Monday, March 30, 2015

I'm 19!

Hey guys!  Today is a pretty special day for me cause it's my 19th birthday!  It is also the one year anniversary of the day I stopped pulling out my hair.  As a sufferer of trichotillomania, this is huge, and I want to thank everyone who's supported me along the way.

But enough sappy birthday talk, you're here for the nail art!

Today's nail art is sort of a ten finger skittle, except my middle fingers on both hands are the same.  The left hand showcases my love of rainbow, sparkle, and science!

My thumb is three atoms, which appear to be covalently bonded since their orbitals are all intertwined.  My index is a pretty tie dye, my middle is "XIX" which is 19 in Roman numerals, my ring finger is DNA (with A,T,C,and G specified) and my pinkie is a glitter placement that is fairly reminiscent of a Dalek.

My right hand has a pretty floral on the thumb, a water marble on my pointer finger, another 19 on my middle finger, a neon gradient with a tribal print over it on my ring finger, and a pretty teal glitter gradient on my pinkie.

Sadly, there's nothing on my right hand that resembles an evil alien, but I still love them!

I hope you guys enjoyed these!  Which one is your favorite?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

NCC: Fashion - Watercolor Dress

Hey guys!  Here's the second promised post of today, which I like considerably more than today's first manicure!

This manicure is based off of this beautiful watercolor dress I found online at Target.

I have various steps of this manicure shown below:

Just Watercolor

Watercolor and Lines
Watercolor and Lines and GLITTER!

I really liked this one and had a ton of fun wearing it.  The original dress had no glitter on it, but I just couldn't help myself when I saw the design.  I think this really shows the spirit of the dress!

NCC: Fashion - Black Crochet Lace

Hey guys!  Today is going to be a double posting day since I just got done with midterms and finally have time to post again!! I want to make sure I get the NCC manis in on time this month, so I'll be posting two of them today!

Today's first mani is based on a pretty black and white crochet dress I found online at Rue 21.  This dress caught my eye the minute I saw it and I knew I had to make it nail art!  However, my nail art did not turn out as planned. :(

I guess my original plan was to make the mani sort of a French to show the overall design of the dress more, however I got caught up in detail and trying to make it look just like the dress, and it became a full nail mani.

I think my main problem here was using the zoom function on the website.  It made me see too many details and I got off track on what I had wanted to do.

While I definitely don't love this mani, I don't exactly hate it either.  You win some, you lose some.

Make sure to check out the other ladies' manis to see their beautiful artwork!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How to Prep and Paint Your Nails

Hey guys!  Today I have the second of the two part "How I do my Nail Art" series.  The rest is just tutorial posts that will be on here every once in a while (hopefully at least one a month.)  Today I'm talking about how to prep your nails and get them ready for a manicure, and how to apply polish.

The first step in prepping your nails for a manicure is to remove any polish you may have on your nails.  You can either use a cotton ball or pad for this.  I have pads with me in my dorm, so they're what I used here today.  If I'm just cleansing my nail bed with the remover (to remove oils and allow polish to adhere better) I usually use the pads.  As you can see in the picture, one side is soft and fluffy, and one side is more textured and better at removing polish.  I use the rough side for polish removal and the soft side for nail cleansing.

 You can also use cotton buds to remove any polish that is left on the side of your nail where it's harder to get off with a cotton pad or ball.

Removal of polish or cleansing of nail bed
Removing stubborn polish from the sides of your nails
Your next step is to use your cuticle pusher to push the cuticle that has grown over your nail bed back toward your finger.  This helps the polish stay on longer and keeps your cuticles healthy.

You want to push a bit on the sides too to ensure you get all the cuticle growing on your nail bed.

Use a light pressure while doing this.  It may be a little stubborn to get off of your nail, especially if you haven't pushed your cuticles before.  Don't force it!  You can soak your hands in warm water before you do this to soften up the skin, but you don't want to tear your cuticle open.

Your next step is to trim your cuticles.  You want to use a cuticle trimmer for this.  I like the one with the little "v" in the tip because you cant cut as deep by accident.  That being said, you can still definitely cut too deep!!  You want to be careful and use a light pressure while doing this.
I usually recommend trimming only the cuticle on the side of your nail, and almost always find that sufficient for me.  However if it's been a very long time since you cared for your nails, you may have a build up of cuticle at the back end of your nail that you want to trim.

This is okay, but you have to be VERY careful as that cuticle prevents bacteria from getting under your nail bed and causing an infection!  If it hurts to trim your cuticle, you're doing it wrong!! You should only be trimming dead skin and not be able to feel it.

 This next step is optional, but it's one I do every time.  Things get stuck under fingernails.  It's just a fact of life.  Dead skin cells build up, for example.  This is natural and don't worry about it!  You can clean out under your nails with a nail brush while washing your hands, or with a soft brush over a trash can.  I do this at least once a day using an old clean up brush that got too fluffy for clean up.  I find that the fluffiness makes them perfect for cleaning under your nails!

You never want to clean under your nails with something hard like the end of an orange stick or a pencil.  This pushes the cuticle under your nail back just like you did earlier to the top of your nail.  However, you WANT this cuticle to grow!  When that cuticle moves up along your nail (showing on where your free edge starts) the nail can only break to that point!  That means you can have long looking nails without actually having to worry too much about free edge length.  This is called lengthening of your nail bed, and you want to encourage it as much as possible!

 Once under your nail is clean, you're going to want to file them.  I use a crystal glass file and file at an angle to minimize damage.  The best way to file your nails if they're brittle and breaking is to go from one edge of the nail (closest to your finger) to the middle and repeat on the other side.

If your nails are a little stronger, you can just file in one direction, but I find that this leads to breaking on one side of the nail for me.  One thing you never ever want to do unless you have nails of steel is to file back and forth.  This creates micro-fractures and chips in the tips of your nails and weakens them, leading to more breaks.

How you file determines the shape of your nails.  You can shape them to be square (square tip), round (semi-circle tip), almond (pointed tip), oval (long semi-circle tip), or squoval, which is a square with rounded corners.  I prefer squoval or oval nails myself.

Another good thing to know is that nails without corners break a lot less!!

When you're done filing, you may have an odd little bit of nail hanging on on the edge of your nail.  It'll be thinner than your nail and only attached at the very bottom of the nail.  To get rid of this, I just do a few sweeps upward with my file held perfectly perpendicular.  It gets rid of the little bit of nail without changing the shape of my freshly filed nails!

Here's a picture of what my nails look like post clean up and prep!

Mine are a little stained from doing lots of nail art, but I'm working on fixing that!

 Your next step is base coat!  You want a little blob of base coat on the brush on one side only, as shown above.  I tend to wipe one end of the brush off as I take it out of the bottle, and then tap the other side on the inside of the bottle neck so I don't have too big a glob.  Then, you push down about 2 millimeters from your cuticle to spread the bristles, push up toward your cuticle, and pull down smoothly.  You want to make sure you do this on the sides of your nails too!

I have a video to really illustrate my point here!


Once you allow your base coat to dry (it can feel tacky, but not wet) you want to apply your color!  This tends to take more than one coat of color.  Color follows the same procedure as base coat, but I've included a video here as well in case you cant see the base coat very well.  Brushes in bottles vary widely by brand, which is also something you have to be aware of.


Once your color is dry, you apply top coat.  It's especially important to wait for it to be dry if you have nail art as you don't want to smear your design!  You want the amount of top coat on your brush to be more than the polish or base coat.  You want to be able to float the base coat over the nail without touching the bristles to the polish underneath.  This is what causes smearing.


After top coat, you want to clean up any mistakes you may have made or polish you got on your skin.  You do this simply by dipping a clean up brush into remover, tapping it on the edge to remove excess, and swiping it around your nail.  I have a video to better illustrate this as well, but I'm using my fluffy brush (I left my good ones at home) so it's not the best it could be.


After all this use of remover and polish, your skin probably isn't feeling great.  I know that post manicure my cuticles tend to feel pretty dry!  This is a good time to use your cuticle oil and lotion (once your top coat is totally dry of course).

I'm currently using Sally Hansen "Cuticle Rehab" because winter really did a number on my skin, but I don't usually use something so intense and wouldn't recommend it for day to day use.  There are lots of cuticle oils out there and you just have to find the one that works best for you.  I prefer one that absorbs fast because I'm impatient.

At least with this cuticle oil, you squeeze the bottle and a little comes out into the brush (like those lip glosses from the early 2000's) and then swipe it along your nail like you were doing clean up.  However every cuticle oil is different in this regards.  It's another thing to consider when making your choice!

China Glaze "Frostbite"

And now your beautiful professional looking manicure is done!  Hopefully you have a better clean up brush at your disposal than I did while preparing this and yours looks a little better....

I hope you found this informative and useful, and have fun doing your own manicures at home!  It's totally doable, and when people are asking you "Who did your nails?" you can say "Me!"

Thursday, March 19, 2015

NCC: Fashion - Chevron

Hey guys!  Today I have another post for the NCC's "Fashion" prompt.  This one is based off of a chevron dress I saw on Target's website. 

I'm not really loving this design to be honest.  I like the way it is on the dress, but I don't really like the way it shows up on my nail.  I'm not sure if it's because I didn't have the EXACT right colors, if it's because it had to be shrunk down, that there aren't as many zigs on my nail...  I don't know what it is but I don't love it.

The good news is I don't think it was a problem with translating the dress onto the nail, as I think I did a pretty good job of that.  I guess I just didn't like how ti worked once it was over!

But I mean, look at this beautiful dress?  Who wouldn't think it would make a cute nail design?

Ah well.  Be sure to check out the other ladies' manicures to find something that isn't quite so disappointing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

NCC: Fashion - Blue Geometric Print

Hey guys!  I'm here with a late start to the Nail Challenge Collaborative's "fashion" challenge.  I actually had these manicures done last week, I've just been too busy with school to post them!

Today's mani is based on a beautiful dress I found on Forever 21's website.  I decided to base all of these manicures off of things that I could afford.  I also tend to think everything that walks on runways is ugly enough to make a person go blind, so I avoided that.

So I based my mani off of this beautiful maxi-dress that would drag on the ground if I wore it, but is still super pretty!  I love the colors and the pattern here, and just knew when I saw it it had to be nail art.

Here's a close up of the pattern from the "zoom" function on the site.  I used this while doing the actual nail art.

These were a lot of fun to paint, and I loved wearing them!  I really like how the pattern kind of worked out to be every other nail,  I didn't plan it that way!

Make sure you check out the other manicures done for "fashion"!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day everybody!  While most people seem to like to celebrate this holiday by drinking green beer and making fun of the Irish, I prefer to celebrate by honoring Ireland's rich history of faerie folk.  

Today's manicure represents none other than the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow!

I started this mani with a base of white, and then painted my stripes on using a rainbow of colors.  Most of them are my staples you see used here a lot, so if you have questions about any colors used, please put them in the comments!

Once my stripes were dry, I used a make up sponge and an e.l.f. gold glitter polish to do a glitter gradient.  I hoped he gradient would look like it was raining gold coins, and it kind of did!  Either way, I had to take these off almost immediately following taking pictures, because the glitter got so thick at the ends of my nails that I couldn't function with them on!

Here's a couple of shots of what the rainbow looked like before I added the gold on!

And now time for a St. Patrick's Day fun fact:  Did you know that construction of a road in Ireland was changed so that the road would curve around faerie land instead of going through it?  This was done because Ireland's faerie folk are known to be particularly violent, and no one wanted to risk ticking them off by building a road through their home.  Based on the faerie stories I've heard of Irish faeries, I don't blame them!

Today's mani is also part of a link up of St. Patrick's Day themed nail art, so be sure to check out what some of the other ladies of the Hobby Polish Bloggers have done today!

Monday, March 9, 2015

How I Do Nail Art: Supplies

Hey guys! I've noticed that there's quite a few "How I do my nail art" posts out there from different bloggers, but I figured I'd add one in anyway, just in case you were curious.  However, there's a lot to how I do my nail art, so this wont all be in one post.  Today's post is about the tools I use when creating my nail art.
The first thing you need is a sturdy surface to sit at.  I do my nails at my desk so that I can keep both hands steady while I'm painting.  If I try to paint my nails on the floor or the couch, I can't get the lines right and everything looks a mess.

Here you can see my nail desk as it looked a few months ago, and right after finishing a manicure, so it's a bit of a mess.  I actually took this photo to show a way you can use regular household items to get a lightbox-like set up.  My nail desk is much more organized now, but I'm at college while writing this, so I don't have a chance to get a picture.

You also need something to protect your surface, especially if you're using something like your working desk that you want to keep neat.  I usually use a piece of notebook paper so that I can also sketch out my design ideas before I start the manicure and have them close at hand.

As you can see, I also use it to clean brushes against.  Any sketch I start with is a  very rough one, as I really only need to get the idea of what I'm doing and don't want to spend all my time sketching.

Once you've got a place to work, the first step to any good manicure is to clean and prep your nails.  This means you'll need several nail care tools.  I'll go over how to properly use these tools in the next post, which will be "Nail Care/Manicure Prep."

If you need to take off significant length or do dramatic reshaping, you can use a nail trimmer like the one shown here.  I actually use this more to trim my brushes when they go wacky than I do to trim my nails, but it's nice to have.

 Once your nails are roughly the right length and shape, you need to file the edges to finish shaping them and to smooth out the edge of your nail to reduce breakage.

While technically any file or emery board would work, I recommend using a crystal glass file.  Mine is a Swissco brand that I got at Sally's Beauty for around $7.

Once your nails are prepped, you have to worry about your cuticles.  This requires several tools as well.

Here I have shown my cuticle care tools.  The two on the left are cuticle pushers, and I use them to push back any cuticle that has grown up over my nail.  The orange and white cuticle tool came with a set of nail art tools I got from Sally Hansen, and was meant to pick up rhinestones, but it's not very good at that.  The clear and red one comes from Sally's Beauty and was $0.59.
I use the cuticle trimmer to trim any hangnails or overly thickened cuticle along my nail.  My cuticle trimmer is Revlon brand and was about $7 from Target.

Another thing you'll need for nail prep is non-acetone nail polish remover.  You want to wipe down your nails with this remover to remove any oils that are present on the nail bed.  These oils will keep your base coat from properly binding to your nails, and will prevent your manicure from lasting as long.

You can use a cotton ball or swab to wipe down your nail.  The cotton balls here are shown with some cotton swabs and some precision q-tips, which are nice for cleaning up around messier manicures (if you don't have scotch tape to protect the cuticle.)  It also includes toothpicks, which can be used as a multitude of nail art tools from a dotting tool to a rhinestone picker-upper. (To get it to function as a rhinestone picker-upper, you'll want to dip it in either water or clear nail polish.)

Now that you have all the things you need to get your nails prepped and ready, you need some tools for actual art!  The main tools here are a dotting tool, clean up brush, a make up sponge, and some detailing/striping brushes.  I got my dotting tools (pictured below) in a pack of five from e-bay for about $1.  The only problem with that is they take a very long time to show up on the slow boat from China!

My whole tool set is shown below in the container I use for them.

I keep them separated into flats, chisels, fans, detailing, fill, dotting tools, and nail care tools.

Small ends of the dotting tools (very far right came in a pack of nail art tools from Born Pretty Store)
Large ends of the dotting tools
Lucy's Stash's photo from her Money Smart Nail Art post
Fan brushes, used for fan brush gradients and bases
Small flats and chisel brushes, used for watercolor nail art, precise clean up, and onestroke
Fluffy brush, used to paint an entire nail with a custom mixed color
Large chisel and flat brushes, used for same things as small versions above.
Striping brushes, used for long lines and striping
Fill brushes, used for blocking out designs or thicker lines
Detailing brushes, used for small line work and detail, the blue one is the most used
Super small detailing brushes, for very small work like faces or outlining.  Leftmost brush has one bristle
My 100% acetone in its pump bottle
My clean up brushes,  I use the fluffier ones to clean under my nails or scrub off a bad design
The shot glass I used before buying my pump bottle
Another nice thing to have is some nail polish thinner in case one of your bottles gets opened somehow or you want to use an older polish that is just too gloopy to be neat with.

Some rhinestones and glequins
My rhinestone picker upper.  Like the dotting tool, it has a large and small end.
Perfectly straight stripes can be made with striping tape, which is also a lot of fun for day glo manicures or art deco style nail art.

One of my post-its after being thoroughly used
Wet 'n' Wild "Red Red," Sally Hansen "Play Koi" and "Mellow Yellow," NYC "High Line Green," Sinful Colors "Endless Blue," Wet 'n' Wild "On A Trip," and China Glaze "Make an Entrance."

Sally Hansen "Black Out" and "White On," China Glaze "Fairy Dust," Cover Girl "Show Stopper," Maybelline Color Show "Bold Gold," Diamond Cosmetics "Cocoa," Nina "Ink-Ling," and OPI "My Vampire is Buff."
Orly "Explosion of Fun," Sinful Colors "Pride," Sally Hansen "Snow Globe," Maybelline Color Show "Clearly Spotted," Sally Hansen "Open Mica Night," Wet 'n' Wild "Slap the Bass," and Sally Hansen "Beach Ball."

LA Colors "Animated," Wet 'n' Wild "," China Glaze "Lighthouse," Wet 'n' Wild "SaGreena the Teenage Witch," Sally Hansen "Calypso Blue," NOPI "Back in My Gloria Days," and Finger Paints "Be My Baby."

NYC "Times Square Tangerine Creme," Sally Hansen "Lemon Shark," China Glaze "I'm With the Lifeguard," Sally Hansen "Blinding Blue," and "Intense Iris," and Pixi "Summer Pink."

Sally Hansen "Vitamin D-Light," and "Sea Through."

Sally Hansen "Jade Jump," "Blue Away," and "Lacey Lilac," and Revlon "Gum Drop."

My favorite base coat, sadly discontinued, Out the Door topcoat, matte top coat, and a couple of cheap top coats used to make the nail tacky for glitter placement or attaching rhinestones.

Well, there you go!  That's all you need to do your own DIY nail art!  I know it's a lot, but you definitely don't need it all right away.  You probably don't want to start with super fancy designs anyway, so the bare minimum (one regular rainbow, base and top coat, some craft brushes and homemade dotting tools) is really all you need.

If you have any questions about where to get things, how to use them, how to make them, or what you can use as a replacement, be sure to let me know in the comments!
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