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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

For as long as I can remember, I despised having long fingernails. As soon as they grew any length past the nail bed, I was either biting them down or clipping them nonstop. I enjoyed painting my nails occasionally, but had little patience and barely any skill to maintain them, so I never really turned it into a hobby.

I had felt this way for my entire life, up until eight months ago, when I decided to spend some time over the summer growing out my nails and learning how to paint them. To my surprise, I ended up falling in love with it.

my inspiration

When I was a high school senior back in 2021, my best friend began navigating her own journey of growing out her nails. For our attempt at a senior prom (thanks, COVID-19), she booked a nail appointment at a local salon for a dip-powder manicure. For this treatment, colored powder is spread onto the nails, and they are meant to be chip-free for about a month. Ever since then, she has been getting her nails done, and I’ve always admired how gorgeous they turn out.

Fast forward to the end of my freshmen year of college, I was faced with a four-month-long summer and endless amounts of free time. To make things even more boring, I tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of June, meaning I was basically stuck in my bedroom for a week. With that being said, I decided to make use of my alone time by launching my own nail journey.

beginning my journey

Under my bathroom sink is a pink-zippered bag filled with assorted nail polishes that have accumulated ever since I was young. During my COVID-19 week, I grabbed the pink bag and decided to paint my nails neon orange. Even though my nails were still fairly short, I absolutely loved the look of this color and immediately knew I wanted to follow through.

A few weeks later, once the majority of the nail polish had chipped away and I was ready for a new color, I painted my nails neon green right before going on vacation. This became my favorite nail color, so I kept up with it throughout the rest of the summer. I finally felt confident with my nails.

Since my nails were longer and more narrow, I now had a better outline for painting them. Regardless, it definitely required much patience, but I felt like I had gained enough skills to not entirely mess them up.

By the end of the summer, I was ready to return to campus with my new nails and a bag packed full of polish.

Dealing with broken nails…

Despite having the nail length I wanted, I was so obsessed with them being natural that I never took the time to learn how to properly care for them. Because I do my own nails, I have not been to a nail salon in about four years, so I do not have a stylist to help cut, shape, and file them.

In October, one of my thumbnails broke off completely. They had grown so absurdly long, causing the majority of my nail to break off while I was handing my phone to someone. I was devastated. It felt like I had to start over, and all the months I had spent growing them out were thrown away.

More importantly, this was a wake-up call: I needed to start taking better care of my nails.

I took some time to learn how to cut and file my nails to the shape I wanted. I’ll admit it was frustrating at times if I cut them too short or couldn’t achieve the correct shape. But the learning process was well worth it and it has definitely preserved my nails ever since.

A question I’m often asked is, “How do you get your nails to be so long? Mine always break.” One thing that has helped me, personally, is biotin. It is a B vitamin, often found in multivitamins, and is known to attribute to healthy hair and nails. (Although this has worked for me, it may not work for everyone.)

Nails in college

As a busy college student myself, I admit it can be difficult to keep up with my nails. I paint my own nails because I love doing it, but also because I cannot afford monthly appointments, nor do I have a car on campus. So, setting aside a decent amount of time to paint them in my dorm can be tricky.

After spending an hour doing my nails, it can be super discouraging when they smudge or immediately chip. But I’ve learned that even with proper maintenance, nail breaks, chips, and frustrations still happen. We use our hands for quite literally everything we do, so it’s bound to happen!

It’s all apart of the nail journey. :)


Painting my nails and having them done creates a great source of happiness for me. They’re not perfect or professional, but I’ve formed a genuine hobby that I look forward to doing every few weeks.

In terms of salon visits, I’m not very knowledgeable in that realm of the nail world. However, I hope to experiment with different manicure treatments in the future.

Above all, there’s so much more for me to learn. There are numerous factors that play into nail care that I am not super familiar with, such as cuticle care and other moisturization tactics with serums and oils.

Moving forward, I’m eager to learn more and figure out how to keep my nails as healthy as possible!

Celia is a sophomore at the University of Connecticut studying nutritional sciences. She loves concerts, grabbing coffee, and taking spin classes.