Two Of A Kind: Crazy Colours

There is no stopping pigments that are bright and not belonging to nature to go into nail colour and, astonishingly, bread

While influencer Koh Boon Ki is no fan of chemistry and has barely any use for knowledge of the chemical make up and interaction of things, she is happy to wear vivid nail colour that is the result of fairly complex chemical processes. Ms Koh rant-questioned in a now-deleted video on TikTok: “You know, like, how much chemistry knowledge I use in my day-to-day life?” She then replied, stridently, “Not much!” She is a big fan of biology and prefers to be aware of peristalsis that leads to defecation or in her more colourful language: “shit”. We don’t know what goes through her mind when she does her business, but human stool is made up of entities that are both biological and chemical. Even the roughly 75% of water in fecal matter is a chemical compound. Perhaps she was too busy tending to her painted nails, which, given the opaque, matte coating, is chemical composition in itself.

In that video, Ms Koh was seen dabbing the bottom of her eyes, nails visible for all to see. She was highly animated—gesticulating as she went about, at first, speaking against “nun-science stoodents” and then railing against the uselessness of studying chemistry in school. As she disastrously made her case, she was applying makeup on her face. Her pointy (or tear-drop-shaped), colourful nails played a delightful cameo in her tirade against those who do not have the “bio knowledge” like she does. The pastel pink, blue, and green melded as a ‘gradient’, chemical sum that could be inspired by the colours of lollies. (In a follow-up ‘apology’ video, a few of the nails looked painted to depict sky and grass, with flowers in the mix.) They were the most compelling thing to watch while she wielded an applicator to dab something (concealer or highlighter, we couldn’t tell) on certain spots of her expressive face.

Ms Koh’s nails immediately brought to mind a bread we have been seeing sold at a stall that also offers cook-to-order waffles with assorted spreads. The waffles are uncoloured, but the breads, available in loaves that remind us of those hand-cut ones of the distant past, are with swirls or streaks of incredible colours that you would not find even in the most chromatically-blessed fruits. They look like something you might see in a metaverse bakery. Or, roti that is fit for a Vogue SG cover. Surprisingly, these enthusiastically coloured breads have found themselves buyers, including those who love a slice of Wall’s blocked ice cream with it. Perhaps, those bread lovers, like Koh Boon Ki, do not concern themselves with the petroleum-based dyes in them. They are, after all, just chemicals; they can be ignored.

Screen shot: (left) boonkikikiki/TikTok. Photo: (right) Zhao Xiangji