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Sunday, July 28, 2013

How-To: Funky Oxford Shirt Nails

Hello again! As I mentioned in my last post, I'm super excited to start posting more nail tutorials regularly now that my nails are growing out. Unfortunately, I haven't had much time to sit down and create designs (hence the gaps between posts). In any event, I figured that the quality of posts was more important than the quantity, so the design I've created today is one that I'm proud of and hope you'll like!

To start off with, go ahead and grab your supplies...

 You will need (from left to right):
  • A light blue (Essie "Bikini So Teeny")
  • A dark blue or dark turquoise (Essie "Go Overboard")
  • A mint green (Sally Hansen "Mint Sorbet")
  • A dark green (Essie "Going Incognito")
  • A pink-y lilac (Essie "Under Where?")
  • A hot pink (L'Oreal "Members Only")
  • A multicolored glitter or holographic polish (Urban Outfitters "Afterhours")
  • A metallic silver (Sally Hansen "Pedal to the Metal")
Additionally, you will need small and medium sized dotting tools, a striper brush, and a base and topcoat.
Step 1.) Paint your nails two coats of the light blue, mint green, and lilac polishes in the order shown:

Step 2.) Follow the chart below to create collars on each nail:
Frame 1: Use a small dotting tool to plot out the points of the collar. On the blue nails use dark blue, on the lilac nail use hot pink, and on the mint green nails use dark green. (Be sure that the dots you place are evenly spaced).
Frame 2: Use your striper brush to connect the dots. Try to keep the line width consistent, but don't worry too much if one line is slightly thicker than the others.
Frame 3: Repeat frames 1 and 2 with the corresponding colors on the rest of your nails, and then use your striper to paint a thin vertical line from the middle of the collar to the tip of the nail (we'll place buttons here later).

Step 3.) Follow the chart below to create this design on your blue nails:

Top row: Use your striper and your dark blue polish to paint two reasonably thick lines on either side of the center line. Be sure to space your lines evenly and to keep the line width consistent. After the dark blue has dried, use your mint green polish to paint a thinner line inside the two thicker ones. To keep this design from being too predictable, I decided to use lilac instead of mint on my other blue nail.
Bottom row: Use a medium sized dotting tool and the dark blue polish to place a dot where the two sides of the collar meet. As the dot is drying, use whatever color you used to paint the thinner stripes to dot on some buttons along the center line. Finally, use the accent color of the other nail to add a dot inside the dark blue dot you made earlier.
Step 4.) Follow the chart below to create this design on your green nails:

Frame 1: Use your medium sized dotting tool to place a vertical row of dark green dots on either side of the nail. Then place a row of slightly smaller dots on top of the center line to represent buttons. As always, try to keep your spacing consistent.
Frame 2: Once your dark green dots have dried, use the mint green polish and your dotting tool to add slightly smaller dots on top. I used the same medium sized dotting tool to do this, and simply applied less pressure to create smaller dots.
Frame 3: Use a small dotting tool and your light blue polish to add smaller on top of the "buttons". Finally, use the same dotting tool and polish to carefully fill in the collar. Try using a stippling motion to dab on the polish- this helps it spread better. However, you could always fill the collar in with your striper instead.  
Step 5.) Follow the chart below to create the ring finger design:

 Top row: Use your medium sized dotting tool and hot pink polish to dab little flowers inside the space below the collar. I like to do this by creating a "v" shape and then adding another "v" beneath the first one so that the final shape ends up looking more like an "x". Use a stippling motion with your dotting tool for best results.
Bottom row: With the same hot pink polish, add a row of buttons on top of the center line. Next, I added a little pizzazz to the flowers by dotting multicolored glitter polish in the center of each one. Finally, use a metallic silver polish to add smaller dots on top of the hot pink ones, and to fill in the collar.
Step 6.) Once everything has dried, swipe on a layer of topcoat.
And that's it! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial- let me know if you give it a try!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How-To: Trendy Triangle Nail Art

  Hi everyone! I'm back from Prague and am excited get back into my routine of weekly blog updates! Whilst I was away, I went entirely polish-free to give my nails a chance to grow and strengthen. Now they're finally starting to get to my preferred length again, and as a result I'm super motivated to crank out nail art tutorials! Today's look is a bright, modern, and sophisticated triangular design: 

So without further ado, if you've always wanted your nails to look like an Urban Outfitters bedspread, just keep on reading!

Step 1.) Gather your supplies:

The polishes I've chosen are O.P.I "My Boyfriend Scales Walls", Illamasqua "Milf", Urban Outfitters "Crowded", and Essie "Tart Deco".
My striper brush is by Orly, and I ordered it from Hautelook last month.
Step 2.) Paint your nails two coats of a white or off-white polish.

Step 3.) Follow the pictures below to replicate the pinky nail design:
Left: With your striper brush and green polish, create an "X" on the center of the nail, and fill it in with the same green polish and a large dotting tool.
Right: With your orange polish, use your striper to free-hand another smaller triangle underneath the two green ones. Mine looks pretty messy, but as you can see from the finished look, I ended up going back in and building up the triangle until the edges were clean.
Step 4.) Follow the chart below to paint your ring finger nail:

 Top Row: Use your striper and a periwinkle polish to place two parallel lines diagonally across the nail. Repeat on the other side of the nail. The two sets of parallel lines should intersect to form a crosshatched pattern.

Bottom Row: Next, place horizontal lines across the points at which the parallel lines intersect. This will divide the diamond shapes into triangles. Finally, use a medium sized dotting tool and the periwinkle polish to fill in every other triangle.

Step 5.) Follow the chart below to paint your middle finger:

Top Row: Plot out your first triangle by using a dotting tool to mark the center of the bottom 1/3 of the nail, as well as the two lower points of the triangle. Then simply connect the dots with your striper and orange polish.
Bottom Row: Use green polish and your striper to create a second, thicker peak. Carefully outline the edge of the orange polish before building up the line to the desired width. Be sure to leave a little gap for the final triangle, which you can fill in with periwinkle once the green has dried. 

Step 6.) Follow the chart to create the pointer finger design:

 Top Row: Use the technique shown in the previous chart to plot out the peak of an orange triangle. This triangle should start in the center of the nail, close to the cuticle, and should extend almost halfway up the nail. Next, use periwinkle polish to plot out where you want your two diagonal lines to intersect. Then with your striper, carefully paint in the lines, which should begin at the bottom points of the orange lines.
Bottom Row: Use your orange polish to divide the diamond shape in half, thus creating a triangle. Finally, fill in the lines with the appropriate colors of polish.
Step 7.) On your thumb nail, repeat the pattern that is on your ring finger with a different color of polish. I chose green, but you could always go for the orange.
Step 8.) As always, seal with a topcoat. I'm using the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri topcoat that I reviewed in my last post, but will be purchasing new Seche Vite soon!
I hope you found this tutorial helpful, and do tell me if you end up trying it out!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Top Coat Wars: Seche Vite v.s Sally Hansen Insta-Dri

Hi guys! Before I leave for the Czech Republic tomorrow, I wanted to leave you with one last post (albeit a short one) that compares two well-known topcoats. I have bought both products twice and have used them on top of various nail polish formulas, so I feel pretty educated about both. Anyway, let the topcoat wars begin! 

Left: Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat, Right: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri
Approx. $6 USD at drugstores

 People all over the interwebs have been heralding this topcoat as the Seche Vite of the drugstore, which was what drew me to purchase it instead of the other fifty million brands of topcoat at my local Walgreen's. I can kind of see why this was hyped up as a Seche alternative, but there are definitely some key differences that I'll touch on in a minute.
First, though, let's start with what I like about this product:
1.) The price is right
2.) It's readily available at my local Target, CVS, Walgreen's, and grocery stores
3.) The finish it gives is nice and shiny
4.) The smell is not very strong
5.) The brush is nice and wide, but not too wide.
As you can see, there are lots of positives that Sally Hansen Insta-Dri brings to mind, but the few negatives that I have experienced with this product are sufficiently annoying. Let's start off with the fact that this topcoat is very likely to create air bubbles on the nails, especially towards the end of the bottle's lifespan:

If you look closely at the picture above, you'll notice lots of tiny clusters of air bubbles, especially on my pointer and middle finger nails. (By the way, this design is not my own- I followed a YouTube tutorial by the talented elleandish Anyway, I did not do anything that would effect the smoothness of the topcoat (i.e, vigorously shaking the bottle right before application or applying too much product), so I've concluded that the bubbles are purely the fault of the formula. So that's annoying.
Additionally (and most importantly), this topcoat will smear nail art designs like no other if you aren't super careful. When I use the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri, I wait 2-3 times as long for my designs to dry than I do if I use Seche Vite. I don't have any pictures of the smears that occur with this topcoat because in my frustration I never thought to collect evidence, but I'm sure that you can imagine what streaky black striper lines would look like.
Lastly, I'll address dry time. Basically, the Insta-Dri is not dry to the touch in 30 seconds as the bottle claims, which doesn't surprise me and is just a gimmick anyway. In 30 seconds you can lightly tap the nail and not smear your manicure, but you will ruin the smooth surface with an indentation of your fingerprint. In 5 minutes the topcoat is usually an acceptably dry, but still feels much tackier than Seche Vite does after the same amount of time.
Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat
$10 at Ulta and varying prices at

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the infamous Seche Vite. I realize that this isn't absolutely everyone's favorite topcoat, but it is definitely the most talked about and raved about topcoat on the internet. In my opinion, the hype is well-deserved, because this meets all of my most important topcoat needs:
1.) It's the glossiest topcoat I've found
2.) It dries the fastest (5-10 minutes and it's almost completely hardened, dry to the touch in under a minute)
3.) The price isn't hideous (although it certainly isn't the cheapest)
4.) It won't smear nail art
5.) It protects against chipping for the longest amount of time

The only negatives that I can think of are 1.) the smell, and 2.) the tendency of the formula to get extremely gloopy and difficult to use about halfway through the bottle.

In regards to the odor of this topcoat, it has a very strong chemical scent (paint thinner comes to mind) that tends to linger just a little bit. Although the smell is kind of overwhelming at first, I learned to accept it after I saw how amazing the topcoat wore on my nails. As far as the 1/2 bottle gloopyness, Seche Vite actually sells a companion product called Seche Restore, which does exactly what you think it would by de-glooping your bottle of topcoat. Just put in a few drops and your Seche Vite is good as new!

Lastly, I know that the thickness of this topcoat tends to throw people off at first (myself included). The best way to work with Seche Vite's consistency is to put one glob of topcoat close to the cuticle and then quickly spread upwards towards the tip of the nail. If you dip the brush back into the bottle halfway through topcoat application, you may get air bubbles and an uneven surface. Trust me though- after you get used to the formula, all other brands of topcoat are likely to pale in comparison!

In conclusion, the winner of topcoat wars is...

SECHE VITE (despite limited availability and a higher price point)
I still think that Sally Hansen Insta-Dri is an okay topcoat, and even a good one if you don't wear nail art on a regular basis.

Anyway, I hope this review has been helpful (sorry about the rambling, but there were lots of details to address!). Have a lovely day/evening, and I'll see everyone in two weeks!