When it comes to glasses, sunnies and the COVID-trendy blue-light variety, my preferred frame is tortoiseshell. The dark brown reads a little softer against my fair complexion than a black frame would. When it comes to another accessory I pay attention to — my nails — I found that my choice in polish is similar: When I think solid shades, the closest I get to black is a dark red, maybe a charcoal grey, and, if I’m going for nail art, my next manicure will likely be a high-gloss tortoiseshell print.
I’ve been subliminally influenced since early autumn when I had a Zoom interview with actress Lana Condor. She sold me on Dashing Diva’s new semi-cured gel strips — an innovative at-home alternative to a salon gel manicure — in a design called ‘Cloud Amber,’ which she described as a mismatched manicure that creates an “amber-and-turquoise tortoiseshell vibe.”
Shortly thereafter, I started seeing more and more tortoiseshell-and-teal manicures on Instagram. UK-based nail artist Imarni posted this video of her “Tortie foil” nails, which she created using a tortoiseshell foil nail wrap by The Gel Bottle Inc., juxtaposed with bright-teal polish on the non-tortoiseshell nails.
Of course, the complete tortoiseshell manicure — all ten fingers showing the amber-spotted print — is a statement in and of itself. I was reminded of this when I came across a glossy hand-painted tortoiseshell manicure on Brazilian model Alessandra Ambrosio, and immediately saved it. Her nail artist, Queenie Nguyen, described the design as “a whole nail moment.”
Now, as I reflexively adjust the frame of my blue-light glasses, I find myself shopping for press-ons sets via Etsy, considering all my options for a cute tortoiseshell manicure to wear to an upcoming festive dinner party, where I can bet some will clock them and say: Let me see your nails!
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