July 31 2014

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Contemplating The Third Coat


While I was in Milan for the shows, I did something I’ve never done before in Italy: I got a manicure. On a friend’s recommendation, I made an appointment at Bahama Mama (read: I had the concierge at the Principe make me an appointment to overcome a serious language barrier) and went to the vintage store-meets-mani/pedi destination with high hopes. I was not disappointed. The well-curated space had select pieces of mid-nineties Miu Miu and old Sportsmax as well as a vast collection of Sade DVDs, which I happily watched while a pretty Milanese girl impressively groomed and shaped my nails. It was when she started in on that third coat of Essie Bourdeaux that we came to an impasse. “Too much polish,” I protested as the rich, burgundy lacquer began to build into a thick film and visions of sitting there, watching Sade for hours waiting for my fingers to even begin to dry, filled my head. My aesthetician seemed confused by my objections, and after it became clear that it would be easier to just let her finish than continue to explain—in English—why I’d prefer a normal, two-coat manicure, I let it go. When she was done, I sat there in discontent for about 30 minutes waiting for the OK to get out from under the dryer and then left in a rush. But a few hours later, I noticed something: My nails looked amazing. After just one smudging incident, the polish hardened and resembled a flawless, deep gel rather than a more temporary varnish. As the shows went on I got a wealth of compliments on the color, too—well into Paris, where it persisted, fully intact, until I got back to New York last week, at which point it finally started to show signs of wear. But a polish job that lasts almost two weeks is an incredible feat, which got me to thinking: Should I always ask for a third coat?

No, according to CND education ambassador Roxanne Valinoti. “If you are using a high-quality professional brand, three coats is not ever necessary,” the backstage regular explains. “Most professional nail polishes are developed and designed for two-coat coverage for the best, most even color and dry time. The first coat allows for outline of application and the second coat is to perfect and for coverage.” The biggest drawback to piling on the extra polish, according to the nail artist, is the potential for increased dry time, which should be minimal if you apply two very thin layers of lacquer and two alone. “Less is best,” she says. If you’re feeling up to a triple-coat test drive, however, Valinoti has a few time-tested application tips to make sure you can still be in and out of the salon in the time it takes to watch, say, one Sade DVD:

Step 1: Wipe the brush on the neck of the bottle several times, to prevent too much polish from building up on the brush.

Step 2: Angle your brush parallel with the nail—”like a squeegee,” she says—for the thinnest layers.

Step 3: Always finish with a high-shine top coat, like CND Air Dry top coat, to increase the longevity of the manicure, as well as a fast-dry spray, like CND SolarSpeed Spray, to speed up dry time.

Photo: Giuseppe Graziano



  1. lacquerlookbook says:

    I don’t care what these so-called nail experts say. I’ve been doing three coats for years and I ALWAYS get compliments on my nails. I’ve even been asked if my nails are gel-polished. I say to each his own.
    Lacquer Lookbook

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