Manicures Are Non-Essential But For Latinas, Acrylic Nails Have Always Been More Than A Luxury

For as long as I can remember, each and every time my mother has sat down at the table or leaned against our counter to sort through and clean her pinto beans, she has told me and my sisters the same story over and over again, almost as a ritual.

The story paints a picture of my adolescent mother, dark brown skin and darker hair, picking through the leftover beans her mother had already sorted through, trying to find the small beans that were split down the middle. 

She would take the halves she found, put craft glue on the ends, and press them onto whichever fingernail they fit best. When all 10 nails were dry, she would paint her new makeshift nail extensions with red polish and take on her day.

Like a church hymn I put no deliberate effort in memorizing, yet I know all the words to, I recall my mother’s voice saying “I wanted fake nails because they made me feel smart. I saw women speaking in both Spanish and their hands, and their long, colorful nails made them look sophisticated and intelligent to me. The nails were who I wanted to be.”

When the news hit of COVID-19 and the limitations on social life that would follow, both meme pages on social media and the Latinx women in my life poked fun at what would become of all the Latinxs who could no longer keep their nail appointments. As the severity of the coronavirus increased, nail products became less available on the shelves of my local drug stores. And while some people were stocking up on toilet paper, some were quietly making their way to the beauty aisles. 

When the women in my own life started their stockpiles of press-ons, my mother laughed behind a bowl of half cleaned pinto beans and said, “Everyone should just glue on beans like I did.”

This got me thinking; as the death toll rises and unemployment rates skyrocket, the things that society deems “non-essential,” such as nail services, are falling so far beyond the back-burner that they are seldom, if ever, being discussed. When lives are being lost, the grieving of a temporary naked nail isn’t worthy of being mentioned.

For Latinx women, acrylic nails have always been more than an ornament or a luxury.

@reynanoriega / Instagram

For centuries Latinx women have used nail art as an outlet for feminity, individuality, and self-care. Decorated nails serve as an extension of language and heritage. As my mother said, she saw the women who came before her speak with their hands, teaching the younger generations that there is power and intellect in femininity. For many Latinxs, that strength can often be tied to the nail. So what happens to Latinx women when that cultural ceremony is threatened? 

Nail appointments alone often serve as an escape from the daily life and struggles Latinx women face regularly.

@nailsby_jennn / Instagram

Half church, half therapy — the nail salon is a place for both communion and mental health. With the constant weight of responsibility Latinx’s face from both society and their own families weighing on them, the nail salon is one of the very few places women of all generations have used to carve out a space for personal care without judgment. 

Often mistaken as relics of self-sacrifice and duty, Latinx women have made a culture around using acrylic nails as a siren call to our refusal of being boxed in.

@yesikastarr / Instagram

If the world is going to tell us we can only be the homemakers, the child bearers, the caretakers, the cooks, the cleaners — then the middle finger we stick up at them should at least be decorated. 

But with COVID-19’s shelter-in-place having no end in sight, it’s safe to assume Latinxs all over the country are silently dealing with feelings of anxiety over their current loss of appendages. And while in no form do natural nails equate to human lives lost, there is still room in this conversation to acknowledge the validity in feelings of upset over sacred traditions being uprooted. 

While it’s seen as sacred for church congregations to gather in their vehicles in parking lots in efforts to recreate some semblance of a sanctuary, the longing for nail salons and their comforting familiarity in this time of complete distress can be seen as vain and frivolous.

@nailzbymarz / Instagram

That’s the thing about tradition. Unless you practice it, it’s nearly impossible to understand it. And for the majority of this country, it seems almost nonsensical to say that without two inches of painted plastic adhering to your nails, you feel as though it is more difficult to face the day. That without your bimonthly appointment for a fill, you can feel your confidence draining. It sounds absurd to someone who can’t grasp, that for Latinx women who are under even stronger pressures of taking care of families, depleting incomes, all while still facing prejudice within this system during this unprecedented time, we can’t help but feel that if we could only have our acrylic nails this would all feel more manageable. 

However, the spirit of my mother in her childhood still dances in my head. When she wasn’t of age to get professionally done acrylics yet, her glued on beans did not feel less like power to her. When she craved control over her womanhood and future as a Latinx, it was not the acrylic that gave her that affirmation, but rather her ingenuity and creativity of which always lied inside of her. 

During this pandemic era where we are learning how to live a life we have never known, questioning our own future as Latinxs, all while teaching our own hands how to move without the acrylic extensions of our identity, we should remind ourselves as my mother reminded me that the acrylic may be the tool, but the hands that hold them were always the makers. The nail does not make the woman. Just as my mother always taught me, the woman makes the nail.

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More Than 1,200 Women And Girls Have Gone Missing In Peru During The Pandemic And Officials Think They Know Why

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More Than 1,200 Women And Girls Have Gone Missing In Peru During The Pandemic And Officials Think They Know Why

Rodrigo Abd / Getty Images

Apart from combating the Coronavirus, Peru has suffered a heartbreaking increase in the number of missing women and girls. Just as hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets to demand an end to gender-based violence, the Coronavirus hit and those same marches have had to be put on hold.

Now, as millions of women are forced to stay at home under strict lockdown orders, they’re spending more time with potentially abusive partners or family members. Many experts believe this combination of circumstances is leading to an increase in domestic violence as hundreds of women in Peru have been reported missing since the start of the pandemic.

Hundreds of women and girls have gone missing since the start of the lockdown.

In Peru, hundreds of women and girls have gone missing and many are feared dead since lockdown orders were put into place to help contain the spread of Covid-19. According to authorities (including Peru’s women’s ministry), at least 1,2000 women and girls have been reported missing since the start of the pandemic – a much higher figure than during non-Coronavirus months.

“The figures are really quite alarming,” Isabel Ortiz, a top women’s rights official, told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday. “We know the numbers of women and girls who have disappeared, but we don’t have detailed information about how many have been found,” she said. “We don’t have proper and up-to-date records.”

Ortiz is pushing the government to start keeping records so that authorities can track those who go missing – whether they are found alive or dead and whether they are victims of sex trafficking, domestic violence or femicide.

The women’s ministry said the government was working to eradicate violence against women and had increased funding this year for gender-based violence prevention programs.

Like many Latin American countries, Peru has long suffered from reports of domestic violence.

Credit: Cecile Lafranco / Getty Images

The Andean nation home to 33 million people has long had a domestic violence problem, but the home confinement measures because of the pandemic has made the situation worse, said Eliana Revollar, who leads the women’s rights office of the National Ombudsman’s office, an independent body that monitors Peru’s human rights.

Before COVID-19, five women were reported missing in Peru every single day, but since the lockdown, that number has surged to eight a day. Countries worldwide have reported increases in domestic violence under coronavirus lockdowns, prompting the United Nations to call for urgent government action.

According to the UN, Latin America has the world’s highest rates of femicide, defined as the gender-motivated killing of women. Almost 20 million women and girls a year are estimated to endure sexual and physical violence in the region.

Latin America and the Caribbean are known for high rates of femicide and violence against women, driven by a macho culture and social norms that dictate women’s roles, Ortiz said. She added, “Violence against women exists because of the many patriarchal patterns that exist in our society.”

“There are many stereotypes about the role of women that set how their behaviour should be, and when these are not adhered to, violence is used against women,” she said.

Before the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of women throughout Latin America, including Peru, were staging mass street demonstrations demanding that their governments should act against gender-based violence.

Meanwhile, the country is also struggling to contain the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Cecile Lafranco / Getty Images

Despite implementing one of the world’s longest running stay-at-home orders, Peru has become one of the hardest hit countries. As of August 11, Peru has confirmed more than 483,000 cases of Coronavirus and 21,276 people have died.

Hospitals are struggling to cope with the rising number of patients and healthcare workers have protested against a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).

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From Castor Oil To Fermented Rice Water, Latinas Are Sharing Their Hair Growth Secrets


From Castor Oil To Fermented Rice Water, Latinas Are Sharing Their Hair Growth Secrets

Ken Harding / Getty

When it comes to growing the hair on our head quickly, some of us take all kinds of desperate measures. From hanging our heads upside down to avoiding trimming our hair altogether, we often go to some pretty weird and extreme lengths for some length. We asked Latinas on FIERCE what tricks actually work for them and the answers pretty eye-opening.

Check out the tips below!

Castor oil

“Jamaican Castor oil. But it really did help with my alopecia.” – corazondemelon


“Take Ashwagandha as a supplement! I started taking for anxiety but a nice side effect is more healthy hair.” –iamsunshine78

Regular trims when it’s a full moon

“Trim/cut ends during full moon, ideally at midnight (I can’t stay up that late so as close as I can get).” – daleitzy

Coconut oil

“Jamaican castor/coconut oil when your hair is super dirty and a couple of hours before you wash it. Then argan oil after you have washed your hair and it’s still wet or damp.” –angiemhrndz

Rice water

“Fermented rice water.” – butterflydreams__


“Shampoo de ajo and prenatals.”- cynth.iaaa_

Collagen powder

“Collagen powder (unflavored) in my coffee every morning!” – pandacandee


“Rosemary water and onion hair mask.” –daniela.sp

Wild growth hair oil

“Wild growth hair oil you can find this oil at any beauty supply store.” –bonita_mantiago


“Taking biotin pills daily.” – officialdarlin


“Mayo in my deep conditioner i make my own makes my hair so soft.” –erika_kane__

Monat products

“Great hair care! Good for your scalp and hair and it’s already what you do. Monat has great shampoos, conditioners, styling products that are nontoxic, cruelty free, vegan. Would love to help anyone interested with recommendations.” – claudia__moreno__


“My mamá always said that eating lots of avocados would promote hair and nail growth. Tbh I think it definitely helps!” – mandamonqiue


“A blended hair serum with Olive oil, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Oregano, Tea Tree Oil, Peppermint oil.” – thekittylounge


“Spinach helps my hair grow.” – natalidamasphoto

Apple cider

“I have to add that garlic works magic and apple cider after washing your hair. And not washing your hair everyday with hot water.” – bonita_mantiago

Mamey oil

“I highly recommended castor oil, mamey oil, and ginger and onion 🧅 in the shampoo. They all work magic if you consistently apply them to your hair.” – bonita_mantiago

Olive oil

“Olive oil in your hair for shine and growth & mayonnaise mask to help with hydration and shine!” – d_amoree


“Braiding your hair before bed.” – veixaley

Cold-pressed oils

“Both my parents have thin hair my dad is bald! I have thin hair it’s in my genes. But these are the things I have tried that didn’t work cold-pressed castor oil, prenatal pills, not washing daily, biotin, collagen, mane and tail, tio nacho shampoo and I’m sure there is more. I started using Monat about 4 months ago and my hair has thickened and grown yes it’s super expensive I use the black shampoo and conditioner the mousse and hair spray and occasionally the root lifter if I want more volume!! NO I don’t sell it!! And I already have a person I buy it from!!! Again it’s hella expensive but it is working for me! Also when you first get it be patient cause I was like this stuff sucks I want my money back but the agent just keep saying give it time cause at first the shampoo didn’t even sud up now it does and if you are still using other products with them it won’t sud up as much either cause it is trying to remove the toxins from your hair!!!” – cindy_adame_cervantes

Fewer shampoo days

“Stop over-washing your hair. This quarantine has allowed the to go longer days without washing it. Now I only was my hair once a week and my hair has stopped falling in chunks and grown so much in length in a year. Ohhh I also have so much new baby hair! Waiiiit and my hair is less oily. Dry shampoo will be your new bestie.” –

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