The process by which women (and I suppose some men) decorate their nails can be a gold mine of information. There are limitless combinations of paint types and designs, so this will focus on the basics and provide essential data that can be used to supplement other findings. When speaking about the decoration of fingernails, there are three things that need to be taken into account: The deterioration, design and detail.
The deterioration of fingernail polish refers to the rate at which normal (average) polish becomes less glossy, unsightly or worn. Since some brands last longer than others, the rule of thumb is that the gloss will fade after on week, the second week will encounter cracking and by the fourth week, visible holes in the paint will appear. A professionally applied polish will last longer than one simply done at home. And the older a woman is, the longer the nail polish will endure in its original state due to activity levels and exposure to chemicals, sun, social activities and work environments.
A woman having almost no deterioration, showing an appearance of having had her nails professionally done most likely got her nails painted in the previous few days. If it is a tuesday, or sometime early in the week, you might be able to assume she did it for a weekend event. This could be confirmed by markings of infrequently worn shoes on the ankles and feet, and the recency of a haircut or styling could confirm or support the importance that she placed on her appearance for the event. Ultimately, when social status is taken into account, confirming the social importance of the EVENT itself she attended. If bright, sunny colors were chosen, the likelihood that the event was a funeral, for example would diminish as other evidence presented itself.
As a rule of thumb, professionally prepared nails will have a cleaner appearance and the polish will go further up the nail as the cuticle, or eponychium has been removed or pushed further upward toward the finger. The precision difference between a professionally done nail and the nails 'done at home' will show minor differences in symmetry, gloss-uniformity and cuticle push-back. The non-professional painted nails will also show more errors on the dominant hand.
The designs of nail polish are almost limitless, or at least too much for me to spend time cataloging and examining. The following is a basic list of character traits that can be associated with designs after having established supporting evidence for such elsewhere on the person or their belongings.
1. Polka-dots and stripes: This is indicative of an outgoing and mostly affable person with a need to appear adventurous and fun-loving.
2. Solid, basic colors: More prone to traditional thought processes. Business-minded. Conservative. Higher on agreeableness score.
3. Brighter Colors: More outgoing, with reservation. Drawing attention deliberately. Celebrating femininity with certain pink shades. Deliberately drawing attention to hands. High extroversion.
4. Deep Reds: More prone to conservative talk. Reserved. Traditional and quiet. Mid-level score on extroversion
Note: Women who bite their nails are far less likely to do so when wearing nail polish. The polish could be masking a nail-biting habit you might see elsewhere with lint-picking, hair pulling, cuticle picking and purse/jewelry fiddling behaviors.
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