Move Over, Lipstick Index

My latest polish indulgence--Ciate's "New England Fall"

My latest polish indulgence–Ciate’s “New England Fall”

While most say the “lipstick index”–that harbinger of a low economy proposed by Leonard Lauder of Estee Lauder–has been largely discredited (or replaced by the “foundation index” or “nail polish” index), there’s no denying that a small luxury in an otherwise chaotic existence can be somewhat grounding at times.

I think our impulse to indulge every once in a while is our body or mind saying to us, “I need you to take care of me.” When we refuse ourselves fun or novelty for too long, or race through our days without really living for too many days in a row, our “self” wants satisfaction–and will take it in whatever form is convenient at the time (there’s a reason that old cliché about eating a pint of ice cream in one sitting rings true).

I’ve found the best way to fend off that uncontrollable urge is to strategically indulge in little luxuries I know I’ll appreciate most, because when my “self” feels taken care of on a regular basis, I’m much less starved (figuratively and literally) for the unanticipated temptation (whether it comes in the form of skipping exercise, staring at my computer for 8 hours straight instead of taking lunch, or crashing on the couch instead of getting together with friends).

For me, this has always taken the form of nail polish. My feet are not exactly my best feature, so it always makes me feel pampered to have them gussied up a bit. And while I love the process of a pedicure (that hot stone massage, though!) my secret snobbery has been that I usually feel I produce a better end result than any of the salons I’ve visited.

My penchant for fancy nail polish began in grad school, when I was working through a particularly rough class. After you’ve spent every weekend studying for nearly a year, your eyes start to twitch a bit, and your body feels pretty neglected. I had recently seen an ad for Chanel’s Coromandel (although where, I don’t know, as I had zero time for magazines then) and immediately fell in love. While I had never before dreamed of spending $25 on nail polish, my spirit was running on empty, so I promised myself I would buy that polish if I made an “A” in the class.

I’m sure you can guess how that ended-I made the grade and drained that bottle to the last drop. And my love affair with luxury polish began. I probably buy 3-4 bottles a year, and at $100, that’s less expensive than two pedicures.

If you want to try out a home manicure or pedicure, read my previous post with tips for getting the best results, and if you’re wondering what colors are big this fall, check out this slideshow for inspiration.


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