Leopard and Jungle Print Manicure

It’s a jungle out there, and here are the nails to prove it!

I started by painting my nails with Aimeili gel polish in 073 Kale. This army green provides the perfect backdrop for jungle foliage. 3 thin coats were applied and cured for a minute each in a 36W UV/LED lamp.

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Aimeili gel polish in color 073 Kale.

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Holographic Pink and Black Lace Manicure

Today’s nail art is based off a pink and black color theme, which is always a classic combination. I also really was in the mood to use some holographic polish because it’s been awhile since I enjoyed some rainbow action!

I started by painting my nails with What’s A Tire Jack? from Sephora by OPI and Born Pretty Holographic Stamping Polish in color #2.

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Everything is so shiny! These nails look killer already even without any nail art.

I wanted to do French tips combined with stamping, so I applied an extra swipe of black polish across the tips of the nails that were painted with the pink polish.

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Half of a French manicure in action.

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Summer Neon Geometric Nails

Hi, everyone! I’m a little behind on posts due to a flurry of musical activity on this end, but I’m hoping to catch up on things soon!

Today’s nail art tries to capture the essence of summer with some bright neon colors and bold geometric shapes. To begin, I painted my nails white using a color simply called White Base Coat from Sephora by OPI.

 

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White Base Coat from Sephora by OPI provides a simple white backdrop that is perfect for making neon colors pop.

To do the geometric design, I used plate BP-L070 from Born Pretty Store for the basic pattern.

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For this manicure, I used the design on the far right side of the middle row.

Using a clear stamper, I stamped the pattern with Ya Qin An stamping polish in Black, then I colored in the design with various shades from the Sephora by OPI Neon Lights collection. I chose a pink, orange and yellow shade so when I colored in the pattern, I chose to have pink and yellow stripes with the intersecting parts being orange.

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The colors used are all from the Sephora by OPI Neon Lights collection. Pink is Glowing Somewhere?, orange is I’m So Vivid With You!, and yellow is Mega-Watt’s Your Deal?

I decided to stamp these zig-zag patterns close to my cuticles, and I alternated the color placement on each nail to make it look more continuous.

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All done!

It was pretty easy to make this nail art, and it definitely looks fun for summer! Hope you enjoyed it!

Happy polishing!

80s Equalizer Nail Art

Today I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and trying a different technique with something I’ve never been great at using: nail foil. Anyone who has experience with it knows that it can be temperamental to use, and even when you get the application right, the wrong top coat can ruin the whole thing and make it look as if it was never there. Yet here I am testing my patience with this material. Off we go!

To start, I painted all my nails black.

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This is stamping polish from b.m.c. nail lacquer in noir black. Not sure why it looks textured though- it might be the pigments.

To make the decals, you will need a plastic bag or a silicone mat. I used the Lotus Mat from Bundle Monster for mine. Start by applying swatches of top coat onto your chosen surface. The top coat will serve as the base of your decal. Wait for your top coat to fully dry before you proceed to the next step.

Next, choose a pattern that you want to stamp and transfer it to a swatch of top coat. You must act very quickly to apply a piece of nail foil over the stamped area so that the foil can adhere to the wet polish. Rub over the piece of foil with your finger, then lift the foil quickly, and you should be left with a cool foil embossed pattern.

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For this manicure, I used the pattern in the lower right hand corner of plate BP-L059 from Born Pretty.

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The stamping polish used was the same b.m.c. nail lacquer in noir black from my base color. I did this so that it would not look obvious if the foil did not transfer fully.

The foil was purchased in a large lot from an eBay seller, and there is no brand associated with it. You can see that the foil that I chose to use has a natural rainbow gradient effect, so it happens to match the levels that you would see on an equalizer. In case you don’t know what an equalizer looks like, here’s an example:

Very 80s techno chic.

At this point you can gently peel the decals off the mat and cut them to fit your nails. In order to hide some of the transfer imperfections, I also re-cut the levels of the bars. You can apply a cut decal by painting another layer of black polish or some top coat onto your nail and then gently press the decal onto the wet surface.

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You can see where I cut the levels of the bars for the decals, but they more or less stick to the base color. This look reminds me of Tetris.

Disclaimer: Because I didn’t like the finish of the b.m.c. nail lacquer as a base color, I applied the decals using What’s A Tire Jack? from Sephora by OPI.

It’s easy to say just apply top coat to seal in everything, but here’s where things can get tricky. I’ve heard that a water based top coat works best with foil, but I don’t have any. I also know that pretty much anything that is branded as “fast drying” will cause the foil to shrink and/or break up. If you don’t use a top coat at all, the foil will quickly rub off on its own. I took a chance by using my Ya Qin An top coat, seeing as it never smears nail art, and it worked pretty well. Thumbs up for Ya Qin An!

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Nail foil success! Too bad this took forever to do.

Fun fact: I’m holding a record that I actually played on! It was for a private project, but it’s still cool as a collector’s item.

In any case, I love how I conquered my fear of nail foil. That’s not to say that I don’t curse a lot when things don’t work out the right way, but at least I know that I have another technique that I can use. Maybe practice does make perfect!

Happy polishing!

Chessmen Nails

Ever since I painted this design, people have been asking me if I play chess.  The short answer is no, although I vaguely remember the basic rules from when I was taught them a long time ago.  The last time I did any sort of chess game was online with a friend in the late 90s.  My claim to fame was beating my brother, who is nine years older than me, shortly after he taught me how to play the game at the age of 7.  I know he didn’t let me win because he wasn’t too happy about that one!

The inspiration for my chess themed nails comes from the checkerboard pattern on plate Qgirl-046 from Ya Qin An.

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I used the checkerboard print at the top of the plate for this manicure.

In retrospect, I would have painted the checkerboard by hand to get the lines more exact and consistent, but I didn’t have a lot of time to paint that night.  More about that in a bit.

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I started out by painting my nails with Silver Holo from UO Nail Lacquer. Honestly, who doesn’t like a good holographic polish?

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I used Konad Special Nail Polish in Flash Black to do the stamping. Of course, I bumped my nail against something and was too lazy to fix it, so I left the damage there. After all, I knew I was going to paint over it anyway.

I want to also point out that it’s super hard to get a checkerboard pattern like this one all even and precise if you use a squishy stamper.  The softer head makes it easy to stamp over curvy nail beds, but it also distorts the pattern as it transfers.  So you can see the difference, I used my Konad stamper on my ring finger, but I didn’t scrape the plate very well so it picked up everything.  It’s funny because I’m so used to other stampers being more forgiving in that sense.

In any case, I know I did a hack job of the stamping, but it’s only the background so…

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I took a small brush and used craft smart acrylic paint in White to paint the basic shapes of the chess pieces. I decided on painting two pawns, a king, a queen, and a knight, which sounds like the beginning of a bad joke.

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To make the pieces stand out, I outlined each piece with a detail brush and craft smart acrylic paint in Black. I also used the black paint to fill in any weird spots in the checkerboard print.

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I finished by applying Seche Vite Top Coat.

I was going to use Dazzle Dry Top Coat, but it started smudging my stamping with the first stroke, so I quickly changed plans.  Just remember that not every top coat will work with every manicure!

Hope you enjoyed reading about how to hide a bad stamping job.  😉  Happy polishing!

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!

 

 

Winter Sweater Snowflake Nails

I’ve never done an ugly sweater manicure before, so I figured it was about time that I fixed that situation.

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My color line up for this manicure consists of Konad Special Nail Polish in White, Sephora Nail Lacquer 5 Day Shine in Happy Hour!, Finger Paints Nail Color in Monet Money, and Nicole by OPI in Carrie’d Away.

I didn’t want to have to stamp every single nail, so I opted to do gold glitter for 2 nails and painted the other nails with Happy Hour!

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Sparkly gold glitter polish and royal blue nails make a nice combo.

I painted a thick stripe of Monet Money over the blue nails in the approximate width of a section of the snowflake design from the stamping plate I was planning to use.  I thought about making a nail decal, but doing the color blocking directly on my nail seemed like the faster route.

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Color blocking done with Monet Money by Finger Paints.

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Plate BPL-032 from Born Pretty Store. I used the pattern in the top row, 2nd image from the right.

Using Konad Special Nail Polish in White and BPL-032 from Born Pretty Store, I carefully lined up the snowflake pattern with the green color blocked section and stamped it onto my nail.

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The stamping isn’t perfect because the squishiness of my marshmallow stamper distorted some of the straight lines, but the pattern lined up nicely overall.

After adding some top coat, the look was done!  Guess the sweater was more cute than ugly in the end.  Happy polishing!

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Stained Glass Suncatcher Manicure

I recently played for a small production of Puccini’s Suor Angelica, a lovely yet heartbreaking one act opera whose cast consists mostly of nuns.  Appropriate to the libretto, the performance took place inside a church, so my inspiration for the week were the stained glass windows there.

If I had more time, I would have hand painted the framework for the glass panels, but I was already going to be sleep deprived doing the stamping for this design.  The two plates I used for this manicure were BM-402 from Bundle Monster and BPL-005 from Born Pretty Store.

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BM-402 from Bundle Monster assisted me for one of the stained glass patterns. I used the design at the topmost position for two of my nails.

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BPL-005 from Born Pretty Store has an assortment of patterns, but I chose the one on the bottom row, 2nd from the left to put on my thumbnail.

The Infinite Ombré set from Formula X was perfect to color in the patterns because the gel tints have the ability to be layered over each other to create other colors.  Because I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, I chose to put stained glass patterns on 3 out of 5 nails on each hand and paint the other two nails black.

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Colors for this manicure include the following: Konad Special Nail Polish in Black, Platinum Prime by Formula X, Black lace by Sephora Nail Lacquer 5 Day Shine, Kiss Nail Art Paint in Black, and Formula X gel tint colors in Boundless Berry, Limitless Lemon, and Timeless Teal.

I planned to turn the design from plate BM-402 into a mirror image so that it would fill two nails, so I allotted space for this on my middle and ring fingers.

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Prepping the canvas with Black lace and Platinum Prime.

The idea was to make the circular part of the pattern from BM-402 look as if it were the sun casting out rays of light, so I stamped one nail with the circular part facing the nail that will picture the inversion of the same design.

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One part stamped, one more to go.

To make the mirror image, I couldn’t just turn the design upside down because there is a slight variance between the top and bottom halves of the pattern.  Instead, I chose to make a nail decal with a form of reverse stamping.  After stamping the image, I brushed clear coat over the design, waited for it to dry, and then I removed the dry polish from the stamper with tweezers and cut the piece down to the approximate size of my nail.

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Do it yourself nail decals are easy to make once you brush top coat over a stamped image. I used Seche Vite top coat for this and then cut the decal down to size.

The mirror image is the side of the decal that the topcoat was placed on, just in case this isn’t apparent.  I slightly confused myself when I was doing this as well.  Note that if you turn the decal over so that the side that was on the stamper is now facing up, you will end up with the same image as if you directly stamped onto your nail, so that would defeat the purpose of making a decal.

To apply the decal, simply apply clear topcoat over the desired nail and smooth the decal over the nail while it is still wet.

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The mirror image is complete.

All that remained was to color in the empty spaces with the Formula X gel tints.  I made things a little easier for myself by applying a little color theory so that I could layer colors with other colors to get different shades.  Yellow and red make orange and yellow and blue make green, so I was able to paint Limitless Lemon over quite a few areas before overlapping the yellow tint with Boundless Berry and Timeless Teal.  I used the brush from the bottle because I wanted to get things done faster, but you can opt to use a detail brush or dotting tool if you want more precision.

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A delightful suncatcher look made with gel tint colors from Formula X.

I still had a thumb to stamp and color.  Unfortunately, the images on BPL-005 are a bit on the small side compared to Born Pretty Store’s other plates, so it was tricky to get the placement right on the first try.  I used a marshmallow stamper so I could push it down completely over my nail, and I put a dot of black polish on the center of my thumb first so I could line up the dot from the center of the pattern with the dot on my thumb.

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A successfully centered stamped thumbnail which was not very easy to accomplish when the design on the plate was almost the same size as my nail. You can see the raised dot of polish I applied to the middle of the nail so I could position the stamper correctly over it.

I’ve griped about how my squishy head stamper doesn’t transfer images as nicely as my Konad stamper, so you can see that the entire design didn’t make it onto my thumbnail near my cuticle.  I fixed this with Kiss Nail Art Paint in Black.

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With a little help from a striping brush and black polish, you can’t tell that the image didn’t fully transfer the first time around.

After coloring in the sections with the same technique as before, the manicure is done!

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A stained glass inspired suncatcher manicure.

I guess this wasn’t the best choice for a quick manicure, but it looked pretty!  Now to finally get some rest…  I’ve still got rehearsals to attend, but I won’t have a performance until the beginning of next month.  In the meantime, happy polishing!

Adrianna Papell Black and Blue Striped Dress Nails

I played in a small recital tonight, so naturally I wanted my manicure to match my dress.  I just bought a gorgeous black and blue striped gown from Adrianna Papell, and the graphic print looked so nice that I decided to put it on my nails.

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The fabric print of the dress… and no, it’s not white and gold!

The colors are obviously blue and black, so I tried to use a similar blue that wasn’t too dark and could show the black stripe contrast against it.  Because I wanted to hand paint the lines, I knew I was going to use black acrylic paint for the most part, and I used a sparkly black polish for accent stripes.

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The materials from left to right: craft smart acrylic paint in black, Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear in Blue It, and Ulta Professional Nail Lacquer in Rhinestone Rocker.

After applying a base coat, I painted Blue It on all my nails.

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Blue It by Sally Hansen. It’s also great for a September birthstone (sapphire) manicure.

I used a striping brush along with black acrylic paint to form stripes of varying thicknesses.  I made the thumbnail a chevron pattern and made a giant chevron out of the other four nails.  I tried to make everything as symmetrical as possible, so my index and middle finger nails are mirror images of my ring and pinky finger nails.

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Stripes painted with acrylic paint. It looks like I made blueberry candy cane nail art.

Some of the stripes on the dress have a glittery hue on one side, so I painted Rhinestone Rocker on a few of the sections with a striping brush.

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A hint of shimmer gets added to a few stripes with Rhinestone Rocker by Ulta Professional.

After adding a topcoat, everything looks shiny, and the contrast between the black stripes and the glittery ones is less noticeable although still pretty.

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All done! Black and blue striped goodness.

It should be mentioned that I didn’t try to exactly copy the striped pattern of the dress.  I just painted the different thicknesses and spaced the lines out in a way that I thought might look nice.

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Side by side comparison of the Adrianna Papell dress to my nails. I guess I put the shimmery stripe on the wrong side of the line, but I didn’t try to exactly copy the pattern.

The manicure was a small touch that I’m sure the audience didn’t notice, but it was a nice concert regardless.  Happy polishing!

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!  🙂