Monday, 13 August 2012

Shellac: Review

For the past two years, I have gone on an annual summer camping trip. It is important for you to know that I was never a camping-type girl (as I'm sure you can all assume from this blog where I write about doing my nails every other day...ha!). In fact, I found a funny poem the other day in a box of old stuff. I used to go to french rock-climbing camp (yeah) and they made us go on this thing called "expe" where we would canoe somewhere and portage a lot and camp somewhere and eat gross food. Needless to say, I hated it. Check out this little ditty I wrote:

Notice the underlined words "wet" and "cold". And the failed poem at the top that I scratched out. Yeah, I wasn't too stoked. 

Get me out of this tent please
Get me home to my bed
Buy me a bath and a nice hote[sic] (I definitely meant hotel)
If we don't leave here I'll freack[sic] out 4 real
There's a root sticking in my back bone
This tent's real wet and real cold
So let's go go get out here
Cause I wanna go home

Now, all of a sudden, I LOVE camping. No phones, no computers, no alarms, no makeup...the list goes on. Living every day according to the light-dark cycle, eating food you cook on a fire (it always tastes better) - is awesome. Also, the camping spot we go to is a good 25 minute hike from where you can park so you really have to seriously consider what is worth carrying and what is not. And, unfortunately, nail polish is not.

So, this year, I decided to do a shellac for my week-long camping trip. Not necessarily because I want my nails to "look nice", but because I figured it would strengthen them and prevent breakage. I don't know about you guys, but one of my major pet peeves is when my nails break and are scraggly and get caught on everything and potentially could rip down further (ow!). Plus, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to really put a shellac manicure to the test. So, I went to Nice One Nails here in Ottawa and got a shellac. I opted for a coral-y pink colour because, who are we kidding, I can never turn that colour down. 

For those of you who don't know exactly what a shellac manicure is, I will give you the low down. Basically, it is the same as a regular manicure (base coat, two coats of colour, top coat) but the polish they use is different because it is cured by a UV lamp. In between each coat, your hand sits in a little UV lamp like this:

...and dries (very fast) while the manicurist paints your other hand. Shellac manicures usually range in cost between $25.00 and $40.00. This includes all the prep work the manicurist does (cutting, filing, cuticles, etc). However, I prefer to do this myself (never ever ever cut your cuticles!!!!) and, at Nice one Nails, just a shellac (no prep work) is only $20.00! Totally affordable. So I advise you to file your own nails, push your cuticles back, and then pop in for the shellac part. The end result is a manicure that is instantly dry and is said to last at least 14 days without chipping, smudging, pealing or cracking. Well, we will see, won't we?

This is what my shellac looked like the day after it was done: 

Not bad! (You can already see the camping dirt accumulating, however!) There is no chipping and the manicurist did a good job near the cuticles (ie. nail polish should always stay about 1-2mm away from your cuticles. If the polish touches your cuticles, when your nails grow, a 3D ridge of polish will appear when space increases between the polish and the cuticle. Not a good look. And very tempting to pick.)

The shellac did a great job throughout the camping trip. My nails did not break! Wohoo!

This is what it looked like about 1.5 weeks after it was done (12 days).

 Left hand
Right hand

Yes, I had also been painting some furniture turquoise (if you noticed!). So, let's see. Yes, you can see the polish growing out but that is not a huge problem. There is definitely chipping and I noticed a fair amount of cracking on my nails (you can see cracks in the polish where dirt has settled in. Gross). And the ring finger on my left hand was starting to peel up from the nail so I, of course, picked at it (bad - I know!). 

Now, let's talk about the removal process. If you go into the salon, they soak your hand in a little bowl of acetone and then scrape the polish off with a metal cuticle pusher (or something like that). Most of the polish usually comes off easily, but there is definitely a possibility for some serious scraping on your nail. You can also do this process at home. Personally, I use the "glitter removal method" but with 100% acetone instead of regular nail polish remover. This prevents a lot of the possible scraping. You can buy the acetone at most pharmacies. Now, acetone is pretty rough. Your nails are not going to shrivel up and die, but you will notice that your nails, cuticles, and finger tips will be dried out as a result of this process. Definitely not the best for you, but not the end of the world either. 

My general view on shellac follows: if you aren't too picky about your nails and plan on spending about $40-50 a month on manicures, this is definitely for you. Or, if you are going on a trip, this is definitely the hassle free way to go. If you are trying to grow your nails out (and are trying to avoid breakage), a shellac will also work. However, if you are like me and notice imperfections in your nails and want to fix them, this is not the way to go. The removal process is too time consuming and annoying to do unless you really have to.

Have you tried shellac? 
Ps. Look at me...I'm camping! (My 12 year old self is P.O'ed)

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Monday, 23 July 2012

Lana Del Rey Nails: Tutorial

Last winter, Lana Del Rey released her awesome music video for Born to Die. When I watched it, one of the first things I noticed about it were the nails (obviously). I promptly recreated the design on my nails and posted about it on the blog. The nails were tipped with a red Vv" outlined in gold glitter. Here is a video snapshot I took of the video:

I can see that a lot of you have been checking out that post, so I thought I might show you, step-by-step, how I recreated this look. 

What you will need for this manicure:
1. Clear base coat 
2. Nude polish (optional)
3. Red polish
4. Gold glitter polish
5. Top coat
6. Small paintbrush
Obviously, you can change up the red polish and gold glitter to other combinations if you wish!

1. Start with a clear or nude base
Here, I simply did a clear base coat on the nail. Use a clear polish if your nails are healthy and not stained - mine are slightly yellowed around the tips, but that will be covered by red polish for this manicure. If you are less inclined to show your natural nail, feel free to use a nude polish instead. 

2. Dot the middle of the tip
Using your small paintbrush and red polish, use a dot to roughly mark where the middle of the nail is on the tip.

3. Dot the middle of the sides
Using your small paintbrush and red polish, use two dots on each nail to mark the middle of the nails on  both edges.

4. Create the "V" shape
This is the slightly trickier part, but the dots are there to make it easier by guiding your brush. With the small paintbrush, connect each side dot from step 3 to the middle dot from step 2. Here, I usually round the lines slightly, creating a bulge and making the "v" slightly concave. However, if you prefer, you can make these lines straight but it takes a little more patience and steady-handedness.

5. Fill in the "V" shapes
Here, you can either use your small paintbrush, the polish brush, or a combination of the two. If using the polish brush, be sure not to stray beyond the lines of the "v"! Cleaning up could be quite the task here (you might have to re-start). To be safe, you could roughly fill in the larger areas with the polish brush and then fill in the leftover, hard to reach spots, with the small paintbrush.

6. Outline the "V" in gold glitter
This part may seem daunting because of the thin line, but it isn't. This is because glitter tends to be forgiving when creating delicate shapes. With glitter, it is not very obvious if the lines are not perfect and the individual glitter bits can be pushed around with a toothpick and pushed into the right shape. That is why I recommend using a glitter for the outlining as opposed to a metallic or opaque polish - glitter camouflages imperfections!

There you go - the infamous Lana Del Rey manicure. In my opinion, this is one of the best manicures out there right now. It is universally flattering and elongates the fingers. Plus, it is pretty sexy. Try out for yourself and you will see!

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Saturday, 21 July 2012

Summer Orange Slice Nails

We have been having a serious heat wave in Ottawa which inspired me to come up with a super summer manicure. This one is just as juicy as the strawberry nails - I really liked the way it turned out! I used OPI's A Good Mandarin is Hard to Find as the base. This is an amazing orange - it's very reddish and a beautiful orange without being too bright or neon. It's actually quite flattering on the nails - if you're looking for an orange...I highly recommend this one!
Then, I painted an orange slice onto my ring fingers. I love the way this design looks as an accent. So sweet and summery! Now all I can think about is trying a lemon-themed version...keep your eyes pealed!

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Sunday, 15 July 2012

Rainbow Leopard Print Nails

When people ask what my favourite manicure to do is, I usually mention this one among my top 3. The leopard print manicure is so great because it's easy and always comes together in a really awesome way. With just 2 super easy steps!
I decided to try it out using a rainbow background because, who are we kidding, we all love rainbows. First, start by painting your nails whatever colour(s) you would like in the background. I did a red, orange, yellow, green, and blue nail on each hand, starting at the thumb.

Step 1: Irregular spots

Then, using a toothpick or small paintbrush, paint irregular spots on the nail, leaving some space in between them (check out the photo to see what I mean). I used white for this manicure but you can use any colours you find compliments the base. 

Step 2: "C" and "U" shapes

Then, again with either a toothpick or a small paintbrush and black polish, outline the spots with "C" and "U" shapes, but leave a portion of each spot not-outlined. After you have done that, fill in the empty areas on the nails with black specks, tiny lines, and "C" and "U" shapes.

And that's it! It's super easy and always looks great. 

Rainbow leopard print nails

Plus, you can switch up the background and spot colours and try out different combinations which is always a plus. Here are some other versions of the leopard print manicure that we have done. Check 'em out!
 Gold and Brown Leopard Nails

 Grey and Peach Leopard Nails

 Grey and Periwinkle Leopard Nails

Pink and White Leopard Nails

 Purple Leopard Nails

 Silver and Blue Leopard Nails

 Silver and Fuchsia Leopard Nails

Turquoise and Neon Green Leopard Nails
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Friday, 6 July 2012


We did another awesome nail party and, we gotta say, we had a blast.

I gotta come clean with you guys. We love you. I know that seems extreme but hear me out. It needs mentioning that every time we do a nail party, we are in awe of you. Nail parties are an interesting concept because we come to your house and join your party - all complete strangers - and there is definitely potential awkwardness there. But, without fail, every party is such a good time and every group of women is amazing. We always walk away saying "Wow, weren't they awesome? I could stay and hang out with them all night!" We are serious! Kudos to you, ladies. You are all so funny, intelligent, and a blast to hang around with. We are continuously surprised by how many amazing groups of ladies there are out there in Ottawa. So, thank you for being you.

In honour of your awesomeness, we are doing a free giveaway! We will be giving away two polishes from Essie's new mirror metallics collection - Blue Rhapsody and Nothing Else Metals.

How to enter: Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and send us a quick email at with your name to enter! Make sure to enter before next Friday at 9:00pm :)

Now, back to the nail party!

Adorable strawberry nails

Cute coral fairy glitter nails

Cool coral skull nails!

Mix'n'match nails featuring heart tips, an anchor, a rose, strawberries, leopard print...

...and an evil eye!

Everyone showing off their finished products!

The amazing ladies who inspired this post.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Fourth of July Manicure

Happy Fourth of July, neighbours-to-the-South! I hope you are all doing your best to take the time to enjoy today, like we did over here on the 1st.

For this manicure, I decided to keep it semi-simple by only doing something fun and sparkly on accent nails (ring fingers). I did a white base coat on the other nails, followed by a modified French tip using red & navy. On the ring finger, I sponged on red, blue, and white with a makeup sponge and added sparkly stars with a tooth pick and white polish. I finished it all off with a tad of holographic glitter.

The real reason why I did this manicure is because I am, in fact, moving the USA very soon! In August, I am heading down to Ithaca, NY for grad school at Cornell University. I am sad to leave Canada but very excited to hit the books again! 

So, this means that our business of nail parties will be on pause. We will still be booking parties until August 10th so get yours in soon! Also, I will be back for holidays so feel free to contact us to see if we could work something out. The blog is going to keep running - I figured it would be great to have a creative outlet during my studies, so please keep checking in to see what manicures I am up to!

Thanks so much for reading and booking!
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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Canada Day Mix & Match Manicure

Tomorrow is Canada Day! In honour of the fireworking-BBQing-swimming-drinking-be-jollying day, I thought it would be appropriate to come up with a red & white manicure. I couldn't decide on a single design to use so I went for mix&match. It turned out pretty cute! Check it out!

Happy Canada Day everyone!
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Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Strawberry Nails

Strawberry nails are one of my favourite nailart designs because they are easy (for everyone) and absolutely adorable and perfect for summer. I have done them before and figured it would be great timing for a simple how-to post. Check it out!

First, start with a red base. Here, I used Deborah Lippmann's It's Raining Men because it is a great, bright red. Use whichever red you think is juiciest, or, for a more stylized version of the strawberry nail, go for a pink or even a neon!

For the seeds, use a toothpick or a dotting tool to add on a pattern of tiny yellow dots.

The leaves are the easy part! You could use a toothpick or a small paintbrush for this step. Just draw a few tendrils on the tip of the nail - they don't have to be perfect so don't be intimidated! And voila. Adorable strawberry nails! Go for it.

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Wednesday, 20 June 2012

American Apparel X Beauty School Dropouts

My set up

Last Saturday, I spent the afternoon at American Apparel in the Rideau Centre doing fun manicures all day. I had access to all of AA's nail polishes (amazing colours) and the manicures were free! 

The spread

I genuinely love working with AA polishes - they have amazing colours that go on very opaque (an important quality in a polish), have bold and awesome glitters, and perfect neons. The possibilities were endless! I had such an amazing time painting everyone's nails and making your nail-art ideas happen! Check out some manicures below with the corresponding AA polishes.

For this leopard print manicure, I used Gold Flash for the base, Cocoa for the spots, and Hassid for the accents. 

For this blue rose manicure, I used Summer Peach for the base, American Denim and Mount Royal for the rose, Crescent Heights for the leaves, and Hassid for the accents. 

For this adorable fairy nails manicure, I used Coney Island for the base, Light Year glitter on the tips, and T-Shirt for the tiny bow on the ring fingers. 

For this girly bow manicure, I used Angeline as the base and Hassid for the bows.

This lovely girl was headed to the Carivibe Festival and wanted to represent Jamaica on her nails - this is what I came up with! I love these nails. I used Hasid, Neon Green, and Sunshine State

For these rose nails, I used Mount Royal as the base, Poppy and Rouge for the rose, Crescent Heights for the leaves and Coney Island for the accents.

Love the twist on the classic French Manicure here...I used Dance as the base and Gold Flash as the tips.

I absolutely love this version of the Lana del Rey manicure! This manicure is universally flattering and has an uber-cool factor thanks to the lady who first wore it. I used Dance as the base, Passport Blue on the tips, and Gold Flash for the accents. 

What a great day! Plus, being surrounded by AA clothes was not so horrible either...other than the fact that I was tempted to spend my entire life savings on summer clothes ;)

Can't wait to do this again! Thanks to all the ladies who came out and the superb AA employees who helped make my day awesome.

Thanks for having me!

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