American Flag French Manicure

If you’re in America, there’s no doubt that you knew it was Independence Day recently. Whether you were having a barbecue, watched fireworks either live or on TV, or just saw a lot of red, white, and blue decor everywhere, there’s no way you totally forgot about the holiday. And if you’re a nail blogger, there’s almost no excuse for you to go out without some sort of appropriate manicure!

Seeing as I did a patriotic manicure fairly recently, I wanted to create a more subtle look this time around. The idea was to do a flag French tip design over a nude base. If my nail beds were in better shape (they’re looking super sad right now after a bad reaction to too much UV light and acetone exposure from all the gel polish swatching that I’ve been doing), I would have left my real nails exposed for a “negative space” look, but I needed to use some sort of foundation to cover up the damage. Good thing I have a nice collection of nude pink colors from which to choose! I selected Privacy Please from OPI for this manicure. It’s sheer, but it’s a little streaky (maybe due to age), so I applied 3-4 coats to each nail to even out the color.

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This lovely blush pink shade hides your nail imperfections in 3-4 coats.

While my polish dried, I prepared a stamper with the flag design from the Konad m45 stamping plate. This was one of the first plates I ever bought, and I remember wondering how on earth you could produce a true red, white, and blue flag image with it. Now that I’m more experienced, I know how to do these things!

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Spring Floral Thermal Manicure

I love spring’s soft pastel colors and seeing trees blossoming everywhere. While everyone else is doing cute Easter manicures, I’m reveling in some sophisticated floral patterns.

I started by painting my nails with 2 coats of Born Pretty’s BP-GT02 Cloud of Purple Sky thermal polish. It looks like a breath of fresh air with its shimmery lilac and platinum tones and forms the perfect gradient for flower petals for this manicure.

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Cloud of Purple Sky from Born Pretty is lilac purple when cold and platinum silver when warm.

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“Ugly” Winter Sweater Nail Art

Here’s a somewhat simple winter mani you can try. I’m filing this one under “medium” difficulty only because stamping straight lines is a little bit of a nightmare, so we’re going to cheat and use gel polish as a base.

I started out by using Aimeili Gel Polish in #110 Prunus Persica. This is a somewhat lavender toned dusky rose color, and it’s a little on the sheer side. I applied 3 layers, each cured for one minute in a UV/LED lamp.

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Review of Beauty Big Bang Silver Stamping Nail Polish

I love the look of metallic colors with stamping, so today’s review covers a silver nail polish from Beauty Bigbang.

The item comes inside cardboard packaging that lists all the appropriate details for the item such as the ingredients, color, and the SKU number on the Beauty Bigbang website. It also has its birthday and expiration date (always listed as 2 years later, even though you and I both know we own polishes that are way older than that and are still usable) printed on the side of the box.

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The cylindrical bottle design is simple and sturdy with a cap that is easy to hold.

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Inside you will find 9 mL of a highly pigmented metallic silver varnish. What is probably most noteworthy upon opening the bottle is the strong smell of the formula! You will definitely want to use this in an area with good ventilation.

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Review of Beauty Big Bang Stamping Plates and Stamper Kit

Are you looking for the perfect gift for your favorite nail art loving buddy or even for yourself? You will love the selection that this kit from Beauty Big Bang has whether you are new to nail art or a seasoned pro!

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How beautiful is this nail mail?

There are 12 pieces total in this awesome set. You get a stamper, a scraper, and 10 random circular plates with assorted designs. The downside is that you don’t get to select what designs you will receive, but I loved the surprise of opening the package and seeing what arrived.

Each plate comes inside a resealable plastic bag. The front of the bag is clear so that you can see the images on the plate. Storing the plate inside the original packaging is recommended so that the surface does not get scratched from rubbing against other plates or objects.

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Basic instructions are printed on the back of the packaging.

The instructions aren’t very thorough as they don’t cover the first steps of stamping, such as removing the plastic layer from the plate, applying nail polish to the design, and scraping away the excess before transferring the image to the stamper. Seasoned pros won’t need the tutorial, but if you are purchasing this kit for a beginner, the recipient might be very confused as to what to do.

I think it’s very unfortunate that they do not mention the part about removing the plastic layer from the plates first because the plastic is clear and not easily noticed. Also, trying to find a free edge to pull the plastic away is a little tricky, although I find that using an orange stick helps with this.

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You can pick away at the edge of the plate to lift enough of the plastic layer to remove it easily.

As for the plates themselves, I think they are made by Blink, but they are clearly inspired by Konad. The etching is done very well, and the quality is top notch. As mentioned previously, you don’t get to pick which plates you will receive, but I loved the assortment of designs. Here are the 10 plates that were in my package: Continue reading

Green and Gold Oriental Dressing Screen Manicure

With all the holiday activities going on lately, I have hardly had any time to do my nails.  In the interest of getting things done quickly, I resorted to stamping to get me through this busy period.

People most commonly think of doing red manicures around this time, so I decided to buck the trend and do green and gold for something different.  There are some gorgeous emerald green shades out there that don’t get enough of a shout out, and Emer from Julep is a fine example of one.

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I began by painting Emer from Julep on all my nails except for my ring finger, on which I used Masked Beauty from Finger Paints.

For the stamping, I used plated BP-L046 from Born Pretty Store.  It’s more of a springtime plate, but I wanted to do a dressing screen type of theme, so this suited my purpose perfectly.

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BP-L046 from Born Pretty Store.

The stamping was done with Konad Special Nail Polishes in Black and Gold.  The patterns that I used are from the bottom left hand corner of the plate.

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It’s easy to see the Oriental influence with the pattern and color scheme here.

While understated, it still feels festive for the season but classy.

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Hope you enjoyed this simple look.  Happy polishing!

 

Springtime Leafy French Manicure

It’s been one heck of a week!  I had some surgery done last Tuesday, which is partially why I disappeared, but I’m doing well now.

One of the random fun facts that I learned at my pre-op appointment was that dark nail polish can interfere with the heart monitor they attach to your finger during surgery.  I definitely did not want to tempt fate knowing that tidbit, so the night before I went to the hospital, I decided to do a nice springtime French manicure.

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Fresh springtime colors for this manicure include (from left to right) Hi Maintenance by Essie, A Color That Can’t Be Tamed by Sephora by OPI, and #37 by Born Pretty.

I started by painting my nails the pretty sheer pink color that is Hi Maintenance by Essie.

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I’m in love with this color, but it took 3 coats of polish to get it to not look streaky.

For the French tips, I wanted to use plate m56 by Konad.

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You can jazz up any French manicure with this stamping plate by Konad. I used the leaf design pictured on the bottom.

I started by painting A Color That Can’t Be Tamed on my tips.

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A different take on a classic French manicure.

After I let the polish dry for a reasonable amount of time, I used a clear stamper to align the pattern from the plate onto the tips of my nails.

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Not my best stamping, but you can still see the leaf detail.

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Lighting was an issue when taking my photos because bright lights washed out the pattern.

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The result is still a fresh look for spring.

Here’s to having warmer days and more sunlight ahead!  Happy polishing!

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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Review of Double Ended Stamper

I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect stamper.  Not only is it fun to have an arsenal of stampers for when I want to make decals, but it’s interesting to see the differences in firmness, stickiness, and the clarity of the images picked up by the heads.

I picked up this double ended stamper from Born Pretty Store.  It immediately caught my attention because there are rather large heads on both sides of the stamper.  The smaller head has a 2.8 cm diameter while the larger end is 3.2 cm wide.  I don’t really need large sized heads because I keep my nails fairly short, but one could easily stamp their big toe with either end and have room to spare.

The packaging is less than glamorous.  The stamper arrives in a clear plastic bag, so it does the job in terms of protecting the heads from collecting dust and dirt while in transit.  The plastic handle is fairly durable, so there really isn’t any need to protect it further.

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The stamper comes shipped in a narrow plastic bag that is resealable should you choose to store it this way.

Speaking of the handle, it has nice oval shaped finger grips imprinted along its sides.  It would otherwise be smooth plastic, which could slip out of your fingers while handling it.

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Finger grips are indented along opposite sides of the handle.

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You can see that the handle is slightly indented at 3 different places along the sides to allow you to grip the stamper better.

The stamper heads are removable, and it’s interesting to note that they are not mounted onto the stamper the same way.

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The holder for the smaller end of the stamper has a flat backed cup design.

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The larger end of the stamper has a ring indentation, but the inside is mostly hollow except for a support post extending from the middle of the stamper which serves to keep the head from being pushed back too deep.

The heads stay in place just fine on both ends and are well supported.  The removable head design is great because you can buy extra stamping heads (provided they are the 2.8 and 3.2 cm size) and use them with this holder.  This is a huge time saver for those who enjoy making colored nail decals from their stamped creations- just swap the heads and keep stamping before coloring in the images. The backs of the heads are flat, so they won’t roll around once they are taken off the handle.

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It looks like these are fried eggs, but these are the two stamper heads. You can tell that both are large, but the 3.2 cm one is on the left while the 2.8 cm one is on the right.

The heads themselves are coated in some kind of oil when you take the stamper out of the package.  You should wash them in soap and water before doing anything with them.

The heads do not work well right away and need to be primed before use.  I primed my heads by rubbing 100% acetone on each head with a cotton pad for about a minute or two before testing it again.

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Testing the 3.2 cm side. Top left: First attempt at stamping, no priming done. Top right: What the head looks like after the 1st priming. Bottom left: Image after 1st priming. Bottom right: Image after 2nd priming. You can tell how much shinier the original head looks compared to the last image.

 

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Testing the 2.8 cm side. Top left: First attempt at stamping, no priming done. Top middle: What the head looks like after the 1st priming. Top right: Image after 1st priming. Bottom left: Image after 2nd priming. Bottom middle: Image after 3rd priming. Bottom right: Image after 4th priming.

It should be noted that the firmness differs between the two sides.  The 2.8 cm head is a lot squishier compared with the 3.2 cm head.  On a squishiness scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being firm and 5 being squishy, I would say that the 2.8 cm head is a 5 while the 3.2 cm head is a 3.  I personally have found squishy (marshmallow) stampers don’t pick up images as well as firmer heads, probably because they are more sensitive to how hard you push them down onto a plate.

I always like to test stampers with an image that contains a large solid color area to check for consistency.

 

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The 3.2 cm side did a pretty good job.

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The 2.8 cm side performed better this time. I tried to use less pressure while picking up the image, and this technique seemed to work well.

While both stamp heads do the job, I still feel like they do not produce images that look as crisp as the ones I get with my Konad stamper.  Where this stamper excels is in its squishiness.  It’s a lot easier to make sure that your images will end up placed on your nail where you want them to be because you can stamp straight down onto your nail- you don’t have to use the standard rolling motion.  The stamper will adapt to the curves of your nail without a problem, although you might end up with a slightly distorted image because of the way the head has to stretch.

Another plus is the fact that you can pick up an image with both ends of the stamper without having to clean the plate in between transfers.  As long as the polish is not allowed to dry too long on the plate from one step to the next, you should be able to get clean images on both ends.

Both heads are fairly sticky, so do be aware that they pick up dust and dirt just as easily as they pick up nail polish.  You can clean them by stamping them onto a lint roller or a piece of tape.  It’s also a good idea to store this stamper inside a resealable sandwich bag when you are finished using it to keep it from picking up unwanted matter in between manicures.

Overall, I feel like this stamper works great and saves you time by giving you two surfaces with which you can work.  You also have the option of buying additional stamp heads, so you can in theory make a full set of 10 nail decals on 10 different heads all at once. The heads do require a little effort to be primed in the beginning, but after that you should be good to go!

Diamond rating: ♦♦♦♦♦ (5/5)

If you are interested in purchasing this dual ended stamper (retail price is $4.64 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 stamping!

http://www.bornprettystore.com/dual-double-sided-stamping-nail-stamper-professional-round-nail-stamper-p-21427.html

http://www.bornprettystore.com/

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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!