Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Purple and Aqua Animal Print Gradient

This mani was actually a happy accident ... I started out trying to just do a gradient, since I desperately need more practice in that area. My base color was OPI Fly, the middle sponge area is OPI Purple With a Purpose and the top sponge area is OPI Pamplona Purple.

I wasn't thrilled with the way the colors were blending, but loved the combination of the three cool shades. It seemed like it needed something else laid over it to help hide the blending lines. My go-to design tool is glitter, but since I'm going out of town this weekend and will probably do my nails again Friday night, I decided I didn't want to deal with the hassle of glitter removal. I opted for the animal print and used my black Stripe Rite polish to do a combination of leopard spots and zebra stripes. The whole thing ended up a little abstract, but it's an awesome effect and am considering doing a pink/orange version with white animal print overlaid with a shimmer.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Forget Me Not Blue Floral Print

Before my wedding in June, I was on a quest to find a bottle of Essie Borrowed & Blue for my toes — it would have been the perfect "something blue" for my wedding day. In the end, I couldn't find it anywhere and had to use "something old" instead ... an old standby from my high school days, Revlon Strawberry Electric.

Lucky for me, I happened to stumble upon the elusive Essie shade a couple months ago. I'd only used it once before this mani, and it was a great color topped with a sprinkle of some bright blue glitter.

This time, since I wanted to try a blue floral inspired by forget-me-nots, I decided to use it as a soft base color. Two coats later and I was ready to go. I ended up creating more of an abstract flower rather than the distinctly shaped forget-me-not, but the color was a definite match.

For the flowers, I used China Glaze Caribbean Blue as the main color. After drawing abstract flower blobs on all of my nails, I grabbed my paint palette and mixed two new colors: Caribbean Blue with OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls and Caribbean Blue with China Glaze Smoke and Ashes from the Capitol Colors collection. Using a brush, I dabbed blobs of the white blend on top of the blue, making sure that the main color showed through. After that dried, I cleaned my brush and put a small abstract dot over the white for the center of the flower. Using OPI Green-wich Village, I drew leaf-like shapes out of each flower to complete the look.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Gradient Dot Nail Art

So I'm STILL obsessed with the dotting tool and experimenting with different sized dots using both ends. I decided to try a dot gradient using three different colored dots. I just picked up a new polish from the OPI Germany collection, so I decided that would be my base instead of a basic black. The color is called Nein! Nein! Nein! Ok Fine!, and it's a very dark grey matte that has a great smooth application. It also lasted for a week on my nails without chipping, which was really impressive. I'm a fan of using great quality base polishes, like OPI, since they don't chip as easily as others.

After two coats of the base color dried, I grabbed my make-shift paint palette (a paper plate) and my dotting tool and got ready to design. The top two rows were done with the larger end of the dotting tool in OPI Fly from the Nicki Minaj collection. It's a great teal color and really pops on my nails.

The next two rows actually done using a second dotting tool that I picked up from It's So Easy Nails, the Double Up. The detailing brush is a little difficult to work with since the bristles are very think, but the dotting end is great and creates a perfect medium size dot. For my middle color, I used China Glaze For Audrey, one of Annie's favorites.

The last row was done with the small end of my dotting tool using one of my new favorites, OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls. For my larger nails, like the thumb, I did two rows of this small dot, but others just had one.

This is one of my favorite manis and was really easy to do, albeit somewhat time consuming. Totally worth it though, and I rocked these nails for almost a week — which is a lifetime for me!


Monday, October 8, 2012

First Dotting Tool Manicures

So I just got a new dotting tool and I've been obsessed with putting dots on EVERYTHING.  I came across a mani from Chalkboard Nails and I fell in love ... particularly because the base color is awesome. I thought it looked familiar, and sure enough I unearthed a never-been-used bottle of China Glaze Secret Periwinkle. I topped it off with dots in OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls and OPI Pandamonium Pink.

I won't go into a full tutorial since she does a great job in her graphic tutorial, but check out my finished mani below:
I also wanted to experiment a bit with the colors, so since it's October, I thought I'd try for a slightly witchier look. I whipped out my OPI Green-wich Village for the base color, with OPI In My Back Pocket and OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls for the dots. It's definitely a cool color combination, but not the best look for my skin tone.
I had a lot of fun with this mani, and love that you can virtually use any color combination for a different look. It's fun, easy and versatile — it seems more suited to summer, though, so I will definitely be busting it out in 2013. Maybe a glitter version for New Year's Eve ... ??

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Newsprint Mani

The newsprint mani is an oldie but goodie. I actually did this one a while back, probably before we started this blog. As a word person, I absolutely love this one since it's a fun way to incorporate my career into my hobby.

I started out trying to use only the horoscope section — because how cool would it be to look down at my nails to check out my weekly Scorpio forecast — but I butchered my cutting job and ended up with strips that were the wrong size. My nails were really short when I did this mani, so for the first time I actually wished that the spacing of words in newspaper was a little closer together! Cut about a dozen one-inch squares of newspaper, just in case you make a mistake.

For my base color, I used about three coats of OPI Funny Bunny. It's one of my favorite white shades, if I can get the consistency correct to get a more opaque look. Since my polish tends to get a little clumpy and streaky during application, I try to use thin layers, which helps cover up the brush lines.

While the base color was drying, I prepped my supplies for the newsprint part of the mani. You'll need some sort of non-porous container — I use a large empty glass candle holder — tweezers, vodka and and your newspaper squares. Pour a shallow amount of the vodka into the glass container (I think there is a substitute you can use, but since I've always got vodka handy, this works the best for me). Once your nails are dry, use the tweezers to dip a newspaper square into the vodka, saturating both sides of the paper. Lay the square over your nail using the tweezers, then press down firmly with one of your fingers. Make sure you don't slip, since it'll smudge the newsprint. Hold for 45 seconds to one minute — if you don't let it set for long enough, the newsprint won't appear. If it doesn't take, wipe the newsprint off with a damp paper towel and re-apply with a new square.

Now is when it gets tricky. Since the newsprint isn't set on the nail yet, you'll need to be extra careful when doing your other nails. I recommend doing one hand at a time. Once you complete the design on one hand, let the nails air dry for 5 minutes, then use your favorite top coat (mine is Seche Vite) to seal the newsprint. Repeat with the other hand.

I thought the black and white needed a pop of color (I love monochromatic black and white everywhere except my nails!), so I added a small heart on my accent finger using OPI Big Apple Red and followed that with another layer of top coat.

By the end of this process, you'll probably end up with newsprint all over your hands. Most of this can be washed off with soap and water once your nails are dry, but for those hard-to-clean areas around your cuticles, you can use a small brush for clean-up. I go through them quickly since I'm terrible about cleaning them, so I buy a variety of cheap make-up brushes from Target. My favorite clean-up brushes are an eye-shadow smudge brush and a small concealer brush.

Monday, October 1, 2012

31-DC: Fail

So, quite obviously, I failed on my 31-day challenge (insert sad face here). I started out with the best intentions, but as Wendy predicted, my poor nails felt abused by day 10 ... plus I have the attention span of a five year old, so sitting down to deck out my nails every night was not happening.

But, things are looking up: The hubby has been taking night classes to get his MBA, so it means most evenings are free to polish to my heart's content. I went on a nail art spree over the last couple of weeks and have some fun and funky designs that I can't wait to share with y'all.