Sunday, September 4, 2016

Everyone Has a Story - This is Mine

Warning:  This post discusses child sexual abuse and may be troubling for some readers.

Hello Loves.  I know I went MIA again.  I didn't realize it had been so long since I last posted until you started reaching out to check on me.  Thank you to everyone who messaged or emailed!  I'm still here.  I've been battling some demons, so to speak.  I don't talk about my personal life much here, but I have decided it is time to tell you more about who I am and the events that shaped my life.


I am all of these things:  a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a woman, a nail tech, a blogger, and a friend.  But I am also a STATISTIC.  What I am NOT...as of right now...is a VICTIM...anymore.  I am a SURVIVOR.  By telling you my story, I am shaking off the chains that have bound me for over 20 years.  This post may be difficult for some people to read.  I apologize for that.  But this needs to be told.  And it needs to be read.  If it saves just one child, it is worth it.

I'm not sure where to start.  Do I start with the challenges I face today?  Do I write this in chronological order?  I honestly don't know.  So I'm just going to start writing and see where we end up.

I come from a loving and supportive family.  My parents were high school sweethearts and are still married to this day.  My father is a small business owner and my mother worked as a secretary at the university until she retired a few years ago.  Daddy is your typical country boy.  He loves to hunt.  He works hard to provide for his family.  His neck is leathered and his heart is full.  He is an amazing "PaPa" to my sons.  Mama is a strong Christian woman.  She is the glue that holds our family together.  She is full of love, faith, and compassion.  I often joke that my parents are the Redneck and the Sunday School Teacher, but it actually is pretty accurate.  Mama did teach many Sunday School classes throughout my childhood.  I also have an older brother.  He's the perfect mix of Dad and Mom.  Strong, smart, caring, and successful.

And then there's me.  I guess you could say that I was born with a chip on my shoulder.  Growing up, I was always jealous of my brother.  My family is a little old fashioned.  Daddy took my brother under his wing and taught him to be a boy.  Hunting, fishing, the family business (they're electricians).  And Mama raised me.  I always felt like it wasn't fair.  I begged Daddy to teach me to hunt and fish.  I begged him to teach me the family trade.  But those were boy things.  Not girl things.  As I got older, I was surrounded by dolls but longed for my brother's toys.  He had dirt bikes and pellet guns.  His "toys" were way cooler than mine.  We also lived in a neighborhood that was mostly boys.  They were all a few years older than me.  By the time I was 10 years old, I was following my brother and his friends around and trying to be a tomboy.  But I wasn't a boy, and teenage boys tend to notice.  At the same time, I started fighting with my Dad.  Constant fighting.  I starting acting out.  At 11 years old, I was experimenting with my sexuality with the neighborhood boys.  At 12 years old, I started smoking.

Daddy caught me smoking in my closet one day.  He told me if I was going to smoke, I was going to do it in front of him.  He sat me down at the kitchen table and made me smoke a cigarette.  He was expecting me to choke so he could make it a life lesson, but it backfired.  A few days later we were at a gathering and he told everyone the story and how I "sat there and smoked that cigarette like a 35 year old woman who had been smoking all her life."  I was humiliated and ran from the room in tears. I was only 12, but I thought I was grown.  I wanted to be treated like an adult.  I had no idea I was as immature and young as I was.

Some relatives offered to let me spend the weekend at their house to have some time away from Dad.  This was a couple that my parents trusted and I started going over there every weekend.  At first, I was close to the wife.  We did everything together and I enjoyed our shopping trips and nights playing Nintendo.  And I loved that they treated me like an adult.  They let me smoke behind my parents' backs and didn't judge me.  Their house became my home away from home.

Over the next year, a shift started to happen.  I grew closer to the husband and grew apart from the wife.  He treated me more like an adult than she did.  He bought my cigarettes and allowed me to drink alcohol.  We had adult conversations about topics like politics, religion, and eventually sex.  He encouraged me to be sexually active with my boyfriend.  I was in the 8th grade.  Only 13 years old.  He even supplied me with lingerie to wear for my boyfriend.  This eventually led to a sexual relationship with the husband.  I won't go into the details of the relationship, but it lasted for about a year.  At first I felt like I was in complete control.  He never touched me without asking first.  I felt like a woman having an affair.  Not like a child being manipulated, raped and molested by a man in his mid-40s.  This continued throughout the summer and into my freshman year of high school.

Sometimes a number is difficult to understand.  So I want to share a few photos taken during that time period.  I look back at these photos and tears come to my eyes.  I was so young.  Just a baby.  Looking back now, I can't comprehend how an adult can be sexually attracted to a child.  The picture on the left was taken before a formal award ceremony that I attended with my boyfriend.  The photo on the right was taken on a trip to the beach with my abuser.  I was 13 years old in both pictures.

During my freshman year, I met and started dating my ex-husband.  After dating him for a few months, I decided I was in love.  The "affair" with the older man started to feel like I was cheating on my boyfriend.  So I tried to end it.  He resisted.  He begged and pleaded.  The attempts at continued manipulation were desperate and I began to feel smothered.  He would hold me around the waist in a hug and beg me not to end things.  He was all alone.  His marriage had fallen apart and they were headed toward divorce.  He claimed that he loved me and I was all he had to live for.  He threatened to hurt himself.  He told me I could never tell anyone about "us" because people wouldn't understand.  It would hurt them to know the truth, and it would be my fault.  They would put him in jail, and he would kill himself before that happened.  I stopped going around him, but I still saw him at gatherings a couple of times a year.  He would make a point to catch me alone and remind me that I had to keep his secret or I would destroy the people I love and I would be killing him.

This photo was taken shortly after I ended the "relationship" with my abuser.  I was 14 years old.

I wish I could say that it all stopped there, but it didn't.  Like many victims of abuse, major changes had occurred in my brain.  The tie between love and sex was severed for me.  They no longer go hand in hand.  For most people, sex is a very intimate thing.  For me, it became completely disassociated.  I used my body to get what I wanted from people.  I had very little self respect.  Nudity was no big deal.  My actions led to the end of my first marriage.  I never told him about my abuse.

For almost 15 years, I kept the secret.  When I started dating Keith, he knew.  The first time he saw me around my abuser, he just knew.  He asked me about it.  I denied it.  We went on to get married and I was 27 when I got pregnant with my first child.  My abuser reached out and asked me what I still needed for the baby.  He said he wanted to buy my child something nice.  It was that moment that something in my brain snapped.  I was utterly disgusted by the thought and terrified at the same time.  I knew I would never let him be around my child.  And I was paralyzed by the fear that he would show up at the hospital when my son was born.


I told my husband what happened.  And I told my mother.  She never doubted me and she has been my rock.  With my permission, she confronted my abuser and told him I do not want him around my child.  He did not deny it.  He claimed that he was in love with me.  In love with a 13 year old girl.  He told my mother that if we told anyone, he would kill himself.  My mother, my husband and I continued to keep his secret at my insistence for several years.  It was brutal for my mother.  She blamed herself for not seeing what he was doing.  She blamed herself for putting me in his path.  She tried to determine if there were signs that she missed. And she felt extreme guilt for keeping the secret from my Daddy.  But I was afraid to tell him.  I was afraid of what he would do.  And deep inside, I still felt responsible for my own abuse.  I eventually did tell my father.  He has also been supportive.  My mother underwent years of counseling to deal with what happened to me and is helping me get help as well.  I kept his secret well beyond the time frame for criminal prosecution, but I know she would support me if that was an option.
It was around this same time that I started having flashbacks.  I realized that I was not responsible.  I was not old enough to make the decisions I thought I had made.  And I accepted that I was being manipulated and controlled by an adult.  I was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I am still struggling with PTSD.  I go through periods of time where the flashbacks are so frequent and disturbing that I just shut down.  That is where I have been for the past few months.  Running from the demons in my mind.  Sleeping most of the time to avoid the flashbacks.  Avoiding intimate moments with my husband for fear I will flash back to my abuser.  Over 20 years have passed since I stood up to him and ended the abuse.  But I still struggle with it all.  I still keep his secret.  Even as I write this post, even as I tell you the horrors of my youth, I realize I am still protecting him by not publishing his name.  Baby steps.

I am feeling better now.  My doctor changed my medications to help me cope with the battle that rages inside my head.  The flashbacks are becoming less frequent.  And I am finding myself wanting to do the things I enjoy again - like blogging.  I feel like I am walking out of a fog that lasted for months.  But I know it can hit again at any time.  Something as simple as a hug from my husband can send me spiraling back into the Hell locked inside my mind.  Over 20 years have passed...and I am still living with the effects of being a victim of child molestation.  But by writing this post - by telling my story - I am refusing to be a victim anymore.  I will NOT let this define me.  I am strong.  I am a survivor.  And I have something to say.

To the young girls reading this post, I know how you feel.  You are discovering who you are and you feel like you are capable of making decisions about your sexuality.  As hard as it is to admit, you are a prime target for sexual abuse.  Pedophiles may see your desires and play into them.  They will manipulate you and make you believe that you are choosing to engage in activities.  You will feel like you are in control.  That you are calling all the shots.  You are not in control.  These men (and women) know what to say and how to act to manipulate you.  I had no idea that "decisions" I made as a young teen could impact my life so severely that I would struggle with them as a 34 year old woman.  Please, consider your future self in every decision you make.  If it is illegal, it is illegal for a reason.  Everything you do today will shape your future life.  Every decision you make - good or bad - will impact your future in some way.  If you are currently living a story like mine, or if you have ever been approached by an adult in a sexual way, please tell someone.  Don't keep the secret of a pedophile.  Yes, people will be hurt if you tell the truth, but you are not the one hurting them.  Your abuser is.  It is not your responsibly to keep secrets that put others in danger.  You are not responsible for his (or her) actions.  To you, it may feel like love.  It is not.  And you are not alone.
To the mothers, be vigilant.  I tuck my children into bed every night, and I lie to them.  I tell them that monsters don't exist.  Monsters DO exist.  They work their way into our children's lives and gain their trust.  They manipulate and lie.  They use our children's desires and pleasures to convince them to keep these horrible secrets.  My mother asked me once if I would have told her about it if she had asked when it was happening.  The answer is no.  I wouldn't have told her.  I felt like I was responsible.  It was my dirty secret.  I liked being treated like an adult.  The abuse felt good.  And I didn't want to hurt people.  So no, I wouldn't have told her.  My mother didn't know he was giving me cigarettes and alcohol.  She didn't know he was abusing me.  She trusted him.  She believed him when he told her he would look out for me.  She had no reason to doubt him and I never gave her a reason until it was way too late.

Keep open lines of communication with your children, but know there is a good chance they will not tell you if they are being abused.  Watch for small things.  Trust your gut.  If something feels off, it is.  Ask questions.  Be weary of people you know and trust.  According to www.VictimsofCrime.org, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are victims of sexual abuse.  That number is startling.  1 in 5 girls.  1 in 20 boys.  Next time you go out with your girlfriends, take a look around the table.  It is likely that one of them has lived through abuse.  If your child tells you someone has touched her/him, believe it.  Don't brush it off, no matter how well you know the person they accuse.  My mother never doubted me when I told her.  If she had, I don't know where I would be now.  So believe your children.  It might be your husband, your brother, your father, your neighbor.  Monsters are real.  They are smart and cunning.  They hide in plain sight.  Be vigilant.  Protect your children.  This is not something that only happens in bad families.  I grew up in a loving home, and it still happened to me.

For those who need help coping with sexual abuse, there are resources that can help you.  Please visit this link: https://www.rainn.org/national-resources-sexual-assault-survivors-and-their-loved-ones.

Everyone has a story to tell.  I have now told mine.  I am still a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a woman, a nail tech, a blogger, and a friend.  I am still a statistic.  But I refuse to be a victim anymore.  I am a SURVIVOR.  I'm getting stronger every day.  I have started this post many times over the past few years.  This time, I have finished it.  I have published it.  And I am healing.

~Michelle
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Monday, June 13, 2016

Madam Glam Metallic Gel Polish: Swatches and Tutorial

Press Sample

Madam Glam Metallic Gel Application and Swatches

Hello Loves!  I have some of Madam Glam Metallic Gel Polishes to show you today.  Laura at Madam Glam tells me that people are struggling with these, so I'm also going to walk you through the application.  First things first, this is NOT a traditional gel polish.  Metallic Gels are actually not gels, but a gel and lac system.  The Metallic Polishes are micro pigments suspended in a very thin base.  The base will start to air dry but they need to be cured to fully set them.  They also pair best with a No Wipe Top Coat above and below the metallic layer.  But I'll get into all that in a few minutes.  Let's take a closer look at the Madam Glam Metallic Gels.

This collection consists of 15 colors currently.  I have 13 of them to show you.  The other two were out of stock, but I'll have those for you soon as well.  As I mentioned above, these are not your typical gel polish and do require a very different and longer application process.  But the colors are fantastic and the finish is quite reflective.  They aren't quite mirror finish, though you can see clear reflections in some of the darker colors.  I would say they are definitely metallic and fall somewhere between chrome and finely brushed metal.  Let's take a look at the swatches, then I'll finish up with the application techniques.  All of the swatches pictured here are over a clear base (no black or cream gel polish under the Metallic layer).

First up is a gorgeous, royal purple called Chiquitita.  The light reflections in this one show a bit of pink around the edges, giving it amazing depth.  Coverage is quite nice over a clear base.
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Chiquitita Swatch
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Chiquitita Swatch

Get To The Point is definitely up there in my favorites of the collection.  This deep, glowy red just makes my heart smile.  Coverage is opaque over the clear base.
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Get To The Point Swatch
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Get To The Point Swatch

Ice Blue is exactly that - an icy blue chrome.  I found this one a little less forgiving than some of the other colors.  While it does provide adequate coverage over a clear base, I would likely layer it over a cream for better coverage.
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Ice Blue Swatch
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Ice Blue Swatch

Life On Mars falls somewhere between a rusty red and a rose gold.  Coverage is ok with this one over clear, but would be better with a solid color under it.  Also, note the corner of my ring finger.  I let the top coat sit a little too long and the finish started to cloud up.
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Life On Mars Swatch
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Life On Mars Swatch

If you prefer more of a dark grey, Losing Control is your color.  Coverage was great over clear, but I bet it would be even more amazing over black.
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Losing Control Swatch
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Losing Control Swatch

Metallic Gold is exactly that - a metallic gold shade.  Again, nice coverage over clear.
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Metallic Gold Swatch
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Metallic Gold Swatch

Peppermint is...yeah, I don't really know what to call this one.  I wanted it to be green, but it's actually more of a minty blue.  Application was a little tricky with this one, so I would layer it over a cream base for better coverage.
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Peppermint Swatch
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Peppermint Swatch

Play Date has a muted, coppery tone.  This one applies very frosty but cures to a nice metallic sheen.  Coverage is perfect over a clear base.
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Play Date Swatch
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Play Date Swatch

Private Jet is a deep, blue toned grey.  Again, perfect coverage.  I would likely use this on in place of black.
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Private Jet Swatch
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Private Jet Swatch

Say I Do is your basic silver chrome with lavender undertones.  Application was a little tricky and opacity is lacking.  The finish is quite nice, but it definitely needs undies of some sort for full coverage.
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Say I Do Swatch
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Say I Do Swatch

Teasing Teal is a gorgeous, sea green teal.  As you can see, the reflective properties in this one are impressive.  You can make out my head behind my camera tripod on the middle nail in the first photo.  lol
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Teasing Teal Swatch
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Teasing Teal Swatch

Trip to Florida is a periwinkle leaning purple.  This is the softer, more blue toned purple compared to Chiquitita.
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Trip to Florida Swatch
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Trip to Florida Swatch

Finally, Women in Black is a deep black with a metallic finish.  The metallic effect on this one is subtle.  In most lighting, it looks like a very deep, wet black gel polish.
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Women In Black Swatch
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Women In Black Swatch

Now that you've seen them, let's talk a little more about application.  I have good news.  These are no where near as difficult to apply as some of the other gel and lac systems out there (including the one I reviewed previously).  You don't have to be near as careful with your brush strokes.  They can overlap each other without causing the pigments to pull away from each other.  Whoo Hoo!  But, with that said, they do require a little work.  Let's start with some tips.

First things first, you CAN NOT apply these over a traditional base gel with a tacky layer.  They will wrinkle.  They must be applied over a layer of top coat.  No Wipe Top Coat works best, but you can use a traditional gel polish top coat if you carefully remove the tacky layer.  Whichever you choose, the gel under metallic layer must be smooth and dry.

Second, these should be limited to ONE THIN COAT.  You can do more than one, but it will disrupt the finish and make it cloudy.  One coat is all it takes.  Of course, since the metallic layer is super thin, this means a finished manicure will not feel as strong as a traditional gel polish manicure.  So I recommend a few layers of gel polish between the base coat and the top coat before the metallic gel.  I did not use a base color because I am wearing a hard gel overlay, but it would definitely help make these feel more normal.  The extra gel polish layers also aid in removal.  I'll talk about that in a few.

Third, they need to cure for 2 to 3 minutes, regardless of what type of lamp you use.  They will air dry, but the UV from the lamp speeds the process and helps the pigments settle into a smooth finish.  And trust me, you want them to be completely dry before you apply the top coat.  If you don't, it will smudge and cloud the finish or cause the metallic layer to wrinkle.

Fourth, No Wipe Top Coat is a must.  I've tried every top coat in my collection, and the traditional gel polish top coats wreck the finish.  I have no clue why.  They just do.  As for the No Wipe Top Coats, the thinner consistency ones seem to work best.  I used the Madam Glam No Wipe Top Coat for my swatches, but I did find it a little thick so I warmed it up to make application smoother.

Finally, you can work hand by hand or even both hands at a time until you get to the final top coat step.  Then you have to work finger by finger.  Yep, you read that right.  After the Metallic layer is set, you have to apply your No Wipe Top Coat and cure it one finger at a time.  The goal is to apply the top coat and cure it as quickly as possible.  If it sits on the nail, it will start to lift the pigments and cloud the finish.

Got all that?  You sure?  Ok, keeping the above tips in mind, let's break it down from start to finish.  I'll type out the instructions with additional quick tips below, but here's an info-graphic I put together that you can save to your phone or computer as a quick cheat sheet.  ;)
Madam Glam Metallic Gel Application Cheat Sheet

Ok, so step by step with more detail:
  1. Prep your nails as you usually would for a gel polish manicure.  Apply and cure your base gel according to the directions.
  2. (Optional) Apply a black gel polish or coordinating cream gel polish color.  Cure as directed.  I recommend two coats to help build up the nail and add strength.  If you have ridges or delamination, you definitely don't want to skip this optional step.  The goal here is not only added strength, but to provide a smooth, glassy surface for the Metallic Gel.  Note:  If you decide to apply a colored gel polish, leave a small margin around the cuticle area and side walls - you'll need to keep this area clear during the Metallic layer so the top coat can bond to it.  If you don't leave the margin in the color coat, you'll have a color halo around your metallic coat.  ;)
  3. Apply an even layer of top coat.  No Wipe Top Coat works best.  Check carefully to make sure there are no pits, skips, or bubbles before curing.  Remember, smooth as glass.  Cure according to directions.
  4. Apply a thin, even coat of metallic gel.  Remember to leave a margin around the cuticle area and side walls.  Oh, and when I say thin, I really mean THIN.  Try to keep it to three strokes.  Try not to brush back over the strokes.  If your initial strokes overlap, that's fine.  But don't stroke over a finished stroke to smooth it.  Don't worry if you see brush strokes.  They will disappear when the Metallic layer cures.  DO NOT cap the free edge.  Some of the metallic gel will naturally overflow the tip, so you're covered.
  5. Cure the Metallic Gel for 2-3 minutes.  The cure time is the same for CFL UV and LED.  When the Metallic Gel is set, it should be smooth and look metallic.  But most importantly, it should be dry and tack free.  Helpful Hint:  The metallic layer doesn't cure like a traditional gel.  Rather, it sets or dries under the light.  If you aren't happy with the finish for any reason, you can remove it at this point with a lint free wipe and polish remover (oil free) and try again.
  6. Apply your No Wipe Top Coat to ONE NAIL.  Try to apply evenly with three strokes.  Try to avoid brushing over the wet stop coat.  Over-brushing will cloud the finish.  Do NOT let the top coat sit on the nail for longer than absolutely necessary.  Cure as directed.  To simplify: stroke, stroke, stroke, cap, cure.  Repeat one nail at a time for the remaining nails.  

Let's talk about removal for a second.  If you are familiar with No Wipe Top Coats, you know that you have to file all the way through them in order to soak off quickly.  (If you didn't know that, now you do!)  As you can imagine, this makes removal a little difficult since there are two layers of No Wipe Top Coat involved in the application process.  You have to file through BOTH top coat layers.  If you don't, it will soak off in layers and take ages.  The challenge here is to file through the top coat without filing all the way through to your nail.  Unless you are confident in your filing techniques, I strongly recommend those extra layers of gel polish between the base gel layer and first top coat layer.  This gives you a buffer so you'll know where to stop filing.  Also, some of the Metallic Gels will stain.  The extra layers of gel polish will protect your nail, but you may still see some staining during soak off.  I experienced it most with the red.

I hope this helps!  Gel and lac systems are a bit tricky at first, but the results are well worth the extra effort.  :)  If you're up for the challenge, you can purchase the Madam Glam Metallic Gels and No Wipe Top Coat Here.

Of course, if you have any questions or need help trouble shooting these, feel free to comment below, reach out via facebook, or email me!  I'm always happy to help.

Finally, a special Thank You to Angela of Social Claws for sharing her experiences and experiments with gel and lac systems over the years.  Her tips and tricks helped me quickly determine the best application techniques for this particular system.  If you haven't already, be sure to check out her facebook for product reviews, shelter kitties, and her crystal product line Ice.

~Michelle

*The Madam Glam Metallic Gel Polishes featured in this post were provided by Madam Glam for my honest review.  All links within this post are courtesy links and do not benefit ManicTalons.com.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Smoke Nails with Bundle Monster Gel Polish (Plus an Update)

Press Sample Affiliate Links

Hello Loves.  I have a new mani to show you today and an update.  Let's start with the mani.  Then we'll get to the update.
Smoke Nails with Bundle Monster Gel Polish

I've  seen so many smoke manicures lately.  I'm really not sure who created this look originally, so please let me know in the comments if you know!  All I know is that I've been wanting to try it for a while...with gel polish, of course.  Since I haven't had much time to swatch, review or even write lately, I figured I should at least give this look a shot.
Smoke Nails with Bundle Monster Gel Polish

I started with a base of two coats of Bundle Monster Speed Gel in You're So Tragic.  This is still one of my absolute favorite black gels.  I adore the iridescent sparkles that give it depth and dimension.  You can see my original swatch here.  Here's a sample nail.
Bundle Monster Speed Gel You're So Tragic

I then tried to do the smoke with white gel polish thinned with alcohol, but it didn't turn out quite like I wanted.  So I scrapped that idea and Grabbed my Bundle Monster Stamping Polish in Angelic White.  I put a drop on a piece of foil and mixed it with a few drops of acetone until it was runny.  It needs to be very watery so that when the acetone evaporates, it leaves a ghostly image that allows the black to show through some.  If the mix it too thick, it won't give the right effect.  I tried to take a picture, but white on foil doesn't photograph well.  Here's the shot anyway.  The consistency is a little thinner than fat free milk.
Polish thinned with acetone for smoke design

Usually I would resist the urge to use acetone over gel polish without a top coat to protect the color coat first, but You're So Tragic is a One Step Gel so it has the top coat built it.  So it really was the perfect base for this type of art.  :)  I used one of my Elf Concealer Brushes that I use for cleanup to dab the diluted polish onto the nail.  As it evaporated, it left the perfect smeary, smokey white designs!
Smoke nail art design before color

Now it's time for color!  There are lots of sheer, jelly finish gel polishes popping up right now.  Of course, I went with the Mosaic Glass gels from Bundle Monster.  I brushed Sea You Clearly over parts of the nail and Locked In Secrets over other parts, blending slightly as I applied it.  I did go back and add a second coat of each color in my manicure, but I only did one coat of color below.
Colorful Smoke Nail Art with Gel Polish

Finally, add a top coat to seal the design and you have an awesome smokey look!  Here are the three stages side by side.
Colorful Smoke Nail Art Steps

I absolute adore this look.  Want to see another shot of my finished mani?  Of course you do!  One tip if you decide to give this design a try...don't over-do it with the white.  Dab it on and leave it alone!  If you mess with it too much, you'll end up losing the smoke effect like I did on my pinkie nail and a little on my ring finger.  But hey, it was a first attempt and I'm pretty smitten with the results anyway!  Oh, and the thinner the polish mixture, the more wispy the smoke...like on my thumb nail.  ;)
Smoke Nails with Bundle Monster Gel Polish

If you love this look, you can find all of the items needed to recreate it on Bundle Monster's website here (minus the acetone and the brush...but any brand of those will do)!  Or just click the links throughout the post to purchase these items through Amazon. :)

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Ready for my update?  So, a lot has happened in the month since I last posted...over a month ago.  I know, I know.  I keep going MIA on you.  I promise, I'm not leaving you.  I'm just having a bit of a time right now.  I've been burning the candle at both ends lately and dealing with some health issues that have left me absolutely drained.  Hopefully that part will be straightened out soon.  I'm working with my doctor to adjust my medications to combat the fatigue.  But, let's not dwell on the negatives.  There is a lot of positive happening too!

As I mentioned in my last post, I made the difficult decision to leave Artistic Expressions Hair Salon.  I miss my AE family so much!  But it was a move I had to make for my family.  And I'm happy to announce that I found the PERFECT spot for my little nail business.  I'm now at Adam and Eve Hair Designers in Athens just a few miles from home.  I couldn't have found a better fit.  Seriously.  Y'all know how obsessed I am with nails, right?  The science.  The products.  The artistry.  Nail health.  Helping people feel good about themselves through my services.  I love every bit of it.  And I seriously found the hair match to my nail love at Adam and Eve.  These guys (yes, guys...and a few gals) take hair to the next level.  They live the science behind a good cut and color.  Watching them work is like watching da Vinci paint the Mona Lisa.  But at the same time, they know how to keep things relaxed and fun.  Needless to say, I AM HOME.

But...home is never easy.  See, what had happened was...I was given a blank and mostly ugly room as my canvas.  Grant (the salon owner), told me straight up that he has no clue how to set up a nail room and turned it over to me.  Of course, I was thrilled that I could design my own little space, but there were also a few challenges.  The salon was previously the office of web designer before Adam and Eve moved to this location, and well...I think my room was the server room.  There were wires and conduit everywhere.  Wanna see?

The room is 8ft x 8ft, so quite small.  The mess you see in this picture started dead center of the wall that you see when you walk in the door.
Nail Room - Before

Here's a shot that shows how it extends around the corner onto the neighboring wall.  So a good portion of the room was a hot mess of wires and conduit.  Not really an inviting space, right?
Nail Room - Before

Well, have no fear.  I have an amazing husband who is quite skilled with his hands.  He managed to clean up all of those wires and built a box to cover what he couldn't remove.  He also painted the room for me...white to brighten it up a bit.  This is a photo he sent me before the second coat of paint to show his progress.  So much cleaner!
Nail Room - Progress

Of course, then I had a little magic to work too.  After dragging Keith to Ikea two weekends in a row and a few Amazon shopping sprees, my little nail room went from ugly to perfect!  This is what you see now when you walk in the door.  Disregard my purse on the desk.  lol
Manic Talons Nail Design Nail Room

This is the wall behind me that the client sees when sitting at my desk.  I adore how my product displays turned out!  Aren't they precious?
Manic Talons Nail Design Nail Room

All of my gel polishes are in helmers that make up the base for a small table just inside the door.  Of course, the 300 or so that I have at the salon are swatched and hanging on the wall.  This will be changing soon...I need to add a cabinet on that wall to hold more supplies.  Originally Grant didn't want to offer pedicure services.  He has since changed his mind so I'm working on the setup for that now.  Yes, I know...I don't really have room for a pedicure chair, but I'm creative and can make it work with a few mobile pieces.  ;)  Oh, and ignore the stuff on the side table.  I was still putting things away when I took this picture.
Manic Talons Nail Design Nail Room

Finally, my license and a clock are on the wall behind the client.  :)
Manic Talons Nail Design Nail Room

Since the room is so small, it was difficult to take photos that really show my setup.  I'll do a video tour when I get my pedicure set up figured out.  :)

So, that's all for now.  Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook (if you aren't already) to see my client work as I settle into my new space!  I'll be back as soon as I can with some new swatches and product posts.  I promise!

~Michelle

*The gel polishes used in this post were provided by Bundle Monster for my honest review.  This post uses Amazon Affiliate links.  Purchases through those links generate commissions that help fund this site.

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