Wednesday, June 27, 2012

choose me! ...but don't try to photograph me

I've posted a lot about my love for German cosmetics brand Essence. I bought a ton of their polish in Spain and am ecstatic Essence is now stocked at Ulta! Because now I no longer have to be that d-bag who, when asked where I got a certain polish, has to answer "Uhm, I bought it in Europe."

This is Essence Choose Me!, a gorgeous glass-fleck teal that shines green and gold, depending on the angle. It's not really a duochrome, but the glass-fleck shimmer offers a lot of depth. Here I layered two coats of Choose Me! over one coat of Borghese Mezzanotte Blue, because Choose Me! is a bit sheer on its own and I wanted to conserve polish :)

To complement the gold glow Choose Me! can take on, I added glitter rows using Milani Gems Gold. I manually placed them on my nail using a dotting tool (a toothpick or bobby pin would work great too!)

I got tons of compliments on this (I work at a hotel, so I'm constantly pointing things out on maps/handing receipts and whatnot to people, so when my nails are extra rad, guests let me know), so I'm bummed it looks so lackluster in photographs. The first photo was taken my standard way--using my DSLR with an external flash + diffuser in front of a black backdrop. The second was taken using my point-and-shoot on its macro setting in my bathroom, which has a sky light. It's a bit more color-accurate but still SO GLARY! I just want you guys to see the gold glitter stripes. They're cute, okay? I just want to share cuteness with you. IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK????


Thursday, June 21, 2012

floral + pinstripes

Today I stopped at Payless on my way home from work with one simple mission: buy some of those super no-show socks to wear with flats or pumps.

I left with some of those super no-show socks to wear with flats or pumps...and a bottle of nail polish. (Be proud of me, though. They were buy one, get one 50% off and I only bought one!)

I started with three coats of Essie Marshmallow (my new fav polish, if you haven't already noticed) on my pinky, ring, and thumb, and two coats of American Apparel Mannequin on my ring and index fingers. The forumla of Mannequin, like all AA's cremes, is so, so good. Not too thick, not too thin...goes exactly where you want it and isn't remotely streaky. LOVE. Why aren't all polishes like this?

Then, using my new striping brush, I painted stripes on my pinky, ring, and thumb nails using Brash Green Machine. Here is where I will stress the importance of having a proper striper brush. Til now I was using a couple tiny paintbrushes I got at an art supply store. They worked well enough for things like flowers, but were quite hard to work with for anything else. I don't know why I put off buying legit brushes for so long, especially because this set was only $3.95 with free shipping! It comes with 15 different brushes, which is probably more than I'll ever need, but a striper brush at Sally's probably costs at least $3.95 anyway. Long story short: buy real nail art brushes. They'll make your life so much easier.

I used a dotting tool and Essie Lilacism to make the bases of my flowers, then the striper brush and NYC 006 (only found in Spain) for the dark purple shading and Brash Green Machine for the petals.

Lastly, although Green Machine is a lovely color on its own, it was too bright for the pastel vibe I was going for in this, so I added another coat of Marshmallow on my three stripey fingers to mute the green a bit. Another reason why Marshmallow is such an awesome polish: it makes any bright polish a pastel! So uh, you should buy it already. And Essie should pay me for such dedicated promotion already.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

one time, i met jenny lewis at a farmer's market and she told me my nails were cute

I have an announcement to make, guys. I am retiring from the nail art scene. I'm done. Because I won it. I can't rise any higher. I might only have four followers on this blog and zero comments on any of my posts, but yesterday Jenny Lewis said my nails were cute.

Now, if you know anything about me, you know two things dominate my life: my compulsion for painting my nails and, much longer withstanding, my all-consuming love for the musician Jenny Lewis. You might know her from her now-defunct band Rilo Kiley, or her acting prowess in movies like 1989's The Wizard, as well as several Golden Girls cameos. In any case, she is a perfect human being and her music means an incredible amount to me. I even have some of her lyrics tattooed on my body, that's how much I love her. She played in my town last night so I got to see her for the fourth time. A few hours before the show, I ran into her at a farmer's market. In a fit of adrenaline-induced bravery, I went up to say hi to her. She introduced herself to me and shook my hand and said, "Oh, cute nails!"

(I really was nearly crying. Also shaking so hard it took me a good three minutes to type that status.)

The show was absolutely amazing--her vocals were the best I've ever heard--and I met her yet again after the show and got this photo with her so uhm yeah my life is now complete:

...buuuut enough of my insaneo fangirling and onto what you came here for: the nails! Or should I say...the Jennicure? Get it? Manicure...Jennicure...okay I'll stop now.

These were actually inspired by a pair of heeled saddle shoe oxfords I've seen Jenny wear before (because I am that much of a creeper). This is two coats of OPI Mod About You layered over one coat of Essie Marshmallow to help with opacity, since Mod About You is a slightly streaky, sheer creme.

The black heart shapes are Wet n Wild Black Creme, and freehanded using the bottle brush. I then used a tiny dotting tool to add dot borders of Mod About You and Black Creme.

This is a cute and easy design that would look rad with a lot of different color combinations. The pink and black is very 1950s to me--like some souped-up Cadillac or something--but I think nude and white or two pastels could look pretty too!

...aaaand that's all I have to say about nails. My head is still spinning from the day's events. Also, please tell me you got the Mean Girls reference in the title of this post...)

Monday, June 18, 2012

the dark side of gradients

I've been seeing (and doing) so many pastel gradients lately, and they're all incredibly lovely, but I decided to turn that on its head and do an intense, dark gradient. Cus, ya know, I'm a rebel. (I also just had Cool Whip on my strawberries with breakfast. Watch out, y'all, I'm outta control!)

I started with two coats of China Glaze Turned Up Turquoise, an almost-neon polish with a slight shimmer. Like neons, it dries matte and deceptively quickly; though it might feel dry to the touch almost instantly, you do need to wait as long as you would with a non-matte polish, otherwise you risk pulling or other unfortunate impatient-nail-painters' problems.

Then I sponged on Revlon Royal, a gorgeous blue jelly, and Wet n Wild Black Creme. I used a bit of Sammy's gradient technique and a bit of my own; alternating sponging both colors to get a smooth effect (so sponging Royal over Turned Up Turquoise, then sponging more Turned Up Turquoise over Royal, etc.)

It's not my smoothest gradient, but I love the shock of the black with the neon turquoise. Also, this was a beeeeyotch to clean up--I sponged on the black, which meant it was all over my fingers. It looked kinda rad at first--like spray paint outside of a stencil--but then I was like, "Man, I have to douse my skin in acetone to clean it up now," and then I had dry, stained fingers and it was just real rough. A day in the life of a nail addict, dude. Stuff's intense.

Have you tried gradient nails? What are your fav color combos? Has this post inspired you to join...the dark side? (We have Cool Whip and strawberries. You should totes come.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

tart deco creamsicle

I'm gonna start this post by saying: Essie Marshmallow is a perfect polish. You need it. I use white in a lot of my designs but I think the flat, opaque look of a standard white creme can look cheap and plastic-y, or like White Out. Marshmallow fixes all these problems: it's a sliiiightly off-white jelly that's opaque in three coats and creates a lovely, soft, deep white that's much more sophisticated looking than your run-of-the-mill white creme. SO GO BUY IT RIGHT MEOW.

I started off with three coats of Marshmallow. There's some VNL (visible nail line) in these photos, but it wasn't as obvious in person. Then I freehanded some the colorblocks? wings? curtains? whateva you wanna call 'em in Essie Tart Deco, a fabulous orange-leaning coral creme that makes me look wicked tan. I read online that it needs a zillion coats to become opaque but over Marshmallow, it was opaque in just one. Awwwwwwwww yeah.

I wanted to outline the Tart Deco in gold, but my gold foil (Essence Shiny Godness) is quite dark and wouldn't have meshed well with these bright colors. What's your favorite gold foil?

So yep! There ya have it. This reminds me of one of those creamsicle 50/50 bars I used to get after school as a wee tot. I just did a google search for "creamsicle" to put a photo in this post and found a site that sells creamsicle-flavored condoms. Now I'm scarred for life...and you are too. Sorry not sorry.

Also, can I just say I LOVE having oval nails? No breaks or anything. Y'all should try it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

sacre bleu!

...get it? Cus this is a french manicure, and it's blue? I am so good at making puns in French, guys. So good at it.

This is three coats of Essie Borrowed & Blue with tips freehanded in Essie Lilacism. The formula of Borrowed & Blue was typical of a light pastel, rather streaky, though it did eventually settle nicely. This shade is from Essie's 2010 wedding collection, and I have to say this is definitely going to be the "something blue" when I get married to Ryan Gosling someday.

Not a lot to say about this one since it's so simple, but I hope you're not sick of these all-Essie manicures because I have one more coming up for you tomorrow ;)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

seein' stars

Stars are literally the hardest thing to paint with nail polish. Why do they have to be so pointy? Why does nail polish have to be so thick and uncooperative? Why do I think you care about my difficulties in painting stars on my fingernails?

I recently ordered a ton of Essie polishes off of Amazon, because they're too damn expensive in stores and also I LOVE the delayed gratification of ordering things off the internet, even if it means I have to walk a full 200 yards to my mailbox. I think Essie has the best color selection out of any nail polish brand (probably because it's almost entirely cremes, which are my fave), but I'm always underwhelmed with their formulas. But I put up with that because gorgeous pastel cremes. All I need in life, really.

This is Essie Lilacism sponged over two coats of China Glaze White on White. I tried using Sammy's gradient tutorial which I posted about in my last gradient mani post, but Lilacism wasn't opaque enough so I ended up painting it on the tips, then sponging a bit further down. As you can see on my ring finger, this technique was less than perfect. Oh well.

I did the stars using a dotting tool, because my striper brush has seen seriously better days. I ordered a new set of brushes off Amazon but they've been super slow in arriving. So perhaps I lied when I said I like delayed gratification.

Regardless of my sad amorphous stars, I think this is a pretty sweet manicura. That's Spanish for "manicure." Whoda thunk?!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

sterling cooper draper polish

If you don't watch Mad Men, I don't want to be friends with you. Just kidding, I will still be your friend. But I will feel very sorry for you because that means you don't get to look at these beautiful faces every Sunday evening:

Tonight is the season finale and I am beyond excited to see what happens in the lives of these crazy and gorgeous people. Last week's episode was totally cray so I can't even fathom how ol' Matthew Weiner (pronounced Wine-r... disappointing, I know) will top that with the finale.

So in the spirit of the occasion, I decided to do some simple Mad Men nails!

I used only three colors for this: Wet n Wild Black Creme, Sinful Colors Snow Me White, and H&M Berry Love. I used tape to make the nude windows on my middle and pinky fingers, but had some weird problems--the tape kept tearing cleanly down the middle as I lifted it off my nail. I've done a ton of tape manis (using this same tape!) and I've never had this problem before. I'm thinking it might be the base coat I used, which was kind of rough (Revlon Post Trauma Nail Treatment). Any thoughts on this?

So if you couldn't already ring finger is an interpretation of the ad agency's logo (though I guess I should have left out the P...hmmmmm) and my ring finger is a suit, cus if there's one thing Don Draper and Roger Sterling can do well, it's look goddamn handsome in a suit.

So are you all as excited as I am for the finale tonight? Or have I totally lost you with this manicure? Either way, I will leave you with this gif of Don Draper (aka Jon Hamm) looking like the suave sonofabitch he is:

PS I decided I'm done with square nails for a while. My job is super rough on my hands and my square nails kept tearing at the I think oval nails look super classy and feminine. I'm excited to do some sweet stripey manicures with the four (oops) Essie polishes and nail art brushes I just ordered on Amazon...eeeeeep!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

stick 'em up!

You all are probably familiar with the accent nail manicure, if not from me then from the nails tag on Instagram, because it's gotten mad popular. Painting just one or two of your nails something different from the rest is a quick and easy way to spice up a simple manicure. Traditionally, the accent finger is just your ring finger, or ring and thumb. But lately I've been seeing variations of this around the interwebz, and my new favorite is the pistol manicure: just your index and thumb, your trigger fingers, are painted somethin' special.

I painted my pinky, ring, and middle fingers with three coats of Essence You Belong to Me, which is a gorgeous minty blue that I would love more if a) it weren't so sheer and b) if it didn't make me get that dumb Taylor Swift song stuck in my head, even though those aren't even the exact lyrics. Essence is a faaaabulous German brand they sell all over Europe so I picked up a ton of bottles there, but it is now carried at Ulta, so get yer butt over there and buy all of them cus they are great (and only 99 cents a bottle, though the bottles are .5 oz).

For my accent fingers, I used a base of Essence Got A Secret?, then painted on leopard spots in China Glaze White on White and Wet n Wild Black Creme using a dotting tool.

After I completed this, that T. Swift song was replaced by Paper Planes by MIA (a vast improvement, in my opinion, and not just cus I'm nostalgic for 2007.) All I wanna do is *bang* *bang* *bang*...

In slightly unrelated news, I have jury duty today. I'd been on standby the last two days and I guess today they decided that because it's going to be 76 degrees and sunny out, I would really prefer sitting inside a courtroom. I really hope neon yellow nail polish isn't in violation of court dress code and...if it is...well, all I have to say is:
(Yes, that is M. Ward. Yes, the internet is an increasingly strange and marvelous place.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

summer mix

I recently required a new (old) car. It's a 1990 Honda Accord and its name is Ron Swanson (aka the Swansonmobile) and up until two days ago, it had no stereo. That meant I was driving around either in awkward silence or using my BlackBerry as speakers...both which were very depressing. However, my very kind and mechanically-minded dad recently installed a new radio so now I can feel slightly less bootleg while driving a car that is older than I am. This is great because I love listening to goofy summery playlists when the weather is nice like this. My latest summer music mix has included Justin Bieber, The Go-Gos, Kid Cudi, Phantogram, and Taking Back Sunday (totally normal grouping of music, right?) So to reflect my summer music mix eclecticness (is that a word? well, now it is), I decided to create a manicure that is equally wacky.

China Glaze Holly-Day
Zoya Tracie
Zoya Kylie 2
Wet n Wild Black Creme

China Glaze Shocking Pink
Milani Gold Gems

China Glaze White on White
Wet n Wild Black Creme
This nail was inspired by the original Barbie's bathing suit!

American Apparel American Denim
China Glaze White on White

Wet n Wild Black Creme
Urban Outfitters Purple Glitter

I used a dotting tool for my pinky, index, and thumb, and a striping tool for my middle finger. I really love skittle nails because they're a great way to try out different designs, especially ones that are too time consuming to do on all your nails (like the watermelon design).

Now, we'll see how long this manicure nails have been getting super beat from doing dishes at home and at work. What's that you say? Buy some rubber gloves? But that, my friend, would require effort...thanks for the suggestion, though ;)

popsicle gradient

If you guys have never seen The Nailasaurus, you've really been missing out. Sammy does some seriously awesome nails and her gradients are the best out there. I did these using her technique and the effect was really stunning--it looked even better in real life, I think here the colors were just too bright to photograph smoothly.

I started with three coats of Zoya Shelby, which is kind of the exact shade of Pepto Bismol and is pretty streaky buuut I still like it. Then using Sammy's gradient technique, I added on Sally Hansen Sun Kissed.  My friend's mom said these look like popsicles, and a middle-aged dad complimented them when I was at work, so basically Sammy's tutorial is the greatest and orange and pink are the perfect summery colors.

Ignore my weird crooked fingers and focus on dat gradient. Smooth as buttah.

The next day I decided to add some nail art and subconsciously ended up copying this manicure by Chelsea from Get Nailed. Hers is a thousand times better than mine sooo I'm a little embarrassed but whateva whateva I do what I want!

All the art was freehanded using a paintbrush that is badly in need of replacing and a dotting tool using China Glaze White on White. 

It didn't show up too much in the photos, but I also added a coat of China Glaze Fairy Dust for a lil bling bling. (Do people still say "bling bling"? Or did that die out with Myspace, velour sweatsuits and the popularity of Nelly's music?)

Monday, June 4, 2012

red hot flakies

I wore this manicure over a month ago, before I moved out of my dorm and my super long nails were torn to shreds (RIP nailz). My physical therapist's assistant said this was her favorite manicure she'd seen on me, so I'm SUPER disappointed that I could not get it to photograph correctly. Stupid flakies. I broke out my SAD lamp for this because my external flash was creating too much glare on the flakies, and still you can't see all the gorgeous gradations from violet to gold in the flakies polish. For those of you unaware, a "flakies" polish is made with strips of mylar (yeah, that weird metallicy stuff balloons are made out of) and the effect is softer and more mottled than standard glitters.

This is three coats of Finger Paints Asylum over two coats of Zoya Kylie 2. 


The flakies are just so duochromey and perfect. So stunning against the bright coral of Kylie 2.

Anyone have advice on how to properly photograph flakies? It's really tearing me apart. Like, really.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

columbia inspired

Who's got two thumbs and is the worst nail blogger ever? (Hint: it's not my cat, because she has zero thumbs. She would be a really dreadful blogger though.) It's ME, because I haven't posted in ages even though I'm on summer vacation. Also, I haven't been crazy about any of the manicures I've done.

Anyway...I'll stop complaining about my silly creative slump and get to the nails, mmk?

My little brother graduates from high school on Thursday and he'll be going to Columbia University in the fall. This manicure was inspired by Columbia's colors--powder blue, black, and white. I used two coats of American Apparel American Denim as the base. I almost got away with just one coat, which was amazing for a pastel. This polish is a little chalky and seems like it will separate over time but for now it looks pretty damn nice. I'm a sucker for any blue nail polish.

I freehanded the stripes using China Glaze White on White and Wet n Wild Black Creme. As you can see, some nails turned out better than others...oh well.

American Denim was one of the four AA polishes I bought in Massachusetts and holy cow, their colors are so lovely and almost all cremes, so uh, naturally I'm hooked.

Sorry, not a lot of silly commentary on this. I've been working a ton lately and I use up all my witty banter there/in my conversations with my cat. So until next time...happy painting!