Review of Beauty Big Bang 3 Piece Brush Set

Hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving! I’m back with a quick review of a 3 piece brush set from Beauty Big Bang.

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These brushes don’t come with a storage case although they do have protective open ended caps to preserve the brush heads during shipment. The handles are clear plastic and are labeled with sizes 0, 00, and 000. I’m guessing that Kolinsky is the name of the manufacturer.

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The end of the brush handle has an angled tip that can be used to push back cuticles.

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Holographic Bubble Nail Art

I’ve still been feeling rather lazy and uninspired, so I again turned to the @clairestelle8challenge to help me through the week.  The prompt for January 21 was Circles, and I could have easily turned to my stamping plate collection, but I decided to challenge myself a little bit and try my hand at painting bubbles.

I started by applying a pearly white base color to all my nails.

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Of Quartz You Can by Finger Paints.

I came up with a rather clever trick to make bubble decals on a silicone mat.  The mat is from Bundle Monster, and I used Glisten & Glow’s HK Girl top coat to form the base of the nail decal.  I brushed an unused pencil eraser lightly with holographic polish and stamped it onto the dried top coat on the mat.  I repeated this technique many times and also with 2-3 different polishes applied to the same circular stamped area in order to get the mix of colors that you would typically see in a soap bubble.

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Rainbow colored holographic bubbles on my silicone mat. The polishes used include Pink Holo, Green Holo, and Purple Holo from UO Nail Lacquer and Tali from Julep.

To use the decals, I carefully peeled the layer of polish from my mat and cut around the bubble(s) that I wished to use.  After painting my nail with a layer of Seche Vite top coat, I immediately placed the decal where I wanted it and allowed it to set.

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Nebulous orb shapes. They already looked like bubbles, but they needed a little more help.

Using a detail brush, I outlined each bubble with craft smart acrylic paint in dark grey.  I also added a little bit of dimension to the bubble by adding a white highlight to the top right and bottom left side of each circle.  The dark grey paint contrasted too much with the design, so I ended up tracing the outlines again with Silver Holo from UO Nail Lacquer to make them blend more with the colors in the bubbles.

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Finishing touches.

After another layer of top coat over everything, my design was done.

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Soap bubble nail art. Just wish I had a thinner detail brush for the outlines.

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To be honest, they didn’t come out exactly as planned.  Holographic polish tends to be pretty opaque with even just a thin layer applied so my bubbles didn’t look as ethereal and transparent as I wanted them to be.  Also, the pencil eraser technique worked great, but it didn’t allow for any variation in size unless I purposefully wanted to carve down an eraser.  It still came out kind of cool, at least in concept.

Hopefully I get my inspiration back soon!  Happy polishing!

 

Photobombing Polar Bear Nail Art

It has been a rough week for me as my LG G4 phone went into an unrecoverable boot loop, meaning that I lost a bunch of pictures, texts, and other such data.  I’m waiting for my replacement phone to arrive while I use a cheap substitute in the meantime, but my whole routine has been upset, and it has caused me to be in a creative slump.

My last manicure was starting to chip, so I forced myself to try to come up with something else.  Because I’ve been so uninspired, I opted to do the @clairestelle8challenge prompt for the 14th: Animal.  I figured that I could do a cute polar bear over a cool toned gradient, and to make it easier to paint, have the bear “photobomb” the scene so that I would only have to paint the upper half of its face.  The photobomb idea also came from the fact that I have small nails that make it hard to paint too much detail, so I was trying to work with my canvas size.

I picked a nice cool toned blue for my base color.

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Maltilda by Julep.

The gradient was a mix of the base color, a shimmery holographic ice blue, and a white shade speckled with silver microglitter.  I applied stripes of each polish onto a nail art mat and used a sponge to dab the mix onto my nails.

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Pictured from left to right: Matilda by Julep, Tali by Julep, and Dandy Lyin’ Around by China Glaze.

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The finished icy gradient looks like snow drifts blowing across an open field.

For the bear, I used Craft Smart Acrylic Paints in blends of White, Dark Grey, and Black.

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I painted the general shape of the bear on top of the gradient with white paint.  Then I blended a little bit of Dark Grey with White to tint the ears.  I also slightly shaded the face around the eyes and snout area with an even lighter version of the mix that I used for the ears.  Finally I added the nose and used a dotting tool to make the eyes with black paint.

After applying some top coat, the bear is done!

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Peekaboo! I see you!

I apologize if the photos don’t look as nice here because I typically use apps on my phone to do the editing, and I got stuck using an old tablet instead this time.  Hopefully I’ll be up and running on the warranty replacement phone this week, but until then, stay warm, and happy polishing!

 

 

Back to School Chalkboard/Bus/Crayon Nail Art

Who is ready for the upcoming school year?  Not me!  Most NYC schools don’t start until after Labor Day, so I’ve got a little bit more time for myself before the crazy student hustle begins again!

I teamed up with @tamiiinails on Instagram this time to do a collaboration to celebrate the return of the school year, so we both agreed to have some kind of chalkboard element in our designs.  The rest was up to us!

I decided to use the chalkboard as my accent nail and paint the stripes of a yellow school bus across the other nails.

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I used Lighthouse by China Glaze and Johnny by Julep for my base colors. I guess the shimmer makes my school bus look more magical!

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I painted my nails with the corresponding base colors that would go with my concept.

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I used a striping brush and black acrylic paint to make the double stripe pattern across my nails. I later refined the lines with a detail brush to get them filled out and straight. Then I painted the 1+1=2 on the black nail with white acrylic paint and a super fine detail brush and applied matte top coat from Sephora by OPI over the chalkboard design. Regular top coat from Seche Vite was applied to the other nails for shine.

It’s a fairly simple design, although getting the details to look perfect is where a steady hand and some OCD come in handy!  Believe me, I wish I had black striping tape that I could have used instead!  Speaking of which, if you don’t think you are capable of painting straight lines, you can lay 3 pieces of striping tape on top of the yellow polish to form a stencil for the black lines and paint over the empty spaces with black nail polish.  Personally I’m faster at painting them freehand, not to mention that I don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to waiting for my polish to dry before applying striping tape!  But this technique may work better for you.

Also, it occurred to me afterward that the lines resemble the ones on crayon wrappers, so you can also opt to change the colors on your nails and purposefully turn them into crayon nails.  Of course, you can also eliminate the chalkboard altogether and do only crayon nail art as well.

As for the collaboration, here it is!  Simple but cute.

Best of luck to everyone in the new school year!  Happy polishing!

Pole Dancer Nails

After doing the silhouette of the rhythmic gymnast for my Olympics themed nails, I felt the urge to do something else with a silhouette.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to rely on my freehand painting skills for this one because I have a stamping plate that fits the bill perfectly!

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Can you get jiggy with it?  Plate BP-X07 from Born Pretty Store.

Seems to me like there were quite a few pole dancers and sexy girls on there, so I went with a holographic polish base to fit the mood.

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My holo polish of choice was Things That Make You Go Bloom by KB Shimmer.

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I used bmc nail lacquer in noir black to do the stamping, but I wasn’t that thrilled with the opacity.

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I ended up going over a lot of the images with craft smart acrylic paint in Black to intensify the silhouettes. The poles were corrected with paint and a striping brush, and I had to draw in the bust outline for the girl on the far left.

Of course, the lesson is to make sure you use good quality stamping polishes in the first place so that you don’t have to paint over your stamping to make it look good!  I suppose it would have looked fine in either case, but certain details didn’t get picked up from the plate so well, and my OCD wouldn’t let me leave things like that.

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My “pole” is actually my flute!

It’s still a cute idea, and it reeks of Showgirls.  Don’t you think Nomi Malone would approve?

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!

Rainbow Musical Nails

I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to update the blog lately, so I apologize for that.  These nails are from May, so even though I’m posting in June, I’m filing this under last month.

I really felt like doing a rainbow gradient across just the tips of my nails, so I had to pull out a whole arsenal of polishes for this one.  Pictured below from left to right are the following colors:

OPI- Privacy Please
Sephora by OPI- Curve-aceous
Sephora by OPI- Cab Fare
Formula X for Sephora- Danger Zone
Confetti- Ice Ice Baby
Sephora by OPI- Gleek Out
Sephora by OPI- Who Let the Dorks Out?
Formula X for Sephora- Hyped

I tried to pick polishes with shimmer in them so that the overall look would be more unified.

I started out by painting my nails with a nude color base.  You can opt to only do the gradient if you have nice looking nail beds, but I wanted to even out the tone.

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Privacy Please by OPI- a neutral shade that makes it look like I have healthy nail beds.

Using a small sponge, I applied dabs of each color in rainbow order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.  Each nail has 2 colors on it starting with red on my thumb and ending in purple on my pinky.

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The rainbow gradient is beautiful by itself.

I wanted my rainbow to have some more sparkle, so I added a stroke of Ice Ice Baby, an iridescent glitter, to the top half of each nail.

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The lighting doesn’t pick up the different reflections of the glitter, but it’s there.

Finally I took craft smart Acrylic Paint in White and drew in a few lines with a striping brush to draw two lines across the tip of each nail.  I made little note heads with a dotting tool and painted in the stems with a detail brush.

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The notes are entirely optional, but I wanted to acknowledge my music career with this design.

I think it’s pretty and represents what a colorful part music plays in our lives.

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My two loves: my flute and nail art.

Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?  😉

Happy polishing!

Clownfish Finding Nemo Nails

The other week, I painted clown inspired nail art, so naturally the next thing I thought to paint was clownfish!  Finding Dory is coming out soon, so I couldn’t help but put Nemo on my nails.

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Colors used include from left to right: Radiant by Formula X, Zing by Formula X for Sephora, and White Hot by Sephora by OPI.

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I also used craft smart Acrylic Paint in Black, White, and Dark Grey for some of the details.

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I started by painting most of my nails with Radiant.

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For the clownfish stripes, I used white acrylic paint to form the basic shape, layered it with white polish to give it a more even texture and shine, and then I outlined the white sections with a striping brush dipped in black acrylic paint.

You might be wondering why I applied white acrylic paint first rather than painting white polish directly onto my nails.  In my experience, layering polishes over each other causes the colors to bleed, even if the base color is dry.  The thicker the coat, the more the bottom color melts into the top one.  Acrylic paint does not have that effect because it simply dries as a separate layer on top of the nail polish.  Had I only used white nail polish, there would have been a good chance of it turning slightly orange or getting slightly streaked with the other color.

Also, white polish is not a one coat color.  You need to apply it at least twice over an area to get decent opacity, so it was easier to use acrylic paint to get the opacity right off the bat without making a total mess.

The clownfish stripe design is also awesome for beginner nail artists because the lines don’t have to be so precise.  It just looks like a mod pattern from afar.  Also, the black lines on a clownfish aren’t exactly the same width, so it’s easy to forgive any variances in thickness in the painting.

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I didn’t try to exactly copy the pattern of the fish in this photo, but you get the idea.

I only painted Nemo on my thumb because I wasn’t going to do a full set of characters from the movie.

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I started by painting my thumb with Zing, then I painted a rough outline of where Nemo would go with white acrylic paint. I used Radiant to color in the section orange, outlined the entire shape with black acrylic paint, added the stripe and eye details with white acrylic paint, and finished by painting in the rest of the face and fin details with a dotting tool and a small brush.

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A good clear top coat seals all the layers together and smooths out everything to a fine polished finish.

Nemo is just the cutest!  And yes, I own a plushie of him.  🙂

Just keep swimming, lovelies!  Happy polishing!

St. Patrick’s Day Nails

I’m still recovering from St. Patrick’s Day, how about you?  Sorry for the late post, but you’ll have this tutorial ready for the next time you want to show some Irish pride!

It’s been awhile since I tried doing any kind of water marbling, and I felt like maybe I could make a nice cloverleaf pattern by using that technique.  I can’t stand the mess of cleaning up my nails with the tradition dunking method associated with water marbling, so I tried making decals this time around, which worked great.

I chose a nice assortment of green nail polishes for the marbling, and I threw in a glittery gold polish for good luck.

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Finger Paints Nail Color works exceptionally well for water marbling. From left to right: Masked Beauty, Monet Money, Peace, Love & Green, and Grassy Knoll.

To make the decals, I used a small plastic cap to hold the water and dropped in my colors one at a time.  Because my cap has a 1.5 inch diameter, it doesn’t take many rings to get the colors nicely packed.

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I work on a miniature scale. It takes only 12 drops of polish to get this bullseye to form.

I used a toothpick to bring the outside rings of the bullseye to a point in the middle.

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Not my most perfect water marble, but I repeated these steps a few times so I could pick and choose which decals looked the best.

I blew on the surface of the water to help the polish dry a little more before picking up the image with a large stamper.

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You can choose to stamp this directly onto your nails, but I set my stamper aside to allow the polish to dry to turn this into a nail decal.

After waiting a few minutes, the water marbled polish is ready to be peeled off the stamper head.  If it doesn’t lift easily, allow the polish to dry some more.  Having multiple stampers makes this process easy because as one decal is drying, you can make another water marble pattern to be picked up with a different stamper.

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After allowing the polish to dry, you should be able to peel off the layer. In this way, you can pick the best looking part of the pattern to use on your nail without making any mess.

I made several decals, although I only needed four of them in the end.

The process for the application is fairly easy.  I cut out the portion of the decal that I wanted to use and trimmed it to fit my nail.

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I do a rough cut of the decal before I trim it down to fit my nail.

I used White Hot by Sephora by OPI as a base color under the water marble.  I only used one coat of polish, and it doesn’t have to be opaque because the water marble will cover it up.  White helps the colors pop.

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One coat of White Hot by Sephora by OPI.

While the polish is still tacky, apply your decal and set it with clear top coat.

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I put the water marble design on my middle and ring fingers to form the shape of a cloverleaf.

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Extra supplies for part 2: White Hot by Sephora by OPI, Kiss Nail Art Paint in Black, and Recollections Signature Glitter in Emerald.

I really wanted sparkly green nails, but I don’t own a green glitter polish, so I made my own with the following steps.

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I painted my nail with Monet Money from Finger Paints.

While the polish was still wet, I poured on green glitter.  I used a fan brush to sweep away the excess.

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Emerald glitter made by Recollections.

I then took Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat and brushed on about 2-3 coats over the glitter so that it formed a smooth surface.  I wouldn’t have minded having some texture, but I wanted to paint belt buckles on top of the glitter.

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Sparkly emerald green nails!

To form the belt, I used the striping brush from Kiss Nail Art Paint in Black to make two parallel lines and filled in the section.

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My glitter just got black barred.

Using a detail brush and Masked Beauty, I painted a thin gold line above and below the black section and connected them to form the square buckle.

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Add some top coat, and you’re done!

It took awhile to finish this, but I love the results.

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Happy St. Patty’s Day!

May the luck of the Irish be with you!  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.

Flag of Aruba.svg
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!