I’ll admit it: I used to have the ugliest nails. They were dry, brittle, short and just downright unattractive. And my dairy-free diet certainly didn’t help (although it was great for controlling my acne). But since I wasn’t getting enough calcium, it was impossible for me to grow long healthy nails. Even if I managed to grow them by a couple millimeters, the white tips would just flake off bit by bit through the week or they’d break and I’d have to cut them.
Plus, to make matters worse, I picked my nails. Yup, I was an OCD picker. I’d even pick at the skin around my nails too (I know, so gross). All around my nail beds, the skin was flakey, inflamed and red from all the picking. It was a nervous habit — one which I never even noticed I was doing until 15 minutes later when I'd grated them down to jagged bits, all serrated and uneven. Honestly, I’m cringing just retelling it.
Back in those days, I was painfully jealous of girls with gorgeous nails. Call me crazy, but I was obsessed with the way their nails could make that crisp snapping noise when they tapped them on a table. Or the way they’d move their hands a lot while talking (obviously to flaunt their perfectly manicured nails). And then there was me...me and my Frankenstein stubs for fingers. Ughhhh...
Normally, the obvious solution would be to use a nail strengthener. But here’s the deal: I already had most of my “effort cookies” in the skincare basket, so I had no patience to maintain my nails too. Call me lazy, okay?!!! In my defense, when you’ve already got lashes to keep long, hair to keep silky, and fine lines to delay, if there’s one thing I was going to give up on, let it be my nails! That was my old attitude, anyways.
I had tried nail strengtheners in the past but they smelled like toxic paint varnish — with a hint of some weird chemical after-smell. And they always felt awkward to wear, like having plastic on your fingertips. Most people would just go to the nail salon, but I’d never bother. What would be the point? My natural nails offered nothing to work with, and I’d never get gels or acrylics because I'm against the synthetic stuff.
So after years of lousy nails, I figured I’d accept my fate. That is, until I got a free mini sample of First Aid Kiss by ella+milla with my purchase at ULTA. As a proud beauty junkie, I NEVER turn down a freebie. On first impressions, the packaging was cute — I’m a sucker for animals and there was an adorable elephant on the bottle, for which I assumed was a symbol to show the brand is vegan (or cruelty-free or whatever).
Once I got home, I twisted off the cap and took a whiff… The first thing I noticed was the scent — delicious ! It was like a cross between a Cosmopolitan and vacation sex… but cleaner smelling. Just yum. There was no toxic formaldehyde smell at all. So I started reading the package label: “Product does not contain acetone, animal-derived ingredients, gluten, parabens'' and NO formaldehyde resin! But here’s what it did contain: vitamin E for repairing thin and brittle nails. Okay, I was intrigued. Now being kind of curious, I thought maybe I should give this product a fair shot. So I escorted the bottle to my bathroom for some beauty experimenting.
As I applied the ointment onto my nails, the brush glided on smoothly and evenly. The polish was dewy, viscous and gel-like, more like the texture of syrup than water. And because it was thicker, it was impossible for me to screw up the paint job. Normally, I’m someone who can’t keep a straight hand to save her life (I usually get more polish on my fingers than my nails). So I was loving that this formula was making my job easy. I was able to apply the polish neatly along my nails beds without it leaking into the cracks of my cuticles. Bravo to me!
After the first coat dried, I waited five minutes and then held up my nails under the light to inspect my handiwork. They were glistening. The finish was so glossy...like crystal. This is where I was pretty impressed. There were no bubbles, gritty bits or inconsistencies of any kind — just pure, fresh glaze.
I started applying my second layer and it coated just as nicely. Once everything fully hardened, I was surprised by how much I didn’t notice the feel of the polish. Normally, with products like shellac or other nail hardeners, there’s this strange tight feeling on my nails. But not with this one...
Fast-forward to day 8 of my nail-strengthening treatment with First Aid Kiss by ella+mila. My thoughts: first off, the polish looked just as clear and smooth as the day I applied it. There was no dull, yellowish tinge like some others get once they oxidize. But on a more important note, the most obvious improvement was my nails: they were longer! It had been 2 years since I’ve seen my white tips. I couldn’t believe it. Throughout the day, whenever I caressed the edges of my nails along the fleshy part of my thumbs, they felt like smooth glass. They used to feel like sandpaper! And since they were no longer jagged along the edges,I didn’t feel the urge to pick or peel them anymore.After three weeks, my nails had grown by 2.5 mm. Plus, they were diamond hard! Okay folks, at this point, for the first time in years, I went to a nail salon. I finally felt like I had nails worthy of pampering. I got a classic French manicure (because I’m a basic “B” like that) and never felt prouder. And best of all, whenever I’d tap my nails on my desk, they’d made that crisp clicking noise! Although most of you probably don’t care about this detail, I believe that the true test of great nails shouldn’t only be about looks, they should sound healthy too! And mine sounded like they were full of life. I was loving every moment of that “click,click,click”...Ahhhhh, yes!
There aren’t many products that deserve my holy grail status, but this strengthening polish did more than work, it gave my nails their dignity. So bottom line, would I recommend this product? Hell yes!
You can get the First Aid Kiss Nail Strengthener online on the ella+mila website or at your nearest Target, ULTA, CVS, Rite Aids or Walgreens. But if you buy online, you get 10% off your first purchase.