Sunday, January 19, 2014

Inaugural post!

Welcome welcome to my Super Secret Nail Blog! Why so secretive, you might ask? Well, this blog is my quiet introduction to the world of nail blogging-an introduction that I fully expect will bounce happily under the radar for many years to come. And that's fine by me. I don't expect to hit the heights popularity of the nail blog geniuses that I follow, including Cutepolish, Sam at The Nailasaurus, Robin Moses, or Christina at Adventures in Polishland. I'm not a nail tech. I'm not an expert. I just love nail polish and nail art, and I want to talk about my hobby. Hopefully some like minded geniuses like yourself will join me as I show off my nail art, offer up tutorials, and spare my husband my incessant chatter about topcoats and holo glitter. Head's up- I don't remember where all of my tried and true techniques came from. I don't want to skip designs I love because I don't remember where I found it, but I'm not trying to rip anyone off either, so if you ever see something similar to a design on another site, feel free to give credit where credit's due in the comments.

Painting my nails has stretched from something I do occasionally to hobby to borderline obsession. I started watching Cutepolish videos after a fellow nailophile spotted my Star Trek tribute art, and from there on I was hooked. In this introductory edition of my own blog, I'll be showing you what I'm working with and some of the tools I can't live without.

So my main nail challenges are cuticle care, breakage, and getting clean edges on my polish. The first two I'm slooowly starting to conquer, but getting those clean, crisp edges is my white whale. You'll probably see evidence of these challenges in my posts, so be kind. Recently I had a breakage which took me down to a nub on my right index finger- no good! Here's what my nails look like now:
 
My nails right now, using Rimmel London Bare Naked and Sally Hansen White On
Same hand, right before The Break. :( Wearing Revlon Jaded Night under NYC Precious Peacock, Revlon Copper Penny under Julep Joelle, and Sally Hansen White On

One of the frustrations I ran into after The Break was finding advice on what to do with short nails. I never know what will look good while I'm waiting on them to grow out. On the web, I got a lot of  "oh, everything looks good on short nails!" Nope. Not true. That's part of the reason I decided against waiting until I had long, pretty, perfect nails and cuticles again to start this blog. Because it's not a blog for experts, it's a blog for people like me- humble DIY folk who struggle with broken tips and jagged edges sometimes. On my "after" pic, I had shortened them down to even out my look, shaped to a soft, round curve, and created a French tip gradient. This is a look I'd wanted to try, and I don't love french tips on super short nails. The gradient is a great compromise: classic and pretty without making my hands look stubby while my nails grow back out. There's a great gradient tutorial here. The key to the French gradient look shown, FYI, is to use both a nude polish and a white on the bare nail. Blends the look together. I like Rimmel's Bare Naked because it's a little warmer toned than many nudes.

My exploding nail collection has advanced beyond polish to include to a cadre of nail tools. To keep up with me, you'll definitely need cotton balls, cotton swabs, tweezers, and toothpicks. I also have a couple of favorite items I like to have available.

I like to have pure acetone on hand, but I never use it in place of regular nail polish remover. Acetone is for cleaning brushes and touching up my edges when I'm done painting only. I like to use a shotglass for acetone, since it melts just about everything else (clue #1 as to why I don't use it in place of regular remover). When I get a wild hair and decide to do water marbling, I use a rocks glass to hold the water, so a cheapo liquor glass set could be a nice thing to pick up if you love nail art! For hand care, I prefer use the products below, plus a hand cream. My current favorite is Mary Kay Satin Hands. Some of my products are pricy, but I never pay full price for them. I buy on sale, or find a cheaper product. You do not- I repeat, do NOT- have to spend a ton of money to have pretty nails.

Julep Luxe Skin Serem, Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, Acetone, and  a snazzy 1 oz shotglass from my high school reunion.
Now, one thing I am willing to spend a little more on to get exactly what I want is a good topcoat. A fantastic topcoat can salvage some pretty bad polish. I have several topcoats, but my newest, and favorite, is Sally Hansen Mega Shine. It gives me the high shine I like and dries much more quickly than a regular topcoat. I do like to swipe a layer of a regular topcoat like Kleancolor or Wet n' Wild, which are crazy cheap and good quality, under it when I'm doing elaborate nail art to keep the lines from blurring. I also like Green Tea strengthener as a base coat. NutraNail has one that has really helped my nails grow fast, and it retails about $2.

Mega Shine topcoat
NutraNail Instant Nail Strengthener. I just bought a new bottle, so I could show it to you in the packaging. I picked it up at Wal-Mart (who, ironically, do not carry Mega Shine in my area).

The other tools I use are things you could probably pick up in your local dollar store. I love a file with multiple surfaces to shape and smooth my nails (two are shown below). I also like a very coarse file for when I break a nail and need to shorten all of them, so I can avoid the clippers as much as possible. My latest obsession is buffing blocks. Julep sent me a pair of small ones (one shown below) in my January Maven box (oh yes, come back soon and we'll talk about the Maven program), and now I can't live without them to smooth and prep my nails for polish. Another dollar store nail purchase you'll want to make is makeup sponges. They're super versatile for dozens of easy, pretty nail designs.
My favorite files and buffers
Finally, I am SO glad I got some actual nail art tools. Don't get me wrong, you can do a lot with toothpicks and makeup sponges, but having some other tools to work with is really nice. I bought a generic set of brushes and dotting tools in different sizes on Ebay, spent less than $10, and I use them all the time. There are a few brushes I don't use, but the number that I do were worth the price. I also have a brush from a Jordana striper polish. I threw away the old bottle, cleaned the brush with acetone, and voila.
My dotting tools and a few of my most frequently used brushes

So if you've made it through this post, hopefully you'll be interested in the things to come. I have some new polishes on the way for swatching, designs to try, and products to review. Let's hang out and talk nails.