Thursday, 28 March 2013

Easter Nails (and the rest...)

Wow... The past few days have been incredibly busy. I've been backwards and forwards across the North of the country (I seem to spend my whole life on the M62), and so my nails have a been a little bit neglected. But I've finally managed to sit down and dedicate some time to creating Easter nails, which I've been mentally planning for a good few weeks!
I've seen so many Easter designs recently, from Easter eggs to Spring flowers to bunny rabbits. I always wanted to create a chick, as I knew it would look incredibly cute and would be pretty easy to paint. I took inspiration from a variety of Easter cards and gifts, and decided to keep it as simple as possible (because less is always more!)

The equipment:

Models Own 'Jade Stone'
Fearne 'Cotton Candy'
Models Own 'Feeling Blue'
Models Own 'Fuzzy Peach'
Fearne 'Lemon Drizzle'
Rimmel 'Rose Libertine'
NYC 'Pinstripe White'
Barry M 'Grey'
Models Own white nail art pen
Large dotting tool
Small dotting tool
A fine paintbrush
Clear top coat
As usual, I started off with clean, filed nails and applied 2 coats of each base colour. I stuck to a pastel palette, and opted for pale green, pale purple, sky blue, pink and lemon yellow. 
Once dry, I added the basic design to my thumb. This consisted of a large circle for the chick's head, a smaller oval for its body, and little leaf shaped wings. I used one of my brand new nail art paintbrushes, which I am in love with already!
It took about 3 coats to achieve a bright yellow colour over the top of the green, and once this was dry, I used my grey Barry M varnish to outline. I thought black would be too harsh against the pastel shades, and so grey was a good decision. I added legs, feet (claws?) and some spiky hair, and then used Models Own 'Fuzzy Peach' to add a tiny triangular beak. Once this was dry, I outlined in the grey as well, and add dots for eyes.

Once I was happy with my chick, I focused on my other fingers. I was contemplating designing complex Easter eggs, but eventually settled for simple polka dots and stripes. Using my dotting tools I added large and small dots to my index and ring finger, and then used the striping brush of my Models Own white nail art pen to draw vertical and horizontal stripes on my middle and little finger. As always, when all of my nails were completely dry, I added a top coat :)

So there we have my Easter nails! I'm so pleased with the final product, and I really hope they last over Easter weekend (I'm pretty certain they will, as Models Own nail varnishes are brilliant quality and never seem to chip or peel away!)

Ooooh, just before I go, I want to show you a couple of new purchases! They were waiting for me when I got home today...

I think the total cost of these was about £5, and that's including P&P. I cannot express how much I adore Amazon for their nail arty treats! The paint brushes are lovely - they're chubbier than normal brushes and so easier to grip, and the bristles are soft yet sturdy. I can't wait to use my new sequins and beads either, it'll be a nice change from gems which have always been my go-to for added sparkle!

Oh and one more thing... I feel slightly guilty for not dedicating a whole post to these nails, but they were done in a rush and therefore I don't have a tutorial. Plus, they're pretty basic in comparison to some of my other designs.

My brand new black and white midi-dress inspired these. I used W7 'Purple' as my main colour, and then for my accent nail I added an abstract pattern using my Models Own black nail art pen over NYC 'Pinstripe White'. These nails only lived for one night, but next time I wear my dress I will definitely do them again!

So I think I've finally covered everything. If I don't check in again over the weekend, Happy Easter! I cannot wait to feast on chocolate all Sunday long... This Lent has been a painful one!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Studs & Sparkles

I've been so busy for the past few days, I've hardly had time to think about my nails! I applied these on Saturday afternoon, and they have lasted until today with only minimal chipping. Even the gems are all still intact, which is impressive! I wore a pale pink jumper that night, which has gold and silver studs around the neckline, and so this nail design matched well.

The equipment:

W7 'Sheer Pink'
NYC Pinstripe White
Models Own black nail art pen
Pink and silver gems
Nails Inc. 'Bling It On' silver nail glitter
Clear top coat
A fine paintbrush

I applied around 3 coats of pink to my thumb, index finger and little finger, as I wanted a really bright, clean finish. For my middle finger I used a couple of coats of white, and once all were dry, I applied the first top coat. I knew I'd be adding extra details but wanted to seal in the base colours to try and avoid chips and peeling!

Once dry, I added the silver gems to my pink nails. I think placing them in the centre towards the base is a good position, but in either top corner would also look effective! Once I was happy with the positioning (I used tweezers, which help with precision!) I applied another top coat. On my middle finger I began adding the colour details, painting a pale pink chevron at the bottom, and then adding a smaller black triangle inside. I added black dots in a triangular shape using my nail art pen, and once dry, added four pink gems and one silver. Again, once everything was dry I added a top coat!

For my index finger I used one of my favourite products, Nails Inc. 'Bling It On'. I applied a base coat (any colour works), then rolled my finger nail in the glitter using the little tray that comes with the set. Glitter tends to get everywhere, and I always try and save as much as possible! Once I was happy with the coverage, I topped it off with a clear top coat.

Although these nails are quite simple in comparison to my other designs, they've stayed put really well and have received lots of compliments! I will definitely be using this again in the future, matching them to my outfits and switching up the positions and colours of my gems!


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Birdie Nails!

I'm back to the family home for a week or so, and I'm so glad I decided to bring my nail box back with me! Before starting any nail art, I spent a good while cleaning and organising it... 

I got to add a few more varnishes to it as well, since my new stuff from Nail Polish Direct was also waiting for me. I am even more impressed with this company; great prices and speedy delivery makes me a very happy customer. I'll definitely be using them again for my nail varnish needs!

Anyway, after doing my sister's nails for her (fruit for her fingers, pigs for her toes!) I had a hunt around for some sort of inspiration. I found the Mother's Day card I sent to mum this year, and thought it would be a perfect starting point for a set of cute nails.

The equipment:

NYC 'Pinstripe White'
W7 'Sheer Pink'
Models Own 'Feeling Blue'
Models Own 'Jade Stone'
Fearne 'Coral Island'
Rio black nail art pen
Nail art gems
A fine paint brush

So I began with white bases, and used 2 coats to ensure full coverage and brightness. I was intending to use nail tape to make sure the following application of pink lines were completely straight, but then decided to give it a go freehand...

As you can see, the freehand pink lines went quite well. The W7 brushes are really nicely shaped, and make it easy to paint straight. I applied about 2 coats of this varnish too, and then left to dry.

When the base was totally dry, I started to add the basic block shapes. I created a bird's body on my thumb using Fearne 'Coral Island' (really bright, hot pink in real life, despite it looking dull in the photo), and then added flowers and hearts to my other nails. All of these were created using my fine paint brush.

Once these were dry, I added the black details. For my thumb these included a black 'washing line' for the bird to stand on (Mum has since pointed out that it looks more like a branch, but each to their own...), little legs, tail feathers, a beak, a wing, an eye, and a twirl above its head. I also added small black dots falling from the washing line, as it looked so effective on the original card. All black details were applied using my black nail art pen along with a fine paintbrush. I added a few gems to fill in the gaps and add a bit of sparkle!
On my fingers, I continued the washing line across, varying between one and two lines. I added the black dots too, and applied some gems. I really like these nails, especially my little pink birdie. It's a shame my other nails were a bit too small to paint him some friends, but I think when I get bored of my current toes I may have to create a few little multicoloured birds for those! I love finding new stuff to inspire me with nail art, and I think gift cards are ideal.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Fruit Salad Nails

I've seen so many fantastic fruity nails recently, I couldn't help but have a go! I've always preferred free hand nail art too; tricks like marbling are fun to try, but they're never as satisfying as a set of hand painted nails! I'm especially fond of my kiwi, but the strawberry, pineapple and watermelon are also cute (the orange was a bit of a letdown, but by this point I was getting rather tired and lightheaded from the nail varnish fumes!) I had to use so many different colours for this look, which you can see below...

The equipment:

NYC 'Pinstripe White'
NYC 'Carrie'd Away'
No. 7 'Totally Teal'
Models Own 'Jade Stone'
Models Own 'Nude Beige'
Models Own 'Fuzzy Peach'
Rimmel 'Rose Libertine'
Fearne 'Lemon Drizzle'
Fearne 'Burnt Out'
Missguided 'Misslead'
A classic red polish (a cheapy from a set, 
so no brand or name visible!)
Rio black nail art pen
Rio white nail art pen
Rio yellow nail art pen
A fine paintbrush

I began with the base colours. I applied 2 coats of each colour - 'Jade Stone' for my thumb, the classic red for my index finger, 'Lemon Drizzle' for my middle finger, 'Rose Libertine' for my ring finger, and finally 'Fuzzy Peach' to my little finger. Once dry, I topped my orange finger with the sparkly 'Burnt Out', and added the shimmery yellow Missguided polish to my thumbnail. This helped the jade colour to turn more lime green, and therefore more kiwi-ish!

Once my bases were evenly coated and dry, I began the basic details. This involved adding a white centre and a fan effect to my thumb nail (using a cocktail stick, as usual!), and then green tips for the fruit's leaves and peel.

Again, I wanted to achieve more of a lime green colour, and so topped the tips with the shimmery yellow varnish. Once completely dry, I added more details. I used a dark green - 'Totally Teal' - for the shading on the strawberry, pineapple and orange's leaves, as well as stripes on the watermelon. I then added a slim white rim to the watermelon, separating the green section from the pink, thus creating a 'pith'.
Once my base details were dry, I began the more complex stuff! I carefully added dots to my kiwi, using my black nail art pen, and made sure to vary the sizes and blend some pips together, making it seem more real. I added yellow dots to my strawberry and orange, and larger black dots to my watermelon, before taking my fine paintbrush and adding a crosshatch pattern to my pineapple, using 'Nude Beige' (this would also work with a deeper yellow and/or orange!)

As usual, once my nails were completely dry (and I mean COMPLETELY dry - black nail art pens seem to be the worst offenders of smudging, so don't let impatience ruin your kiwi!) I applied a top coat. My current favourite is NYC 'Carrie'd Away', as it's got a slightly peachy tint and seems to complement brighter bases. Also, the brush is so soft and broad, you're less likely to smudge :)

So there you go, my fruity nails! As I said before, my kiwi is very close to my heart, and I reckon I'll be attempting a full set of these in the future. I also want to perfect an inside view of lemons, limes and oranges, and maybe create a nail design of citrus sections?

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Cath Kidston-esque Nails

First of all I'm going to apologise for the quality of the photos in this post... Although my iPhone is pretty nifty when it comes to photos during the day, the quality quickly deteriorates when there's no natural light. I also have to apologise for the absent step-by-step photos, but when I actually created these nails, I wasn't blogging! I still want to share this design though, since it's so adorable.

I've always been a fan of Cath Kidston, but not of the price tag. I managed to pick up some bargain bed sheets from Tesco and a lovely throw from Matalan, which are very much Cath Kidston-esque, and less than half the cost! (The bed sheets are these by the way, and surprisingly good quality for such a low price). Anyway, my floral covers were the inspiration for these nails; the patchwork style, pastel colours and simple patterns all received many compliments for their cuteness :)

The equipment:

NYC 'Pinstripe White'
Models Own 'Jade Stone'
Models Own 'Nude Beige'
Rimmel 'Rose Libertine'
No. 7 'Totally Teal'
No. 7 'Damson Dream'
Dotting tools (get them here.They're so cheap, it'd be rude not to!)
A fine paintbrush

So I started off with the bases. I knew I wanted the detailed rose design on my thumb, so I applied the pale beige to this nail, along with my ring finger. My index and little fingers received pale green, while my middle finger was painted pink. Once completely dry, I used the small dotting tool to apply white polka dots to my index finger, and then the big tool for larger polka dots on my ring finger.

Although it looks tricky, the rose was actually extremely easy. I began with a large blob of pink nail varnish, and once dry, I used the fine paintbrush to apply deeper red petals. I think roses look more effective if you're not too fixated on symmetry; just apply the petals randomly, varying the size and thickness, but making sure they curve away from the centre of the nail. Then, once dry, add a couple of white highlights. The leaves are a similar process, beginning with light green blobs, and then detail added with a darker green.

So once I got to this point, this is what my nails looked like. I decided to add a bit more detail to my plain fingers, and so painted 'stitches' and stripes. These were done free hand, and it was pretty painstaking to get them neat and tidy, but it was worth it in the end! As I always say, nail art looks best with a limited colour palette, so I stuck to pastel, floral shades that complement one another.

Once my St. Patrick's Day nails have run their course, I'll do a proper tutorial for roses, and involve step-by-step photographs!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Saint Patrick's Day Nails!

Being 25% Irish, and also having noticed all of the Saint Patrick's-inspired nail art flooding Instagram et al, I had to have a bash at St. Paddy's nails! I always intended on hand painting a clover on my thumbnail, but originally I was going to attempt a tartan design on the rest. However, after realising how complicated this would be, I quickly decided to go for the simpler technique of Mondrian-esque colour blocking! I can't say I'm a massive fan of green, but placing a pale shade alongside deep forest green, yellow and white makes for eye-catching nails.

The equipment:
  • NYC 'Pinstripe White', Models Own 'Jade Stone', No. 7 'Totally Teal', Fearne 'Lemon Drizzle and NYC 'Carrie'd Away' as a top coat
  • Pale and dark green gems from my cute little set 
  • Narrow nail tape
  • A fine paintbrush
  • Tweezers
I began by painting my finger nails with two coats of white, and my thumb with two coats of teal. Once dry, I applied the tape. I stuck one strip vertically on all of my fingernails, and then added two horizontal strips to either side. This creates four different sized boxes, and ensures clean, straight lines of your chosen base colours. I filled in the boxes carefully, and waited until all my nails were completely dry before removing the tape with tweezers.

Now for the shamrock nail! Using a fine paint brush, I applied the leaves and stem. This was a very slow process, as I wanted to ensure all the leaves were exactly the same size and shape! I also wanted to ensure very smooth edges. Once dry, I used the yellow nail varnish to highlight the clover, and then added dark green gems to the leaves and a pale green gem to the centre.
As always, I finished with a top coat. Although it looks peachy coloured, NYC 'Carrie'd Away' is a good alternative to a completely clear top coat. NYC brushes are also very broad and soft, and so help to avoid any smudging. Overall I'm really pleased with how these turned out, and I'll definitely be colour blocking again with my trusty nail tape in the near future!


Friday, 15 March 2013

A Few Favourites

Since my blue water marbling worked out so well (see blog post below), and I want to keep my nails like this for tonight, I thought I'd do a post about a few of my favourite nail designs from the past few months!

This was my first attempt at gradient nails. The effect was very subtle as I used colours from the same 'family' - grey, pale blue, and white. I used an old makeup sponge to achieve the effect, painting on horizontal lines with the colours and then pressing against my nails so they blended into one another. I then added a black vine pattern using my trusty nail art pen! (I think my little finger nail must have gone wrong, as it often does being so little. But painting over in pure black makes for a good statement nail!)

My butterfly nails! At this point, my nails were so gorgeous and long, so I had much more room for intricate designs. I began with a gold shimmery base, and then applied the wings. I started with two blobs of my desired colour (pink, purple or blue), and once dry, I used a corresponding Rio nail art pen to do the shaping and shading. I then used white to add light patches, and finished off with my black nail art pen, carefully applying the bodies and outlines. I love how these turned out quite sketchy and abstract, and the added silver gem makes then extra girly!

Ok so these are admittedly boring compared to some of my designs, but I don't see anything wrong with a good old Frenchie when your nails are in tip-top condition! I always wait until they're reasonably long, and feeling strong. I use a basic white nail varnish to carefully apply the tips (I generally use 2 coats), and once dry, I add two top coats of my chosen pink/peach shade. For these I think I used my NYC 'Pinstripe White' and 'Carrie'd Away', but Essie 'Not Just a Pretty Face' also makes for a lovely pinkish top coat.

Finally, my galaxy nails! I admit my cuticles aren't really up to scratch here, but I didn't want to apply any editing as it may have taken away from the effect. So I created these after seeing all of the galaxy nail art flooding the internet. It's such a lovely, easy design, and has received the most compliments out of all of my manicures! I began with a black base, and once dry, added patches of shimmery yellow, turquoise and purple. These weren't in a specific place or a uniform size, I just dabbed away using a cotton bud. I then added spots of white using a nail art pen, and while still a little bit tacky, I used another cotton bud (of course!) to press down on top of some. This was all a random experiment, but as you can see from the turquoise/white section in the centre of my index finger nail, it made for a lovely effect. Once dry, I added a sprinkle of glitter. The best thing about these nails is that they always turn out completely different, and you can achieve the look so easily. I will definitely be trying these again, and I'll make sure I do a more detailed tutorial involving pictures :)

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Improved Water Marbling

I had another attempt at water marbling, and this set is sooooo much better. Practise makes perfect, evidently! This time I went for a blue colour scheme (I'm 99% certain I'll wear a blue dress for a night out tomorrow, so I wanted to match). 

The changes:

1. This time I used water in little plastic shot glasses. This is much more 
efficient than using a mug/cup, because you can just chuck them out
afterwards, and you're not left scrubbing away the leftover nail 
varnish for hours!

2. I also began with white canvases this time, as the marbling seems to
 stick better to already-varnished nails. I used 2 coats to ensure a 
bright white base.

3. Glitter was added at the end, because I can't resist a bit of sparkle!

The colours:

Models Own 'In the Navy' (deep navy)
Models Own 'Dream Stream' (clear)
Nails Inc. 'Bling It' (silver glitter)
Models Own 'Feeling Blue' (sky blue)
NYC 'Pinstripe White' (white... obviously)
Fearne 'Cotton Candy' (lilac)

So as you can see, I once again used tepid water and added drips of nail varnish to form consecutive circles.

Next, I used a cocktail stick to swirl the colours into a marbled pattern. You have to do this quite carefully, and it's a good idea to manipulate them in a way that all the shades are incorporated into each area.

With taped nails, I dipped into the marbling. I removed steadily, to avoid any smudging, and then got rid of the excess with a cocktail stick. Once dry, I removed the tape and added a clear topcoat. 

As you can see, there was still quite a bit of mess on my cuticles and under my nails, so I am still desperate to get my hands on a liquid mask.

Once I'd cleaned off the rest of the excess using nail varnish remover and cotton buds, I added sprinkles of glitter. This glitter is from a Nails Inc. 'Bling It' set, and I added a few patches of sparkles using another cotton bud. Once again I topped with clear varnish, et voilà! 

This water marbling looks so much better than previous attempt, which I think is owed to my use of a smaller cup, and also more of an idea of how to dip my nails in. Hopefully the next time I try it they'll be even better!


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

First Attempt At Water Marbling

I've seen so many tutorials for this technique, I just couldn't resist. Unfortunately it's one of those nail designs where it looks so much better in real life, but you will just have to take my word for how effective it is!

You will need: 

  3/4 colours of complementary nail varnish,
 a clear topcoat, Sellotape, a mug/cup of tepid water (filled to the brim), 
a cocktail stick and/or pencil, nail varnish remover, cotton buds.

1. Start off by taping around your finger nails. It isn't totally necessary, it just makes cleaning up easier! I used Sellotape as we didn't have any masking (the boyfriend has recommended a liquid mask for next time, where you just paint it on and then peel it off). 

2. Now for the marbling! A lot of people say that bottled/filtered water is the only sort that works, but I just took mine from a recently boiled kettle and let it cool down. I decided on 4 warm, summery colours - hot pink, bright yellow, tangerine and sparkly orange (all are very cheap varnishes from a set, apart from the tangerine which is Models Own 'Fuzzy Peach').

3. Carefully drip the polish into the water, using the same amount that you'd normally use for your nails. The drips eventually spread out into rings, and if you keep dripping into the same spot, you end up with a set of multicoloured, consecutive circles. I funked it up a little bit and added a few drips in various places, then used a cocktail stick to carefully guide the colours into a marbled effect.

As you can see, the sparkly orange looks like pure golden glitter when it's in the water. But once I'd transferred it onto my nail, the colour showed up again!

4. When you're happy with your marbling, you can start to dip! Dip your nails individually into the now colourful water. Carefully remove your nail, and use a cocktail stick/pencil to get rid of the excess. There's a knack to getting this part right, and you'll figure out for yourself what's the best approach! I managed to use the same 'pool of varnish' about three times before I had to create a new one, but I think that's better as it keeps the designs original :)

5. So you'll end up with something that looks a little like this... Yummy. Let your nails dry for a good few minutes before you remove the tape. Mine still looked very untidy after doing this, so I had to dip lots of cotton buds in nail varnish remove and scrub/pick away!

6. As always, I finished off with a couple of coats of clear varnish. I'm really pleased with how these nails turned out, and can't wait to try a purple/blue/navy colour scheme next time.

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