Bare Nailed

Run free, wild toes.


I once attended what I assumed would be a very casual—the invitation said, “prepare to get wet,” not erotically, very innocent–children would be on site, confirm the absence of erotica, Sunday barbecue. I put on a long dress with ruffles and ambiguous cut outs, even some embroidery on it and flat sandals that looked like needlepoint pillows. I would be getting wet, I thought, so fairly lame and needlepoint were a perfect marriage.

When I approached the scene, I learned an unspoken memo had been broadcast among the rest of the women, myself excluded. Cake face, salon hair, the highest heels closets could harbor on a Sunday early afternoon. Where was I?

You don’t have to answer that.

Initially, I didn’t think much of the disconnect. Later, still no profound thinking. What had struck me as interesting really was only that I had been the only girl there without a pedicure (or smooth legs.)

And not by accident. Though my legs are more a consequence of laziness–I once had a boyfriend who called them furry ankles–I’ve intentionally stopped painting my nails.

I’ve always preferred bare finger nails–they bode better with copious rings, but I resolved that my toes might need some breathing time after having noticed that they were losing their natural pinkish color and wavering toward a more morose yellow. Man repeller, indeed. But a couple weeks without polish would likely resuscitate their livelihood.

I had already given up blow dryers in favor of allowing hair lotion and specialized shampoo/conditioner to do the arm work for me. That had earned me a decent one additional hour of recreational time post shower.

Fast forward three weeks where with 25 additional dollars in my pocket and a restored pale pink hue underneath my nail beds, personal hygiene tendencies are running a very tight ship. It’s hard to recognize dirty toe nails when they’re covered in polish but almost impossible to allow them the freedom of remaining unkempt when they’re transparently staring at you, interminably.

They’ve also inexplicably made me feel more French and in my book, anything that can do that deserves a big ass salut.

What’s best though: the circumstances of my life’s maintenance seem to have decreased again. Often, this maintenance reveals itself as stress and so to eliminate “stress” by cutting a ritual that is conventionally considered a pampering process seems quite ironic. My notion of pamper had been skewed all this time.

Yes, I wonder how many more rituals I can cut or alter before my beauty tendencies become capable of achieving authentic me in an under ten minute, stress-free environment. I will say that I keep a bottle of Essie’s Adore-a-Ball by my bed though. Every now and then a girl just, you know, needs to look down and see herself shine.

Now, tell me something about you.

Get more Beauty ?
  • elisaeymery

    Well I hate painted toe nails. As a French girl living in London, people (girls) stare at my shockingly non-painted toenails. But you know what? I think men love it (bare toe nails). I do find preciously painted toenails ridiculous and rather repulsive. French girls don’t do precious. Only middle age women paint their toenails, usually in pink-coral.

    Wandering Minds fashion

  • young at heart

    I like pale finger nails and dark toe nails myself!!

  • Jane

    I think a lot of the “norms” so called are just American. Many women in China don’t shave, or should I say almost all??

  • kristen nicole

    Love the post. I started doing the same thing about a year ago when I realized my toe nails had too become a man repelling hue. During most of the winter months I just leave my nails bare seeing as I wear mostly closed toe heels anyway. This allows for a healthy perky pink naturalness for when the summer months come rolling in and I feel like bringing a little color into my life. Essie is also my landslide favorite nail polish brand.

    Kris xx

  • JPH

    I enjoy your beauty posts. Mainly because you’re teaching us about doing less, rather than teaching us about breaking out the heavy machinery and chemicals. 🙂

  • B.

    These colors are super pretty !
    Somehow I feel my toes are too ugly without a pretty polish on
    but I do agree a lot of other beauty rituals really aren’t that necessary.
    new outfit post

  • ClosetCravings

    I alternate a lot between painting and not painting my nails. I don’t mind bare fingernails, but I will confess that toenails without polish can make me feel a bit naked and exposed. =)
    Satisfy Your Cravings For Celebrity Style and All Things Stylish and Sweet

  • Eileen

    😀 I totally just put on my “bare nail” nail polish two days ago!

  • RenCatt

    I agree. I enjoy letting my piggie’s outer shell breath a bit. Last winter I stopped painting them for a few months and my roommates thought I was going through some sort of crisis…(Why would you ever want your feet to look like…. a man’s?- they would ask) I had to reassure them the reasoning was more than just scaring the shit out of them. My nails had turned into a scary yellow.. happy to give ’em a break. Love your posts. Thanks!! xx

  • Nichole Smith

    I made the switch from black to nude this week… kind of backwards considering we’re going into fall.

  • Veronique

    I definely agree on caring about toe nails health. And girl, you are the only blogger(soory for the etiquette) I know that had the guts to say that her toe nails were starting to become yellowishhh well, mine were too. Doh. Failure. And not just yellowish but so weak!!!

    Now I try not to keep pedicure nail polish for maximum 5 days then get rid of it and use lotion on the nails before going to bed. Helpful. Not joking



  • IEJ

    yo i have like followed your blog from the start brilliant concept still brilliant but the copy has become insufferable and the pictures insane i can’t take it i have to unfollow you 🙁 but u got it girl you really do but don’t try so hard you don’t need to. wish you all the best <3

  • As long as one keeps the pits clean, smooth and odor free, i say eliminate the “stress”!

  • sincerely renay

    I usually leave my fingernails bare in the warmer months, but I paint my toes for sandals. I reverse this in late fall/winter to give my toes a chance to recuperate 🙂

  • Not So Gentle Reader

    A little science for you: nails don’t “breathe.” By the time you can see them, they’re dead. Your stained toenails were likely caused by not using a base coat before the colored polish was applied. CND makes a good, reasonably-priced base coat, but there are dozens of others to choose from. Chanel makes one, too. They’re not all the same. Some protect from stains, others don’t, and finding one that works for you is pretty much a crapshoot. I learned this the hard way. Blue nail polish was involved. Annoying, to say the least.

    • A base coat is yet another step and less time for fun or relax it. Bare nails = more free time. Totally the way to go. Of course, no harm in the occasional polish.

  • modelovers

    Perfect nail colors!

    Giveaway on my blog
    Giveaway on my blog
    Giveaway on my blog

  • witek3

    Personally I love myself a painted toe nail for the summer. Only for the summer though because I am way to lazy to play around with toenail polish when my feet are freezing 24/7. This year I discovered silver for my toes, I love this cheap feeling. 🙂 But my fingernails haven’t been painted for like a year or so…

  • Mary

    I was a gymnast, so I was never allowed painted nails growing up… since I graduated high school and went to the big show (aka college, where I could pick my own cereal, drink orange juice if i wanted to and paint my nails at weird hours of the night/morning) I have never had my nails unpainted. (except, of course, to put a new coat of paint on them.) there, my soul has been bared.

  • L.H.S.B.

    It is weirdly ironic that pampering causes undue stress. But then again, you’re perpetually comparing your mani, pedi, haircut, eyebrow threader, bikini wax, smoothness of leg, and it’s always expensive no matter where you go. And all the time you spend pampering – because you do have to make time for it – you could be living your life, or reading a book, or getting to know your parents, or taking a walk with your boyfriend, or hanging out with your friends. There’s no such thing as hanging out with your friends too much. Na mean?

    • Inna Popovinuk

      Gave up all that in exchange for extra time and money. Could not be happier.

  • TheGuayabaProject

    The question is? Did you get wet in the BBQ? Were all the girls fully pampered jealous of you having fun in the water while they couldn’t ruin their cake face and the salon hair? tell us tell us!

  • I do agree, I need to see myself shine sometimes haha

  • Aisha

    Adore-a-Ball is my go to Essie color. I love it because it looks chic and polished (heh)…okay I’ll stop now.

  • Less maintenance, more creativity. Less products, more time. Less Stuff, more you. Way to go, lead the way.


    Your blog
    is so wonderful and Im following…I hope you follow me also:)

    If you want
    some cute decor inspiration…check out my new post:)

    Have a
    great week dear

    LOVE Maria


  • celia

    Please Lana del Ra, write a book. I need to read it in english and morirme de la risa.

  • OK two things: a) my post about missing the memo- yes, you just missed it on that BBQ. Shit happens. b) I didnt get a pedicure all through spring- and wore open toe shoes, something I would NEVER have done a few years ago. I liked it for a while, then I decided super pale polish was just a drop cleaner looking? As for nails, i dont like polish on myself. I like clean short nails, no polish. I have weird ugly nails that dont match each other, so why call more attention to that. Simple and clean = better.

  • The fact that my comments can now be rated on this blog scares me a little. Now I have to worry about how high my comment gets on the list? Im just talking to you!

    • Leandra Medine

      It’s still just me, baby

  • Noooo isn’t it a dreadful mistake to underestimate the power of man repelling nails?

  • Cassandra

    I always think that painted a pale color, nails look better. The “stress” part starts when the shit becomes all chipped and I really just can’t think of much worse than trying to get the stuff off- I mean all the way off, so I know I’ll just have to repaint them because of that little bit of polish that has magically decided to become a part of my person – forever. Also, I always have microscopic cuts on my toes/fingers somehow (severely accident prone, over here), so nail polish remover and I just don’t get along.

  • the (un?)social butterfly

    I´m originally a brunette — natural hair color pretty similar to yours, a little lighter maybe — and I have recently dyied my locks Christina Hendricks red. It was the first time I had ever done such procedure and all of a sudden, my hair beauty regime went from basically washing it a few times a week (I would not even blow dry it — yeah, enviably good hair) to a manic quest for moisturizing products, shampoos and conditioners for the chemically treated hair, and a crazy obsession with touching up the roots. I also dye my eyebrows and have also become crazy about their trimming. Finally, I had to buy a lot of new make-up to compensate for the blue undertones on my skin — I thought “really pale” was basically the same for everyone, but it´s not. It can come in shades of pink, of green, of blue. The red hair kind of accentuated the blue (in my mind, at least).
    For the nails, what I do is having them done by a professional and then touching them up by myself for as long as I am pleased with the color — for me it takes about two weeks for the new grown, unpainted nails to show too much (even three with the toes). Saves a lot of time…

    • Inna Popovinuk

      That is the problem. It takes too much money and the businesses love it. Next time, save your money and time.

  • I don’t think I could give up painting my nails, but streamlining one’s beauty routine does make a lot of sense.

  • funny, i have just gone through the same situation and have had bare toes for a little while too. it’s freeing, but boy they get dirty fast and they are so much more noticeable when you wear crazy shoes. so yes, the pale pink was my answer too.

  • heavy hedonist

    I think that the litany of expensive, time-consuming rituals women are “supposed” to keep up, just to be considered decent, has gotten far, far out of hand. Kudos for kicking one of them off the daily roster.
    And healthy nails do need some time unpolished/gelled/covered to be themselves, and also to complete their most basic function– that of warning us of health problems. If you never see them unpolished, how can you tell, right?
    Great post.

  • wtf do americans give so much importance to manicures, pedicures, perfectly blow-dried hair and glowy skin ? They should learn to let go of the hygienic fence they are living in and live a little. Do like we parisian girls do : don’t shave your legs and don’t give a fuck 🙂

  • this is confusing to read

  • Ballet Slippers has always been the holy grail of nail color for me, but last winter while moving furniture I stubbed my big toe (leaving a nasty black bruise beneath my nail) & I resorted to using a steel gray hue to conceal the evidence (later pleasantly surprised at how pretty it made my toes look) while I impatiently wait until this grows out. I can relate to the awkwardness of feeling under prepped (because honestly who the fuck has time to do a mani/pedi, wax/thread, wash&set/blowout/gloss every single week?); that disconnect growing exponentially as your popularity increases (in your case)… Oh and another thing. That Kiehls shampoo & conditioner is the shit. just saying.. xo

  • Laura @

    So true, I love nail polish but it really stresses me out- two days, tops, and it’s starting to get chipped. I read a beauty article once that basically said if you go out with chipped nail polish then you belong in the street- and not in the “In the street because I’m going out, duh” kind of way- and it’s given me manicure anxiety ever since. Better just avoided for those of us who don’t have time for touch-ups every night!

  • I’m more for lighter more feminine colors of my nails that will match with everything compared to bright obnoxious colors. Essie is a really great nail polish line though, Deborah Lippmann recently has taken my fancy!

  • muji

    do you honestly not shave your legs? did you get the hair lasered off? because i can’t see anything… also i have curly hair and there is no way i could get your soft waves without a bit of blow drying
    pray tell— ARE YOU A WIZARD?

  • Namrata Kedar

    Funny you mention this, because for the past week I decided to give my nails a breather and kept them bare. Well, today I got the most awesome shade of Coral, and tomorrow I am going to look down and see myself shine!


  • lala

    I, too have recently given up on nail polish of all kinds! I still get nail envy a little though. Especially when someone is wearing freshly coated, chip free toenails that perfectly clash with open toed sandals. But to them I say “who has the time?”

  • averilr

    toes. mine are fugly.

  • LCM

    I’m a fan of the nude polish, but only on my fingers. Toenails require something more vibrant and…non bare looking. Just me. PS I recently discoverd Samoan Sand by OPI as a great nude shade!

  • shelley

    Buffing your nails once in a while is really nice – makes them super shiny but it’s all natural and healthy. I usually don’t bother with it but then I’ll go through a stage where I paint my nails almost every day for a week or so..just depends! it can be fun

  • I admit to splurging on quarterly hair keratin treatments which allows me to wash and go. It’s worth the investment.

  • febiyogak
  • Mandy

    There is absolutely no reason for painted toenails other than to hide filth and grime.

  • kduck

    I’m the youngest of three girls (and I’m also the boy). My oldest sister ALWAYS comments about my lack of makeup, blow dried hair, hairy legs, and naked nails. Now I just do these things on purpose when I visit her. Power to the people!

  • Inna Popovinuk

    By the way, there is my toe nails, right in the picture. How funny. I love my toes unpainted. I have crush on my toes, really. I think they are beautiful the way they are. I hate that yellowish color that you get after removing nail polish. Then you do need to pain them ASAP. I used to pain my toes and finger nails, myself though. I have all the tools, took a class on that. After a while I stopped paining finger nails since I got into gardening. Then I stopped painting my toe nails since I have read that nail polish is toxic and it gets absorbed into your blood. Then I stopped using flat iron and just go natural, curly. Saves tons of time for me in the morning. I love my new self. I am tired of looking fake all the time. I am more confident now, but divorced though. My ex was demanding that I paint my toenails red. Also I have noticed that in US women pain toenails red a lot. I think it is a bit cheap look though in my opinion but I guess makes their men horny. Keep them happy. In any case, my beauty routine is very quick now days. I would rather sleep more. I am 43 and I take good care of myself, invest my time into myself. I just naturally look good and it makes me very confident. No foundation on my face, just a bit of mascara once in a while, that is all. Simply beautiful. And men still turn their heads. So ladies, just restore your natural beauty and you will be much happier.

  • Nora Dwyer

    I just read this and it made me so happy! What a breath of fresh air. :] Thank you for being you!