Monday, May 27, 2013

Evolution of a Blue Bling Manicure

Right now I'm sporting a very shimmery glittery all-in-all blinged out manicure in blue that I have documented with photos as it evolved. Five different polishes went into the making of it, including base and topcoat.

It began, as all my manicures do, with OPI Nail Envy basecoat. I wanted to mention about Nail Envy that is is not a dedicated basecoat. It is what is called a "treatment." Treatments are lacquers that contain special ingredients that supposedly fortify or hydrate or strengthen or otherwise "treat" the nail in some way. Now I say "supposedly" because these things do not magically erase problems and transform fingernails into visions of loveliness. Any transformation that occurs will take place over time. Some treatments are more effective than others, and some are better for specific issues than others. It's usually a matter of testing out various products over time to find one that you feel really does help your nails in some way. Treatments are usually clear and come with directions to apply to the nail one coat per day for a period of time, usually a week, after which you remove with polish remover and begin again.

But of course not everyone wants to limit their nail adornment to clear lacquer day after day for weeks on end. I know I don't! But I do realize that there are issues with the health of my nails that would probably be the better for some attention. I decided to use OPI's Nail Envy, which is supposed to strengthen the nail, mostly because it regularly comes up for auction on ebay and I can get it there for a lot less than what it costs retail. Instead of using it by itself, I make it my basecoat and hope to receive some of those strengthening benefits that way. And it works pretty well as a basecoat. The polish I put on top of it stays on my nails until I decide to take it off. But then I only wear a manicure for a day or two.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program already in progress. 

The polish I used for this post is another medium toned blue creme that I've been wanting to swatch called A Bouquet for Ava by Barielle. Barielle describes Bouquet as "a cool Caribbean blue." In reviews online I seen it described as a blue-leaning teal, a French blue and a deep sky blue. To me, it's a balanced medium teal. The formula is highly pigmented and smooth and the finish is glossy. Careful painters could probably get one coat coverage. I did two coats.

Barielle A Bouquet for Ava

Barielle A Bouquet for Ava

Barielle A Bouquet for Ava

modified claw

Barielle A Bouquet for Ava

Barielle A Bouquet for Ava

Barielle A Bouquet for Ava

Barielle A Bouquet for Ava

Barielle A Bouquet for Ava is a Chi approved polish!

Can you tell that I really liked this color on me? And you know I love blue polish generally so we can probably both agree that A Bouquet for Ava is a WIN!

As much as I liked this polish, I had a yen for sparkle that demanded satisfaction. So I looked through my collection of China Glaze glitter polishes and picked out Atlantis. Atlantis is a fabulous mermaidesque combination of blue and green small glitters in a lightly tinted base. 

Then I had to decide what method I would use to dress up Bouquet with Atlantis. I could simply layer Atlantis on top of the whole nail. Or I could do a gradient. 

A gradient is a type of manicure where one or more polishes taper or feather into each other, so that there is an area of transition from one polish to the next where they actually mix or appear to mix. Gradients can be done with colors or textures or both.

I wanted my nail tips to look like I'd dipped them in sparkle, so I applied Atlantis beginning at the free edge, or tip of my nails. I wiped most of the polish off of the brush at the neck of the bottle and lightly brushed from the tip down over about a quarter of the nail's length. I did this to all of my nails, let them dry long enough to set up securely and then did another application round with the same technique. This time I dragged the mostly dry brush a teeny bit farther down the nail in just a few places, like the edges closest to the cuticle and one or two spots in the middle. Let that dry. Then a final round where I used a medium loaded brush on the free edge to make sure it was opaque with Atlantis and then ploshed the brush lightly where I'd dragged it before to make sure there'd be a sparkly drippy kinda look.

I have two quick pics of the mani at this stage. It really doesn't look like much. Visually, glitter is a dynamic element. The impact it has depends on light AND movement together. So a photograph is never going to capture the sparkle the way it is experienced in person. But you will be able to see how I concentrated Atlantis at the tips of my nails.

This is Atlantis in the bottle with glitter reflecting mightily in the morning sunlight

China Glaze Atlantis applied over Barielle A Bouquet for Ava

China Glaze Atlantis applied over Barielle A Bouquet for Ava

At this point I wanted to add something to help smooth out these two and tie them together more. So I reached for one of my most favorite toppers, Orly's Shine On Crazy Diamond. If this polish were a man I would move to Vermont and marry it, that's how much I love it! Shine On Crazy Diamond has VERY sparkly holographic microglitter sparsely suspended in a clear base. It's not packed with the microglitter, so it is a perfect polish to tie a look together without distracting from other elements.

I applied it to the whole nail over both Bouquet and Atlantis.

Orly Shine On Crazy Diamond, bottle shot

Atlantis applied over Bouquet with Shine On Crazy Diamond over both

Atlantis applied over Bouquet with Shine On Crazy Diamond over both

intentional blur helps to show sparkle

Atlantis applied over Bouquet with Shine On Crazy Diamond over both

I could have stopped here, but why? I grabbed another great topper, Nubar 2010 (which I showed you back in my Three For One post), and added a coat of its flakie goodness over Shine On Crazy Diamond. Finally I added a layer of venerable Seche Vite fast dry topcoat to encase the look in glossy shine, help protect the glitters from chipping, bond the layers together and speed up drying time for all.

recap, what I used (l to r): Nubar 2010, Orly Shine On Crazy Diamond, Barielle A Bouquet for Ava, OPI Nail Envy and...

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

the total look

blingy blue manicure

blurred for some colorful sparkle action

prrrretty sparrrrrkly prrrrecious


did I mention, this is a sparkly look...

at the window looking a bit more subdued...

see the pretty flakies? bling! bling! bling bling bling!

beautiful glowing flakies

it's blingtastic!

yup yup!

extreme close up whoa!


direct sunlight

indirect light

blingy teal blue mani

Gotta love it. Gotta love love LOVE it! Something about that much sparkle on your tips just makes you want to party! Got no party here at the moment, though. What I do have quite a bit of laundry to do so I can pack for my trip to YOUR HOUSE. *squeal* How in blazes am I going to pack all the nail polish and manicure stuff? I hope I remember to bring everything. It would be so sad if I forgot, say, YOUR BIRTHDAY PRESENTS. Just pickin, chicken! I'd never forget a present, much less a birthday present for my favorite niece.

May the bling be with you, Eleanor!

Aunt Liz

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