I am a fanatic about getting my nails done. I go every two weeks on the dot and have for the past thirty five years. At first I went to a woman who wrapped each nail in torn pieces of tissue paper and Duco cement. This made my nails thicker and stronger.

Then when artificial nails came into the norm, I tried that. The first ones to do this in the eighties were the regular manicurists and they weren’t that great.

Then came the influx of the Vietnamese nail salons and the manicure world changed. Not only did they do a great job, it was very reasonably priced.

Before the Vietnamese came, when you got a pedicure, you soaked your feet in a plastic tub and put your feet on a little stool. Then came the introduction of the spa pedicure, where you sit in a leather recliner that not only gives you a massage, but your feet go into a little tub that operates just like your big tub at home. However it is also a jacuzzi. Heaven.

The operators give terrific pedicures and also good foot and leg rubs. The average price for this service is $25, and I also do this every two weeks.

Some of the salons will also add a neck/shoulder rub for an additional $1 a minute. Or an extra long leg/foot rub for an extra twenty minutes at a cost of $20. (This is a nice birthday present for yourself.) Life is short.

On Christmas Eve day, I went to get my nails done and it was suggested that I try the new gel manicure. This is a special type of polish that goes on coat by coat and between each layer you put your hands in a special UV light machine to bake it on.

It costs a little more. $30, rather than $20. But you do it less often, so it’s probably about the same if you figure by the year.

The result is a very hard, shiny manicure that lasts three weeks and doesn’t chip. There are a multitude of color choices. Everything from reds and pinks to blues and golds.

You can do this with your own nails, or have the manicurist use the gel on your artificial nails, as I do. If you have natural nails, this process will make them stronger and thicker.

You can actually purchase a ‘gel do it yourself kit’ with a light for $150 at Sephora. This is one procedure I would not recommend trying to do yourself.

On Christmas Eve I opted for a Christmasy Red and yesterday I thought I would switch to a fuschia red. (I like the Christmas (candy apple) red better. But I’ll try anything once.Photo on 1-8-13 at 3.42 PMCandy apple red after almost three weeks.

Try it, you’ll like it. And if you are doing the math, having your nails and toes done twice a month costs around $100, plus tax and tip. But it’s part of maintenance, just like a car. And your hands and feet always look nice. With the gel you can get by with every three weeks.

And if you don’t mind a chip or two, you could probably go every four weeks.Photo on 1-12-13 at 7.07 PM #2Fuscia Red