Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve Nails 2012

Happy New Year's Eve! I didn't end up using one of the Salon Effects holiday strips that I posted about last week, but I did use a different type of nail polish strip from Sally Hansen.

I've been saving this one for a special occasion since I got it back in the summer. It's part of the limited edition Sally Hansen Salon Effects "Rock of Ages" collection that was inspired by the movie starring Tom Cruise.
I decided to just use the nail polish strip on my accent finger, as I didn't want to overwhelm with the zipper pattern. The name of this particular design is Zip It! For my other fingers I used two coats of OPI Your Royal Shine-ness. The match iss pretty close (close enough to fool my friends who thought I did the whole manicure using nail polish strips!).

It's a fairly simple manicure, but I love the bright sparkle and funky zipper pattern. Nail polish strips are definitely  special occasion only for me, since they're somewhat difficult to apply, but it turned out great by just using them on my accent nails.
I hope you all have a happy and safe New Year's Eve -- see you in 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snowscape Mani

We don't get much snow in Southern California, but I thought I'd get in the holiday spirit with this snow-inspired manicure. I've been busy these past couple of weeks decorating my apartment, buying a tree and wrapping gifts, but had to do some sort of holiday-themed nails.

For the red, I used two coats of OPI Big Apple Red, part of last year's "best of 2011" mini set. The white was OPI Alpine Snow, and for the tree I used OPI Don't Mess With OPI. The snow flurries were done with different size dotting tools.
I'll have some other swatches and New Year's Eve nail art in the next couple of days, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sally Hansen Holiday Salon Effects

Happy holidays and merry Christmas! You might remember back when Wendy and I tried out Sally Hansen Salon Effects for the first time with the Rock of Ages collection ... now we're back with a preview of the holiday collection! We haven't tried them out yet, but since New Year's Eve plans are just a week away, we're thinking ahead to what we're going to wear on an occasion that demands lots and lots of glitter.

I got this press release from Sally Hansen about the holiday collection and wanted to share a few of my favorite frontrunners. We could probably replicate some of the nail art and glitter effects by stamping and using striping brushes, but the Salon Effects are the perfect way to get a quick and cute mani in record time -- just peel and stick!

Pictured below, clockwise from top left: Snow Way!, Simply D-Vine, Holi-Daze and Shiny New Year.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Swatches 12-16-12

So the once a week Sunday swatches didn't happen due to a really bad cold that I've had all week ... but I'm back this week with some fun nail art, swatches and reviews! Check out the new designs inspired by some of my favorite patterns (some holiday-themed) and prints.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Teal Saran Wrap Mani

I think Saran Wrap nails are becoming a much more popular way of fool-proof marbling. I found this tutorial on Birchbox and decided to try it. They give a great detailed step-by-step process on the tutorial, so I won't go into specifics, but after a few trials and errors I did find that putting top coat on over the base color was the best way to ensure that the polish from the first layer didn't marble as well. Also, please don't use Q-tips to clean up your polish smudges! I've tried this in the past and every time I end up with those small fuzzy threads embedded on my nails or stuck to my cuticles. Use an angled make-up brush dipped in some acetone, and remember to press lightly!

For this mani, the colors I used were two coats of OPI Funny Bunny with one coat of OPI Ski Teal We Drop.

Check out the photos below!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Multicolored Zebra Print Mani

I've been on a colorful kick lately and today's mani is no different. I used all OPI creme polishes again, including some of my favorites and one color I'd never tried before.
On my thumb, I have a base of You Don't Know Jacques, a dark brown creme I'd never used before despite buying it a year ago in a "Best of OPI" minis set (oh the dangers of buying minis).

Next is Don't Mess With OPI, Fly, A Grape Fit and My Boyfriend Scales Walls, all great shades that I've used for other manis. Fly is one of my favorite polishes because of the bright, vibrant color -- even my mom is a fan!
I used a black striper brush to draw the zebra print over two coats of polish. After those dried, I used a silver striper brush to accent the print.
My favorite of the five colors was actually the white, My Boyfriend Scales Walls -- it inspired me to create a snow leopard mani next, so keep an eye out for new nail art up on the blog soon!
(From L-R: My Boyfriend Scales Walls, A Grape Fit, You Don't Know Jacques, Fly, Don't Mess With OPI

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Laser Stripe Pink and Purple Tape Mani

Annie and I had a much-needed manicure night where we had a chance to catch up and watch some "True Blood" -- our latest obsession. She wanted professional-looking nails, so we did a basic French manicure using OPI In The Spotlight Pink and my white It's So Easy Nails Stripe Rite polish. I didn't take any photos, but it looked great!

Meanwhile, I wanted to do something quick and simple. I started with two coats of OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls, since I wasn't quite sure what my plan was. I dug around in my manicure case and found a purple striping brush that I haven't used for awhile, so I opted for an easy design.
I was going to continue with the design to make a tribal print, but really liked the clean look of the white base with minimal design.
The white looks pretty good in photos, but my polish is actually getting really thick. I've found that with older polishes, It helps to wait longer in between coats, as there usually ends up being thicker layers of polish on the nails -- waiting is not something that I'm very good at, so you might see the polish thinned in a few spots.

Up next: Saran Wrap nails, a snow scene, Sunday Swatches ....and don't forget to sign up for our OPI Skyfall giveaway!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

OPI Rainbow Stripes French Tip Mani

Even when I was younger, I loved French tips. It's such a classic, clean look that is just completely timeless. As I got older, colored French tips went in and out of style -- first they were trendy, then they were gaudy and so on. Now that I have an ample collection of lacquers in more shades than I could have ever dreamed of, I just don't care if jazzing up my basic French manicure is in fashion: I love color and I'm not afraid to show it!

This is one of my favorite manis that I've done, even though it's so simple. It combines everything I love about nail polish -- neutrals, bright colors, creme polishes and French tips -- and rolls it into one awesome mani.
I started with a base of OPI Did You 'Ear About Van Gogh, which is becoming one of my favorite neutral shades for its smooth, easy-to-apply formula. After the two coats I put on dried, I used striping tape to help guide my tips. Usually when I'm doing a traditional French mani, I'll freehand the tips and then use a makeup brush for clean-up; however, since I had put a base color down I decided to be extra cautious and use the tape.

All polishes on my tips are from OPI, beginning with In My Back Pocket on my thumb, followed by (L-R) OPI Elephantastic Pink, A Grape Fit, Don't Mess With OPI and Fly. The colors were all flat cremes with no shimmer, which was perfect for the look I was going for with this mani. The only polish that needed a second coat was the purple, A Grape Fit. It helped that all of the bottles were a little older, so the lacquer had a chance to thicken just a bit, while still being completely usable.
I topped off the colorful tips a coat of black polish (I think it was Sally Hansen, but I can't be sure. I just grabbed the black bottle that was closest to me) using striping tape, and voila -- a colorful French mani using some of my favorite OPI shades!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Black and Nude French Tips Mani

I rediscovered a bottle of nude polish, OPI Did You 'Ear About Van Gogh?, that I'd only used once to swatch back when we started this blog. I really loved the color this time around -- it's a creamy beige that only needed two coats for full opacity and it applied really smoothly. I wanted to do a jazzed up colorful french tip, so instead of a traditional french tip pattern, I decided to go for a diagonal line in black.
I actually started out just using the gold striping tape to help guide my line, but ended up liking the look a lot. When the polish dried, I reapplied fresh tape over the mani for a metallic edge to the neutrals.
Happy Monday! Here's to another week of manis.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Blue-Green Square Manicure

actually started this design because I just bought a bottle of Essie Turquoise & Caicos and wanted to do something using complementary colors. As I started planning though, I realized that the shade wasn't the best match for the other color possibilities I had picked out for this mani -- China Glaze For Audrey (far left) and Sinful Colors Sweet Dreams (second from left).

I started with patches of For Audrey in opposite corners of my nails. I did some light clean-up as I was going, but for the most part I got the polish where it needed to be. Sweet Dreams was next in the bottom right corner of my nail. This was by far the messiest part of the mani. I ended up with polish all over my fingers and cuticles because the polish was so runny. Luckily, as soon as it dried enough I used some pure acetone and two types of makeup brushes (an angled eyeliner brush for the cracks near my cuticles and a medium shadow brush from Target) and managed to get most of it cleaned up. 

I actually swatched Sweet Dreams a while back and did a review, and wanted to amend my thoughts. I did a complete 180 from my last review: I loved the color this time, but wasn't thrilled with the formula. It wasn't the best choice for a mani like this, since I needed a thicker polish for better control (I would actually recommend trying this with older polishes that have thickened a bit or an OPI lacquer). Still, the color turned out exactly how I wanted it to and it looks great next to For Audrey.
As usual, the white square in this mani was done with OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls, and it was by far the easiest section to apply. I used a black It's So Easy Nails Stripe Rite brush for the black lines.
I actually think this mani would turn out really well with some striping tape (painting the nail black, applying striping tape in the grid pattern and then painting each section within the guides). It would definitely yield straighter lines, but since I felt like free-handing today's mani, this method worked pretty well for me. I love striping tape -- and it's made my life easier, in some cases -- but some days I just want to stick to the basics and trust my own two hands.

Sunday Swatches: 12-2-2012

The last time I was at the beauty supply store, I picked up several of these nail discs so I could practice my nail art. I thought it'd be fun to introduce a "theme day" to the blog: Sunday  Swatches. Every Sunday, I'm going to try showcasing my nail art in a new nail disc swatch. Some of the manis many be repeats using different colors, but it'll be a fun way for me to test out new colors and designs.

'The full disc is above, but you can check out some of the close-ups below as well as a list of lacquers that I used. Happy polishing!
Nail polishes/colors (clockwise, from leopard print, listing base color first):

Leopard print: OPI Her Royal Shine-Ness, OPI Goldeneye, Sally Hansen X-Treme Wear Black Out
Black stripes: China Glaze Stone Cold,  Sally Hansen X-Treme Wear Black Out (no top coat)
Floral stripes: China Glaze For Audrey, OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls; flower - OPI Kiss Me On My Tulips, OPI Don't Mess With OPI, OPI Green-wich Village
Maroon and white dots: OPI Casino Royale, My Boyfriend Scales Walls, OPI Ski Teal We Drop
Turquoise dots: OPI Fly
Bronze leaf: Sally Hansen X-Treme Wear Black Out, bronze striper
White dots: OPI Funny Bunny (three coats), OPI Skull and Glossbones, Sinful Colors Mint Apple, Sally Hansen X-Treme Wear Black Out
Black diagonal tip french manicure: OPI Did You 'Ear About Van Gogh?, Sally Hansen X-Treme Wear Black Out
Clouds: China Glaze Caribbean Blue, OPI Alpine Snow, OPI Skull and Glossbones
Zebra print: A Grape Fit, black striper
Black and white tribal print: OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls, black striper
Pink and black drip mani: Essie Big Spender, Sally Hansen X-Treme Wear Black Out
Navy chevron: OPI Ski Teal We Drop, OPI Green-wich Village, silver striper
Pink and black tribal print: Sally Hansen X-Treme Wear Black Out, pink shimmer striper
Black and white flower sketch: OPI My Boyfriend Scales walls, black striper
Mint stripes and dots: OPI Thanks A Windmillion, black striper
Black and blue tribal print: OPI I Have A Herring Problem, black striper
Blue stripe french mani tip: OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls, Essie Borrowed and Blue, silver striper

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nude Dots Manicure

For this mani, I started with Sally Hansen Smooth and Perfect Dune, a nude creme with a light bronze shimmer. Wendy actually did a review of this back in May, but since I didn't get a chance to try it I wanted to throw my two cents in. It's a beautiful neutral with a hint of bronze-colored shimmer, but the formula for this one was a little clumpy since I think my bottle hasn't been touched in a while. I'm going to try using some nail polish thinner to get a better consistency for the next round (I'll keep you posted). One huge plus is the Sally Hansen brush in these polishes -- I love the short, wide shape of the bristles. It offers a lot of control in application. One of these days I'll have to take a shot of the brush so you can see the differences in shape.

For the red dots, I used OPI California Raspberry. Like it's name, it's a shimmery raspberry pink that has an almost jelly-like consistency. I wouldn't call it a true jelly, but it's not opaque when used as a base color. The blue dots were made with OPI Ski Teal We Drop, a teal creme that appears navy when I use it in dot form. It's hard to tell but in the bottom two photos I actually finished the mani off with two rows of OPI Goldeneye, which I just swatched a couple days ago.
I really need to come up with better names for these manis, but since I do most of my nail art at night when I get off work, my brain is pretty fried. For now, I'm calling this one the nude dots manicure. This may not be the best name for it and it's not incredibly descriptive, but since the base is nude I figured what the hell.

As you might have noticed, I am completely obsessed with dots lately. I promise, I'll get off this dots kick in a few weeks, but I just discovered the dotting tool rack at my favorite local beauty supply store and stocked up earlier this week with a few new dotting tools, brushes and four lacquers.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gray and Pink Floral Dot Manicure

I've been keeping my manicures pretty simple lately since I cut my thumb while slicing a pear earlier this week (and as you all can probably guess, acetone and nail polish remover stings like mad when you've got an open wound). Hopefully this weekend it will be 100 percent healed and I can come up with a new design or be inspired by one of my favorite bloggers. I've been avidly following Chalkboard Nails, where I've found a lot of helpful tips on nail art that have really helped improve my polishing skills.

Today's mani is a simple pastel polka dot with pink flowers on the accent nail. For the base color, I used two coats of OPI Skull and Glossbones, which Wendy used in a previous floral print stamping manicure. The pink dots were done with my medium-sized dotting tool and OPI Pink Friday. For the flowers, I used a technique I adopted from Chalkboard Nails. As you can see, I don't follow her tutorial step by step, and I was really happy with the way these flowers turned out. This is the first time I tried using a dab of glitter for the center of the flower, and I'm pretty pleased with the effect.
My pinky gives me a really small space to work with, so I goofed a bit on the spacing of the dots.
Skull & Glossbones is definitely one of our tried-and-true colors and we've found that it looks good on almost any skin tone. It goes on glossy and smooth and I always love an OPI base to help stop chipping!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NYC Ballet Jelly Sandwich

Today I kept it simple and did a quick and easy jelly manicure using colors from the OPI NYC Ballet Soft Shades 2012 collection. Wendy did a swatch post a while back featuring the mini set of these colors, but until now I'd only used the glitter from the collection.

I recently picked up OPI My Pointe Exactly, a soft, sheer gray color that looks amazing in the bottle. It took five coats of polish, but I finally got the opacity that I was looking for. On top of the gray, I layered a coat of OPI Pirouette My Whistle, a clear polish with small glitter as well as some pieces of larger, circular glitter (the kind that's a pain to remove). Every time I use this glitter, I'm disappointed because I can never get enough of the larger pieces out of the bottle. I managed to get a fair amount on my index finger, but the rest of my nails only had around three or four pieces.

On top of the glitter, I layered another coat of My Pointe Exactly and voila! A soft shade jelly sandwich.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Black and Pink Argyle Mani

As I was scrolling through Facebook and catching up on my friends' lives - particularly the several weddings that took place this summer - I came across a super cute photo from a college acquaintance who dressed her groom in pink and black argyle socks. I couldn't get my own husband to agree to this on our day, so I decided to settle for the second-best option: black and pink argyle nails.

I started out with a base of OPI Her Royal Shine-Ness, which I picked up in a set with OPI Servin' Up The Sparkle at Ulta. I actually have never used this lacquer before, but it was a nice surprise to find out that the formula had a nice consistency and opacity, plus went on smoothly, especially for a glitter.

I painted the top half of my nails with a new pink that I picked up ... Sinful Colors 24/7. After this first use, I decided I wasn't a big fan of this color. It's a few shades brighter than I usually wear and looks more neon on the nail than it does in the bottle.

I used my black It's So Easy Nails Stripe Rite brush to draw the outline of the black argyle sections. At first, I was filling them with a black Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear, but realized I had better control using the striper to fill in the outlines.

Where it all went wrong was when I whipped out the white striper brush -- the polish had gone a little clumpy and the brush was hard to control, which meant the  application was really uneven. If you decide to do this mani at home, I would recommend using a newer striper brush and polish that has a good consistency.

This is definitely one that I'm going to try again sometime, only with a new brush and a color other than that shocking shade of pink!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

OPI Skyfall Bondettes Swatches

I just saw "Skyfall" last weekend and Bond Girl Severine was rocking some killer nails that inspired me to finally swatch the box of OPI Skyfall Bondettes that I bought back in October. I think I was far more interested in these lacquers than I was in the movie! This OPI mini set features two polishes from each of the Skyfall groups, the warm-colored "Seductive Shades" and the cool-hued "Dangerous Shades." Check out the swatches and reviews of Goldeneye, The Spy Who Loved Me, The World Is Not Enough and Live and Let Die below.

The Spy Who Loved Me
Named after the 1977 film starring the longest-serving Bond actor Roger Moore, The Spy Who Loved Me is a bright, vivid red with a gold-tinted shimmer. It has a jelly-like formula, though definitely more opaque than a traditional jelly polish.

The World Is Not Enough
Even after inspecting this color for quite a while, I'm still not sure how to describe this color. OPI calls it a "rosy silver," but to my eye it's more of a bronze-pink with hints of gold and silver. It wasn't as opaque as I had hoped (pictured below is two coats), but the color is definitely unique.

Live and Let Die
When I'm itching to paint my nails a dark metallic, this may become my go-to shade. Live and Let Die is a dark, inky black with a greenish/blue tint and great formula.

I'm definitely not a gold person and this was the only shade I wasn't excited about trying. While I really liked the formula (a glitter that wasn't difficult to remove!), this shade just isn't for everyone. It's a vibrant gold that clashes badly with my skin tone, although I think others, like Wendy, might be able to rock this look.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Black and White Floral Print

More OPI Kiss Me On My Tulips, this time in flower form. I've done florals recently, but wanted this one to be a little more understated. I've always loved manicures that mix and match different elements, so I thought I'd try a stripes and floral combo with contrasting colors.

Black, white and pink were my wedding colors, so obviously this is a classic combination for me. First, I painted the base  with my go-to white, OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls. Next, I used It's So Easy Nails Stripe Rite brush in black to paint vertical stripes up and down each nail. The brush is getting old so the lines aren't as  straight and consistence as they once were, but I'm standing by my favorite tool until the polish starts getting crusty. After the stripes dried, I painted two splotches of Kiss Me On My Tulips on each nail, then blended it separately on a palette with My Boyfriend Scales Walls and a black onyx from Sally Hansen to create light and dark variations of pink. Using my dotting tool, I layered the light pink blend, a dab of white and then a small center of the dark pink blend. I created the leaves (two for each flower) with a dab of OPI Greenwich Village.

Of course, my accent nail looked a little bare, so I decided to add one more set of flowers on my ring finger to give it some extra color. Here's the final product: