gemfyre: (doe a deer)
Okay, so I have decided to start a series on nail art - because omg it's so easy to do really nifty, complex looking designs and everyone should know how. As with most things though I notice most sites and tutorials don't start with the basics, they assume a certain amount of pre-knowledge.

Okay, so I am definitely not perfect in the art of the nails. I know the theory of cleaning up the edges and applying polish neatly - but in reality neither happens very much. Most of the time I find myself picking off excess nailpolish in the shower the night after it dries (tip - it is easier to pick off the stuff on your skin when your skin is wet - but also make sure the polish is 100% dry - like 12 hours drying time).

Tools of the trade

You can do a lot of nifty designs with just variety of colours (I have 100+ nail polishes - you don't need that many, but if you get into nail art you may suddenly have an urge to acquire a certain colour or finish for a design idea - this is what happened to me) and some simple tools. I get all my nail art tools from eBay, they tend to only be a few dollars, but they can take a while to arrive from China.

- Base coat & Top coat

For ages I never understood why people would bother with base coat and top coat, but now they are essentials. Base coat will help strengthen your nails and stop the polish from staining them (some colours stain more than others) and top coat will smooth out multi-layered designs and protect your nailpolish - I find my polish lasts about a week with a good top coat. I also highly recommend finding a good black and white polish. I hate black or white nails on their own - but white is essential as a base for bright colours and black is used for various patterns and highlights, and also works as a base for certain types of polish. I go through black and white polish the quickest.

- Other household things that are useful

Save a few glossy magazines as a surface to do your nail painting on. This will protect your tables and provide you with somewhere to test out colours, create blobs of polish for dotting and painting, mix colours, remove excess polish from your brush... it's useful, trust me. Don't use newspaper - the ink will stain your skin and it's too absorbent for blobbing and painting nailpolish onto.

I use lids from takeaway containers for blobbing/testing/painting because it's even less absorbent than glossy paper, and also gives me a better idea of how the colours will look on my nails. Ice cream container lids would also work, or any bit of flat, hard plastic really.

I find a shotglass is very handy for putting some polish remover or acetone into so I can clean brushes easily.

Cotton balls are ideal for removing polish and cleaning stamper plates. In my experience, non-acetone polish is useless, I use stuff with acetone (straight acetone is best for polish removal but worst for your skin) and wash my hands thoroughly afterwards and moisturise.

Other things around the house that can come in handy -
- Plastic bags - for stone designs
- Toothpicks and bobby pins - for dotting and other fine designs
- Disposable plastic cups - for water marbling

- Dotting tools



Dotting is probably the easiest way to get a cute nifty manicure with not much effort. I bought a set of nail art brushes and dotting tools for about $5 for the lot. But you can also use a toothpick, or a bobby pin, or a round headed pin stuck in the eraser of a pencil, or anything else small and rounded.

You can find hundreds of idea for dotting designs on Youtube or Pinterest or Instagram or the nail art tag on Tumblr or just Googling "dotting nail art" or "dotticure" or something similar.

Here's how you dot

1. Paint your nails with a base colour. It's best to choose a colour for the base that won't show through the colours you are dotting. This will depend on the shade and the type of polish - I sometimes test beforehand on a takeaway container lid (I have plenty, and they are really useful for nail art stuff). If you really want a lighter colour over a darker colour you can dot with white then go back over with your colour.
2. Place a blob of the colour you are dotting with on a surface - I use plastic lids, but a glossy magazine will work as well, don't use non-glossy paper because it's too absorbent. Just pull the brush straight out of the bottle and gently touch it to the surface and a blob of polish should form. Don't blob too much in one go because it will dry quickly - just refresh it as you need to.
3. Dip the dotter of your desired size into the polish blob then dot in onto your nails. You can sometimes get 2 or 3 dots before dipping back into the polish blob. Clean the dotter with a tissue before moving on to another colour.
4. Once your design is finished wait for it to dry then apply top coat. Grin proudly as your friends fawn over your fancy "Bali" nails which you did yourself in the comfort of your own home.
gemfyre: (Red Eye Platinum)
My sister was a nailbiter, but it was a habit that never plagued me. I've always been able to grow long, nice looking nails. These days I can't let them get too long or else my ability to DO anything with my hands diminishes, and I also scratch myself to pieces with the claws.

I've always liked nailpolish. It was colour I put on myself, and it didn't feel gross like makeup on my face did. I had a decent collection of mostly cheapie nailpolishes.

Then my eczema moved to my hands, and painting my nails soon resulted in serious itching and irritation on my nailbeds. After a while I figured I'd better stop. I eventually gave my polish collection away to a friend.

At the start of this year I decided I wanted to learn makeup. Mineral makeup these days smells much nicer and is a lot less irritating. I'm not sure what I had Googled, maybe "Non-irritating nailpolish", but whatever it was, one of the hits was a site called Picture Polish. I leaped in and bought 8 bottles first time, lucky when I tried them, they didn't cause my fingers to itch like mad. I guess you could call the rest history.

If you buy nailpolish you may be familiar with the term "3 free", which seems to be popping up and more and more. As technology improves, nailpolish no longer needs some of the nastiest chemicals in it. The 3 which are used less and less nowadays are toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate. It seems that 3-free nailpolish is fine for me to use.

One interesting thing is that I can now sniff out polishes that I probably shouldn't use. These are often older polishes that friends have passed on to me, or some cheaper brands. If I smell that distinct smell then check the label, I'll often find toluene or phthalates among the ingredients.

I've now had my nails pretty much constantly painted since March, and they are in pretty good nick! Next up I'll do a post on basic nail art techniques. I've learned A LOT on YouTube and nail blogs, and nail art seems to be one of those things that clicks with me, even though I often say I'm as creative a brick, I can always think of something to do with my nails (often too many things - then I have a tough time deciding!)

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