spirals extending from their pinkies.As she sits opposite me, perched over the manicure table, I can see the natural artist in her. With paint-splattered sleeves pushed up, she uses hair-thin brushes to pull colors off a tiny palette that she’s hacked into a ring. Her barely visible brushstrokes eventually transform into black birds and, on one finger, Hitchcock’s famous silhouette.Nails as Unique as Their FingerprintsTo complete my manicure, Ashley pulls out cases loaded with hundreds of gems. She admits to spending hours online shopping for them, and sometimes visiting New York’s Garment District to refresh her supply. “I feel like [gems] take most pieces to the next level,” she says. “And you don’t just stick them on, it’s all about balance, like in any piece of art.”The 3D embellishments make Ashley’s projects all the more unique, which is a label she covets. She’s taken a firm stance against recreating other nail artists’ designs, and urges her clients to think outside their Pinterest accounts so that they can collaborate with her on something new. The process is rewarding for both parties—several people have peeled off their designs to save as keepsakes. “It might sound weird, but I’ve done the same thing,” Ashley says. “It’s like a postcard to me from that nail artist.”Once my nail art is complete, I understand the instinct. My hands somehow capture the thrilling atmosphere of an entire film, with Pollock-esque splatters set over careening birds, and the movie title emblazoned in gray across three fingers. These little “paintings” would fit perfectly on my wall (next to my Hitchcock Film Festival poster).Find deals at Chicago nail salons with Groupon.Photos by Stephanie Anderson, GrouponRead More
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