Patriotic Independence Day Nails

Happy July 4! It’s America’s birthday, so my nails are painted with red, white, and blue colors to commemorate our nation’s flag.

The easiest way to do this manicure is to start with a white base. I chose Ya Qin An Stamping Nail Polish in White because it dries quickly and is completely opaque in 2 coats.

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I used Bundle Monster’s BM-H25 plate to do the stamping. I featured the images on the top and right sides of the plate in this manicure.

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The stamping technique that I used requires the application of two different polish colors to the same design and a single scraping away of the polish so that a gradient effect is not created. It easily becomes a complete mess of colors if you’re not careful with this!

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Chinese New Year: Year of the Dog Nails

Gung Hay Fat Choy! It’s the Year of the Dog! I’m not very Chinese by Asian standards, having been born in America, but it gives me an excuse to paint my nails and wear red!

For this manicure, I used a red creme shade that had a pretty gold shimmer undertone to it.

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Suzanne from Julep is a gorgeous color! I also happened to use this polish for the last Chinese New Year manicure that I did!

I gave my nails a lucky money envelope kind of look with some stamping using a plate from Bundle Monster and some gold stamping polish from Ya Qin An.

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I used the design in the upper left hand corner of plate BM-S229 from Bundle Monster.

Because there are so many lines in this pattern, one has to use a gentle touch when picking up the polish from the plate and applying it to the nails with the stamper, particularly if the stamper is squishy. If the same amount of pressure is not applied during both of these steps, the lines will warp and the design will not be straight.

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I tried to be as meticulous as possible with the stamping, but I still managed to slightly warp the design on my ring finger. Not to worry, though- I’m about to cover it up with a dog!

Because 2018 is the Year of the Dog according to the Chinese zodiac, I wanted to add a cute little friend to this manicure as an accent nail. Continue reading

Bee Mine Valentine’s Day Nails

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m bringing you some punny nail art today that not only features a classic Valentine phrase but also pays homage to my dear honey whom I nicknamed my “Bumblus” bee. I think he definitely deserves a shout out on my nails!

I chose a classic pale pink as my base color. This one is called Luella from Julep, and it’s a nice opaque creme.

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Luella was Julep’s Color of the Year for 2016.

Bees go together with flowers, so I chose to add some light roses using the BM-H16 plate from Bundle Monster.

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This manicure uses the pattern on the far right.

I went with a pink holographic stamping polish from Born Pretty (color #2 on their website) for the roses. The shade is only a little bit darker than the one already on my nails, so there isn’t a lot of contrast between the colors. The holographic shimmer helps make this polish stand out, but I really wanted something subtle for this design.

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You could easily stop at this point for an easy Valentine’s Day manicure, but why stop there? Here comes the fun part!

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Glow in the Dark Outer Space Nails

Today’s nails were inspired by some glow in the dark powders that I received from Born Pretty Store. Please look for my review on them in the next few days! But what I associate glow in the dark stuff with the most is those stickers you can buy of stars and planets that you can use to decorate your ceiling, so I wanted to make the nail art equivalent of that.

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These glow in the dark powders are mostly white in color and give no hint as to what they will look like once the lights go off!

I used white gel polish base here to give the glow more pop, although to be honest, I’m not sure how much the base color affects the luminosity of the powder. However, because the powders are mostly whitish shades, I figured it would be the best color to apply.

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This polish is called button down from b.m.c. nail lacquer, and it’s fully opaque in 2 coats. Each layer takes 60 seconds to cure.

After fully curing each coat of white gel polish, I applied a layer of Born Pretty Soak Off Gel Top Coat and cured it for about 10 seconds to ensure that it was still sticky enough for the powder to adhere to. I then used a small brush to loosely apply the bluish colored powders (numbers 1, 2, 3, and 6 from the swatch photo) to my nails, applying each color in patches to form a type of gradient. After dusting away the excess powder with a fan brush, I finished curing the top coat and powder layer and then applied another layer of top coat over everything to seal in the powder and fully cured that.

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What the color combination of powders looked like was a surprise to me, too! They do aptly resemble the atmosphere here.

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Christmas Plaid Nails

I guess you might say I’m trying to make up for lost time this month by doing all my Christmas manicures after Christmas. Oops! Even though all the gifts have been unwrapped, I still feel the spirit of Christmas in me.

Today’s manicure doesn’t scream Christmas. It speaks to those who prefer to keep it classy and understated, but it definitely has fall/winter vibes.

The inspiration for the green, white, and gold color combo for this look started with this gorgeous holographic peacock powder in color J2952-1A from Beauty Big Bang. It is a multichrome pigment with holo powder added to it to give it extra kick.

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This container is a little bit larger than the size of a sample container from Sephora.

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Inside is this lovely shimmery dark green pigment powder, color J2952-1A.

In order to use the powder, you must apply it over gel top coat in order to get a perfectly smooth finish. I never have luck with my black gel polish, so I prefer to use regular black polish (What’s A Tire Jack? from Sephora by OPI), wait for it to dry, then apply a layer of Born Pretty Soak Off Gel Top Coat over it. I cure this for one minute before proceeding to the next step.

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Pictured here are 2 coats of What’s A Tire Jack? from Sephora by OPI with one layer of Born Pretty Soak Off Gel Top Coat.

The peacock powder then gets rubbed onto the cured gel top coat with an eyeshadow applicator, and another layer of gel top coat is applied and cured.

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The black polish gets transformed into this beautiful green chrome color with a holographic effect.

The plaid can be done either freehand or with stamping. I’ve been dying to try out this plate from Clear Jelly Stamper for a long time, so you can guess which way I did mine! You can layer the patterns with different colors to create your own unique plaid look. Continue reading

Ocean Voyage Nautical Nails

Still envious of everyone’s stunning vacation photos? Here’s a cruise ship inspired manicure you can try if you have the right tools!

I started out by painting all my nails a medium blue color.

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Sky High-Top from China Glaze serves as a lovely sky or ocean color.

My secret weapon for this manicure was the BP-L068 plate from Born Pretty. With it, you can create a whole ocean themed story on your nails!

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BP-L068 plate from Born Pretty Store.

I first used the wave design from the lower right quadrant of the plate along with Born Pretty Stamping Nail Polish in color #7, which is a royal blue color.

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Because the wave image was a little on the small side, I had issues trying to fit the image on my nails without stamping parts of the neighboring designs as well. I tried to stretch my clear stamper to get the image to cover my nail completely, but this only distorted the final result. Not to worry- I planned to stamp some more designs from the plate on top of this anyway to cover up the awkward spots!

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Birthday Gift Nail Art

I keep meaning to do more birthday themed nail art at the insistence of friends, but somehow it always gets pushed aside in favor of other ideas. This week I participated in a birthday collaboration on Instagram with an obvious deadline that wanted us to use mint, white, holo, coral, baby pink, and nude colors along with a birthday theme, so I was able to create something to fit the bill.

I don’t own many green polishes, so it was hard for me to find a color that I could truly classify as mint. I opted to use Fearless from Formula X for Sephora for my base, which is more of a sage color instead. It is truly a beautiful hue, especially for the spring.

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2 coats of Fearless by Formula X for Sephora is all you need to get full coverage color.

I went with gift box presents to fulfill the birthday theme for the prompt. Luckily I have a good plate to use to make things easy for me.

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The Celebration BPX-L013 plate from Born Pretty Store helps cover major occasions.

I used reverse stamping to color in the boxes. To help speed up the process, I used multiple stampers so I could allow the polish to dry on one stamper as I colored in the next one. For the stamping, I used Ya Qin An polish in White and used the brushes from the bottles to color in the presents.

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Reverse stamping with 4 stampers. Polish colors used were Dot from Zoya (pink), Give Peach A Chance from Sephora by OPI (peach), Sweet Daisy from Nicole by OPI (coral), and Ya Qin An stamping nail polish in White.

I applied Ya Qin An top coat over the stamper heads after I was done coloring in each image and allowed each decal to dry before gently lifting it up with a pair of tweezers and setting it onto my nail. After cleaning up the edges, another layer of top coat applied over the decal helped to seal the deal.

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Presents fit for a birthday or any special day!

FYI- I had also tried stamping the image directly onto my nail, but because the polish dries onto the stamper, the details do not transfer as well as they do when you make a decal out of the design.

I love the look of all the pastel colors together, even though it wasn’t necessary to use them all at once for this collaboration. Check out the designs from all the participants below!

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Wishing @arshneet_nailedit a super happy birthday with lots of cake and presents! 🎂🎈🎁 Hope your day is wonderful! Collage credit @nailart.on.ur.tips Hosted by @kaveeshaaarts and @nailart.on.ur.tips List of all the lovely participants is: @ssonailicious @nailartmaniaby_tanvi @prettyprincesspolish @nailingitrush @honey_candy_ @finepolish @nails.lovely @miss.flawless_nails @unicorgnails.by.nata @kaveeshaarts @stylethosenails @vannab2010 @nailsby.ahana @nailart.on.ur.tips @itskittynails @budding_nailartist #happybirthdaysweetarsh #happybirthdaynails #happybdaynails #finepolish #manicure #mani #notd #nailart #nails #nailstagram #nailsofinstagram #nailpolish #cutepolish #nailsoftheday #nailspo #unhas #ongles #nailartclub #iheartnailart #nailporn #instanails #prettynails #nailspotting #💅 #nailsonfleek #nailartwow #nailartoohlala #bbloggers

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This was a fun prompt for the week. The wheels are already turning to figure out what I’m going to paint next. What a life as an artist!

Happy polishing!

80s Equalizer Nail Art

Today I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and trying a different technique with something I’ve never been great at using: nail foil. Anyone who has experience with it knows that it can be temperamental to use, and even when you get the application right, the wrong top coat can ruin the whole thing and make it look as if it was never there. Yet here I am testing my patience with this material. Off we go!

To start, I painted all my nails black.

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This is stamping polish from b.m.c. nail lacquer in noir black. Not sure why it looks textured though- it might be the pigments.

To make the decals, you will need a plastic bag or a silicone mat. I used the Lotus Mat from Bundle Monster for mine. Start by applying swatches of top coat onto your chosen surface. The top coat will serve as the base of your decal. Wait for your top coat to fully dry before you proceed to the next step.

Next, choose a pattern that you want to stamp and transfer it to a swatch of top coat. You must act very quickly to apply a piece of nail foil over the stamped area so that the foil can adhere to the wet polish. Rub over the piece of foil with your finger, then lift the foil quickly, and you should be left with a cool foil embossed pattern.

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For this manicure, I used the pattern in the lower right hand corner of plate BP-L059 from Born Pretty.

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The stamping polish used was the same b.m.c. nail lacquer in noir black from my base color. I did this so that it would not look obvious if the foil did not transfer fully.

The foil was purchased in a large lot from an eBay seller, and there is no brand associated with it. You can see that the foil that I chose to use has a natural rainbow gradient effect, so it happens to match the levels that you would see on an equalizer. In case you don’t know what an equalizer looks like, here’s an example:

Very 80s techno chic.

At this point you can gently peel the decals off the mat and cut them to fit your nails. In order to hide some of the transfer imperfections, I also re-cut the levels of the bars. You can apply a cut decal by painting another layer of black polish or some top coat onto your nail and then gently press the decal onto the wet surface.

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You can see where I cut the levels of the bars for the decals, but they more or less stick to the base color. This look reminds me of Tetris.

Disclaimer: Because I didn’t like the finish of the b.m.c. nail lacquer as a base color, I applied the decals using What’s A Tire Jack? from Sephora by OPI.

It’s easy to say just apply top coat to seal in everything, but here’s where things can get tricky. I’ve heard that a water based top coat works best with foil, but I don’t have any. I also know that pretty much anything that is branded as “fast drying” will cause the foil to shrink and/or break up. If you don’t use a top coat at all, the foil will quickly rub off on its own. I took a chance by using my Ya Qin An top coat, seeing as it never smears nail art, and it worked pretty well. Thumbs up for Ya Qin An!

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Nail foil success! Too bad this took forever to do.

Fun fact: I’m holding a record that I actually played on! It was for a private project, but it’s still cool as a collector’s item.

In any case, I love how I conquered my fear of nail foil. That’s not to say that I don’t curse a lot when things don’t work out the right way, but at least I know that I have another technique that I can use. Maybe practice does make perfect!

Happy polishing!

Birds and Music Manicure

As some of you know, I am a professional flutist and do this nail art thing as my hobby. It’s only fitting that today’s manicure pays homage to the job that pays my bills!

I wanted to create an antique parchment look for the background. It was hard to find exactly the right color, but I opted for this neutral tan called Samoan Sand from OPI to do the job.

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Samoan Sand by OPI. It takes a few coats to get it opaque, but it’s a perfect nude shade for your nails.

To stain the “parchment,” I used some alcohol ink made from a BiC Mark It Permanent Marker in Woodsy Brown. To do this technique, color part of a plastic bag with the permanent maker, then take a small brush, dip it in rubbing alcohol, and pick up the marker pigment with the brush. You can then paint with this alcohol ink on your nails.

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My attempt at creating a stained look with alcohol ink.

One thing I didn’t like about the color of the marker that I chose was that the brown had more of a red tint to it than I thought. It definitely changed the color of my base shade more than I would have liked, and I probably would have used a different base color had I known that that would happen. This was only one of many mishaps that occurred while I was painting this manicure.

Because of the 3-4 layers of nail polish that were needed to make Samoan Sand opaque, I had to wait quite awhile to let my nails dry enough before I could proceed to stamping my chosen pattern, shown on the plate below.

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Perfect for musicians: plate BP-L059 from Born Pretty Store.

Being a flutist, I’m always learning music that sounds bird-like so the image from the top row, 4th from the left appealed to me the most. Using black stamping polish from Ya Qin An, I transferred the image to my nails. I used a clear stamper to make sure the lines of the staves were fairly straight and perpendicular to my nails. I also took care to try to stagger the image to make the design look more unique.

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Stamping from a single image from plate BP-L059.

You’ll notice that there’s a suspicious looking burn mark in the middle of one nail. That was not supposed to be there originally. I made a mistake while double stamping the lower part of that nail- the first transfer had thin stave lines, so when I went over the bottom part a second time, I failed to line up part of the image correctly in one place. I tried to lightly rub the area with a cotton swab and acetone, but the black polish started smearing over the nearby areas. I ended up removing a larger section of polish than I had intended to, refilled it with Samoan Sand, and reapplied the alcohol ink, but the remnants of the smudged black polish still formed a ring around the area. I decided that this added to the antique flair and went with it. This just goes to show that sometimes things don’t go according to plan, but you can still roll with the punches.

Speaking of, I had also horribly smudged my pinky nail right before I was going to take the photos for this manicure, so I had to completely redo that nail for these shots as well. Sigh.

In any case, I applied a layer of Ya Qin An top coat to prevent the stamping from getting smudged, then applied a layer of Matte Top Coat from Sephora by OPI to finish up this manicure.

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This one’s for the birds!

Here’s to hoping that the next manicure won’t have so many nail fails involved! Happy polishing!

 

Thermal Geometric Manicure

Welcome to March!  In the past few days, we’ve had quite a swing in temperature in NYC where on one day, it was near 60 degrees and beautiful outside to another day where it was 17 degrees with snow covering the ground.  The crazy weather influenced me to do something with thermal nail polish after being in a creative slump this week.

I started by painting all my nails white.

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This color is called wild white ways from essence cosmetics and is fully opaque in two coats.

I recently acquired some thermal color change powder from Born Pretty Store.  It is best used with a gel top coat, so I applied a layer of Born Pretty Soak Off Gel Top Coat to my white base and cured it for about 15 seconds (half the normal cure time) before applying the pigment.

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Born Pretty Thermal Pigment in color #13.

I used the sponge applicator to apply the powder to the half cured top coat, then I dusted off the excess pigment from my cuticles with a fan brush.

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The thermal pigment is already changing colors as the dark gray shade is its cold state.

I applied another layer of gel top coat over this and fully cured it before proceeding to the stamping portion of the design.

Because of the dark gray and white colors in the thermal pigment, I decided that a geometric look would suit this manicure the best.  I used the diamond pattern in the second row, far right side of the plate below in a variety of ways to create a modern look.

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Plate BP-L006 from Born Pretty Store.

For some nails, I stamped the image as is, but for other nails, after stamping the image, I removed some of the other diamonds from the pattern on the stamper with some Scotch tape.

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Tweaking the design. The stamping was done with Ya Qin An stamping nail polish in Black.

I opted to do a single diamond in the center of one nail and half a diamond as a half moon design on my pinky.  I finished it all off with a layer of Ya Qin An top coat.

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The completed design.

The thermal powder is a little splotchy because it’s hard to apply an even layer of pigment, especially because the dark gray color contrasts so much with the white base.  The color change effect is also very sensitive, and even the act of trying to dry off my nails prevented me from getting an evenly pigmented picture of each individual color.

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The left side pictures are cold color temperatures while the right side pictures are hot water temperatures. The hot temperature version is definitely not splotchy while my fingers are still in the water.

It’s always fun to have interactive nails!  And even though the pigment is seldom one solid color, the smoky effect still looks cool underneath the crisp lines of the diamonds.

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We’re expecting more snow here in a few days, so be safe out there!  Happy polishing!