#JanuaryJoy – Manicure Monday

You all know how I love my nails and I’m a big DIY manicure fan. I always keep my eyes peeled for the latest trends although I leave it to the beauty bloggers to find them and pick them out on Pinterest ;). Over Christmas I was all about the glitter, wearing a festive ruby red glitter shade by Essie and so far this January I’ve gone for a mixed metallics look of silver solid glitter topped by big gold confetti glitter – super sparkly. However much I’m loving glitter though, my nails and patience are not. Taking it off is the biggest waste of time and so unkind to your nails, so I’ve been looking for something to satisfy my sparkle craving with a ton of shine that you only get from a block colour polish.

Enter the crescent moon manicure or silhouette nail.

First spotted on Prabal Gurung’s Spring 2012 show, it was the Chanel Fall 2012 Couture show where this look got snapped by the paps. I love the metallic sparkle hit whilst keeping the nail art subtle 🙂

Sure, flashy nails are never going to change the world, but sometimes changing your mood and brightening your day is as good as it gets. Share your #ManicureMonday by tweeting me a picture (don’t forget the #JanuaryJoy tag too) and let me know if you’ll be trying this at home.

How To:

  1. Start with clean filed nails and your choice of base coat. (I use Leighton Denny Under Cover Base Coat)
  2. Apply one coat of your chosen metallic shade. Make sure you choose a polish that is dense enough with one coat or you will need two. Apply right to the edge of the nail bed and sides of the nail.
  3. Next apply your main shade (Choose a flat, non metallic shade for the best contrast.) leaving a 2mm gap at the nail bed. Taper the colour out towards the sides so by the time you reach the nail tip the colour covers the whole width of the nail. Tip: Using a polish that has a wide brush like Essie or Rimmel makes this technique a lot easier.
  4. Apply a second layer of your top shade taking care to stay within the shape you have created.
  5. Seal with a generous coat of topcoat, making sure to extend right to the sides of the nail and to the cuticle to sandwich your nail art between base and top coat, for extra durability.
  6. If you have any, finish with Leighton Denny Miracle Drops Nail Polish Dryer to reduce drying time and smudges. Tip: If you’re a bit wobbly applying nail colour and have painted your finger when extending the polish right to the edges, use a cotton bud dipped in nail polish remover to tidy the edges up and give a professional finish.

I hope you like the effect – every time I catch a flash of gold from mine it makes me smile. 🙂 And it just goes to show, you don’t meed a pro-manicure for your nails to look good and give you some #JanuaryJoy. (If you do happen to have a bit of spare cash and feel in need of a treat however, I’d fully recommend going and putting your feet up with a magazine whilst getting a pedicure this Monday!)


Red Carpet Manicure…

Confession time. I have never had acrylic nails or a gel manicure. Partly because I used to be scared that it might damage my nails and partly because I don’t lied the really thick look of acrylics. Gel manicures however I love, I just haven’t taken the plunge because I’m lucky and have strong nails that polish seems to last one. However, I know that for many people with weak or brittle nails, or perhaps if you use your nails and hands a lot for work, gel manicures are a godsend. So when Laura Lawson told me about her new home kit for DIY gel manicures, I asked her to share her thoughts – it’s a perfect present for Santa to put under the Christmas tree 🙂

Since my first gel manicure at the start of the year, I was hooked. I was so used to having to re-do chipped nails every few days, that the idea that they could look perfect and super shiny for a few weeks blew my mind!

Image credit: Lawson Photography

The process isn’t miles away from a regular manicure, the nails are painted – base coat, 2 coats of colour and a top coat – but in between each coat the gel is cured under a UV light rather than air drying. This means when it’s finished, it’s totally dry and you don’t have to walk around like a crazy woman trying not to touch anything (which unfortunately means there’s no excuse not to wash up!).

Image credit: Lawson Photography

Removing them is a bit of a fiddle; they’re buffed, covered in a blob of cotton wool soaked in nail varnish remover, and each finger/thumb wrapped in foil for ten minutes. Then they pretty much slide off with an orange stick. I was a bit worried that my natural nails underneath would be ruined (like when you have acrylics), but I’ve found that as long as you soak them for long enough before removing so you’re not peeling them off, and use plenty of cuticle oil generally, your natural nails stay healthy and happy.

Image credit: Lawson Photography

Now for the negative – they’re so EXPENSIVE! I knew I couldn’t get away with spending £50 every three weeks on pretty hands, this would have to be ‘special occasions only’. Then I heard about Red Carpet Manicure. DIY gel manicure kits, complete with all you need (including the light to cure it) and lots of lovely colours of LED polish. For the price of a couple of professional manicures, I could get a kit and do my own – it was worth a try!

Image credit: Lawson Photography

I LOVE it! I got the professional LED kit, which includes: professional LED light, a pre & post application cleanser, a sanitizer, base coat gel, top coat gel, nail polish remover, nourishing cuticle oil, and a lovely classic bright red polish (Red Carpet Reddy). There’s lots of goodies on the Red Carpet Manicure website – gems and jewels kit, French manicure kit, and a big range of nail colours. I’ve been adding to my collection, my latest favourite is ‘Draped in rubies’, a gorgeous deep red with sparkles reminiscent of Dorothy’s shoes, very festive!

Image credit: Lawson Photography

Once you’ve mastered the hands, you have to give it a try on your feet; it lasts forever! 🙂


AW12 Nail trends: DIY Painterly Two Tone Manicure

You all know I’m a big fan of a nail trend so when I spotted a video on creating an ombre nail effect I decided to have a go myself. I’ve been craving something new for the new season and this just seemed perfect before I turn to my autumn/winter nail wardrobe of steely greys and inky blues.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I toyed with several colours for this look and trialed it with the navy I eventually chose, Chanels muddy purple ‘Paradoxal’ and also a Nars silver which I liked for the futuristic mixed metals look it gave. The most dramatic however was the Navy, so thats what I chose for the finished look. It’s a very subtle metallic navy that with a couple of coats looks almost black, Betty Blues 110 by No. 7 at Boots.

To get the look you will need:
Your two chosen colours.
Your usual base coat and a clear top coat.
A cosmetic sponge.
Some cotton buds.
Nail polish remover.

  • So first off, apply your base coat (the paler shade.) I’m using a Topshop polish here, a super metallic white gold shade called Crystal Clouds. I only used one coat as that gave a dense enough colour, and don’t forget your base coat first.

(The most difficult thing about this look is that layering the polishes, however you do it, disturbs the coats you have already applied, so this coat needs to be really dry before you start again. I applied mine then went out and did the rest later.)

  • Next up, working one finger at a time, paint a corner of the cosmetic sponge with the second (darker) shade of polish. You only need to paint a small area – about the size of your nail. You don’t need a lot, just enough so theres still some on the sponge, allowing for some to soak in.
  •  Carefully sponge the polish onto the nail. (Don’t worry, you will get it all over your fingers too but we’ll clean that up later.) Once you’ve got the hang of it and if the amount of polish on the sponge is perfect you can start half to two thirds of the way down the nail and build the colour up towards the tip. However I found this a bit unpredictable and started at the tip to test the effect and worked further down as the sponge got less saturated. You can sometimes do a couple of nails before you need to repaint the sponge.
  • Work fast and lightly; as I said above, once the polish is wet if you mess around, you just start to take it off each time you press the sponge on. At this point it’s about creating a finish that you are happy with. If the sponged edges get a bit ‘definite looking’ I went back with the gold polish and making sure most of the excess polish is wiped off onto the bottle, added a couple of extra dots of polish then sponged around them. You’re looking to create a painterly watercolour effect where the two colours just bleed into each other.
  • Finally, you want the tips to have the appearance of properly applied varnish so you might need to apply a little extra there to get the depth of colour. By now your fingers will probably look like you have dipped them into a paint box to dip a cotton bud into your nail polish remover and scrub around the edges and tops to remove all the extra polish from your skin.
  • Finish with 2 coats of topcoat to give a smooth glossy, ultra high-shine finish. When you apply the first topcoat you can actually muddy the finish a little more by very lightly dragging the colour around a litre if you want to improve the effect.

So there you have it, what set out to be an ombre nail is actually more of a painterly two tone and I love it. The gold mixed with a darker shade seems light enough to nod to the end of summer but has more than a hint of the new season about it.

What do you think readers? Are you going to be trying this one out?


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