Nail Mail: Harry Potter Plates & Born Pretty

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These wonderful Harry Potter nail stamping plates arrived in the mail this week from Fast Tech – I can’t wait to do a mani with them! Which house shall I be in first? Time for a total geek out session.
I’m having a hard time choosing exactly what to do on my nails this week as I also received a second nail mail package, this time from Born Pretty Store containing a whole load of foils among other items.

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As you can see I am literally spoiled for choice! I ordered both of these packages a few weeks ago and have been patiently awaiting their arrival from China/Singapore. I’m particularly in love with the little ring palette for free hand painting – it’s in the shape of a dog paw print!
Whatever I come up with I’ll be sure to  post it up and show you and let you know how well the items work out.

#NOTD ‘If The Slipper Fits…’

If The Slipper Fits

I got a bit of a sale bargain at Sally’s so that’s what I’ve been wearing on my nails this weekend, the polish is ‘If The Slipper Fits’ from Morgan Taylor which was from their Cinderella collection. If you hurry you might be able to get one of the last few bottles but as this was a limited edition once it’s gone it’s gone!

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And here it is again with more light so you can see just how sparkly it is! The flash created heaps of shadows behind me but really brought out that glitter.

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Don’t forget you can now follow my blog over on Bloglovin’! 

Mini Tutorial: Priming Nail Stampers

Nail Stamper Priming

Today I thought I would share with you a post about priming nail stampers. When I first discovered stamping my images were very hit and miss, sometimes an image would work and sometimes it wouldn’t. Sometimes an image would be missing chunks or the details just wouldn’t be quite right. So after threatening to chuck it all in the bin I tried some new stampers!
First I got the Creative Stamper from Rainbow Connection and then a double ended stamper from MoYou London. The creative stamper was an improvement straight away, suddenly I could pick up an image with some reliability! The MoYou stamper, however, didn’t pick up anything at all which left me somewhat confused. I mean, they wouldn’t sell me something that didn’t work, would they?
So after a bit of asking about on nail groups and such I had been instructed how to prime that stamper and make it work for me! And now I’m going to share that technique here.

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So what do we need? We need our stamper to be primed, a plate, some stamping polish, a scraper and a very fine grade nail buffer (I’m using a two sided one from Leighton Denny which is very smooth to the touch), isopropyl alcohol or nail cleanser, masking tape and polish remover to clean the plate.

This only takes a few minutes and you’ll be glad you did it, even on a stamper that seems to be working well you can make an improvement as I did with the Creative Stamper above.
First make a reference print onto paper so you can see how much your stamper improves as you prime. Then, take the buffer and gently (I can’t stress this enough) pass it over the fr061_0500v1stamper head from the centre out and working in a circular motion around the whole head of the stamper. Once you’ve covered the whole stamper head it’s time to test it. Give it a quick wipe with isopropyl or nail cleanser (avoid nail polish remover as it can damage the stamper) and go ahead and make a print. You can compare this print to one you made prior to priming to see if you’re happy. Clean any excess polish left on the stamper head off with masking tape. If you think more improvement can be made simply do another round with the buffer, clean and make another print.

24295067746_f0e669cb82_z.jpgHere are my prints with the MoYou stamper. As you can see at first it picked up nothing, there was literally nothing even on the stamper head to make it to the paper! Once round with the buffer produced the centre print and twice round produced the print on the right which is much clearer and more filled in.

This gave me the confidence to go ahead and prime my creative stamper too to see if I could improve the images it was producing and once around with the buffer improved it greatly which made me a very happy bunny.

I hope you can make use of this technique too, either to save a stamper you thought was rubbish, to improve a stamper or even to stop you from giving up on stamping altogether!
I’m reliably informed you can also use one of those ‘magic eraser sponges’ that are for cleaning to do the same job as the buffer did.

Extending the Life of Polish

Chipped Polish

chippedThere’s nothing worse than chipped nail polish. It’s embarrassing, it’s unprofessional looking at work and if you’ve spent hours doing intricate nail art it’s down right heart breaking. So how can we extend the life of our manicures and prevent chipping? I’ve collected a few tips over time and thought I would put them together into a blog post.

Before applying polish:

  • First ensure the nail plate is free of oils – some fragranced or ‘nourishing’ polish removers contain oils or glycerine that will prevent a fresh polish from adhering properly so do check the ingredients list. Wash your hands thoroughly with mild soap and water or clean the nails with a nail cleanser solution. White vinegar is a good household substitute for this if your remover is not a more ‘basic’ one.
  • Filing your nails into shape using the correct technique can help prevent nail breakage which will prolong the life of your manicure, check out my post on how to file your nails for a full explanation of filing.
  • If you want to push back your cuticles at home I suggest a hoof stick rather than an orange stick or other implement, the hoof stick is softer and you’re less likely to do yourself any damage. Never ever cut your cuticles! If your cuticles are a mess, see a manicurist.
  • Gently buff the nail with a 4-way or block buffer to remove the shine – this dries out the nail plate slightly which improves adhesion. Don’t be tempted to use a nail file instead of a buffer, it will take off too much.
  • Don’t shake the bottle of base/polish/top coat as this will form bubbles which will affect the look and life of the manicure. If the polish contains a mixing ball hold it by the lid and gently move the base in a circular motion. If there is no mixing ball rub it gently between your palms as if rolling a plasticine sausage.

Base Coat:

Don’t be tempted to skip on the base coat. Base coat protects your natural nails from staining and is designed to ‘grab’ onto the nail plate in a way that polish its self is not. Apply a second coat at the tips and don’t forget to seal the free edge (do this with every layer, as illustrated below.)

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Yes, I sacrificed a nail for you guys! The unsealed nail will likely chip or wear while the others will last much longer.

A good quality base coat is important. My favourites are Morgan Taylor’s ‘Stick With It’ and CND ‘Stickey Base Coat’.
Another brilliant idea I have to credit to a friend who plays wheelchair basket ball is using OPI ‘Nail Envy’ as a base and top coat. This has the added benefit of being good for your nails at the same time!
If you want to be really thorough, apply OPI ‘Bond Aid’ before your base coat.

Applying Colour:

  • When you apply your colour apply two thinner coats rather than one thick one. This is more effective and less likely to peel off.
  • Try to use as few brush strokes as possible on each nail, no more than three to cover the nail plate. The best technique is considered to be one stripe up the middle and then a stripe up each side of that to complete. Cap off/seal the free edge with polish as above.
  • Avoid getting any polish on the cuticles, the polish doesn’t adhere to the skin as well as it does to the nail plate so having the edge of your polish on the cuticle will cause lifting and peeling.
  • Leave the polish to dry properly before applying top coat. Polish takes longer to dry than either base or top, in fact to dry out completely it can take up to 24 hours! I’m not going to ask you to wait that long, but do try to wait a few minutes until the polish is firmly set and not merely ‘touch dry’. This will not only help the life of your manicure, it will also prevent you from accidentally ruining nail art with streaking or contaminating the clear top coat with bright colours.

Top Coat:

A good quality top coat can work wonders or if you have the time you can set a special gel top coat such as Ciaté Geltox over your normal polishes. For regular polish top coats I recommend Seche Vite or try out my friends tip and use the OPI ‘Nail Envy’ as both base and top coat. Again, don’t forget to cap off the tip!

After they’re done:

  • Wear gloves for household jobs such as washing up or cleaning, having your hands in and out of water a lot significantly shortens the life of polish.
  • Stop using your nails as tools! Using your nails as tools not only causes chipping and peeling but can actually damage your nails themselves causing problems such as onycholysis (nail separation).
  • You can apply another layer of topcoat every two to three days to help prevent chipping and re-enliven the shine. Even if you don’t cover the whole nail, do seal the tips.
  • Avoid hand sanitiser. Alcohol based hand sanitisers ruin top coat, they also dry out the skin on your hands. Wash using a mild hand soap instead and follow up with a good hand cream.
  • Regular application of a hand & nail cream or a nail oil will help keep your nails in good condition and prevent breaking and flaking and thus prolong the life of your polishes.
  • If the very tip of your polish does chip or wears off, fear not! Gently file the exposed nail down to the polish and seal in with a new layer of top coat OR simply add a contrasting French tip and seal that in. Ta dah – brand new mani!

I hope this list of tips helps you make the best of your polish, if you have any other tips do add them in the comments!

#NOTD Mermaid Nails

Mermaid Manicure

23648555753_9c8fda85b1_zIt’s the weekend so I can paint my nails, woohoo! This time I have used China Glaze polish in “Don’t Get Elfed Up” and mermaid decals from Born Pretty. I don’t often use decals for all of the nails like this as I feel it is a bit like cheating in a way but I really liked these ones sooo… I made an exception!

I’m off to go do my toes now, I’m a sucker for very bright colours on my toes. I think something with a bit of glitter this time will be right up my street.