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Welcome to Esther Tested, where surfer and Racked SF associate editor Esther Hahn shares her best tips for fitness and beauty in the Bay.
Esther's two cattle dogs, Layla and Penelope, on her nails; photo via Instagram
Pet love can go next level with this custom nail wrap app from ncLA. Available to download for iOS here, the app, called myNCLA, guides you through the process of choosing a template (plain, half moon, orbit, or stripe) and selecting and cropping a photo from your phone's gallery. The final product is $19 (plus shipping), and takes about two weeks to arrive at your door. My experience using the app to make nail wraps featuring my dogs Layla and Penelope was fairly seamless, but I learned a few lessons along the way. Here's how to get four-legged loves on your nails without repeating any of my mistakes.
The first step to success is to take a studio portrait of your furry friend. This can be as easy as hanging some white sheets and using studio lighting (which is what I did for my pups) or as involved as hiring a photographer. Another reasonable option is to reserve a quick, 10-minute shoot at Blink Inc at the Corte Madera mall. Of course, non-studio shots work for the wraps, but the white background and lighting help the images to pop on nails.
There are a few things you should remember while customizing your wraps. First, keep the image close to the cuticle end because you'll end up filing off most of the wrap. Second, think about how you want to orient your pet's face. One mistake that I made was orienting my dogs' faces as right-side up—meaning once I applied the wraps, they faced me rather than out. It still works, but it's harder to show friends the nail art.
In terms of the app itself, there are a couple of bugs that ncLA will hopefully address in an update. Customers can't order multiple wraps at once, so I had to complete the checkout with my Layla wraps, and start from scratch to order my Penelope ones. (Upon shipping, ncLA emailed me to refund one of the shipping costs because the two wraps shipped together.) A second checkout bug is that the app never offered me an order total before charging my credit card, so I didn't know the shipping cost. The email confirmation didn't give the total either. I've since calculated that the total cost per set ($19 for the wraps plus sales tax for California resident and shipping) is around $23.
Overall, the myNCLA app experience was a positive one. The wraps are high-quality and simple to apply; they even come with their own nail files). Pet owners, myself included, are notorious for finding our animals to be the cutest things ever, so it's only natural that we'd want to wear them on our nails. For a little more subdued look, try a wrap on only a couple fingers and paint the rest a solid color.
The mani/pedi possibilities with this app are endless—and not just for pet enthusiasts. A favorite plant or a snapshot of the ocean can just as easily be used for nail wraps. So really, the app is a godsend for the upcoming holidays. A photo of a pet or a shared moment in nail wrap form is an easy and thoughtful gift that's sure to incite glee. But beware, this app is highly addictive so you may lose hours to creative procrastination.