Thursday, October 31, 2013

Easy Tombstone Halloween Nail Art

Are you still looking for some last minute nail art for Halloween?  Well why not try some humorous Halloween Tombstone epitaphs on your nails?

Did you ever notice how technically, your nails are all ready shaped like mini tombstones?  Especially if you have square nails?  So all you have to do to begin painting your tombstones is grab some gray polish.

Unless you have some nice gray polish like NARS Storm Bird laying around, why not try mixing your own gray nail polish?  I picked up the recent release of Wet 'n Wild's Fantasy Makers Tombstone shaped polishes in Darkest Hour, the black creme of their collection.  For each bottle, I just dumped out at least half of the black polish to almost all of the black polish that was in the bottle, and then I poured in some white polish.  I used a nail wheel to swatch the color changes as I mixed the grays to make sure I had a light, medium, and dark gray, keeping in mind that the dark gray had to be light enough that text could be read on top of the color (so a color like NARS Galion may be too dark).

So, to begin, if you are using different gray lacquers, you can decide in which order you want to paint your nails - lightest to darkest, or any order of your choice.  Top with a quick dry top coat to speed up the drying process so you can move on to Step 2.  

Step 2 is where the nail art takes place.  For this easy nail art, I used Rub-on transfers.  The brand I bought was called Grafix Rub-Onz and comes in packs of 4 or more sheets.

To begin, with rub-on transfers, the way they work is that you will print your nail art on one side of a transfer sheet, and then you use a self-adhesive sticky sheet to separate the ink from the original sheet.  Keeping this in mind, with words you need to print them mirrored, so you will need to have some type of photo-editing software such as Photoshop.  I used Adobe InDesign to first create the epitaphs, and then flip each of them to their reverse image.  Also be aware, in the image below you can see that the writing is on a light gray background.  The reason for that is because when you transfer the image and then have it separate to rub it onto your nail, the ink separates from the background, so if you don't have a single background color your text is on, each of the letters will separate and you will have a separate nail transfer for each letter.  Note: that is not a good thing to have when the font is smaller than 12pt font to fit onto the nail bed.  And because the nail transfers are going on a gray background, the gray used on the nail transfers becomes less obvious.

Below you can see what it looks like when you separate the nail transfers and begin to cut them out.  For this brand of transfers, you need to cut on the boarder of the color (another reason for having a gray square background for the text), so that the image becomes separated from the original transfer material.  This step does not make much sense in words, but this transfer package I bought - as most of them do - comes with step-by-step instructions that you can follow that will explain each part of the process.

And now for Step 3 you are transferring your rub-on nail art onto the nails.  This step may take some practice.  If it helps, print out an extra set of transfers and try them on paper first to get a feel for how these transfer.  The backing of each transfer is hard thick velum, so it does not bend and conform to the shape of the nail that easily.  This makes it difficult to firmly press down and connect the transfer to the nail, but on the other hand, it also makes it easier to see at the corners of the transfer whether or not the nail art has transferred on to the nail.  The easiest way to tell this step is working, is that like a temporary tattoo, the image on the transfer becomes lighter as you rub it and it sticks to the opposing surface (of your nail), so if you see light patches on your transfer, that means it's working, and you may be able to peel away the transfer from the backing without having to keep trying to rub it off the paper.

The step above may take a little time, but if you go slowly and patiently, you'll eventually have the beginnings of your tombstones.  Now that you've utilized your transfers, you need to seal them in with top coat.  There is no dry time to wait for, so just start painting on the clear polish.

And the final step to making your tombstones look like they're made of stone?  Cover them with a matte top coat!  I chose Wax That… by Cult Nails because I was looking for that satin finish that would make them look like polished stone.

And here's the final product:


So, what do you think?  Have you already tried Halloween Tombstone Nail Art in some variation before?  Personally, I'm kind of happy that there were little ridges that showed up in the transfers because I think it adds to the ambiance - it makes the tombstones look old and cracked.  When you enlarge the image (just click on any image to make it bigger), you can see what I meant earlier about the gray background of the lettering.  It is only somewhat obvious on the lightest gray polish, but it still doesn't look out of place, since you'll just be layering gray over gray.

Honestly, five steps may sound like a lot, but when you break it down there is only really two steps:  painting your nails gray and then getting the nail art transfers onto your nails.

So do you think you'd try this nail art?  Have you already tried rub-on transfers for nail art?  Are you wearing nail art this Halloween?

Hope this post has left you with some ideas.  Have a happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Formula X for Sephora in Demolition, Thunder, and TNT

Hello!  Have you heard about the new collection of polishes Sephora has released?  Now that Sephora is no longer carrying the Sephora by OPI colors, they have reformulated their small release of the Sephora X line.  Read on and you'll see why you need these in your life (and your helmer).

 no base coat, 2 coats OPI Alpine Snow - Matte, 1 coat Formula X TNT, no top coat

Let's just pause for a minute and consider how momentous these new polishes by Sephora are.

The line of "Xplosive Top Coats" are all mixed shape matte glitter polishes in a clear base.  They range from a single color of glitter in a clear base (like TNT shown above and below), to multi-colored glitter in a clear base (like Demolition and Thunder seen further down).  They even have a number of polishes that are a mix of black glitter with other colors, besides the ubiquitous black and white matte glitter in a clear base.

  no base coat, 2 coats OPI Alpine Snow - Matte, 1 coat Formula X TNT, no top coat

TNT is a bright cobalt blue glitter topper made up of large, medium, and small hexagonal shaped glitter in a clear base.

  base coat, 2 coats black creme, 1 coat Formula X Thunder, no top coat

And now on to the multi-hued polishes!  The fact that Sephora has released a line of permanent polishes that all contain various sizes and colors of matte glitter really shows they are up on the trends.

Thunder is described on the Sephora website as containing "turquoise, lime, periwinkle, and white confetti" in a clear base.  I'm not quite sure what color they are calling the extra-large hexagonal pieces of glitter, but they appeared light pink to me.

 base coat, 2 coats black creme, 1 coat Formula X Thunder, no top coat

Last of the three I picked up with glitter is Demolition.  This was the first of the three I tried on when I was swatching, and I instantly fell in love with this one.  What do you think?

 base coat, 2 coats black creme, 1 coat Formula X Demolition, no top coat

Demolition is described on the Sephora website as "blue, turquoise, lime, and orange confetti" in a clear base.

base coat, 2 coats black creme, 1 coat Formula X Demolition, no top coat

And for one last photo, I have put both Thunder and Demolition over a white polish so you can see the comparison of the two and the overall color output these two each give off.  Thunder definitely leans more blue, while the orange micro-glitter in Demolition contrasts against the larger white glitter as well as the even larger blue and green glitter pieces giving it a general feeling of a mixture of pastel colors.

no base coat, 2 coats OPI Alpine Snow - Matte, (from left to right in image) 1 coat Formula X Thunder, 1 coat Formula X Demolition, 1 coat Formula X Thunder, 1 coat Formula X Demolition, no top coat

From my experience swatching these three, each glitter topper has an amazing payoff of glitter, and you don't have to go digging in the bottle to get the larger chunks of glitter.  I would recommend doing both a dabbling and brushing method to jointly push the larger glitter pieces to where you want them on your nails.

The Formula X line contains 62 creme/metallic polishes that are packaged with a white cap and are under the label "New Classics," as well as the glitter polishes mentioned above, along with other black capped polishes such as a small line of holographic polishes (called "Holograms," there are 5 of those in total), and the usual foil/metallic glitter polishes.

Along with the change up in bottle shape and name from the Sephora X line, these lacquers also cost an additional dollar (so the "regular" polishes with the white caps are $10.50US instead of $9.50US, while the black capped bottles that include the glitters and other "special effects" are $12.50US instead of $11.50US).  Now while price increases in nail polish annoy me and I tend to buy way less of a brand when they've increased their price more than 50 cents in less than a one year period, these polishes are definitely worth the price.  Not only are there special glitter lacquers that are unique colors that you will be hard pressed to find somewhere else, but the bottles themselves are made of nice weighted glass and feel larger than the Sephora X bottles (at least giving the illusion of containing more polish).

I bought these three lacquers along with two others that I will hopefully be sharing sometime soon this past Thursday.  The first Sephora I went to was just stocking them at 11:15 in the morning, so I got a pretty good view of half of the collection, but the store I went to in the evening to look for the holographic polishes said they were setting up their display that night to be ready for Friday.  So what that means for you is that you can hopefully find these in stock at your local Sephora this weekend.  Do call ahead as it seems that different stores have different arrival times for their packages, and some stores may not have their display up yet.

At this point I would just like to mention one extra thing: customer service.  I have almost always had great customer service at Sephora, but Thursday the people working at both stores I went to were exceptionally wonderful and went above and beyond what is probably normal protocol.  At the first store where the display was in the process of being set up, the sales associate there began opening boxes and pulling out one lacquer from each box that was still unopened for my individual examination (and I didn't even ask her to do this)!  At the second store I went to the sales associate warned me that the boxes were piled together in their storage rooms but went to dig out a mixed bag so I could at least get a look at some of the polishes.  I only mention this because I find great customer service is worth the cost.  I like spending only a dollar on Wet-n-Wild polishes at my local Walgreens or Rite Aid, and where I live the sales personnel at those stores are both friendly and helpful, but I definitely feel that it makes it a lot easier parting with $50 for 4 polishes when I have been treated like a customer rather than an interloper that no one wants to deal with.  So I would just like to say "kudos" to Sephora (and their employees) for making me feel like a valued customer.  If you've never been into a Sephora, I definitely recommend it.  Even if you just want to try on nail polish, the experience and service there is top notch.