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: 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

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: Spikes, Monochrome and Glitter!

Glitzy and glam!

Glitzy and glam!

This week’s Nail the Week is coming to you on a Tuesday thanks to the bank holiday, but I hope it’s worth waiting for. This mani blasts some of my favourite Barry M polishes into action to create an eclectic look using sleek darks, matte lights, and mostly importantly lots of bold glitter. I was feeling a bit wild when I did this manicure, and strictly speaking it’s probably not ‘one for the office’ but if you feel like rebelling against those back to work blues, then this is the nail design for you! One thing’s for sure, it’s definitely going to make tapping those computer keys a whole lot more exciting!

To begin, I used a fairly course file to to add a point to my nail tip. I appreciate that this look may not be for everybody, so if you feel that it’s a little to Gaga for you then just skip this step and stick to your preferred nail shape. Next up, I painted my pinky and middle fingers gold, my ring finger and thumb white, and my pointer finger metallic navy (you could use black for a true monochrome effect, but I fancied a a dash of bold colour). I waited for the first layer to dry before adding a second coat to each. After the second coat had dried, I added the gold holographic glitter to my pinkies in a dabbing motion, which provides much more glitter coverage than brushing it on as you would a plain polish. Finally, I added a fast-drying top coat to the gold and navy nails and a matte top coat to the white and accessorised my unconventional manicure with lots of stacking rings.

Don’t feel restricted to the colours I’ve used, I think it would work equally well with any other colour variations as long as you stick to the basis of a light, a dark and something shiny! If you feel like recreating this look I’d love to see the results in the comments section.

Polishes used:

My (Barry M heavy) polishes for this look

My (Barry M heavy) polishes for this look

Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat

Matt White, Navy, Gold Foil Effect and Yellow Topaz Glitter, all by Barry M

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Rimmel Lycra Pro Matte Finish Top Coat