A few weeks ago I went and got my nails done to try to rid myself of a life-long habit of biting my nails. Some time later, I realized that the goop they put on my nails would be plenty to hold a small magnet and give me a sixth sense, as several others have done via subdermal magnetic implants.
ObDisclaimer before I go into the technical details: consult with a doctor/lawyer before doing this. Consider carrying some kind of documentation (and a nail file) in case you have a medical emergency and need to be stuck in an MRI. You may break things / lose data / get contact dermatitis from nail goo / kill kittens with your new magnet superpowers. Don’t blame me :p
The basics of nail enhancements (the industry term; they are better known as fake nails :) ) are as follows: your natural nails get filed down, and acrylic or gel is applied in a multi-stage process. With gel, the nails need less filing, and each layer gets cured under a UV light. If the technician uses a combination of powder and liquid, you’re getting acrylics. Even if there’s a UV light involved – powder means acrylics. Some crappy salons will just put a UV topcoat on and call it “gel” – be warned. Also, many nail techs are used to working with biters, so even if you have sad stubby nails, don’t despair – they have a whole bag of tricks involving plastic forms, more substantial gel, etc. to make your fingertips looks unbitten.
Pablos, [redacted] and I had our magnetic manicures done by Aiden at the Gene Juarez salon in downtown Seattle. You can reach them at 206.326.6000, and ask for her specifically. She did a fantastic job and didn’t even blink at our weird request. Expect to spend just under $100 with tip – it’s a fancy salon. Bring your own magnets – we used the ones Nate recommended, tiny parylene-encases magnetic stirrers from here. They are a buck a piece and come in a minimum quantity of 100, so find some friends who want to do this too. Pablos’ and [redacted]’s are clear gel with white tips; mine are all clear gel, with pink polish over top, because I like pink. One of the benefits of the gel we used – as acetone doesn’t dissolve it, I can take the polish off and change it. It was fairly thick, with a noticeable bump, seen here in profile. The gel is lightweight though, and overall my nails feel less heavy than when I had acrylics (with no magnets) on. The magnets in mine are visible through two layers of polish; I expect another layer or a darker colour would address that, if you care.
During Saturday evening’s [redacted], a bunch of folks also had them stuck on with acrylics, using one of the cheap kits (made by Kiss Nails, I think) one can get at the local pharmacy / big box / beauty supply etc. Clamoring and Willow from Jigsaw Renaissance lead the way on that part of the project.
I can feel ferrous materials strongly and easily with the backs of my fingers. It’s a very gentle pull, and is totally fascinating. I can’t feel much of anything through the pads of my fingers. I feel a very light buzz near things with strong magnetic fields, but it’s really subtle to the point where I’m not yet convinced it’s real – I expect I’ll get more attuned to it in the next little bit. For now it just tickles.
I can pick up pretty substantial objects, like the magnet from inside an old hard drive. I’m bad with weights but it’s probably 50 grams.
Aiden was a pro at getting the polarities all lined up, but you’ll want to think about how to arrange them. Fingers sticking together or repelling? I went with sticking together. Hours of entertainment, I tell you.
So far I haven’t managed to erase any credit cards or hard drives with them, and I’ve been told by others that these magnets just don’t have enough power to do either.
Oh and as for nailbiting – while I haven’t gone back to natural nails yet, the enhancements I’ve tried – gels without magnets, acrylics without magnets, and now gels with magnets – have all made my fingers completely incompatible with my teeth. I simply have no desire to bite on them due to the foreign texture, and the general neatness of the nails. I don’t know for sure that I’ve broken the habit, but it seems to be a damn effective temporary measure.
Nails with enhancements need to be “filled” about every 2-3 weeks as they grow out from the cuticle, and breaks need to be fixed promptly or they will get worse and you may end up in pain. You’ll pay about 1/2 to 2/3 the cost to have a fill done compared to the original work, and a few bucks per nail if they break. I do not yet know how these will grow out. I expect to be filing them down until the magnet is a half millimetre from the “free edge” (outward edge), then letting them grow out a bit so I can clip the magnets off. I’ll probably have a fill done right at week 2, and add a second set of magnets at week 4. YMMV depending on the size of your fingernails and how fast they grow.
Aiden used CND‘s Brisa gel system on us. If you’re into colours, look for a salon that does Calgel’s coloured gels, or Opi Axxium. Those come in both file-off and soak-off varieties – the latter soak off with acetone, but are a bit softer from what I’ve read. CND has a new product called Shellac which is more like a UV cured polish, but which may also be strong enough to retain the magnets. YMMV; please let me know what works for you! There are also plenty of products I didn’t list – these are the brands that seemed to have decent reputations on the intertubes and Amazon reviews.