Hibiscus Flower Manicure

Hello!  It’s time to fulfill another @glamnailschallenge prompt.  The theme for Feb. 5 is Red Flowers, so rather than do something with roses, I chose to feature the hibiscus flower.  I have fond memories of these big red blossoms growing all over my mom’s garden, and they were always her pride and joy (aside from me, haha).

I used plate BPL-024 from Born Pretty Store for the design.  Something tells me that I’m probably going to end up doing a lot of stamping this month to keep up with the challenge prompts.

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Plate BPL-024 from Born Pretty Store has all the flowers you could want. I used the image in the bottom row, 3rd from the right.

I planned to put the hibiscus flowers on only my middle two fingers, so I painted my other nails basic black to keep the focus on the flowers.  I went with a gold polish for the middle and ring fingers because that was the lightest shade out of the colors that I planned to use for the hibiscus decal.

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Goldfinger! The gold polish is called Charge It! from Sephora by OPI, and the black polish is What’s A Tire Jack? from Sephora by OPI.

Making decals is fun, although I really dread the application and clean up process.  I would have liked to simply reverse stamp it onto my nail, but I had to paint over pretty much the entire image, so it didn’t want to transfer in one piece as my botched right hand can testify!

The colors used are as follows:

Ya Qin An stamping nail polish in Black
Red: American as Apple Pie by Nicole by OPI
Gold: Charge It! by Sephora by OPI
Light Green: Tatum by Julep
Green: Little Butterfly by Cupcake Polish

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The making of a nail decal.

  1. I stamped the design with Ya Qin An Black stamping polish.
  2. (not pictured) I applied a layer of Ya Qin An top coat over the stamped image to prevent polish bleed and assist in making the removal of the decal easier.
  3. I used a dotting tool to apply the gold polish to the stamen of the flowers and used the brush from the bottle to apply the other different colors to the image.
  4. After letting the decal dry completely, I carefully removed it from the stamper with tweezers.
  5. I applied a layer of Glisten & Glow HK Girl Top Coat to a gold nail and placed the decal on my nail, smoothing out the surface.
  6. (not pictured) I used a cuticle pusher to cut away the excess decal from my nail and filed away the extra bit from the free edge.
  7. Repeat these steps to make additional decals for your nails.

After some additional clean up with acetone and swabs and brushes and a layer of Seche Vite top coat, I finally finished!

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Pretty, although it’s not 100% perfect.

I have to admit, decal transfer is still one of my weaker points, especially because my natural nails have some funky contours.  If anyone has any additional pointers, I’d love to hear them!

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Finished hibiscus manicure.

Incidentally, you might have noticed that I used three different top coats with the manicure rather than just one.  This is because I find that each top coat has certain strengths that I like to save it for.  For instance, the Ya Qin An top coat is the best thing since sliced bread for stamping.  It never smears the polish underneath it, no matter how many times you brush over the design.  Glisten & Glow’s HK Girl top coat is supposedly a blogger favorite, but I don’t like using it because it tends to smear colors easily.  However, because of this, it “melts” decals quickly so that they conform to the nail’s shape in no time.  Seche Vite top coat remains my #1 pick as a finishing gloss because it seals all the layers of polish underneath it, dries super quick, and has the best amount of shine.  I say mix and match for best results!

See you in a few days for the next prompt.  Happy polishing!

 

 

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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!

 

Review of Born Pretty Store Silver Mirror Powder, Gel Polish, and UV LED Lamp Set

If you follow any sort of nail art trends online, you must have heard about mirror chrome nails by now.  Everyone has been gushing over this magic glitter powder for months since its release, but in order to use it, gel polish and some sort of UV lamp setup are required.  I thought I was just going to have to sit this one out until I saw this awesome set on the Born Pretty Store website.

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Solve all of your mirror powder woes with this all inclusive set from Born Pretty Store.

Pretty much all of the materials that you need in order to create the silver (also available in gold) chrome look are here, and it’s pretty affordable, too!

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One gram of silver glitter pigment comes in a cute little plastic container along with a sponge tip applicator and a beautiful holographic Ziploc bag for storage.

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The website says that the set comes with top coat, but I received a 5 mL bottle of black gel polish instead. Because gel polish is cured in light, the bottle cannot be transparent, and you can’t see the color inside until you open it.

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The lamp comes with a USB cable and a power adapter so it can be plugged into a computer for its power source or into a standard outlet. I believe Born Pretty will give you the correct adapter based on your country, but the USB plug is handy if they don’t send the correct one.

As you can see in the picture, the lamp has three LED lights, each with a power of 3 watts, so the lamp has a total power of 9 watts.  This is relatively low wattage as a lot of UV lamps have 36 watts of power or more.  This will affect curing times, as I later found out the hard way.

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The underside of the lamp. The black circles are the rubberized feet that help to hold the lamp in place when it is set on a flat surface.

The cable that comes with the lamp is roughly 22-1/2 inches, or less than 2 feet long, so it is rather on the short side.  You may substitute another adapter of your own to use with this unit provided that it is 100-240v AC 50-60 Hz.  These specifications are printed on the adapter plug and on the side of the box.

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Close up of the adapter plug. The USB cable fits into the other side.

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The sides of the box are printed with information on power, voltage, size, and color.

The lamp is available in several different colors, but I was sent the red one.  It is a beautiful metallic apple red, and the size is relatively small with a shape similar to a telephone handset.  The power switch is located on the top of the unit.  If you push it once, the light will turn on for 30 seconds and then shut off automatically, or you can push the button again to turn it off mid cycle.

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Power is yours with the single push of a button.

Disclaimer #1: This was my first time doing gel nails.  I’ve always been a girl who changes her polish frequently, so I’ve never really worked with gels, but I’m a quick learner!  If you see my noob mistakes, don’t laugh too hard at me!

I painted a thin coat of black Born Pretty Soak-off Gel Polish onto my thumb.  Because the lamp size is too small to fit all your nails underneath the light at once, I cured my thumb separately.  I pushed the button on the lamp once, meaning that I cured the gel for 30 seconds.

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That blue glow is the UV LED light at work.

After the light went off, it seemed like the polish wasn’t cured fully because it felt tacky to the touch.  I’ve heard of needing to wipe off the sticky layer after curing gel nails, so I didn’t think too much of it at this point.

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My thumb after 30 seconds under the lamp. You can kind of see my fingerprint in the polish from where I touched it to see if it was dry or not. Obviously it wasn’t.

I decided to try applying the mirror powder to this nail anyway without wiping off the tacky layer to see what would happen.

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The chrome pigment is a silvery powder with inconsistent glitter pieces scattered throughout it. The jar has a protective seal covering the opening in addition to the lid to keep the product from leaking out during shipment.

As per instructions on the Born Pretty website, I used the sponge applicator that came with the set to apply the powder to my nail.  Just like magic, my nail went from a streaky looking black color to silver.

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Macro shot of the powder applied to my thumb.

You will notice that the look does not have an even chrome finish and that it looks like densely packed glitter.  Applying the powder over a tacky base was not the answer!

For my other nails, I decided to wipe off the tacky layer after the 30 second curing process was done.  What I found was that I could not cure all four nails at the same time with the lamp in this kit.  Also, not only did the gel polish have that sticky feel after the light went off, but when I went to wipe the nails with rubbing alcohol and a cotton pad, the gel almost completely rubbed off my nail!  I don’t have a photo of this because I was freaking out about getting gel all over the place.

I learned later that darker colors of gel polish require longer curing times, so 30 seconds with this lamp will definitely not cut it for black polish.

Also, I had issues with the application of the polish because the gel kept running into my cuticles even though I was painting on thin layers.  Apparently this is a thing with gel polish, so I tried to act as quickly as possible.

I tried curing 3 nails together (index, middle, and ring) in the lamp so that the light could reach them better, and I used 2 light cycles (60 seconds) to set the gel.  The results were better, and I was able to wipe my nails down with the rubbing alcohol without removing all the polish.  After applying the chrome powder, the results were much better this time around.

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The chrome powder formed a reflective satin finish over wiped down nails. My ring finger shows the black gel polish with the tacky layer removed.

Disclaimer #2: You probably noticed the rippling on my index finger.  This happened when I was trying to wipe down my nail with alcohol.  I should note that I also used UNT Ready for Takeoff peel off base coat with the gel polish.  Even though Simply Nailogical got this to work, my gel expert friend Bev later told me that gel polish with a peel off base is a no no because it can shrink during the curing process.  Lesson learned!

Because I hadn’t painted my pinky yet and noticed that the mirror powder seemed to make a nice effect over my liquid palisade, I tried painting my pinky with Born Pretty Liquid Peel Off Tape to see if it would work or not.

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End result is that it didn’t look as cool on my nail as it did when it was protecting my skin!

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It still looked respectably shiny, and I could peel this manicure off afterward!

However, I wasn’t convinced that this was what chrome nails were supposed to look like.  What would happen if I used regular polish with a gel clear coat?

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I applied Johnny by Julep to my right hand.

I hardly have any gel polishes so I painted a thin layer of Born Pretty Soak-off Gel Polish base/top coat (sold separately from this kit) and cured it under the lamp for 60 seconds.  I found that holding the lamp in my hand and moving it steadily back and forth over my nails helped to get the light to reach all the nails on my hand in one go.

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Born Pretty Soak-off Gel Polish primer/top coat.

I opted to use the powder on top of the clear gel coat without wiping it down, and the results were a ton better than they were with the black gel polish alone.

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Smooth, even, and shiny mirror chrome nails.

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Macro shot of my thumb. You can see how the pigment is not a consistently ground find powder but rather varying sized specks. It has a reflective finish in any case.

It took several tries, but I got my mirror nails in the end!  Don’t forget to add another layer of gel top coat once the powder is applied to your liking.

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Disclaimer #3: After watching several YouTube videos on how to achieve this look, I noted that people who used only gel polish applied a base coat of clear gel, 2 coats of colored gel, and a layer of top coat prior to applying the powder with an additional layer of top coat applied at the end over the powder, curing each layer of gel along the way.  Perhaps this is where I went wrong with the black gel polish, but then again, the original kit did not come with a top coat, even though it said that it did on the website.

Overall Impressions

The lamp in the kit is super affordable, but its small size makes curing your nails a little harder to do.  Also the wattage is on the low side, so expect to need to cure colored gel polish with a minimum of 60 seconds.  It’s definitely a beginner UV LED lamp, so it’s a great item for those who are just starting to get into gel polish or those who only are interested in gels in order to get the mirror nail effect.

The gel polish would have been awesome if it had been the clear top coat as was listed in the description of the product.  Black gel polish may not be a good choice for those who are new to gels.  You will need to apply a gel top coat over the powder to preserve the finish, which means that you will have to buy another product that is not included in this kit, defeating the point of having a pre-made set.

The powder itself is amazing, but the finish does change depending on the texture of the surface you rub it on.  I had random men complimenting my nails when I went out later that day, so it creates an eye catching look, especially when it is applied over gel top coat.

Diamond rating: ♦♦♦♦◊ (4/5)

If you are interested in purchasing this chrome pigment, gel polish, and UV LED lamp set (retail price is $25.99 USD), the link for the item is shown below.  Using code RSSPX31 will get you 10% off the regular priced items your order, and Born Pretty Store offers free worldwide shipping.  Happy polishing!

http://www.bornprettystore.com/1gbox-mirror-powder-lamp-coat-nail-chrome-pigment-magic-glitter-p-30909.html

http://www.bornprettystore.com

rsspx31

Elegant Purple and White Mani

After so many fun hand painted manicures, I felt like stamping something elegant.  I was still pretty strapped for time, so after my last manicure peeled off unexpectedly, I needed to whip something together in a hurry.

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I started by painting my nails with this shimmery purple/blue chameleon polish MS03 from Ators.

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I used plate BPL-007 from Born Pretty Store to do the stamping. For this mani, I used the design in the top row, 2nd from the left for my middle two nails and thumb and part of the design from the middle row, 2nd from the left for my index finger and pinky.

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I used Born Pretty Stamping Nail Polish #4 (white) and a clear stamper to transfer my selected designs. For the index finger and pinky, I isolated the 3 leaves from the rest of the pattern by stamping the whole image first and removing the excess parts with a piece of Scotch tape.

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I glued a few rhinestones to the bottom center of the patterns to finish the look.

The ironic thing is that this Ators polish is water based and a peel off polish, so this design also started falling off in under 2 days!

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I got some souvenirs from this manicure!

I should have just used a regular purple polish, but it’s onto the next mani for me!

Happy polishing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elegant Blue Manicure

People always associate spring with pastel colors, but this beautiful blue really appealed to me, especially because it has been raining quite a bit over the last few days.  I drew my inspiration from my color palette for this manicure.

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Mood in blue. From left to right: Fathom by Formula X for Sephora, #19 from Ya Qin An, and Evolve by Divergent.

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I started by painting all my nails with Fathom.

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I added an iridescent sheen to the base color with a coat of Evolve.

I stamped on a pretty filigree border vertically on my index and ring fingers using a design from plate BP-35 from Born Pretty Store.

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I used the topmost design in the lower left hand quadrant of this plate.

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A very easy and simple manicure by itself, and yes, I intentionally did not stamp the border in the same place on both nails.

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I finished by gluing a few pearl rhinestones haphazardly to my other fingers with Kiss Nail Art Glue.

I think the look is very pretty and understated for the season.  I do hope we start getting warmer temperatures again soon, though!

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!

 

 

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!