Quick Holographic Flower Nails

Things have been unexpectedly busy here, so in order to keep my nails done, I had to go for some easy stamping. Nothing is better than combining holographic polish with a full pattern design when you’re in a hurry to create something pretty, so that’s exactly what I did here.

I began by painting all my nails with 2 coats of Wake Me Up from Superchic Lacquer. This highly pigmented polish is a dark magenta holographic color and is almost fully opaque in just one coat.

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Purple Flowers Manicure

Today’s manicure was mostly inspired by a polish. Unfortunately, the indie polish brand Pretty & Polished is blowing out their inventory on Etsy right now because the business is folding. You bet I placed an order! But the process made me look through my current collection to make sure I didn’t get any dupes. There are a lot of untried polishes that I have from them that I will be attempting to feature, and this beautiful purple crelly called Perfect Purple Posies is one such polish. I applied 3 coats to all my nails and then shed a tear over the fact that this company won’t be producing lacquers like this anymore!

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Perfect Purple Posies by Pretty & Polished is a gorgeous lavender crelly with mylar flake glitter.

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Glam Punk Sheep Nails

I had the wonderful opportunity to play with New Camerata Opera last week for their double bill of John Blow’s Venus and Adonis and Savitri by Gustav Holst. Everyone sounded amazing, but I was especially inspired by the costuming for the production of Venus and Adonis. They went for an MTV 80’s glam rock/punk interpretation of this 17th century opera with vibrant neon pinks and black mesh, leather, and lace.

After our first dress rehearsal, I promptly went home and created these nails.

I started by painting my nails white with Laguna Moon Classic Soak-Off UV-LED Gel Polish in color CL361.

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2 coats of gel polish were applied with each coat cured at 30 seconds with a UV/LED lamp.

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Snowy Cityscape Nail Art

Raise your hand if you got hit by winter storm Jonas over the weekend!

It only seemed fitting to do some sort of snowy nail art after being dumped with over 20 inches of snow in NYC.  With a travel ban in place on the day the blizzard came, I used the time to do some nail art.

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The color palette: Snowcone by Orly, Konad Special Nail Polish in Black, and Wham! by Formula X for Sephora.

I began by painting all my nails with the aptly named Snowcone polish by Orly.

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This beautiful sky blue is brought to you by Snowcone from Orly.

I used a plate from Bundle Monster to construct my city.

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Plate BM-414 from Bundle Monster.

To make a little bit of a variation on some of the buildings, I tried to stamp the pattern at varying heights, and I also erased parts of the design by painting over the tops of some structures with Snowcone.

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Stamping done with Konad Special Nail Polish in Black and plate BM-414 by Bundle Monster.

Wham! is a great glitter top coat from Formula X that mimics snow quite well.  I applied one coat to the top 3/4 of my nail so that the buildings would not be completely covered by glitter.

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Wham! by Formula X creates a realistic looking snowfall with its different sized glitters.

Important note- I should have let the stamping polish dry completely before applying Wham!  I’m so used to instantly applying Seche Vite top coat over all my designs that I forgot that stamping polish can get streaky if a different clear based polish is used on top of it.

I did try to clean up some of the streakiness by adding touches of Snowcone over the parts that didn’t look so nice.  I think the overall effect is pretty cool.

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Winter in the city.

Hope you’re all staying warm and safe out there!  Happy polishing!

Stained Glass Suncatcher Manicure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Prepping the canvas with Black lace and Platinum Prime.

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

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One part stamped, one more to go.

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

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

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

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

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The mirror image is complete.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A stained glass inspired suncatcher manicure.

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

FAQ- Secrets Behind A Long Lasting Manicure

Do you complain about any of the following?

My nail polish keeps chipping.
My nail polish peels off.
I can’t get my manicures to last more than a day.

Have I got a post for you!

One of the top concerns that my friends have about DIY manicures is how to make the polish last.  Not everyone has the money to drop at a salon to get their nails done (*cough* especially me), but people claim that their polish comes off way faster when they do their nails at home.  Stop the madness!  This does not have to be the case!  Here are some tips and product endorsements that may make your life easier.  I’m not getting paid to represent any of the companies or products listed in this post, although hey, I’m open to that happening!  😉  But this is what works for me.

  1. Start with clean, dry nails.
    I can’t emphasize this step enough.  Your nails can’t have any oil or residue on them if you want that mani to last.  If you’ve ever had acrylics done, the technician starts by filing down your nail.  Do you know why?  Because filing will take away that top shiny layer that has your skin’s natural oils all over it and will help the acrylic stay put for a longer time.  Same thing goes if you look at a lot of those gel polish pre-wipes.  Most contain 90% isopropyl alcohol which again serves to dry the nail out and strip away any oil on the surface.  Everyone knows that gel polish lasts a long time.  So…
    What should you do at home?  Wipe your nails down with a cotton ball soaked with either pure acetone or 90% isopropyl alcohol.  Forget those special blends of polish remover that have moisturizers or are non-acetone.  If you want the polish to stay, you want to dry out your nails as much as possible first so that your base coat will adhere to your nail bed better.
  2. Use a base coat that dries to a rubbery finish.
    And yes, I would highly recommend using a base coat!  Seeing how porous your nails are going to be with all the natural oils stripped off, you’re going to want a protective layer between your nail and the polish unless you like having stained nails.  I’m not saying that every polish will stain your nails, but if you happen to get one that does, you’re going to be seeing the remnants of that color for a long time if you don’t keep painting your nails.As for what has a rubbery finish, I tend to use Bonder by Orly a lot when I want something to last.  I’ve also had another nail art enthusiast friend recommend Stickey by CND Colour, although I don’t have first hand experience with it.  Both of them have a slightly rubbery, sticky finish, and this is what is going to anchor your polish to your nail bed.
  3. Paint no more than 3 coats of nail polish color onto your nails.
    Thick nail polish is not your friend.  Unless you’re using it for stamping, I would either toss the bottle or add some nail polish thinner to it prior to painting your nails.  Thick nail polish will trap air bubbles in the formula from when you shake it up to mix it, and those bubbles will surface when you paint your nails and won’t look cute at all.Also, the thicker the coat of polish on your nails, the more likely it will crack and chip off.  You want to use as few coats as possible so that the polish will remain somewhat flexible on your nails.  If you can even get away with one coat, more power to you.  2 coats is pretty standard.  3 is pushing the limits.  4 is hot mess territory.
  4. Run a coat of polish along the edge of your nail after you paint it to help prevent chips.
    Chips will almost always start at the tip of your nail, so it helps to seal in the layer of polish by wrapping the color around the edge.  No need to actually paint it on- just swipe your nail against the side of the brush.
  5. Seal in your polish with a good top coat.
    Don’t try to skip this step!  Not only will your polish look nice and glossy, but it will often help to dry your polish faster and keep the color from wearing off too quickly.  My personal fave is Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat.  I use it on practically all of my manicures and pedicures.  It helps bond all the layers of base coat, color, and top coat together, smooths out any weird imperfections (like brush strokes and clumps), and sets quickly.  I tend to do a lot of my manicures at night right before bed, and I have never woken up with a smudged manicure.  This stuff is magical!  Just make sure you also coat the edge of your nail the same way you did in step 4.

And that’s it!  My pedicures last a month without any chips and no reapplication of top coat with that method.  The polish might be able to stay on longer than that, but I don’t know because I usually have to cut my nails at that point.  😉

My manicures could probably last just as long, but I’ve never tested it out because I’m always trying to find an excuse to paint my nails again.  But here’s an example of a manicure I did last summer following the steps above.

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Floral manicure featuring Suzi’s Hungary Again! by OPI and acrylic paint.

Because I thought this mani looked pretty, I decided to keep it for awhile.  After a week, I brushed on another coat of top coat to revive the shine, but I tried out Freedom Polymer Top Coat by Julep (get your first box of polishes free through the link) for the first time that day.  Julep says that you can also cure this top coat with a regular light to add additional protection, so I did that, and 13 days later…

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13 days of looking beautiful and chip free!

You can see the nail growth by my cuticles to show that I wasn’t faking the number of days that this manicure lasted.  There was a little bit of wear at the tips just from everyday living, but everything stayed intact.  I would have kept going, but my fans wanted to see a new manicure.  😉

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The tried and true top coats and base coats mentioned above.

Let it also be said that if you really want your manicure to last, don’t abuse your hands.  Try not to pick at things with your nails or use your nails as tools.  You can also wear gloves when you do the dishes if you’re really concerned about keeping your polish looking pretty.  For the record, I do none of those things.  😉

I hope this helps solve your manicure and pedicure problems!  Let me know what works (or didn’t work) for you in the comments below.  Happy polishing!

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!