I don't want claws, but I don't want stubby nails either!
March 4, 2008 3:29 AM   Subscribe

How long should the white parts of my fingernails be before I go for a manicure?

As a reformed (almost) nail biter, I would like to reward myself with a manicure. However, when I went for a pedicure I thought my toenails were pretty long, but the stylist said she had nothing to work with. I guess I'm a bad judge.

Any other advice on preparing for a manicure would be appreciated.
posted by cathoo to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A manicurist should be able to work with anything. A manicure doesn't always mean getting Frito nails acrylic tips. If you are having tips put on, then there does need to be about 1/8" growth. They'll also need to be refilled every few weeks.
posted by pieoverdone at 3:50 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I get a manicure every week (there's a nice cheap place around the corner) and it's mostly just to keep my nails looking respectable, since I have no motivation to do anything to them myself and I rip them up a lot each week. They've been able to fix up nails that I've broken really far down (past that line on your finger under each nail when, once it's exposed to air/the world, feels so weird). I never get acrylics or anything, just the normal file/cuticle care/light pink or clear polish, and I've never had them complain that something was too short to work on.
posted by olinerd at 3:55 AM on March 4, 2008

I let them go to about 3-4 mm, personally. I don't go very often but they're always able to work with what I give them - mine were relatively short, only 1-2 mm, before a wedding when I had to have them done - although once I had the manicurist shake a nail file at me and tell me to stop biting my nails. It was kind of funny.
posted by cobaltnine at 4:14 AM on March 4, 2008

Any length at all, but if you want a rough guide to follow, 1/8" is a nice length, generous even. Caveat: I'm male, and a former nail-biter who did the same when I overcame this compulsion.

Nowadays, I just do my own, since neatly-kept nails are a disincentive to nailbiting, but 90% of manicurists don't know how to trim short (normal male-length) nails without sanding the skin off the fingertips. Grrrr...
posted by IAmBroom at 5:23 AM on March 4, 2008

I am also a male and keep my nails short, but have had a manicure once. It was pretty irrelevant how long my nails were, as she smoothed out all the imperfections, got the cuticles in shape, got all the impending hangnails off the sides, and gave me a nice hand massage. So it depends on what you are looking for; if it is a nice coat of polish then perhaps you should wait, but if it is more of a grooming thing, it shouldn't matter. It might help to look for someone who does male manicures and is used to short nails.
posted by TedW at 7:11 AM on March 4, 2008

I keep my nails short and get manicures all the time. The length doesn't matter. They'll work with whatever you have.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:31 AM on March 4, 2008

However, when I went for a pedicure I thought my toenails were pretty long, but the stylist said she had nothing to work with.

The stylist sounds weird. I've gone in with broken toenails, overly-trimmed toenails, you name it, and they've never complained that they had nothing to work with (except maybe on my pinky toe, and they still manage to get a little color on it.)

I keep my fingernails very short -- maybe a 1/16 of an inch of white stuff, tops. I've also had a nail file shook at me for biting my nails, but my hands still look pretty when they're done.
posted by desuetude at 8:39 AM on March 4, 2008

"However, when I went for a pedicure I thought my toenails were pretty long, but the stylist said she had nothing to work with."--- Cathoo

"The stylist sounds weird." -- desuetude

While I've never been to a manicurist, I agree, that does sound really weird. Why would it matter that your nails were to LONG?... couldnt they just clip them down, file and shape them, and get them right?.... I can understand problems with being "to short"... .but saying your nails are "to long, I have nothing to work with" sounds like a cop-out to me (he/she didnt want to work on your nails for some other reason)
posted by jmnugent at 8:59 AM on March 4, 2008

Look at it this way: the more often you go for a manicure, the more incentive there will be to stay off the biting, because even if your nails aren't long and fru-fru, your hands will be neatly groomed and you won't want to mess them up again.

I say go early, go often. And tip generously.
posted by mccxxiii at 9:10 AM on March 4, 2008

jmnugent -- I think the OP meant that she thought her nails were long enough, but the stylist felt that they were too short and hence she had nothing to work with.
posted by peacheater at 11:44 AM on March 4, 2008

I think it's bizarre that she said your toenails were too long. I'm of the camp that toenails should be cut down as far as possible. I can't stand the way claw toenails look. I realize there are sites where this is looked on as a good thing, but they have names like toewigglers.com and require registration, and age check, credit card, lotion, and kleenex. Ew ew ew.

The manicure will help with the nailbiting thing. Once I finally forked out for a real mani, the money I spent was incentive enough to stop nomming on my hands. Then I started biting holes in my lip. Maybe they'll come out with Revlon super stay with Bitrex. God only knows what I'll pick on after that.

If you have the option at the manicurists to buy your own set of tools and either leave them there with your name or take them with you each time, go for it. I know someone who won't go to a nail salon because of a fear of flesh eating strep/MRSA. You may not have to be that paranoid, but do take note of their sanitary practices and if you feel they aren't enough, ask that they use new tools on you or shop for another.
posted by pieoverdone at 1:50 PM on March 4, 2008

Oh, and preparing for the manicure, make sure your car keys and payment method are easily accessible. Preferably not something you have to zip or dig into to find.
posted by pieoverdone at 1:53 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

jmnugent, pieoverdone: peacheater had it right. I thought my nails were plenty long, but the stylist thought there was nothing there.

Thanks for the advice everyone!
posted by cathoo at 2:59 PM on March 4, 2008

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