Friday, August 26, 2011

My First Nail Art on Someone Else!

Several friends have been asking me to do their nails, and I finally found the time to oblige one of them!  My friend Ashley has nails that I would kill to have.  They are strong and healthy, with nice long nail beds and nicely parallel sides (as opposed to mine, which are kind of v-shaped, which I hate).  I have really been wanting to get my hands on her nails!

She wanted something involving french tips, cherries, and light blue.  I found this picture of a really cute mani, but I altered it a bit for her, leaving out the bows and doing the cherries in red crystals on her ring fingers.

The pictures came out unfortunate and blurry due to my cell phone camera and the crappy lighting in the break room at work, so you'll just have to trust me that it came out really cute! : )

Re: my nails: I am currently at the beginning of an experiment to see if I can make them grow any stronger.  As I've mentioned before, I have very weak, thin, peely nails.  In the past I have tried EVERYTHING to get them to grow thicker and stronger, but nothing ever worked.  However, that was all before I really got into nails like I have recently.  Now that I feel that I know more about the biology of nails, I am going to try again.

In the past, I think I maybe didn't give any of the treatments I tried enough time to work.  I pretty much expected instant results, and when I didn't get them, I gave up and tried something else.  This time, I am going to hang in there and be patient (so not my strong suit!) with my treatment plan.  This is the plan:

Step one: Biotin.  I have been taking Biotin supplements for over a year now, but all they've done is make my hair and nails, which already grew really fast, grow even faster.  It has done nothing to thicken or strengthen my nails.  I'm going to continue taking Biotin, however, because I really like how fast my hair has been growing.  I get bored with my hairstyles very quickly!  Also, the faster my nails grow, the faster I can see results from the other two steps, hopefully.

Step two: Moisturize.  In the past I have been, shall we say, less than maniacal about moisturizing my cuticles. No more!  I have loaded up on vitamin E oil for home and pocket-sized cuticle oil pens for work, and I am going to be all oiled up all the time!

Step three: Nail treatments.  After reading Loodie's post and Konadlicious' post about the nail-strengthening benefits of formaldehyde, I went to Sally's and bought a nail treatment containing it. I had always avoided polishes and treatments containing formaldehyde in the past, because during my high school advanced biology class I got very sick from the solution in which our fetal pigs were preserved.  The teacher said they were preserved in formaldehyde, so I figured I must be allergic to it and have always tried to avoid it.  According to Loodie (who is a scientist and seems to know what she is talking about), even if that stuff was actually formaldehyde or formalin, it is unlikely that it is really the same thing as what is in polish.  I have been using the formaldehyde-containing treatment for a few days now, and I have not gotten sick or broken out, so I think it's going to be ok in that regard.  We'll see if it does anything to strengthen or thicken my nails.  I'm going to give it at least two months.  That's about how long it takes my nails to grow from the cuticle to the tip (I told you they grow fast!)  If I don't see any benefits after two months, I'll try something else.

I have been changing my polish every day or two, to make sure I'm getting the nail treatment directly on my nail.  I have some pictures of my past few manis, which I'll be sharing soon.  Since I have to change my polish so often during my experiment, I may do this challenge.  It looks fun.

Anyone have any other tips for toughening up thin, bendy, peely nails?

xoxo, Natalie

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Green Skittle Manicure and a Trip to Ulta

The froggie mani only lasted two days. :(  I think the problem was that I put on top coat (Seche Vite) between the nail polish base and the acrylic nail art.  For some reason, the top coat over the acrylic peeled off from the top coat under the acrylic.  The two coats of Seche didn't bond to each other.  I don't know what was up with that, but next time I'll do polish base, acrylic, then top coat.

So now I'm wearing a green skittle mani that was inspired by Trincess' Whimsical Skittles, and Varnish Vixen's version.

 Left hand: Thumb/pinkie = Cult Nails Always Winning; pointer = OPI Electric Eel over OPI Here Today, Aragon Tomorrow; middle = OPI Here Today, Aragon Tomorrow with dots of OPI Stranger Tides; ring = Zoya Yara.

I used the same colors for my right hand, but in a different order:

I took pictures outdoors because I was trying to capture the sparkliness.  It was a beautiful day today.  The heat has finally let up some, and you can tell that fall is just around the corner.  Fall is my favorite season!  I can't wait for pumpkins and falling leaves and cool breezes!

I went to the Grand Opening of the new Ulta that is closer to my house.  I can tell it is going to be both a blessing and a curse!  It's only a 15-minute trip to the new Ulta, instead of a 45-minute trip to what was formerly the only Ulta in town.  My wallet is scared!  Here is what I got:

The only thing I actually needed was the Seche Restore.  I had also planned to get OPI I Lily Love You, and the Tarte True Blood Lip Tint.  The Orly Minis were an unplanned purchase, but they were a Grand Opening special, $3.50 for the set (which is regularly $12.50).  The Happy Go Lucky collection wasn't unique enough to entice me to buy the full size bottles, and I wouldn't have paid full price for the mini set, but tree-fitty was low enough to snare me.  And I lurrve the True Blood lip tint.  It is a shimmery, sheer-but-buildable blood red.  The only makeup I wear for day-to-day is red lipstick, and occasionally concealer.  I am always on the hunt for a new red!

And here is the adorable sight that greets me almost every time I come home:

My neighbor's dog, Maizy.  I want her!  If I didn't like my neighbors so much, I would steal her!  She is a total sweetie.  Alas, Maddie wouldn't have another dog in her house.  She can't stand dogs.  She is not aware that she is a dog.  Here's Maddie, enjoying the pretty day by pretending to be a cow and munching on some grass:

"Yum, grass!"

xoxo, Natalie

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Froggie Mani

As I said in my previous post, I bought a cheap acrylic paint set at Walmart.  Here it is:

I had hoped it would be good for nail art, and I think it worked out great.  Nail polish is good for simple, quick nail art like dotting and stamping, but it dries really fast.  Acrylic paints are better for more complex nail art designs because you don't have to keep stopping to put out more color on your palette.  It stays wet and usable on the palette for much longer than polish.

So, here is my first nail art attempt using acrylic paints:

Froggies!  With lily pads, lilies, and some yummy insect munchies!  Here's a closeup of my left thumb:

And here's my right hand:

Closeup of right thumb:

The frog on my right thumb looks like the ... "special" brother of the one on my left.

Hopefully one day I'll get as good at painting with my non-dominant hand as Rins.

So, did y'all get anything from the Zoya promotion?  I bought Jo, and got Jem and Yara free!  I bought Cynthia and Neeka a few weeks ago.  Dree is the only other color that I really need have to have want from their fall collection, but I entered to win it, so I have to wait till the contest is over just in case I win (spoiler: I never win anything).  Here's a blurry but sparkly-showing picture of my new friends:

Jo, Yara, Jem

xoxo, Natalie 

Monday, August 8, 2011


I am just not really feeling this mani.  I don't know if I over- or under-worked it, but it just didn't look as awesome IRL as it did in my head.  I think it's the ring finger that's throwing it off.  I should have stayed in pattern on all fingers, or done the ring in either the glitter or the holo.

I wanted something cool and watery to combat the horrible heat here, but it just didn't work out the way I'd planned.  Anyway, I used OPI Ogre the Top Blue for the base on all nails, the Ulta exclusive color Glitterally the Best Silver Ever on the ring, and OPI Blue Moon Lagoon and Pure Ice Strapless for the others.  I made the wavy stripes using painter's tape and scrapbooking scissors.

Hopefully my next mani will be better.  I bought a pretty cool acrylic paint set from Walmart - 24 tubes, all different colors, for $11.97!  Not masterpiece quality paints, I'm sure, but I'm hopeful they will be good enough for nail art.

So, have you ever experienced the heartbreak of a disappointing mani?

xoxo, Natalie

Monday, August 1, 2011

Perloined Mani and Dead Lemmings

(*Note: No actual lemmings were harmed in this post.)

I have been wanting to do a mani based on my favorite pair of Chucks for a while now, and when I saw MaD Manis' Obnoxious Punktastic manicure, I was jealous because it was almost exactly what I wanted but hadn't been able to think up myself!  So, I stole - ahem - freely adapted it.  I hope they don't mind!  Here are a few pics of the mani and the shoes:

I used the fishnet pattern instead of zebra stripes, because I always wore torn fishnets with my Doc Martens in high school.  I used Cult Nails Devious Nature for the base on the pointer, middle, and pinky, China Glaze Liquid Leather for the base on the thumb, and OPI Show it and Glow It for the base on the ring, the bow on the skull, and the lightening bolt.  I used Konad Special Polish in Black for the stamping, and Bundle Monster plates.  Make sure to check out MaD Manis' original - it is super-cute (and much more expertly stamped)!

I also killed some lemmings late last week, and they arrived today!  I went on a discontinued-OPI eBay spree, and I got Movin' Out, Midnight Blue Glitter, and Glacier Bay Blues.  They are SO pretty; I can't wait to wear them!  Behold:

OPI Movin' Out, Midnight Blue Glitter, Glacier Bay Blues

Even my crappy camera and lighting can't disguise their beauty!  Well, that's all for now.  I have to get up at 4am (I hate the "opening" part of working the opening shift, but I love getting off work at 2:30 pm!), so I'm off to bed.

xoxo, Natalie