Quarantine Rainbow: Manicure Edition

Allison Chase Sutherland Beauty

With more time on our hands than usual, we might as well paint our nails! Not everyone finds themselves in a situation with extra time to fill, of course, but everyone deserves a treat. In moments of physical isolation, we suddenly recall how to do things we can readily do ourselves. So this little public service announcement reminds us that—if we wish—we can easily paint our nails at home. If you’ve never ventured to paint your nails and always liked the look of painted nails, now is the perfect time to learn how. We’ve arrived at a universal learn-a-new-skill moment. And for this one, there are a dozens of tutorials on the subject. The millennials are, shall we say, on it.

Fortunately, it’s not difficult. If you did it in the past, you’ll find that it is quite like the proverbial riding of the bicycle. You don’t need to be a professional. In fact, my niece and I have been enjoying doing
mani-pedis together since she was three. 

As I am also a teacher and tutor, I am continually inspired by my teenage students and my friends’ teenagers with their cool, innovative styles—down to the unexpected colors and fresh designs adorning their fingernails. So I guess you could say they are style influencers. I guess you could say they are style influencers! They certainly influence me! It makes your life more fun. And why not? Especially now.

OPI has a fun way to try out colors depending on your skin tone and nail length, so you can really imagine the look, They are known for cool, fresh colors with fun-tastic names – hence their ubiquitous array adorning the walls of the finest nail salons. I remember clicking on models and paint colors when selecting my car color! Once I clicked Blue Topaz on my little Chevy Cruze, I was hooked!

At OPI, first you select filters filters over to the left of the screen for color family, including nudes, brights, pastels, and metallics, and finish type, including glitter, pearl, sheer, shimmer, or creme. Then you select your skintone and nail shape.


Painting the thumb and the fourth finger one color and the other three another color with some extra shimmer on some was a popular trend. Then just add simple designs with nail paint—like dots or lines. The kids keep you young and out of the box.

Of course my lessons are all currently online, but for those in, say, the upper grades of elementary school who are old enough to paint their nails, you could introduce or review the colors of the rainbow for science class. ROYGBIV revisited—but better. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Now there’s a fun ancillary lesson! 

Just paint each nail a different shade of the rainbow. Of course you can still paint your nails uniformly the same color if that is your preference. Hone in on your favorite hue—or just opt for clear or a shimmer for long wear. Now is the perfect time to experiment with your own creativity. It could be a nice outlet.

The challenge for me is waiting for the polish to dry. When other people paint your nails, you just start chatting, and before you know it—they’re nice and dry. No tacky intermediate stage!

And if painting is not for you, Color Street offers intriguing patterns by mail that you can’t get at the nail salon. Just attach, snip, and go!

You can also combine your nail art with a myriad of accessories or outfits. I selected a dazzling bejewelled bracelet to complement my Quarantine Rainbow nail design. My dear godfather Tom Kelly once sent me a check and said, “Buy yourself something pretty.” So I got myself a bright summery dress and this magnificent bracelet. I think of him every time I wear it.

For me the Quarantine Rainbow represents optimism in the face of adversity. Especially for the children. But realistic optimism—safely at home as much as possible—painting our nails or doing whatever we enjoy that feeds our spirit. The time to take care of ourselves is now—and at the same time protect everyone else to the best of our ability. Cyberspace is alive with ideas to help each other do just that.

My Quarantine Rainbow design has more colors than I usually opt for in a manicure, yet it’s not only whimsical this time, but more importantly, symbolic. At times like these, simple things take on a deeper significance. In the end, this simple gesture effectively encapsulates how I often find myself feeling these days, as I think many do—trying to maintain the delicate balance of attempting to enjoy our lives to the best of our ability despite the current predicament while at the same time remaining cognizant of the underlying very realistic concern of the serious situation we must continue to face in order to overcome it. 

And sometimes that’s as simple as spa day at home—complete with a rainbow mani-pedi to brighten your day! So we can look down at our nails and think how lovely they look—and then remember what it really means. Striking a balance can indeed be a challenge. If we can approximate it, we will be getting somewhere.

At this moment where we find ourselves, the most important concerns are to stay safe, resilient, and hopeful—especially for the children. The first rainbow I saw during this time was drawn by my friend’s little boy in Italy at the epicenter of the epidemic in Lombardia.

“Andrá tutto bene.”

Yes, dear Stefanuccio, everything will be okay.

If we all work together—apart. #stayhome

Something fun to do with kids

Non-pro tip: Something fun to do with kids. It’s like a nice bonding experience actually. I did it more for that than for the nails with my little niece! She started painting my nails when she was 3. It’s great for developing eye-hand coordination too. She was pretty precise at such a young age!

We used non-toxic Piggy Paint, created to be a safer alternative for children, being water-based, odorless, and free of harsh chemicals.  

They have great, fun colors such as Butterfly Kisses and Mermaid in the Shade! And their most popular products and color combinations come in fun gift sets.


Here are the directions for applying Piggy Paint for best results. I love the idea of using a blow dryer on warm heat at a low blower setting. No rookie moves over at Piggy Paint!


Wash hands with soap and water. Apply 2 -3 thin coats of Piggy Paint. Air dry 60 seconds. 

(Optional for best wear) Blow dry polished nails for 1 minute with hair dryer set on warm heat/low blower setting. Use Piggy Paint Basecoat for extended wear and Topcoat for added shine.

The Funny Bunny Gift Set Includes: .25 oz. PINKie Promise, Dragon Tears, Tutu Cool, & Sea-quin + a Flower Nail Art pack.

Together my little niece and I invented a fun, effective system for doing manicures together that could work for anyone.

  • We would each use our right hand to paint our own left hand.
  • We would paint each other’s right hand with our right hand, so no one would have to paint left-handed. 

That seemed like the clever part when it dawned on us! We just sort of figured it out one day! 

 In the end, each person would have painted two hands—their own left hand and the other person’s right hand.

That’s it! No strategies for toes! You’re on your own!