Finger Candy Favourites: Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes MainI’m always somewhat hesitant to recommend a specific product, company or retailer because I have found that everything that’s said about one person’s trash being another person’s treasure holds absolutely true, particularly in the world of beauty-based retail. On the balance of probabilities, purely from a numbers standpoint, one or two people are going to have a negative experience with a company or a product that I can’t say enough good things about, and vice versa. It’s an inevitability, and excepting cases where the quality of a product or a company’s services are indisputably – by anyone’s standards – garbage, it’s really something of a personal preference crapshoot. We all march to the beat of a different drummer (Travis Barker is my life’s drummer, in case you were curious), or, to cycle back up to the top of this paragraph, trash/treasure.

But over the course of my rather short nail art “career” I have run across a number of excellent, can’t-live-without-em products and retailers, and I would be remiss – REMISS! – in not sharing the love, with the hope that you find them just as great as I do. And in the interest of not swamping you with 8,657 rhapsodizing words on the subject of nail art and nail art-related products, I am going to split this post into a few different sub-posts, starting with some of the behind-the-scenes goodies of the nail art world.

Sunny's PhotoHAND AND NAIL CARE

For someone who sops her hands in noxious chemicals nearly every single day, I have a remarkably casual approach to nail care. As in up until about a year ago, I just didn’t. I’ve never been a huge fan of hand cream (to mangle a joke from the Big Bang Theory, why do you want your hands to feel like veal?) and at first I thought that my cuticles were just fine, thank you very much (they weren’t.) But I quickly came to realize that a consistent approach to hand and nail care keeps the raggedy bits at bay, and I now make sure to treat my mitts to multiple daily doses of soothing, delicious-smelling hydration.

To that end, I pretty well exclusively use a range of items from Sunny’s Body Products, an indie retailer I have sung the praises of before. Sunny’s offers a number of products, from lip balms and bath whips to sugar scrubs and lotions, although I’m partial to their cuticle oils and balms, rich, emollient concoctions of nourishing oils in your choice of (as of the writing of this post) over 400 unique scents. I particularly like that Sunny’s offers nearly all of their products in generously-sized sample packs, so you can try out all sorts of wild and wooly scent combinations without a massive financial outlay. My Sunny’s stash, as it’s known around Instagrammy parts, is downright small – a few oils, a couple of creams, a lush lip balm – but I do have a favourite product and scent in Sunny’s Cuticle Oil in Autumn Harvest, a rollerball-topped applicator filled with all sorts of good-for-you oils in a sweet and spicy, gorgeously gourmand scent. If all of that sounds delicious to you, you can purchase Sunny’s products through their site here.

Seche Vite Bottle PhotoTOPCOAT

For my money (and for anyone who buys it, you already know it’s one of the more expensive topcoats on the market) you can’t beat Seche Vite. It is the king of high shine, lightning fast topcoats, drying to a rock hard, ultra glossy finish in seconds. Some folks aren’t fans, citing Seche’s rather elevated price tag and tendency towards mid-way bottle glop, but I very much am, in no small part owing to the fact that without Seche Vite, I NEVER would have ventured beyond my first hesitant attempts at nail art (raggedy little watermelons and streaky strawberries.) I remember finishing my designs and then sitting back, thinking, “Is this it? These look…all right, I guess?” But then I remembered the bottle of Seche Vite the saleswoman added to my order as the gift-with-purchase, an item I had totally overlooked, having never used a topcoat before, and decided it wouldn’t hurt to give it a whirl. And not only did it not hurt, it was – befitting its name – the perfect finishing touch, smoothing out all the fruity lumps and bumps while adding some much-needed depth and shine. You’ll never convince me there’s a better topcoat, so you might as well save your breath! But just in case I’ve managed to convince YOU, you can find Seche Vite at Sally Beauty Supply, Nail Polish Canada and certain well-stocked drugstores (Rexall here in Canada, for instance.)

Acetone and Brush PhotoCLEAN-UP

You should do it. Always. It takes seconds (unless you’re tidying up after a water marble) and displays a level of care for your work (and anyone else staring at your hands) that’s just plain old nice to see. I clean up all of my manis by dipping a small, flat-headed brush into pure acetone before running it around the edges of my nails. It’s a great, simple technique for tidying up the occasional blip and blob (and believe me, even two years in there are still PLENTY of blips and blobs), but it’s also quite drying, so you’ll want to dab on a bit of oil to soothe the savage cuticle beasts (one of Sunny’s magic potions, perhaps?) My small brush (actually not small enough, but it’s due for a tinier replacement pretty soon) comes from Michael’s, and the acetone I use, Beauty Secret’s pure acetone, is another product available at Sally Beauty Supply.

That’s all the wisdom I have to drop on you today, but as all the great TV shows say, to be continued!

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Double Rainbow

Double Rainbow HandOne of the wisest nail polish purchases I have made in, well, ever is Mentality Nail Polish’s 10-piece Glazing Art Set. Sold both individually and as part of the larger set, the polishes, which run the rainbow gamut from cherry red to eggplant purple, are slightly shimmery, sheer, but buildable, and the perfect mix-and-match palette for everything from jelly sandwiches to leadlighting. Gradients in particular fare quite well when done with the glazes, the sheer shades blending into one another beautifully.

For this manicure, I used eight of the glazes (red, orange, yellow, green, aqua, blue, purple and coral) to create a mash-up of brushed-on rainbow stripes/a vertical gradient before topping the whole thing off with one coat of Whimsical Ideas by Pam’s twinkly Rainbow Sprinkles. I think my thumb, index finger and pinkie look fantastic, with each colour blending nearly seamlessly into the one beside it. My middle and ring fingers fared a little less well, the naturally occurring spectrum getting a bit muddled with the end of one rainbow and the beginning of another. But no matter, because glitter eradicates all nail sins, and Rainbow Sprinkles is more than pulling its weight!Double Rainbow Bottle

Clover Candy

Clover Candy HandI’m coming at you with multiple posts today (bandaged such as they are) because as it turns out, while I may not be down for a big, rowdy evening of debautched Irishing, I *am* rather fond of St. Patrick’s Day-themed nail art. That combined with the fact that I own approximately 20 green polishes (a rather surprising discovery; I’d never call green my favourite anything) means I’m more than equipped to handle multiple manis in honour of, and inspired by, St. Paddy’s Day.

For this manicure, I went with a Lucky Charms-type look by pairing Cirque’s clover-hued holo, Panacea, with Candy Lacquer’s pastel matte glitter bomb, Carnival Games. I’ve often referred to one of Carnival Games’ sisters, Fairyland, as “Lucky Charms in a bottle,” but with its super summery mix of matte glitters in every shape, size and colour (no hearts and clovers, but there are stars and circles, donuts and triangles) Carnival Games is pure, crusty marshmallow goodness in a bottle. 🙂Clover Candy Collage

And just look at this combination in gigantic, macro-sized close-up! Beautiful (plus I’m finally getting the hang of the macro lenses my husband gave me for Christmas, huzzah!)Clover Candy Macro

We Like to Party Hard

St. Pat's HandAs the delightfully weird Andrew W.K. once said. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, friends! Whatever Irish-inspired tomfoolery you get up to today (including, but certainly not limited to, drinking whiskey, sporting enormous curly hair, dropping the H in certain words so everything comes out as “tis,” “tat” and “the udder ting”, eating a mountain of colcannon, having freckles that number in the millions, picking fights with your relatives, drinking more whiskey, breaking your ass while attempting the two moves you remember from your one (hated) year of Irish dance, hanging out with anybody named Sean, Fiona, Liam, Seamus, Kelly or some combination of the above, running out of whiskey and deciding that five-year-old flavoured vodka mixed with white wine will make an acceptable substitute (it doesn’t) or getting rowdy down at the pub) please keep it safe and responsible, yeah? Pretending to be Irish for the day is no reason to act like you’ve lost your freakin’ mind. I mean, sure, you’re willingly ingesting cheap, domestic beer that’s been “enhanced” with green food dye and probably dancing in public – badly – but there’s no reason to go all the way off the rails now. So stay safe, friends, and party responsibly.

And when the party finally stops (curse the drinking holiday that falls on a weekday), you’ll have no problem hailing a cab with hands sporting this pretty, festive manicure. Here I layered Whimsical Ideas by Pam’s green and gold holographic glitter, There’s No Place Like Home, over a basic black, Pure Ice’s Black Out, and then in a sort of top-down gradient over another Pure Ice polish, a green and gold shimmer called Lucky Charming. Sláinte!There's No Place Like Home Outside

Come on Clover, Baby

Hyperactive BottleI’ll note for the squeamish and/or gore-curious that at the end of this post – spoiler! – there will be blood. Because it is simply one of those truisms of the nail art world that the second you get cocky about something – your abilities with a detail brush, the health of your nails, the unblemished skin of your hands – is the precise moment everything will fall spectacularly to pieces. This actually holds true for most things in life, but especially the world of nail art, where one day you think to yourself, “Wow, it has been a REALLY long time since I broke a nail” and the next you’re contending with two broken nails, a clipper-inflicted nick and an inch-long gouge on the index finger of your swatching hand where you scraped it across a deeply embedded, tetanus-producing carpet staple you were attempting to yank out of the underside of your stairs. True story (see below)!Come on Clover Hand

But until everything went pie shaped, things were going pretty well with these festive, glittery gradient nails I cobbled together for St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow. Here I used two of my stainiest polishes, Essie’s dark green Pretty Edgy and Pure Ice’s grass green Wild Thing, in a simple gradient, topping the whole thing off with one coat of Cinapro’s Nail Sugar in Hyperactive, a goldy-green holographic glitter in a sheer lime base. Then I added a tiny clover accent nail, but who’s going to notice that when there’s all this yeeeeeeeeee-OUCH going on?086

Shamrock Shake It, Don’t Break It

Shamrock Shake HandSeeing as my water marble manis invariably wind up looking like I just plain old *lost* my marbles, I thought I’d use that bit of wisdom to my advantage and go with the abstract flow, a decision that resulted in these creamy, dreamy, super swirly Shamrock Shake-inspired nails. And because I’m powerless to resist the lure of putting cutesie faces on foodstuffs on my nails, I’ve got a wee little shake on my ring finger getting down with hiz bad self. I particularly like how he’s staring at his own butt – it’s very Cameron Diaz dancing in her super hero undies in Charlie’s Angels.

Shamrocks and Shenanigans

Shamrocks HandWith regards to St. Patrick’s Day, my (Irish) mother is fond of saying the Irish don’t need a special day to binge drink and get rowdy – the impetus is always there; the beast just needs to be let out of its cage. I’m not quite so militant about St. Paddy’s Day, but I’ve never cared much to get in touch with my Celtic roots in any way that would require me to stand in a horribly crowded, faux-Irish “pub” with 500 drunken strangers shouting “I’m River Dancing!” whilst sloshing green beer all over myself. That’s pretty much my idea of hell. That and one of those white parties on a yacht off the coast of Ibiza. So in lieu of engaging in either of those activities (although one of these things is not like the other!) I’ll sport this cloverrific mani instead.Clover Fingers