I Vant to Suck Your Blooood! Vampire Nails

After a lovely weekend of camping on the California Coast  at Costanoa KOA my nails were tore up (literally I tore a couple nails) so I decided to just chop them all off.  Even though they’re nubbins right now that doesn’t mean they can’t be cute!Vampire NailsI have to say there is something strangely comforting about wearing black and blood red nails.  I think because it harkens back to my childhood days when my sister was goth and Elvira was on late night.  Black nails were in 20 years ago and 20 years ago was a good time for me!

I used a fine paint brush and my homemade dotting tools to accomplish the designs and I think this design has a lot of versatility; you could just do the face and paint the rest of your nails black or red for a simpler version.

Polishes Used:

  1. Seche Vite Base Coat
  2. Sally Hansen Xtremewear Black Out for the black base
  3. Sally Hansen Xtremewear White On for the spider web stamping
  4. LA Colors Blood Red for the red pinky and blood drips
  5. Poshe Top Coat
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Spooky Spiders and Wicked Webs – Halloween Nails

Spider and Webs

All weekend I was thinking about doing some kind of witch theme on my nails, but come Sunday evening I flip-flopped into designing a black widow spider and webs.

The spider is hand painted – first I made two dots to form the body and head, then used a fine paintbrush to do the legs and the distinctive red mark.  The web design is from my stamping Cheeky Jumbo Plate A – it was initially a pattern  I didn’t think I would use, but it is actually one that I gravitate towards the most and it was perfect to give the spider web vibe.  I think a cute alternative to doing webs on each nail would be to do black and white stripes; still very Halloweeny.

This was my first time using a mint Nailite polish that I got on clearance for a whopping 42 cents (directly from their website).  It took two coats to be opaque, and although it seemed a little streaky when applying, the color became even after drying.  The brush is pretty thin so you can’t cover your whole nail in one swipe, but nonetheless it turned out well.

Now all I need is a Spider WOman costume :).

Polishes Used:

  1. Seche Vite Base Coat
  2. Sally Hansen Xtremewear Black Out for the black base
  3. Nailite Polish Mint Green for the accent finger green base
  4. Sally Hansen Xtremewear White On for the spider web stamping
  5. Sinful Colors Under 18 for the red marking on the spider
  6. China Glaze Fairy Dust over spider web nails
  7. Poshe Top Coat

RAINBOW SPARKLES! 3 Color Glitter Gradient

So. Much. Sparkle

So. Much. Sparkle

Roses are red

Violets are blue

I love rainbows and sparkles

So look at my freaking nails!

 

Rainbow Glitter

 

Technique:

This is three coats of each color.  Basically I put gold at the base of each nail, then went back around and put green in the middle of each nail, then painted blue on the tip of each nail.  Rinse and repeat two more times.  These do not have a top coat currently, although I may add one on to see how it looks and to make the polish hold up.

Polishes Used:

  1. Seche Vite Base Coat
  2. Gold – Ulta Boogie Nights
  3. Green – Pure Ice Treasure Hunt
  4. Blue – Ulta Indigo-Go Girl

Trip to Point Reyes CA – Nails Matched the local Red Alga and Lichen

This past weekend my family came to visit from Sacramento.  We decided on a day trip out to Point Reyes, which I would highly recommend if you enjoy scenic drives and the option for hiking or (cold) beaches.  On the short hike to the lighthouse we discover a local Red Alga growing on the rocks next to green lichen that matched my mani so Stepdad Greg snapped a shot.  Apparently we picked the perfect day to go because there was little wind and fog, both of which the lighthouse is famous for – they have records of winds over 100 mph.  We were even lucky enough to see a whale, albeit from pretty far away!  A beautiful weekend (with beautiful nails to match)!

IMG_2476

Nails matching the local Red Alga and lichen.

 

Never a dull moment in Bay Area site seeing!

Never a dull moment in Bay Area site seeing!

Point Reyes Shorline

The Point Reyes Shorline.

Emma with family

The fam and me.

Point Reyes Lighthouse

The Point Reyes Lighthouse.

 

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