I did that thing: Ombre Nails!

I did it! I finally sat down and tried out the ombre nail thing. I know I’m about 5 years late on this band wagon, but there’s never a better time than the present, amirite?? Plus, it’s summer. As a teacher on break, I have time on my hands, so I used that time on my hands and am really impressed. Also, what better time than summer to try out a fun, colorful ombre nail?!

Hand with nail polish and sponge

I bought a bag of cosmetic wedge sponges from Walgreens with the intention to use them solely for trying ombre nails. When I got home, I picked out my colors – I chose a bright green, blue, and purple, all by L.A. Colors. I knew they weren’t the best quality nail polishes, but I wanted to use those colors anyways.

I figured I would just jump right into it, trying it out without a colored base. So I painted three stripes onto a full-sized makeup sponge and pressed them to my pinky nail. Buuuut the colors weren’t opaque enough, so it just looked silly. I got my nail polish remover and took off the goofy ombre and decided to turn to YouTube where I knew I had seen one or two tutorials before.

This one showed me that it was easier if I cut the sponge to a smaller size, closer to the size of my nails. So I did.

She also urged me to paint my nails white before proceeding with the ombre colors. So I did. I painted all nails except my thumbs with two coats of Alpine Snow by O.P.I.

Nail polish

Once they dried, I coated the sponge with the three colors again. Then it was time to apply it to my nails. I dabbed my pinky with the sponge and it looked cool! I think the white base coat is what really helped the colors stand out and stay on the nail instead of the sponge. I definitely needed two coats of the colors because, again, they were not very opaque.

Each time I painted a nail, I had to reapply the tri-colored stripes to the sponge for the next nail. As can be expected, this was kind of a messy process. I had excess nail polish on my cuticles as well as on the pads of my thumbs and forefingers, as those were what I was using to hold the sponge.

However, I did not find it much more difficult to apply using my left hand as it usually is when straight-up painting my nails. The right always comes out looking wonky because I am not a lefty. This process was equally difficult and equally easy on both sides. Does that make sense…?

right hand ombre nails

Once all 10 nails were ombred, I used a Q-tip with some polish remover to clean up the edges. There was still some stray color leftover, but it wears off after a day or so. Nobody’s perfect. You live and you learn it. And if I mess it up sometimes. Nobody’s perfect.

Hannah Montana. I just couldn’t resist.

When I cleaned up as much as I could, I then applied my new Revlon Liquid Quick Dry top coat.

And voila! Here’s the end product! Like I said, they aren’t perfect – my nails and nail beds are not long, so they aren’t hand model material. But they look pretty dang cool regardless!

I encourage you to try it out yourself. Once I got the hang of it, I was on a roll! From very start to very end, I think it might have taken me 15 minutes, with the original mess-up included. I was also watching Legally Blonde on Netflix, so I may have gotten distracted a few times.

If you do try this, send me a picture or a link to one. I would love to see what color combinations you come up with!

5 Minute Gel Manicure: A Review

My friend (and fellow blogger) Courtney decided to give a gel manicure a go. We have both heard so much about these manicures and how long they last, that we wanted in. We did not go to a salon (ain’t nobody got time or money for that! Well, we don’t at least) but instead we picked up this nifty kit from Walmart.

Nutra Nail 5 minute gel polish kit

For just about $10, Nutra Nail Gel Perfect 5 Minute Gel-Color Manicure supposedly gives you a gel manicure without fancy lights or other equipment. Unlike other kits like Sally Hansen, you must purchase the light for at least $60 in order to get the manicure, not to mention buying any subsequent colors you want.

Gel Activator and Polish

The Nutra Nail kit (we picked the shade “True Romance”, a soft, rosy pink color) comes with the Activator, Gel Polish, and Brush Cleaner – everything you need to get your gel manicure. The packaging claims the following:

  • Sets rock solid in 5 minutes
  • Lasting patent leather shine
  • No UV/LED light needed
  • Ding-free protection

**We do want to note that we did not prep our nails as suggested, so we have taken that into consideration for our review. We didn’t have files or nail polish remover to prep with, but neither of us had polish on before doing this. Our hands/nails were clean and we did not have lotion on…as you can tell by our dry hands!**

Courtney first coatCourtney went first, and her first reaction was in regards to the smell. Upon opening and applying the gel color she stated, “This is potent – my eyes are watering!” She realized that she should go slower and be more careful so that the gel activator and color polish do not get on the skin because it hardens and sticks to everything. Within a couple of minutes, she said she was impressed because her fingernails felt hard.

first-coat 2pics

After my first coat, I observed much of the same. Towards the end of the first hand, the color became kind of stringy and the brush hardened. I honestly believe that the “activator” is just a glorified term for “nail glue” – it smells and dries much like nail glue. The first coat is very sheer – this may depend upon the color you choose.

Holliday first coat

We also both were annoyed at how terrible our right hands turned out; the most plausible reason is because we are less coordinated with our left hands, therefore it takes longer to polish them and so the polish dries before we get through each nail.

comparison 2pics

We both noted the annoying number of steps in order to complete each step of the manicure. The directions give you a simplified as well as a more in-depth (with tips) version of the directions. We constantly forgot to switch the gel color and brush cleaner brushes, a necessary step in order to keep the brush from hardening with the combination of activator and color polish. It was cool watching the color just kind of clump and fall off the brush inside the cleaner bottle.cleaning brushes

The second coat definitely got rid of a lot of the streakiness; they looked fine from far away, although close inspection revealed many flaws. Courtney noted, “If you put too much activator on, it will pool and that’s where all the gel polish will want to go. You have to find a balance.” We both ended up going for a third coat which simply built the color up and continued to cover streaks. Courtney asked me to apply her third coat and she was happy with how it turned out.

second coat 2pics

So our overall first impressions were not too bad. We only ended up using half of the activator and polish after both of us applying 3 coats, so there is plenty of product. It was interesting the next morning seeing how all the color had settled in the bottom of the brush cleaner bottle.

cleaner bottle next day

We planned to do a 2 week update post because that is usually the time frame that gel manicures are supposed to last. However, mine lasted less than 24 hours. We completed these manicures on Friday evening around 10:30. By about noon the next day, I already had some big chips (see picture). Later that evening around dinnertime, I had even more chips and after texting Courtney about this she responded that she had the same problem.

I decided to pick off any that I could because my nails looked terrible with so many chips. Needless to say, I ended up picking every last bit off of my nails. Maybe we would have gotten better results if we had prepped our nails beforehand, but either way it was super disappointing.

next day

Pros:

  • Dried and hardened within 5 minutes, as it claims
  • Very shiny, as it claims
  • You get a lot of product – we only ended up using about half of everything for 3 coats each
  • Price

Cons:

  • Streaks were very difficult to avoid
  • Must be fast but precise
  • Number of steps and things to remember (for example, swapping the brushes after each hand)
  • Smell
  • Chipped within 12 hours

Did you try these and have better luck? Have you tried other brands that worked better? Let us know in the comments below!

My Secret (until now) Obsession

About three years ago, I stumbled upon the world of YouTube beauty videos. My first video, How To: Miley Cyrus Inspired Curls by a username juicystar07 (reminds me of AIM days…to which I admit, my first username was sweetcuddler88; don’t judge, I’m sure your’s wasn’t much better).

blair fowlerAnd this was only the beginning. From here, I looked through a bunch of Blair’s other videos. These videos included makeup tutorials, Outfit Of The Day videos (OOTD for seasoned veterans), and random talk-y videos. (Blair is juicystar’s actual name, although not her birth name; just one of the many things I’ve learned over the past 3 years. Creepy? Maybe. But she puts it out there for all to know, so there.)

Needless to say, I became obsessed. I started searching for certain makeup tutorial looks, began subscribing to other beauty gurus, and even used my roommate’s face to try and recreate the looks (Note: A huge thanks goes out to Becky: for enduring my cheap and sometimes painful non-makeup brushes, and later buying me actual ones for Christmas!). They show you step by step what products they use, how they are applied, and explain everything in between. There are super natural looks and crazy dramatic looks. Colorful or neutral. The list goes on and on. And not just makeup, but nail polish, clothing…EVERYTHING!

Since I began watching, my makeup collection has grown, as has my respect for these young women who use it on an every day basis. Even more respect for filming yourself doing it and having it come out looking amazing!  I contemplated starting my own channel to create such tutorials, but I realized I’m just not as obsessed with or dedicated to makeup, the latest trends, and fashion as some of these girls are. So I’ll leave it up to them.

Three years later, I am still subscribed to Blair. Although her videos feature less makeup tutorials (I mean, I guess there’s only so many color combinations AND the fact that there are hundreds of girls like her doing the same thing now) I’m still a fan. My subscription box has grown to other beauty gurus; here’s just a few of my favorites:

  • juicystar07 – Blair with her brown hair and brown eyes (twinsies!)
  • AllThatGlitters21 – Blair’s older sister, Elle, who has blonde hair and blue eyes
  • MissJenFABULOUS – she does amazing nail polish tutorials!missjenfabulous
  • shaaanxo – she’s from New Zealand, so her accent is great
  • kandeejohnson – she not only covers fashion and beauty, but she has a super sweet and loving heart as well
  • TheStyleDiet – she has an Irish/American accent that’s simply garjuss. Her older videos feature color combinations based on your skin/hair/eye color – it’s fabulous. And she now has an incredibly adorable 6 month old named Emilia, whom I watch on her and her husband’s daily vlogs (video blogs) on SacconeJolyTV

It’s crazy thinking that this started 3 years ago. Here I was, a junior in college, sitting in my dorm room, just wanting to be pretty and learn how to have hair like Miley (this was around the time when The Last Song was coming to theaters, so her long, luscious (albeit fake) locks were everywhere). And now I am a first semester grad student, sitting in my dorm room, wanting to be pretty, and writing about it. Well, I guess not all that much has changed.

Question: What is your secret (or not so secret) obsession?