A series examining the outer edges of style.
Meet the “Long Nail Goddesses,” a sisterhood of 30 women with very, very long nails. Every other week, they trek to Zeyne’s Unisex Salon in Newark, New Jersey, to see Maria Ortiz, their nail technician and friend, who specializes in megamanicures. The women come from all over for Ortiz’s magic touch: one hops on two trains and a bus from Brooklyn, while another drives in from Pittsburgh. And once they arrive, they make a day of it. Women with shorter nails — that’s two inches or so — can expect to spend three hours in the salon for a manicure. Clients with nails that measure several inches are prepared to sit tight for as long as eight hours.
According to beauty lore, biotin or “beauty vitamins” are central to long-nail health, but Ortiz and her nail tribe don’t necessarily subscribe to that thinking. Instead they rely on biweekly manicures and never leave home without a “safety kit” — a small satchel of nail powder and adhesive to repair the occasional break, and an aerosol that accelerates the glue’s drying time.
The Cut caught up with Ortiz and her clients one day in Newark to talk about their friendship, their lifestyle, and surprising nail fetishes.
Produced by Kenny Wassus
Production Assistant: Samantha Lee