Nail The Week Halloween Special: When Water Marbling Goes Horribly Wrong

Well, it’s nearly Halloween, the night of all things spooky, so allow me to regale you with my very own tale of beauty harrow and horror.

Picture the scene: it was an early autumn wedding, the sort of occasion which warrants an outfit such as this:

Naturally, as my thoughts turned to nail art for the occasion, Barry M’s Gelly Hi Shine in Satsuma and Lychee sprang immediately to mind as they picked out the staple colours of my ensemble perfectly.

The next question was how to incorporate the two colours together into a cohesive, eye-catching nail art design. I’ve been wanting to give water marbling another whirl after the relative success of my Midweek Marblin’ design and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try the technique once again. My biggest concern was that the Gelly polishes wouldn’t spread out on the surface of the water as required for this technique, especially as Lychee seemed very thick when I used it previously. When it came down to it, however, this didn’t seem to be a problem, so I duly continued the water marbling process until my first hand was done. Unfortunately, I quickly realised that the vivid orange hue of Satsuma was extremely overpowering next to the subtle tone of Lychee, to the point where the nails looked almost completely orange, so I had to take off the first attempt and start again, this time with two drops of Lychee for every one of Satsuma. Initially, this seemed to work much better, at least there were discernible colours within my marble, so I continued until both hands were done, and stepped back to admire my (extremely laborious) handiwork…

You know there are times when you’ve been working on something for so long that you kind of stop seeing it and then when you take a break and go back to it with fresh eyes you realise it’s utterly awful? This was one of those moments. The overall effect was one of a nastily infected wound or a septic creature from the bottom of a slime-ridden lake. Worst of all, one the fingers (left index) had marbled in such a way that it looked like the polish was chipped, which is truly unbearable for me.

All in all, it’s fair to say that my second attempt at water marbling was an unprecedented fail.

Luckily, knowing the unpredictable nature of nail art (especially water marbling) I did my manicure the day before the wedding, so I had ample time to acetone away all heinous memory of this misadventure and replace it with a much neater and easier half moon mani using the same two polishes. This is almost identical to my Silver and Satsuma half moon design but with light cream instead of silver to add a matrimonial feel.

The main lessons learnt from this episode are:

1. Never water marble with colours close to those which could occur naturally in the human body. The outcome is very, very creepy.

2. If in doubt, half moon it.

Definitely things to bear in mind for next time.

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Five Cornerstone Lipsticks For All Eventualities

Today I thought I’d share with you my five ‘go to’ lipsticks; a capsule collection which will see a girl through any season and occasion. I’ve given some general colour guidelines as well as specific examples which I thought fitted the bill perfectly. So let’s begin!

1. The one that goes with everything.

Seems pretty obvious, but an all-purpose lip colour that goes with everything and is appropriate for both work and play  is a must. This one can sit in a handbag innocuously until it’s needed; when its owner is in a rush and has no time to ponder which lipstick to wear, when no other shade quite matches an outfit or when an ‘easy make-up’ look is the order of the day!

My essential ‘everything’ lip colour is Maybelline’s Moisture Extreme Lipstick in ‘Natural Rosewood’. In the photos this shade looks more red/ pink than neutral, but as it’s pretty close to my natural lip colour it works perfectly for me as an all-purpose colour and the formula is every bit as moisturising as it claims. Unfortunately I don’t think this colour is available in stores any more (do correct me if I’m wrong!) But it’s easy to get hold of on Amazon or Ebay for around £4.50.

2. A bright red.

Fact: bright red lipstick can be worn by anyone, the trick is to find the shade that works for you. For me, this is Rimmel’s Lasting Finish Matte Lipstick by Kate Moss in ‘Kiss of Life’. This bright, slightly orange-tinged red is eye-catching but not obnoxious, probably because of the matte finish. It’s only downside is that the formula is a bit on the dry side, so I find it best to use a lip balm before application. It costs around £5.50.

3. A deep red/ burgundy

Like a bright red, only more wearable and arguably more sultry! If you’re feeling a bit daunted by the prospect of a vivid red shade or it’s simply not that kind of day, this can be a subtler, easier option. Wine and berry shades are perfect for the autumn or winter and look ultra glamorous at night but don’t feel restricted to these occasions- deep reds can work just about anywhere if you find the perfect shade. My personal favourite deep red is Barry M’s Ultra Moisturising Lip Paint in Cranberry Red. At £4.49, this lippy is a bargain, although this formula can be a bit dry (despite what it says on the tin,) so I use a lip balm beforehand.

4. Your favourite pink.

Who doesn’t love pink lipstick? There’s a shade to suit all skin tones and occasions, so take some time to find the one that does it for you. My pink weapon of choice is Rimmel’s Moisture Renew Lipstick in Lily Extase. It’s pretty unusual because it’s a strong pink with cool blue undertones, whereas many bright pinks are of the hot variety. It retails at around £6.49 which I think is good value considering how long-lasting the colour is.

5. The special one.

As my mother likes to say, a great lippy is an investment piece- words to live by. I found this holy grail in the form of YSL’s Rouge Volupté Shine in Brun in Secure which is a shiny brown with reddish tones. The texture of this lipstick is dreamy, it feels just like a lip balm and you can play with colour opacity by adding more layers for a dramatic look or fewer for subtler tones. As it’s so shiny, I always use Lipcote or Rimmel’s Lipstick Lock to keep it in place. At £24 this gem does not come cheap but who doesn’t like a little luxury once in a while?

Nail The Week: Newspaper Nails!

As a person with a love of writing and intricate nail art, I knew I had to try this unusual newspaper print design as soon as I found out how it was done. The method couldn’t be simpler and the look can be achieved in a few easy steps:

1. Paint your nails a suitable base colour (here I’ve plumped for Barry M’s Gelly High Shine in Lychee) and wait for the polish to dry completely.

2. Cut a few nail-sized pieces out of a newspaper article (more than ten is advisable in case you have a mishap).

3. Soak the pieces in a bowl of alcohol- I dug out an old bottle of gin but I imagine any clear coloured spirit would also work. If you don’t have any alcohol water will also work but the text will not be as dark.

4. Remove a newspaper piece from the bowl with tweezers and press firmly but carefully to the nail. This can be a little fiddly at first and it’s easy to smear the text but the good news is that you can wipe it off with a damp paper towel and start again as many times as you need to!

5. Once you are happy with the design, seal it with a good dose of top coat.

Ideas to jazz up the design even more:

– seal with a matte top coat to enhance the newspaper effect

– use neon colours as a base coat

– use foreign language newspapers for some added exotic flavour

Inspired By… Art Deco Nails!

‘Inspired By…’ is my very first nail art design series, in which I adopt style elements from the world of art, design and fashion and create my own nail art interpretations.

My first entry is this quirky, colourful look based on designs from the Art Deco period. The movement focused heavily on geometric shapes, contrasting colours and sunburst motifs, all of which I’ve included here.  Like many of my nail art designs, this looks complex but is actually pretty simple to create (I’m kind of cheeky like that). All you need is three contrasting polishes, scotch tape, striping tape, and quite a bit of time! Here’s how I did it:

1. After applying a base coat, I painted my nails bright yellow. As you can see, I was not overly careful with this application as I knew that a lot of the yellow would not be seen in the final design.

After applying a base coat, I painted my nails bright yellow.

2. When this was completely dry (you can use Seche Vite to speed up this process), I sectioned off the bottom third of my nail and applied Revlon’s Nail Enamel in ‘Rich’ to the rest of it. This is definitely shaping up to be one of this autumn’s ‘It’ colours and I can see why- it’s a fabulous, wearable mix of gold, silver and green which goes with just about everything and can be worn day or night. It also manages to be sparkly and shimmery without prematurely entering into the realms of the Christmas shades, which is pretty unusual!

3. When the coat of Rich was dry, I applied three pre-cut strips of striping tape to each nail in a sunburst pattern as shown below and painted a dusky purple shade over the tape, being careful not to go over any of the yellow with the new shade. When applying the tape, I made sure that the tape covered only the Rich and none of the yellow, meaning that the shimmery gold would shine through after the tape was removed.

4. While the purple was still wet, I carefully removed the striping tape with tweezers in the reverse order to how I applied it, preventing any smudges. After waiting one or two minutes for the design to become touch-dry, I added a coat of Seche Vite to speed up drying time and protect my work.

I’m pretty pleased with how the design turned out. This was my first attempt at using striping tape and I thought it was quite effective and definitely a lot less messy than I expected. One thing I didn’t take into account was quite how bright the yellow shade was going to be; this caused the purple to take on a slightly green tinge, which lessened the contrasting effect with both the other colours . If I were to do this design again, I’d use a brighter purple or a pink to counteract this.

If you feel like creating your own 30s-style geometric design, I’d love to see how it goes. Here’s a reminder of the materials I used for mine:

Scotch tape

Striping tape (I picked up about six rolls for a few pence on Ebay)

Look by Bipa Stop Split Vitamin Booster base coat. This is great base coat which really does help to reduce nail splitting which is big problem of mine (well, relatively speaking, obviously there are far worse things). Unfortunately, though, I think this miracle worker is  only available in Austria.)

Barry M Limited Edition Nail Paint in shade 330, available at Boots

Revlon Nail Enamel in ‘Rich’

Astor Perfect Stay Gel Shine in ‘Make a Splash’

Seche Vite Fast Dry top coat.

Nail the Week: Space Age Half Moons!

An age-old design with a futuristic twist

As the season moves into autumn and colours become more muted, it’s easy to feel less than enthusiastic about the changing weather but in my experience this can be easily remedied with a quick injection of colour into a manicure.

Here, I’ve used my half moon technique to incorporate a popping purple and a shimmering slate silver with tiny multicoloured glitter. The polish I used for the silver overlay is in fact a magnetic one which can be used to create quirky patterns over the nail but as I was using it for a half moon design I decided to keep things classic and paint the traditional way. I’m a big fan of this colour combination because not only is it appropriate for fall, it also produces an unexpectedly modern effect, a bit like something you might see on a spaceship, should you find yourself in such a situation- in which case do let me know which extra-terrestrial nail art is out there!

Here are the materials I used:

Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat

Nail Paint in Bright Purple and Super Nova, both by Barry M

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Hole Re-inforcers

(Bag in top photo £22.99, New Look)