Monday, December 29, 2014

New Polish: Pre-NYE Lightning Bolt Nail Art

I recently scored digging through the clearance cosmetics at my local K-Mart. I swear by K-Mart as a treasure trove for marked down polish-I can't walk in without seeing what's on sale. This time, a ton of Nicole by OPI polishes had been marked down to $2.99. After careful deliberation and debate on which ones to get, I finally settled on Berry the Hatchet, a cheerful fuchsia creme, and Party Bus, a chunky holo glitter topper from the Carrie Underwood collection. While I'm deciding what to wear for New Year's Eve, here's some simple nail art featuring Berry the Hatchet.

I used a detail brush dipped in Glitter Gal Turbulence, a fine linear holo, for my lighting bolts, and they were super simple-just three lines! Lighting bolt decals are everywhere right now, but I haven't bought any yet, and they weren't hard to do at all. Both colors were a little hard to catch accurately on camera. You can see a bit of the holo shimmer of Turbulence above. The angle on the photo below is a little truer to color for Berry The Hatchet, but it's still a touch darker on the nail than it looks here.

While it's not necessarily the world's most original shade, Berry the Hatchet is bright without feeling too summery (not that I care that much about whether a shade is 'seasonal' anyway!). In other news, this is my first post using the light box I built using this tutorial from Chalkboard Nails (thanks to the Hobby Polish Bloggers FB group for helping me find it). I'm still getting the hang of it, but it's a huge improvement from waiting for adequate sunlight. What do you think? 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

My Christmas Nails: Pink and Grey Sweater Nails

I finally picked my Christmas nail design, and I'm really happy with how my mini-series of Christmas/holiday themed nail art wrapped up (haha, that's a pun!). This design was inspired by this look from Nailstorming. I've always liked pink and grey together, so I chose that color scheme for a soft, pretty winter design with just enough glitter that reminded me of a cozy winter sweater.

For this design, I used Sally Hansen Hard as Nails in Hard-core Party as my baby pink base, then Julep Devon as my grey. The glitter is Zoya Lux (word on the street is that Zoya PixieDusts are going away in 2015, so if you like this one, you'll want to pick it up soon). Lux has pretty good opacity, but carefully dabbed over the baby pink of Hard-core Party gave it a lighter, more subtle sparkling pink snow effect. One warning about Hard-core Party: the color is lovely, but like many pale pastels, it's very streaky. Here I used a coat of matte topcoat in between layers to limit the number of coats of polish needed for decent coverage.

I've seen several different methods of doing the fair isle snowflake, so I sort of cobbled them together for mine. First, I carefully striped Devon once horizontally and once vertically over the pink base, meeting in the center of the nail. Then I made another set of diagonal stripes from top right to bottom left and vice versa. Next I pulled out my detail brush and made a triangular tip between the lines at the top of each wedge. Finally, I used a small brush to fill in outside the tips and dotted a daub of Lux in the center.

I loved this design, and as I get more practiced on my detail work, I'd love to recreate or do a similar design again. One holiday design I drooled over but didn't do myself this year was a full fair isle mani, so that may be on the docket for next season. If you're interested in a pictorial on the snowflake, let me know as well-it will be great practice. I hope you've had a great holiday season, whether you celebrate yourself or not. Now to start plotting my New Year's Eve mani!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Nails-Round 2

As I hoped, I have two more winter/holiday nail designs for you today. They didn't come out as well as I wanted, so now, one day before Christmas, I'm still in search of my elusive Christmas day nails. 

First I tried some ruffian stamping, with mixed results. Even though the photos on this design weren't fantastic, I really liked it on my nails. I used Sally Hansen Hard as Nails in Pumping Iron as my base, then created a curved side ruffian with Julep Lacey. I stamped the cute little snowflakes with Pumping Iron as well. This mani gave me a few issues, but I think the overall result wasn't bad and I enjoyed wearing it. On the downside, I had tip wear at breakneck speed, which you can see here. This photo is only a day into wearing this mani. Silvers tend to give me that issue, so I was disappointed even if not surprised. I did try a new topcoat, Sally Hansen Super Shine. It was slightly slower drying than my standby topcoats, but otherwise a good substitute-easy to work with and quite shiny.

Here's my second look, the one I'm wearing now. It falls strictly into the realm of "ok I guess," to the point that I'm marking it as a fail. I'm just not in love with it. The color combination is great, though. This is NYC Crown Gold with Fashion Queen on the tips, then Sally Hansen Insta Dri Wined Up for my tree and ribbon and NYC Queen of the City and Fashion Queen for the bow.

*Sigh*. Not good. But I'm still dreaming up that mani that will make me squeal when I wake up to it on Christmas morning. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Let the Christmas Nails Begin! Boughs of Holly Nail Art

I have a hard and fast rule that in my house we don't start discussing any holiday more than one month before that holiday actually falls. I am the resident Ruiner of Fun. Don't let that fool you, though-I am a fan of holiday nail art, and Christmas is one of my favorites. Since we are less than a week out from Christmas, last week I kicked off the season's nail art with this holly design inspired by Nails by Josse.

I skipped the matte for glittered tips, and added in bronzed curls underneath for a touch of class. I also went for a slightly more blendy, less sharp design than the original. This red is Sinful Colors GoGo Girl with NYC Ruby Queen on the tips, OPI for Sephora I Only Shop Vintage for the curls, and Revlon Jaded Night for my foliage. You may also notice I've gone a little shorter. Not by choice unfortunately, but hopefully my nails will grow out quickly. In the meantime, I softened up the shape and reduced my length to even it out across my entire hand.

I hope to fit in at least two more holiday themed designs before Christmas- not a lot of time, so wish me luck! What are your nails wearing this holiday season?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

How To: Easy Polka Dot Gradient Nail Art

It's no secret that I looove gradients, but I haven't quite found my stride yet with technique. Today's nail look was possibly the easiest. Gradient. EVER. It's such a simple technique that I almost didn't blog it, but I absolutely love the outcome, so here it is, complete with instructions on how to turn any polish into a perfect polka dot gradient.

I started with my base polish. This time it was Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Peach of Cake. Pretty, huh? I think I needed something bright and cheerful. This and a Sally Hansen french tip white polish are the only polishes I used. FYI, the photo above is a much better representation of the actual color than the tutorial pics below (yay natural lighting!).

Once I had a nice clean base, I made my next color- still Peach of Cake, but one shade lighter by adding a drop of white. I mixed that and dotted on two lines of dots at the base of the nail.

Then I did it again.

 And one more time.

And I was done! I gave it a few minutes to dry, then topped liberally with Julep Oxygen Performance Topcoat (I used Oxygen Basecoat here, too). One more look at the finished result:

Oooh! Ahhh!

I kid you not, this is so gorgeous. This polish is one that I have a weird love/hate relationship with depending on the lighting and my mood, but I haven't had anything but mad adoration for this mani. You could easily use this technique to create progressively lighter dots with almost any polish, or with a darker color instead of white to create a reversed effect on a light polish. Don't use black to darken the shade-I learned the hard way that it just creates an ugly, muddy version of your polish. Instead, choose a darker version of the same color and mix it in one drop at a time (for example, if your base color was baby pink, add a magenta polish to it for your dots). I did two layers of dots in each shade, but you could adjust that to your nail length and the preferred size and distance between your dots. I used a small/medium dotting tool, but a toothpick or bobby pin would work fine as well.

I already have ideas on other colors that would go well with this easy nail art look, perfect for all skill levels. You gotta try this!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Black Dahlia Lacquer Review: Capital Rose Garden and Twilight Orchid

Quickie post today-I miss you all terribly, but I have been stupid busy, and by the time I get home at night it's already dark, so I've been taking photos when and where I can while meticulously planning to build my very own lightbox for blog photos so I can take my pictures when I feel like it. But you didn't come to hear me whine. (In my Oprah voice) I have swatches!

I spotted a fantastic sale on the Black Dahlia Lacquer Facebook page and decided to give them a try. Black Dahlia is a newer indie polish brand run by a mother and daughter. For their sale, you get a LE free mystery polish in the same size as the polish you buy, so I chose the petite sized Capital Rose Garden from their newest collection. I absolutely love that they have two different size options, 8 ml and 14 ml. When you have as much polish as I do and want to continue until you've bought all the polish, the option to get a less expensive petite size is very attractive...but now I almost wish I hadn't, because I love this polish SO MUCH. It's exactly what I expected from the website photos, a pinkish mauve with mesmerizing holo sparkle, and it applies like a dream-two easy coats here with HK Girl topcoat.

For my mystery polish, I got a blue glitter topper called Twilight Orchid. It's a sparkly blue glitter in a blue tinted base. While it's not something I would probably have picked myself, it's a nice polish that I was pleased to add to my collection. I couldn't resist the urge to try it alone, but this is really more of a topper. This is three heavy coats. It did dry fairly well, even when applied thickly, and was surprisingly smooth. I am not a fan of over the top texture for the most part, so a smooth finish was a plus for me. Lots of sparkle, and the silvery blue gave it a Cinderella type feel. I followed that up with some nail art, a glitter gradient with a thin glitter tip over a plain french tip white polish. The blue base really pops over the white! This will be a great polish for nail art.

Oops, did I say a this would be a quickie? I guess you should know better by now! Have you tried Black Dahlia? Which polish should be my next?