Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ladybird Inspired Nail Art

Easy ladybird inspired nail art by @chalkboardnails

I remember when I was a kid, one of my favorite times of the year was when we released ladybugs into the garden during Sunday School. They had boxes of ladybugs for us, and we got to set them free into the garden to help manage the pests. They'd crawl all over us, and we'd run around looking for where they'd landed in the dirt. Their bright red backs always stood out against the dark soil.

Easy ladybird inspired nail art by @chalkboardnails

I think that butter LONDON has nailed that bright, vibrant red-orange ladybug color for this lacquer, fittingly named Ladybird. I applied two coats for the base - the formula is smooth and even. It has that sort of squishy feel to it, without showing any nail line.

Then, I added some black spots in various sizes to take the ladybug look even further! Try using a pencil eraser to "stamp" on the largest spots, and a dual ended dotting tool for the other sizes.

Easy ladybird inspired nail art by @chalkboardnails

Ladybird is available through butter LONDON & Amazon. And PS, if you really like the color, check out their Ladybird LIPPY Lip Crayon!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Vintage Striped Wallpaper with China Glaze Desert Escape

Easy vintage wallpaper nail art by @chalkboardnails
Have you guys checked out the China Glaze Desert Escape collection yet? I really dig the color makeup of it. There's something for everyone, you know? You've got a neutral, a metallic, a squishy red, a girly pink, a funky turquoise, and a silky magenta.

I reached for four of the six shades from the collection to put together this easy nail art. I think it's kind of charmingly vintage, yeah? Like, maybe you'd see it in your grandma's bathroom, and she's had it like that since the 1960s.

And gueI think just about anyone could pull this off. All you need to be able to do are vertical stripes (the easiest of all the stripes) and dots!

Easy vintage wallpaper nail art by @chalkboardnails

The shades I used are:
China Glaze What's She Dune? (nude)
China Glaze Don't Mesa With My Heart (pink)
China Glaze The Heat Is On (red)
China Glaze Meet Me In the Mirage (rose gold)
  1. Begin by applying a base of the nude. 
  2. Use a nail art brush to paint on a wide stripe of rose gold down the middle of your nail. 
  3. Stack a medium red stripe on top of the rose gold stripe.
  4. Stack a thin pink stripe down the middle of the red stripe, then add two sets of two thin pink stripes at the edges of each nail.
  5. Add red and pink dots in pairs of two in the open spaces.

Easy vintage wallpaper nail art by @chalkboardnails

Unlike China Glaze collections you may be used to, the Desert Escape collection is only available on Each shade retails for $7.50. Have you picked up any? Do you have plans to?

Friday, June 19, 2015

What's green, glittered, and glowing all over?

Glowing patterned gel nails by @chalkboardnails

I had a lot of fun with this manicure. I was heading off to Las Vegas the next day and needed to do a new and fun gel manicure. I kept adding elements and piecing together and making up patterns and eventually I ended up with this glowing, patterned, glittered combo.

AND! I successfully replicated the pattern on my other hand, so hooray!

Glowing patterned gel nails by @chalkboardnails

As I said, these are gel nails, but they could easily be done with regular nail polish too! I'll list the products I used below but also recommend some close RNP equivalents.

Gelish Mini - Do You Harajuku? // OPI - That's Hula-rious!
Akzentz - Lights Out Glow in the Dark Gel Topcoat // China Glaze - Ghoulish Glow
Akzentz - Gel Play in black // Formula X - Dark Matter
Rockstar glitter nail with Artiglio Odessa // Zoya - Storm

Glowing patterned gel nails by @chalkboardnails
Glowing patterned gel nails by @chalkboardnails

Working with the glow in the dark gel topcoat was really cool, because the glow got supercharged in the gel lamp as I cured it.

Unfortunately, it wasn't quite as heavy-hitting in the glow department during my regular life. I would catch it glowing sometimes at night, but it wasn't super remarkable unless I charged it.

Still, it's neat to have the option for glowing gels, and I was really happy with this manicure overall. The light green Gelish Mini shade is super delicate and youthful, and the Gel Play paint is awesome for handpainted nail art.

Glowing patterned gel nails by @chalkboardnails

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Nude and Mauve Ombre with Lacy Glitter

Ombre nails with lace glitter by @chalkboardnails

I recently received a package of some current Color Club shades. As I pulled the bottles out of the box, fate took control and lined up four of the shades from lightest to darkest. They looked gorgeous in an ombre together, and I had to oblige the universe's wishes.

Of course, I was still missing a fifth shade, and while I was searching for the perfect polish, I figured it couldn't hurt to add some glitter, either.

Ombre nails with lace glitter by @chalkboardnails

So, the four fated Color Clubs that I was destined to use are:
Color Club Blank Canvas (white)
Color Club Barely There (light tan)
Color Club Get a Mauve On It (mauve)
Color Club Midnight Mulberry (plum)

Then, I grabbed A England Elaine for the thumb, and added a layer of Sally Hansen Eyelet from the Luxe Lace line on all the nails. The glitter density was good, but I ended up with a lot of bubbles on the nails. Not sure what happened there.

Ombre nails with lace glitter by @chalkboardnails

I haven't done an ombre in a while, but I totally should wear them more often. They're really gorgeous and chic, especially in shades of nudes/neutrals like this. Big thanks to the universe and to Color Club for setting me up to hit one out of the ombre park (IMO)!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How To: Party Like a Rockstar (In Purple Glitter Gels)

Purple Rockstar Gel Nails by @chalkboardnails

Whether you call them glitter gels or rockstar nails, there's no denying that the smooth, glassy finish of this gel style is to die for. They're super easy to do -- all you need is your gel foundation and topcoat, plus a loose glitter of your choice.

Rockstars are fun, whether you're wearing them as a full manicure like this or using them as an accent to nail art. They have great staying power, and DAT SPARKLE! Read on to learn how to get this gel look for yourself.

Purple Rockstar Gel Nails by @chalkboardnails

I was taught this rockstar method in nail school. Some of the students there had previously learned different methods, so there are other ways to do these, but I think this process produces the best (and sparkliest) results.
  1. Prep your nails for a gel manicure. Push back your cuticles, remove any dead tissue from the nail plate, buff your nails, and cleanse with a nail cleanser solution and a lint free wipe.
  2. Apply your gel foundation/base, and cure in your LED or UV lamp. Curing time will depend on your lamp type and product of choice.
  3. Apply another coat of gel foundation. DON'T cure.
  4. Sprinkle loose glitter over the wet gel. I like to do this over a piece of paper or a small paper cup so I can put the extra glitter back into the jar afterwards. Lightly tap your nails to remove any excess glitter, but remember that the nails aren't cured yet!
  5. Pop your nails into the lamp and cure.
  6. Using a nylon brush or other stiff bristled brush, brush away any glitter that did not get cured into the base gel. You can be pretty vigorous with this, as most of the glitter should be cured onto the nail.
  7. Apply one coat of gel topcoat and cure.
  8. Cleanse the sticky layer off of your nails, and then use a fine grit buffer (240 or higher) to lightly buff the gritty glitter smooth. Cleanse off any dust that you generated.
  9. Finish with a final coat of topcoat to bring back the shine. Cure and remove the sticky layer.
I know it looks like a lot of steps, but rockstars are SO easy once you get the hang of it. 

Purple Rockstar Gel Nails by @chalkboardnails

Your options are endless when it comes to choosing a glitter to use. You don't need to use cosmetic grade or solvent resistant glitter, because it won't have a chance to bleed into the gel. At school, we used the Recollections glitter sets from Michaels (don't forget your coupon!). This manicure features Artiglio by Sarah Bland's "Heather" glitter

Just keep in mind that finer glitters usually produce better results (and they're easier to work with, too). 

Happy glittering!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Easiest Nail Art Ever: Sharpie Marbled Gel Nails

Sharpie watercolored gel nail art by @chalkboardnails

If you recently found yourself wondering, "Gee, what has Sarah been wearing on her nails for the past two weeks?" then you're in luck! I have been wearing this Sharpie marbled gel manicure into the ground.

Sean was even like, "Whoa, those are really grown out. When are you gonna change that?" When I finally took them off on Monday, I sent a snap to my sister and she replied "FINALLY!"

So yeah, I got the point, people. It was time for them to go.

Sharpie watercolored gel nail art by @chalkboardnails

Sharpie marbles are ALL the rage right now. Everyone at my nail school was crazy for them! I've seen a bunch of tutorials for this look, but the one that I used was by Celina Ryden.

Honestly, these were SO easy you guys. You should go check out the tutorial, but here's the basic gist:
  1. Perform a gel polish manicure like you normally would, including prep, base coat, and color coat. Stop before you apply top gel.
  2. Use alcohol and a lint free wipe to remove the tacky layer from your color gel. Celina's instructions recommend a buffed nail, but I found that to be enough.
  3. Working one color at a time, doodle small marks on your nails with a Sharpie.
  4. Dab a small brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol on top of your doodles to spread out the ink.
  5. Repeat with as many colors as you want!
  6. Finish with top gel, cure, and remove the tacky layer.
One tricky thing that I ran into was that, sometimes, the Sharpie/alcohol mix would run into my cuticles before it could evaporate, leaving them blue and icky. I ended up fixing that problem by ignoring it until the end (after curing the top gel), and then cleansing the tacky layer with acetone. It removed the Sharpie residue from my cuticles completely without damaging the cured gel. Of course, this method will only work with gels.

Sharpie watercolored gel nail art by @chalkboardnails

I used Presto SC-32 as my base color, which is basically my favorite gel ever, as it looks just like OPI My Vampire is Buff. I was also a bad girl and combined it with my Gelish Foundation and Top It Off, because I like the system so much. They lasted me a good 2 weeks (plus an extra 2 days, at that)!

Sharpie watercolored gel nail art by @chalkboardnails

Have you given into the Sharpie trend yet?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Black and White, Post-Apocalypse

Black and white nails by @chalkboardnails

You may or may not know this about me: I'm obsessed with CND's work at Fashion Week. For this look, I was inspired by their nail artistry for The Blonds F/W 2015 show. The theme was the ultimate contrast between utopian and dystopian, with post-apocalyptic elements and all the amazing drama we've come to expect. If you're at all interested in high fashion nail art, I highly recommend you check out the CND lookbook for the show.

Black and white nails by @chalkboardnails

Some of the elements in their nail design focused in on black and white, and I wanted to do the same. I ended up with a manicure that felt somewhat abstracted, sort of tribal, very contrasted.

I used CND VINYLUX Weekly Polish in Black Pool and Cream Puff for my interpretation, and while I tried my best to channel the "hopeful apocalypse" look, I think I need a bit more practice with the theme!

Black and white nails by @chalkboardnails

Black and white nails by @chalkboardnails

Do you keep up with Fashion Week comings and goings? I know I'm a bit late, timing wise, with this one, but I just couldn't let it pass.