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:


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.


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: 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

Nail The Week: Midweek Marblin’!

Finally, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and go for it. Months after first hearing about water marbling nail art I have, on this fine Wednesday afternoon, got round to giving it a whirl (literally). To be honest it was a bit of an impulse move, I entered into it more for experimentation purposes than anything else. Could that snazzy, swirly design really be achievable outside the realms of YouTube? I decided to give it a go with one nail at first. After prepping my nails with two coats of white (it makes the colours pop more, apparently) and taping around the edges to protect the skin and minimise mess (ha ha), I took a mug of tap water which I’d let stand for a couple of hours to ensure that it was room temperature, and dropped in my first polish blob. To my surprise and mild delight, it spread out beautifully, so I continued blobbing in alternate colours until the surface of the water was covered. After that I anchored the polish to the edges of the mug using an orange stick,  then used the stick to swirl the paint into a psychedelic design.

Then it was time to dip. I lined up my nail horizontally with a particularly appealing part of the design and took the plunge. After waiting a few seconds for the paint on the water to dry, I collected it with the orange stick (think the skin on custard) and slowly removed my finger from the water. Well, it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but essentially, water marbling had worked!

First and foremost

First and foremost.

I decided to go back in with more nails, this time dipping three at once to save both on time and nail paint. Once all the nails were safely dipped, I waited a little while until the polish was touch-dry and removed the tape before cleaning up around the edges with nail polish remover and adding a top coat. Here are the finished results:

My finished first marble!

My finished first marble!

I have to say that I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. The colour selection was somewhat accidental- I just grabbed what was nearest to me, but I think the navy and white works really well, it brings to mind ancient Chinese porcelain! I love how the marbling gives a different, intricate effect on each nail and the overall look is really eye catching. I’ll have to wait and see how the design fairs in terms of durability, but it’s definitely a winner if you want an easily achievable, show-stopping nail look!

Materials used:

A cup of room temperature tap water

Scotch tape

An orange stick (you could also used a tooth pick or an empty ball point pen)

Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat

Matt White and Navy, both by Barry M

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Nail The Week: Silver and Satsuma!

Bright and tasty!

This week’s Nail the Week combines two very different yet beautifully complimentary colours from one of my favourite nail polish brands, Barry M. Although it looks a little intricate, this design is so easy to achieve with the help of a stationary cupboard staple, hole re-inforcers. To create this look, I painted a single coat of silver over a long-lasting base coat and waited for it to dry completely. After that, I took my hole re-inforcers and and adhered them to the bottom of my nails to create a half-moon shape, being sure to press them down firmly at the edges. I then added a coat of orange over the exposed area of the nail and removed the hole re-inforcer carefully and immediately. It’s important to remove the re-inforcers straight away after applying the second colour to prevent the shape from smudging. Once the orange was touch-dry I added a fast-drying top coat to smooth out any harsh lines in the design and protect my polish.

I really love the two colours I’ve used in this manicure; the finished effect is summery and very glamorous, and the bright orange reminds me of one of my very first nails polishes, a bright orange affair from Rimmel, back in the day when they were still using square bottles! Both the Foil Effects and the Gelly Hi-Shine polishes are pigmented enough to only require one coat of each, which is great if you’re doing a design like this one with more than one colour. This is a great look to opt for if you’re looking for a manicure to take you from day to night, as it’s bright enough to be striking in the daytime but shimmery enough to add some nighttime glamour. Of course, you could also make up your own colour combination, some others I thought of were pink and gold, black and white and peach and purple.

I’ve heard that the half-moon manicure was big news in the 1930s and 40s, so if you feel like trying out a classic manicure with a modern twist of colour, why not raid that office drawer and get started today?

Polishes used:

Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat

Silver Foil Effect and Satsuma Gelly Hi-Shine, both by Barry M

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Hole Re-inforcers, £1.99, from W H Smith.

Nail The Weekend: More Sparkles, Matte and Shine.

Monochrome and glitter- how it evolved

Monochrome and glitter- how it evolved

So here’s a fun variation of this week’s ‘Spikes, Monochrome and Glitter’ look from Nail the Week (If you haven’t seen it, here’s the link to check it out) I mentioned in the post that any number of combinations would work as long as you stick to the ‘one dark, one light, and one shimmer’ template. Here I’ve given the monochrome look an up-to-date makeover using lilac and silver, to which I’ve given a glossy top coat, and black, to which I’ve added either pink glitter or a matte top coat, meaning that there is even more colour and texture variety than in the original design! Now that I’ve donned these fun and varied pops of colour, I am well and truly ready for the weekend! The more beady-eyed amongst you may have also noticed that I’ve filed my pointed nails into a more practical oval shape. As much as I love the quirky look of pointed nails, I have to say that they were more than a little annoying in terms of catching on things and generally being a danger to myself and delicate objects around me, but they still remain a glam and striking look for special events, and I’m glad I’ve given them a whirl!

Feel free to let me know in the comments section which of this week’s colour combis you preferred, or maybe there’s a better combination you’d like to recommend? Either way, I’d love to hear from you!

Polishes used:

Just for the record, I'm not being sponsored by Barry M in any way, I just happen to love their products!

Just for the record, I’m not being sponsored by Barry M in any way, I just happen to love their products!

Black, Silver Foil Effect, Ruby Glitter, Prickly Pear Gelly Nail Effects, all by Barry M

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Rimmel Lycra Pro Matte Finish Top Coat