Nail The Week: Abstract Skulls!

This week I decided to dig out my trusty sugar skulls stamping plate (featured in my original Skull Stamping post) to create another funky, spooky design, this time with a more mysterious feel to it.

To create this look, I used different parts of the GIANT skull in the centre of the plate to swipe electric blue swirls, flowers, teeth and moustaches onto my nails over a taupe base (Barry M Indigo over Barry M Vanilla). I decided to finish with a matte top coat to prevent any glare from obscuring the detail of this abstract design.

Once again I’m really pleased with the outcome of my stamping endeavour. The MoYou plates are fantastic value for money and great quality, plus the number of different designs which can be created with them is almost endless. With these plates I can also produce far more intricate and detailed designs than I could ever dream of doing freehand (steady-handed I am not). Creating a nail look with the large centre image was even easier than using the smaller, individual skulls because there were no concerns over image centralisation or alignment. That said, I do adore the little skulls and will probably incorporate them into a mani including segments of the larger one in the future.

A reminder of what the MoYou Explorer Collection Number 8 Image Plate looks like.

Nail The Week: Being Watched!

 

So those around me are cottoning on to the fact that my nail art obsession is here to stay and I recently received my very first request, courtesy of my cousin Samantha! She recommended I recreate this nude eye design, seen on Emmy Rossum. As you can imagine, I was hugely excited at the prospect of this challenge, particularly as I immediately spied that it involved one of my favourite nail art techniques, the half moon!

Creating this design was much simpler than it first appeared. I started off with a white base and used the technique described here to create a half moon. I chose to switch the design up by using grey polish instead of nude. I decided to incorporate brown, blue and green eyes, so after the half moon stage I used a large dotting tool to create the colourful iris of each eye (I was going to add one red eye for extra quirkiness but I forgot.) I then added a blob of the darker colours with a medium dotting tool for the pupil and finally a tiny white dot to give the image dimension. Of course I finished by sealing with a top coat.

Overall I’m very pleased with how this design turned out. I’ve received lots of compliments from all sorts of people from friends and family to the lady in Superdrug and even, oddly enough, the radiator delivery man, although he might’ve been hankering for a cuppa! If I were to change anything I would use a grey polish with a thicker opacity than the Ciate as it’s almost impossible and certainly outside the constraints of my patience to do two coats on a half moon. I’d also definitely add the red eye next time. I thoroughly enjoyed my first nail request, though, so if you have any ideas you’d like me to try, send them my way!

 

The colours I used are as follows:

– Barry M Matt White

– Ciate Pillow Fight

– Barry M Navy

– Barry M Cyan Blue

– Rimmel Beige Babe

-Barry M Copper

– Bourjois Bleu Model

– Barry M Watermelon

Nail The Week Sugar Skull Stamping, An Alternative Approach!

I was delighted with the effect of my first sugar skulls nails but it can’t be said that they weren’t labour-intensive. I was keen to re-create the look minus the time commitment, so when I stumbled across these adorable floral skull water decals on the Born Pretty website it seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring back one of my favourite manicures.

Using water decals couldn’t be simpler and is achieved in 5 easy steps:

1. Paint your nails with a suitable base colour. I went for white to offer a fair comparison to my original skull manicure and because I thought that the decals would show up best against a white background. Wait until the base colour is completely dry.

2. Select the decals you want to use and cut them out. I also laid them out in the order I was going to use them to prevent any mid-mani confusion.

3. One by one, dip the decal in a small bowl of water for a few seconds until it slides off the backing paper and dip the relevant nail into the water.

4. Using tweezers, position the decal onto the nail and blot off excess water.

5. When all the decals are in place and the nails are dry, add a top coat. This is vital to prevent them from rubbing away.

I love how the  finish decal mani has turned out, the skulls have dried really flat and, two days in, are looking good on the durability front. The decals are not as bright as they appear on the website but I’m still pleased with the overall effect.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of both techniques:

And finally the pros and cons of each technique:

Stamping

Pros: freedom of colour choice, a rustic/ hand-painted look, many different skull designs.

Cons: a lot of materials required, fiddly and time consuming, higher start up cost when buying plates, stampers and scrapers.

Decals

Pros: a sheet of decals is very cost-effective (less than £1), lower risk of a design going awry, fast and easy.

Cons: limited to the existing colours on the decals, higher cost in the long run as decals can only be used once.

Which look do you prefer?

Nail The Week: Sugar Skull Stamping!

I absolutely adore skulls and everything associated with them so when, hot on the heels of my first stamping experience, I spied this sugar skull image plate on the MoYou website I knew instantly that I had to make it mine.

One of the best things about stamping is the number of different looks you can create with one plate; colours can be changed up endlessly to create a variety of designs. For this mani I decided to keep things simple but striking with a range of strong, vibrant colours standing out over a white base.

Unlike a large, whole-nail design which can pretty much be planted on anywhere and then cleaned up around the edges, the small, individual designs on this plate require more precise placement. I decided to practice a little on paper first but in a way I wished I hadn’t because it gave me misleading ideas about how easy it would be to line up the skulls! I was originally aiming to have each skull in the centre of the nail, but I’m actually glad it didn’t quite turn out that way, as slightly off-centred, skewiff skulls gave a funky, asymmetric feel to the manicure.

After my first use of this MoYou plate, I can safely say that I’m delighted with it. It’s affordable and good quality and I love how each little skull has different features, such as flowers or stars for the eyes and assorted headpieces (my favourite is the little pirate!) I worked out that you could do almost two manicures without using the same skull twice and many more using portions of the large skull to create an abstract effect. My test run on paper also proved that the use of this image plate is not limited to nails; it could also be used to adorn letters, cards and invitations. I’m not usually one for repeat manicures, but I loved this look so much that I might just have to bring out the plate again for my next nail design.

Here’s a look at my practice run on paper and a close-up of the image plate:

And lastly the materials I used:

– Gelly Nail Paint in Watermelon, Pomegranate and Satsuma and Nail Paint in Matt White, Bright Purple and Navy, all Barry M

– MoYou Explorer Collection Number 8 Image Plate

– Konad Stamper and Scraper Set

– Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat and Insta-Dri Top Coat (not pictured)

Nail The Week: Studded Sunset feat. Sephora Tie Dye!

In a break from tradition, I’m going to begin this week’s Nail the Week post with my materials list, which is as follows:

-Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat

-Barry M Nail Paint in Copper

-Ciate Mini in Hopscotch

-Sephora Tie Dye Top Coat

-Metal Stud Stickers in Copper, by MissLyn

-Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat

-Barry M Corrector Pen for clean-up

Is this list shorter than you were expecting? Well, I really haven’t forgotten anything; thanks to Sephora’s nifty and versatile Tie Dye Top Coat I was able to incorporate three different orange shades into my mani using just one colour polish! Best of all, Tie Dye is so easy to use- to create this look I simply painted my index finger and thumb with Copper and the remaining nails with Hopscotch and waited for the colour to dry thoroughly before layering on two coats of Tie Dye to my ring and middle finger, followed by a further two to my middle finger. After this had dried I attached the copper studs and added two coats of top coat to make sure that they wouldn’t budge.

I’m really impressed with how well Tie Dye worked. You could use it to create an ombre effect across several nails like I have here or paint coats of it onto the tip of each nail for a dip dye effect. It’s also brilliant for matching your polish to an outfit if it’s a couple of shades too light! You can expect to see more of what I think will soon become a cult product on my blog soon!

As a side note, I was also pleased with how well the studs stayed on my nails. I haven’t used metal nail decorations before for fear that they’d fall off very quickly but these stayed on for a good three days before I had to carry out emergency top coat repairs. I’ll doubtless be featuring these in my future Nail the Week posts as well!

And finally, my thumbnail polish hasn’t gone blobby, that’s a raindrop (English weather strikes again!)

Nail The Week: Nude With Stars!

No, not a celeb magazine headline, but a simple, chic and (almost) work-appropriate Nail the Week Mani! I created this look with my Barry M Lychee (which is currently running dangerously low; a testament to its versatility) and some tiny star nail sequins from Inglot. I applied the stars with a small dotting tool after adding my second coat of Lychee and added a good dose of fast-drying top coat to make sure they stayed in place.

My biggest concerns over this mani were that the stars would be very fiddly to apply and would fall off in five seconds, but luckily both of these worries were unfounded. It was very easy to apply the stars and any dents I made in the polish from moving them around slightly were easily smoothed out with top coat. They also stayed tightly in place until it was time for my next mani.

I’ll definitely be using these stars again, especially as you get about a million per pot! I’m hatching grand ideas of a silver or glitter base for a party look or a stark white base (possibly with a matte top coat) for a trendy monochrome effect.

The materials I used for this look are:

-Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat

-Barry M Gelly Hi Shine in Nail Paint in Lychee

-Black Star Nail and Body Spangles by Inglot

-Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat

-Dotting Tools (not pictured)

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)