And now, some thoughts on the newest item in my bag of little costuming tricks. Fake nails.
I recently tried out my first set of fake nails. As it turns out, they’re quite easy and a really nice option for a LARPer who wants to include painted nails in their costume but doesn’t want to spend time actually painting their nails or letting them dry. Or don’t know how to.
Male LARPers who get cross-cast, I’m looking at you.
I suspect with a little time and effort, one could probably even trim long acrylic nails into points for claws, which is probably a more universally applicable costuming desire. (I’m sure costuming stores and Halloween stores sell glue-on claws, but I suspect acrylic fashion nails are cheaper and easier to find, most of the year. I bought mine at a grocery store.)
I plan to use fake French nails for my Cottington Woods character. I’ve been getting real French manicures to reflect her artificial nature as a doll. I very much like the visual effect, even though it’s a very subtle aspect of the costume. But I really dislike getting my nails done, for various reasons, including cost and time. I think the worst part might actually be having to sit still and not touch anything while the polish sets.
Which is why I looked into a different option — glue-on nails. Despite doing a little bit of research online, I had no idea which brand and size to get when I saw them at the grocery store. Too many options, and I didn’t know what the difference was. (Wound up with Broadway Nails Real Life in the Real Short size, if anyone is curious.)
Not only are they really easy to put on, they come with 24 nails in one pack. Despite having fairly small hands, I was able to pick ones that more or less fit. Out of the package, the nails are quite long and square, which I dislike (and doesn’t look at all doll-like) but you can cut them and file them like real nails (who knew?) With a little time with some nail clippers and the little file that comes in the pack, I got them down to more reasonable lengths and rounder shapes.
Here’s a shot of my hands with the fake French nails:
Compare with a real French manicure:
Not too far off, huh? (The fake nails look slightly more matte, but that’s probably because of the lighting.)
The cost is literally a quarter of that of a real manicure. I can put them on any time before the LARP without working around a salon’s business hours, and it takes very little time to glue them on. Trimming them took a bit more time, especially if you’re trying to make them as even as possible, but no where near as long as it takes to wait for a real manicure to set.
They felt a bit odd on my hands at first, but that sensation quickly went away. (Except for typing. Typing with them on always felt a little odd, especially when hitting the space bar with my thumb.) And they stayed on pretty well. One popped off about three days after I first applied them, and I simply re-glued it. After maybe five or six days, one or two more nails popped off, but to be fair, I’d been playing with them and pushing on them and testing their limits. After about a week, I started pressing on the tips and the bottom edge over the nail bed, and they all came off. (I must say, having them pop off in front of people felt distinctly embarrassing.) I didn’t even need nail polish remover like the box suggested, though it’s good to know they can be removed as soon as you like.
At a glance, the acrylic nails look pretty real to me. Up close, at the right angle, you can see they’re a bit thicker than real nails, but honestly, the artificiality works quite well with my character concept of a porcelain doll. By the end of the week, they looked ever so slightly more fake, possibly because as my nail grew, a tiny gap was visible if one squinted closely at the cuticle.
Ultimately, what I’m saving in time and money makes the fake nails well worth it. They’re cheap and easy to use even if you have no experience with nail beauty. I can see them really coming in handy if someone wanted to just pop them on between LARPs at a convention. (Another bonus — if you’re sharing a hotel room, the smell of the glue is no where near as powerful as the smell of wet nail polish, so you’ll bother other people less.) Definitely worth trying for adding a little extra to a costume.