For my first Manicure of the Week, I really wanted to show off something cool and special.
Instead, I get to share a learning experience.
For this manicure, I followed the tutorial on Nailasaurus' blog. The problem is that Kroger was out of cosmetic sponges when I stopped by on the way home from work, so I settled for a regular kitchen sponge. In the process of doing this one, I realized rather quickly that I needed a sponge with smaller pores. I still think that these will be useful...but for something else. I might have been able to get a more gradual transition with more applications, but with dry time this design took almost three hours for all the coats I had to do:
1. I always treat my nails with Sally Hansen Natural Nail Growth Activator before I start [sadly, it is discontinued. But it appears there are a plethora of replacements available, such as this one]. It dries almost instantly and usually by the time I finish with the last finger the first is ready to be painted. When used regularly, it does help nails to grow. Right now I'm using it pretty frequently because my nails, which are usually rather weak and brittle, have been peeling horribly--worse than I've ever had before--so I'm trying to get some new, stronger nails to grow in.
2. Because my nails are so weak, I use Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Instant Nail Hardener as a base coat [again, discontinued, but I believe this is a similar if not identical formula]. It helps the polish last longer, and it helps my nails stay stronger after the polish is removed.
3. I put on two very thin coats of Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in #440 "Calypso Blue." This is one of my favorite colors and I always get a lot of compliments on it. It is very sheer on it's own, however, hence the two coats. If I were wearing this color on it's own, I would have done up to four to get the desired effect.
4. For the dark end of the gradient, I mixed equal parts of Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear in #25 "Night Lights" (this is starting to read like an infomercial, isn't it? While the line is still around, the color appears to have been discontinued) with Bari Cosmetic's Pure Ice in "Kiss Me Here." Once more, I think this color has been discontinued. When I looked it up to link for this post, it brought me to a page for what looks like a black glitter polish, and the bottle I have is a solid, beautiful, ebony black (they also charge $1.99 per bottle on their site, and I think I found it for 99 cents at Walmart a few years ago). The nearest one now available is Black Rage.
5. I then topped everything off with three more coats of the Nail Hardener, which helped even out the bumpiness of the gradient and provided a more uniform shine.
Next time, I want to try using matte colors, a better sponge, and I won't mix colors. First, it created an uneven tone at the tip of the nail, and where the black/glitter combo overlapped with the blue it created a sort of sick greenish color that I'm not crazy about. Still, the more I look at this manicure, the more I like it, even if it didn't come out quite the way I imagined.
It is also clear that I need to invest in a quick dry top coat--the question is, which one? I had one a very, very long time ago but never really noticed a difference with or without it. Do they actually work?
I guess I'll have to find out.