Showing posts with label Tutorial. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tutorial. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Proof is in the pudding

I do love it when readers try things and then send me pictures. It's quite gratifying. I mean, I know the things that spew from this blog work for me, but to have someone else get something out of it is pretty terrific!

This little lady right here... Kat from Hooked on Polish started chatting me up on Twitter the other month (you can follow her too... click here.) We've been having a hilarious love affair every since. Like me, and many of you, she has to deal with a little wonky nail here and there. After my last post, "Straight and narrow", she showed me her wonk and decided to try the simple filing technique. She was happy with the results and I was ecstatic for her! She was kind enough to let me share her before and after pictures. AND WHO DOESN'T LIKE A GOOD BEFORE AND AFTER. Sorry for shouting, but I really am THAT excited.

Today, I will share with you her results.

Before: photo credit (from twitter)

After: photo credit (from twitter)
It seems silly, but these minor little changes makes a difference when your wonk is getting you down. YAY!

Hugs and kisses to Kat for her testimonial. Thanks for letting me use your pictures! Now, if you will excuse us, we have to go hump. *inappropriate*

WARNING: please read the previous post and all relevant posts linked within and attempt all filing carefully and responsibly as messing with the nail side walls can be tricky.

Good Luck!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Straight and narrow

How lovely would it be if all of our nails grew evenly and straight?! This is the stuff of dreams! Well, maybe second to winning the lottery. If you weren't blessed (because I sure as hell wasn't), grab your favorite gentle nail file and join me in this tutorial! I recommend either a 220-320 grit strength for strong healthy nails or a 400-600 grit strength (or high quality crystal nail file) for weak problem nails. Here is a nail file post for reference.

I don't know about you, but my nails curve, wonk and do crazy things depending on factors such as water exposure, moisture content and whether they are polished or unpolished. I do pay special attention to filing to make them appear straight and narrow.

At this point, this filing technique is so automatic for me, it's hard to find a before picture. I would have to let my nails grow for quite a while and endure the fatness, crookedness and unevenness. And well, that is REALLY hard. The fact that I know they can look better with a few simple strokes of the file is just too much temptation to not do it all the time.

The look we are going for is very symmetrical. We are going to shoot for even nail beds, paying particular attention to the nail side wall to make it look nice and even...

Essie - Licorice
There are several factors that do not allow my nails to look like this all the time naturally.
First... there is the wonk:

I have discussed how to improve a wonky curvy nail in this post. For me, keeping the nail hydrated and at a length below a certain point makes the wonk improve. One thing I did not mention in that post is how we can also manipulate the nail side walls with filing, to create a more even appearance.

If you take a look at your nail from the side you may see this..

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

First, notice the curve. Some nails are worse than others. Second, notice the extra overhang at the tip of the nail (free edge) particularly more obvious in the second picture. I can't change that curve shape (my first concern); it is inherent, but I can play with the angles and eliminate the over hang (my second concern). If I file the nail side walls like this...

....suddenly the nail appears flatter and straighter...

I would advise being very careful while filing the nail side wall. I stressed that point in this and this post. Please read those posts first before attempting... don't fret, there are pictures!

This filing technique is really the key to getting my nails straight. Now, let's look at the c-curve of this nail.
Filing the sides (carefully!) allows me to straighten any imperfections in the c-curve. You may notice your nail c-curve is longer, heavier or curvier on the left vs. the right. Afterwords, my left and right side is not only balanced (I've included a white line that your eye can follow), but some of the c-curve is relaxed a bit. See if you can release/relax your c-curve by filing the sides off a bit. I think this helps trim off some of the weight. Your nail may appear more narrow.

A few small strokes of the nail file allows you to create a much straighter balanced nail. Using a gentle file and the correct technique, I strongly encourage you to play around with your nails to see what kind of shape and balance you can create.

And now for one of my favorite sexy polishes shown above....

Essie - Urban Express


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Barnacles off a hull

On this random night I decided to push back my cuticles. But the usual method was not good enough. For whatever reason I felt compelled to break out the metallic instruments. I was reminded why I rarely use them and in general recommend them only under adult supervision, or never.

My usual method:
There are two parts to the cuticle area, the live skin (eponychium) and the dead skin (true cuticle). I have discussed them in great detail in this post and many others. I push back my live cuticle everyday; I have a problem, I know this. The reason is well documented in this post. In short, I apply moisture and massage and push them back. It's glorious and gives me longer nail beds. Now, the dead skin is a bit more difficult to remove. Here, I resort to chemicals; they are my friends and there is no reason why they should not be yours. They rarely disappoint. Take it from a chemist ;) ... I'm slightly biased, clearly. I showed how I remove my true cuticle in this video and post. To summarize, I like to be really gentle and use a q-tip to apply the product and remove the true cuticle. I think a wooden stick is also safe, but personally don't use if very often.

My regrettable method:
The following got me into some trouble...

The perpetrators:
Ignore the innocent bystander (wooden stick). He's an okay chap, but if you use him, be careful nonetheless.

It's true some metal scrapers are sharper than others. I thought I was safe. These felt pretty smooth to me.

I still used Blue Cross cuticle remover, but decided to use the metal scrapers instead of my usual q-tip. Here was the result...




Of course this needs fixing PRONTO!
DON'T PULL IT!! It may pull off more nail deeper down.


Grab a semi rough nail file or buffing block, somewhere in the 220/320 or 400/600 range. I like the files from Tropical Shine for these types of jobs.

The first order of business was to remove that large flap. My nails are fairly healthy. I used the blue 220/320 file from Tropical Shine.

Next, I evened out the rest of the nail plate with a buffing block.

I am still in love with this sponge board. I used the 240 grit strength.

TA DA! Beautiful!


NO. The following week I saw what those metal implements did to me...

OMG! Yes, my nails are yellow from Sinful - San Francisco. Don't judge me. Instead see the full story here.

The red circle shows the trauma the implements inflicted.

With time the damage will grow out.

As the damage grows out, the white spot appears and disappears depending on how moisturized my nail plate happens to be.

Here my nail was moist, the spot appeared to dissipate.

**Side note** 
Isn't MOIST the best yet worst word ever?!

Here my nail was more dry, the spot appears more solid.

Moral of the story? I prefer to leave long hard metal objects for self defense purposes OR scraping barnacles of a hull, not cuticle removal.

How do you remove your cuticles?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Straight Edged

I can't say I am very straight edged, but my nails are a different story. There is nothing that bothers me more then a jagged side wall. What is that, you say?! Two examples...

middle finger

Aside from not looking very attractive, a jagged side wall (middle finger) has a weakened nail structure. I mean just think about it, missing nail pieces! Also, the sharp edges have a tendency to get caught on things. Both increase the probability of a nail tear. That does not bring me happiness. 

pointer finger

This happens a lot on my pointer fingers too.

How does all of the jaggedness come about? Recently, my fingers got caught up with a shark. Actually, for whatever reason, the nail structure is just a bit softer there; it happens sporadically.

But seriously, how awesome is the Discovery building!? I get to see this everyday!

What's my solution to prevent inevitable sadness? File the side walls. WHAT?! I know, I know.  I told you never to do that. Correction! I told you to do it a certain way. See here.

To summarize:
precious side wall

To preserve nail integrity it is best to keep as much of the side wall intact as possible.

avoid filing like this

Avoid holding and filing like pictured here. This gives too much access to the entire side wall. Too much filing of the entire side wall compromises the nail structure, making the nail more likely to tear.

tear on the pointer finger

Then this might happen...

In this situation my jagged edge was so far down, I couldn't even file it. I do have a solution ... nail fix here.

file the side wall like this!

This is a much safer way to file the side wall.  

So, let's see the "after" photos!
middle finger

Ahh, so smooth!

pointer finger

Catastrophe avoided!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thinner nails in 10 minutes or less!

Could your nails stand to loose a few?  Do you have extra saddle bags that seem permanent and unruly.  Well now, your nails can appear thinner with a few simple steps!

In a few previous posts, I have shown you just how chubby your nails can get when they consume copious amounts of water.  Look here, here and here.  But what if after shrinkage (i.e. tightening of your C-curve) they still seem to bulge and look obese?  Or what if your triangle shaped nail is making you feel down and out?

No fear!  Here is a techniques you can use when painting your nails to make them appear thinner.

First a little rollie pollie finger okay?

Click on any of these pictures to make them larger.

One coat of China Glaze - Vertical Rush

This nail is fully dried thus the C-curve has done all it can do to make the nail appear thinner.  The bulge is permanent.  Note that, it may look like I have polish on my skin at the sides of the nail bed, but I assure you I don't (pictures below). 

What to do?

If you are proficient at painting your nails, you can skip further down, otherwise....

Grab a fine cosmetic brush and acetone.

Here are a few examples:
The brushes with the black ferrules and white handles are no name brands, while the black handled silver ferrule brush is a Swissco brand, and the white handle silver ferrule brush is by ELF.  

Also grab a small piece of paper towel to wipe off excess acetone and polish.

Here is a shot of one of the sides.

1. Dip your brush in acetone. 
2. Get rid of excess acetone from the brush by lightly touching the brush against the paper towel
3. Run the brush along the nail side walls making a clean line.
4. Wipe off the polish on the paper towel.
5. Repeat steps 1. - 4. until you are happy with the lines.

You can take off more or less.  It seems on this side I took off a bit less polish.

If you are a proficient nail painter, just avoid painting the entire nail; leave a clean line at the side walls.

Here are a few before and after shots, head on. Depending on your own nail shape you may see only a subtle difference.  The flatter your nail (less pronounced C-curve) the greater the affect you will see. 

Here is a schematic for different nail shapes:

Each nail bed shape can appear thinner.  Since no filing of the side wall is necessary, you can maintain the integrity and strength of the nail bed.

Although this is a very effective technique, I am sometimes bothered that a portion of my nail bed is not covered with polish.  It will look good far away or head on, yet when I bring them close to my face and see them from the side, I have a raging desire to fill in the gap.  I struggle with them looking fat vs. thin. 

Do you ever use this technique when painting your nails?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hairy Situation

I have received a lot of questions/requests on this hair...

One big hair curl
If your hair already has slight curl or wave, this look is pretty dang easy to achieve.  I made a video on my YouTube channel!

All you need is a basic flat iron, hair tie, and brush.  I don't normally use hair products for this, but if it helps you keep your curls feel free to add them. I use a very low temperature setting, 220 C, but you'll have to find what temperature works best for your hair.

The flat iron in this video is a Remington Tstudio S8800.

The T studio is growing on me, finally after two years of use!  Perhaps I'm just resistant to change, but initially I was not a fan of the iron.  The only thing I ask of my irons is that they are not bulky and have temperature adjustment.

On pure aesthetics, I think the cool touch ends make this iron look bulky. I wish they weren't there, even though I realize they have a functional purpose. I decided to overlook the bulkiness in exchange for other positive aspects. At this point I am just used to them and don't notice them very much.

Temperature and digital controls:
This iron warms up very quickly, about 60 seconds. I really love the digital LCD temperature display. It's very easy to set the temperature using the -/+ buttons. The lowest heat setting is 200 C and it goes up to 400 C in 20 C intervals. There is an LED indicator light that blinks when the iron is heating up or remains solid when it has reached a specified temperature. When I initially bought the iron I had problems accidentally pushing the -/+ buttons and inadvertently changing the temperature setting. It was really frustrating. I didn't realize you could lock the temperature. All you need to do is, let the iron come to temperature (solid LED light), and then hold the on/off button for 2-3 seconds.  You can test the iron by pressing the -/+ buttons. Once I discovered this trick, I became more infatuated with the iron.  

Nano-Silver Ceramic Plates
Apparently the plates are made of ceramic and micro-fine, nano-crushed particles of silver that have anti-microbial purifying properties.  I'm not sure why one would be so concerned with microbes on the hair; I guess I could eat off my hair in a pinch.  Whatever, I don't care too much about that, but I do appreciate that after 2 years, the plates look brand new. This is another great reason to love the iron.

Flat iron comparison:
I can't remember exactly, but I think I paid ~$25 for the Tstudio at Big Lots. Before the T studio, I used an Andis Ceramic Plate Flat Iron that I bought at Walmart for ~$12. I liked the design much better over the T studio, but the ceramic plating wore off quickly (within the first 2 years).

I used the Andis flat iron probably for 5+ years (worn plates and all), before I finally stopped being lazy and replaced it. Although initially I was not happy with the replacement, the Remington Tstudio has proved to be a very nice work horse that I don't regret buying one bit.

What flat iron do you use?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Beat the system!

I never understood why the directions on some nail treatments called for an extra coat everyday or every other day. Are you suggesting your miracle juice is able to penetrate through the layer (or four) I put on in the previous few days?! That would be fantastic! However, I'm a beauty skeptic, remember? Once the product is dry, can more product absorb through and penetrate the nail?

The following is my brain daydreaming...
I imagine after a polish has dried (or cured) it can have small pores (or cracks). That, I can accept. Whether it actually happens is another question.  However, I do remember seeing the following video explaining how soak off gels work, which supports the mere possibility in regular polish.

In this situation, a chemical solvent (or perhaps the word molecule may be more appropriate) seeps through these engineered cracks or pores and is able to reach the dissolvable portion of the product. Is this possible for regular polish or treatments?

Let's assume the mere possibility:
My mind can imagine such a process for treatment products. Perhaps after the first layer has dried/cured enough cracks or pores exist and the treatment molecules are small enough to fit through and make it to  the nail nail surface. However, how likely would it be that companies actually engineer their treatment products like this? I have no idea.

Now let's assume this does NOT occur with regular polish and treatments:
There are two main reasons I can think of for these directions to exist, both are purely based on my gut and experience. My guess is they have you reapply the product merely as a coat of physical protection, which in reality any decent base coat or topcoat can provide (it's likely more cost effective too).

The other thought I had was, these directions are a marketing/selling tool. They make the consumer feel like they are doing something everyday to help their nail situation. Meanwhile, more of the product is used up, forcing the consumer to buy more to sustain their results. In the end the consumer feels like they have really contributed to their nail health (yay accomplishment!), while the company is ecstatic over their bottom line (they probably get a party with fancy champagne and hors d'Ĺ“uvres *jealous*).

I like to beat the system. Ya know, stick it to the man! Treatments that come as a lacquer, I generally only apply to the actual nail surface. All other subsequent coats would either be a base coat or topcoat, depending on whether I already applied colored polish.

This is all just me thinking aloud. I have no proof of anything. I wish I could be more concrete, but until I learn something new, I say don't waste your expensive treatment products as extra layers.

As a reward for making it all the way to the bottom of this post I'll show you meat and a franken:

Because who doesn't like meat in their mouth, duh!


The franken!

Really easy to make!

I used Revlon - Tropical Temptation and NYC - Starry Silver Glitter.

I've swatched Revlon - Tropical Temptation here. It somewhat resembles Revlon - Make Mine Mango here.

I have a Nail Treatment/Hardener Series, click here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blending ... not just for makeup.

I don't know what it is about round/oval nails on my hands that just seems off.  They seem to look elegant at some angles, while other times I'm just like, "what is going on here?"  I am constantly doing double takes perhaps because my brain is so accustomed to the squoval.  As a result, I filed my nails back into a more mentally acceptable shape for me, squoval.  I made a short video in the process.

How to file your nails into a Squoval from Round/Oval:

All you have to do is create a flat top and rounded edges.  Then, blend the two together to your desired level of squovalness.

The rest of the filing series can be found below:
X-Files Post and Video
Nail Shape and Balance Post
Taking Down Nail Length Post
Shaping the Free Edge - Square and Video
Shaping the Free Edge - Oval and Video
Shaping the Free Edge - Squoval and Video
Sealing the Nail Plate
Buffing out a peel

The polish in the video was ...

 China Glaze - Sugar High

At the end ...
China Glaze - High Maintenance

Do you have a mental inability to accept certain nail shapes? What nail shape does your brain favor?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Round Round Baby ...

You spin me right, round baby, right round.  Video time!  How to shape your nails into a round/oval from a square/squoval.

A few links first in case you missed the series:

X-Files Post and Video
Nail Shape and Balance Post
Taking Down Nail Length Post
Shaping the Free Edge - Square and Video
Shaping the Free Edge - Oval and Video
Shaping the Free Edge - Squoval and Video
Sealing the Nail Plate
Buffing out a peel

How to shape your nails into Round/Oval:

Before and After:
China Glaze - Ahoy!

Square Shape
Round Shape
I would say these are more round than oval.  Oval is more tapered at the tip.  To achieve a more oval shape continue to remove the corners. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Eww ... gross ... I hate you.

Not cute.  Do not adjust your screens.  This is not a broken nail.  Rather a really ugly curving to the nail.  I wish I could beat it out of me, but that simply doesn't work.  How is one supposed to deal??

As much as I want to walk around and constantly straighten it out against hard objects ... like this ... that is just unreasonable. 

Just in case I have not convinced you of its ugliness ...

<----- LOOK *barf*

What is worse than a wonky nail? ... Nothing comes to mind.

All is not lost.  Here is that same nail ... less ugly.

What the what?!?

How is this possible?  How can we get the wonk to relax?

There are a couple of steps you can take to remedy the situation, but keep in mind the end result is not permanent. DARN IT!   

The most effective solution is to use a combination of moisture (in the form of water) and oil/balm/waxy products together.  I have mentioned previously, long and constant exposure to water is not good for the nail layers.  I have several posts on "fat nails" and why it can weaken the nail plate layers and cause problems, i.e. splitting, peeling.  However, since there are times you simply cannot avoid water ... unless you're dirty ... you might as well use it to your advantage!  You can use unavoidable water exposure to help un-wonkify (<--O.O new word) your nail beds.  After your nails have been submersed in water, one good thing you can do for them is moisturize them with your favorite cuticle oil/balm/cream/lotion or wax containing product directly after the exposure.  Not only will this help seal in moisture, but it will also help keep the wonkiness at bay for a bit longer.  If you continue to add oil/balm/waxy products every few hours it will keep the nail less wonky.  I have found oil makes the results lasts longer than lotion.  Like I said, it's not permanent and takes effort to put cuticle oil on every couple of hours, but hey, it's either that or the weird wonk.

In summary: Constant moisture is like a Valium for the wonk.

Of course there is always that nubbinizing option ... but that makes me cry.

Do you know about the wonk, have the wonk?  How do you deal with the wonk?

Edit: Two other helpful posts on how to make a nail less wonky with filing can be found here and here.