Back to School: Crayon Nail Art

It’s almost time for kids and teachers to go back to school (at least in NYC- I know some people are already back), so I wanted to do some fun nail art to celebrate mark the change of season.  School supply shopping was always one of my favorite activities, and trying to convince my parents to get me the biggest box of crayons was high on the list.  I’ll settle for mostly primary colors for this mani, though.  😉

First off, the color selection:

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My mini rainbow, left to right: Sephora by OPI- What’s a Tire Jack?, Nicka K- NY139, Sephora Nail Lacquer 5 Day Shine- Banana split, Essie- Pretty Edgy, Formula X for Sephora- Omni, Formula X for Sephora- Haphazard.

I started off by painting each of my nails a different color.  I went in backwards rainbow order.  Don’t ask why- I think I had a sixth sense about something…

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Taste the rainbow!

The toughest part about this mani was having to do the squiggly line detail.  Trying to paint over black polish with a lighter color would be near impossible, and I hate having to clean nail polish off my nail art brushes.  My approach was to take black acrylic paint and draw around the squiggle so that the original base color showed through.

Step 1- Use a striping brush to paint the outline of the area where the squiggle will appear.

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Painting the outlines of the black section of the crayon wrapper will allow you to space your squiggles out more consistently in the next step.

For the next two steps, please refer to the photo below Step 3.

Step 2 (on green nail): Using a detail brush, paint in hills along one line. If you like more of a uniform look, put the highest peak of the hill in the center of your nail and then finish off the sides with an upward curve.

Step 3 (on yellow nail): repeat the process of painting hills along the other line to coincide with the opposing curve.

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The various stages of painting in the squiggle shape within the black lines.

For an easier mani, you can simply topcoat the result and say that you painted the bottom half of the crayon, but I like to go the distance.  😉

In order to make the wrapper look different from the actual crayon, I used matte top coat over the bottom half of my nails.

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Mattifying the squiggle section of the nail mimics the paper wrapper and gives the look more texture. I used a matte top coat from Sephora by OPI.

To draw the tip, I used a striping brush and black polish to first notch the beginning of the tapered section of the point.

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Adding notches to show the start of the tip of the crayon.

From there I painted in an angled section with the striper so that the tip of the crayon would be tapered.

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Crayon madness!

Add some topcoat to the top half of the nail, and you’re done!  It’s a very cute look and makes people nostalgic for their youth.  Now where did I put that coloring book?  😉

If you were wondering about that sixth sense that I mentioned before…  It’s because the purple color ended up being a lot darker than I thought it would be, so the black detail did not show up very well at all.  😦  I’m glad I didn’t have to photograph my thumb to get a good picture!  If you decide to recreate this, definitely choose lighter colors over darker ones.

Happy polishing!

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FAQ- Secrets Behind A Long Lasting Manicure

Do you complain about any of the following?

My nail polish keeps chipping.
My nail polish peels off.
I can’t get my manicures to last more than a day.

Have I got a post for you!

One of the top concerns that my friends have about DIY manicures is how to make the polish last.  Not everyone has the money to drop at a salon to get their nails done (*cough* especially me), but people claim that their polish comes off way faster when they do their nails at home.  Stop the madness!  This does not have to be the case!  Here are some tips and product endorsements that may make your life easier.  I’m not getting paid to represent any of the companies or products listed in this post, although hey, I’m open to that happening!  😉  But this is what works for me.

  1. Start with clean, dry nails.
    I can’t emphasize this step enough.  Your nails can’t have any oil or residue on them if you want that mani to last.  If you’ve ever had acrylics done, the technician starts by filing down your nail.  Do you know why?  Because filing will take away that top shiny layer that has your skin’s natural oils all over it and will help the acrylic stay put for a longer time.  Same thing goes if you look at a lot of those gel polish pre-wipes.  Most contain 90% isopropyl alcohol which again serves to dry the nail out and strip away any oil on the surface.  Everyone knows that gel polish lasts a long time.  So…
    What should you do at home?  Wipe your nails down with a cotton ball soaked with either pure acetone or 90% isopropyl alcohol.  Forget those special blends of polish remover that have moisturizers or are non-acetone.  If you want the polish to stay, you want to dry out your nails as much as possible first so that your base coat will adhere to your nail bed better.
  2. Use a base coat that dries to a rubbery finish.
    And yes, I would highly recommend using a base coat!  Seeing how porous your nails are going to be with all the natural oils stripped off, you’re going to want a protective layer between your nail and the polish unless you like having stained nails.  I’m not saying that every polish will stain your nails, but if you happen to get one that does, you’re going to be seeing the remnants of that color for a long time if you don’t keep painting your nails.As for what has a rubbery finish, I tend to use Bonder by Orly a lot when I want something to last.  I’ve also had another nail art enthusiast friend recommend Stickey by CND Colour, although I don’t have first hand experience with it.  Both of them have a slightly rubbery, sticky finish, and this is what is going to anchor your polish to your nail bed.
  3. Paint no more than 3 coats of nail polish color onto your nails.
    Thick nail polish is not your friend.  Unless you’re using it for stamping, I would either toss the bottle or add some nail polish thinner to it prior to painting your nails.  Thick nail polish will trap air bubbles in the formula from when you shake it up to mix it, and those bubbles will surface when you paint your nails and won’t look cute at all.Also, the thicker the coat of polish on your nails, the more likely it will crack and chip off.  You want to use as few coats as possible so that the polish will remain somewhat flexible on your nails.  If you can even get away with one coat, more power to you.  2 coats is pretty standard.  3 is pushing the limits.  4 is hot mess territory.
  4. Run a coat of polish along the edge of your nail after you paint it to help prevent chips.
    Chips will almost always start at the tip of your nail, so it helps to seal in the layer of polish by wrapping the color around the edge.  No need to actually paint it on- just swipe your nail against the side of the brush.
  5. Seal in your polish with a good top coat.
    Don’t try to skip this step!  Not only will your polish look nice and glossy, but it will often help to dry your polish faster and keep the color from wearing off too quickly.  My personal fave is Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat.  I use it on practically all of my manicures and pedicures.  It helps bond all the layers of base coat, color, and top coat together, smooths out any weird imperfections (like brush strokes and clumps), and sets quickly.  I tend to do a lot of my manicures at night right before bed, and I have never woken up with a smudged manicure.  This stuff is magical!  Just make sure you also coat the edge of your nail the same way you did in step 4.

And that’s it!  My pedicures last a month without any chips and no reapplication of top coat with that method.  The polish might be able to stay on longer than that, but I don’t know because I usually have to cut my nails at that point.  😉

My manicures could probably last just as long, but I’ve never tested it out because I’m always trying to find an excuse to paint my nails again.  But here’s an example of a manicure I did last summer following the steps above.

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Floral manicure featuring Suzi’s Hungary Again! by OPI and acrylic paint.

Because I thought this mani looked pretty, I decided to keep it for awhile.  After a week, I brushed on another coat of top coat to revive the shine, but I tried out Freedom Polymer Top Coat by Julep (get your first box of polishes free through the link) for the first time that day.  Julep says that you can also cure this top coat with a regular light to add additional protection, so I did that, and 13 days later…

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13 days of looking beautiful and chip free!

You can see the nail growth by my cuticles to show that I wasn’t faking the number of days that this manicure lasted.  There was a little bit of wear at the tips just from everyday living, but everything stayed intact.  I would have kept going, but my fans wanted to see a new manicure.  😉

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The tried and true top coats and base coats mentioned above.

Let it also be said that if you really want your manicure to last, don’t abuse your hands.  Try not to pick at things with your nails or use your nails as tools.  You can also wear gloves when you do the dishes if you’re really concerned about keeping your polish looking pretty.  For the record, I do none of those things.  😉

I hope this helps solve your manicure and pedicure problems!  Let me know what works (or didn’t work) for you in the comments below.  Happy polishing!

Stamped Shell Nail Art

It’s back to school time for a lot of kids right now, so I don’t have much more time to get another summery mani in this year.  😦  Because I’ve been suffering from horrible back pain and spasms all summer after my car accident, I haven’t had the opportunity to hit the beach, even though I don’t live too far away from one.  My nails this time gave me an excuse to at least hobble around on the sand long enough to take a picture while I waited for my prescriptions to be filled at the neighborhood pharmacy.

But enough of my sob story- I know you’re here to read about nail art, so here are the details behind this look.

For the base color, I used Faded Blues by Ulta Professional, which is a beautiful pearly light blue.

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Ulta Professional Nail Lacquer- Faded Blues

I wanted my nails to have a very dreamy and lighthearted look, so I did the stamping with Konad Special Nail Polish in White with Jumbo Plate 2 by Cheeky.

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Stamped shells- I used the pattern in the first column, 4 rows up from the bottom.

No special tricks or anything on this one- it’s just plain old stamping goodness!

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Sally sold seashells by the seashore- seashell nail art.

The look reminds me of beach houses and all the freshness and airiness of a fine summer day.  More importantly, these nails make me feel happy thinking about collecting shells on the beach!  🙂

Hope you all have been enjoying these past few months because soon enough it will be cold again.  :O  Happy polishing!

Q*bert Nail Art

After feeling so unsatisfied about my Matrix nails, I decided to look through my plate collection once again to try to find new inspiration.  This time I focused on the cube design on Cheeky Jumbo Plate 10 because it reminded me of Q*bert, a game I really sucked at because my age was in the single digits when I first saw my brothers playing it.  Q*bert was also featured in Wreck It Ralph and more recently in Pixels.

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Cheeky Jumbo Plate 10. I used the cube design 2 rows from the bottom and 3 columns from the right.

Obviously I wanted to paint Q*bert, so I planned to put him on my thumbnail so that I could make him big enough to stand out.  I also decided to paint Coily, the snake who is out to get Q*bert on the board during game play, so I planned to put him on my ring finger.  To make the characters stand out, I used a plain black polish as a backdrop.  I wanted to put the cubes on the other nails, so for a base, I used yellow polish, decided to stamp with a blue one, and colored in the other squares with a red polish.

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The color line up from left to right: b.m.c. nail lacquer- royal blue, Sephora by OPI- What’s a Tire Jack?, Sephora by OPI- Cab Fare, Sephora by OPI- And A Cherry On Top.

I painted the base colors first.

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Buzzing around with yellow and black polish.

Cab Fare takes 3 coats of polish to look opaque, so I needed to wait for that to dry before I could do any stamping.  I used the time to paint Q*bert and Coily instead.

For the characters, I used acrylic paint by Craft Smart and various sized detail brushes.  You can follow the painting process in the photos below.

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Q*bert step-by-step photo tutorial.

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Coily step-by-step photo tutorial.

A note on Coily- I know he’s supposed to have more coils, but I don’t have long enough fingernails to paint the extra loops!  I think you get the picture, though.

All that was left to be done was the stamping.  I tried using all 3 of the stampers that I own to save time, but I have to say that the Konad stamper still works the best.  In any case, after stamping the pattern, I filled in the striped boxes with And A Cherry On Top.  I used the mini bottle of polish for this because I turned the brush for this bottle into a striping brush awhile ago (just cut off 3/4 of the bristles from the original brush).  If you do this yourself, you can use a dotting tool or a detail brush to fill in the red boxes.

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Coloring in red boxes on a Konad stamper.

After transferring the pattern to my nails, here is the finished look:

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Q*bert and Coily amidst their cubes.

For those keeping track of which stampers work the best, the Konad stamper was used for the pointer finger, a large and squishy stamper from Amazon was used for the middle finger, and a stamper from Born Pretty Store was used on the pinky.  You can see that the Konad stamper picked up every detail without a problem.  You can read the original review of these stampers here.

This is maybe not the cutest mani that I’ve done, but it certainly evokes a lot of nostalgia for the 80s and arcade games!  I might decide to revisit Q*bert again because I’ve decided that an all hand-painted design is more preferable to a half hand painted and half stamped one- at least for me.  But if you love gaming and don’t want to let Pac Man steal all the 80s thunder, Q*bert is a great option.  Have fun!

“The Matrix” Nail Art

When I need inspiration, I like looking through my stamping plate collection to see what catches my eye.  This time, a plate from Bundle Monster stood out.

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Plate BM-415 by Bundle Monster

The binary code totally reminded me of the The Matrix, so I decided to do a black base with green on top.

Step 1- Paint your nails black.  I used What’s a Tire Jack from Sephora by OPI

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I love a chic black mani! This one features What’s a Tire Jack from Sephora by OPI.

For the stamping, I ran into a bit of a dilemma.  I don’t own a green stamping polish, so I decided to experiment and create a Frankenpolish of my own using the bottles of polish pictured below.

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The candidates for my experiment, from left to right: OPI- Hot Fun in the Summer-Lime, Sally Hansen Insta-Dri- Lickety Split Lime, Sephora by OPI- Gleek Out, BMC Nail Lacquer- white, BMC Nail Lacquer- liquid gold.

In my head, I imagined that I would be able to mix enough polish to do all the stamping with one batch of Frankenpolish.  I did my mixing on a plastic bag because it’s easy to clean up.  Once the polish dries, you can peel off the patch, and the bag can be reused as a palette again.  Waste not, want not!

What I did was put drops of Hot Fun in the Summer-Lime, Gleek Out (for shimmer), white, and liquid gold on the plastic sheet and mixed it together with an old nail polish treatment brush.  To be honest, I forgot that I owned Lickety Split Lime or else I might have had less mixing to do.  😉

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It’s alive! Frankenpolish time!

I tried stamping this concoction on my middle finger, and it came out pretty good.  By the time I tried to use my Frankenpolish a second time, the polish thickened up too much, and I was unable to use it.  I didn’t want to have to mix another batch again just for one nail, so this was when I remembered that I owned Lickety Split Lime.  I decided to try swiping that on the plate along with liquid gold to avoid having to mix the polishes separately.

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There’s a stripe of liquid gold underneath the stripe of Lickety Split Lime. The gold adds shimmer to the polish and darkens the color.

I stamped that onto my ring finger, but I wasn’t as pleased by the results.

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Frankenpolish mixed separately on plastic for the nail on the left and 2 stripes of polish blended by scraping them together directly on the plate for the nail on the right.

I’m thinking that maybe I should bottle that sparkly green Frankenpolish combo I made the first time.  😛

In any case, for the other nails, I wanted to use holographic green nail foil I bought from eBay to make stripes.

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Beautiful holographic nail foil! The pattern consists of tiny squares and looks like holographic green static.

With a striping brush, I painted lines of ScraPerfect’s Best Glue Ever at full strength onto my nails.  After letting the glue dry clear, I applied the nail foil.

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Binary code with stripes of nail foil.

I have to say, the nail foil looked better on the roll than it did on my nails.  😛  To jazz it up, I applied Garden Galaxy by Piggy Polish over the stripes.

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The finished look. Time to dodge some bullets.

Am I in love with it?  No.  This totally did not come out looking the way I thought it would.  I need to wipe the slate clean!  But there’s always room for a sequel, and this time the sequel will be better.  To be continued…

Variations on a Color Theme- Easy Nail Art

For the longest time I have wanted to do a mismatched pattern on my nails united by a color theme.  I’ve been wearing a lot of cool tones lately, so I went with a turquoise blue, silver, and white color scheme.  I tried to pick colors that had the same glittery/metallic finish, so after digging through my stash, I came up with these colors:

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Pretty silver, blue, and white polishes all in a row. Left to right: Finger Paints- Silver Bells, Sephora by OPI- Who Let the Dorks Out?, Sephora by OPI- Bright as a Feather, nails inc.- mayfair, Kiss Nail Art Paint- Silver Glitter.

Next, I tried to plan out what the base colors would be.  I definitely wanted Silver Bells to be on my ring finger, so I painted the two different shades of blue on each side of that and switched the shades up so that no two adjoining fingers had the same color on them.

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Truly basic “nail art” for beginners. Still a pretty look.

Next, I tried experimenting with some polka dots.  I used dotting tools to make dots of different sizes (a key point if you don’t want your nails to look like dominoes).  I decided to also color block my pinky and thumb nails to jazz things up a bit.  For the blocking, I used the brush from the bottle of polish to paint on the contrasting stripe, and then I used a striping brush (really, this is the only reason I used the Kiss Nail Art Paint color- so I wouldn’t have to clean a brush) to outline the color blocked sections.  Add some more polka dots, and you’re good to go!

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Variations on a color theme. I’m such a music geek. 😛

Incidentally, I didn’t want to put any nail art on my ring finger because Silver Bells by Finger Paints is one of the sparkliest glitter polishes I’ve ever used.  It really looks best without anything else on it in my opinion.  I definitely recommend it if you want some bling on your fingers!

The look reminds me of Easter eggs and Christmas ornaments, so I might try doing this again around the winter holidays.

Happy polishing!  🙂

Nail Art Problem #3 and Nail Aid No Rub Gel Remover Review

As annoying as it is to have charms fall off your nails before it’s time to change your mani, trying to get the darn things off when you want to take them off is just as bad!  Do I even have to mention glitter polish?  The struggle is real.

If I know I’m going to change my look up quickly, I’ll use the Elmer’s School Glue trick so I won’t have to deal with loads of acetone.  Don’t know about it?  It’s when you paint a coat of Elmer’s School Glue onto your nails as a base coat, let it dry, and then apply your polish (preferably in a thick coat) over it.  Depending on how much you wash your hands, the manicure you do over the glue can last, at worst, a few hours or maybe 2-3 days at best.  To remove the polish deliberately, use an orange stick to gently lift up a corner of the polish, and the whole thing will come off your nail lickety split.

When it comes to using rhinestones and studs, my intention is usually to keep them on my nails for as long as possible, but removing them is such a huge pain.  Whether you use polish or nail art glue to adhere them doesn’t make much of a difference- the suckers sometimes don’t want to budge.  Your only options are to either keep scrubbing away at them with nail polish remover and cotton balls or soak your nails in acetone, either in a dish or with the foil/cotton ball removal method.

But one day, while cruising the nail art section at Walmart, I found this product:

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Nail Aid to the rescue!

Could this be the answer to my problems?  I hate having to soak my nails in dappen dishes full of acetone, and I’m too lazy to prepare foil and cotton balls, so maybe a gel remover is the ticket to freedom.

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Instructions for use.

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Inside the magic jar lies a pink gel.

So let’s try using it on the rhinestones from my Sunflower/Black Eyed Susan manicure.  Warning: graphic, ugly pictures of nails lie beyond this sentence.  Proceed with caution!  You have been warned.  😛

I dipped my nails into the gel one at a time.  I probably could have just placed dollops of the gel right on top of the rhinestones because I already took off the surrounding polish, but that would take more effort.

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Gel remover on top of nails. I’m strangely in the mood to have a chocolate chip cookie after seeing this photo.

The instructions say to wait 4 minutes before attempting removal, so I sat around, awed by how cold my hands felt with gelled acetone on my nails.

After 4 minutes, I took an orange stick and pried each rhinestone off.  They certainly were not going to budge if I only used a paper towel to wipe away the gel, as is recommended in the instructions.  I can’t say that they all came off easily- some rhinestones came off without any issues while others required a little strength.  I know my nail beds could potentially get damaged from doing this if the polish isn’t totally softened, but I’m not planning to use any charms for quite some time after this manicure.

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After removing the rhinestones, lots of residue remains. At least the rhinestones came off!

After trying to wipe away the excess gel and polish with a paper towel, I washed my hands with soap and water.  The gel feels very slick when you try to wash it away, and it takes a little effort to make sure all the residue is gone.

I still had some nail polish on my nails, so I needed to go back and remove what little remained with nail polish remover and a cotton pad.  But Egad!  Something managed to stain my nails!

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All gone… except for some mysterious lingering rings where the rhinestones were.

I have no idea what caused that, but the stains will be covered up with a new manicure soon enough anyway.  😉

I’ve tried using this product with glitter polish in the past, and it did a reasonable job of taking off most of the glitter.  Is it better than the foil method?  In term of ease of application, most definitely!  In terms of clean up?  Not really.  What time you save in applying the gel gets added at the end when you try to wash it off…  and that’s if all your polish got removed the first time around.  I’m sticking to using Elmer’s School Glue as a base coat for ease of removal of glitter polishes.

In terms of using this for removal of nail art studs and charms, I would definitely use this again.  The gel stays put and doesn’t drip, and it manages to loosen the charms up enough so that you can remove them.  After that, it’s not a big deal to clean up the polish residue.

Diamond rating: ♦♦♦♦◊ (4/5)

If you want to find out more about No Rub Gel by Nail Aid, please visit their website at: http://www.norubgel.com/   Definitely go to Walmart to buy it rather than purchase it online if you have a choice.  It’s much cheaper at Walmart, although they don’t see it online.  Good luck with the nail art removal process!