Thursday, 13 February 2014

Pieces of My Heart

This year I am going all out for Valentine's Day! The next mani in the series is a freehand mosaic one I chose to call Pieces of My Heart due to general lack of creativity.

Mosaic nail art is not something new, but I hadn't done it before. I always thought it would be a bit of a pain but it was actually much easier than I had anticipated. I kept the colour scheme simple, going for creme greys and purples (which I happen to have quite a lot of). Maybe I should have gone for a more contrasting palette to get the heart to stand out more, but I often go for the more understated approach and this was no exception. Plus, I have been trying to stay away from the reds and pinks which are so often seen around Valentine's Day!

The greys are: Illamasqua DWS, Mavala New York, Orly Decoded, Make MyDay Mia and Essie Maximillian Strasse Her.

The purples are: Illamasqua Jo'Mina, NOPI I'm A Belieber, OPI Planks A Lot, Make MyDay Angelica and Sinful Colors Sweet Tooth.

I traced everything with OPI Black Onyx and a fine nail art brush.

I drew the shape of the heart first in black, then I used a dotting tool to add circles of purple within the heart and grey outside. I used the nail art brush to "grout" them afterwards. On the other nails I didn't even bother with the dotting tool and just added shapes using the polishes' own brushes. Mine is not a mosaic you would find in a museum so I went for the organic approach.

I sealed everything with Nails Inc Albert Bridge top coat. I am usually in a hurry to use my hands again and rush it a little, which you can see on the photos.

I really liked this nail art and will definitely be trying it again with different colours and designs. Have you ever tried a mosaic mani?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Love Birds: Fake Tattoos Review

Press Sample

Continuing with the love theme, today's mani features something I am trying for the first time: nail tattoos!

Hailing from Sweden, Fake Tattoos is the European leader in temporary tattoos. Their very high quality, non-toxic and hypoallergenic tattoos come in many designs and are super easy to use. I received the Bird and Arty designs, which was lucky because they were the ones I had my eye on. Each of these packs retails at £3.80 and they have between 72 and 80 images. They can also be used on skin of course.

I remember using temporary tattoos as a child and more recently on my daughter. Application on nails is no different: you start with a clean surface, cut out the desired image, remove the plastic cover and apply the image onto the nail. Then you press a wet cotton disc against it and hold it in place for about 30 seconds. The backing paper is easily removed when the image has transferred onto the nail. Full instructions are below:

I would recommend handling the tattoos with tweezers, as they are pretty small and can be fiddly. These tattoos come off with water, so if you make any mistakes when placing them on your nail or are not happy with the results, you can start over after a quick wipe. However, it is vital that you seal the design with top coat once you are satisfied and it is completely dry.

For my Love Bids mani I used China Glaze For Audrey as a base. Once my nails were dry, I placed the bird tattoos on my nails, following the instructions provided. I then created a stamping decal using the MoYou London Suki 01 plate to add the branches and cherry blossoms.

The remaining nails have different bird images placed on top of white stamping.

I was really pleased with the results. One of my Twitter friends said my nails looked like china and I can see why! Using the nail tattoos was fun and simple and I love combining different techniques like I did for this mani.

If you want to learn more about Fake Tattoos, find out about VIP discounts and order some of their products (they ship worldwide!), please visit them on Facebook or Twitter.

Friday, 7 February 2014

A Lot Like Love

I wanted to combine a couple of techniques I hadn't seen together before (maybe for a good reason, I'll let you be the judge of that!) for the next mani in the Valentine's Day series: a retro element in the shape of water marbling (out of sheer stubbornness!) and the very current negative space.

I used Kiko polishes for this look. Have I ever mentioned that Kiko is great value for money? All of these were under £3 and the formula is pretty good, as is the brush. The water marble features 316 (violet), 389 (mint) and 338 (lavender) and for the outlines I used 433, a lovely duochrome.

I painted my nails with base coat and then cut a heart out of magic Scotch tape and placed it on my nail. For the letters I used striping tape to create the shapes. Then I taped all my fingers in preparation for the water marble.

When I was done dipping my fingers in the water, I removed all the tape and, using a very fine nail art brush, framed the heart and the shapes of the letters with a much darker polish, as they were getting a little lost amongst all the shapes and colours. I finished it with two coats of top coat, for extra shine and protection.

I may have inhaled a lot of acetone and nail polish fumes or something, because when I looked at my nails after I'd finished this mani, I immediately thought: "This mani is a lot like love!"

Why, you wonder?

Much like a water marble - and in the words of Mariah Carey - love takes time. Some people are lucky enough to get it right first time but for most of us it takes practice and patience. Love can be irregular, no two types of love or relationships are the same. Even if you follow someone else's tutorial, your results will still be different. It can be messy, sometimes you need to accept it's not as perfect as you wish and compromise. It can have the odd negative space... But on the upside, love is FUN, colourful, bright and unique. And a teeny weeny bit cheesy!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Shibuya Love

Next in the Valentine's Day series is the mani I decided to call Shibuya Love.

Shibuya is a very busy commercial area in Tokyo. When I looked at the lines created by the water marble, it reminded me of the trail of lights the moving traffic in the city creates and also of the lovely colours of the sunset amongst all the tall buildings. The couple kissing and the Japanese symbol for love add to the scene.

The red amulet is for luck when finding love and I got it from Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto.

I chose some of my most favourite nail varnishes for this mani: Bridal Veil, Fated Prince, Sleeping Palace, Princess Tears and Ascalon, by a-England. The names might not paint a very happy Valentine's Day picture, but every time I use these polishes I fall in love with them all over again.

I decided to face my fears and give water marbling a go. I tried water marbles back in 2012 but it was the most frustrating nail-related experience ever. I hadn't had a go since but still love seeing them on other people's nails.

Water marbles take an awful lot of time and patience. Not all polishes work well, the water needs to be at the right temperature, etc etc... I will spare you a tutorial on a technique I have hardly tried, just watch My Simple Little Pleasures' videos for endless ideas and inspiration.

I stamped over Princess Tears using Bridal Veil, Sleeping Palace and Ascalon. The plates are from the  MoYou London Comic (05 for the couple kissing) and Suki (02 for love) collections.

I think this mani would have looked really stunning in the sunshine, which gives me a great excuse to try it again in the summer!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Young Love

Today's Valentine's mani idea was a great excuse to attempt different techniques. I called it Young Love because it's bright, colourful and not worried about what other people think of their PDAs!

The polishes I used are all by an Argentinian brand called Make MyDay. The lovely ladies at their nail salon in Rosario do the most fantastic nail art. They have been going for over 4 years and launched their own polish line a couple of years ago, which is especially formulated for nail art. I used Amelie (white), Jazmin (nude), Melania (mint), Karen (aqua) and Angelica (lilac).

I made a stamping decal of a kissing couple using the MoYou London Comic Collection 05 plate.

Decals can be tricky to make at first but I find that the key is to allow the nail varnish to dry between the stages. I posted a photo on Instagram of all the steps, which are:
  1. Clean stamping plate, scraper and stamper and select your design
  2. Cover the design with black stamping (or similar) polish
  3. Scrape excess off and pick up the design with your stamper
  4. Clean other designs (if any) from your stamper, using a toothpick or similar
  5. Once you have your selected design on the stamper, colour in the areas you want to, using a fine nail art brush
  6. Allow it to dry - I can't stress how important this is!
  7. Do a second coat on the coloured details 
  8. Allow it to dry completely
  9. Cover the design and a larger area around it with top coat
  10. Allow it to dry completely 
  11. I normally repeat 9 & 10 (if I did the first layer of top coat from top to bottom, I do the second one from left to right for added strength)
  12. Once the decal is dry, very carefully lift it from the stamper
  13. Paint the chosen nail with top coat and apply the decal while the top coat on the nail is still wet, ensuring that you carefully stick it down in place, especially around the edges of the nail and cuticle area.
  14. Allow it to dry (if you are using Konad stamping polish your top coat will probably make the design bleed and it will ruin all your hard work - drying time is essential!)
  15. Seal with two layers of top coat
Yep, that's a lot of steps! I have made up to three at the same time using different stampers. The first time I had a go it was a complete mess because I rushed it, you need to be patient and keep trying. (Now you can see why I can live with the bubbles my top coat kindly added to it!)

For the hearts I followed the Pierced Hearts tutorial on the Nail Candy book. I didn't find it was as easy as it looked,  but maybe it's just me!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Delft Love

I have been working on a series of nail art posts inspired by the most wonderful feeling of all: LOVE!

I am hoping to share these with you over the next few days to give you ideas for your Valentine's Day mani.

The first look I attempted was a freehand Delft design.

I used the China Girl tutorial from Nail Candy book by the lovely Geer sisters at Hey, Nice Nails! and a couple design I saw on an Etsy item:

The other nails were inspired by the tulip on the same picture as the couple and some random hearts and dots.

I used Make MyDay Amelie as the base and Orly shockwave with a small nail art brush and dotting tools for the details.

I really enjoyed doing this, I always find nail art therapeutic. I liked the results so much I kept it on my nails for a day! Fragile and blue, shiny and sweet.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Giveaway Winner

Drum roll please... And the winner is:

Rachel from London!

Thanks again to all the participants -  I hope I can do another giveaway soon! xx

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Giveaway Update

Hi lovely ladies! 

My giveaway is now closed, thank you so much to all the participants for taking the time to enter it! 

The winner has been contacted by email, so make sure you check your junk mail too.

Cecilia x

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Review: Mavala STOP

There is no easy way of saying this: nail biting is a nasty habit. I spent many, many years with my fingers in my mouth and know it's unhygienic and generally bad for your nails (and teeth). In my early teens I was simply embarrassed to show my hands! So when I realised my daughter (four) started biting her nails, I wanted to help her break it while it's still early days.

I read some decent reviews and decided to give Mavala STOP a go. It's formulated to work on children as young as three and it helps prevent thumb sucking too.

The idea is simple: a clear, fast drying nail varnish which looks harmless but tastes bitter when in contact with saliva. It's not advised for children under three as their taste buds are not fully developed and it might not have the desired effect, and you have to be very careful not to use your hands to eat soon after applying it. 

You use it every two nights and it doesn't take too long for you to notice an improvement. It says it might weaken your nails, you can see below my little girl's longer but slightly peeled nails after a few days' use.

My daughter needed a week or so. It was a painful period but it worked: she hated it so much she cried when I painted her nails (naughty mummy!) but it was one of those moments when you think you are doing the best for your children. It also helped break her very unattractive nose-picking habit, which is a bonus.

I was impressed, now I want everyone to try it. I want my colleagues and relatives to see whether it works for them too, but I am keeping this tiny bottle handy just in case my daughter needs it again!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Nail Art: Stamping and Framing

I just wanted to share this mani with you because I am really happy with it.

I have been experimenting quite a bit with my MoYou London stamping plates and am gaining experience in the matter, and despite being far from an expert, I like trying new ideas.

I fancied stamping directly over the base coat for a see-through effect, but since my nails are fairly big and I haven't got the XL version of this plate (Suki Collection 04), I decided to add a little frame around the design.

I went for a very graphic pattern, which looks as a flower but also tiles. The overall look is a lot like fishnet tights or lace: some described it as sexy and I can see why.

Being so simple and monochrome, I used Deborah Lippmann On A Clear Day topcoat (and drying drops to speed up the process) to ensure it was super glossy.

I like this so much I am already thinking of different patterns and colour variations. What do you think?

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Original Nail Art: Princess Celestia - My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic

I am a little late with this post! I intended to share this mani with you yesterday but being a mum of two is a full-time job.

My 4-year-old daughter is a massive My Little Pony fan, so I thought it would be fun to do some freehand nail art inspired by one of the characters.

My inspiration: Princess Celestia

Princess Celestia is one of the co-rulers of Equestria, the land where the ponies live. She uses her unicorn powers to raise the sun at dawn, while her younger sister Princess Luna is responsible for bringing out the moon to begin the night.

I used a white base for all nails and saved a couple of images to my phone to use as reference.

Seven out of 10 nails are simple gradients, using brighter versions of the colours in her mane, and topped with a little holographic glitter. Then I focused on her horn and crown; eye (you normally see one eye while the other one is covered by her long mane); and cutie mark (the sun).

I added a bit of holographic glitter in the white areas as you can see on the photos above.

I really enjoyed doing this mani, it had been a while since I'd taken the time to do something as elaborate and it was super sweet. My daughter loved it!