nail polish

6 posts

Refinery 29’s Illustrated History of Nail Art

I’d like to direct your attention to Refinery 29. Currently, they have a slide show with illustrations giving a few key milestones in the history of nail art, from ancient Egyptians dying their fingertips with henna to 15th century Incas painting eagles on their fingernails.

Modern nail polish as we know it would not be possible without the automobile, as nail polish is modeled after car paint. Continue reading

Easter Creative Manicure Dots

Today’s tutorial is to teach you how to do some super basic, super adorable nail art. You can do this with a dotting tool that you can buy at any beauty supply or craft store, or with any random bobby pin, toothpick, or paper clip that you can find on the floor of your filthy apartment. (Sorry! Projecting!)

Since Easter is coming up, I wanted to showcase some pastels but you can duplicate this with any colors you’d like.

Keep in mind that with dots, the best colors to use are colors that are opaque in one coat, so that they show up right away.

I used:

  • Base Coat: Orly Bonder
  • Base Color: Sinful Colors Unicorn
  • Dots: American Apparel Coney Island
  • Top Coat: Seche Vite
  • Top Coat: Essie Matte About You
  • Additional:
  • Index card (scrap sheet of paper, paper plate, whatever) to use for your dots
  • Q-tips and cotton balls for clean up as needed
  • Acetone/NP remover for clean up as needed

Step 1:

Make sure you have everything you’re going to use neatly assembled.

Prep and paint your nails with your base coat and base color. I chose Sinful Colors’ Unicorn. This is a pastel yellow. The interesting thing about yellow pigments is they are incredibly difficult to work with. They are little bitches. This was streaky and patchy and took several coats for me to be okay with it. I still am not happy with the base. So you might want to pick a less finicky base color if you want this to be easier.

Sinful Unicorn

Step 2:

Put a little tiny dab of your dot color onto your index card/whatever you’re using as a palette.

Dot the index card with a bit of polish.

The thing about this is it can be a bit wasteful of colors so you may not want to use your bottle of RBL Stormy (insert any additional extremely expensive polish you may own here) for making dots. Any of the cremes from drugstore brand Wet N Wild’s Wild Shine line are very opaque. I went with American Apparel’s Coney Island.

After you’ve put a little bit out, dip the dotting end of your dotting tool, be it an actual dotting tool or a bobby pin, into the polish and then quickly dot it to your nail. BE GENTLE. Don’t stab it on. The bigger the end of the dotting tool you use, the bigger the dot.

The more product you use, the bigger the dot.

Step 3:

Continue! Dot as much as you want! It’s so easy!

Step 4:

Let it dry before putting any top coat on it. It’d be the worst if you smeared all of your dots.

Because I was going for a very specific Easter egg look, I chose Essie Matte About You (which is now available at drugstores) to give it that not shiny, eggshell look.

Essie Matte About You Polka Dot

If you try this look, please, post a picture!

For previous nail art tutorials and info visit here, here and here.


Rebelling Against the Fingernail Dress Code

Sinful Colors Green Ocean over OPI Jade is the New Black

If you work in an office job, you probably have to adhere to an office-dress code. Depending on your office, that might mean you can’t rock shimmery blue-green flaky glitter on your nails and you have to wear pumps. However, you can still have interesting nail polish without resorting to one of Essie’s ten thousand sheer baby pinks.





Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Midnight in NY

Black, or so dark it’s nearly black, nail polish is not just for goth teens anymore. Depending on your office, you can definitely rock a vampie. This look is best when you have very short nails.

China Glaze Lubu Heels

Some classic shades include:

  • Chanel Vamp
  • OPI Lincoln Park After Dark
  • Revlon Vixen
  • Wet N Wild Nocturnal (this is from the Craze line and is actually being discontinued, so it may be difficult to find but it’s a lovely dark blue with a jelly finish.)

Gray, Greige, Gravender


Revlon Perplex

If black is a little harsh for you, you might enjoy the relaxing world of grey, greige and gravender. These are purple-gray colors and they are very elegant looking. These are actually some of my favorite work-appropriate polishes.

China Glaze’s recent Anchor’s Away collection has a lovely polish called Below Deck which is intended to be a dupe of China Glaze’s own old-formula polish, Channelesque.

China Glaze Channelesque

If you check your local drug store, you might also find Revlon Perplex, which is a nearly exact dupe of Chanel Paradoxal.

You can also check out Sephora by OPI’s Metro Chic or Rimmel London Steel Gray. If you prefer a strict gray, try American Apparel Factory Grey or Echo Park As much as I hate American Apparel, I have nothing but love for the incredible formula on their classic cream polishes.

American Apparel Factory Grey
American Apparel Echo Park

If you have any questions about nail care or polish, please feel free to type them below and I’ll try my best to answer them in another post or in a reply.

Happy painting!

Cherry Blossom Nail Art Tutorial

My workspace


American Apparel Echo Park

China Glaze White Cap


American Apparel Cocoa


American Apparel Coney Island

Color Club She’s Soooo Glam

Sinful Colors Snow Me White


Base Coat = Orly Bonder

Top Coat = Seche “Chemica Slut” Vite

Dotting Tool/Toothpick/Bobby Pin/Nail Art Brush/Whatever

Index card

Step 1:

You need a clean canvas to work on, so make sure that your nails are clean, free of previous polish and oils. You are a greasy, oily person. It’s life. So swipe your nails with some rubbing alcohol or acetone before you apply your base coat.

The key to having a manicure last is a good base coat/top coat combination. The polish itself is not as important as what you put on top and beneath it (and remembering to use tools instead of your nails for things.) I prefer CND Stickey but as I’m out of it at the moment, I’m using Orly Bonder, another good, sticky base coat for polish to cling to. Everyone’s body chemistry is different so it may take some trial and error for you to find the combination that’s right for you.

Base Coat
Orly Bonder Base Coat

Step 2:

Apply your base. With nail art, I find it best to use a base color that is opaque or damn close in one coat, so there are less coats on your nail. It dries faster that way and there’s less chance of messing up. I really like American Apparels for one coat-opaque-cremes but several of the Wet N Wild Wild Shine polishes are good as well and only cost a dollar at your local Walgreens/Rite-Aid/CVS and don’t have that “eau de 70’s porn” vibe.

American Apparel Echo Park under China Glaze White Cap

My base is American Apparel Echo Park topped with China Glaze White Cap.

Step 3:

Quick dry top coat that bitch.

I use Seche “Chemical Slut” Vite for my quick drying needs. It is not Big 3 Free, so if you’re concerned about that, I’d recommend you try Sally Hansen Insta-Dry No Chip Top Coat in the red bottle. But Seche Vite is the best top coat in my opinion in terms of drying quickly and shiny. The only issues I have are that sometimes it will give “shrinkage” (feel free to laugh) to your manicure and that about halfway through the bottle it will get thick and difficult to work with.

The important thing to remember about nail polish is this stuff basically lasts forever. Probably longer than you. Bacteria can’t get in it. It won’t expire. When it gets too thick and goopy, or dries out, there’s a solution. If someone has ever told you to put acetone/nail polish remover into old polish to fix it, don’t trust them. They were an underminery bitch trying to get you to ruin your awesome old bottle of polish. Doing that will destroy your polish.

What you need is “thinner” and you can buy it at any beauty supply shop. I use “Beauty Secrets Thinner” from Sally Beauty Supply but Seche makes a version as well.

Beauty Secrets Thinner

Step 4:

Wait for your base to dry. Contemplate the meaning of life.

Step 5:


Draw your branches! You can just place squiggles wherever your heart tells you they should go. I used American Apparel Cocoa. Put a bit of polish on an index card like a palette and use your nail art brush/dotting tool/toothpick/bobby pin to draw the branches LIGHTLY on your nail. I used an actual paint brush (Winsor and Newton University Series 233 Size 00, glad you asked) but with a reasonably deft hand, you can pretty much use any of the tools I just mentioned.

Wait for this to dry a bit–really only about five minutes.

Branches using American Apparel Cocoa

Step 6:


Use the dotting tool/bobby pin/tooth pick and start doing dots of your pink, again using the “bit of polish on an index card” method. What I did was make slightly larger light pink dots (AA Coney Island) and white dots (Sinful Colors Snow Me White) and then used the smaller end of the dotting tool to add darker pink (Color Club She’s Soooo Glam) and the Coney Island into the center of the larger dots.

Flowers with American Apparel Coney Island
White blossoms with Sinful Colors Snow Me White
Pink Blossoms with Color Club She's Sooo Glam

Step 7:

Wait a bit for this to dry before applying your final coat of top coat because otherwise that shit will smear and all of your hard work will have been for naught. Just because I felt like being ostentatious, I put a coat of a clear glitter on top before applying my top coat. I used Wet N Wild Hallucinate.

Cherry Blossom Manicure with Glitter

Step 8:

Be so sexy.

If you try this, please post the pictures in the comments. And if you have any questions/requests, post them here and I’ll try to work them into the next post. Thanks!

Easy Tips for Picture Perfect Cuticles and Nice Nails

Keeping your cuticles “picture perfect” is an easy way to make your home manicure look professional, Even if you don’t polish your nails, keeping your hands looking well-groomed is a really easy way to look put-together without taking that much effort. Alternatively, if you’re like me, and you like to post pictures of your manicure on the internet, you may have noticed that the macro setting on your camera makes your cuticles look like an emery board.

Moisturize! Dry cuticles peel but moisturize, and they will look fantastic within a few days. The trick is to moisturize them with something whenever you’re thinking about picking at them. I carry Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Balm. Because I’m a reformed nail biter, whenever I get the tense urge to bite my nails, I moisturize my cuticles instead. (Think: smoker who tries to replace with gum-chewing.)

Mango Mend

Wear gloves when you wash your dishes (and other things)! Water will destroy your hands. Don’t listen to that dish soap commercial where the sponge thinks that the soap makes the lady’s hand sexy. It doesn’t. It just dries it up and makes you smell like dish soap. Do your dishes—that’s important. But just, invest in some plastic gloves. I also recommend dishes for gardening.Humans use tools! Please don’t use your nails to open things or rip off packaging. You will break your nail. And if you’re really unlucky, you will break it so it exposes skin and that will sting like fire the next time you try to make lemonade from scratch.

Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream

Speaking of tools, the best nail file advice I ever got was to use a glass file. It’s less damaging than a metal file and less wasteful than an emery board. File in one direction (this is a lot harder than it sounds) instead of sawing back and forth. It’s better to file than cut but if you want to get rid of a lot of length all at once, it’s helpful to soak your hands first so the nail is a bit softer to cut. The other trick to filing your nails is to file your nails with nail polish on. It makes it easier to see if you’re shaping it the way that you envisioned in your head.

ASP Glass File

If you have any questions or nail polish requests, feel free to post them in the comments and I will use some of those (as many as possible, I’d love to answer all of your questions) as material for future posts. I also like trying nail art and will work on making some easy to follow tutorials for you. So consider this (first) post, “Total Request Tunamelt.”