Thursday, January 27, 2011

Valentine's Mani with Hearts and Pearls

I am starting off my V-Day manis (hopefully one of at least a few) with something very girly and cute! Here's the inspiration:

I think this is from Nail Up, though I can't remember which issue. I like the balance between whimsical and pretty; the hand-painted hearts are fun and unpretentious but the pearls add a bit of elegance.

Here are the tools I used:

Just a small brush (to paint the hearts) and some plastic flat-back pearls. You can find both of these things for very cheap on ebay.

The colors:

L to R: Essie Petal Pink, Essie Neo Whimsical, Catrice Lucky in Lilac

I started off with two coats of Petal Pink (sheer pink) just to correct the color of my nails (there is some staining) and to blur out the lunula a bit (the little white half-moon part at the cuticle). For the thumb and middle finger you can just paint the very bottom and skip the pinkies altogether. The sheer nail polish base will also make it easier to stick on the pearls. I then added three coats of Neo Whimsical, painting only the tips of the index and ring fingers, not painting the bottom part of the middle fingers and thumbs, and completely covering the pinkies. Next, I painted the hearts with Lucky in Lilac, which was the hardest part. It might be easier to use acrylic paint for this step instead of a polish, I'll have to try it next time. Finally, I used topcoat to stick on the pearls and then covered it all with more top coat.

Here is the finished product:

In hindsight, I should have painted on the hearts after adding the pearls instead doing the hearts before. I also planned on having smaller hearts (more like the original inspiration), but they were much harder to paint than I anticipated. Still, I am very happy with the result!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sally Hansen Magical Nail Makeup Copper Cauldron

I'm super sick today (I think it's the flu), but I already have some tip wear and wanted to take a pic before I took this off.

Although the name says "Copper," this is actually a pale pink holo, kind of on the peach side. I haven't tried Nfu-oh or the China Glaze OMG collection so I can't compare, but the holo effect on this is very strong. As with many holos, this was a bit difficult to work with. The formula was great, but it was hard to cover up bald spots. I used three coats here, but with better application you could get away with two. I think the key is just to use plenty of polish on the brush and to use as few strokes as possible, kind of like applying a matte polish. I did not use a base coat or top coat.

I hope I'm well enough to do my nails later, I really wanted to get started on some Valentine's Day manis!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Floral/Bead Design

I love looking at Japanese nail magazines, they are so inspiring! I wanted to do a unique but fairly simple design, so I decided to try this one:

(From Nail Up July 2010.)

This is how it turned out:

(Click to enlarge.)
Not as nice as the magazine, but I still like how it turned out. The pastel green and floral print are very feminine, but the gold beads and contrasting coral red make it a little edgy.

Doing this design is pretty easy. For the base, you will need a minty green and a bright, coral red. In addition, you will also need burgundy, dark blue, and lighter blue colors for the floral design. Here are the colors I used:

L to R: Love & Beauty Blue, H&M Blue Sky, Essie Mint Candy Apple, Essie Red Nouveau, OPI It's a Doozi, Says Suzi

Here are the tools I used (besides remover, base coat, and top coat):

Beads, cotton pad, toothpick, small brush. I bought the box of little beads and the brush (part of a set) on ebay. The picture in the mag uses flatback beads but all I had are the small, round ones (some people call them "bouillon beads"). It would be easier with the flatback beads, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand.

The first step is to paint the base colors (easy enough). Then, while the nail polish was still wet, I worked on the beads. I poured some of the beads onto a cotton pad so they wouldn't roll around on the table. To the nails, I added a layer of top coat that is NOT quick drying. This provided a sticky base on which to stick the beads. I dipped the very tip of the toothpick into the same top coat to make it just a little bit sticky and used it to pick up the beads and place them on the nail. The toothpick I used has straight sides (as opposed to rounded) so I used the sides to press down the beads to secure them on the nail. If the top coat dries to the point where the beads do not stick, add a little bit more to the area where you are working. Cover with top coat (quick-drying top coat is okay for this step).

To do the flowers, I used a very thin brush to basically paint blobs. I painted coral blobs, added some burgundy bits, then painted light blue blobs next to the red, and finally added some dark blue dabs. It works best if you just kind of dab the brush instead of really trying to paint shapes. When you cover with top coat, smearing the design a little is okay, it actually looks better that way.

I also practiced doing some acrylic sculpture:

Spare Zoya plates/spoons are perfect for this! I have a pretty hard time getting the consistency right, even with Asami's tips. You have to make sure it's not too wet or dry, and quickly sculpt the little blob into what you want before it dries. I actually did a pretty decent bow (the middle one, not the one on the right):

I'm getting better at it, though, just need (lots) more practice. Hopefully I can do some fun manis with 3D acrylic sculptures soon!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Zoya Nova and Crystal

Yay, I received my free Zoyas a few days ago!

L to R: Nova, Irene, Crystal


This is a shimmery light blue with lots of gold flakes. I have read that it is a dupe for OPI's Reflecting Pool, and it certainly reminds me of water. Gorgeous color, great for any season.


I did a simple dégradé mani with this one. It's a magenta jelly with lots of pale pink glitter, perfect consistency/sheerness for this look. I did thin coats, each coat starting a little further from the cuticle than the last. Very easy to do.

I haven't tried Irene yet, but it looks so intriguing!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Color Club Spring 2011, Alter Ego

I just saw this on Scrangie but had to repost.

Alter Ego!

Color Club lets you create high-fashion looks for every identity with Alter Ego, their latest collection of diverse, long-lasting lacquers!

Alter Ego’s consists of 12 shades! Go incognito with our opaque shades or rendezvous in full view with our sheers of Alter Ego ‘LIGHTS’ and ‘DARKS’!

Alter Ego’s ‘Reveal Your Mystery Collection’ 7 piece salon pack includes Get a Clue, Revealed, Incognito, Secret Rendezvous, Sheer Disguise, and Give Me a Hint shades plus Milky White Base Coat. Their ‘Keep It Undercover Collection’ 7 piece salon pack includes Alter Ego, Secret Agent, Total Mystery, Alias, Ulterior Motive and Masquerading plus Vivid Top Coat.

Get a Clue, Revealed, Incognito, Secret Rendezvous, Sheer Disguise, and Give Me a Hint shades plus Milky White Base Coat

Alter Ego, Secret Agent, Total Mystery, Alias, Ulterior Motive and Masquerading plus Vivid Top Coat.

I loooove Color Club (in case you hadn't noticed). They have a huge range of unique colors, the price is reasonable, and the formula is usually good. It could be my favorite nail polish brand. It looks like this collection has a lot of duochromes, I'm so excited! Kind of blah about the pastel ones, though.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pink Lace Nails

I love lace and super feminine manis, so it's no surprise that this could be my favorite so far! This is a super easy mani to do with stickers. Enlarge to see details. (Excuse my sweatshirt in the background.)

I was inspired by the intricate gel nail creations that are so popular these days. To mimic the look of gel nails, I used a pink jelly as the base, Diamond Cosmetics Sugar Coat Me. It was a bit paler than what I was hoping for, so I did a coat of Essie Petal Pink (a sheer pink) over it to deepen it just a shade. Also, on gel nails, the lace is usually acrylic sculpture but I used stickers. If you want them to look even more gel-like, do a thick coat of topcoat on top, so that the lace looks almost suspended in the nail. I thought the rhinestone was a nice added touch, gives the mani just a little bit of sparkle!

These are the stickers I used:

These are very cheap and easy to find on ebay, just do a search for "lace nail stickers." They are thin and don't stick very well, so I would recommend doing this while the nails are still wet. Remove the lace strip from the backing with a pair of tweezers. Carefully place it on your nail, then use small manicure scissors to trim away excess. Once the nail is a bit more dry, carefully press the sticker onto the nail so it's secure. Once it's dry, go over the entire thing with top coat. If there are parts of the sticker that are lifting up, glue them down with a bit of top coat and then go over that area again. If you want to do rhinestones, my set came with stickers with rhinestones already glued on, but if yours does not, I would recommend gluing the rhinestones onto the sticker before applying to the nail. I placed my lace in kind of a random pattern, but obviously you can be as precise as you'd like.


I can't stop looking at my nails! I've ordered some more lace stickers and will definitely be doing more of these!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Punk Hello Kitty Mani

Who doesn't love Hello Kitty? I sure do!

Very simple mani made with HK water decals on a base of Diamond Cosmetics Starry Night, a black with subtle silver glass flecks. I wasn't quite sure at first what base color would be appropriate, but with the punk theme, black seems like the obvious choice. I thought it would look too cheesy, but I actually really like it! The decals were too big for my nails, so I carefully cut them up. I accidentally put the HK head upside-down, though, D'oh!

Now that I've tried them, I prefer water decals to stickers because they are thinner. It makes it easier to mold them to the nail and cover them with top coat. Stickers sometimes stick out at the edges because they don't bend as easily, but they can be more 3D than decals. Water decals are also easier to cut into pieces if they are too big (or you just prefer them that way).

You can buy the decals from this ebay seller: hello2happiness

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Diamond Cosmetics Winter 2010

Sorry it took so long, but here are the swatches!

Moonsand, a pewter-silver foil. I love foils, and Diamond does some great ones. In the bottle I thought it had a slight bluish tinge, but it's really just a dark silver. The fact that it's more of a patina-ed silver color rather than a super shiny one makes it perfect for fall/winter. The formula was great, very easy to work with and they were dry to the touch quickly (as with most foils), but it took a few minutes for each layer to dry completely. I am wearing three coats in the picture.

Hypnotic. This is an intriguing green that leans toward teal, reminds me a dark green jade. It has a more yellow-toned emerald green shimmer, and maybe some gold? Understated, pretty, unique, reminds me of a peacock feather. Formula on this one was great to work with, opaque in two coats. I wonder how it compares to OPI's Here Today Aragon Tomorrow?

Starshine. I thought it was black in the bottle, but to my delight it is actually a dark, metallic, blue-toned anthracite with blue micro glitter. At first it just looks like the perfect dark metallic, kind of like one of Christian Louboutin's metal patent colors, but the blue glitter gives it even more depth and interest. The formula on this one was a bit watery, but not hard to work with (just be careful not to let it flood your cuticles). The first two coats were streaky but it evened out nicely with the third.

It's Electrifying is my favorite of the bunch (well, if I absolutely had to pick one)! It's an electric blue neon (yay!) with blue shimmer. Because it's a neon it dries to a satin finish, so you definitely need top coat to bring out the shimmer. It's bright and saturated at the same time and the shimmer gives it an extra dimension. This one applied nicely. You could actually get away with two coats if you don't mind visible nail line, but it turns out looking more teal than blue. Three coats are necessary to show the true color, and that is what I am wearing here.

Here are some comparisons.
Starshine next to Zoya Kotori:

Kotori has a darker base (that's not metallic) and a much more apparent blue shimmer. Kotori is also much sheerer.

Here's Orly Shine next to Moonsand:

As you can see, Shine is definitely brighter and it has closer to a chrome finish. Moonsand shows a little more texture because of the dark base.

Don't Teal My Heart Away next to Hypnotic:

Clearly, DTMHA is lighter in color and lacks the shimmer that Hypnotic has.

All of these colors are beautiful and unique, I have yet to be disappointed by Diamond Cosmetics! Part of the reason why I am posting this so late is because I really enjoyed wearing each color; I wasn't just swatching quickly like I do with some others (not that I don't love them too). For every color I can honestly say that I don't have anything else like it in my collection (although I don't have as many colors as some others). It's so refreshing as a winter collection, too; I love the mix of dark, bright, and metallic colors. It seems so appropriate for winter without being obvious (no holiday colors, no wintry whites). Drying time on these was a bit long; I would definitely recommend waiting a full 10-15 minutes between coats. Overall, though, I highly recommend all of them!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Sally Hansen Products!

I went to Walgreens today to buy some Sally Hansen Insta Dri Anti Chip Top Coat and I saw a bunch of new products! I wish I had taken pictures, but here's a summary:

Xtreme Wear in new colors, including a purple/gray/brown color that looks similar to Chanel Paradoxal (minus the shimmer), I think it's called Gray Appeal? This was not with the regular colors but in a special display along with a mint pastel green, a shimmery blue, and a lavender color. $2.99 each.

Nail appliques! They came in lots of prints and colors including animal prints, flowers and glitters. There was one called Frock Star, a multicolor, multi-size glitter that looked very similar to Deborah Lippmann's Happy Birthday. The appliques looked much bigger than the Incoco ones. These come in small, clear boxes, $9.99 for a box which includes 16 appliques plus a small file and orange stick.

Insta Dri French mani duos. One bottle, two colors! There was one combo that was a classic sheer pink/white French mani duo, but the others were more interesting including bright blue/yellow, bright pink/charcoal gray, etc. It's a cute idea, but it seems kind of pointless. Also, the bottles were kind of tricky. These were also in a special display, can't remember the price.

I really wanted to try some, but I exercised some willpower and just stuck with the top coat. Maybe I'll try some of the appliques next time.