This week’s Wonderful Treasure Find surely has a lot of historical and cultural relevance, and our treatment of it will surely offend some historically attached people, but – come on!!! It stained my nail orange! It’s orange! SUPER ORANGE!!!! And it won’t wash off! And I take pride in my nails! They’re very strong and quite nice looking for man-hands. ARRGGHH! *Martina clubs Simon over the head and takes over*

Back when I was teaching, I would periodically see my female students with their nails and fingers stained orange from this stuff. Both our schools had strict policies on makeup: no permed hair, no eyeliner or eyeshadow, and no nailpolish. To circumvent these laws, girls would use this stuff to stain their nails and for some reason (due to its historical nature?) they were allowed to dye their nails ONLY with this. I was really reallllly excited to try it out because it seems so hippie like in its “gather-the-flowers-crush-the-dye-out-of-flower” nature.

If you live on Jeju Island (lucky for you, it’s gorrrrgeous) you can actually gather these Bongseonhwa (봉선화) flowers at the end of the summer and make the powder from scratch, but in good ol’ modern times, you can buy these little packages pre-ground and already mixed with alum (if you really want to do it from scratch Jejuites, ask for alum aka “myeongban” 명반 at your pharmacy).

My students suggested coating my fingernails using q-tips and then wrapping my fingers over night in little mini tinfoil/plastic wrap turbans, but I didn’t listen to them because I didn’t want my whole fingertips to be dyed. I mixed my little powder package with water to make a kind of thick paste and used an old paint brush to apply. After watching an 30 minute TV show with my hands awkwardly hovering like the White Queen (from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland) I rinsed off the gloop. Lo and behold! My nails were totally a (gorgeous?) bright orange! Coating them in clear nail polish will help it last longer, but frankly, I don’t think you need it, since mine lasted until my nails grew back out. I really looked like I was hammered on the fingers with a large object as they grew out since it faded to a sickly orange-brown.

Am I not selling this nail dye to you? Oh sorry. Anyways, the historical love story behind it is actually quite nice: you’d dye your nails in the summer and if they were still orange by the first snowfall, you’d find and marry your first love. If you want to see this historical love story in action, it comes up in the comedy/romance/changestomiserablecryyoureyesout movie that I loved, “A Millionaire’s First Love” with Hyun Bin (<–yes, from Secret Garden) and Lee Yeon Hee. Check it out!

But I digress. I feel all warm hippie and historical and stuff reminiscing on that movie and my dyed nails…but I’m still glad I suckered Simon into doing it this time. Unless it’s the fall/Halloween time, I don’t think I’d do it again. Perhaps it’s because orange is the only colour I actually dislike, no offence bongseonhwa, you’re a beautiful plant. *Simon regains consciousness* Why do I have a magic marker moustache? *TEE HEE HEE…Martina runs away giggling…. AND WHY IS MY NAIL ORANGE!!!???

Also, congrats to Laura Carpenter for winning the WTF Care Package of the month for her answer. She suggested that the best addition to the Pedobear mug would be “Bear mug phrase about delicious staff you can drink with it; its in my stomach is really nice taste + enjoyment” That made us laugh. Rebecca Black almost won with “We so excited!” but she’s already got to much money from that ridiculous song. Hell! So congrats Laura! Send us an email and we’ll send you your package!

  1. Actually, people also dye their nails with henna except its a darker orange but it works the same way! Never knew Koreans did it too :)

  2. This is really similar to henna. Henna stains orange-y and is permanent on keratin (hair and nails). In middle eastern and African cultures, women will use henna to stain their nails for special occasions.

  3. You can see this dying kind of thing in the K-movie a Millionaires First love n_n but the use clothes hanger clips or something like that… (pardon my english)

  4. Aww- my grandma used to do this for me with the actual flowers :D
    She’d get them from her garden, smush them up with alum and leave the concoction on my nails for about 5 hours…  How nostalgic >_<    
    btw, she lived in Seoul at that time, so I don't think you have to be living in Jaeju island…

  5. hey, park bom from 2ne1 mentioned this on the 3d season of 2ne1tv or 2ne1 global wathever, she went to her friends house and saw a plant and said she used to pick flowers wrap them around her fingers for the night and in the morning, her nails where all colored, I think she mentioned the name there, but I dont rember it lol, it looks cute :3

  6. Does it only come in the color orange?

  7. Hm … I did it two or three years ago at my aunt’s house with my older female cousin. But my aunt lives in the countryside near Seoul so we had the real plant (:D !!!) for it. So we wrapped my fingers with the red blossoms and plastic turbans and slept … After the night my whole fingers were orange! Gosh … At first it was totally cool but then it really got me on my nerves … It nearly took a half year until it grow back out … Argh. Never again because I love nail polish too much! Thanks God I don”t live in Korea.

    Greetings from Germany! <3


  8. That is totally henna! I just knew it.

  9. How do you win this or buy this exactly? I want to make my birthday special with this but I can’t seem to find it anywhere online. My birthday is in less than 2 months and I kinda want to find love, you know?

  10. if i recall… i think it was more like a pinkish orange :)  the color which i LOVE!!! >< hahahha

  11. Nail polish banned from school :O I would diee D: I paint my nails like, every week xD

  12. haha actually it’s more like henna. I know it because my mother puts henna on my fingernail and tadaa~ it comes out just like that. But I really like this one, bright orange! :D

  13. I used to partake in the finger-color-staining-thing when I was a kid. My mom would cover my, her, and my sister’s (and maybe a friend’s if she had company over) fingertips with that stuff (that she made herself) and wrap them with leaves. I never really understood why except I knew it was something cosmetic, just as she would always clean and trim my nails all purtyful. I have to say, though, it kept me from biting my nails because that stuff is bitter even when it’s washed off. So now I have lovely (often times scary) long nails thanks to her cosmetic treatment of mine when I was a child. :3

  14. woohoo first comment!!! did it feel like a light layer on your nails or did it feel like very thick, cosmetic-y, paint?

    • it doesnt feel like any cosmetic nail polish XD it’s been dyed on your finger nails! that’s why you can’t take them off/remove it until your finger nails grew up LOL  i loooove doing this!! so sad that i can’t find the plant here in toronto T_T… if you get the real plant and  use a stone to ground it and put on your nails that will produce better//prettier colors! ><

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