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: My Debut Stamp!

 I’ve been wanting to try nail stamping for a while now and when my Konad m57 image plate and scraper and stamper set dropped through the door a few days ago I knew that the time had finally come. I’d heard mixed reviews about the difficulty of this nail art technique, so rather than risk ruining a good manicure with a smudgy stamping episode, I decided to err on the side of caution and carry out my debut stamp over polish that been on for a few days and was in need of a freshen up. That way, if things didn’t go according to plan I could happily wipe it off with no ruined mani frustration.

For those of you who don’t know, the process of stamping itself is pretty uncomplicated. You simply chose whichever design you like on the plate, add a blob of polish, brush firmly across the design with the scraper, roll the stamper over the design to pick up the polish and then roll onto the nail. The most common problems people experience are picking up only half the design on the stamper, issues with design alignment on the nail and of course the dreaded smudging.

With the associated risks in mind, for this ‘trial run’ stamp-a-thon  I selected my Barry M Black polish to stamp with because I knew that it had sufficient colour opacity to do the job and I didn’t want to splash out on stamping polish only to find that I was utterly useless at it.

Once everything was ready, I took the plunge and indulged in my first stamp. Like many things in the world of nail art, I found that stamping was nowhere near as problematic as expected. My first stamps turned out by no means perfect, but my fears about smudging and problems with picking up the image were largely unfounded and the end result was ultimately exactly the look I was going for!

Overall, I was really happy with my first stamping experience, especially as the design still looked fab several days afterwards, therefore almost doubling the life of my original mani! I will definitely be trying out more stamping designs soon (probably next time on fresh polish!), so keep you eyes peeled for blog entries about it!

Here are  the materials I used for stamping (the original mani was done with a bright pink shade from Dior’s Bird of Paradise collection.)

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: Delicate Dots!

Having been hankering after a set of dotting tools for some time, I was pretty delighted when mine finally arrived from Ebayland the other day. These little gems are as cheap as anything and are one of the easiest ways to instantly improve your nail art technique, even if like me you are not steady of hand. This week is a bit of nail art double whammy as I was so pleased with how my first dotting venture turned out that I went straight in with another design as soon as it was time to take the first one off.

For my first dose of dots  I opted for a metallic gold base with some bright multicoloured accent spots. I thought this worked really well and the overall effect is reminiscent of something you might find in a Moroccan bazaar or on an Indian sari. I also love how the design looks very intricate but is not challenging to create.

I went for a similar approach for my second dotty design, this time trying an ombre look for the very first time as the base. To create the ombre I painted on a coat of light beige before dampening a wedge make up sponge to prevent it from absorbing all the nail polish, painting stripes of my chosen colours onto it and dabbing it over the nail. I’ve been wanting to try gradient nails for the longest time but was dreading the process being difficult and messy, but I couldn’t believe how easy it turned out to be and how little cleanup was required! I liked the effect of the ombre on it’s own and it would be perfect if you wanted a subtler look, but as I was itching to get out my dotting tools again I added bold, deep red, purple and orange dots to each nail.

Next time I go for a dotty look, I’d like to try some monochrome spots over a silver glitter base, but that will have to wait as I’m away from home for the next couple of weeks and forgot to bring my white polish!

And finally here are the materials I used:

Look 1:

Look by Bipa Stop Split Vitamin Booster base coat

Gold Foil Effect, Satsuma Gelly Hi-Shine and Navy Nail Paint, all by Barry M

Orly Nail Lacquer in Beach Cruiser

Seche Vite Fast Dry top coat

Dotting tools (found on Ebay for a couple of pounds, or you could use bobby pins and tooth picks).

Look 2:

Look by Bipa Stop Split Vitamin Booster base coat

Lychee, Plum and Pomegranate  Gelly Hi-Shine and Gold Foil Effect Nail Paints, all by Barry M

Seche Vite Fast Dry top coat

A wedge make up sponge (I bought a bag of about 20 for around £3 in Superdrug)

Dotting Tools

Inspired By… Bride of Frankenstein Nails!

This year for Halloween I was the bride of Frankenstein, based on the 1935 film. As always, I needed to complete my outfit with a fitting manicure and although I do it fairly often, there really was no other option but a monochrome half moon design, to tie in with the black and white film and the era in which it was made, as half moon manicures originated in the 30s. Rather than using a bright white, I opted for a light nude polish for the half moon to give the mani a more aged, sepia effect. I haven’t done a tutorial as I’m painfully aware that it’s pretty similar to some other looks I’ve created, but I thought I’d share it with you anyway.

Materials  used:

– Look by Bipa Stop Split Vitamin Booster base coat.

– Barry M Nail Paint in Black

-Barry M Gelly Hi Shine in Nail Paint in Lychee

-Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

– Hole Re-inforcers from WHSmith

How to achieve the look: Follow the instructions in my Silver and Satsuma post.

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.