Gelish The Color of Petals live swatches

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My swatch video for the new Gelish spring 2019 collection The Color of Petals – released today – is up on the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel. If you like seeing real-time swatches before you purchase a color, be sure reference this video.


Spoiler alert: These are all gorgeous neutral polishes that would be great to add to your collection. Only one of them is a shimmer, and the other five are cremes. They’re perfect for work, spring weddings, dances, picnics, first dates, and everything in between.

You really can’t go wrong with a good neutral polish, and several of these fit the bill.  They’d be great for someone looking for a few solid muted colors, to keep on hand during the whole year.

I also received my order very quickly – about 5 days, which is awesome for free shipping.  These cost less than $5 for 50, so you’re looking at 10 cents each.The swatch sticks that I reference in the video are from natural color swatch sticks (available from eBay). I’ve received some questions lately about them, and promised I’d post the link. There’s no prep needed with these, if you don’t want to… I used to buff them and use base coat, but found that it’s not necessary. Now I just go straight away to the first color coat.

Have you already picked up any of these lovely spring colors? Let me know in the comments!

Protecting your hands… and your clients’!

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This post 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 mediate 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.

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.

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.

S&M pink comparisonThe 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 eBay 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 Just for You collection live swatches now available!


S&M Just For You 3 collection bottlesThese colors are actually a couple years old but I was only just able to find them for sale to/in the U.S. Here’s the collection I think is called Just for You 3, but I’ve also seen it referred to as the Secrets collection. (More info on that soon!) Regardless, these beautiful colors were new-to-me, and I had to have them:

S&M collection swatches

Though there’s a chill in the morning air to remind us that fall is coming, I’m not quite ready to give up on summer, and I’m currently wearing Sun Kissed Bliss and A Tribe Called Cool from this collection.  Check out my post on that nail art coming soon!

If you prefer to see “live” swatches for this collection, please check out the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel. And leave a comment letting us know if you’ve bought these, and which is your favorite!

video thumbnail swatches just for you 3

Gelish Holiday 2017 Collection Swatches

Little Miss Nutcracker

Here are swatches from the new Gelish Holiday Collection for 2017, called Little Miss Nutcracker.
S&M 2 November 2017 A

If you’d like to see these colors swatched live, please head over to the Smoke and Mirrors YouTube channel  for the swatching video!

Rocking My Stocking


This is Gelish Rocking My Stocking, of course, from the Wrapped In Glamour collection. I used a light gray from Apple Barrel Paints to hand paint the stripes and dots.

As usual, I loved this Gelish collection when I bought it, and love it even more now that I’ve experimented with the colors. Just a beautiful collection, and it holds up even past the holidays… I can totally see a client requesting this color for Valentine’s Day.

How I organize my nail supplies – Part 2

In this post I would like to discuss how I organize all my supplies in the nail space at my home, and how my system enables me to quickly gather and easily transport the items I need a the salon.

As you saw in Part 1 of this series, I have quite a few nail supplies that I work with on a regular basis.  To organize all that gel polish I bought quite a few photo boxes from one of our local craft stores, Michael’s.

pib1b The ones I bought are sturdy cardboard covered in black paper, and so far they’ve held up quite nicely for several years. They were probably only a couple dollars each, on sale or with a coupon. You can find them in various patterns to match your decor.

When storing gel polish it’s very important to keep UV light away from the bottles.  If not, the gel will start to cure over time in the bottle. These boxes are opaque and work very well for this purpose. I organize my Gelish by color family and each gets its own box, or some share, as needed. For instance, colors like red, purple and pink each get their own box, whereas colors like green and blue or brown and orange might share a box because there are fewer shades of each.  Each box has its own label and, if a box gets too full, I can just split up the colors when necessary.

Inside each box is a metal ring with a swatch stick for every color that goes in that box.  I ordered my metal binder rings and my swatch sticks from, and they are the Uxcell 2/2″ metal binder rings and Jovana brand white plastic swatch sticks. With a fine point permanent marker I label each stick with the Gelish Item # and the name, and paint 2-3 coats of that color plus top coat before adding it to the binder ring.

Each color also gets swatched on one nail of a natural color swatch wheel, which I also bought from The swatch wheel is labeled with the name  of the color next to its nail (I use a label maker on the smallest font setting for this purpose.) The purpose of having two sets of swatches is so that I can leave the swatch sticks in each box, while I carry the swatch wheels with me to appointments.  And since clients don’t care about the item #, I don’t put that information on the swatch wheel.

The downside to carrying the swatch wheels with me is that, over time, they take a lot of wear and tear from transportation and various people handling them. Some of the colors have also become faded over time and are no longer true representations.  I expect that eventually I’ll need to re-do a wheel or two.

I store my boxes of polish on the shelves in my nail room. This way they’re easily accessibly but our of the way.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I have many seasonal colors that I keep out and ready to go to the salon. Those colors plus the essentials like base and top coat, some pinks and reds and neutrals, I keep in a rolling “trolley” cart that I bought from our local salon supply store, Cosmoprof.

sbs-875710 This cart is Modern Elements brand, and is fairly well-made considering the price point. For me it serves a dual purpose because it also holds all the supplies I need to do my nails at home, which means I can move it from room to room as needed.

Before I head out to the salon, I grab the polishes from the top tray of this cart and put them in a container to go to the salon. For me this works nicely because they’re in the cart if I need them when I’m not at the salon, but they’re also ready to go to the salon quickly.

In part three of this series I’ll discuss a some of the issues I’ve found in working with gel polish for 5+ years, for myself and my clients.


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