Holo Racing Stripe – Plus Seche Vite vs Orly Sec ‘n Dry

Holo Racing Stripe

I feel like I should go drive a fast car right now! The original plan for this set was to do stamping on top of the colors, but I liked the simple look so much that I stopped while I was ahead. I feel like the racing stripe on the thumb really makes this manicure pop and I can’t stop staring!

Also, I’m officially in love with holographic nail polish and now I know I’m going to want more. I picked up this LA Splash “Sparkling Torpedo” at Bed Bath and Beyond on a whim to get my order up so I could use a $5 off coupon. It was fairly solid at 2 coats, but I did a third for good measure. Well worth the $3! The coral-reddish color is 3 coats of Milani “Just Peachy”, which I found at the dollar store – totally worth it, this color is fabulous. It’s super shimmery and applied really smooth (not thick), but doesn’t dry super glossy so use a topcoat for extra shine.

My Seche Vite topcoat is almost out so on the same trip I picked up Orly’s Sec ‘n Dry to see how it compares. I used Orly on most of my fingers, but the pinky’s got the dregs of the Seche. I think the Seche drys slightly faster, is also slightly glossier, but thicker so potentially more difficult to apply. The Orly polish is toulene free (it still smelled strong) and applied smoothly. I bumped a nail probably 10-20 minutes after application and got a small smudge, so for now I will say that I think Seche probably still does a better job. I’ll keep an open mind since I have only tried the Sec ‘n Dry once.

Which fast dry topcoat do you prefer?

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Summer Brights – A Neon Adventure

Glow

This mani was both fun and frustrating.  The fun part is that I love the design and I love the colors; the frustrating part is that I used some no-name brands, which resulted in difficulty painting as well as the polish rippling once I added the top coat.

The green nails are painted with 3 coats of Summer Brights Pastel Collection “Light Creme Green Mint” (a bottle I picked up at CVS).  I have to say I’m in love with this green; the camera just doesn’t capture how the color softly glows and I love that it’s bright without being obnoxious.  It applied a little uneven so it took the three coats to get a solid look.  It’s topped with dots of blue Expressions “Mint” and purple China Glaze “Neon Flying Dragon.  Seche Vite base and topcoats.

Sally Hansen Coral Reef, Sonic Bloom, China Glaze New Dragon (Neon), Expressions MintIMG_9673

The orange nails have a Sally Hansen “White On” base, then two coats of the orange-scented Ross-obtained Expressions “Orange”.  They’re topped with dots in Sally Hansen’s “Sonic Bloom” and “Coral Reef”.  PSA – Don’t ever buy the Expressions brand polish – actually, if you want to buy it for a little girl I’m sure that would be great because they’re cheap and scented with pretty simple ingredients, but the polish didn’t apply evenly and when the top coat was applied it became horrible mess…it never really dried completely.

To do this design all you need is something to make dots with.  You can either drop a couple dollars for an actual dotting tools set or if you’re like me and not willing to spend the $1.50, just stick some pins into the eraser end of a pencil or grab some toothpicks.

Homemade Dotting Tools

The design reminds me of something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it, maybe cartoon dinosaur eggs?  Even with the cheap no name polish issues I’m still happy with the way this turned out.

What’s your favorite cheap polish?

Making Your Mani Last

DAY 1

DAY 5

DAY 1

There are few things more frustrating than a beautifully painted set of nails that are chipped in less than 24 hours.  In fact, at one point this was so frustrating that I just stopped painting my nails.  Obviously gels or acrylics are a great way to extend the wear of your nail set, but for those times when you aren’t able to make it into the salon this can be your savior.

After research and experimentation I have down a tested nail prep ritual that’s guaranteed to give you nails that will last up to over a week!  The steps below may look long, but it’s really only a few minutes worth of effort.

Longer Lasting Lacquer!

  1. Clean – Thoroughly remove old nail polish color with acetone or polish remover.

  2. Trim – Trim nails to the shape and length you prefer and file down any rough or uneven edges.

  3. Push cuticles – Gently push back your cuticles with a tool or wooden stick.  If you don’t have a tool you can use the nail on your alternate hand as a cuticle pusher!  You do this step because if polish covers the cuticle you will have air pockets that will start to peel or chip.

  4. Buff – Use a medium to fine grit buffer/file to slightly roughen the top of your nail.  You should not have large scratches in the nail, just a nice matte finish.  Work towards the base of the nail where new ridges and cuticle form.  This is a critical step, but don’t spend too much time here because you don’t want to thin/weaken your nails.

  5. Exfoliate – Apply a large dollop of exfoliant to your hands and scrub vigorously for a minute.  I use a facial exfoliant I got that is fragranced to heavily for me to apply to my face; any basic scrub should do the trick.  Make sure to focus on the cuticle area, you are removing dead skin and excess oils.; this will make your hands feel nice, but will also make the manicure look more professional and last.  Rinse with water.

  6. Scrub – Use a nail brush or toothbrush with soap on it to scrub around each nail, again, work around the cuticle area, but also underneath each nail tip so you’re extra clean!  Rinse with water.

  7. Moisturize – Optional Step:  Apply a cuticle oil (I usually use Burt’s Bees or Argan Oil) and let soak in for 5-10 minutes.  Follow by thoroughly washing with soap and water.  Give your hands a few minutes to dry, the nails can absorb some of the water and change shape when they dry, which can affect how long your polish stays on.

  8. Swipe – When your hands are dry swipe the top of each nail with either acetone or distilled white vinegar.  This is critical to remove any oils, which can cause your polish to peel prematurely.  Some polish removers have moisturizers that may have a similar effect so I recommend pure acetone or vinegar.

  9. Base Coat – Apply a base coat – these are designed to hold the polish on your nail longer, prevent potential staining and they sometimes have nail strengthening properties.  The brand I currently use and love is Seche Vite Crystal Base Coat, but some other highly recommended options include OPI’s Natural Nail Base Coat, Orly Bonder (In Style’s best base coat of 2012), CND Stickey, Essie’s First Base, and Posche Fast Drying Base Coat.  Experiment to find what works best for you.

  10. Color – Go to town with your favorite colors, but keep in mind that sometimes brands do make a difference.  OPI, China Glaze, Orly, Essie and Sally Hansen have all been in the business for a long time and are reliable options, but don’t be afraid to try a different brand if you love the color.  One coat is good, but if you really want your nails to last you should focus on two to three thin coats depending on the color.  Glitter colors naturally adhere to your nail longer (sometimes too long!).  The other important thing when painting is to “wrap the tips” – after painting the top of the nail swipe the color along the edge at the tip of the nail.  This will prevent initial chipping on top of the nail.

  11. Top Coat– Again, find a quality topcoat that works best for you.  The top contenders include Seche Vite Top Coat (my current personal choice), Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat, OPI RapiDry Top Coat, Deborah Lippmann Addicted to Speed Top Coat, Orly Sec’n Dry Top Coat, Posche Super Fast Drying Top Coat and Essie’s No Chips Ahead . I have to say that having a fast drying topcoat has changed my nail world and I can’t recommend the fast drying options enough!

Maintenance

Our hands get used a ton throughout the day so wear is unavoidable, but doing a few things like wearing gloves when you do the dishes or clean will make a huge difference.  I love to cook and I’m notorious for washing my hands every two seconds while preparing food – great for sanitation, not so great for manis; to combat this use warm/cool water instead of scalding with a mild soap and dry hands immediately after washing versus letting the water sit on your hands.  If you have the time, you can do a quick clear coat every couple of days to make the polish last and keep it shiny.  If all else fails, get your partner to do everything around the house, that’ll save your nails for sure!

What do you do to make your mani last?

EDIT:  Thanks to Danielle for the Facebook shout out about this post!

Danielle's FB Shoutout Danielle's FB Shoutout 2

Happy Fourth of July – Independence to Paint your Nails!

4th of July Nail Collage copy

This week’s fun (and first) installment of Emma’s Nail Notes is dedicated to one of my favorite holidays, the Fourth of July!  I was born in Canada, but raised in California since the age of 2 and I wholeheartedly consider myself an American.  Sure, we’re celebrating the country’s independence from Great Britain, but my real love of The Fourth comes from the inevitable fireworks (pretty sparkly things), BBQ’s, the heat, and, most importantly, a great excuse to play fashionista with the good ol’ red, white and blue.

A great way to make your mani’ work for both before and after The Fourth is to get a basic color gel set done and then just do your decorations in regular polish on top.  After the holiday you can just swipe off the patriotic design with regular polish remover, but still have your gel nails for a few more weeks!  Red, white or blue are obvious choices, but silver and black would make great bases for designs as well.

Here are my top ten picks for Fourth of July nail art this year:

10. If you’re rushed for time, just paint your nails alternating red, white and blue solid.

9. Crackle, use white as a base with red and blue crackles on top.

8. Blue nails with a red accent nail, put little white rhinestones on the blue for stars.

7. Fancy french tips, instead of white, alternate red white and blue on the tips.

6. Get mini star confetti and apply to a solid blue background.

5. Red, white and blue “dotticure” – just get a toothpick or pin and go to town!

4. Try your hand at taping some red and white stripes, you can buy thin striping tape for $1 on ebay.

3. Fireworks!  Use a brush and some silver or sparkle polish and make fireworks on a black or dark blue background.

2. Anything sparkly – you can’t go wrong with red, silver or blue sparkles.

1. The Classic Flag painted in neon or pastel hues for a current twist!  Just get a thin brush and it’s easy to do.

What are your 4th of July Nails?