Monday, April 30, 2012

you can paint your nails lime green, rent yourself a limousine

The other day I was listening to one of my favorite bands in the entire world, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, and was immediately inspired after hearing the lyric from "White Shoes": You can paint your nails lime green / rent yourself a limousine. I thought to myself, HEY! I can paint my nails lime green, even though it's the most obnoxious color ever, so I'm GONNA DO IT.

I started with three coats of Essence Lime Up!, which I think is a dupe for OPI Did It On 'Em from the Nicki Minaj collection. The formula for this polish was horrible. It was thick and bubbly and settled unevenly. No bueno.

Then because the lime wasn't eye-searing enough, I decided to freehand stripes in China Glaze Shocking Pink, which is the brightest neon ever. My camera can't capture how bright it is. Just imagine walking into the Barbie aisle at a toy store circa 1996. That bright.

I feel like this pattern could be found on some canvas flip-flops at a really tacky golf course in Miami. Or maybe just a Lacoste trunk show. Maybe I should have put some alligators in there somewhere.

Well, there you have it...the ugliest manicure I've ever done. Sorry your eyes hurt now. Here's a picture of Anderson Cooper holding a really fat cat to make things better:

Friday, April 27, 2012

what would YOU do if your mother asked you?

Tomorrow is a magical day here at Vassar College. It's Founder's Day, an annual event that celebrates the birthday of the college's founder, Matthew Vassar. He was a really short British dude with a penchant for top hats. Here is a photo of Meryl Streep dressed up as Matty Vass:

Total goddess, amirite?
Anyway, the coolest thing about Matthew Vassar (other than the fact he started a college for women) is that he was a brewer. Yep, that dude made beer for a living. Although most schools would argue that they have beer instead of blood in their veins, at Vassar that's actually quite true. So to continue the legacy of Matthew Vassar, the original party monster, every April we spend a whole day outside riding carnival rides, eating cotton candy, dancing to live music, and getting very sunburned. It is the best day, and every year Founder's Day has a specific theme. This year the theme is Dr. Seuss.

You all know of my unabashed love for Dr. Seuss (I mean, how could I not, with an elementary school educator for a mother?), so naturally I was THRILLED about the theme. I could go on for ages about how excited I am about all this, but you came here for nails and not rants about college histories and German authors with cool pen names, so onto my fingers:

I had grand plans for full-on nail art on every nail, but my grandma-like qualities were in full-force today and I was shaking too badly to do anything fancy, so I settled on a Cat in the Hat accent nail. The blue is OPI Dating a Royal, which is so so pretty but has a tendency towards bald spots, as you can see on my middle and pinky fingers. Booooo.

Then I put H&M Confetti kisses, a mix of large silver hex glitter and silver microglitter, on the tips of my nails. Apparently my flash hates silver glitter because you can barely see it in these photos. Oh well; just imagine all the sparkly goodness, okay?

To make the hat on my ring finger and thumb (and I'm not going to show you my thumb because a corner of the nail ripped yesterday and now it looks awful), I started with a base of Sinful Colors Snow Me White. Then I topped it with Seche Vite because I am impatient, waited a few minutes, then used tape to create the red stripes with H&M Berry Love. I used a small paintbrush for the black outlines and my attempt at Dr. Seuss-esque shading, which on my nail kind of just looks like I suck at nail art. Don't worry about it.

Sorry that this post was 99% me blathering about how much I love my school and 1% nails. But hey, it's my blog, right? I DO WHAT I WANT!

"Then he said, 'That is that.' And then he was gone, with the tip of his hat. Then our mother came in and said said to us two, 'Did you have any fun? Tell me. What did you do?' And Sally and I did not know what to say. Should we tell her the things that went on there that day? She we tell her about it? Now, what SHOULD we do? Well...what would YOU do if your mother asked YOU?"

Friday, April 20, 2012

galaxies, revisited

I first started dabbling in nail art in July 2011. My attempts were...sloppy, to say the least, and everything took me forever. A few days before I left for Spain, I put on Trainspotting and decided to use Cutepolish's tutorial to do galaxy nails. It took me the entire movie--over two hours--to finish the manicure, and it was still pretty messy. I don't even want to go into how messy my cuticles were...but anyway, eight months later, I decided to reattempt the galaxy manicure. I'm happy to report that this time it took me under 45 minutes. Practice makes perfect, you guys :)

Polishes used:
Wet n Wild Black Creme
Sinful Colors Snow Me White
China Glaze Lemon Fizz
China Glaze Fairy Dust
OPI Do You Lilac It?
OPI Dating a Royal

I started out with a base of Black Creme, then using a bit of a makeup sponge held in tweezers, I sponged on Snow Me White to form the basic galaxy shapes. Then I added Dating a Royal around the edges, Lemon Fizz in the center, and Do You Lilac It? in the spots that still looked too white.

Using the small end of a dotting tool, I added star clusters using Snow Me White, and then topped everything off with a coat of Fairy Dust. It's a holographic microglitter that China Glaze actually just discontinued, so if you're interested in it, buy it ASAP before it starts selling for exorbitant prices on eBay! Here's an out-of-focus shot so you can see all the pretty holo goodness in Fairy Dust:

And the best part is, my nails now match the background of my phone AND computer...I downloaded some awesome high-res photos of nebulae from the Hubble telescope's website, so I can always have stars to look at, even in the smoggiest of cities!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

matte about whimsical

I'm gonna let you all in on some really intense nail polish world drama: for those of you unfamiliar with it, there's a brand called Deborah Lippmann that makes crazy expensive nail polish, usually $18 a bottle. Being the broke college student that I am (NY state minimum wage is a total joke, I tell you), I can't afford that, regardless of how beautiful her polishes are.

Since blue polishes and glitter polishes are two of my very favorite things, a polish that combined both seemed like a dream. And Deborah Lippman has just the thing--it's called Glitter in the Air, and it's perfect, but too damn expensive. So when Revlon came out with an exact dupe, I was inappropriately excited. I went to three different CVSes, two Rite Aids, two Targets (in two different states!) and a Walgreens, but to no avail. After a month of searching, I finally found it at Stop n Shop of all prices, for under $5. Take that, Lippmann and your ridiculous prices!

Unfortunately, once I finally got my paws on Revlon Whimsical, I was a little disappointed. It's incredibly sheer, the glitter is hard to spread, and it dries very slowly. For this I layered three coats of whimsical over two coats of a light blue polish, Essence Sure Azure, because I think it would take about three million coats of Whimsical to achieve bottle color and even I don't have the dedication for that.

After wearing Whimsical for a day, I added a coat of Essie Matte About You for some velvety matte goodness. PRO TIP: never ever ever ever use a matte top coat over a manicure that is even slightly wet. The matte will cause the polish underneath to shrink and you'll get unsightly cracks in your previously perfect manicure. To combat this, use a quick-dry top coat first, and then apply your matte top coat. I use Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat for all my manicures, and it's a godsend. You can get it for $8.99 at Sally's Beauty Supply, but I've also seen it at Target for a few dollars cheaper. Seche Vite means "dry fast" in French, and has this miracle formula that allows you to put it over tacky (but not totally wet) nail polish and within 10 minutes you'll have a super shiny and super dry manicure. The only drawback is that about halfway through the bottle, the formula will start to get really goopy and will be impossible to apply. This can be fixed by adding a few drops of nail polish thinner, which you can find at Sally's or any beauty supply store.

And because this post has had waaaay too much text and way too few pictures, here's a creepily close-up photo I took with my point-and-shoot of Whimsical before I mattified it:

**note to those who are not Facebook friends with me: I've been posting nails on Facebook since September, but only just started this blog a couple weeks ago. Thus, I have a ton of manicures from the last few months to post, but back then I wasn't really focusing on getting a lot of great pictures. Any pre-blog manicures will have fewer, crappier pictures...just a heads up.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

acid water color

Today I tried to do a really smooth neon tri-color gradient. Instead of looking summery and chic, it ended up looking like a Flinstones push pop...and not in a good way. So I scrapped it and went for another color-blending technique, since I've been doing too many gradients anyway. This was really easy to do--all you need is two different polishes, a small paintbrush, and acetone.

First, I painted my nails with two coats of NYC 006. It's a dark purple creme and has a weird numbered name because I bought it in Spain, and NYC makes different products for Europe. Then I layered on two coats of OPI Skull and Glossbones, a totally awesome ghostly grey-beige from the Pirates of the Caribbean collection.

After that dried a bit (but not fully), I dipped a small concealer brush (the same one I use to clean up the edges of my nails) in acetone, and then just brushed my nails to take off some of the Skull & Glossbones. I've seen this technique used with blue and white polish to look like acid-wash jeans, but with the purple and grey I think this looks more like watercolors. Anything, really, as long as they don't look like these super fugly jeans.

I'm confident even the most nail-incompetent could replicate this look. Try it and send me a link to your attempt!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

mod sorbet

Because I love you all so very much, I'm going to let you in on a super top-secret nail art tip: gradient manicures are the easiest thing EVER and they look totally awesome. You only need four things: two different shades of polish, a makeup sponge, and a piece of paper.

For this gradient, I used a base of Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Mint Sorbet. It's a little bluer in real life than it looks in these photos. Then I put a little pool of OPI Mod About You onto a piece of paper, dipped a makeup sponge into it, and applied it to my nail, starting at the tip. I use wedge sponges (you can find a pack for a couple dollars at any drugstore), and one sponge can last forever if you just tear off the bits that have dried polish on them!

It will probably take a few sponged-on coats to get the desired effect. Just remember to always start at the free edge (tip) of your nail, so that is where the color is most concentrated, and work your way towards the cuticle.

See? Totally easy-peasy, and it's great if you're indecisive like me and can't pick just one color to wear. It's the best of both worlds! (Is that Hannah Montana stuck in your head now? Yes? Thought so. Sorry.)

Gradients also look awesome when you use glitter polish, and it's a great way to ease yourself into wearing glitter if you think a full glitter mani is too much. Also, glitter gradients are even easier than this because you can just use the polish brush, like I did in my Hunger Games manicure!

PS--holy cow, my nails are long in this. Never again. I don't get it how girls can function with mile-long acrylics. Do you like, not need to type or text or tie your shoes or do dishes or...?

Monday, April 16, 2012

friday night moon

STORY TIME: I was in Baltimore a couple weeks ago needed cash but couldn't find a Chase ATM anywhere so I came up with the best plan ever: go to Rite Aid, buy some nail polish, and get cash back. I'm totally fine with convenience fees in the form of nail polish :) Wet n Wild polishes were on sale for 69¢ each and I picked up a few I didn't already have, including the gorgeous Blue Moon. It's a midnight blue with flashes of teal.

I'm usually not a fan of shimmer polishes, but this one is more duochromey than frosty. (Yes, duochromey is now a word. Don't question it.) The formula on this polish was great--two easy coats that dried quickly.

Look at that teal! Loveeeee. Of course, since I'm incapable of leaving my nails painted a single color, I added one coat of OPI Last Friday Night from the Katy Perry collection.

Pros of this polish: it's beauuuuutiful (blue, green, pink, and iridescent glitter in a sheer blue base)
Cons: you get Katy Perry stuck in your head for the next eight hours after looking at the bottle

...but I'll put up with the cons. This polish is far too sheer to wear on its own, but it makes a lovely layering polish.

The combination of Blue Moon's teal shimmer with Last Friday Night's round microglitter reminded me of bioluminescent bacteria in the ocean. Normally bacteria is the last thing I want my nails to look like, but I promise, bioluminescence is pretty damn beautiful.

So there you have it! Katy Perry and bacteria-inspired nails. Proof that inspiration can be found in the very strangest places.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

girl on fire

I finally got around to ordering a couple polishes from the China Glaze Capital Colours Collection, inspired by the Hunger Games. I wasn't the biggest fan of the collection because I tend to favor bright and light colors over dark, moody ones, but I love the Hunger Games so I had to waste some money on HG-inspired polish.

I fully acknowledge there are about eight million manicures exactly like this floating around the internet, but in my defense I only had about ten minutes to do this manicure and thus couldn't be terribly creative.

I started with two coats of China Glaze Stone Cold, an awesome shimmery matte (!!!) charcoal grey, and then applied China Glaze Electrify to the tips. It's a super bright and shiny mix of gold and red small glitter. Once Electrify dried, I put a coat of Essie Matte About You top coat over just the glitter because I wanted the glitter to match the matte base, but the effect ended up being kind of cloudy and messy-looking. Lesson learned.

So, there you have it! District 12-inspired nails. I'd like to think Cinna would be a fan :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

funky skittle

Here's some nail art lingo for ya: a "skittle" manicure is when every nail is painted something different. I love actual Skittles (especially the Crazy Cores...I could eat those by the pound) and I love skittle manicures just as much. They're great for when you can't decide on just one pattern, or have a few new polishes you want to try out, which was the case in this manicure. I pulled the blue, purple, hot pink, and multi-colored glitter polishes out of my "untrieds" stash for this.

Pinky: base of Essence Lime Up! with polka dots of China Glaze White on White.
Ring: base of an unnamed blue microglitter from Urban Outfitters with the anchor freehanded using white acrylic paint.
Middle: base of China Glaze Shocking Pink topped with Milani Gems FX.
Index: base of China Glaze Lemon Fizz with flowers in Milani Classic, Wet n Wild Dreamy Poppy, and China Glaze Holly-Day.
Thumb: base of unnamed purple microglitter from Urban Outfitters with the basketweave pattern freehanded using white acrylic paint.

Pro tip: when using neon polishes (like Shocking Pink) or yellow polishes (like Lemon Fizz) always start with a base coat of white polish. That way you'll only need two coats of your neon or your yellow for full coverage--without a white base, you'll need at least four or five coats, which is a waste of time and polish!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

80s film

Last week I got suckered into Zoya's Good Morning America promotion, because apparently I have zero willpower when it comes to nail polish sales. I mean, three bottles from their summer 2012 Surf collection for 50% off?! I added that baby to my cart without even thinking about it. (Oops.)

Anyway, this lovely dusty teal is Zoya Wednesday. It seemed a lot brighter and bluer in other swatches I've seen on the internet, but I still like it a lot. Since I'm in capable of having plain nails, I used tape to create colorblocks using OPI My Private Jet, and a dotting tool to add little dots of Wednesday. I'm not sure how I feel about this; without the dots, it looked totally 80s--too 80s for my taste, and that's saying something. Once I added the dots, it started to look like film strips, we are.

Using tape is an easy way to get crisp lines in a manicure. My tips are pretty much the same as they were for a half-moon manicure:

  • Cut your tape strips BEFORE you start painting your nails
  • Let your base colo dry completely before applying the tape, otherwise the tape will badly smudge the base polish. It's probably a good idea to use a quick-dry top coat to speed up the process.
  • Stick the tape to your hand/arm/leg before putting it on your nail, to make it less sticky.
  • Remove the tape immediately after applying your second color.
I've been really into stripes and geometric shapes lately, so perhaps they'll be more tape manicures on here soon!

Monday, April 9, 2012

I speak for the trees!

It's no secret that The Lorax is one of my favorite books. My parents raised me on Dr. Seuss and my love continues til today--I even used to wear a ring with the Lorax on it, and I have a copy of the book on my bookshelf at school, sandwiched between a psychology textbook and Christophrt Hitchens' Letters to a Young Contrarian. Anyway, when I was home for spring break, my mom and I had a movie and dinner date to go see The Lorax movie. I've absolutely hated all other Seuss movies (except the 1960s cartoons, of course), so I was a little nervous, but I LOVED it. I may or may not have cried multiple times...shhhh.

For this manicure I started with a base of Zoya Robyn, the most lovely electric blue with an awesome formula. My thumb is OPI Skull and Glossbones and my ring finger is Sally Hansen Sunkissed. All the nail art was freehanded using a small paintbrush. The yellow is China Glaze Lemon Fizz, the pink is Wet n Wild Dreamy Poppy, and the green is Confetti Green with Envy. Because I forgot to pack a black creme polish, I had to use OPI My Private Jet for the outlines, which wasn't ideal but it got the job done, I suppose.

Anyway, I loved this manicure so much. If you have any recommendations for book (or movie)-themed manicures, let me know in the comments!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

swedish lace

I did this manicure a couple months ago after buying my favorite blue, OPI Dating a Royal. I wore Dating a Royal by itself for a day until I caved and had to add something. I freehanded the lace pattern using Sinful Colors Snow Me White and a dotting tool.

As you can see, it's a little uneven, because this was my first attempt. I'm thinking of recreating this soon with different colors--maybe I'll even make a tutorial! Stay tuned...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

spring overload

The internet has been awash in a deluge of Easter-themed manicures. I'm not religious, and although I adore Easter candy I think all those eggs and rabbits are rather tacky. However, I do love pastels and florals--and I can't resist holiday-themed nails--so, well, here we are.

These are maybe the worst flowers I've done yet. Ignore that unsightly blob on my index finger...
I used a base of my favorite white, Sinful Colors Snow Me White, and OPI Mod About You with Borghese Belissima Rose for the roses. The leaves are Confetti Green with Envy. I did the roses using a large dotting tool to apply the light pink, and then a small paintbrush for the dark pink accents and the petals. My thumb and ring finger are an unnamed purple microglitter from Urban Outfitters over OPI Do You Lilac It?

My lovely friend Alex invited me and all our girlfriends to her house for Easter brunch, and these coordinate with the dress I'm wearing. (Actually, the dress is floral too, so I might just end up being obnoxiously flowery. Whatever, I dig it.) I'm so excited to eat some homemade food...and perhaps an entire box of Peeps? No, that would be gross. I totally haven't done that before would never do that.

Happy Passover/Easter/second weekend of April, everyone!

Friday, April 6, 2012

stars & stripes

I stole borrowed some paper hole reinforcements from work the other day, so I knew I wanted to do a half-moon manicure. (For those of you who couldn't tell from the photo, a half-moon manicure is when the crescent-shaped base of your nails--where some people naturally have a white arch--is painted a different color from the rest of your nail.) But I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do with it, so I did something I've never done before: just started painting without a clear plan in mind.

The first full-coverage polish I grabbed was Sinful Colors Snow Me White. When doing a half-moon mani, it's smart to choose a polish that gives good coverage in just one (thick) coat. I didn't feel like waiting for a base color to dry, so I put on my reinforcement stickers and applied Snow Me White. After that was done, I decided pretty quickly I was going to make this nauseatingly American-themed, because why not? So using a small paintbrush I added stripes of OPI Dating a Royal (one of my favorite polishes ever, it's just so gorgeous) over the white, and stars of H&M Berry Love on my bare half-moons.

I'm really happy with how this turned out, and I think it looks cute with my newly rounded nails--I'm usually a square nail type of girl, but they were breaking too easily like that, we are.

Some tips for doing a half-moon manicure:

  • Cut your reinforcement stickers in half. They're much more flexible this way; otherwise you might not be able to get it thoroughly pressed down at the edges of your nail.
  • Go one finger at a time. I actually used the same two halves of a sticker for all my fingers. Place the sticker, put on a thick layer of polish, and then IMMEDIATELY remove the sticker. If you wait too long, the polish will drag and smear when you take off the sticker.
  • Use tweezers to apply and take off the stickers. As you get more nails wet, the more you risk smearing wet polish as you deal with the stickers. An easy solution to this problem is using tweezers--no risk of smudging or denting!

coral clouds

Nailside is one of the first nail blogs I ever followed, and she's behind the ever-popular cloud mani. It's so easy to do and has endless color combinations...I'd definitely encourage any newbies to the nail art game to try this out. You can find Nailside's tutorial for this mani here.

For this I used a base of China Glaze Innocence followed by Essence Shiny Godness and Zoya Kylie 2 and applied all polishes using the bottle brushes. Kylie 2 is such a magnificent color--this photo really doesn't do it justice, it's almost neon, minus the horrible sheer application issues you get with neons :)

naked moons

I was disappointed with OPI's Holland collection until I read the polish names, and I knew I just had to buy this nude creme--Did You 'ear About van Gogh? I love a good art history joke and also a good nude polish, and it just so happens this one is totally flattering to my skin tone. Hooray!

I had initially wanted to do a needle dragging mani, but apparently that technique is far more difficult than YouTube tutorials make it out to be. It looked like I had dead spiders on my's that for a delightful visual? Oh well, I'll figure it out eventually.

This is three coats of OPI Did You 'ear About van Gogh? with half-moons of OPI My Private Jet applied using a dotting tool.

teacup french

This manicure was inspired by this teacup I found somewhere on the Tumblrsphere. I normally can't stand french manicures--they make me think of high school, when every girl got french tip acrylics for every dance, but this color combination makes the french not quite so tacky.

 I used two coats of Essence Sweet as Candy for the base. It's a sheer light pink that's perfect for covering stains. The gold foil is Essence Shiny Godness, which I love because it's slightly more bronze than most golds, and the green is Essence Viva la Fiesta. First, I freehanded the green using the polish brush, and then added the gold with a small paintbrush.

I really have a thing for Essence polishes and I'm so sad they're not available in the US. When I lived in Spain there was a drugstore right around the corner that sold Essence and whenever I was stressed (which was often) I'd go in and snap up a few bottles. Ahh, retail therapy...