Through daily observation of the Kardashian-Jenners on social media—I’m an unabashed fan and avid follower of the entire clan—I’ve noticed that some of the sisters, Khloé and Kylie in particular, are rarely seen without extreme acrylic nail extensions. And I mean extreme. Their nails are often outrageously long and covered with jewels, chains, and baubles. And oddly, I really wanted to give them a try.
I realize this isn’t a novel idea; women have been wearing artificial nails for decades, pre-Kardashians, thanks to an accidental invention in 1955 when a dentist named Fred Slack repaired his own broken fingernail. Hip-hop artists embraced the trend in the ’80s and ’90s, and now artificial nails are quite mainstream. But my natural nails are healthy, and I’ve heard numerous removal horror stories, so I’ve been too nervous to experiment. Until now.
I booked an appointment at Vanity Projects, a New York City go-to for acrylics and nail art, and promptly showed them my prepared screenshots of Jenner’s Instagram posts. “Hers are coffin,” my nail artist, Kanae Yagi, explained. Apparently “coffin” is the technical term for the tapered, square shape Jenner sports. My fingers are not as long and thin as hers are, so I opted for a slightly pointier almond shape to visually trick people into thinking I have elegant hands.
The whole procedure took two-and-a-half hours (!), though half of that had nothing to do with the acrylics. Yagi handpainted a custom marble design with gel polish and a delicate brush. Watching this process was fascinating, by the way. This pro is justifiably a nail “artist.” Note: Vanity Projects is high-end—the price tag for a full acrylic-extension set with a gel design is between $160 and $200, and a fill is $90. Here’s what my finished manicure looked like:
When I left the salon, I felt like I had precious foreign objects glued to my fingertips. It was similar to the helpless feeling you have with wet, freshly polished nails that necessitate you being careful about every single task until they dry. Twenty-four hours later, however, I was obsessed. A week later, as I’m typing this story, I’m still obsessed. I was worried I’d feel tacky but ended up with the opposite effect: I feel like a lady. I have man-repelling bluish-gray hair and have never considered myself someone who dressed for men. But an unexpected side effect of sporting Kylie Jenner nails has been that everywhere I go, guys love them. I’ve also loved not having to worry about chipped polish (shout-out to the miracles of gel polish) and that I’m able to give myself awesome scalp massages every time I shampoo. But apart from all of that, most of my obsession comes from the fact that they make my hands look fancy.
Of course, some activities are more difficult. Typing on a keyboard or phone is much harder than it should be, but after some practice, I’ve gotten used to it. Contact-lens and eye-makeup removal are still mildly terrifying, but I’ve found a way to carefully do both with the pads of my thumbs and index fingers that seems to work. Carrying heavy objects and fastening small buttons can be tough, but not impossible. In short, though Khloé and Kylie likely have a team of people helping them with these sorts of tasks, nothing proved to be that hard.
Here’s something I didn’t expect: I’m loving my new nails so much, I’m having a hard time saying good-bye. So I scheduled a fill, and I’ll deal with the removal situation later. For now, I’m officially a convert to the Kardashian-Jenner-manicure way of life.
See Kendall Jenner’s Allure cover shoot: