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!

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