NAILS: Pointers for Spring

Helping Hands A self-described "nail doctor," Jessica Vartoughian has catered to the hands of Nancy Reagan, Morgan Fairchild, Barbra Streisand, Linda Gray and other celebrities since 1969 from her Sunset Boulevard nail clinic. Vartoughian does not recommend acrylic or porcelain nails and is adamantly opposed to wrapping and sculpturing. "These procedures do not allow nails to breathe," she explains. "They cause dehydration, and you can get a fungus that completely destroys the nails." These days her favorite look is the natural nail, also called the French manicure, in which the nails are painted transparent pink and the tips in white.

Let the Chips Fall Perhaps the most unusual item in modern manicuring is the nail polish pen. A handful of companies including Avon, Aziza and Cutex are offering the pens, which work like Magic Markers to apply a measured coat of color with minimum risk of drips and spills. The pens are touted as an alternative to conventional, bottled polish for at-home nail care, but many on-the-go women prefer to stash a few in a desk drawer to touch up chips.

The Best and the Brightest For those who signal thumbs down to natural-looking nails, there will be an abundance of bold colors and unconventional looks for spring. Revlon's L.A. collection offers vivid shades with names like Magenta del Rey and Valley Violet. Andrea's Mod line includes bright, psychedelic colors such as Rock N Rose, Heavy Metal Flashes and Black to the Max. And the Brights in Soft Focus line by Max Factor has enamels in Startling Pink and Arresting Orchid. For more punk in your polish, Revlon suggests a "halfand-half" paint job, in which one color is applied to the top of the nail with a contrasting color on the bottom.

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