Thursday, March 28, 2013

Inspiration Thursday: Cherry Blossoms Tutorial

First off I would like to explain why I haven't posted in several days - someone thought it would be cute to give me a stomach bug.  So rude!

For this weeks inspiration I used one of my favorite wonders of nature - a cherry tree in full bloom.

Are cherry trees in bloom not one of the most beautiful sights?

Because I love to geek out on stuff like this I created step-by-step illustrations for my lovely readers.

For starters, paint your nails with two coats of Zoya Shay.  Once that has completely dried continue on as shown.

...and voila!

I wish my trees had turned out as neatly as my Illustrator drawings did, but that's my perfectionism talking - one of the thousand things I am trying to work on.

For an accent nail I used a real pressed flower, which came with this set.

As per requested I am going to attempt a manicure inspired by Rothko or Mondrian next week.  Any suggestions for subsequent weeks?

Happy Thursday, Ladies!  Toodles!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pink Gradient

My new camera and I are still trying to figure out how to work together.  Hence the reason I haven't posted in a few days.

This beautiful gradient was done using all Zoya polishes.  Going from pinky to thumb I used Shelby, Jolene, Lara, Dana, and Moxie

For a little extra something I added two small clear rhinestones to my ring finger.

My camera and I will continue our counseling sessions and hopefully we'll have some collaborative work to post soon.

Happy Monday, Ladies!

Update March 26, 2013:
I received a few pointers from my amazing photographer mother and was able to get some better photos today!  

So much better!  It seemed no matter how much I tried to adjust the coloring in Photoshop I could never get it right.  The polishes are now actually showing true to life, which is exactly the point!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Red Ruffian

I've been seeing Ruffian manicures all over the nail blogs recently.  The first few times I saw them I was less than impressed, not by the execution but by the look - it didn't trigger anything inside of me that made me think, "I want to try that!"  It seems that a Ruffian is traditionally done with a light, neutral color at the cuticle and a darker color over the top.  That combination doesn't speak to me, so I tried my hand at using red and black - one can never go wrong with that combination!

I started out with one coat of Zoya Rekha - a divine classic red.  This polish I painted on as I normally would for any manicure.  Once that had completely dried I used three coats of Zoya Dahlia over the top.  It was remarkably easy to freehand this look - I painted the Dahlia as I normally would, just moved it down the nail bed a bit.

I was worried that this color combination would look like I had bloody cuticles, and Jeff said just that - even so I was very pleased with how it came out and it caught many an eye.

If you were to wear a Ruffian what colors would you choose?  Toodles!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Inspiration Thursday: 70s Wallpaper

Call me crazy, but I love the funky colors and patterns of the 70's.  I don't know that I could actually live in a home with green shag carpet and walls covered with large scale flowers in goldenrod, yellow, and brown, but a little accent here and there makes me happy.  

While this is supposed to be Inspiration Thursday I must admit that I had a vision in my mind and created it on my nails before I found an inspiration image.  So, I guess you could say that today is Reverse Inspiration Thursday.  After I created the design on my nails I started poking around and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to find several images that could have inspired this look.

Fabulous, right?  Or hideous - depending on who you are.  I just can't help but admire a time when people weren't afraid to surround themselves with such vivid color and bold patterns.

For this colorful manicure I used two coats of China Glaze Happy Go Lucky on my thumb, index, middle finger, and pinky.  Once that had completely dried I stamped these nails with Konad Orange special polish using Pueen plate 15.  On my ring finger I used two coat of Zoya Tracie.

I received my new camera a few days ago - soon, very soon, I will have nicer photos to post!

Find some inspiration and get painting, Pretties!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Purple Blossom

In case you haven't figured it out by now - I love purple!  Quite often I force myself to step outside of my comfort zone and work in a color palette outside of purple, but sometimes I just can't fight it and I have to go back to where my heart leads me, which is straight for the purple polishes.

Not only do I love purple, but I also love Zoya polishes!  Therefore, I used Zoya Megan on my pinky, middle finger, and index.  Megan is a yummy, murky, soft purple, cream polish - I kind of feel like saying it is yummy and murky is a bit of an oxymoron but I mean that it is murky in the best way possible.  I have always been drawn to what I call murky or swampy colors, there is something very comforting about them to me.

My ring finger got two coats of Zoya Dannii, which is from the Intimate collection.  It is a luscious pinky-purple with small flecks of silver, giving it a lot of dimension.  I love the juxtaposition of using a shimmery polish next to a cream polish.

For a little added flare I adorned my pinky, middle finger, and index with purple fimo leaves.  My middle finger got tear drop rhinestones in purple, and a small round green rhinestone. 

What is your go to polish color?  Toodles, Ladies!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sari Manicure

I love the colors of India - bright jewel tones adorned with luxurious patterns in gold and silver.  One of the first stamping plates I purchased was a 42-image plate of intricate Indian-inspired designs.  Recreating the splendor of a sari on my nails was today's goal. 

I started out by painting each nail with two coats of the following (from pinky to thumb) - Zoya Reagan, Zoya Arizona, Zoya Wednesday, Zoya Dana, and China Glaze Four Leaf Clover

I stamped each nail with Konad Gold special polish using Cheeky Jumbo Image Plate C.

This plate is easily my favorite - there are so many beautiful, intricate designs and they all stamp really well.

 I do wish the gold stamping was more prominent, but I am still on a quest for a great gold polish for stamping.

This manicure makes me want to jet away to India!  Who is joining me?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Deep Space

I came across a beautiful manicure a few days ago that inspired this one.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find it again to give credit to my fellow blogger, but I wanted to share it with you anyway.

I started out with two coats of Zoya Natty, and used Red Angel plate RA-114 to stamp half of each nail.  For the stamping I used Konad special polishes in Brilliant Blue and Silver.

Is it warm where you are?  It's been snowy, windy and cold here, but I have been loving it!

Chao, for now!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St Patrick's Day Nails

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Ladies!  I hope you are having a fun and safe holiday.  I don't have much reason to celebrate St. Patrick's Day - I am not Christian, do not drink alcohol, or eat corned beef, however I always love an excuse to get festive with my nails!  I mean, I can wear glitter, green, and three-dimensional flowers without feeling overdone.  Count me in!

I've been dying for a reason to wear OPI Fresh Frog of Bel Air, and there is certainly no better reason than to help me show my spirit for the greenest holiday of the year!  I dabbed three coats of Fresh Frog of Bel Air on my pinky nail and topped that with two coats of top coat to even out the surface.

My thumb, middle, and ring fingers got two coats of Zoya Midori each.  This grassy green is gorgeous and goes on like a dream - I am officially in love!  I added a little sass to my ring finger with a pale green fimo flower, which came in this set.

Finally, I used two coats of Zoya Trixie for some sparkle on my index finger, which was also topped with a white fimo flower from the same set.  I can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but I have long been on a search for a silver polish that looks like actual silver, this one is easily the closest I have found.

How are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day?  What is your favorite green polish for the holiday?

Toodles, Ladies and be safe!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Inspiration Thursday - Klimt Tree of Life

I know, I know, it's Friday, but I was having a heck of a time getting a decent photo of my nails yesterday.  I worked so hard on this manicure that I couldn't bear to post a wretched photo (I will spare you the details of my ongoing battle with my camera).  The good news is that I was able to get some better photos today, although not great.  The even better news is that I ordered a new camera this morning!

I have seen a lot of beautiful manicures inspired by art, interior design, and fashion from my fellow bloggers.  Like any good newbie and I have decided to follow the lead of those who came before me.

As I've mentioned several times before I am currently living with my sister-in-law, nieces, and nephews in North Dakota.  Hanging in their bathroom is one of my favorite works of art - The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, but I also adore one of his other pieces, Tree of Life.

Is this not an amazingly beautiful piece?

I decided to go outside of my comfort zone on this one and get a little crazy.  At the same time I had a lot of fun with this design and plan to make Inspiration Thursday a weekly event!

For starters I painted my index and ringer fingers with two coats of Zoya Farah, my middle finger with two coats of Zoya Goldie, and my pinky with two coats of OPI Sprung.

I then used a dotting tool to drop and drag lines onto my index and pinky fingers.  My index was striped with Zoya Purity and Zoya Raven, while my pinky was striped with Zoya Purity, Zoya Tracie, China Glaze First Mate, and China Glaze Lemon Fizz.  Once the lines had dried completely I placed square, gold-flecked gems on my index finger, and stamped my pinky using Pueen plate 03.

Both my middle and ring fingers were stamped with Pueen plate 13 using Konad Black special polish.  Once the stamps had time to set I used a dotting tool to add dots of Zoya Midori to my middle finger.  My ring finger was finished off with two coats of Zoya Gilty, which is a real golf leaf top coat!

What do you think of my first stab at using an inspiration?  Any suggestions for next week?

Have a wonderful weekend, Ladies!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mermaid Tears

I decided to try my luck at free-handing French tips - are they still called French tips when they're not white?  I don't know...  Anyway, I had little faith that I would be able to execute neat tips, but as often happens I was pleasantly surprised!  And as I mentioned in this post I wanted to try out more stamping over a clear base, hence this manicure.

I started out with a strengthening base coat on all of my nails.  Once the base coat dried completely I stamped my index, middle, and ring fingers with Red Angel plate RA-111 using Konad Moss Green special polish, and my pinky with two coats of Zoya Yara.  Once the stamping dried I free-handed tips using two coats of Zoya Katherine from the New York Fashion Week Gloss Collection.  

Katherine is a sheer jelly polish, which gives the tips a fantastic semi-sheer effect.  If you look closely you can see the stamp through the tips.  So cool!

To finish this look I adorned my ringer finger with several light green rhinestones.

Any special requests for weekend manicures?  I am happy to take requests!  Chao for now.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nail Care & Polishing Basics

Last week I was asked to share with my beautiful readers some of my nail care and polishing techniques.  While I am far from an expert I know what works for me and how to achieve good results.  Let's start with basic nail care...

I use a four-sided buffer to make small refinements to nail shape as well as to even out and polish the nail bed surface.  The Swisa Beauty buffer is far superior to any I have tried before - when I use it to buff my nails the buff lasts for at least a week, if not longer.  All of the other buffers I have tried do not last more than a day.

A 240 grit nail file is great for getting rid of jagged cuticles, hangnails, and any tough skin around the nail area.  Use it like you would use a file to bring down tough skin on your feet.  Never, ever, cut, bite or rip your cuticles!  It can be painful and does little else but exacerbate the problem.

If I have a nail that needs a lot of filing because it has been damaged I always reach for my crystal file.  Crystal files are great for making quick work of nail filing, but be careful not to use it for small refinements as it will take off a lot of length before you realize it.

I almost never use nail clippers to clip my nails unless I have a broken or split nail.  Using a very gentle file each day to clean up the ends of your nails will keep them in good shape and allow them to grown fast and strong.

Your nails can be as beautiful as ever, but they won't look that great if your hands are not properly moisturized.  I am obsessed with Aveeno Daily Moisturizing lotion, it soaks into your skin quickly and continues to moisturize through multiple hand washings.  

Before bed each night I massage a generous dollop of Aveeno into my hands, and top that with a bit of Aquaphor, which is primarily made from petroleum jelly.  I just recently learned that petroleum jelly does not penetrate your skin but creates a protective layer allowing lotion to penetrate deeply into your skin while you sleep.  

If you are struggling with really dry skin try sleeping with moisturizing gloves.  I use Earth Therapeutics Aloe Infused gloves when my hands are feeling particularly dry.

Once your hands are sufficiently moisturized it's time to focus on your cuticles.  I have three go-to cuticles oils that I love, actually four...Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream is another great product.  Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil is what I keep by my bed at all times.  While I'm reading at night or watching something on my laptop I gently massage the apricot oil into my cuticles and nails.  

Cuticle pens are great for the girl on-the-go.  Two of my favorites are Theraneem Nail & Cuticle Pen and Elf Nourishing Cuticle Pen.  Theraneem is made with neem oil, which has been used in Ayurvedic treatments for thousands of years.  This pen has a soft bristle applicator that gently distributes the oil.  When the applicator needs more oil just twist the bottom - easy, simple, and effective!

The Elf Nourishing Cuticle Pen is another good pen for the busy girl.  The felt-tip applicator applies a quick-dry formula of vitamins, avocado and almond oils to your cuticles.  I especially like this one because it doesn't leave your fingers feeling greasy.  I can use it while I'm waiting for an appointment or sitting in the car.

Next up is a good base coat - I know that to some a base coat seems like an unnecessary waste of time and effort but it is really important to protect your nails from staining and there are myriad base coats out there that offer other benefits as well.  I have struggled with splitting and peeling nails for as long as I can remember, but I never tried any of those "so-called" nail strengtheners because I thought they were just another way to get us to spend money.  Recently, upon a recommendation from my local beauty supply store, I started using Orly Nail Defense - it really does work!  I have not had a single split nail since I began using it well over a month ago.

I'm jumping ahead a bit but I also want to share with you some of my favorite top coats.  If you have the time it is best to use a conventional top coat such as Essie Super Duper Top Coat, this one offers a very glossy finish and extra wear out of your manicure.

If you're in a hurry for your nails to dry reach for Essie Good To Go.  Often times quick dry top coats don't offer a shiny finish, however Good To Go is super glossy and leaves your nails shiny and smooth.  I am completely obsessed with this top coat.  If there is only one top coat you invest in it should be this one!

The next question I got was, "How do you get such perfect semi circles at your cuticle?"

Here is a step by step guide on how I paint my nails:

1) Place the brush with a small bead of polish onto your nail bed about 1/8" away from your cuticle. (see image below)

2) Push the brush and the bead of polish toward your cuticle leaving a little less than 1/16" between the polish and your cuticle. (see image below)

3) Draw the brush slowly down to the end of your nail.

4) Lift the brush from your nail and place it on your nail bed to the left of the polish you just applied. (see image below)

5) Slowly draw the brush down toward the end of your nail and follow the curvature of the nail bed.

6) Repeat on the right side. (see image below)

7) If necessary you can draw the brush down the center of the nail bed again to even out the polish.

If you make a mistake don't worry, there is a very easy way to clean up mistakes.  As you can see in the photo above I flooded my cuticle when drawing the brush down the right side of my nail, but not to worry - we are going to fix it right up!

You will need a few supplies to perfect your polish and clean up any mistakes.

First you will need some acetone based nail polish remover or pure acetone, and a brush.  I have a full, square brush for cleaning up big mistakes and a small, tapered brush for touching up small mistakes.  Because I flooded the cuticle of my pinky finger I opted for the smaller brush.

8) Dip your brush into the acetone, lightly touch the brush to a cloth or cotton pad to remove excess acetone.

9) Draw the brush over the area that needs to be cleaned.  Wipe off your brush and dip into the acetone often.

It really is that simple!

See?  You would never know I had made a mistake when painting my pinky!

Another question I received was, "How do you paint your non-dominant hand?"  Unfortunately, I don't have a fancy answer for that one.  It just comes down to painting slowly in a well lit area and practice, practice, practice!  If you give it a bit of time and patience you will be amazed at what you can accomplish!

Finally, how do you know when it's safe to do stuff after painting your nails?  To this question I do have a fancy answer, which I learned from the lovely ladies at Oh So Pretty.  Gently touch your nails together, like this - if they are still tacky you need to wait a bit longer, if they don't stick at all you are good to go!

Phew!  We made it through.  I realize this post is crazy long but I really hope it helps those ladies out there who are struggling with entering the wonderful and amazing world of polish.  

Nail polish is a great way to express yourself, so have fun, don't hold back, and show the world how truly amazing you are.  Toodles!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dusseldorf Stars

About once a week my sister-in-law, Sarah, asks me to paint her nails.  It seems that I come up with better designs when I'm working with someone else than when designing for myself - and this manicure was no exception!  I was so in love with what I did for Sarah that I recreated the look on my own nails just for this post.

Starting with my pinky I used two coats of Zoya Trixie.  I've long been on a quest for a silver that looks like real silver; this is by far the best I have found to date.  Zoya just keep rocking my world!  I finished off my pinky with a pink star rhinestone, and Essie Good To Go top coat.

My ring finger got a base coat then I stamped the entire nail with Cheeky stamp CH5 using Konad Black special polish.  Once that had dried I taped off a V-shape and painted the bottom half of my nail with one thick coat of OPI Suzi & 7 Dusseldorfs.  I am so in love with this purpley-magenta - it is very rich and regal.

My middle and index fingers got two coats of OPI Suzi & 7 Dusseldorfs, and my index finger was topped off with a clear star rhinestone and Essie Good To Go top coat.

What do you think of using a stamp over a clear coat?  I was very pleased with how it turned out - I'll definitely have to give it a try again soon.

I hope your Monday is off to a good start!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Heavy Metal

I mentioned in this post that I was working on building a light box for taking photos.  I finally got it up and running today and I am so pleased with how my photos turned out.  We're still working on getting a new camera, so hopefully my photos will continue to do nothing but improve!

I've always been a huge fan of grey - it can be warm, cool, or neutral, and goes with almost everything!  Continuing on my Zoya trend I selected two lovely Zoya greys for this look.

I started out by painting my ring finger, middle finger, and thumb with two coats of Zoya Carey, and my pinky and index finger with two coats of Zoya Marina.  To finish off the fingers with the lighter grey, Carey, I placed a square metal stud diagonally near my cuticle and a black metal dot just below it.  When using the metal pieces I find that I need to apply a minimum of two coats of top coat over the top of them, if not three, in order to cover all of the edges and keep them from catching on things.  Essie Good To Go is an awesome, fast drying, high-shine top coat, which is great for use over the metal decorations.

Once my index finger and pinky dried completely I stamped them with Pueen stamp 02 using Konad White special polish.  Next I used two coats of China Glaze I'm Not Lion to add a little sparkle.

What are your favorite grey polishes?  Toodles!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Dree Spree

Before I get going on my next few posts I will warn all of my readers that my posts are going to be very Zoya heavy for the next few weeks.  I've had a modest collection of Zoya polishes for a while, but just recently discovered what an amazing selection of colors and finishes they offer - not to mention all of their polishes are vegan and the company is cruelty-free... what's better than that?  So, needless to say I have expanded my Zoya collection significantly and plan to share some of my favorite colors with you in the coming weeks.

For this manicure I started out with Zoya Dree, which is a creamy military green that immediately caught my eye.  One of my favorite colors is green but most of my green polishes tend to be fairly traditional colors, so this one got me very excited.

It doesn't show that well in the photo but Zoya Happi is a scrumptious pink with green shift.  To finish this look I applied gold metal stars to my index and pinky and used Cheeky CH5 stamp with Konad Bright Gold special polish to adorn my middle finger.

Happy Saturday, Lovelies!