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There are many avenues a person might take in this new shared reality of self-isolation. You could stock up on canned cream corn like that's not a food you've avoided for most of your life, or become consumed by the relentless news cycle. Or, and hear me out here, you could look at this as an opportunity: a rare-but-monumental window for you to finally do the gross, unspeakable acts of self-care without fear or judgement from anyone else — like taking off your toenail polish.
I say this in solidarity with anyone who also has nary an idea what their feet actually look like without a pedicure: it's time. No, it's past time.
To be clear, my nails are not always perfectly painted. You'll rarely spot me with a manicure, and I have no qualms free-handing my own pedicure at home. Still, even on the bleakest Winter days when all that my feet have seen through months of padded wool socks is the inside of my black combat boots, there's at least some unfailing trace of nail polish lingering on each toe. In fact, the longest time they've been left bare is five minutes, about how long it takes for a technician to treat them after removing my chipped color at the salon. Only then do I notice they are crying for help; stained or speckled with white marks.
It's not pretty, but don't cringe — I know I'm not alone. (Sometimes I also peek at other patron's toes to be sure, so, there.) While this idea of "letting your nails breathe" is, in fact, a myth, it only makes sense that our toenails could use a little reprieve from years of nail polish application after application. This is particularly true if you tend to skip a base coat, or lean toward certain colors.
"Like with makeup, sometimes you just need a break."
"Wearing dark [polish] colors can often 'yellow' the nail, especially when you are going to wear the dark color for a longer period of time," said Deborah Lippmann, manicurist and owner of her eponymous nail brand. "Many people experience problems with their nails after having gel manicures or their nails simply become stained from wearing too much color. Like with makeup, sometimes you just need a break."
Plus, those white spots (formally called leukonychia) that tend to crop up are most often caused by nail damage from the misuse of harsh tools or improper gel removal. Nursing the health of your nails back to life after that just takes time — and who has more time right now than you, and me, and all of us while social distancing?
If nothing else, giving up the bottle for a few weeks certainly couldn't hurt. So before you reach for your tool kit to embark on an intricate piece of pedicure nail art, remember, now is your chance for some much-deserved, long-overdue rest — from your head to your toes.