Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Glitter Placement with ArtsyFartsy Crafts Diamonds

Hello Loves.  I've wanted to do a glitter placement manicure for a while now and finally found the time to give it a try.  Whew!  I think I'll leave these to the pros like Laura at Polish All The Nails.  (Seriously, Laura has amazing glitter placement skills.  If you aren't familiar with her nail art, go check it out!)  This type of manicure takes some serious patience!  Here's mine.
Glitter Placement Manicure with ArtsyFartsy Crafts Diamond Glitter and Couture Gel Polish

For this mani, I started with a base of Couture Little Black Dress.  You know, my go-to black.  I then added a thin layer of top coat but did not cure it.  This layer of top coat is used to lock the glitter in place later.  The glitters I used are ArtsyFartsy Crafts 2x4mm Blue Holographic Diamonds and ArtsyFartsy Craffts 2x4mm Fuchsia Holographic Diamonds.  After placing the glitters in the uncured layer of top coat, I cured to lock them in place.  I then added a few more layers of top coat to seal the glitter to the nail.

I adore these holographic diamond glitters.  They really shift as the light catches them and create a very fun effect.  Excuse the bubbles in the top coat.  I didn't notice them until it was too late to fix it.
Glitter Placement Manicure with ArtsyFartsy Crafts Diamond Glitter and Couture Gel Polish

I absolutely adore the final result, but this is not exactly what I had planned.  I set out to do a full manicure with full coverage glitter like the pinkie nail.  However, when I added the gel top coat, I found that it really didn't want to stick to the slick surface of the glitter.  I ended up with pits in the top coat from where it pulled away in some areas.  After two more layers of top coat, I finally got good enough coverage, but there were still a few gaps around the cuticle line.  At this point, I decided to switch up the design and skip the full coverage glitter on the other nails.  These worked much better and I achieved full coverage of the glitter with two layers of top coat.
Glitter Placement Manicure with ArtsyFartsy Crafts Diamond Glitter and Couture Gel Polish

What do you think?  Would you rock this mani?  It was super fun in full sunlight.  I tried to take a short video, but every time I stepped outside with my camera, the sun ducked behind a cloud.  Isn't that how it usually goes?  ;)

If these diamond glitters interest you, check out the selection on ArtsyFartsy Crafts.  Sandy has a wide variety of glitter shapes and her prices are great!  I especially love that she offers small quantities that are more than I'll ever need for nail art.  Oh, and her ultrafine holo glitters, glitter mixes and glow glitters are fabulous too.  I swatched and reviewed a few of those in this post.

~Michelle

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Mani Swap with Jessica from Be Happy and Buy Polish

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Hello Loves!  Once again, I have teamed up with the lovely Jessica from Be Happy and Buy Polish for a mani challenge.  Last time we did Quilted Twin Nails and she stomped my creative tail.  This time, it's a mani swap!  I selected one of Jessica's manicures to recreate and she selected one of mine.  Want to see them?  Originals are on the left, recreations on the right.  :)
Manic Talons and Be Happy and Buy Polish Mani Swap

Let's start with Jessica's recreation of my Basket of Roses mani.  In case you missed it, the full details can be seen here.  The basics are pretty simple.  The background in my version was stamped using the Messy Mansion Easter Plate (MM36).  I then freehanded the swirled roses on the tips.  They didn't turn out quite how I wanted them - the top coat smushed the colors together a bit.  Here's my original.
Manic Talons Basket of Roses Manicure

And here's Jessica's version.  She absolutely NAILED it.  Her roses are exactly what I was going for but missed in the original design.  Oh, and that lattice work?  She used striping tape and then freehanded the dividing lines.  Girl has skills!  Be sure to check out her post here to learn which polishes she used in her recreation.
Basket of Roses Manicure Recreation

Ready for my recreation of her mani?  Choosing one of her designs to recreate was a challenge in itself.  She has so many adorable manicures!  I finally settled on this sweet sailboat/nautical design.  Isn't it precious?
Be Happy and Buy Polish Nautical Manicure

Here's my recreation.  I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  I think Jessica used striping tape for her version, but you know I hate striping tape and I didn't have vinyls thin enough so my stripes are freehand.  They have a little bit of wonk to them, but they're close enough for me.  ;)
Manic Talons Nautical Manicure

For my version, I used Gelish Deep Sea as the navy, IBD Cosmic Red as the red, and IBD Carte Blanche for the white (swatched here).

While I was preparing this post, I realized I haven't swatched IBD Cosmic Red for you.  This is super surprising as it was one of the first IBD Just Gel Polishes I added to my collection, and it has seen a lot of love over the years.  So, here you go.  IBD Cosmic Red is a red jelly base that is packed with red micro glitter.
IBD Just Gel Polish Cosmic Red Swatch

I also took the time to swatch Gelish Deep Sea.  I have a lot of older Gelish colors in my collection, but I don't wear them very often.  Deep Sea is the one color that I have probably worn most of all of my Gelish.  It is, in my opinion, the perfect navy blue with a subtle red and blue shimmer.  It's just beautiful.
Gelish Deep Sea Swatch

It's the shimmer in Deep Sea that really gets me, and it didn't show up as much as I would like in the swatch photo above.  So you know I had to take a closeup.
Gelish Deep Sea Swatch Closeup

Finally, here's one more shot of my recreation of Jessica's mani.  I do adore this design.  Would you believe this is my first nautical manicure?  Nautical has been on my list of designs to try for a while, and that cute little sailboat made it the perfect choice for this mani swap.  :)
Manic Talons Nautical Manicure Recreation

What do you think?  Did I recreate Jessica's mani as well as she recreated mine?  I told her when she showed me her recreation that I'm going to stop playing with her if she keeps showing me up!  lol

~Michelle

*This post uses Amazon Affiliate Links.  Purchases through these links generate commissions that help fund this site. 
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Friday, August 15, 2014

Pretty Little Sunflowers with Couture Gel Polish (pic heavy)

Press Sample

Hello Loves.  I have a very special mani to show you today.  Sunflowers!  Ok, so why is a sunflower mani so special?  Because this mani was inspired by the sunflowers my little man planted for me (with a little help from his Daddy).
Sunflower Manicure with Couture Gel Polish

I apologize for the poor photo quality in the pic above.  I didn't feel like disconnecting my camera and lugging it outside, so I took a cellphone shot.  Color is way off, but I couldn't resist including a photo of my nails and my sunflowers!  Here's another cell phone shot of my pretty little sunflowers.  They're blooming like crazy and my little man is so excited to see how many more have bloomed each morning.
Sunflowers

Ok, ok, back to the mani.  There's something else that makes this one special.  It is done in 100% gel polish!  Couture Gel Polish, to be exact.  It would have been much easier to do with acrylic paint, but I wanted to see if I could do it completely in gel.  Sometimes a good challenge is just what a girl needs to get out of a creative dry spell.  ;)  Wanna see a better shot?
Sunflower Manicure with Couture Gel Polish

Since I knew this one was going to be quite involved, I took a series of step by step photos (again with my cell phone, so they aren't color accurate at all).  Wanna see it?
Gel Polish Sunflower Manicure Tutorial

Another fun fact about my pretty little sunflower mani:  I used 8 different Couture gels.  Can you see them in the photo above?  How about a step by step?  The base color is Couture Milano (swatched previously here).
  1. Using a thin brush, build the first layer of petals with Couture Ooh La La French (swatched previously here) and cure.
  2. Color in the petals with Couture Turning Heads (swatched below) and cure.
  3. Go over the petals again with a thin layer of Couture Tres Chic (swatched previously here) and cure.
  4. Fill in the centers of the sunflowers and add shading to the center of the petals with Couture Front Row Seat (swatched below).  Cure.
  5. Add leaf shapes with Couture Aloe Very and outline them with Couture High Roller (both swatched previously here).  Use the nail art brush to blend the two greens a bit and soften the lines.  Dab Couture Moody Model (swatched below) in the centers of the sunflowers to deepen the color and add dimension.  Cure.
  6. With Couture Ooh La La French, add a row of smaller petals that are staggered with the original petals.  Cure.
  7. Go over the new petals with Couture Tres Chic.  Cure.
  8. Add details to new petals with Couture Turning Heads.  Cure.
  9. Top coat and enjoy.  Whew!
Want to see the final mani again?  I'm super happy with the shading in the petals.  I wasn't sure it was going to work out, but adding the top coat really blended the colors and created that nice inward curve.
Sunflower Manicure with Couture Gel Polish

I especially love the ring finger.  The flower and petal placement is best on that nail, I think.  I took a closeup.  Want to see it?  You can see the added dabs of Moody Model in the centers of the sunflowers much better in this shot too. 
Sunflower Manicure with Couture Gel Polish

Can you tell I'm super proud of these?  lol  I've had this mani planned for a while now, but I just got around to trying it.  Honestly, it intimidated me a little.  Or a lot.  I'm glad I finally gave it a shot.  I love it so much I don't want to take it off!  So I'm now walking around with one hand full of sunflowers and the other is purple with a champagne accent nail.  I can't remove the purple yet since I'm in the middle of a wear test, so I guess I'll just be mismatched for a while.  I'm sure B's teachers will get a kick out of my crazy hands when I drop him off for his first day of Pre-K this morning.

Oh, and while I'm at it, how about swatches of the colors in this mani that I haven't shown you before? I apologize for the length differences.  These were taken as part of my swatching arrangement with Couture prior this year.

Couture Turning Heads is a shimmery, almost frosty orange.  This one is opaque in 2-3 coats.  I did have a few issues with streaks in the shimmer, but another super thin coat would easily smooth them out.  I apologize for the extra pink skin tone in this photo.  I had to adjust my color settings to get my camera to capture the orange accurately.  ;)
Couture Gel Nail Polish Turning Heads Swatch

Couture Front Row Seat is a beautiful, shimmer packed bronze.  This one is also opaque in 2-3 coats but applied beautifully. 
Couture Gel Polish Front Row Seat Swatch

Finally, Couture Moody Model is an awesome, red toned brown with a golden shimmer.  This one is opaque in 2-3 coats as well.  Application was average with the exception of a little bit of shrink back on the first layer.  It corrected itself on the second coat, so there was no need to flash cure for this one.  As usual, I swatched three coats.
Couture Gel Polish Moody Model Swatch

I'll leave you with one last shot of my pretty little sunflowers.  Because, well, you know I have to include my standard pose for nail art.  ;)
Sunflower Manicure with Couture Gel Polish

~Michelle

*The gel polishes featured in this post were provided by Couture Gel Polish as part of a swatching arrangement.  All opinions expressed on the colors featured are my own, unbiased opinions.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reader Challenge: Purple, Pink, Silver and Black

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Hello loves!  Today's manicure is something a little different.  I'm dealing with some difficult issues in my personal life and it has put me in a bit of a creative funk.  So I put out an inspiration/request thread on facebook.  The first response was a nail art challenge by Heather from acidicice.  Be sure to check out her blog for some great nail art using RNP.  :)  Heather suggested "Pink, black, purple and silver skittle. Stamping, studs and stripes. And...go!"  Challenge accepted!  Heather, are you sure you didn't want to throw anything else at me to go with it?  lol  ;)

Purple Pink Black and Silver Nail Art Gel Polish Manicure 

Ok, ok, so I can't follow directions.  I missed the "skittle" part, but I did incorporate all of the colors (purple, pink, silver and black) with stripes, stamping and studs.  And every nail is different, so I'm calling this one a win.

Purple Pink Black and Silver Nail Art Gel Polish Manicure

Ready for the details?  I started with FingerPaints Gel in Hue Do You He-Art (swatched here) for the purple and IBD Just Gel All Heart (swatched here) for the pink.  The stripes are freehand with Couture Gel Polish Strapless Gown (swatched here) and Little Black Dress (swatched here).

Purple Pink Black and Silver Nail Art Gel Polish Manicure

I then stamped with Konad Black stamping polish and an image from Pueen 49 from the Love Elements Set.  I added dots of Strapless Gown over the center dots in the image to tie it all together.  Finally, I topped it off with a few 3mm square studs from Amazon on the pinkie and index fingers.

Purple Pink Black and Silver Nail Art Gel Polish Manicure

If you like this look, you can purchase each of the components through the links below. ;)
FingerPaints Gel in Hue Do You He-Art
IBD Just Gel All Heart
Couture Gel Polish Strapless Gown
Couture Gel Polish Little Black Dress
Konad Black stamping polish
Pueen Love Elements Stamping Plate Set
3mm Square Studs

Thank you, Heather, for the challenge!  I really enjoyed putting this mani together and it definitely helped me break out of my funk for a bit.

~Michelle


*This post uses Amazon Affiliate links.  Purchases through these links generate commissions that help fund this site.
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Monday, August 11, 2014

Bio Seaweed Gel Sunshine and Celebration

Press Sample


Hello Loves!  I have two fun Bio Seaweed Gel Swatches to show you today - Sunshine and Celebration from the BSG Unity Line.  With names and shades like these, you know I had to do a little nail art to go along with it!  I'll get to the art in a few minutes.

BSG Unity Gel is a 5-free, one step gel polish that can be worn alone (no base, no top, no need to cleanse) or can be worn as a three step gel with base and top.  Bio Seaweed Gel recommends using a separate base and top when applied to hands for lasting results, but pedicures are quick and easy with just two coats of color.  It is LED compatible and currently comes in 114 colors with more shades being released seasonally.  The Unity Gels retail at $18.00 each and can even cure in natural sunlight, no lamp required (I haven't tested the sunlight cure yet, but will do so over the next few weeks).  Check out my full review of Unity Gel with and without a separate base here.

Ready to see some swatches?  Sunshine is a gorgeous, bright yellow cream.  Application is smooth and I found this one self levels quite well.  I did need three coats for full opacity.  I did not use a separate top coat on the swatch below in order to show the shine when used as a one step gel.
Bio Seaweed Gel Unity Gel Sunshine Swatch

Celebration is a beautiful, medium purple cream.  Like Sunshine, Celebration also self levels well and applies nicely.  I could have gotten away with two coats for this one, but I felt that three were needed for optimal coverage.  Again, this is without a separate top coat.
Bio Seaweed Gel Unity Gel Celebration Swatch

When I think of "sunshine" and "celebration", I think warm and tropical.  So I couldn't resist breaking out a few of my other Unity Gels for a little nail art.  I may have ventured into Lisa Frank territory again with this design, but I do like how it turned out.  What do you think?  Did I hit my mark?
Bright Florals with Bio Seaweed Gel Unity Gel

For this mani, I started with a vertical gradient with Sunshine and Babe (swatched here).  Babe is much more vibrant than it appears in these photos.  Putting it beside Sunshine freaked my camera out.  I guess it was a little too bright and cheerful for my camera sensor.  I tried to get a shot that captured both Sunshine and Babe accurately, but as soon as Babe got within color range, Sunshine started to glow.  lol  I used my BSG Professional Gel Brush to create the gradient by dipping one corner in Sunshine and the other corner in Babe and blending them on the nail.  Click here for a great tutorial on this method by Nails by Shannon.

I then broke out my dotting tools and added some simple flowers with Celebration and Bombshell (swatched here).  After curing the flowers, I added some random lines to add definition to the petals in the alternate color of the flower and dotted the centers with Sunshine and Babe.  Finally, I created gradient dots with Celebration and Bombshell by partially mixing two dots of gel on a pallet and picking up my dots from various sections of the mix.  Here's a closer look.  :)
Bright Florals with Bio Seaweed Gel Unity Gel

Be sure to follow Bio Seaweed Gel on Instagram and Facebook for weekly chances to win some Unity or 3-Step colors of your own!

Also, be on the lookout for a full review of BSG's No Sanding Base-1 for weak, damaged or dehydrated nails and the No Wipe Top Coat.  I can tell you that my first impression of the No Wipe Top Coat is simply to say "Wow".  If the shine holds up over time, I'm sold.  ;)  

~Michelle

*The gel polishes featured in this post were provided by Bio Seaweed Gel for my honest review.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Bundle Monster Gel Polish Awakening Collection Review

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Bundle Monster Awakening Collection Swatches and Review

Hello Loves!  I have more Bundle Monster thermals to show you today - the Awakening Collection!  The Awakening Collection consists of 5 gels - two creams and three shimmers.  This collection is very affordable at only $18.90 with free US shipping on Amazon for all 5 gels.  Needless to say, I couldn't pass them up.  Ready to see them?

*Update (8/8/2014):  It seems the price has gone up to $25.99 between the time I wrote this post a few days ago and publishing it today.  I apologize for the misinformation.  $25.99 for 5 thermal gels is still a really good price, though!

The first color in the collection is called Revelation.  Revelation is a brown cream that shifts from a medium brown when warm to a dark chocolate brown when cold.  This one is a bit thick in consistency, but not as thick as the gels in the Beneath It All Collection.  I found this one much easier to apply in thin, even layers.  The swatch below shows Revelation in it's natural, unassisted shift.
Bundle Monster Gel Polish Revelation Swatch - BMC Awakening Collection

The collage below shows Revelation in all of it's phases.  In all of the swatch collages, the warm phases shows the lightest possible color and the cold phase shows the darkest.  The warm phase photos were assisted by a heating pad and the cold were assisted by ice water.  ;)
Bundle Monster Gel Polish Revelation Swatch - BMC Awakening Collection

The second color in the collection is Fantasia.  Fantasia is a sheer, greyish blue in the warm phase and a rich, medium blue in the cold phase that is packed with a shifty green shimmer. This one is a bit different than the others.  It is not thick, but rather the same consistency as many of my other gel brands.  It applies nicely, but is a little sheer even after three coats.  Surprisingly, this is also my least favorite out of the collection.  I know, it's strange for me to not love a blue, but the warm phase color doesn't work well with my skin tone.  The swatch below is Fantasia in it's natural, unassisted shift.
Bundle Monster Gel Polish Fantasia Swatch - BMC Awakening Collection

Here's the collage of Fantasia in all of it's phases.  These are assisted shifts that show the color in both temperature extremes.
Bundle Monster Gel Polish Fantasia Swatch - BMC Awakening Collection

The third color in the collection is My Destiny.  My Destiny is a latte brown in the warm phase and a coppery or maybe chestnut brown in the cold phase.  It is also packed with golden shimmer.  This one is thicker like Revelation, but not as thick as the Beneath It All collection.  Application was smooth and easy enough to apply in thin, even coats.  As with the previous colors, the photo below shows the natural, unassisted shift.
Bundle Monster Gel Polish My Destiny Swatch - BMC Awakening Collection

Here's the assisted collage.  Of the five colors in this collection, My Destiny is my personal favorite.
Bundle Monster Gel Polish My Destiny Swatch - BMC Awakening Collection

The fourth shade is Sorbet Surge.  Sorbet Surge is an orange cream that is more pastel in the warm phase and bolder in the cold phase.  Consistency and application are similar to Revelation and My Destiny.  The main difference between Sorbet Surge and the other gels in the Awakening Collection is the subtlety of the shift.  As you can see in the natural, unassisted photo below, the difference between warm and cold is not very pronounced.
Bundle Monster Gel Polish Sorbet Surge Swatch - BMC Awakening Collection

The difference shows a bit better in the assisted swatches.  I actually like the subtlety of Sorbet Surge.
Bundle Monster Gel Polish Sorbet Surge Swatch - BMC Awakening Collection

Finally, the fifth color in the collection is True Goddess.  True Goddess is a sheer, light pink in the warm phase and dark pink in the cold phase.  The pink is accented by a gorgeous golden shimmer.  This gel is the same consistency as the others in the collection (excluding Fantasia).
Bundle Monster Gel Polish True Goddess Swatch - BMC Awakening Collection

I think the golden shimmer in True Goddess really sets it apart from other pink thermals.  It gives it a bit of pop.  I especially love the cold phase.
Bundle Monster Gel Polish True Goddess Swatch - BMC Awakening Collection

What do you think of the Bundle Monster Awakening Collection?  The colors definitely feel more suited for fall to me, which is good since fall is right around the corner.  ;)  I should note that these do have a strong odor like the Beneath It All Collection, so if you're sensitive to odors it may be something to consider.  But overall, I love the collection and have been very pleased with the Bundle Monster thermal gels.  I might have to try a few of the non-thermals next.  :)

~Michelle

*This post uses Amazon Affiliate Links.  Purchases through these links generate commissions that help fund this site.
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