The distinctive beauty of a perfectly polished nail is feeling; a mood more than a look. It’s Uma Thurman’s Mia Wallace with Chanel Rouge Noir-painted talons against a white shirt in Pulp Fiction. It’s Kathryn Merteuil’s seductively scarlett nails as she clutches her heavy cross pendant in Cruel Intentions. It’s Betty Draper, an elegy to vintage Americana, with her enduring almond-shaped peach manicure in Mad Men.
Nailcare affects your sense of self. Because beauty is an aura; so much more than skin deep. It’s a belief that has empowered and guided Jocelyn Petroni through her life, since she was a child. “Since I was a young girl I have been passionate about beauty. I chose this unconventional path, as it was at the time, for my career, forgoing a university education for something that spoke to my heart – after much convincing with my parents,” she says.
At her core, she seeks to make people feel their most radiant, in whatever form that takes. It’s this holistic view that saw her choose beauty as her métier, one that evolved into a distinctive calling.
“My belief has always been that well-groomed nails and glowing skin make a woman look polished. They are the two areas that boost a woman’s confidence, whatever stage of life you are in.
“A woman’s hands are her business card. Certainly for myself as a beauty expert, that has been an essential component of my own beauty, which then developed into a yearning to deliver the same signature for my clients,” she says.
The area of nail care has held a particular allure for Petroni throughout her career. After years of dedication, nail artistry is now a unique and artisanal specialty of hers. In fact, the renowned skincare savant was heralded as the first official nail expert for Chanel Australia in 2015, owing to her skill and assiduity to the art of nail care.
The realm of nails is far more complex than one would initially assume. Clinically, nail care falls under the area of dermatology. Our nails are composed of the same keratin proteins that make up the top layers of our skin. Thus, our nails share the same tensile endurance, but also the same fragilities our skin. Healthy nails need the same care doted upon them that we would offer our complexions. Nothing less. Or else we ensure their brittleness and vulnerability.
“It’s why at Jocelyn Petroni we spend so much of any manicure appointment time on meticulous preparation – nurturing the nails, buffing them back to health…” she explains.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but a remarkably simple way to assess the health of the nails is the longevity of a manicure. An impervious, glassy manicure is only possible on cared-for nails. Instead of covering up any damage, a manicure only serves to further expose the cracks in any nail health routine.
Petroni explains succinctly, “a manicure is only ever as good as the health of the nails it sits on.”
That begs particular questions about how exactly to ensure the fortitude and wellbeing of our nails. Should we be lathering them in serums; exfoliating with vigour, and masking once a week? Not quite. The answer is simpler, focusing on quality, attention and consistency.
“Externally, it’s important to care for your nails with specialist treatment products, and by having regular professional manicures.” This means polishes like Petroni’s own salon choice Chanel’s Le Vernis. There’s a reason these products are so coveted and longwearing. They’re enriched with ceramides to protect and care for the nails, rather than just decorating them.
It's an ethos that is intrinsic to Chanel beauty, and in particular the Les Beiges collection. A string of essentials that will see you through on all occasions, the latest offering of four new exclusive nail polish shades – from pearly beige to copper brown – remind us that we can still have a touch of magic in our lives without compromising on the health of our nails.
While our choice of product is certainly important, an attentive touch is also essential. One that understands what your nails need to reinforce their quality. To nourish the nail, Petroni says to use a specific cuticle balm or cream as this “treats the nails in a way your standard hand cream can’t”. As for strength and endurance, we should “topically strengthen with a product that’s designed to feed the nail and promote the natural keratinisation.”
But of course, beauty is always about much more than just what you put on. Like with our skin, nail health is about what goes in.
“My treatments are designed to nurture the health and wellbeing, not just simply treat the aesthetics. It’s not at all superficial. It’s about connecting with each client and making them feel great, not just look it.”
“So much of nail health is determined by diet. Eating foods rich in varied vitamins, minerals and calcium is so important to promote healthy nail growth,” she says. “Supplements are also essential to build upon a healthy diet.”
When we asked Petroni finally, ‘what’s the one thing you think more people should know about nail care’, we see her passion and driving ethos come full circle. For Petroni, caring for your nails is about so much more than soft hands and healthy cuticles. It’s about our own sense of self and wellness.
“We look at our hands all day long – they are the most visible aspect of our own beauty,” she says, “Don’t underestimate the power of healthy, strong and well-groomed nails and hands to give you confidence.”