#NakedNails – Week 3

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I’m on week 3 of my #naturalnailrefresh, and this week my nails have started to look like themselves again.

After my disappointing test results with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel (SH MG) in the color ShockWave, I decided to try again with another color. For this test I applied three coats of a bright purple color called Hunger Flames.

S&M 1 April 2018 C

This time around I decided to apply three coats of the color polish, in order to make the color more even. The idea backfired however, because the orange peel issue I had reported on a couple weeks ago became twice as bad with extra color coats. The results were so bad that I removed the polish after only a couple days and didn’t bother taking a photo. When I removed the color I was disheartened to find out that the color had stained my nails. I’m not sure if you can tell in the photo above, but in person I could see it very clearly. Why isn’t there a base coat for this system?!?!

Using traditional polish (I know that Sally Hansen calls this product a gel, but it is not) again for the first time in a while reminds me that it has some issues you wouldn’t have with gel polish:

  • staining of the natural nail, especially with darker colors
  • visible ridges in the nails
  • small amounts of residual polish in the lateral nail fold (and even under the free edge) that can be difficult to remove

This week I plan to protect my nails with Gelish Dip, and then I’ll be documenting not only how Gelish Dip can help you grow long natural nails, but also how well SH MG will work on top of an acrylic overlay. I have a hunch that it will show better results over the acrylic and on longer nails!  Have you tried SH MG on acrylic or gel overlays or enhancements? If so, did it work well? Please leave a comment below!

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#NakedNails – Week 2

S&M naked nails week 2

This week you can definitely see some growth! I’m a little late posting this photo, but this is about two weeks of growth.  My nails are getting long enough that soon I’ll want to apply some Gelish Dip to protect them from breakage.

In the meantime, I’ve been testing Sally Hansen Miracle Gel (SH MG).

S&M 1 April 2018 C

As you saw in the photo in my last post, I used the color called Shock Wave, a perfect spring color. I had heard good things about this product and had high expectations for it. However, my results weren’t so good. Here are my nails after three days, right before I couldn’t stand it any longer and removed the polish.

S&M 1 April 2018 A

I had really bad chipping and cracking on my nails, and I wasn’t even that hard on them! Take a look at the cracking close up:

S&M 1 April 2018 B

Needless to say, I was not impressed with this product and would not recommend it for natural nails. It does not flex or bend with the natural nail, like a gel polish would.  It is not thick enough to provide the natural nail with any protection, like gel would. It also does not smooth nail imperfections like gel polish would. For these and other reasons, I actually believe that the name of this product is misleading.  And apparently, I’m not the only one! In early 2017 the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus recommended that the manufacturer discontinue its claims that this is the equivalent of a gel polish product. Yikes! I will reserve my final judgement on the best usage for this product until after I test it for use on top of overlays and for pedicures.

Here are answers to some more questions often asked about SH MG:

  • Does it last two weeks like a gel polish? No, not on natural nails. (I have a hunch that it will be great for pedicures, but that remains to be seen.)
  • Is it like getting a gel polish manicure at the salon? No. This is a resounding no. If you’re looking for a long-lasting manicure, this is not the product for you. It lasts no longer than a professional manicure done with traditional polish.
  • How do you remove it? This is essentially a traditional polish, and it is easily removed with regular nail polish remover (acetone-based polish remover will be faster).
  • Does it damage the natural nail? No, this polish does not damage the natural nail. It will, however, stain your nails, as there is no base coat for this system.

Testing Sally Hansen Miracle Gel

During my natural nail refresh I’ve decided to test Sally Hansen Miracle Gel nail polish.

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At my local Walmart I found both the color polish and top coat for $7.49 each plus tax, and there were plenty of colors to choose from. I’ve also ordered two more color polishes online for $3.96 each. The color to the right and pictured on my nails below is a bright pink called Shock Wave. There is a color band at the bottom of the lid, which is a nice touch because it’s somewhat grippy and allows for easier opening of the bottle. But the color of the band isn’t entirely accurate and seems unnecessary seeing as how it’s directly on top of the actual polish color seen through the clear bottle.

Note that all the information I share here is my research and the opinions are my own. I am not affiliated with Sally Hansen and I personally purchased these products for testing. 

While shopping for these polishes the first thing I noticed was that there is no base coat for this product line. The application instructions are to, basically, wash your hands and then wipe them with polish remover before applying two coats of color. Weird…

In the interest of giving the product an accurate test, I followed the application instructions exactly.  After rolling the bottle of polish in my hands for a few seconds I applied the first coat of color polish.  I noticed immediately that the brush is flat and curved, similar to the way many professional brands are designing their brushes now. However, the brush didn’t make application as easy as I had hoped. (I definitely prefer the new Gelish brush.) The first coat was very uneven and streaky.  After a couple minutes dry time I applied a second coat, which did help even out the color quite a bit, but you can still see the uneven color in the photo below.Sally-Hansen-Miracle-Gel-20-Top-Coat-147ml-Transparent-580510

I very much wanted to apply a third color coat, but left it at two in the interest of following instructions exactly for my first application. After 5 minutes drying time for the two color coats, per the instructions, I applied a coat of the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel (SH MG) Top Coat.  The top coat is thick like most actual gel top coats, which I believe may the reason for the success of this product line. Over the next few days I’ll see how this polish wears and will record when the chipping begins in my next post.

S&M 25 March 2018Here are the answers to some questions often asked regarding the purchase and application of the SH MG nail polish:

  • Is this gel polish? No. Gel polish requires a UV/LED light to cure.  This is regular nail polish with a thick top coat that has a gel-like feel and finish. You must wait for SH MG to dry, for at least a half hour, like any other traditional nail polish.
  • Is it cheaper than gel polish?  Yes, one bottle of the SH MG costs less than the professional brands of gel polish (like Shellac, Gelish and OPI).  In upcoming posts I’ll compare the wear time of SH MG and Gelish to help determine which is the best bang for your buck!
  • Is it dry instantly? No. This is a traditional nail polish and therefore takes quite some time to dry (Unlike get polish, which cures or “dries” instantly in the UV lamp).
  • How does it work? From the SH MG press release: “The advanced Color Coat and Top Coat formulas contain an oligomer, and the Top Coat also contains a photoinitiator. The photoinitiator in the Top Coat formula reticulates with the oligomer contained in the Color Coat, thus curing the formula without the need of an LED/UV light. As the manicure cures over time, it becomes more durable due to the increased hardness of the film. So LED/UV lamp curing is not necessary, only natural light.” According to the back of the bottle, the Top Coat “activates” ingredients in the color coats.
  • What is the finished texture? As noted above, two thin coats of color plus top coat produces a smooth yet unevenly colored finish (see nails on top hand in the photo above). Two medium-thick coats of color plus top coat create a more evenly-colored nail but an orange peel finish (nails on the bottom hand above).
  • Is the Top Coat necessary? Yes. The color coat alone dries to a thin finish and will not last as long without the Top Coat. (Well, technically it is not necessary if you want terrible results…)

Have you tried to Miracle Gel? What are your thoughts on this product? Please leave a comment below!

#NakedNails – Week 1

This week Smoke & Mirrors is joining the movement promoting the beauty of natural nails! I decided it was time for a fresh start, and so cut my free edge away, down to the nail bed about a week ago. Here’s a photo of the growth so far.

S&M 20 March 2018

As you can see, my natural nails are healthy overall but dinged, even pitted, in a couple spots from filing enhancements. And, thanks to the resurgence of winter, my cuticles are dry and ragged this week.

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I’ll be taking advantage of this re-growing time by reviewing a new-to-me line of products called Miracle Gel by Sally Hansen.

 

The Sally Hansen brand offers a ton of interesting products for home users that I would love to test, but I’m not made of money so I chose to test the product that I’ve heard the most buzz about amongst DIYers over the past year or two.  Sally Hansen calls this “life-proof polish”, a gel polish with “No UV lamp required.” They say it’s “The next best thing to a salon gel manicure that you can do at home.” I say, let’s find out! I’ll be comparing Miracle Gel to my tried-and-true Gelish, in an effort to help you decide which is the best bang for your buck.

There are several Miracle Gel reviews available online, but here at Smoke & Mirrors you’ll find different information – I’ll not only test the product application and results from the perspective of a professional nail tech, but also analyze how well the product will protect natural nails as they grow out. Because long, healthy natural nails are what we want, right?

I’d also like to answer any questions you have about this product. So please leave me a comment or a question you’d like answered!

Angling for a Kiss

S&M 3 March 2018

For this design I used colors from the most recent Holiday and Winter Gelish collections. The base color is Angling for a Kiss, a beautiful deep cranberry red polish, and the white lines are My Main Freeze.  Both are from the Thrill of the Chill winter collection. The mixture of tiny and chunky glitters is Silver in My Stocking” from the Little Miss Nutcracker collection.

After painting the lines on one nail, I decided they were too thick and wished I’d used acrylic paint instead. But the lines were cured already so I decided to roll with it.  Overall this is a super simple design to do as long as you have a nice striping brush!

 

Gelish Royal Temptations Collection for Spring 2018

Look at these beautiful swatches of the lovely Gelish Royal Temptations Collection!

S&M 3 March 2018 B

ICYMI this is the spring collection for 2018 for Gelish, released about a week ago. The colors are really pretty, and I’m amped about them all, as usual. I think the green Ruffle Those Feathers and purple All the Queen’s Bling are going to be really popular with clients.  Actually, Ruffle Those Feathers is the first color I used on myself!

(Please ignore the bubbling on the blue My Other Wig is a Tiara swatch… that was my fault. This is what happens when you apply layers of gel polish that are too thick!)

If you prefer to see live swatches, please check out the Smoke and Mirrors YouTube channel for swatches of the entire Royal Temptations collection!

 

 

Gelish Royal Temptations Swatches

 

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Image Courtesy Gelish

For spring 2018, Gelish has introduced the Royal Temptations collection. “Inspired by the lavish life of Marie Antoinette, the collection includes six delicious shades. Opulent pastels of sea foam green, teal, purple, pink and coral help to convey the romantic fantasy we associate with being a queen. For an even sweeter nail look, add on Over-the-Top Pop, a special effect glitter that you can’t help but adore.”

Click below to see the Smoke & Mirrors live swatches of this beautiful collection, including the glitter topper.

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Unique Ways to Use the Gigantic Stamper

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A couple weeks ago I posted a new video to the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel, unboxing the Born Pretty Store Gigantic Stamper. In this post, we’ll take a look at two unique and useful ways to use the gigantic stamper.

First, and most useful in a salon setting, is that you can use a large plate and the stamper to stamp multiple images at the same time. I recommend using abstract full-nail images, because if you take the time to line up single images on each nail the polish will likely dry before you have stamped all the nails.

In the below photo you can see I did 6 of 10 nails this way.

S&M 3 December 2017 F

Second, on 2 of the other 4 nails I applied a decal, which I made directly on the gigantic stamper. I stamped off the plate then allowed the polish to dry on the stamper before painting it with other colors. After that dried overnight, I carefully removed it from the stamper and used clear polish to apply it to the nail.

Check out the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel for a demo of these techniques.

Don’t Toy With My Heart

S&M 27 January 2018 A

For this design I used a technique that’s been around for awhile but I had not yet tried: the “smoosh” manicure.  Here are the colors of Gelish I used:

  • black – Black Shadow
  • red – Don’t Toy With My Heart (also used on full coverage nails)
  • gray – Fashion Week Chic
  •  nude/neutral – Taupe Model

I did one coat of Taupe Model as the base, cured it, then applied small drops of all the colors in various spots on the nails.  Next, I used my Morgan Taylor clear stamper to smoosh the drops around so they blended a little, but not so much that the colors became “muddy”. Finally, I cured the design for 1 minute.

Once the smooshing was done I thought it was a little boring so I stamped on top using a design from the Morgan Taylor Designer Plates Flirty Florals collection.  These are some great stamping plates that would do even better with a better stamping polish. (Next time I’ll try using polish from Clear Jelly Stamper.) Check out the macro shot!

S&M 27 January 2018 B

This ended up being super easy (and quick) to do, but got a lot of notice. I wore this manicure for over two weeks!

Have you tried the smoosh mani? Let me know how it turned out in the comments!

Unboxing the Born Pretty Gigantic Stamper

S&M 3 December 2017 EBefore the holidays here in the U.S. I ordered the Gigantic Stamper from the Born Pretty Store (BPS) on Amazon.com.  Within a month I had received the package. It included:

  • The stamper, which is 12 x 5 x 1.5 cm, approximately the same size as most XL stamping plates, and weighs about 120 grams
  • 4 thin scraper cards

The stamper was only about $8 through Amazon.com (though the price has increased to about $15 now, it is still only $8 if you buy from BPS). It’s a squishy stamper, and works very well with no priming needed. The great thing is that it’s clear, so you can see through it to line up your nails and stamp multiple nails at one time.

To see it in action, please visit the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel for my unboxing video. I immediately tried a couple different stamping methods with it, and was impressed with how well it picked up the images from the plates. Since then I have used it in a couple different manicures with no problem. While other BPS stampers have given me trouble in the past because they were not squishy enough, this one felt very comfortable to stamp with.

Note that this is NOT a paid review. I bought this product to try out on myself before possibly using it in salon, so you’re seeing my real initial testing and reactions to the product.