Price of Beauty


Four fingers stinged at the end of a slightly over 30minutes process. Accompanied by dry blood – the most obvious on the middle finger of the right hand.

Leveraging on the Christmas voucher I received from my landlady in December, I made a last minute dash to the manicure shop just across the road without having made any appointment on a Saturday afternoon as well as not having the coupon on hand. Trying my luck.

It was my day. The manager convinced the beautician to take in her last customer even though her hours of work was up. Popped back into my flat and picked up the voucher. Safely made it across the road despite the tight traffic. Entering the shop again, the assistant validated my voucher and directed me downstairs to the lady who will beautify my nails.

A spanish student doing biology at Kew Gardens, she has vasted experience in nail care and massage. First, she put my hands into warm water and dried them. Subsequently lotion was put on and she massaged each of my fingers as well . Then she proceeded to trim my nails into a rounded shape and buffed them nicely. At this stage, I was quite pleased. We were even engaging in a light conversation on how she came upon this job, where she lived and I even told her a little about myself.
It began when cuticle-cutting started.  On one hand I wanted to be a friendly customer, while on the other hand,  a nagging worry crept into my mind. Am I distracting her and thus resulting in bloodshed? When I felt the first few tinges of pain, I gradually went into silent mode, hoping it would go away while praying it would be over soon. It never occured to me that I could ask her to stop as I was under the impression that it was part of the process. However, at the back of my mind, I was wondering why the fair gender would suffer this unneccesary pain as part of the dolling package.

After the cuticles were attended to, it was time to select the colours! Pink, orange, purple, what shall I choose? Another dilemma – shall I select a colour to blend in with my skin or something loud or perhaps a happy medium? In the end, I settled upon purple after testing out the selections – a neutral colour to mark out what I had gone through though nothing too outstanding. It was going well till I saw red! At that instant, contamination and disease started running around my mind. Were the equipment sterilised? Are they clean? Concurrently, I was trying to stop and slight bleeding and willed clotting to take place.

It showed no sign of stopping while two coats of purple paint were applied onto my nails at the same time. About ten minutes later, I was finally done. As we gave time for the nails to dry, F took out a bottom of blue liquid and poured into the used tools together with hot water. Barely smelling a whiff of alcohol in the air, I was very much relieved that I was not going to contract Aids anytime soon. It was soon time to leave. Struggling into my jacket and trying to protect the nails, I thanked the girl and left.

In less than 5minutes I was back at home and reviewed the end product. They looked shiny, well-maintained and lovely. Except for a couple of nail polish now looking flawed due to the accidental contact while putting on and taking off the jacket. Not forgetting the stings from the ‘wounds’ I received. It was going to be a long time before I will be stepping into a beauty palour again.

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