July Nail Art Challenge #1: Place You’d Love To Visit

Yup, I’m doing another nail art challenge month! I really enjoyed doing it for May and June, so I figure why stop now? It’s also a good way to get me posting regularly; left to my own devices, I’m lucky if I do once a week. I kinda can’t believe it’s already July, though. 2016 is flying by!

7.2.16 Fancy Finger Guns challenge

The first challenge is somewhere you’d love to visit, and I immediately knew I wanted to do Turkey – along with Greece and Morocco, it’s top of my list of places to visit! I decided that instead of doing a flag or something that I’d do a cultural object that’s been popping up in American fashion and design in the past few years – the evil eye.

7.2.16 Fancy Finger Guns curled

The evil eye amulet in Turkey, or Nazar Boncugu, is a blue “eye” bead that is said to ward off evil and bring luck to the wearer. Similar evil eye beads are common in Mediterranean, Southeast European, and North African countries – especially Greece, where almost everyone has some version in their home – and in the past few years the symbol has also become popular in Western Europe and the United States.

The blue dot on my ring finger makes me laugh - it's wonky and the black dot is off-center, so it looks like it's rolling its eye.

The blue dot on my ring finger makes me laugh – it’s wonky and the black dot is off-center, so it looks like it’s rolling its eye.

I wasn’t sure how this would turn out, but I really love it! I’m not usually a fan of a mostly neutral manicure, although it’s a look that’s becoming very popular in salons lately (whites, neutrals, or pale pinks with minimalist designs like one dot or stripe), but I think this looks really lovely and fresh in the sweltering summer heat. I did two coats of my favorite neutral, the creamy French vanilla My Vampire Is Buff, and after top coat was dry, I added a French manicure nail decal and painted on a white half moon using butter LONDON’s Cotton Buds. From there, I just did a blue dot in the center with a smaller black dot inside that for the eye. (I feel like I use turquoise too frequently on this blog, so I decided to just do the mid-tone blue instead of the cobalt/white/turquoise combo of the real evil eye beads.)

7.2.16 Fancy Finger Guns upside down

I’m pretty proud of myself for coming up with a more unique idea for this prompt, ha. It’s always nice to dream about traveling in the summer months; I think the heat makes us all a bit restless. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you soon for the next prompt! – A x

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June Nail Art Challenge #3: Fruit!

Hello, everyone! By the time you read this, I’ll be downtown for CMAFest! I’m not really a country music fan – the one exception is my queen, Kacey Musgraves – but I love downtown and I’m excited to see all the craziness! I’ll try to get some good pics while I’m down there, but for now, let’s get into my third mani for June!

6.11.16 Fancy Finger Guns bottles

I’m so thrilled how this came out! I knew as soon as I saw the prompt that I wanted to do dragonfruit – it tastes like wet nothing, but it’s SO PRETTY, I couldn’t resist. My mani version all centers on a jelly sandwich, the lacquerhead term for when you layer a sheer polish and a glitter polish. I’ve never used OPI’s Don’t Touch My Tutu!, one of the NYC Ballet Soft Shades from 2012, but I got it on a whim a few years ago after seeing a bunch of nail bloggers rave about it. Using it for the first time here, I’m pretty disappointed, actually. It’s insanely sheer – at one coat, it looked like nothing was on my nails at all. But I wanted to mimic the clouded effect of the black seeds deeper within the dragonfruit’s white flesh, so I ended up using two coats of butter LONDON’s Cotton Buds as to get a full base color, then added Tangled In My Web and a few coats of Don’t Touch my Tutu! on top of that. This mani has a LOT of layers, y’all!

6.11.16 Fancy Finger Guns around bottle

Wet ‘N Wild’s Tangled in My Web is from a small Halloween collection in 2011, I think? I really love it – there are other black glitters, but none that I’ve found that are small, uniform pieces like this, and it’s a really fun effect. The formula used to be really thick and gloopy, but when I used it this time it was actually really easy to use? Very weird. Anyway, after that layer was dry, I applied three coats of Don’t Touch My Tutu!, then when I was sure those were completely dry, I applied another layer of Tangled In My Web.

6.11.16 Fancy Finger Guns diagaonal1

Last but certainly not least, I used a small nail art brush to add a thin layer of the hot pink outer part of the dragonfruit around the top half of my nail. It was difficult to get it even since I am not experienced with super detailed nail art like this, but I think I managed it pretty well! Phew, you guys – this was a LOT more work than I thought it would be, but I think it turned out really cool and I kinda love it!

I hope you enjoyed this fun mani, too! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time – A x

May Nail Art Challenge #1: Hearts

Hello, dear readers! As I mentioned in my last post, I am going to be doing a nail art challenge this month that I found on Instagram. I love doing challenges every once in a while to help me to break out of my usual go-to techniques and colors.

5.2.16 Fancy Finger Guns challenge

The first challenge is hearts. Admittedly, hearts are not really my thing, so I just did some simple stamping using an old BundleMonster plate I’ve had for years over That’s Shore Bright, which has been featured a lot on this blog. But hey – purple + white is a pretty fool-proof color combination, right?

Ugh I forgot that the white I use for stamping ALWAYS smears when I apply top coat. So annoying.

Ugh I forgot that the white I use for stamping ALWAYS smears when I apply top coat. So annoying.

I did use a new stamper for this, though – a few months ago I bought this clear “jelly” stamper from Born Pretty Store after seeing clear stampers become all the rage for nail artists on social media. And I have to say, the hype is REAL. I am usually pretty terrible at stamping, but this stamper is larger than my old one so it’s easier to pic up an image, and for some reason the squishy jelly texture made it a breeze to roll the design right on my nail. Of course, the ability to look down and see exactly where I’m applying my design due to the clear stamper was a definite help, as well – half the time I’m lucky if I get the design mostly on my nail, let alone straight or where I want it. I think I actually might be stamping a lot more frequently now that I can do it so easily!

5.2.16 Fancy Finger Guns curled1

I also used my OttLite for the first time in these photos – gotta say, I kinda love it! I feel like it made my photos a little more crisp, and it’s definitely nice to have white light (instead of the more yellow bulbs I had in my old lightbox) if I can’t catch sunlight on a cloudy day.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back in a few days with a prompt that’s definitely more me – dots :)

Holiday Mani #7: Glitter & Ice

Hello everyone, and merry Christmas if you celebrate! There are certain polishes that I feel like I can only use at this time of year – they just scream “Christmas,” even if they’re not traditional red and green, but I can only do so many holiday manicures each year so some of them don’t get enough love. This year I decided to combine a few of my old favorites so they can get their time in the sun!

ILNP's Christmas in Bordeaux, China Glaze's Frosty

ILNP’s Christmas in Bordeaux, China Glaze’s Frosty

Frosty is really gorgeous. It’s from what I think is the best China Glaze holiday collection (best holiday collection ever, really), 2010’s ‘Tis The Season To Be Naughty And Nice. I really liked that collection because they had traditional colors (a billion reds, metallics) but also hues that still came across as “holiday” without being too overused, like navy blue, olive, and plum. Anyway, Frosty is a semi-sheer white with iridescent shimmer that mimics that sparkle of sunlight on fresh snow. I think I did 5 thin coats to attempt to get rid of the nail lines at the tips of my nails, which I hate, but ughhh this color is so lovely and delicate, I’m gonna overlook it!

12.25.15 Fancy Finger Guns diagonal

For the glitter fade at the cuticle, I just sort of dabbed and swirled a little blob of ILNP’s Christmas In Bordeaux (CIB) on each finger to put the glitter pieces where I wanted them on my nail. I always say this, but I really wish ILNP would do glitter mixes again – I have a bunch of Barbra’s glitters that I picked up when they all went on sale as she made her move to exclusively holographic and multichrome polishes a few years ago, and while her current polishes are all beautiful, I still love her glitters because they were all so beautiful and usually unique. CIB is Christmas in a bottle with its evergreen, holly-berry red, and bright gold hexes, squares, shards, and micro glitter – understated, chic holiday glamour! It looks so lovely over Frosty.

For those who celebrate, how was your Christmas? It’s been unseasonably warm (and humid!) even here in Florida, which has made me a little grumpy, honestly, and it hasn’t really felt like Christmas. But my family tried our best to make it feel like Christmas – we switched up our usual tree ornaments for sparkly iridescent tinsel and DIY neon ball ornaments, did our annual Christmas Vacation screening on Christmas Eve, and had a smorgasbord of random tasty items as a sort of Christmas buffet. Also, not gonna lie, I was pretty proud of myself for the presents I got them this year – sometimes it’s pretty difficult to get things I’m sure they’ll actually love, but this year I did really well! I cleaned up pretty well, too, getting some fun stuff including a [Uber Chic Mat knockoff]! I only recently learned about these types of mats, but as soon as I saw them I immediately let my family know it would be a great present. I haven’t gotten a chance to play with it much yet, since I didn’t bring any polishes or tools with me this year, but I can’t wait to try it out once I get back to California! I might even do a little video or something, hmmmm. Anyway, my Christmas was wonderful, and I hope yours was, too! When I get back to LA, I’ll be doing a post with a round-up and swatches of some polishes I ordered during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, so watch out for that after the new year. Until then, thank you so much for another year of reading my blog! Have a wonderful rest of your year – A x

Holiday Mani #4: Holiday Stripes

I really love the color combo of red and mint – it’s a little retro, which isn’t normally my jam, but I love it for some reason. I thought it would be fun to use some of my new What’s Up Nails wrapping paper decals and use this color combo for Christmas!

Sally Hansen White On, China Glaze Highlight Of My Summer, OPI Color So Hot It Berns

Sally Hansen White On, China Glaze Highlight Of My Summer, OPI Color So Hot It Berns

I started with a base of two coats of Sally Hansen’s White On (my butter LONDON Cotton Buds is still MIA) and top coat, which I did the night before, although you don’t have to wait that long – just 15 min or so, until you’re sure the top coat has fully dried. Then I applied my decal, smoothing it completely down, and used two small detailing brushes to paint on each section – I alternated which colors went where on every other nail for funsies. Immediately after I was done painting, I carefully peeled each decal up so the polish wouldn’t start to dry and stick to the decal. I really need a new red, though – even after letting this dry overnight and attempting to paint on my top coat diagonally to match the direction of the stripes, my OPI red STILL streaked a bit across two of my nails! Plus, you can see it sort of bled under the decals because the red lines aren’t as crisp as the mint ones. Grrrrr freaking reds, man.

12.14.15 Fancy Finger Guns upside down

Overall, this looks pretty cute, huh? This is definitely a little time-consuming, since I used two colors and had to paint each little section separately, but it’s not too bad once you get in the rhythm. It does look like wrapping paper (which is the description of the decals on the What’s Up Nails site), which is a fun mani this time of year. I bet this would look really great using metallics.

12.14.15 Fancy Finger Guns diagonal

I’m attempting to get seven or eight manis done total, so hopefully I’ll reach my goal! I know everyone loves holiday manis, and I do have a lot of holiday polishes I only bust out once a year, so I should try to use as many as I can! Anyway, thank you for reading! See you next time – A x