Aruban Flag Nails

My orchestra was asked to re-record the Aruban National Anthem for the first time in 40 years.  What an honor it was to participate in this event and make music with the choir full of gifted singers from Aruba!

Because of the significance of the occasion, we were warned that in addition to making an audio recording, the sessions would also be filmed and photographed.  I wanted to respect Aruba and show my support for the project by painting the country’s flag on my nails.  Thankfully it wasn’t a very complicated design.

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By http://www.vexilla-mundi.com/aruba.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=375101
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I used Snowcone by Orly for the base color.

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With a striping brush and yellow acrylic paint, I marked two straight lines along the side of my thumbnail and across the tips of my other nails.

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To make the red star in the corner, I started by painting a small cross with a detail brush and red acrylic paint.

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I gently filled in the star by painting small lines over the cross shape done in the previous step.

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I finished it off by painting a white outline around the star with acrylic paint.

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The thumbnail shows the flag in its entirety.

I think the recording went well, and I’m anxious to hear the final cuts of the versions of the anthem that we did!  And who knows, maybe my nails will make it into one of the video cuts as well.

Happy polishing!

 

 

London Bridge Nail Art

I had to fine tune my last manicure to be more functional because the glitter kept catching on everything and falling off, but I wasn’t about to get rid of that lovely flag yet because of how long it took to paint.  I knew I had a template for London Bridge on one of my stamping plates, but I opted not to use it the first time around because I thought it didn’t look enough like the real structure.

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Cheeky Jumbo Plate 3. I wasn’t totally digging the London Bridge graphics on this one, but I used one anyway. It’s in the 5th row, 2nd image from the right, and a single version of it is in the 2nd row, 3rd image from the right.

London Bridge is a sandy color, so I picked a nice tan polish and decided to go with a sky blue background.

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From left to right: b.m.c. nail lacquer in noir black, Infatuated by Formula X for Sephora, and Vera by Julep.

After removing the glitter from my original manicure, I repainted those nails with Infatuated.  For a full tutorial on how to paint the flag, please refer to my last post.

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British pride!

To add color to the bridge, I stamped the image onto several stamper heads before coloring it in with Vera and a small dotting tool.

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A set of stamp heads makes working on several images a piece of cake.

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I used a dotting tool to color in the image. I could have been more precise if I used a detail brush, but I hate cleaning nail polish off my nail art brushes.

I didn’t bother to put the stamper heads back into the holder to transfer the image onto my nails.  After letting the polish dry a little, I took a head and gently rocked the stamper back and forth across my nail to make sure the image transferred.

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Closeup of my index finger.

The plate image still looks hokey in my opinion, but it’s still somewhat recognizable.  The simplified design along with the color scheme also makes me think of sand castles.

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London Bridge hopefully won’t fall down like it does in the song!

So ends my Anglophile week.  I’m playing a recording session tomorrow and Friday that will also be filmed, so I’ll need to change my nails lest people start wondering why a NYC musician is sporting UK nails!  I’ll be sad to lose the flag, though.  I hate working with striping tape, but I love how clean the lines turned out.

Happy polishing!

UK Nail Art

One of my friends went to London for the month, so naturally she put in a request for London themed nail art.  I joked that I could simply paint my nails all gray and say that it was London fog, but I didn’t think that was what she had in mind.

I could have opted to paint some of the landmarks- Big Ben and London Bridge came to mind, but I feel like my ability with acrylic paint couldn’t do justice to the structures.  In the end, I decided to make the fuzzy texture of the hats of the royal guard flanking the British flag.  If I had long nails, I would have included a face with the hats, but with my current length, I felt like the heads wouldn’t have the right proportion if I went that route.

I really wanted the flag to look nice, so I decided to use striping tape to keep the lines super straight.  I hate using striping tape because it involves lots of drying time, patience to apply many pieces of tape correctly, and the possibility of messing up your nails when removing the tape, but my friend deserved the best.

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Flag colors: White Hot by Sephora by OPI, Blue It by Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear, and And A Cherry On Top by Sephora by OPI.

Because your nails have to be complete dry before applying any kind of tape, I painted my thumb, middle and ring fingers with White Hot to start the drying process as soon as possible.

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Please excuse the nail discoloration- the red glitter from my last mani somewhat stained my nails.

While the white polish was drying, I decided to do the fuzzy hats.

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The “hats” are done with What’s a Tire Jack? by Sephora by OPI and Recollections Signature Glitter in Ebony.

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To apply the glitter, I first painted my nail with black polish.

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While the polish was still wet, I sprinkled on the glitter. Keep a piece of paper on your table to catch the excess so you can pour it back into the container when you’re done.

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I used a fan brush to dust away the excess. I cleaned up the extra pieces of glitter by running an orange stick along the borders of the polish on my nail.

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After patting down the glitter a little, the resulting manicure looks rather chic and interesting. Lovers of texture polish will love this look.

I waited a few hours for the white polish to fully dry before attempting to apply the striping tape.  Be sure to test a small area of your nail with the tape to see if you will ruin your base color before proceeding.

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This was the layout for the striping tape. You can see that it already resembles the British flag.

When working with striping tape, it is best to use thin coats of polish so that the color you are painting doesn’t bleed into other areas when you remove the tape.  Also, try to remove the tape as soon as possible so that the polish doesn’t start stretching and/or blending with the base color as you pull each piece off.  Because of this, I don’t have pictures of every single step, but suffice it to say that I colored in the blue areas first and the red stripe down the middle of the flag as shown below.

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You can see that even though I tried to follow my own tips, some of the blue polish leaked into the white area. You can fix this later by going over these spots with a dotting tool and some white nail polish.

Of course, I totally forgot to color in the horizontal red stripe, so I had to reapply the tape to fill in that area, and I left it on to paint the red diagonal stripes as well.

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I reapplied striping tape to fill in the horizontal red stripes. I used a striping brush to draw in the diagonal stripes by hand.

Incidentally, painting the flag by hand is a ton faster. Start with a blue base color, use white acrylic paint and a striping brush to paint large stripes, and then add red polish over the white paint.  You will save yourself hours of drying time and not be super frustrated with placing all those pieces of striping tape.

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My finished Union Jack done with striping tape.

But wait, what did I do with my thumb, you ask?  I painted another flag of course…  because it’s so clear that I loooooove using striping tape.  The steps are pretty much the same as for the bigger flag, but I took more pictures this time.

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Lots of striping tape.

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I painted the red stripes first with the assumption that if I bled into a blue area, the blue polish would cover up any red mistakes more easily.

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I used the brush from the bottle to paint the blue sections, so that’s why it’s a bit messy.

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After removing the striping tape, I still had to use red polish to finish the cross in the center, but you can also see what happens when you leave striping tape on for too long. Because the polish set more during the time that I used taking extra photos, the colors pulled up with the tape and created a bleeding effect along some of the edges.

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I wish my thumb looked cleaner, but it’s not bad.

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The guards are at attention!

My friend loved the nails, thankfully, and now another friend has put in a request to do a South African theme in honor of her homeland.  I better start doing some research on the area!

Incidentally, I didn’t apply top coat to the glitter for the photos, and most of the glitter will flake off if you don’t.  The texture doesn’t look as nice once you apply top coat, but it’s a real pain feeling like you’re shedding glitter on everything, so I had to change those nails.  But that’s for the next blog post…

Happy polishing!

EKG Heartbeat Nail Art

Call me a romantic at heart, but I love the look of the EKG heartbeat in jewelry and nail art.  It’s such a cute idea to exploit the heart in the graph, so when I saw this plate from Born Pretty Store, I instantly wanted to use it.

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BP-71 plate from Born Pretty Store is for the romantics out there.  I used the design on the far right side of the plate for this manicure.

It made sense to have the background of the EKG be white with black lines for the graph, but I wanted to color in the hearts in with red glitter as well.  I ended up using the following polishes in this manicure.

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From left to right: Ring In the Red by China Glaze, b.m.c. nail lacquer in noir black, and Bunny by Julep.

I decided to highlight the EKG on my middle two nails rather than stamp the same design across my whole hand.

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Bunny by Julep has some gold microglitter in it while Ring In the Red by China Glaze has densely packed different sized small red glitters throughout the entire polish.

Because I have short nails, I knew I would not have enough space to fit the entire 3 lines of the EKG design on them.  After stamping with noir black, I used Scotch tape to lift away one line of the design from the stamper.

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I stamped the entire design first and then used tape to erase parts of the image that would interfere with the look.

Using the revamped image, I stamped it onto my nails.

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Basic black can be cute.

I was annoyed that the image didn’t pick up clearly with the stamper alone, so I decided to take a detail brush and some black acrylic paint to neaten up the lines.  At this point, I might as well have painted the design by hand, but it’s a lot easier to trace over the stamped areas rather than draw it without a guide.

Next, I took a small dotting tool and used it to color in the hearts with Ring In the Red.  I left a little bit of a black outline around each heart to make it stand out.

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A neatened up version of the design with glittery hearts.

After applying top coat to all my nails, I added a black rhinestone near the cuticle of the nails painted with red glitter polish.  The gems looked like butterflies, although they could also be bow knots or X chromosomes for all I know.

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Butterfly rhinestones finish the look because when you’re in love, your heart is all aflutter.

It was sort of a cheesy concept, but I think it’s cute.  Hope you had a great Valentine’s Day!  Happy polishing!

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Review of Born Pretty Stamping Nail Polish #16

I’m a huge fan of the stamping plates from Born Pretty Store, but I did not have the pleasure of trying out their stamping polish until just recently.  They carry a large variety of colors, but I decided to get their pale pink (#16) first because light colors don’t always stamp well.  The results with this color would let me get a good feel for what to expect from this line.

Right off the bat upon arrival, I noticed that the polish formula was already starting to separate.  Shipping took about 2-3 weeks to get this from Singapore to the US, so either the bottle was sitting in the warehouse for an even longer period of time, or the nail polish is prone to separation.

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Born Pretty Stamping Nail Polish #16 has some separation anxiety. Note the different colored swirls of pinks near the top of the bottle.

Stamping polish is more viscous than regular nail polish, so it was hard to get the formula to blend into an even consistency.  The website link for the item even directs you to shake the bottle very well prior to using it.  I found that vigorous shaking isn’t very effective because there are no steel beads in the bottle to agitate the formula.  However, Born Pretty Store also happens to sell mixing beads, so adding one or two to the bottle helps a ton to get the nail polish one uniform color again quickly.

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After adding a steel mixing ball to the bottle and shaking it up, this polish is ready to play nice again.

The bottle holds 15 mL of nail polish, which is the same amount you get from brands like OPI and Zoya.  You will be able to get plenty of manicures out of this bad boy!

As mentioned previously, the polish formula is pretty thick.

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Born Pretty Stamping Nail Polish doesn’t drip very easily- that drop was hanging from the end of the brush for quite awhile.

One coat of polish over a nail proves to be very opaque.  This polish wasn’t meant to be used as a base color, but you could use it in a pinch for a one step manicure.

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One coat of #16 gives total coverage. The picture above is shown without a top coat applied.

The ease of use of this nail polish really shines with stamping.

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Stamping done with a Konad stamper and Born Pretty Store plate BPL-024. The base colors are What’s A Tire Jack? from Sephora by OPI, Pretty Edgy by Essie, and White Hot by Sephora by OPI.

The nail polish transfers smoothly from the plate to the stamper and then onto the nail.  You can see that even though it is a light color, the pink shows up beautifully over both light and dark colored backgrounds.  I have used other stamping polishes that will hardly show up over a light background and will look very faint over a dark background, but Born Pretty Store’s version has a consistent solid look to it across the board.

The lines are clean, and the color is even across large areas.

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Holographic rose mani using #16 over Silver Holo by UO Nail Lacquer.

I’m very impressed with the results of this nail polish, and I can’t wait to try out some more colors from this line!  Stamping with this was a pleasure, and I highly recommend it, although I would purchase some mixing balls to put inside the bottle to keep the polish from separating too much while in storage.

Diamond rating: ♦♦♦♦♦ (5/5)

If you are interested in purchasing this nail polish (retail price is $5.42 USD), the link for the item is shown below.  Using code RSSPX31 will get you 10% off your order, and Born Pretty Store offers free worldwide shipping.  Happy polishing!

http://www.bornprettystore.com/18ml-candy-color-nail-stamping-polish-newly-nail-varnish-stamp-p-21282.html

http://www.bornprettystore.com/

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Holographic Rose Nail Art

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!  Hope you’re all having a great day, even if that means that you’re sitting at home with a pint of ice cream and surfing the web for nail art.

I wasn’t in a kitschy mood today because my significant other is out of town for work right now, so I decided to put some nice pink and silver roses on my nails instead.

To help me out, I used plate BPL-024 from Born Pretty Store.

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Flowers upon flowers. I used the pattern in the bottom row, 3rd from the left for this manicure.

I wanted the look to be fresh, so I opted for pink stamping polish and a silver holographic polish for some interest rather than using a glitter polish.

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Born Pretty Stamping Nail Polish in #16 and UO Nail Lacquer in Silver Holo.

I started by painting my nails with Silver Holo.

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What I love about this holo polish is that it only takes one coat to get an opaque look.

I followed up with stamping the pattern from BPL-024 at differing angles across my nails for contrast.

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Pretty roses. If I could change anything about the pattern on this plate, it would be to get rid of the large amounts of background color and replace it with some more roses. However, I do love the fact that two different colors of roses appear on the same nail.

Add some top coat, and you’re ready to hit the town with your valentine!

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Holographic roses! Now that was easy.

Have fun tonight, and happy polishing!

Chinese New Year Monkey Nails

Gung Hay Fat Choy!  Happy Chinese New Year to those who celebrate!  I don’t really get into the festivities that much other than wearing something red and getting some lucky money, but it’s still a holiday of note in my family.

2016 is the year of the monkey, so of course I wanted to paint monkeys on my nails.  I decided to do a red base color (of course) with gold glitter on top for luck.

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My choices for a lucky Chinese New Year manicure: American as Apple Pie by Nicole by OPI and Rich Gold by Sephora + Pantone Universe.

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American as Apple Pie has a slightly opalescent sheen to it by itself.

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The glitter in Rich Gold is holographic when it hits the light. This picture doesn’t do it justice.

I would have liked to use nail polish to paint the monkeys, but I didn’t have time to let the coats of polish dry completely in between steps, so I used acrylic paint instead.

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craft smart Acrylic Paint in Black, Brown, and Golden Brown.

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Using brown paint, I colored in the heads of the monkeys at varying angles around my nails. I wanted them to be peeking out of the corners of my nails because they can be mischievous animals.

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I filled in the ears and the faces with golden brown paint.

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Using a detail brush, I painted their mouths and noses. A dotting tool was used to paint their eyes.

After some top coat, I was done!  It didn’t even take that long to do- maybe an hour or less if you don’t count the time I spent taking pictures of the steps.  Lucky me!

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Monkey madness!

Hope this year brings you luck and fortune as well!  Happy polishing!

Groundhog Day Nails

How many of you guys trust Punxsutawney Phil the Groundhog to predict the weather?  2016 is supposed to have an early spring, if the little fella is to be believed.  We’ve had a pretty warm winter overall, despite that blizzard from a few weeks ago, so maybe there is something to his prediction.

My idea was to paint a little groundhog and surround him with green grass on the tips of my nails.  I picked out a nice sky blue nail polish and a bunch of different greens for the grass.

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The grass is definitely pretty green on this side with an early spring predicted for this year! From left to right: Monet Money by Finger Paints, Hot Fun in the Summer-Lime by OPI, Havana Dreams by Sephora by OPI, Leonardo’s Lime by Finger Paints, and Garden Galaxy by Piggy Polish.

I started off by painting all my nails with Havana Dreams.

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Havana Dreams by Sephora by OPI.

The groundhog was my main concern, so I picked out some acrylic paint colors in a brown color scheme to paint him first.

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craft smart Acrylic Paint in Black, Brown, and Golden Brown.

I started off by painting the shape of the head with brown acrylic paint.  I didn’t paint in the body at this point because I thought I would have the head peeking out from behind the grass, but I changed my mind after I finished the details of the head.  I did some highlighting and contouring with a detail brush and different blends of brown, golden brown, and black to add some dimension to my guy.  I went for a cartoony look because that’s how I roll.

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Painting the groundhog.

The fun part was painting in the grass with a fan brush.  I’ve never tried using a fan brush for anything except dusting off pigments and glitters, so I was pleased with how easy it was to make the grass look artistic.

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Using one color at a time, the grass was painted on with a fan brush. Garden Galaxy (the glitter polish) was applied with the brush that came with the bottle as a finishing touch.

A little top coat made my groundhog shine, although I have to admit, he looks kind of tired of looking for his shadow.

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Looking forward to an early spring!

NYC is actually expecting some snow tomorrow, so go figure.  The tradition is all in good fun, though!  Happy polishing!

Review of 6-in-1 Dotting Tool and Pen Set

I’m always looking for a way to avoid having to clean my nail art brushes, so what really attracted me to this set was the fact that there was a pen head included with 5 different sized dotting tool heads.  Drawing with dotting tools never really worked for me, but maybe if there was a pen head…

Before we get to the demonstrations, let’s address the basics behind the product.

The pen comes shipped in a plastic tube.  Additionally, there is another piece of plastic tubing surrounding the pen nib to protect it from getting bent.

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The other dotting tool heads are conveniently stored inside the handle of the pen.  Talk about a space saver- you basically have 6 nail art tools in one little package!

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The detached parts of the dotting tool and pen set.

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Here you can see what the connecting holder looks like. The dotting tool nibs fit into the center of the holder while the pen nib fits into a small half-circle shaped groove.

The pen handle is made of plastic that is coated with a pink brushed metallic finish.  The dotted design that you see is inlaid on the handle and is silver colored.  This decoration looks pretty and stylish, and it also gives the handle a bit more grip compared to a smooth surface.

What I think would have made the design even better is if a matching cap was included or if both ends of the top half of the handle could be fitted into the base.  I for one will be making sure not to lose the original packaging so that I can keep dust and dirt out of the top half of the pen.

The pen tip looks very similar to those found on fountain pens and has a small chiseled edge.

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View of the top side of the pen nib.

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View of the underside of the pen nib.

Using a bottle of polish as an inkwell, you can dip the nib into it and write with the tip as if it were a normal pen.

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Writing is possible with this pen. I used OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark to scribble out some numbers.

I suggest lightly dragging the tip of pen over your surface in order to draw or write with paint or polish.  You will find that if you push too hard, the nib will split and make your lines thicker, and you also risk scratching your surface.

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Using the pen with white acrylic paint over Too Too Turq by Sephora by OPI.

I do feel like I am more in control of the paint when I use the pen nib over painting with a brush because it feels like I am drawing with a regular pen.  Another upside is that to clean the nib, I simply wipe off the excess paint or nail polish with a tissue with no acetone or water required.  Also, the handle is easy to hold compared to the thin handles you normally see on nail art brushes.  The downside is that I have to frequently re-dip the tip into my medium because the nib cannot store that much polish.

The dotting tools are great and would make an excellent set for any nail artist.

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The various sized dotting tool nibs included in this set.

The largest dot measures roughly 4 mm across while the smallest dot is about 1 mm in diameter.  The 3rd and 4th dots in the picture above seem so close in size that I wish the set included another tiny tip in lieu of one of the two aforementioned nibs.  I feel like a smaller point would especially come in handy for coloring in stamped decals and for making water marble designs.  After all, we nail artists work on miniature canvases- the details are what make what we do so special.

It’s a little hard to change the dotting tool heads in the middle of a manicure because the tips are only an inch long.  When you’re trying not to smudge your nails, size matters!  But if you’re crafty, you can figure out how to manipulate one of the larger heads to do different sized dots by varying the pressure.

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Dotted arabesque manicure. The same dotting tool head was used to create all the varying sized dots in this manicure by varying the pressure and amount of paint on the tip.

Overall, I think this set is a smart buy for any nail artist.  It’s easy to store and even easier to use thanks to the handle being the same size as your average pen barrel.  Clean up for these tools is a breeze, so if you don’t want to fuss with your brushes, this is definitely the tool for you!

Diamond rating: ♦♦♦♦♦ (5/5)

If you are interested in purchasing this dotting tool and pen set (retail price is $7.48 USD), the link for the item is shown below.  Using code RSSPX31 will get you 10% off your order, and Born Pretty Store offers free worldwide shipping.  Happy painting!

http://www.bornprettystore.com/6pcsset-nail-dotting-multi-size-dotting-head-nail-tool-water-marbling-tool-p-21724.html

http://www.bornprettystore.com/

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