Friday, January 3, 2014

Nailed it! or How I learned to stop worrying and love the nail polish.

I've fallen back in love with nail polish over the last few months and because I like a good completely random, non competitive, but heavily structured set of tasks (ask me about my 5k, 10k, and half marathon training sometime) I have decided to set up a Nail Art Challenge (see the Challenge page linked in top bar for all posts and updates) for myself.

I'm not looking to burn myself out or turn this into a nail polish blog, so I'm setting a two week timetable per theme for a total of twenty six designs over the next year. I typically change polish once a week so this should give me a good balance of inspiration and flexibility to do whatever I want (or even nothing) in between.

(Edit: I will also be following The Lacquer Legion Challenge on Facebook but I think they should work out well together).

I think I have a pretty good spread of challenges but I still need to pick a few and would love suggestions. I'll be posting the specific challenges soon and designs will be "due" every fortnight. Audience participation in any way would be TOTALLY STELLAR and links to your designs would be the subject of cross-posting and great affection.

Challenge pics will be posted here but if you want to see the in-between stuff have a look over there on the right at my Instagram feed!

Sadly uncredited (which feels like it should be metaphor for... something)

I've had an off-again on-again love affair with outrageous nail polish my whole life. Back in my day we didn't have it easy like the young kids do today! We had to walk uphill both ways in the snow for wild nail polish colours, and when it wasn't simply peeling off within an hour people called us weirdos for wearing it!

That's all true outside of the uphill in the snow part.
*looks outside at snowdrifts from Blizzard Hercules*
Most of the year anyway, but I actually have traversed a snowy hill or two in my day.

More about me and my nail-polish lovin' ways after the cut.

In my early teens I hoarded the seasonal Wet N Wild Fantasy Makers Halloween colours. I spent the year carefully rationing polish out of one bottle of black or glow in the dark, and layering or pairing them with stuff from my Mom's mundane polish collection to extend them and make new colours. I could do a tape mani like no-one's business - to the point that I am afraid now of even trying things I used to do regularly!

If you were really lucky your local convenience store would carry the GOOD STUFF like the dark blue, or purple, or Black Ice which is a nearly black green/plum duochrome. I still have a bottle of Black Ice that must be between fifteen and twenty years old and it looks shockingly viable.

Snow-days are an ideal time for any hot pink Muppet themed footie pajamas you may happen to own.
Just in case you weren't sure.
 I'm fidgety and my natural nails were oily and peeled easily, so even if I could make it more than fifteen minutes before un-salvageable smearing (rare) or distracting levels of bubbling (common), I'd immediately chip on some craft or household chore (guaranteed). I spent years in silk wraps, first getting them and later doing them myself, but I stopped wearing wraps after college because fussy beauty upkeep on top of a master's degree was just too much work and I didn't want to put myself in danger of fungal infections.

My toes hold polish well and I normally keep up with them, but I cannot abide wearing chipped up polish on my hands, so for about the last decade and a half I just stuck with natural nails. I'd try to do my nails about once a year, which was exactly often enough to remind me why I didn't ever do my nails.

I got an RCM Gel Polish Pro Kit two Christmases ago and got back into polishing a bit, but gel polish seemed like a lot of work to put on and remove compared to the previous *none*, so it took me a while to get into it. I'd do my nails every once in a while but they grow out fast. I'd get bored of the colour WAY faster than I expected, and removal was hard on my nails for a while. I will say however it did teach me to be a lot neater and more patient in my application process and looking up tutorials for better results got me looking into nail polishes again. 

Snow Leopard - December 2012
I eventually tripped over a Youtube tutorial from a poster named Lifeafter40isgood which discussed layering regular polish on top of gel polish. I thought that might be a good middle ground, so I started playing around with that technique in earnest a bit before Halloween. I got nearly four weeks worth of manicures over one base layer of gel polish with one "fill"  since you can fill gel at the cuticle much like the old style acrylics, and my nails grew beautifully in the meantime.

Malefiskittle - 22 October 2013
That's when I started getting into nail-polish in earnest and apparently there have been some serious changes in nail polish since the late 90s! I picked up a bottle of Seche Vite top coat and a rubberized base coat called CND Stickey and that has been pretty much it for bare nails. I can stay focused for long enough to paint my nails but once I'm done I need to be able to do something else quickly and Seche Vite is the first topcoat that has dried everything fast enough to let me get on with my day.

Orchid tape mani - 25 November 2013
When I did this vertical tape mani (inspired by this and this) I started prepping dinner within twenty minutes of doing the nude and went to bed about half an hour after finishing the orchid colour. I woke up with zero dings or sheet-marks. Seche Vite is known for shrinking around the edges because of its speedy dry time and I'm still poking at techniques to minimize that but overall I can work around the one big drawback for so much advantage.

It's also great for smoothing out uneven surfaces so I've started falling *hard* for dense glitter polishes which normally would annoy me with all the catchy-bumpiness. I'm pretty much losing all that gained time in the subsequent removal process, but I try not to think too hard about that when I'm putting it on.

Removing glitter polish makes me feel a bit like a villain in old school British Sci-Fi

Disclaimer: All listed products purchased by me (or in a few cases in this particular post gifted by my Mum) and all opinions based on personal experience of product's particular level (or lack) of awesomeness.

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