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.


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: 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)

Nail the week: expanding the half moon- peacock nails!

The mani and the inspiration behind it!

Hello all, massive apologies for the lack of posting of late, it’s been a hectic couple of weeks. Today I thought I’d share with you a mani design  inspired by some peacock feathers which I keep next to my desk. Peacocks are one of my favourite animals so I love this design, and like a lot of my manicures, it looks quite complicated but is actually really easy to create and, best of all, it can be worn on long or short nails.

To create this look I started with a base coat and a coat of gold polish. I could have used my Barry M Gold Foil Effect for this, but I thought that the peacock design warranted something a little more sheer and whimsical, so I opted for my MaxFactor Mini Effect in Ivory (which isn’t Ivory at all, it’s a shimmery gold, but never mind). I then used the hole enforcer technique as described in my Silver and Satsuma post here to leave a gold half moon with a sea green nail. To complete the peacock colour palette and mirror the eye effect of the feather, I used the same technique to add a royal blue curved tip to the nails. I found the hole enforcers slightly too narrow for this step,  so I used small circular white labels instead. I really love the finished look of these nails and definitely plan to use the technique again soon, possibly with yellow, orange and red for a sunset effect or white, grey and black for a monochrome style. I’d love to see your take on this design, so please feel free to share it with me in the comments below! Bye for now.

Materials used:

Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat

MaxFactor Mini Effect in Ivory

Nails Inc in Symons Street

Barry M Nail Paint in Navy

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Hole Re-inforcers and small circular labels, 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

Nail the Week: Sparkle ‘n’ Shine!

We all want to embark on the week’s journey feeling great, and one sure-fire of achieving this is with a dazzling manicure! This is what my newest section, Nail the Week, is all about- giving you tips and inspiration for starting the week on a sassy, stylish and creative high!

This week’s mani à la mode is a chic mix of lilac sheen and chunky gold glitter. Unlike a lot of styles, this combination can be worn all year round, and it’s so easy to create. To achieve this look, I painted a single layer of Barry M’s Lilac Foil Effect over a strengthening base coat (I use Sally Hansen Double Duty Base and Top Coat). For the accent nail, I swiped on layers of Yellow Topaz Glitter, also by Barry M, starting lightly in the middle of the nail and loading more onto the nail tip. You could do this on one or two nails or all of them for a more dramatic look. I finished with another layer of Double Duty to prevent chipping and give the design a polished look. If you can’t get hold of the colours mentioned, you can try any other lilac polish (I also love Rimmel’s Lasting Finish in Lively Lilac) or a completely different colour of your choice. For a subtler glitter effect, try a finer glitter, such as Barry M’s Gold Glitter, or for a high-glamour evening look you could opt for a darker purple and coloured glitter- for my next night out I think I’ll try out Rimmel’s 60 Seconds in Pompous with a topping of Barry M’s Jewel Glitter Paint in Amethyst (in case you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a big Barry M fan!), but you could pick the perfect shades to compliment your glad rags or let your imagination run wild! Either way, I’d love to see how you’ve worked this look so please share you Sparkle ‘n’ Shine creations with me in the comments!

Rimmel London Pro Matte Finish Top Coat

Hello and welcome to Savvy Sundays! As the working week dawns and we all buckle down (at least theoretically), it’s time to bid farewell to  the weekend’s shenanigans and get shrewd. This section aims to introduce some smart, sharp, and occasionally sensible cost-busting style, beauty and travel essentials.

As the title of this post suggests, this week’s budget-booster is a matte top coat from a British make up brand that has really upped its game in recent years, Rimmel. A fairly ordinary product on first sight it seems, but contained within this unassuming 12ml bottle is the ability to transform any nail polish from a shine finish into more muted, matte shade that is chic and striking.

Here I’ve used MaxFactor’s Max Effect Mini Nail Polish in Chilled Lilac with Nails Inc’s ‘The Thames’ on the tips. A perfect colour combination for the rainy English spring; some bright optimism with cloudy undertones. Next I used the matte top coat on the left hand to compare it with no top coat on the right. The matte finish looks velvety smooth and seems to mesh the colours together to give some cohesion to the nail design, it also feels velvety smooth, dried very fast, and best of all, has so far been very chip-resistant.

As much as I love this product in its own right, I felt compelled to feature it in the very first Savvy Sunday because, in buying this single £4.59 product, the nail lover effectively doubles her polish collection- it can be used over any shade (even shimmer or glitter shades, which produces an mysterious sheen) to create a completely unique effect. Furthermore, its a lot more affordable than many matte top coats on the market and comes with a wide, flat brush which makes application effortless and waste minimal.

So I earnestly recommend all nail-atics out there to give this product a whirl- it might just change the way you wear polish forever!