Abandoning Nail Polish Once And For All (Nail Series Pt. 2)

By Minji

  • I’m constantly revisiting my beauty routines and cutting out what no longer serves me – a prime example of this is nail polish
  • These days, my nails are neat, clean, and well moisturized, but always naked with zero product
  • Decluttering my beauty routines has freed me up for a skincare lifestyle that gives me joy and sparks a glow!

I’m a big fan of Marie Kondo, the Japanese decluttering guru and author of the “life-changing magic of tidying up.” The gist of Marie’s method is to chuck all material possessions that don’t spark joy.  She tells us that this practice will eventually lead to finding what truly matters in life. She says, “the important thing in tidying is not deciding what to discard but rather what you want to keep in your life.” I think this concept should be applied not only towards our material possessions, but also towards our so-called “beauty” routines. 

People ask me all the time about my skincare habits and routines.  Once I’ve finished giving them a preview, many then ask me how I even find the time.  My answer back is, I try to focus only on doing things that spark joy and connect back to my values.  Said another way, I’m constantly revisiting my beauty routines and cutting out what no longer serves me – a prime example of this is nail polish.

For many years, I used to spend quite a bit of time and effort taking care of my nails.  I would paint them once a week and regularly go to get manicures and pedicures. I was careful to be aware of nail trends, in terms of length, shape and color and tried to be on point as much as I could.  However, during a particularly hectic time during which I was also deeply influenced by this declutter-minimalize mindset, I decided to cut out nail polish from my life entirely and haven’t looked back.  These days, my nails are neat, clean, and well moisturized, but always naked with zero product.

Once I looked into my motivation for nail care, I found that the main reason I was keeping it up was because I felt I should.  I was worried that naked nails would look sloppy to others.  Painting my nails didn’t light me up from the inside out (I know it can for certain people!) – it wasn’t adding to my health or general sense of well-being, if anything it was making my nails yellow and brittle and a time suck.  So I stopped worrying about what others might think and I gave it up entirely.  Dr. Yoon reminds us that nails get more fragile and brittle as we age, and this can get worse with frequent use of chemical products such as nail polish removers.  Nails also serve as an indicator for other imbalances     

Do you have any aspects of your beauty routine that you are maintaining not because you genuinely love it, but because you’re afraid how it might look to the outside world if you stopped?  If so, then maybe it’s time to KonMari these routines and rituals.  Another Marie quote that’s helpful here is, “as we hone our sense of what brings us joy through the process of tidying, we come to know ourselves far better.  This is the ultimate purpose of tidying up.” Applying this analogy, we can engage in an experiment of discarding certain aspects of our beauty routines to get to know our true selves a little better. 

Especially, if your reason for not taking care of you skin is that you’re too busy, take a closer look at all the other beauty or fashion routines that you spend time on.  Do all of them bring a smile to your face?  Where is the motivation coming from – to enhance your overall health and well-being and joy, or to look a certain way to others?  Is it coming from a place of fear and insecurity, or a place of confidence and joy?  

If there are any questionable routines, try an experiment discarding one by one for a month or so to see how you feel.  Without that routine, do you genuinely miss it and feel less authentic? Or do you feel free and happy?  If it’s the latter, consider bravely abandoning it once and for all.  In addition to eliminating nail polish, I’ve given up trying to keep up with jewelry and makeup most of the time.  This has freed me up for a very indulgent yet satisfying skincare lifestyle that gives me joy and sparks a glow.  What's on your list?