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Why Adults Should Embrace Glitter Nail Polish

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I’ve done a lot of growing up recently. Big moves, exciting jobs—I’m almost old enough to rent a Nissan. And now I become startled, then concerned, at the antics of young celebrities— they’re role models, you know? I’ve even considered letting my friends have children and naming me their hot, young godmother. Something about the phrase “young professional” makes me feel almost too responsible, and I find myself trying to catch up to the level of maturity those two words connote.

Chief among my tactics is avoiding the one thing that brings the most joy to girls all over the world: glitter nail polish. We’ve all seen the fiercest of tomboys go completely apeshit over a good multi-tonal sparkle. Yet here I am, denying myself that most carnal of all girly desires—and for what? To be a living, breathing LinkedIn profile? I’m not being honest with myself. Sparkly— This is who I am (to be read in the voice of Oprah).

We, as women, should feel empowered to celebrate that core of pure, glittery femininity, rather than try to snuff it out with nothing but neutrals and mattes. That’s not to say we should approach the material with the same youthful naiveté that had us picking our nail beds raw and leaving a trail of fairy dust flecks in our wake. The glitter polish industry has grown up, even as we are caught in limbo. Take, for instance, OPI Glitter Off Base Coat—it makes any glitter polish or stone job peel off easily. No nail damage, no acetone, and it stays-put quite impressively until you’ve grown tired of a particular shade of sparkle. Ah, glitter, we are such fickle friends.

Though, I do have a recommendation for a “staple” glitter, if that concept even exists: Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Disco Ball leaves a coating of delicately small iridescent specs—like a butterfly with seasonal allergies gently sneezed on your fingertip. That’s a good rule of thumb: the smaller the spec, the subtler the glitz, and thus the more seriously you’ll be taken by the adult race. Try limiting your application to a Disney-like dusting of just one edge of the nail [6-7]. Bars, stars, and heart-shaped sequins are out (but never turn your back on the rhinestone). Just keep the design simple and graphic [2-3]. Or, choose an option in which the reflective specs are fully diluted into a shimmer. Then play with blocks of nakedness on your nails—boom, shimmer is cut in half [1]. Sometimes, though, it's business on the top, and party underneath [4].

I won’t go so far as to refer to any sort of glitter nail as ‘sophisticated’—half the fun comes from the fact that glitter causes us to giddily lose a measure of composure. But the easiest way to elevate a polish so youthful is to pair with investment jewelry. Either an investment you make (well done, you deserve it), or an investment borrowed from your mother's hidden jewelry box that she doesn't know that you know exists (mind your manners—ask first, and don't leave in a public restroom). Something far more elegant, but equally as fun as the happy stacks of rings we wore during our first go-rounds with glitter. Consider the Piaget Rose Ring [5]: a carved pink-opal rose set in rose gold with a tiny diamond nestled in the center, right alongside another little diamond flower—it perfectly splits the difference between charming and stunning. Kind of great for when you’re transitioning from girly to feminine, all while white-knuckle clenching those glitter polishes.

—Annie Kreighbaum

_Photos by Elizabeth Brockway; n ails by Natalie Pavloski; feature in collaboration with Piaget. See their latest collection here.

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