Last year, for the Oh Mon Dieu Nail Art Challenge, the ladies of N.A.I.L. set lavender as one of the daily themes. Lavender is indeed lovely (gourmand lavender scents, like lavender pound cake, are some of my favourites) so I can’t blame them for coming at it again, this time as week four’s theme in May’s nearly-finished Nail Art Challenge. This is especially great news for me, because it gives me a chance to redo the lavender nails I submitted last time, which were awful. No, really (see below.) I even remember thinking at the time that I had whiffed it, and I could have done so much better.
So I did! This time with the help of some of my holographic friends, including three Enchanted polishes (deep eggplant February 2015, dusky purple Dream On and pale lilac Time to Pretend.) As nail artists and nail polish aficionados, I think we sometimes hoard our holographic polishes for special occasion manis, but with their built-in shading and highlighting, they’re perfect for detail work, like these tiny lavender buds. Ahhh, MUCH better.
Holy cats, did these nails ever put the “challenge” in “nail art challenge.” I haven’t had to fight for (or against) a manicure this hard in forever! These simple white butterfly silhouettes on a beautiful background of Smitten Polish’s glittery Glacial Springs are actually my third run at week two’s theme of butterflies in the May N.A.I.L. Challenge. I initially started out with a much more complicated design before I realized I’m total crap at drawing butterflies, and wisely returned to the drawing board to hammer out a simpler, more streamlined design. This is so much better than my first two pitchy attempts, even if you wouldn’t be mistaken in confusing those dancing butterflies for floating leaves.
I know 1980s-influenced fashion is having a real moment (leggings, how you are the bane of my existence) but speaking as yet another weary OLD who lived through that particular decade’s unflattering sartorial excesses, it is a flirtation that ought to be cut off before it can turn into something more. Seriously, guys, Spandex bike shorts that made the slim look gangly and knock-kneed and anyone carrying even an extra pound like the Michelin Man. These weird plastic combs we called banana clips that gave you a lopsided, limp kind of mohawk and would invariably yank out chunks of your hair. Stirrup pants. Oh, it was an unkind time. Then again, I was a totally fashion-challenged kid in the ’80s; nothing like the mini fashionistas who strut around now, intimidating me with their bitchin’ style at three and a half years old.
I don’t do a whole lot of modern, geographic, ’80s-inspired nail art, so what better way to fill that small blank spot in my portfolio than by tackling week one’s theme of the 1980s in May’s N.A.I.L. Challenge? For this manicure, I went with an every-nail-for-itself approach, highlighting five iconic looks of the not-so-fashionable ’80s, from acid wash jeans and the rainbow heart print sweater every girl wanted, to the aforementioned striped bike shorts and Ralph Lauren men’s button-downs.
Oh, and those things on my index finger? Safety pins. For a blessedly short amount of time in junior high, it was all the rage to squeeze into your already breath-inhibiting jeans and then, cranking whatever inseam actually existed together, pin your pants, one atop another, until you reached your knees or higher, if you dared sacrifice the tender flesh to multiple puncture wounds. In hindsight, with the safety pins and the inherent risk of injury and all, it was actually a pretty punk rock look, but hella impractical!
So with week one over and done, let’s take a look at what else the fine ladies of N.A.I.L. have in store for us this May.
That’s my term for the warm, orangey-pinky-purple clouds that stand like fluffy sentinels along the horizon at sunset. I’m fortunate enough to live in a location with unobstructed views of a major river and the mountain-dotted province just beyond it, so come this time of year, I’m treated to some truly spectacular sunsets. For reasons I’d have to be much more scientifically inclined than I am to understand (which is to say not at all), the combination of the hilly landscape and the reflective water make for a beautiful, watercolour kind of effect where the setting sun’s lush reds and pinks, purples and blues stain the clouds a beautiful rainbow of pastels.
Heavens, that was poetic! But I really love those fluffy cotton candy clouds, and so I put them on my nails in service of week three’s theme of pastels in April’s N.A.I.L. Challenge!
For week two’s theme of April showers in this month’s N.A.I.L. challenge, I went with a fun little design I’ve been meaning to try for ages now, a super simple dab-on technique I call a “Topcoat raindrops beaded up on the hood of a custom painted Charger”-icure. Yes, that is a VERY specific term, and I don’t expect it to catch on at all, but a nail girl can hope. 🙂 It goes a little something like this:
1. Paint your nails to opacity in any colour you’d like. Finish-wise, I think super high shine, colour-shifting multichromes work best, and really drive (eh?!) home the custom paint job effect we’re going for here. For these nails I used three coats of Polish Me Silly’s indigo-to-plum Holy Shift.
2. Once dry, top with one thin coat of a quick dry, high gloss topcoat like Seche Vite.
3. Once it’s dry, take that same bottle of topcoat and, brushing off almost the fluid, dab it onto your nails in a random raindrop pattern. There needs to be enough topcoat on your brush so that it flows smoothly off the brush and onto your nail, but not so much that it swamps your manicure. You’re looking for beads of water here; it’s a bit of a delicate dance. Thankfully, this is such an easy technique, do-overs are not quite the hair-rending prospect they might be with any other type of manicure.
4. Lay your hands down flat and let dry. And try not to pick! Which you totally will, because I did, even though the little beaded up bits of topcoat are not that intrusive. It’s just second nature to want to eradicate any nail art lumps and bumps. It’s the manicure equivalent of tonguing that little cut on the roof of your mouth – you know you should just leave it alone, let it heal, BUT. YOU. CAN’T!!!
Still, a super fun, lightning fast and mega easy technique that’s sure to impress your more vehicularly-minded friends and requires nothing more than two basic nail art items you undoubtedly already have in your stash. Sweet!
The start of a new month means another set of challenge prompts from the fine ladies of N.A.I.L., and these fluffy little rabbit posteriors are my contribution to week one’s theme of Easter. Five weeks has April, and so there are five themes this go-round, encompassing seasonal (and rhyming!) picks like April showers and Spring flowers. I don’t actually do a whole lot of floral nail art, so it will be nice to stretch my polished legs a bit and maybe try out a fun new design. Which is the whole point of the Nail Art Ideas Linkup, so I’d say April is off to a pretty great start already!
There’s lots to look back on fondly with this manicure I recently did that not only uses a glitter polish that predates my interest in nail art, Nails Inc.’s Special Effects Sprinkles in Topping Lane, but also features a chevron pattern in the exact design and colours as this blog’s first background wallpaper. It is a look that did not last for long. Although I love the crisp tidiness of a chevron pattern, especially in a pink, navy and white colour combination, it strobed harder than one of those anime seizure movies, and I thought it prudent to maybe not induce vomiting in my readers every time they attempted to scroll down the page! Small blogging tip for you there – don’t make your readers hurl.
And now for something a little different from my usual. Regular readers or repeat stopper by-ers know my taste in nail art veers towards a lot of pop culture-inspired designs and more glitter and rainbows than a Pride parade. But when week two’s theme in March’s N.A.I.L. Challenge called for gold, I decided to go with the traditional pairing of simple black and gilded gold in an array of stripes, dots, gradients and swirls. There’s a little something for everyone here, whether you like the every-nail-for-itself approach or decide to keep it simple by choosing one as an accent nail. It’s the little black dress of nail art!
A pumpkin carriage fit for a princess, for those moments when public transportation just won’t do (please; those mice were miracle workers, but even they couldn’t make a smelly old bus anything other than a smelly old bus.)
These nails are for week one’s theme of Cinderella in March’s Nail Art Ideas Linkup Challenge. I had initially planned on redoing a Cinderella gown design I attempted very early on in my nail art and blogging career, but defaulted to Cindy’s pimped-out pumpkin when I realized I really had nothing more to contribute to my first design, save slightly longer, tidier nails and a steadier hand with a detail brush. Okay, so this carriage looks a bit like a gilded Fabergé egg on wheels, but then again, so does the one in the movie. There are worse modes of transportation for a young lady on her way to the big ball (again, see above re: smelly old bus!)
That title is actually something of a misnomer. So far as I know, there is no tiered nail polish cage match throwdown that happens each March, with one bottle or mani emerging triumphant in varnished victory. If there were, though, I have no doubt it would be insanely popular, and indeed quite insane – do we really need another venue (other than Instagram) in which to be crazily competitive with one another?
So it’s extra nice then that the monthly Nail Art Ideas Linkup (N.A.I.L.) Challenge is such a friendly, casual, free-wheeling affair – stop by any time you’d like throughout the month, participate in as many weeks’ worth of themes as you’d like (or not, lurker 😉 ) and draw inspiration from fun challenge themes that are sure to get any stalled-out creative engines revving again. March’s themes offer a little something for everyone; I’m particularly looking forward to taking a second pass during week one at a Cinderella design I attempted very early on in my nail art career. I’ve been meaning to update it for some time now – and it looks like now is that perfect some time.