Thursday, August 15, 2013

30 Day Challenge: Gradient (with step by step instructions)

Well, this is the second time I've ever done a sponge gradient. My first time was a bit splotchy, and while everyone says it's an easy process, I still messed up more than I wanted to. So for today's mani I decided to do a step by step with some tips and tricks. Granted, it's still not the best gradient you've ever seen, I'm sure, but it's much better this time. And I really like the colors! So let's get started:

Step 1: Pick your colors/gather your materials

For my basecoat, I used NYC In a NY Minute. This is pretty great if you only want to keep your mani for a day or two, as your polish will literally pop right off after 24-48 hours. But, as the name implies, it only take a minute to dry.
Originally I planned on just using the Sally Hansen Lickety-Split Lime and China Glaze Shower Together, but decided to add the navy last minute. It was a good choice, as it added more depth to the gradient. And finally, I topped it off with everyone's favorite top coat- Seche Vite. 

Step 2: Apply as base color

Other tutorials recommend using the lightest color for your base, which is wise. It's hard enough to build up the dark colors on top of light, so I imagine unless you're using white on a dark color, stick with the light color as a base.

Now you have to be patient and let the color dry completely so it doesn't smudge when you start sponging. Like, REALLY let it dry. In the meantime you can get tape ready to protect your fingers since sponging gets pretty messy. I only taped my left hand, and yes, while it's annoying to tape every finger, it really does speed up the clean up process.

Step 3: Cut your sponge into a shape slightly smaller than your nail and prep your colors.

Do NOT use a sponge like the one pictured above! It will not work well, trust me. That is, unless you're really into getting strands of fibers stuck in your polish. Get a good blob of paint down on foil (I prefer foil over plastic) and put your colors close so that they overlap. You can use two at a time or three. I found two to be easier for building up the colors. Make sure you add the color you chose for your base, otherwise it will not blend very well. Then let the sponge soak up all the paint, and quickly dab it over your nail. I'd go up and down and to the sides to get a good blend. You'll have to do this a few times if you want the paint to be true to color. It goes relatively fast, however. 

Step 4: Continue sponging with additional colors

This is what it looked like with two colors. I had wanted more of a transition to a blue hue, but the bright lime made my shower together look more green, so I decided to add navy. 

(Also, use a sponge like the one shown in the picture above) So after a little trial and error, I found that pairing up the second and third color is easier than trying to use all three at once.  And although it's not pictured here, I'd recommend using your top coat as soon as you've finished each finger, since it will help it blend the colors even more (my right hand is more blended, but I didn't take pictures of that imagine this one, but better).

Step 5: Topcoat and clean up

Once you take off the tape you'll see how much time you saved on cleaning up the mess! Or maybe I'm just a messy, I definitely am, but considering the nature of sponging, it's pretty hard to not get it all over your fingers. 

Step 6: Marvel at the final result

Besides my pinky, which got messed up from using the wrong sponge, I think this looks pretty cool. It definitely looks awesome at a distance. Actually, you can see the gradient much better from a distance, and it looks pretty smooth. Not too shabby for my second attempt. And I love the colors, it's great for summer.

Do you have any tips on using the sponging technique? If so, share them in the comment section.

Happy painting!

P.S. Do you agree that the pictures look much better with the lightbox I built last week? I think it has really enhanced the quality.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Well, here's the deal: I've changed this blog quite a bit. It will no longer be "Adventures in Toe Nail Art" since I've started to paint my fingernails more often. I'll still have many posts devoted to toe nail art, but will also start devoting more posts to my manicures. I also have a new 'About' page as well!

In other news, I built another new light box today, since my other one got destroyed when I moved. One dull pair of scissors and a bloody finger later, my pictures have gone from poorly lit with random backgrounds to this:

Much better, don't you think? It's a decent picture for a camera phone. Also, this Beauty Secrets Brush Cleaner is amazing! My brushes kept getting hard and were pretty useless even after cleaning them in my normal polish remover, so I invested in this guy. It's fantastic! You just put the bristles in, swirl it around for a few seconds, let it sit for a minute, swirl it again, and it's like your brush is brand new! It's a life saver for my brushes and I highly recommend this product. You can get it for only $4 here. Considering it's cheaper than most bottles of nail polish, it's seriously worth investing in.

Happy painting!

30 Day Challenge: Dots

Okay, so I'm kind of cheating myself since I painted my fingers instead of my toes, and I think I may have skipped one of the challenges. It's been a long time since I did the last challenge, but I'm trying to pick up where I left off. I do a lot of dot designs which are pretty simple. I went for something new this week, and I like the design, but I'm not entirely happy with my color selection. Oh well.

My hand was not very steady, but I think that was mostly because I was distracted by an episode of Survivor. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Blogs Upon Blogs

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
I'm starting to reach out more to the nail art community, which means I'm looking for some great new blogs to follow. There's a lot of talent out there and a WHOLE lot of blogs, so it's tough to figure out which ones to follow.
If you have any favorite nail art blogs that you follow let me know. And yes, this is a post where you can shamelessly promote your own blog.

In other news, I forgot that this winter I painted my nails with all of my fun new supplies that I got for Christmas. Because I wasn't planning on writing a post about it back then, I only snapped a quick shot. I was so pleasantly surprised with my new colors and brushes. I simply love color blocking, and think it looks great in blue.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pinterest Inspired Flowers

After a long leave of absence, I'm back to practicing nail art and blogging about it!
I'm pretty sure the sudden popularity of nail art is due in large part to the wonderful website Pinterest (check out my nail board here ). I love gaining inspiration and trying my hand at more difficult designs, and although I've been doing nail art for about 6 years now, I'm definitely not a pro. So I decided to try two great designs I found on Pinterest and tried to replicated them as best as I could.

My first attempt was inspired by this fantastic design by A Girl and Her Polish.

The flowers remind me a bit of pansies and the colors are good for summer. I didn't have that off white color she used, made smaller flowers, and added purple ones. Here's what I ended up with:

The dots are a bit messy, but overall I was quite happy with how they turned out. My roommate said that she thought they looked like wallpaper, which I think is a good thing? The way she said it made me think it was a high compliment.

I also decided to paint my fingernails, which doesn't happen often, but my nails are in great shape for it. I actually had to cut them quite a bit since they were interfering more than they were helping, but I still had a lot of room to work with the length I made them.

Unfortunately, the link to the website for this next design I found on Pinterest didn't work. If anyone knows who this belongs to, let me know so I can give them credit.

This just seemed like a really classy design and it works well for the summer. My version is definitely not as clean...

The pictures are a bit blurry, so it actually looks a bit better. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I went with something slightly different from the original and kept it simple. Far from perfect, but not too shabby. I also think it's kind of funny that my right hand turned out so much better than my left, since I'm usually pretty shaky painting with my non-dominant hand. 

I think I might make a tutorial for my next post, since I find those to be really helpful for those of us who are at the beginner-intermediate skill level.