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When I was younger my mom constantly chided me for biting my nails. She offered bribes (the best of which was a Chanel bag if she could…see my nails from the back of my hands!) It was an amazing offer—one she made confidently, knowing she’d never have to follow through. I was, and am a relentless nail biter.

Then there were the halfhearted “threats.” Like: if you keep that up you’ll never have a boyfriend, or, they notice this when they’re hiring you know? The good news is (amazingly!)—I somehow managed to find a boyfriend and a job. The bad? I still bite my nails.

I want to say I’ve tried everything but that would be a half-lie because I’ve been rather half hearted in my attempts to quit this icky habit…the icky tasting nail polish (I managed to scrape it off). Gel wasn’t strong enough for my will (and man, when that’s the case, what a waste of money!) Obviously I knew of acrylic nails but they seemed so tacky and stigmatized. Plus, I’ve become pretty resigned to my nail biting. My nails are short. I’m short. As far as I was concerned these fell into the same category of things I cannot change.

But I’m thinking that a new chapter of my life may have just begun. I know it sounds dramatic but I mean it.


Thanks to the nail extensions at Valley (basically the only nail salon that matters in Manhattan, tbh), I am a new fucking woman. I kid you not. I always thought that even if I had long nails, it wouldn’t make too much of a difference because my hands are small, my fingers are oddly, (even disproportionately) chubby, and generally look like those of a kindergartener. Apparently, I wasn’t giving nails enough credit. With my nail extensions in tact, my hands seem to match the mid-20s-professional-young-woman-vibe I aspire to, even if I can’t exactly say they feel like me. Even if typing/taking my pants off will take some getting used to…except actually, now that I think about it, I’m pretty much already adjusted. “It’s weird, I don’t even recognize your hands,” said boyfriend notes, watching me type. “I know, me neither,” I reply. I love it.

(Related: The Nail Biting Struggle: I’m Two Months Clean, And TERRIFIED Of Breaking It)


The experience at Valley took about an hour. My nail technician, Misleidys Mora, first dealt with my normal nails stubs before choosing plastic talons to go over each one. She then adhered each talon with medical adhesive glue—an alternative to the glue used with acrylics which is more damaging to the nail beds, and can also cause damage during the process of taking fake nails off. The only slightly discomfiting part of the whole experience comes when Misleidy clips the plastic talons to baby-talon-size. Though obviously they’re not my real nails, they are glued on. However, this also partially explains my nail biting to begin with. I hate nail clippers.

The nails are then filed and buffed into a chic, almond shape. I’m shocked. My entire life, the answer to “what shape would you like your nails” has been a resounding “Not Applicable.” Finally, the polish (a burgundy, chrome, metallic-y hue from newer brand Lakur by Londontown—it’s called Londonium, and the brand describes it as ‘a dark espresso brown shimmer that pays tribute to London’s early times’) is applied just like any other manicure. Since Valley does not use nail dryers, I then check my email and admire my hands under a lamp for 5 minutes before Misleidys comes back with drying drops.

sara's final valley

The Takeaway

This service is not cheap—it costs $70.00, + $20.00 for gel + more if you want some of the nail art that has made Valley such a destination nail salon. It is guaranteed to last for one week (?) and reapplication is recommended every 2 weeks. I spent the second half of my session, as I got increasingly excited, plotting ways I could somehow squeeze this into my already-tight budget After leaving Valley, I felt, (in the best way imaginable) 5 years older. But all in all, especially for a special occasion, I’d say this is a very worthy investment! On a serious note—there are those who dismiss beauty out of hand as a 100% frivolous endeavor–but the psychological implications of the truly transformative things we can play around with (it is still supposed to be fun after all) are utterly undeniable. Having long nails, the kind of nails that I feel are more “adult,” had at least a temporary confidence-boosting effect on me!