Mid-Week Pick’n Mix

A few tried and tested beauty hacks and holiday reads.

I had dry hands and cuticles way before the pandemic hand washing and -sanitising started. Things looked like plunging absolutely out of control at one point, with each nailbed looking like beef carpaccio. I thought that I will have a gel-manicure (or semi-permanent as it’s called in Belgium, the one where the nail polish is baked in an UV oven and it lasts for about 2,5 weeks and is then soaked off) in order to what, I was not quite sure.

I did two consecutive rounds of such manicure and while it did leave my nails somewhat in peace, there were other issues to be considered. First, gel-manicured nails do look good and one can forgo the bloody hassle of constantly touching up chipped nail polish. What I like less about them is the thick claw-y look. It’s not very fresh, but absolutely works with richer colours.

What I do not like about the semi-permanent polish is how the its destroys the natural nail. Yes, it is supposed to be less invasive than acrylics and all that jazz, but the removal of the polish will always strip off some of the natural nail surface and is always followed by rather vigorous buffing of the nail. I (again) decided that I have to wean myself off this habit, no matter how satisfying it was to look at my freshly painted nails upon exiting the salon.

Once I had soaked off the polish using a regular acetone-based nail polish remover I made sure to switch to an acetone-free remover. Kure Bazaar does excellent nailpolish remover that contains oil. I find it to be very effective and it oddly hydrates the nails and cuticles at the same time. This obviously never happens with acetone, which dries out any natural moisture.

I have all of the cuticle oils under the sun, but rarely get round to actually applying them. Mainly because it feels very impractical and the oils never seem to really absorb. However, the said washing and sanitising of hands means that both my nails and cuticles are seriously dehydrated. Therefore I introduced a new daily ritual in addition to regular moisturising after each washing.

I mix a couple of drops of facial oil with a hand cream for a moisturising hand-mask situation. Any oil will do, there’s no need to use the best serums on this. Weleda’s hand cream with Evening Primrose is my favourite as it is insanely moisturising without being greasy-thick, and it mixes perfectly with a couple drops of oil. I removed the last set of gel polish two weeks ago and have since used regular nail polish in combination with the above mentioned tricks.

(Chanel base coat is absolutely excellent, I must add here. Almost anything can be applied on top of it and the end result looks and feels great.)

There’s less chipping and my nails are definitely in better condition. No rocket science, but highly effective and warmly recommended.

I have been looking forward to Joyce Carol Oates’ latest for as long as I knew there’s one out in July. Night, Sleep, Death, Stars is an epic novel (nearly 800 pages) about an American family – a bit like her earlier We Were the Mulvaneys, which was a similar type of saga. The latest is another Oates-giant that shines a light in contemporary, ordinary American lives with a freakishly sharp touch.

Expect everything from dealing with loss of life, family dynamics, white privilege, race, class, police violence, money and sex to be dealt with painstakingly. Night, Sleep, Death, Stars is a sprawling epoch of a family that is brought together when the father is killed in the hands of the police, and effectively is a description of how each family member deals with the shock in their own way.

It’s not a depressing book despite its subject matter – it is distinctly Oates which means that there is no sugar-coating. Immensely enjoyable, even with some parts that plateaued a bit too much to my liking.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is a more classic summer read, if ever there was one. Not something I would typically go for, but I’m very glad I did – it is a great story that sort of stuck for a while after I finished it. It’s an easy and quick read (despite the dialogue having been written in thick North-Carolinian dialect) and the plot develops on many levels.

It’s a story of a “Marsh Girl” Kya who lives in a modest shack by the marsh in North Carolina, having been abandoned by her family as a child. Only been to the school for one day in her life, she learns everything from the nature – and with a little help from her friends gets more useful life skills, such as reading and writing, but also ends up entangled in all kinds drama.

While it’s not really a murder mystery as the cover-blurbs would like us to believe, the story is great and the imagery of the book is astonishing. Owens has a background in nature conservation and these descriptions are probably the book’s strongest suit (the courtroom shenanigans, in contrast, were rather cringeworthy). The Crawdads screams blockbuster movie, and indeed Reese Witherspoon acquired the rights to the book, and Olivia Newman is to be the director of the film adaptation.
Definite poolside recommendation.

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