“You’re a little off-track because you’re not communing with the colors,” astrologer Rose Theodora told me last week as she recommended a manicure shade that I happen to hate. “Gray will keep you content and creative — it’s mentally activating; that’s how it works for you.”
Theodora has a pristine negative-space gel manicure and soft sombré highlights; her bright-blue eyes are piercing and focused only on me. She’s warm and kind, and I soon realize that not only will I begin to trust her polish advice, but her life advice, too.
I’m at Enamel Diction, a horoscope-based nail shop in L.A.’s Mid-City neighborhood. The polishes are organized by star sign (Virgo’s section is mostly creams and nudes, Gemini’s holds pinks and oranges). There are astrology books among the magazines in the waiting area, but the real draw is Theodora — its resident astrologer.
You’re a little off-track because you’re not communing with the colors.
It’s one of those concepts that is so ingenious, you can’t believe that it hadn’t been done before: a full astrological reading while getting a manicure in the colors deemed best for you. (Not to mention, it alleviates the dreaded polish selection process.) The point, Theodora would later explain to me, is that wearing certain shades on your nails for two weeks straight will affect your mood and energy — a claim that extends to both the value of her readings and the quality of the nail technicians’ work. (For the record, I am on day eight with minimal chips.)
Here’s how it works: You book an appointment with Theodora online for one of two services. There's Color Analysis ($65), which includes a 15-minute reading focused on just the colors right for you and your nails. Or, you can choose Color Scope ($90), which offers a 30-minute reading that dives deeper, touching on fashion and home decor. Both come with an hour-long manicure with nail art that Theodora decides upon. It’s $20 extra for gels.
No, Theodora doesn’t do the actual manicure; she’s too busy writing your “color prescription,” a chart you take home noting all the hues you should embrace, or "commune with," as she puts it.
Now, before I go any further, note that I am not an "astrology person." I tend to tune out when my girlfriends discuss Susan Miller (or any astrologer, for that matter), and I’ve dated people for months without even knowing their sign. I think astrology is fun and I get the appeal, but I just don’t connect with it like so many people do. It’s also important to note that Theodora didn’t know I was writing a story on her, and I paid in full for my Color Scope manicure/reading.
The basis of the reading is your birth chart, or natal chart. Theodora plugs in your exact birth time, place, day, and year into an app on her phone — this is the future, after all — and generates a replica of the sky at the very moment you entered the world. Using this, she began to probe me in a surprisingly effective direction: Do you wish you were more spontaneous? Do you have trouble sleeping? Did you just travel internationally?
Gray will keep you content and creative — it’s mentally activating; that’s how it works for you.
As a discerning journalist I kept my answers brief, and yet somehow she was hitting the nail on the head, picking up on specific personality traits and life patterns that only a friend would know about, and doling out advice along the way: when I should consider moving apartments, the places I should and should not travel to, etc. At this point it started to feel a bit like talk therapy, in the best way.
Then, staring intently at my birth chart, she moved on to colors, giving incredibly specific recommendations. Bright-red nails will make me feel free, eggplant sheens will make me sleep like a baby, I'm to wear oxblood nails if I feel a cold coming on. And then, she finally landed on my "power color." "Gray is an undeveloped part of you, the part of sitting and being still, the part of considering the other person," she told me. "You always think you have to do everything, so this is a nice, even-keeled color for you. It keeps you grounded, it stimulates your mind, it’s your soul-purpose color." Of course, I couldn't hide my feeling of disappointment. "You need to cultivate the beauty of gray," she continued, "and the fact that you hate it freaks me out."
The colors I am to avoid (yellow, all shades of bright green and blue) happen to be colors I dislike, which I have never been able to explain until now. "Each color has a wavelength of light; it’s the speed that projects the color, and it’s that projection that carries the color," she explained. "So, whether we see it or not, we are attracted to certain colors because they are a match for our auras; it’s an energy."
Personally, I find yellow offensively bright, and now I finally understood why: I have enough yellow in my hard-to-quiet mind, so I need the balance of neutrals in my life. It's now that I saw her background starting to come into play. Theodora has a degree from UCLA in both neuroscience and art history, and a strong knowledge of color theory.
Once my nails were shaped to perfection, Theodora selected a soft, dusty lavender polish with a gold half moon, which encapsulates all my core colors and, she says, would both ground and enliven me during the holiday season. I promised to get gray next time, and to save my classic red for when I need to be especially powerful at work.
I walked out of the salon feeling light as a feather and excited about all the color direction. Was it all real? Well, to be honest, I can't yet point to exactly how my new nail color has affected me this week (or whether I'm more "grounded" or "still"). But, it was a whole lot cheaper than a therapist or an interior decorator — and I got a dope manicure out of it, too.