Saturday, February 28, 2015

$5 Mani: Jelly Sandwich

I love indie polish...because who doesn't anymore? It's the best. But there's still a special place in my heart for drugstore polish. The sad reality is that I can't afford to buy all the indies and high end stuff. Luckily for us, there are some really good polishes readily available in most areas for decent prices. For those of us who can't go on an indie shopping spree every time we decide to get a new polish (insert brief fantasy of being able to waltz into K-Mart and pick up baskets full of A England and ILNP), I bring you $5 Mani! In these posts (hopefully there will be lots of them), I will feature full nail art looks with two or more polishes that I purchased for $5 or less, and most will be easy to find at mass retailers.

For my first $5 mani, I went back to the jelly sandwich, a trend that I never got to when it was cool-typical. Jelly sandwiching is when you take a jelly polish and layer it both over and under a glitter. I hadn't tried it because I have a preference for opaque looks, but the sheer squishiness of jellies is winning me over. I brought out NYC Color NY Princess as my base and layered with Sinful Colors Love Sprinkles, an LE matte white heart and hex glitter. NY Princess has its own glitters, which made it fun for this look. Oddly, I mentioned back in August when I reviewed the NYC Fashion Queen collection that I may try it in a jelly sandwich sometime, so it's fitting that I used it for my first one. Incidentally, NY Princess was much more cooperative this time around. The base on Love Sprinkles is a little thick, it had to be sweet talked into participating in this look. Both polishes retail at $1.99, so even without any discounts or sales, the total cost of this look is $3.98.

Jelly sandwich technique will take some practice, but I like this mani. The different types of layers make a monochromatic look that's really interesting-and it's so squishy! I have tons of glitters that may be fun in this technique next time I need something that both squishes and sparkles. Do you still wear the occasional jelly sandwich, or are you on to the next look?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Black Dahlia Lacquer Blue Half Moons

Nothing super fancy to show today, but I know it's been kind of quiet here recently, so I wanted to drop in and show you a quick nail art look featuring polish from Black Dahlia Lacquer, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite indie brands. The formula is always good, and they have a few distinct finishes characteristic of their polish that I really love, so once you've tried them, you have a pretty good idea of what you're going to get next time. Plus they come in two sizes-great for a blogger on a budget.

The base color of this mani is Texas Ice Flower, from their Holiday Collection. The glitter half moons are Twilight Orchid, which I got as a free mystery polish during their Black Friday sale. It's not currently available on the site.

Here's a closer look at those finishes I was telling you about. Texas Ice Flower has a gorgeous subtle scattered holo glitter that makes it look more "blue, but better" than a true holo polish. This is two coats with Sally Hansen 3D Gel Shine topcoat, with the half moons applied with a dotting tool, no topcoat. For a chunky glitter, Twilight Orchid dried really quickly.

Sorry for the radio silence lately. This has been a bit of an awful month for me personally, which diverted me from some of the nail art challenges, reviews, and other fun things I had planned to do. It's also taken a toll on my nail care routine, so I also don't feel like they've looked very blog ready lately. While I can't say that things are back to normal quite yet on either front, I appreciate that people are still checking out the blog and interacting on social media-it's such a mood booster. Thank you!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Does It Work? Tea Bag Wraps

If you follow me on the Twitter, you may be aware that I had a pretty nasty break recently, right on the middle finger of my swatch hand! It wasn't a full break, though; my nail split diagonally to almost the center of the nail, so it would be both painful and cosmetically unpleasant to cut it down, so I'm trying to avoid that. I remembered that I had once tried tea bag wraps with mixed results, so I went to a tutorial on xoVain to give it another shot. While I by no means think I can do it better than the tutorial, I took some pictures tonight to show you how it worked for me.

Oh no!

I started off with a gentle buff to smooth everything down. I used an old, worn down mini buffing block-it looks pretty ugly, but it's great for this because you have to absolutely baby the break to keep it from ripping off, plus you want to do as little damage to the nail plate as possible while the nail is growing out.

Then I chopped up my tea bag. You want a piece longer than the nail, but about the same width. The tea bag is a basic cheap-o paper tea bag with the leaves poured out. Both sides are cut, but only because I've used multiple pieces-you only want one "ply."

Next I put a on coat of Nutra Nail Green Tea strengthener (haha!), also swiping the brush under the tip. It's the same basecoat recommended in the tutorial, but I just happened to have it, I'm sure other brands would work too. I gave it a moment to firm up just a touch, because when I tried it fully wet, my tea bag patch slid all over and it just didn't work. It has to be wet to stick, but giving it a minute or so to thicken really makes it stick. The whole break plus a little more should be covered, so I put the edge just past the middle of the nail and carefully smoothed it down with my finger to get rid of any wrinkles or bubbles. I let it dry for a while, then I buffed again, very lightly along the edge of the patch, and clipped most of the extra paper hanging off the nail before putting on another layer of the strengthener.

After that, I let it get mostly dry again, then gently filed the rest of the paper off with my glass file and gave it one more gentle buff before topping with my final layer of base coat.

Where's the break? I dunno!

Then it was ready for my polish-Black Dahlia Lacquer Vibrant Poinsettias. Isn't it gorgeous? And the formula is fabulous-no cleanup required on this hand. The sparkly glitter finish and a copious dose of topcoat helped gloss over any remaining imperfections, being sure to wrap the tip of the nail to seal off the edge of the break.

So does it work? My verdict is yes! I think part of the reason I had trouble with it before is because I am not patient. Notice all of that "let it dry" in this post? Yeah, I'm not so good at that. The multiple layers of basecoat made my nail more susceptible to polish wrinkles, and keeping it smooth keeps the patch strong, so patience is a must. Do this on a Netflix night, because you're going to need to hold still for a while, even with a quick drying topcoat. These patches come off with regular polish remover, just be sure to wipe gently in the direction of the break (my break is sideways, so I remove polish side to side instead of my normal base to tip). I've been pretty gentle with it, but while wearing these patches over the past couple of days, I haven't noticed a difference in strength from my other nails. This is easy, used items I already have, and works well. Time will tell if I can keep it up until my nail is back to a decent length, but if you have a break you don't want to cut off and don't want to use falsies, this is worth a try.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Weekend Nails: Sunrise/Sunset Gradients With China Glaze Fairy Dust

A few days ago I picked up Fairy Dust, the much loved holo micro glitter topper from China Glaze. I was eager to try it out, so this weekend I whipped out my sponges and got to work on a couple of sparkle infused gradient manis inspired by the Indiana skyline. The results made me feel optimistic about my progress with gradients, and I absolutely love the subtle sparkle of Fairy Dust!

For this cheerful "sunrise" gradient, I started with one coat of white over my basecoat, topcoated, then sponged a few coats of a trio of Julep Catrina (sunny deep yellow creme), Sinful Colors Boogie Nights (juicy orange based coral), and Sally Hansen Nail Growth Miracle Sweet Sunrise (shimmer kissed warm pink) an finished off with one coat of Fairy Dust before topcoating again. This mani looked even better in person. I did have a little bit of bumpiness, which I think is because I wasn't very patient with my white base. I'll have to learn to go slow with gradients to really get the flawless results I want. I also love these colors together. Finding the right bridge shade seems to be the key, and the crelly texture of Boogie Nights helped meld everything together. I loved how the pink tips softened the whole look to a rosy glow.

When I was ready for my second go, I kept the same theme, but I used a dusky "sunset" color scheme of soft purples. I added in a second coat of Fairy Dust on just the tips to add extra sparkle to my night sky, but otherwise used the same strategy-white base followed up with two or three spongings of a three color set. This time I used Julep Octavia (deep blue-violet), Sinful Colors Dream On (bright purple crelly) and Sally Hansen Nail Growth Miracle in Loyal Lavender (pale lavender shimmer). At first I thought it was a funny little coincidence that I chose polishes from the exact same makers as the first gradient, but when I thought about it, it wasn't such a surprise-I just chose polishes with the exact same finishes in a different color scheme. For both of these manis I used Avon ridge filling base coat and Sally Hansen 3D Gel Shine topcoat.

With the exception of my obsessive love for all shades of green polish, I tend to be more partial to warm colors than to cool ones, so I think I liked the first one a little better, but both of these were a huge improvement on most of the gradients I've done in the past.Which of these skyline inspired looks is your favorite? Are you a fan of Fairy Dust?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Nail Crazies Unite: Anti-Vday Negative Space Heart of Stone

Recently I joined the Facebook group Nail Crazies Unite, a new group for weekly nail art prompts. I probably won't be able to hit all the prompts all the time, but I definitely saw the potential on the first one: Anti Valentine's Day. While I don't have anything in particular against love, I've always thought Valentine's Day was kind of silly, so this prompt piqued my interest right away. After several botched ideas, I was inspired by this photo for the mani that finally made me happy. While I don't agree with the sentiment (men have feelings, too!), the "heart of stone" concept was cute and perfect for my anti-Vday nails.

I've wanted to try a negative space mani for a while, and this seemed like as good a prompt as any to get my feet wet. I wouldn't say it's one of my best, but for a first try, I think it's pretty cute! Be sure to check out the other Nail Crazies Unite Anti-Vday looks this week below.