Everyday Nail Art #6: Gel Polish Marble

S&M 23 April 2019 A

Contains affiliate links below.
For this design I used Princess Tiara, one of the original Gelish colors, on most nails. You can see that, even though my bottle of polish is a few years old, it still went on smoothly and provided good coverage with two coats.
For the marbled nails, my base was two coats of My One Blue Love (AKA Water Baby).  To get this easy marbled look I applied a third coat of My One Blue Love, but did not cure. I laid down stripes of these colors in a radiating pattern from the lower corner of the nail:

Then I used a round paintbrush with a small number of short bristles to drag the polish outwards in a fan from the corner. You could also use a toothpick or dotting tool to get this drag marble look.

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If you want a crisp marbled lines, it’s important to cure as soon as possible.  I wanted a mottled look, so I let the marbled gel polish run together and blend a bit before curing.

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Everyday Nail Art #5: Threads

S&M 12 November 2017

Contains an affiliate link.

For this design I used Don’t Break My Corazon from the Gelish Matadora collection and some nail art threads. The ones I found were from Born Pretty, but those are no longer available. You can get nail art thread in a variety of colors on eBay now for low prices, though.

Before doing the nail with threads, I taped off the section that would have the threads, Then I applied my base and color coats, and removed the tape.  I actually glued the threads down to the nail enhancement to get them to curve with the nail.

I thought these turned out well and held up nicely for over a week, but I had to use a couple layers of top coat to smooth over the threads. To remove the threads, I soaked the nails in acetone, and was able to file down the rest.

 

The 10 essential polish colors…

according to AOL.com…?

I admit it, clickbait works on me when it’s about nail polish and trends. So for fun I clicked on an article entitled “10 nail polishes every woman should own” to find out what someone else thinks the essential polish colors are. Why is this useful? Let’s say you’re a minimalist, and you want to know which few colors you should keep handy with your mani/pedi supplies.  Or, you’re just opening your own nail station or salon and need to buy a few colors to get you by for a few weeks. This list helps us cover all the bases.

This is a pretty good list except that it’s all traditional nail polish, which is so 15 years ago.  So let’s update it to 2019 standards with some comparable Gelish gel polishes!

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Image from Gelish.com

Their suggestion:

“…a light pink hue is appropriate for any and every type of occasion.”

From Gelish:

Curls and Pearls, from the 2018 Spring Royal Temptations collection

S&M 13 February 2016

 

Their suggestion:

“You can never go wrong with a true red polish since it can be professional, sexy and festive all at once.”

From Gelish:

Firecracker from the 2015 Holiday Red Matters collection

 

 

 

Their suggestion:

gelish-bellasvampire-swatch
Image from Gelish.com

“…put on a vampy eggplant shade and feel like you can take on the world.”

From Gelish:

Bella’s Vampire

 

 

Their suggestion:

“Hot pink is one of our go-to summer colors for both manicures and pedicures…”

From Gelish:

gelish-makeyoublinkpink-swatch
Image from Gelish

 

Make You Blink Pink, from the All About the Glow Summer 2013 collection (This swatch bubble doesn’t do it justice.)

Gelish always does an excellent job with their summer collections.

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All About the Glow collection from Gelish

Everyone can find their perfect summer color in this collection!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their suggestion:

“Whether you go full-on glitter nails or just add a swipe… on an accent nail, everyone needs at least one ‘fun’ color in their collection.”

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Image from Gelish

From Gelish:

Girls Night Out from the original fall 2013 Gelish Trends collection

 

I believe glitter polishes should be your go-to for a quick and easy accent nail. There are so many great glitter polishes from Gelish to experiment with.

Their suggestion:

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“If you are looking for something subtle yet chic, one to two coats of a cream colored polish…”

From Gelish:

Heaven Sent (AKA Little Princess)

 

 

Their suggestion:Gelish collection 031

“A deep red polish is a holiday staple, but also a more grown-up take on a classic, punchy red.”

From Gelish:

Red Alert from the Holiday 2015 Red Matters collection

 

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Their suggestion:

“If you are looking to get outside of your comfort-zone when it come to nail colors, [a] periwinkle shade is a perfect way to ease into more adventurous hues.”

From Gelish:

Po-riwinkle from the 2016 Spring Kung-Fu Panda collection.

That was an AWESOME color. It hurts my heart to know that Gelish decided not to keep producing it as part of their permanent lineup. You can still find it online, though!

 

sm-8-dec-2016-bTheir suggestion:

“Gray polishes seem to have become the new nude. This color is universally flattering and a chic way to change up your typical neutral. ”

From Gelish:

Clean Slate from the Fall 2014 Get Color-fall collection

gel-mt-sum-18-flamingofloat-c4-swatch
Image from Gelish

Their suggestion:”

“If you have been on the hunt for that poppy shade between red and orange…”

From Gelish:

Flamingo Float from the 2017 Summer Make a Splash collection

And there you have it! It was very hard to pick just ten colors from Gelish to fulfill these suggestions.  I’m sure these would make a great starting point for anyone… I just need more polish than that in my life!

(I don’t represent Gelish in any way… I just have a lot of Gelish colors and love recommending them to people looking to add more color their life!)

Everyday Nail Art #4: Crackle Polish

S&M 17 March 2019

Contains an affiliate link.

For my recent manicure I brought back the crackle trend to combine it with gel polish from Gelish.  I used China Glaze Crackle Glaze in Cracked Medallion, thinking it would look nice with Gelish Gardenia My Heart. The final look is pretty cool, but I think a bigger difference in the base color and the crackle color would have been more eye-catching.

Either way this design is easy to do on a gel base.  After applying and curing all my color layers and top coat, I buffed the nail I wanted to put the crackle polish on. Then I applied a traditional polish base coat. After it dried, I proceeded with the crackle polish as usual.  After that had dried for a few minutes, I used a traditional polish top coat, but you could also use another layer of gel top coat.

 

Success with Sally Hansen Hard As Nails

S&M Sally Hansen Hard as NailsI’ve been wearing Sally Hansen Hard As Nails (I’ll call it HAN for short) Hardener for over a week now, and I’m ready to share some thoughts on the product.

Overall, this product gets two thumbs up from me because it does what it promises, quickly, easily and inexpensively. Here are the details:

  • As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s easy to find in grocery, department, or drug stores, and very affordable.
  • You apply and remove it just like traditional nail polish – easy!
  • You get the choice of clear or pink-tinted (you probably won’t notice the pink once it’s applied).
  • You can use multiple coats. The first two times I used it I applied two, and the third time I went with three. It’s also suggested that you apply on the underside of the natural nail, if your free edge is long enough.
  • Your nails will probably feel a little stronger, especially if you already have strong, easy-to-grow nails.

I recommend this product for home use if you…

  • are in the process of growing out your natural nails.
  • are opposed to the use of enhancement products such as acrylic or gel.
  • would like a strengthening base coat without a thick or unnatural-feeling enhancement.

I don’t recommend this product…

  • if you prefer long nails. HAN likely won’t be enough protection for longer natural nails. My free edges are about 3/16″ long and, at this length, I would prefer to have more protection against breakage than this product provides.
  • for use as a ridge-filler. You’ll need to purchase additional products for a smooth look under polish, as this product does not fill ridges in the nail.
  • for professional use. There are professional products that will provide better, long-lasting result in a salon setting.
  • if you prefer a matte look.  HAN comes in two tints, but no matte option.  However, you can apply two or even three coats of this and buff the top layer for a flat, more natural finish.
  • as a top coat. It was intended for use alone or as a base coat, and may not protect the color coat or give the shine a top coat would.

Some things to know before you try this product:

  • It takes awhile to dry, just like traditional nail polish. It is not UV/LED cured.
  • This is a hardener, but only that. It won’t make your nail thicker or break-resistant like a gel or acrylic overlay.
  • I’ve tested HAN with Gelish on top and was pleasantly surprised to find that the Gelish lasted about 5 days before it began to peel at the tips.  If you want to try this, just apply two or three coats of HAN, allow to dry completely, and buff with a 100 grit file to remove shine so that the Gelish will be able to adhere to the nail.

yhst-88462588038071_2563_2240617376Just to be clear – Hard As Nails is an entire product line. The product I’ve tested is the Hardener; I can’t vouch for any other treatments available from Sally Hansen’s Hard As Nails line.

Have you tried this product? What did you think? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments!

Everyday Nail Art #3: Real Silver Glitter

S&M 24 by RGI A

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.

S&M 24 by RGI BThis 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!

 

Salon Manicure Choices – What’s the Difference? Some Final Thoughts

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.natural nail manicure product spectrum

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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.SM dip family

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!

Salon Manicure Choices – What’s the Difference? Dip Powder Manicure

There are so many fantastic 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. In this post we continue this series on selecting the perfect natural nail manicure system for your lifestyle, examining the latest trend in manicures: the dip powder manicure.

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I love (sarcasm) how people think this is a new thing, when I’ve been doing dip acrylic manicures on my own nails since I was a teenager in the late 90’s. It’s not a new technology, but a revived product, much as gels were in the early 2000’s. And please, please don’t call them “SNS nails”! That’s genericization like “Band-Aid” or “Kleenex” or “Shellac” nails, and all the great brands of dip systems on the market deserve better.

Pet peeves aside, this is one of my favorite techniques. After applying a prep or primer to the natural nail, the tech applies a cyanoacrylate-based resin base coat, then dips the nail into the extra fine acrylic powder. This process is process is repeated once or twice more, then an activator may be used before applying the cyanoacrylate-based top coat. The results:

  • Less filing than traditional acrylic application
  • Thinner than traditional acrylic application
  • Lighter than traditional acrylic application, similar to gels
  • More natural-looking than traditional acrylic application, like gel overlays
  • Stronger than gels, though they are not a flexible
  • Less odor than traditional acrylic application
  • Durable
  • Soak-off like traditional acrylics, though typically faster

And, with dip systems you have options:

  • May be combined with fiberglass nail wraps
  • Easy to repair split or broken nails
  • Polish is optional with colored powders
  • You can use multiple colors of powder for long-lasting nail art

Some things to consider, though:

  • This is not a gel system, and don’t let anyone tell you it is. These systems are straight-up glue and powder. No lamp necessary.
  • Ads might say these last four to six weeks but, trust me, you won’t like the look of your grown out enhancements after two or three weeks.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you this is a natural or chemical-free manicure. While the ingredients aren’t likely to cause an allergic reaction, they do involve chemicals!
  • It’s been said that it’s not sanitary to dip multiple clients in the same powder. I find it very hard to believe that any infectious organisms are going to live for very long in dip powder (as it cannot in nail polish).  However, the pour or sprinkle techniques are the safest for everyone.

Most people I know personally that have worn dip powder nails love and recommend them as much as I do. Dip nails are a great alternative to gel polish. Ready to try for yourself?

Some professional brands to find at the salon are:

  • Gelish Dip – (My personal favorite.) You can choose from 120 colors and counting, S&M naked nails week 6and they match the Gelish gel polish and Morgan Taylor traditional nail polish colors, to cover all your options for manis and pedis!

Some easy-to-find beauty store brands are:

  • Kiara Sky Dip System – With over 140 powder colors, this system is very popular among DIYers and nail bloggers.
  • ASP Quick Dip – 24 lovely colors in this easy-to-use system sold at Sally Beauty.

Second only to gel polish, this is one of my favorite nail products.  What about you? Leave a comment below! Is this your favorite natural nail manicure product?

Wrapped In Satin

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:

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Gelish Forever Fabulous swatches!!

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:

  • Batting My Lashes – deep mahogany crème
  • Wish Upon a Starlet – red shimmer
  • I Prefer Millionaires – copper plum pearl
  • Ice or No Dice – gold glitter
  • A Kiss from Marilyn – bright red crème
  • She’s a Natural – soft nude crème
  • The Camera Loves Me – burgundy crème
  • Blue-Eyed Beauty – baby blue crème
  • Some Like It Red – bright red glitter
  • Diamonds Are My BFF – fine silver glitter
  • Hollywood’s Sweetheart – rosy pink crème
  • Wrapped In Satin – snowy blue shimmer

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