I have always loved simplicity and a humble aesthetic. Even when it comes to fashion and beauty, I lean towards function and comfort. It has to look good too, but we can all find beauty in the mundane, everyday things. I have a penchant for the unappreciated as you may well know. So it’s only natural that my interest was piqued when I came across the brand Bare Hands, founded by Suzanne Shade who hopes to create an alternative to routine manis and pedis. Finally, I found a person glorifying the beauty of our nails’ most natural state.
We are not taught to love natural nails.
When I was young and going to dental school, there was a cardinal rule that applied only to women: Nails must not be painted with chemical color lest someone has an allergic reaction to any ingredient. I remember the rule feeling constrictive as a twenty-something year old female. Friends my age were just making their first paychecks, and taking care of themselves through manicures and pedicures. Attending social gatherings where girls were dolled up, sipping cocktails with their glossy nails made me feel what Anna Delvey would only describe as ‘poor‘.
I was embarrassed by my naked nails. They looked grungy after working with putty, plaster, and stone all week. My nails were dull, ragged, and downright ugly. I caught myself occasionally hiding them in my pockets or under the table. When Friday came around, I reserved an hour in the evening to paint them, only to remove the color by Sunday night. There was no way I could afford a mani/pedi, which runs at around $50 with tip. Beauty, it turns out, can also be expensive.
But the definition of beauty is changing.
Historically the idea of beauty has been elevated to unnatural levels. For some women, that also makes it unattainable. Just like makeup hides our natural facial features, polish hides our natural nails. We are always told to hide. Or reach for better. We are never enough.
The problem with covering ourselves in paint and powder is that we create a facade that’s a difficult standard to maintain. It complicates things. It keeps us from doing real work. More importantly, it keeps us from being ourselves.
I am grateful to see a shift in that thinking.
Simplicity is beautiful.
There is beauty in simplicity. We see that today, as more people turn towards minimalism, slow living, and intentional lifestyle choices. It started with the popularization of a natural looking brow. Then followed the revered diastema, a gap between the front two teeth. Makeup became more neutral as fashion styles veered towards chromophobia. Today, the rich aesthetic encompasses those along the greige spectrum of browns and greens. Think of stone-colored Porsches and neutral Yeezies. And we see this aesthetic translating to the nail industry.
Enter the era of natural nails.
Bare Hands is a brand revamping what the nail industry would consider beautiful. Gone are the days of bright colored polish, long fake nails, and glittery coats. If it isn’t neutral, it just isn’t posh. At least, that is the current consensus. But what of unpolished nails altogether? Suzanne has created a natural, healthy, and sustainable method for nail care.
As a dentist, baker, and dog-walker, having painted nails is problematic most of the time. And while I love getting fancy with my collection of curated J. Hannah polishes, I go without polish for more than half of the month for the sake of simplicity. Painted nails chip on oft used hands. Moreover, no one wants synthetic oils in their mouths or their dough. For many us who work in kitchens, studios, farms, and medical offices, painted nails are just not a sustainable option.
Additionally, maintenance is a pain. The amount of time it takes to put on and take off polish is significant if you add on dry-time. If you paint your nails weekly, this could be one and a half hours per week spent on upkeep. And it is expensive. Some women have reported spending $200 a month or more on nail care alone!
Suzanne created an alternative.
Suzanne is a woman after my own heart. She has always loved the look of natural nails. And as a frugalist, she could not fathom spending a fortune to keep up with the Joneses’ social standards. Her penchant for bare nails stems from her studies in art school. After learning that certain oil-based paints are not healthy for fine art use, she started to question why it was accepted for nail color.
So began her quest to get to the root cause of why women feel the need to paint their nails. Part of it is social, yes. Seeing others at that heightened level of beauty is a factor. However, she also discovered that most women simply did not like the appearance of their nails. And none of them had methods to care for it in a natural way.
Take me for example. Every week, I am baking sourdough, working on a farm, doing dentistry, and picking up dog poop. My hands take a beating. My nails are shot. It’s easier to cover up all that wear and tear. Polish is my pretend way of making my nails pretty. But after discovering the Dry Gloss Manicure from Bare Hands, I no longer have to hide.
The Dry Gloss Manicure by Bare Hands
The Dry Gloss Manicure kit is very simple and easy to use. A tutorial on their website taught me how to use it within minutes. The routine includes caring for your cuticles, buffing your nails to reveal a natural shine, and moisturizing with a citrine oil. You can soften the cuticles using sugar and coconut oil, ingredients already in your kitchen pantry. The kit provides a unique buffing tool and a citrine oil pen packaged in a beautiful leather case, shipped without plastic in a cardboard box.
I have actually made a habit of using the dry gloss manicure each night while I am watching TV or listening to a podcast. It has made a huge difference. I admire my nails often nowadays. I open my palm and try to catch a glint of natural light. On top of that, I am obsessed with the citrine oil, that I just might buy a bottle of it by itself from the site. It smells amazing and really moisturizes the dry skin around my nails!
Join the Movement
I think it’s time we embrace natural nails. Doing so will not only save us time and money, it will also save us from the related stresses. Namely, we no longer have to keep up with the Joneses, limit our movements and tasks, and hold ourselves to an impossible standard. We can embrace ourselves, do more of what we love, and feel confident in our skin.
Deep, deep gratitude to Suzanne for allowing me to try the Dry Gloss Manicure kit. As always, the thoughts and opinions are my own. If you wish to try the manicure yourself, feel free to use my code DEBTIST15 to receive 15% off all products. This is a one-time use code per person, and any links provided in this post are tied to my audience, although I earn no money from them. There is also a newly released Natural Pedicure Set which has a verbena balm for your heels. I can only imagine it being as lovely as the citrine oil. These two are great small gestures for the hard-working girlfriends in your life, but if you wish, there is a Mani Pedi Pairing that makes a grand gift. It also saves you $6 by buying the combo.