Monday, March 11, 2013

Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend

 Today's mani was a recreation/ode to this mani by A Diary of a Nail Polish Addict. I pinned it a while ago and my husband picked it off my Pinterest board Friday.

Funny story about these nails. I painted the white base on Friday night and managed to get the diamonds on my ring finger completed in time for my dinner date with the husband. Our 8 year dating anniversary was 4 days after Holden's passing, so we postponed our date to our 6 month wedding anniversary (if there is such a thing. lol). It was kind of fitting that the only nail I managed to finish was my left ring finger.

So Saturday afternoon I finished up my left hand. I stuck with the same color scheme, but varied the size of the diamonds to see what they looked like.

However, on my right hand, I went with a skittle look. I put the striping tape down on all of my nails and then painted them and removed the tape, 1 by 1. On my pinky, I thought it would be cool if I could use my nail foil instead of polish. I painted a layer of the foil glue over the tape, removed the tape, and finished 3 of my other nails. Once I put the foil over the nail, it only kept some of the lines. I'm not sure if the glue ran a little after I removed the tape or what happened. Oh well. I removed it completely and tried to do a gradient with 2 Orly polishes. Unfortunately, they were too thin to really show up and I had lost my patience. Ha, ha.
The thumb is the only nail to do a gradient look with 3 colors in the same family.

I think the blue and green one may be my favorite. What's yours?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Naked Nails Update

I'd like to thank those of you who commented on my Valentine's post about my precious furbaby, Holden, and my post in PAA on Facebook. Your kind words of sympathy and your personal stories about your own furbaby losses really did help me feel as though I wasn't alone.

Holden ended up passing away in his sleep on Thursday afternoon (EST) and I found out that night at about 11 pm (my time). We didn't get to Skype one last time so I could take in his adorable face for the last time, but it is a blessing that I no longer had to feel guilty that I wouldn't be there to hold him at the vet's office. All in all, he went in his own way on his own time. I've been handling it 1,000 times better than I ever imagined I would because I'm focusing on all of the wonderful memories and just how incredibly blessed I was to be his human. 

Thank you for your kind words from the bottom of my heart. On to the post...

I figured I'd include an updated photo on how my nails are doing being naked all day, (almost) every day...

I've been keeping them pretty short because of the flaking of the free edge. I also still have some of that uneven coloration on the free edge (some parts are solid, others are pretty clear). It's less obvious when the free edge is this short. I feel as though the yellow discoloration has grown out quite a bit, which is great.

I have also been religiously moisturizing my cuticles at least 2-3 times a day since the hiatus. for most of the last month I've been starting with the Develop 10 Cuticle Oil Conditioner and then going over it with the Lemony Flutter. I bought the D10 oil at Sally's about a year ago. I haven't really felt like it was benefiting me any and trying to apply it using this large bottle was just messy. Yesterday I purchased the p2 One Drop Fitness Oil and the Apricot Nail Care Pen. I appreciate the ease of application with the pen, but the oil seems a bit thin. The Fitness Oil, on the other hand, is a pump and one drop goes a long way. It's thicker, but still absorbs pretty well. I've been using the pen on my left hand and the pump on my right hand to see what difference each makes, but I finish both off with the Lemony Flutter. According to LoodieLoodieLoodie, it's wise to following an oil with a wax because the wax sort of traps the oil in.

Many people rave about Lemony Flutter, but I personally don't enjoy the smell or texture and I don't notice that it helps much. I only have 3 more days of naked nails left, but I may keep it going until all of the yellowing is gone. We will see. I'm itching to paint them, so I may not have the will power. Ha, ha. :)

Fastnacht 2013

One of the most interesting parts of living in Germany is experiencing Fastnacht. It goes by a couple other names depending on what region you're in, but in Mainz, it's Fastnacht. Because my husband didn't grow up in Germany, it's been difficult for me to get an exact explanation as to what Fastnacht celebrates. It's also confusing because the meaning behind the celebration has changed over time. Mainz is over 2,000 years old, so this isn't surprising. Currently, from my American observations, it's an excuse for people to dress up (like Americans do for Halloween), party for a week (like Mardi Gras) with lots of food and drink, have lots of parades (like Thanksgiving), and it coincides with Ash Wednesday. 

Last year we went to the largest Fastnacht parade in Germany and only managed to stay for 2 hours or the parade itself. We arrived early to get a good spot on the parade route. It was too cold and after 2 hours of floats and marching bands, we called it a day. The parade in Mainz lasts for several hours (I think about 5 or 6).

Because of how miserable it was to be out in such extreme cold around all of the drunk high school teenagers, this year we decided it'd be more fun to go to a masquerade ball in a neighboring town. My husband, mother-in-law, and myself were going to dress up as characters from the tv show NCIS, but my husband and I dropped the ball on getting outfits together. On the morning of the ball two weekends ago, my mother-in-law's outfit to be Abby, the Gothic forensic scientist, hadn't arrived, so we decided to scrap the idea of NCIS and used costumes they already had. My husband and I went as hippies and my mother-in-law's outfit ended up arriving later that afternoon. I wore jeans, a necklace, and headband I already had with the tie-dye shirt my mother-in-law loaned me. I also drew a peace sign with eye liner on my cheek while my husband wore a tie-dye shirt, faux leather fringed vest, sunglasses, and an afro.

We drank a lot of beer and danced to a lot of American pop songs, as well as traditional Fastnacht songs. All in all, it was a great night.

In honor of the event, I broke my hiatus (again, however, chronologically, this was the first time I broke it), to use these awesome tie-dye nail foils I received as part of my birthday club presents. 

Nail foils are really fun and can be super gorgeous. The big drawback is that they don't really last longer than an evening. If you're familiar with foils, then you know that they don't response well to topcoats, especially fast drying ones. I used my regular SV on these because I knew I'd be in a dark hall for the ball and they'd only be on for the night. 

Do you have any experience with nail foils? What are your tips for using them?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Saddest Valentine's Day

I didn't do any clean up with these nails. Honestly, I'm too depressed to care. My sister called me this afternoon to tell me that my precious dog is going to be put down tomorrow. Unless the vet has some hail Mary medicine that can cure his many symptoms, I will have to say goodbye from overseas. There are no words for how broken my heart is today and will be for the foreseeable future.

His name is Holden and he has been the absolute light of my life for the last 12 years. It will be unbearable to say goodbye and to visit my parents in 6 months without him greeting me.

Many people think it's torture for pets to be dressed up, but Holden always gets excited when he sees his dragon costume. :)

My little torpedo a few years ago after a particularly heavy snow.

He would go with me disc golfing, to game nights at friends' houses, we'd go on walks all the time. I taught him to walk next to me off the leash, as well as the normal tricks (sit, stay, beg, shake, etc.). He is so bright and loving.

I broke my hiatus to do the only thing that I could distract myself with: painting nails in honor of my Love and Valentine's day. Holden has always been my favorite Valentine.

Please send any good vibes you can spare my way. I hate that I won't be the last face he sees, but I keep sending him my thoughts and hope that I've given him the best life I can. I will miss you every day of the rest of my life, Holden. Thank you for all of your unconditional love and the laughs over the years.

Monday, February 4, 2013

White Stamping Polish Comparison

Even though I can't paint my actual nails, I thought I'd take the time to do a stamping test with the white polishes I own. Apparently I have 11! Who knew?!
If you haven't heard of practicing stamping on these flat-backed glass beads, they are really helpful. The ones I have are roughly 1 inch in diameter and I bought a bag of them at the Dollar Tree. I only bought 3 with me to Germany, so the rest are patiently awaiting my return to the US.

I painted a black rectangle and then used a silver glitter striper to mark off 4 quadrants. Using my most reliable Essence plate (4 full-nail animal print designs and a set of paw prints), my XL stamper and an old customer loyalty card for this comparison. I did a 2 coat base of OPI black (a mini from the 2011 Halloween collection), 1 layer of China Glaze Fast Forward topcoat, the stamping, and then another layer of topcoat.
Here are the 3 test beads together with flash.

In this photo, starting in the upper left and going around clockwise, I used Essence Stampy polish, OPI mini white from the 2011 Halloween set, China Glaze White on White, and Sally Hansen Insta-Dri in Whirlwind White. The black polish streaked through the Essence stamp a bit, but I would still declare it the overall winner, followed pretty closely by the Whirlwind White.

On the second bead, from the upper left going clockwise, I used MNY (Maybelline New York) French Manicure, Sally Hansen Maximum Growth Plus in Pure White Tip, Flormar M103, and Milani High Speed Fast Dry White on the Spot. For this test, I would say the Milani is the front runner  followed by the Sally Hansen. The Flormar did the worst. 

On the final bead, in the same order, I used Sinful Colors Snow Me White, Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear White On, and Sally Hansen Barely there Naturel White (part of a french tip kit). The Sinful Colors is a smidge better than the SH White on, but the Barely There was really barely there.


Overall, I would declare the Essence Stampy Polish the overall winner, with the Sinful Colors, Milani, and SH Insta-Dri tied for second. I'm sure this information isn't ground breaking if you're already deep into the world of stamping, but it was nice for me to spend an evening playing with polish even though I'm still on my hiatus. :)

In your experience, what is your best white polish for stamping?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Half Moon Stamping and a Hiatus

Hello again! I apologize for the absence. Between job hunting, researching doctoral programs, a 2-week stint in the US, studying for the GRE, and continuing studying German at home, I've been feeling pretty swamped.

Unfortunately, things haven't slowed down and now I have to take a self-imposed 4-week hiatus from painting my nails. I'll explain why at the bottom of this post.

This is an old mani. The base is Catrice Blues Brothers Vol. II with two coats of China Glaze Dorothy Who?  If you're on the fence about whether or not Dorothy Who? is worth buying, trust me, it is if you like blue. Like always, my pictures don't do it justice. 

I should have just left well enough alone, but I had this idea to do a half moon stamping mani. As you can see, the execution wasn't so great. I started with a light blue. Maybe if I had lined the half moon shape with the stamping color it would have looked better. I didn't bother trying. Ha, ha.

Since I didn't like how that looked, I decided to try multi-colored stamping on the other hand. It didn't go any better. :)

And now for the reason why I am taking a break from polish...

I'm embarrassed to be posting this, but these were my nails until three days ago. For roughly the last 6+ months, I've noticed some yellowing of my nails. I'd never had this happen before (other than the occasional staining from a lime green polish) and I originally thought it was from the Nail Tek II I was using. I switched to Nail Envy. The other day I also noticed that I had these weird solid white splotches on the free edge of every nail and I wasn't comfortable going without polish. I consulted my friend Bee over at Bee Polished since she's a nail tech. Her advice was to go naked for at least 4 weeks until this stuff had time to grow out. The clearer parts of the free edge are either too porous or too thin. I almost never buff, so I'm wondering if the Nail Evny usage went on too long.

So where do I go from here? The plan is to post some old manis until I can polish again and after the 4 weeks I will ditch the Nail Envy and use Essie Feed Me, Seche Clear, or China Glaze Strong Adhesion Basecoat. Feed Me is a nourisher, but these are all just regular bases and not strengtheners. Hopefully, I'll be back to having healthy nails again in a month's time.

Have you ever had these nail problems?