Before we head into spring colors and designs, I wanted to share with you one of my manicures using this beautiful, rich shimmer polish from the Gelish Marilyn Monroe Forever Fabulous collection. The polish is called I Prefer Millionaires, and it’s one of my favorites in the collection.
For the design I tried out a new product that I read about in Nails Magazine awhile ago; It’s genuine sterling silver glitter from 24byRGI.com. You can buy one gram for $12.95 with free shipping. To create a block of glitter, I taped off the area before applying the glitter using Top It Off (I wanted to be able to soak it off later), and then used a striping brush to hand-paint the lines around it with Arctic Freeze by Gelish.
This design turned out really well…very striking in person.
The polish applied beautifully and worked well with the glitter. I really liked the glitter, too, and will probably buy more products from 24byRGI.com. I love being able to buy real metal glitter, and they also offer their glitter in 24K gold. They also have a 24K gold nail polish, which is their signature product and namesake. The loose glitters must be suspended in a top coat or adhered during application, and there are probably a few methods for doing so. I’ll post a short video soon to the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel explaining the method I used for this design, so stay tuned!
There are so many wonderful nail treatments available now in salons and for home use. In this series we’ve reviewed the professional manicure systems for use on natural nails, and with this post we conclude the series on selecting the best system for your needs, wrapping up with a comparison of some available systems.
When deciding which system is right for you or a client there a few lifestyle aspects to consider, such as how long you like wearing a nail color or design, your preferred nail length, product removal time, or how long the manicure needs to last.
The graphic above (© Smoke &Mirrors) details what you can expect from the systems we reviewed in the last four posts in terms of wear time.
So, if you love changing your nail color frequently, you’ll probably want to focus on products to the left side of the scale, like traditional or hybrid nail polishes. On the other hand, if you’re super busy (who isn’t?!?!) and don’t have time for frequent color changes, you may want to try a gel polish or even dip powder nails.
The time you’ll spend removing the product also increases as you move right on the scale. Fittingly, the longer the wear time of the product generally, the longer a removal time it will require. However, if long wear time is your priority, you’ll likely find the increased removal time to be worth it!
So, what are your thoughts on these systems? Do you alternate between systems depending on the season? Does your salon offer all these options? Have you had better results with any particular system? Leave a comment or question below!
Contains an affiliate link
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.
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.
This design meshes two lovely brights, Sun Kissed Bliss and A Tribe Called Cool, from the Just for You III (in Europe)/Secrets (in UK) collection from Harmony Gelish. After a couple years of searching I finally got my hands on some colors from this collection, which I’ve been referring to as simply the Just For You (JFY) collection because it’s only JFY collection we in the US have had. For more information about the full collection I recommend you check out Elysia’s Harmony nail blog, as she’s done a great job of swatching the full collection. Fair warning: You may want to buy ALL the colors after reading her posts! (Note that I bought these from a US Seller online, and I don’t think they were re-directed from Europe since they have item numbers that fall in between the items numbers from the Gelish Winter 2017 and Spring 2018 collections. See my list of Gelish colors for item numbers.)
For the flower design I used Clear Jelly Stamper (CJS) layered stamping plate Cjs-14 with Born Pretty Store (BPS) stamping polish. I wanted to have white flowers but the Born Pretty stamping polishes were so uncooperative (and my latest shipment of CJS polishes hadn’t come in yet) that I just used whatever would work. I’ve had so much trouble with BPS polishes not stamping lately that I got rid of them. If you want great results with your stamping, I highly recommend the CJS polishes and plates.
This was also a good time to update my list of Gelish colors with the new fall 2018 collection plus the colors from the JFY/Secrets collection. Check out that list for info on all the Gelish US colors ever.
If you know where we in the US can purchase the rest of the JFY/Secrets collection, please let me know in the comments. There are some other great colors that I’d love to have!
This exciting neon green color is from the Gelish Make a Splash summer 2018 collection, and it’s called Límonade in the Shade, and I love it! This week’s design is a throwback to summer 1998, when I went to my first Hanson concert. I painted my nails for the event, of course, and went with a bright green probably slightly darker than this one… And I did a simple stripe design similar to this one.
For this version of the design I left the lunula exposed, which I later regretted because the dark line at the base of the nails gives them (and fingers) a shorter, harsher look. The original design was better because I painted the entire nail and the feathery lines originated from the side of the nail rather than the corner. Here’s a macro shot:
The glitter topper I used is called Kick Off the New Year from the Gelish Year of the Horse collection. I like this one because it has two glitter shapes and is subtle if you want it to be, or you can use two or three coats to really add some excitement to the design.
The acrylic paint I used is craft paint from Apple Barrel, and I’ve had it forever. Soon I’ll be testing another brand, so stay tuned for that review.
Do you ever re-create a design you’ve done in the past? How did it turn out? Leave a comment below!
This week I continued testing the new Gelish Structure Gel in Cover Pink, this time with two coats under Gelish gel polish. I shortened my nails a little, and the two coats of Structure seems to be keeping them strong at this length. Here I’ve used the Cover Pink Structure Gel as a base for High Voltage and Cellophane Coat from the Make a Splash collection for summer 2018.
While I really like the security Structure provides while keeping a natural feel to the nail, it doesn’t provide shape the way enhancement products would. It actually makes the nails look a bit rounder and accentuates any odd curvature of the nails. If you prefer to have longer nails with the clean lines and perfect shapes you can achieve when filing acrylic and hard gel, you may prefer Prohesion, Gelish Hard Builder Gel, or Polygel®.
On the nails with High Voltage I stamped using Clear Jelly Stamper (CJS) stamping polish and plate CJS LC-03, as well as a white China Glaze polish (which I wasn’t really happy with). Here’s a macro shot of one of the nails:
Though I was happy with how this set turned out, I’m wishing I had a CJS white stamping polish. I’ve tried lots of different stamping products over the last decade, and CJS is the superior product. Their plates and polishes work nicely together, and they work consistently well.
Wondering how to apply OPI Chrome Effects using Gelish gel polish and Top It Off?
The trick is to leave the inhibition layer intact. Check out a quick video demo of how to apply Chrome Effects successfully over Gelish on the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel!
Using Gelish One Piece or Two? (from the new Make a Splash collection) and Tahiti Hottie (from the summer 2014 Colors of Paradise collection), this is my take on trendy mis-match nails. The beautiful holo nail is OPI Chrome Effects in Mixed Metals. Here’s a macro shot of the holo nail:
As you can see, the Chrome Effects powder worked really well. I had no trouble using it with Gelish Top It Off (rather than the suggested OPI top coat). In sunlight or interior light, these nails look great!
I was so happy to find the Chrome Effects line because the other products I’d tried have not performed very well for me – either I had application issues or they didn’t wear well. And, unfortunately, Gelish does not make a product like this. Have you tried Chrome Effects? What did you think of it?
A few years ago Gelish introduced Structure gel, a soak-off clear gel intended for use as an overlay, typically under Gelish gel polish, to give the natural nail a bit of extra strength and smoothness while maintaining a natural look. The original product came in a small pot, like this:
Fast forward to a few years and Gelish has not only updated to brush-in-bottle applications, but in 2018 added two new products to the Clear version to the complete the lineup – Cover Pink (pictured below) and Translucent Pink.
In my pursuit of the perfect natural nail overlay, I just had to try the new version of this product. My natural nails are not especially in need of a cover-up but the idea of a neutral pink as a base for Gelish colors, particularly those that show have a visible nail line otherwise, is very appealing.
I bought the last bottle in stock at my local CosmoProf. The bottle is the same size as the full-size Gelish polish, so you get many uses out of it. The application was so easy and I got full coverage in one coat. With the Structure Gel in the pot I used to have some shrinkage issues, but they seem to be resolved with this product. The product is smooth yet obviously natural nails. I was really impressed with how good they looked!
Here’s a photo of my nails with just one coat of Cover Pink Structure gel:
I kept my nails like this for 3-4 days, but felt that the overlay wasn’t quite enough to protect my nails in rough situations. As my nails get longer I’ll want more coverage, so the Structure would be perfect for a natural nail refresh, or maybe under Gelish for shorter nails.
This product is great, so I might try layering it with my recent go-to, Gelish Dip. I really like it so far!
Have tried the new Structure Gel? What did you think of it?
This design was done with two coats of Gelish Beauty Marks the Spot, from the Royal Temptations Spring 2018 collection, with some stamped nail art using Clear Jelly Stamper polishes and plate CjS-04.
This polish was wonderful! It went on very evenly in just two coats, as you can see. And, though Gelish pinks and corals have had fading issues in the past, this one shows no signs of such issues after almost one week of wear. And I’m just loving the color! I’m not even tired of it yet! Here I’ve applied it over a layer of Gelish Dip, and have had no adhesion issues after a quick buff with a 100 grit buffer prior to applying the gel polish.
The more I use Clear Jelly Stamper plates and polishes, the more impressed I am with them. The plates are perfect for the salon because they allow you to quickly layer images to create designs as unique as each client. And they’re easy to use with just a little practice. I recommend using the plates and the polishes together – they’re worth the investment!