Thursday, June 26, 2014

Adventures in Gel "Water Marbling"!

Hello again!  In my last post, you may have seen that I attempted a faux water marbling technique (or "dry water marbling" on some of my nails.  Well, I took some up-close shots--and I wanted to explain how I did it, what went wrong, etc.

Sorry for the difference in color saturation--I had a hard time actually getting clear shots of these single nails, and I wanted to do the least editing possible!  The bottom right is actually closest to color accurate.

The three gel polishes that I used on my nails are from NaiLuv, which I reviewed just previously, and Gelish, which I reviewed last year

And I didn't come up with this idea myself; in fact, I saw it most recently on The Sparkle Queen's blog, and she mentioned seeing it on a video from Robin Moses Nail Art (who has numerous videos on this technique, as well as more tutorials!) 

As you can see, my nails look nothing as good as theirs do!  Nonetheless, I kind of like it as abstract marbling design, and it was definitely a good chance to learn.  However, if I would have known it would be as "complicated" as it turned out to be, I would have used some swatch sticks first!

Here's the basic idea:
  1. Lay down a coat or two of gel, curing between each layer, to build up to semi-opacity--in my case I started with NaiLuv "Peach Blossom".
  2. For the final layer, apply a very thin coat of gel, and DON'T CURE IT!
  3. Add two or three dots each of some other colors of gel (I used Gelish "Make a Difference" and NaiLuv "Risque Business") on top of the uncured gel--specifically overload your brush for this and let the gel "drop" down onto the nail to avoid cross-contaminating your colors.
  4. Swirl all three colors together with a pin, a fine detailing brush, an old pen that doesn't work...etc.  See what works for you!
  5. Cure it all.
  6. Add a top coat, wash off, and you're done!
Sounds simple, right?  Well, yes and no...  Here's where the trickiness of gel comes in:
  • Keep in mind not all gels are created equal: some (especially heavy metallics and glitters) are thicker and some are more fluid, with variance within a brand as well as between brands! For me, NaiLuv "Risque Business" was the thickest gel, which actually worked out well for this technique--it laid down and stayed where I moved it with my detailing brush.
  • Thinner gels may handle differently: my thinnest gel was Gelish "Make a Difference", and when I dropped it onto the nail bed, it immediately tried to self-level and combine with NaiLuv "Peach Blossom" that I used as a base.  The colors quickly combined to create more of an ombre look because of this fluidity, which didn't change much when I ran my detailing brush through the mixture to try and make the water marbled look.
  • What happened then?  The polish flooded over into my cuticles!  That's easy to clean up with some 91% isopropyl alcohol, but in my experience, if you use just a tad too much alcohol to clean up a mess, you will ruin the integrity of your gel polish.  It's best to keep your brush mostly dry.
  • You may be thinking that this may end up being a LOT of gel on the nail even if it doesn't flood into your cuticles, and that may be true.  You have to find a good medium, and that comes with practicing!  Keep in mind, too, that if the gel layer is too thick, light may not penetrate enough to cure through the entire way, leading to decreased wear time. 
All in all, my thumb nails fared the worst in this experience; they were the first nails I tried out this technique with, and because of the thick gel layer and the amount of alcohol I used to clean up the nail bed, my gel lasted only four days before having some major lifting issues at the base of the nail.   The ring fingers did much better; and although the outcome wasn't ideal, I want to try this again in the future!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Coral and Gold with NaiLuv

I'm still in the mood for bright summery colors (the summer solstice is today, after all!)  So this week I decided to try out some of my new NaiLuv colors --"Risque Business" and "Peach Blossom".

(My photos look a little different this week due to the changing daylight hours, so for reference: the first two photos were taken in varying degrees of sunlight, the third is with flash, and the fourth is purely indoor lighting.) 

NaiLuv "Peach Blossom" is a peachy coral creme shade--but it leans much more peach, with just a hint of red to be seen in some lights (especially the second photo, with the sun behind the clouds).   Initially, I thought it reminded me of a China Glaze Gelaze color called "Flip Flop Fantasy", but it's actually very very close to Gelaze "Peachy Keen" instead; it's just a shade or two more dull/less neon.  This color did shrink from the free edge of the nail a little bit, but it wasn't super noticeable, and it didn't affect the wear time.  I needed three coats for opacity with this shade.

For one of my accent nails I used NaiLuv "Risque Business".  This was a pretty big disappointment for a quite a few reasons,  but the color isn't one of them.  The color itself is a tarnished brassy gold metallic shade--it looks pretty bright and metallic in the sunlight, but in most lights it appears more muted--like old brass might appear--as seen in the second and last photos.  While I really wasn't looking for another gold shade, this is a pretty unique color; it's not too yellow, and the metallic reflects are very fine size-wise.  It's also opaque in two coats, although I did use three to keep it consistent with my other nails.  Since it is a metallic shade, it does have a tendency to show brush strokes,  as you may be able to tell!

My problem with this shade probably begins with the fact that this was my first iffy experience with Hautelook--this single gel polish took twice as long to arrive to my door than the three other gels I ordered at the same time.  It also looks nothing like its supposed swatch online at Hautelook or NaiLuv's site; I thought I was going to get a nude neutral with some shimmer,  but instead I got a metallic gold shade.  Finally,  look at the brush!  It is the only NaiLuv gel I've had that has a  permanently splayed and bent brush.  This made application a little annoying,  even though I only used it on two nails.

Finally, on the other accent nails I tried out a faux "water marbling" technique using these two shades plus Gelish "Make a Difference", which I reviewed last year around this same time.  I know I haven't perfected this method at all, so I'll comment more on what happened (cue cinematic music) another post.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

FingerPaints "As If Figuratifs"

Every time I go to Sally Beauty Supply, without fail I find myself slowly going from the front of the store to the back, looking over every brand of gel polish.  The last few months, FingerPaints has caught my eye more than anything else, even though I've only worn their amazing "flakie" glitter toppers before.  To be honest, those were SO amazing that they probably made me start looking closer at the brand!  They seem to release a limited edition collection or two every season--but more importantly, the closer I looked at their permanent gel polish rack, the more I noticed MORE shades I've never seen before...

FingerPaints "As If Figuratifs" is one of those colors.  I randomly found it while opening up a few bottles to see the shades (since those plastic toppers/swatch photos are so inaccurate!) It's green--and it reminded me a bit of OPI "Just Spotted the Lizard"/Chanel "Peridot"--so it had to come home with me. Compared to those other duochromatic regular polish shades, "As If Figuratifs" is kind of a more muted middle ground--it doesn't have the gold highlights or the dark teal lowlights, but it does have a nice duochrome effect that takes it from an olive green to a bright teal, almost cyan blue.  Most of the time, it shines more olive or seafoam green, with the blue really coming out in the sunlight.  It is also contains a highly silver metallic finish, so the blues and greens tend to look very  "frosty"--and it also shows streaks like nobody's business!  The hand I photographed doesn't look too bad, though; to keep the streaks to a minimum I used two thick coats, trying to minimize the amount of brush strokes I made on each nail.  The good thing of it being so metallic is that you can get away with two coats easily, too.

As when I photographed another duochrome last year (OPI Gelcolor "Peace & Love & OPI"), I'll do kind of a "photo story" of what "As If Figuratifs" looks like in different lighting.  If you really want to get a good idea of how this shade transforms (lest you blame it all on my bad photography), keep comparing the color of my nails to the color of the handle of the gel polish bottle in each photo.  :)

First up is indirect sunlight; this is how the polish looks most of the time, kind of a silvery-seafoam green:

Although sometimes it can show a bit of the duochrome and look a bit more blue.  It also has a lot of depth thanks to the metallic finish--it magnifies the effect of the angles of light and curves of the nail:

With yellow lighting--here with flash--the olive tones really come out, too--although the metallic finish doesn't look so scattered as the flash makes it out to be!

In the bright sunlight or direct light, it takes on a cyan blue shift--kind of like I captured the sky on my nails.  Be forewarned: it WILL distract you while driving!

Lastly, the photo that I also posted at the introduction of this post is probably most accurate I could capture for the range of colors you can see--slightly blue highlights, green midtones, and darker/steelier green shades.

I think I might have a developing FingerPaints gel polish problem on my hands now...

Monday, June 9, 2014

NaiLuv Hautelook Haul

Hello again! Sorry for what I feel like is a lack of posting, but I'm taking summer classes again and...well, they're kind of demanding.

I do have a haul from Hautelook that I received recently to share with you guys, though.  It's a pretty small haul once again, but I'm AMAZED at these colors--they're awesome for the summer!  And some of them are pretty unique, too.

I bought:
NaiLuv "Sexy Sabotage"
NaiLuv "Evergreen"
NaiLuv "Peach Blossom"

Unfortunately I did have one problem with my order on Hautelook's end this'll see what I mean:

Monday, June 2, 2014

June Sally Beauty Deals - Gelish & FingerPaints

Hello again!  Sorry it's been a while, life has been really busy.  But I found another deal this month at Sally Beauty Supply, and couldn't pass up posting about it:

Yup, that's Buy One Get One FREE on your Gelish or FingerPaints gel polish purchase--for the entire month of June.

Gelish isn't on BOGO sale too often--that makes each bottle $6.48-$7.48 each, which is pretty much clearance prices!  Just be careful you don't mix and match gel polishes at different price points, like the regular Gelish ($12.95) and the Gelish Trends ($14.98). 

And of course, FingerPaints gels will be $5.49 a bottle!

I'm not sure how long I'm going to be able to pass up a deal like that--both brands have some new collections out for the spring and summer, after all.