UK Nail Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My finished Union Jack done with striping tape.

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

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Lots of striping tape.

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

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

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

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

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The guards are at attention!

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

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

Happy polishing!

Nail Art Problem #3 and Nail Aid No Rub Gel Remover Review

As annoying as it is to have charms fall off your nails before it’s time to change your mani, trying to get the darn things off when you want to take them off is just as bad!  Do I even have to mention glitter polish?  The struggle is real.

If I know I’m going to change my look up quickly, I’ll use the Elmer’s School Glue trick so I won’t have to deal with loads of acetone.  Don’t know about it?  It’s when you paint a coat of Elmer’s School Glue onto your nails as a base coat, let it dry, and then apply your polish (preferably in a thick coat) over it.  Depending on how much you wash your hands, the manicure you do over the glue can last, at worst, a few hours or maybe 2-3 days at best.  To remove the polish deliberately, use an orange stick to gently lift up a corner of the polish, and the whole thing will come off your nail lickety split.

When it comes to using rhinestones and studs, my intention is usually to keep them on my nails for as long as possible, but removing them is such a huge pain.  Whether you use polish or nail art glue to adhere them doesn’t make much of a difference- the suckers sometimes don’t want to budge.  Your only options are to either keep scrubbing away at them with nail polish remover and cotton balls or soak your nails in acetone, either in a dish or with the foil/cotton ball removal method.

But one day, while cruising the nail art section at Walmart, I found this product:

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Nail Aid to the rescue!

Could this be the answer to my problems?  I hate having to soak my nails in dappen dishes full of acetone, and I’m too lazy to prepare foil and cotton balls, so maybe a gel remover is the ticket to freedom.

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Instructions for use.

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Inside the magic jar lies a pink gel.

So let’s try using it on the rhinestones from my Sunflower/Black Eyed Susan manicure.  Warning: graphic, ugly pictures of nails lie beyond this sentence.  Proceed with caution!  You have been warned.  😛

I dipped my nails into the gel one at a time.  I probably could have just placed dollops of the gel right on top of the rhinestones because I already took off the surrounding polish, but that would take more effort.

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Gel remover on top of nails. I’m strangely in the mood to have a chocolate chip cookie after seeing this photo.

The instructions say to wait 4 minutes before attempting removal, so I sat around, awed by how cold my hands felt with gelled acetone on my nails.

After 4 minutes, I took an orange stick and pried each rhinestone off.  They certainly were not going to budge if I only used a paper towel to wipe away the gel, as is recommended in the instructions.  I can’t say that they all came off easily- some rhinestones came off without any issues while others required a little strength.  I know my nail beds could potentially get damaged from doing this if the polish isn’t totally softened, but I’m not planning to use any charms for quite some time after this manicure.

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After removing the rhinestones, lots of residue remains. At least the rhinestones came off!

After trying to wipe away the excess gel and polish with a paper towel, I washed my hands with soap and water.  The gel feels very slick when you try to wash it away, and it takes a little effort to make sure all the residue is gone.

I still had some nail polish on my nails, so I needed to go back and remove what little remained with nail polish remover and a cotton pad.  But Egad!  Something managed to stain my nails!

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All gone… except for some mysterious lingering rings where the rhinestones were.

I have no idea what caused that, but the stains will be covered up with a new manicure soon enough anyway.  😉

I’ve tried using this product with glitter polish in the past, and it did a reasonable job of taking off most of the glitter.  Is it better than the foil method?  In term of ease of application, most definitely!  In terms of clean up?  Not really.  What time you save in applying the gel gets added at the end when you try to wash it off…  and that’s if all your polish got removed the first time around.  I’m sticking to using Elmer’s School Glue as a base coat for ease of removal of glitter polishes.

In terms of using this for removal of nail art studs and charms, I would definitely use this again.  The gel stays put and doesn’t drip, and it manages to loosen the charms up enough so that you can remove them.  After that, it’s not a big deal to clean up the polish residue.

Diamond rating: ♦♦♦♦◊ (4/5)

If you want to find out more about No Rub Gel by Nail Aid, please visit their website at: http://www.norubgel.com/   Definitely go to Walmart to buy it rather than purchase it online if you have a choice.  It’s much cheaper at Walmart, although they don’t see it online.  Good luck with the nail art removal process!

Water Marbling Comb Review

When I saw that Born Pretty Store had a water marbling comb on their website, I was intrigued and wanted to try it out.  I’ve always been frustrated with water marbling because of how inconsistent and time consuming the process can be, so the comb seemed like an interesting way to get a water marbled effect without having to use water.

The comb came packaged in a plastic resealable bag as shown below.  There is no brand name associated with it, although it might be written in Chinese on the label.  If anyone knows what the translation is, please feel free to comment the answer on this post.

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Water marbling comb from Born Pretty Store.

The comb was bigger than I thought it would be.  The metal spikes span the width of 2.25 inches and are 2.5 inches long, and the spikes are set apart from each other in a plastic handle at 0.5 cm intervals.  The size makes the comb easy to hold and handle, although I think the spikes are too long for the way I’ll be using this.  I’m guessing that if you use this in water for large scale real water marbling, the length will serve you well, but for nail art, there’s no way you would be using a container big enough to accommodate this comb.

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Size perspective against US quarters.

It should be noted that the spikes have slightly tapered but blunt ends.  You shouldn’t be in any danger of hurting yourself on the points, but I’m not going to say that it’s impossible!

I also noticed that the length of the spikes is fairly consistent but not 100% even with each other.  Again, if you were to use this with water for water marbling, this would be of no importance, but for dry water marbling, it’s going to mean that the points won’t touch the surface of the polish evenly.

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Look closely, and you’ll notice that the points don’t form a completely straight line. The 2nd spike from the bottom in particular is shorter compared to the spikes above and below it.

So how do you use this thing?  There aren’t any instructions that come with it, so I decided to wing it.

It’s possible to make nail decals on your own by painting polish on top of plastic wrap, so I took a piece of plastic (Saran) wrap and stretched it over a binder.  You can also use a Ziploc bag or other similar smooth surface.

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Not just any old binder- it’s a binder with a piece of plastic wrap taped over its surface.

Next comes the fun part: experimenting with polish and combing through it.  🙂

I painted generous stripes of polish next to each other on the plastic wrap.  You don’t want to have space in between the stripes, but you probably don’t want to contaminate your brushes with the color of the stripe that is next to it either.  You can simply wipe your brush on a paper towel until the original color is the only one you see before dipping it back into the bottle.

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About to comb through some stripes. Left to right the colors are Nellie from Julep, Mai Tai from nailtini, Life Gave Me Lemons from OPI, Hot Fun in the Summer-Lime from OPI, Zing from Formula X for Sephora, and Haphazard from Formula X for Sephora.

After stroking through the polish from left to right, this is what the pattern looked like:

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Dry water marble stroking the comb from left to right.

It’s a pretty effect, but it should be noted that because of the unevenness of the spikes, the polish completely scraped away in some areas while that short spike I mentioned before hardly touched the surface of the polish.

After wiping the comb clean with a paper towel, I decided to comb through the polish going from right to left, fitting the spikes in between the pooled purple sections.

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Polish combed through in both directions.

I love the effect, but you also have to remember that not too many people have nails that are big enough to fit the entire pattern on them!  So from this I was inspired to use just 2 different colors to make a flame pattern.

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Stroking left to right with the comb through stripes of Mai Tai by nailtini and Life Gave Me Lemons by OPI.

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Stroking right to left to make flames.

I repeated this process a few different times on different areas of the plastic wrap so that I would have enough sections to cover my nails.  I also painted clear topcoat over these patches in order to facilitate removal of the pieces.  The thicker the coats of polish, the easier the sections will lift from the plastic wrap.  I allowed everything to dry overnight so that the next day, I was able to lift up these marbled sections easily.

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Lifting up the marbled pattern from the plastic wrap.

From here, I cut the pieces of dried polish into shapes that would fit my nails and adhered them by applying each decal one at a time.  I painted a base color first, positioning the decal on top of the wet polish, and then applied more topcoat to the decal to make it pliable.  I used an orange stick to push the decal down evenly across my nail bed.  You can see more of this process in my Flaming Nail Art post.

The resulting mani was pretty cool, and I didn’t even need water to get the marbled effect!

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These nails are on fire!

My overall impression is that the comb is pretty handy for making marbled nail decals in advance and that it is a fun tool to play with.  It’s extremely easy to clean the comb with just a paper towel, but the unevenness of the spike lengths negate the usefulness of having a wide comb.  Technically you could use a toothpick to create the same effect line by line, but it would be more time consuming.  But if you like having relatively uniform looking marbled patterns, this is a great way to get a consistent look across your nails.

Diamond rating: ♦♦♦♦◊ (4/5)

If you are interested in purchasing this water marbling comb (retail price is $6.99 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/nail-water-marbling-comb-practical-marbling-comb-nail-tools-p-20690.html

http://www.bornprettystore.com/

rsspx31

Flaming Nail Art

I just got a water marble comb from Born Pretty Store and wanted to experiment with it, so my tests inspired me to do some flaming nail art.  After all, summertime is hot, and campfires are pretty common this time of year, so why not have some matching nail art?

The look requires only 3 polishes but needs a lot of prep work.

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Left to right: chelsea by nails inc., Mai Tai by nailtini, and Life Gave Me Lemons by OPI.

So about that prep work…  I decided to make flame decals with a dry water marble technique.  Never made decals before?  It’s a pretty simple concept.  Just paint nail polish onto some plastic wrap or a Ziploc bag, apply topcoat to it, let it dry, and then you can simply peel the decals off from the plastic wrap and cut them into whatever shapes you want to use.  It’s a bit of a time consuming process, but it gives you more control over the final look.

Because the water marble comb was big and I wanted to make sure I had enough decals to fit my nails plus some room to experiment, I stretched a piece of plastic wrap over a binder and taped the loose ends to the other side to create a large canvas for my artwork.

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My binder has one layer of plastic wrap over it. Try to get all the wrinkles out and make the surface as smooth as possible, or simply use a Ziploc bag.

Next, I painted 2 stripes each of Mai Tai and Life Gave Me Lemons so that the edges of the colors touched each other or at least had very little space in between.  It’s important to paint thick coats of polish so that the comb will be able to more easily marble the colors in the next step.

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Stripes of polish waiting to be combed.

I used a water marble comb to create the marbled effect, but you can also use a toothpick or a dotting tool to drag through the colors of polish one line at a time.

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This water marble comb is available for purchase at Born Pretty Store. Use coupon code RSSPX31 to save 10% off your order.

The fun begins when you comb through the stripes.

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Comb through the polish from left to right to create this pattern.

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Comb back through the gaps of the previously combed parts from right to left to get this pattern.

After getting a design that I liked, I applied Seche Vite topcoat to the entire polished section and let it dry overnight.  This will make the coat thicker and easier to peel away from the plastic wrap.  It probably doesn’t take that long to dry, but I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have any problems for the next step.

The next day, I peeled my painted sections away from the plastic wrap.  The removal process was very easy.

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Dried nail polish should lift from the plastic wrap as easily as peeling away a Fruit Roll Up.

I had 5 sections from which to choose for my nail decals.  Experimenting is fun!

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A bounty of dried nail polish swatches.

To finish preparing my nail decals, I trimmed down a side and cut away slivers of polish with nail scissors to make the flame design.  This way I could make sure I used the part of the marbled design that I wanted.

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This nail polish is highly flammable!

To complete the decals, I cut my flames into nail sized sections for application.

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A set of fire decals waiting to be applied.

As for application, these decals need to be placed over wet nail polish in order to adhere properly.  I painted an opaque coat or two of plum black chelsea polish from nails, inc. onto one nail first.

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Still wet polish featuring chelsea from nails, inc.

I used tweezers to pick up a decal and set it where I wanted it to go.

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Laying a dried nail decal on top of wet polish.

Because the nail decals have to be thick in order to peel them away from the plastic, they don’t conform to the curve of the nail bed very easily at first.  Applying topcoat on top of the decal will make it more flexible, and then you can smooth it out evenly on the nail with an orange stick.

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Another coat of clear polish on top of the decal will help to melt it down to allow it to flex over your nail’s surface.

Repeat this process for each nail, then trim away any excess polish and clean up around the cuticles with cotton swabs and nail polish remover.  I used top coat one last time to even the polish out.

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The finished look.

In retrospect, I would have cut the decals a little shorter and made the bottom match the shape of my cuticle so that I didn’t have to do so much clean up afterwards.  It takes a lot of time to make this mani happen, but you can prepare the decals way in advance so that you have fire decals waiting at the ready for whenever you want them.  Experiment and have fun!  Happy polishing!