Wrapped In Satin

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S&M 9 Dec 2018 A

This week I was inspired by the snowstorm we had in the southeastern U.S. to create a fun winter design. I used Gelish Wrapped In Satin as the base color, with some strokes of Gelish Blue-Eyed Beauty (both from the Marilyn Monroe Forever Fabulous collection).

S&M 9 Dec 2018 B

Then I stamped the snowflakes using Clear Jelly Stamper plate CJS-03 and black, white and silver stamping polishes. Then I added Gelish Rough Around the Edges on top, and finished with Gelish Matte Top It Off.

Check out the macro shot of one of the nails!

S&M 9 Dec 2018 C


Image from Amazon.com. Click to explore product.



Unboxing the MelodySusie 12W Nail Lamp

video thumbnail unboxing MelodieSusie 12W lamp

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you find this information helpful, please consider shopping via the links provided. Thank you for your support!

A couple months ago I was in the market for a new LED lamp, and thought I’d share with you some information about the one that I decided to purchase. Also be sure to check out the unboxing video on the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel to see what you’d get if you were to purchase this item.

Heads up! This lamp is even more affordable now than when I bought it a couple months ago – about $20 on Amazon, and eligible for free shipping!

Several years ago (I think maybe in 2014) I moved away from generally using UV lamps to cure gel polish and towards LED lamps.  The LED lamps cure gels more quickly, which is a benefit at home or the salon.  A friend recommended a MelodySusie lamp, so I decided to give it a try.  Fast forward about 4 years and MANY manis, pedis and swatches later, and the buttons on that lamp finally gave up the ghost.  It was time for a new lamp, and I’d had such a good experience with the first that I purchased a second one.

Here’s why I love it:

  • Easy to set up and use. Watch the video to see just how easy it is!
  • Not too many frills – just pick your time setting.
  • Wide opening fits one hand or foot.
  • Lightweight and travels easily.
  • Mirrored interior for an even cure. If you’ve had lamps without this in the past, you know how important this feature is!
  • Excellent ROI – Since it lasted me so long, I spent about $8/year to have this lamp.
  • Compatible with any type of LED-cure nail product I’ve tried so far!

Other things you need to know:

  • This isn’t rated for heavy salon use. If you’re curing gels A LOT, it’s worth it to invest in the Gelish 18G lamp or similar.
  • The cord is 3 feet long, so be aware when planning your space to do nails.
  • There is also a 36W UV lamp and a 48W LED lamp available by MelodySusie.

Protecting your hands… and your clients’!

This post (contains some affiliate links) won’t go into either side of the argument on whether UV gel lamps are causing long term damage to our skin – harmful or not harmful for regular long term use – but instead accepts that each has valid points: With normal usage a client may not get too much additional UV-A exposure, but may be concerned about the exposure due genetic factors, medications, or other personal reasons; Nail techs oftentimes use UV-cured products to do their own nails, test UV-cured products on themselves, and are incidentally exposed to UV-A rays while doing clients’ nails. Here we’ll discuss several ways to remediate these concerns with some inexpensive and easy solutions.

First, for clients who are interested in protecting their skin for cosmetic reasons, the easiest solution may be a hand lotion with a sun protection factor (SPF), preferably of at least 30, to be applied about 15 minutes before their hands will go in the lamp. While this should not create too much additional work for the nail tech, it may require a shift in the sequence of product application so that the lotion is applied earlier in the service. This will allow ample time for it to soak into the skin.  A word of caution: the nail tech should take extra care to be sure the nail plate is properly cleansed and dehydrated before starting the application of product, to prevent service breakdown.

Aside from the UV protection, which may or may not be necessary, I’m moisturizing my skin with the lotion! This is the solution I’ve chosen for myself because it’s the easiest.

Image from Amazon.com. Click to explore this product.

For now I’m starting with a sunscreen lotion developed by Neutrogena for use on the face. It seems to be less greasy than other sunscreens I’ve tried, which is a benefit during a nail service.

Image from Amazon.com. Click to explore this product.

Second, and possibly an easier solution, is to wear UV protective gloves during the application and curing of the product. There are reusable and disposable versions of these gloves available.

Alternatively, you could simply place a washable towel over the hand during the curing part of the service, but this seems more cumbersome and time-consuming than using anti-UV gloves.

A combination of the first two solutions may be ideal for a client that is sensitive to UV rays due to a medical condition or a medication they are taking.

Image from Amazon.com. Click to explore this product.

The final solution is for fellow nail techs testing products. Rather than test products on yourself, why not use a practice hand or nail more often? While wear testing has to be done personally, simple application practice can be done on nailtrainer® practice hand, plastic practice fingers, and swatch sticks (I buy mine in large quantities from Amazon.com, and they’ve been great so far!).

This question has been raised to me by only one client in the last year, but I feel like I need to be ready to accommodate if a client comes into the salon with this concern.  And, perhaps more urgently, I need to protect my own skin, as it is perhaps exposed to chemicals and UV rays at a higher rate than the average user. And, if the additional UV ray exposure is not in fact not harmful, then we have been overly cautious with easy solutions – no harm done!

Are you a nail tech with other solutions for this issue? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Gelish Collections List Updated!

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Did you know Smoke & Mirrors maintains a full list of Gelish colors? It goes all the way back to 2011 when Gelish released some of the first brush-in-bottle gel polish colors, like Tiger Blossom, which was the first Gelish color I remember seeing on someone, and the Aurora FX collection, which was the first collection I saw in person at Sally Beauty.  And now it’s been updated with the colors from the latest collection, Forever Fabulous, for Winter/Holiday 2018.  It also has for item numbers, release dates, and updated color names. Be sure to check out our handy reference list!


Everyday Nail Art #2: Magnetic Nail Art


The magnetic polish trend is a few years old but seems to have made a revival recently, since the “cat eye” look became popular. Here’s my take on it for fall! I used Gelish Magneto Electric Metal Lover on the middle and ring fingers, with Wanna Share a Tent? from the Fall 2018 African Safari collection on the others.

magnetic nails closeup

As you can see, I used the starburst magnet, from Gelish. These magnets are hard to find for sale now, since they were released so many years ago, but you can use another brand of magnets

Image from Amazon.com. Click to explore product.

(here’s the one used for a NailPro Magazine demo last year) or magnetic polish to achieve the same look. I’ve even seen nail artists use the side of a normal round or rectangular magnets to create the cat eye look.

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Gelish Forever Fabulous swatches!!

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video thumbnail swatches MMFFSwatches for the full Gelish Holiday 2018 Marilyn Monroe Forever Fabulous collection, done in real-time, are now available to see on the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel. All twelve colors!
The colors include:

Please check out the swatch video and leave me a comment!

Unboxing the new Forever Fabulous Gelish Collection

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My box with the new Holiday Gelish (and Morgan Taylor) collection arrived a few days early, and I’ve posted a video of the unboxing. My kit is salon-ready and came with a display, swatches, and all twelve colors.

video thumbnail unboxing MMFF Check out the video on the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube Channel, and then stay tuned for the live swatches!

Everyday Nail Art #1: “Bling the Ring” + Glitter Ombre

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you find this information helpful, please consider shopping via the links provided. Thank you for your support!

With this post I’m kicking of a new series on simple and fun nail art that can be done easily at home and quickly at the salon. I’m not sure how many entries there will be in this series, but I’ve made a list of about 30 ideas so far.  Most would look great on long or short nails, so they’re great for designing on natural nails or enhancements. Many will be wearable, everyday looks but I’ll also experiment with trendy nail art ideas now and then, too. I hope you’ll find some of them useful, whether you’re looking for ideas to DIY at home, to ask your nail tech to try, or as a nail tech ready to try out client and clock-friendly nail art in the salon.S&M 9 September 2018 A

The base color for this design is Gelish Hidden Identity. After the base coat, I applied two coats to all fingers except the ring finger, which just got one. Then I swiped a small amount of the Gelish glitter polish My Jewels Keep Me Warm, brushing upwards from the base, to all the nails except the ring, on which I applied two coats for full coverage.

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In this close-up you can see the slight glitter effect:

What do you think of this look? Would you wear this? let me know in the comments!

Preview the new Gelish Winter/Holiday collection for 2018

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It’s official – Gelish is trying to bankrupt me. Look at all these fabulous new colors that I must have! The winter 2018 collection was teased in the just-released October 2018 edition of Nails Magazine, and it’s called Forever Fabulous Marilyn Monroe™.

All colors

Image from October 2018 Nails Magazine

This upcoming collection has 12 colors that Gelish says “embody the spirit of all that is Marilyn Monroe. With classic shades reminiscent of her Old Hollywood beauty and exciting, vibrant tones that represent her iconic nature this color range is sure to leave a lasting impression just like Marilyn herself.”

The colors include:

One thing I love about Gelish’s collections is how well-themed the polish colors in the collections are. The colors are carefully selected to complement each other, and this collection seems to be no exception.  While there are some beautiful winter reds here, we also have some neutrals and mauves for your most conservative clients.  Then there are some fun colors and bling polishes that we’ve come to know and love from Gelish.  Actually, those bright and unique polishes are the ones that usually get me the most attention! And who doesn’t love a good glitter polish to ring in the holiday season??


Image from NailsRUs

Think of the nail art we can create with these as our canvases!

Since this is the winter/holiday, I expect it won’t be on shelves until early November.  Looks like it should be available at your local CosmoProf or through authorized resellers online.

Which colors do you think you’ll be buying?

Two NEW Gelish Mini Colors

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After a bit of a drought, except for new collections, Gelish has introduced two new colors to the core Mini lineup. Note that, as far as I know, these polishes are available in Mini only*.

mini bottles

The names are Creme De La Femme (left above) and French Kiss and Tell (right above).  These colors are great foundation colors for french manicures and other nail art, and make excellent neutrals for times when you don’t want flashy nails.

*By chance I discovered that Creme De La Femme seemed very close in color (though not formulation) to the new Gelish Structure Gel in Cover Pink.

S&M Gelish Structure B

Comparing new Gelish brush-on Structure gel to the previous formulation in a pot.

This happened because around the time I bought these 2 new Minis from Sally Beauty, I was wearing plain nails overlaid with PolyGel and then capped with Structure Gel in Cover Pink.  I compared the two and immediately noticed how similar they are.  When looking at French Kiss and Tell, I noticed that the color seemed very close the the shade of Structure Gel in Translucent Pink.  My theory is that Gelish used the pigmentation they had created for the Structure Gels to produce two new colors for the Mini lineup.

Whether or not that’s the case, these are 2 beautiful and useful colors to add to your offerings. I wore the Cover Pink color for a couple weeks and got good reviews on it. The nails looked simple and clean, and the color stayed true for those two weeks.

Check out the live swatches and my comparison in the new video on the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel, and let me know what you think!

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