Thursday, May 15, 2014

Paw Print Nail Art

Every night I read blogs, mostly beauty blogs, and absolutely marvel at the nail artists that are out there. Terms like "gradient", "accent nail" and "stamping" are thrown around so lightly. I have to admit that I am utterly fascinated by the nail art that I see every night and, yes, I do aspire to do some of it. Every time I come across a how-to tutorial for a design, I scour it for the secret to success, and while I have picked up a few tips here and there, I still have a long way to go. I am patiently waiting for my Julep Creativity kit to come in June which contains a striping brush and dotting tool, and I look forward to seeing what I can do with that. I'm pretty good at sketching, and I enjoy drawing.

However, I think that on the whole, most women that do their own nails are probably like me...they admire the nail art, aspire to be able to paint sunflowers or Easter eggs or Christmas trees on their nails, but in the end just are proud of themselves when they can do a French manicure freehand without guides or tape and smile when they manage to paint their nails without having to do much clean-up. I'm pretty proud of myself that I taught myself how to paint my nails by the age of fourteen even though I am very dominant with my right hand. However, to all those women out there like me, I say, keep on keeping on, because there is a lot of polish out there and we have a hell of a lot of manis and pedis ahead of us. is an expression...yes, even nail art! I think creating a beautiful look on ten very small canvases is quite an accomplishment, and with all the different colors, textures, glitters and objects that you can glue on your nails, it's a pretty freaking cool art form!

I came up with the idea for my nail art yesterday when my yellow Lab Katie got very sick and we had to take her to the vet. My baby is thirteen which is about the end of a Labrador's life span, so we are gently preparing ourselves for the tough decision that comes with owning a pet. However, our vet, bless her, thinks that she might be able to stabilize Katie as she may have "old dog" vestibular disease. After researching this on the internet, I found out that this is pretty common and treatable, thank God, but we are still going to be waiting for the vet to release her. I just got a call a little while ago that she is doing great and her bloodwork is solid.

Last night, as a good luck charm, I did a pawprint manicure which was a lot easier than I thought. I selected Brooklyn by Zoya from their Awaken collection, which is a pale rich yellow metallic lacquer, and matches my dog's fur, and Hard-Kourt Fashionista from a Nicole by OPI mini set inspired by the Kardashians. I would suggest always having all your colors picked out ahead of time before you start. This was my first time using either color, and both applied very well and very smoothly, although Brooklyn was a little on the thick side.

Picture courtesy of

Picture courtesy of

1. To achieve my mani, I started with clean, buffed and cuticle-free fingernails. I tried Blue Cross Cuticle Remover for the first time ever tonight after Tabatha convinced me I was really missing out (she was right of course) and was truly amazed at how much dead skin I removed. If you are looking for a great cuticle remover that is really mess-free, I would suggest giving it a try. This huge bottle is enough to last you and probably ten of your friends for thirty years worth of manicures. In order to fit into my cute basket, I filled up a small plastic squeeze bottle with it. To use it, I got a nail bowl of warm soapy water, a metal cuticle pusher, and several paper towels. I spread out the paper towels on my computer desk, which is where I do my manicures in bed, and used the squeeze bottle nozzle to flood the sides and base of my nail bed. I then took the metal pusher and gently pushed back my cuticles, moving the wedge back and forth to loosen the dead skin. The last step is to soak my fingers in the soapy water, using your other fingers to make sure all the dead skin is sloughed off. Repeat with the other hand. I moisturized my hands and applied Julep Mighty Nail & Cuticle Serum afterwards as a conditioner.

2. For my base, I applied one coat of Quimica Alemana.

3. I applied two coats of Brooklyn and let set for about ten minutes. When it comes to nail art, I have found, it is good to know the brands you are working with. A brand that is very thick and doesn't set fast is not going to be perfect for nail art as your colors you will be creating with may cut into the wet lacquer and then you have a mess. No bueno.

4. Before you start with your nail art, it's a good idea to have a clear vision of what you want to end to look like, even if that means doing a stencil outline of your hand and roughly sketching your designs. I didn't do this for this manicure since it was fairly simple, but several months ago I did a manicure inspired by the paisley curlicues and colors of the cover of the Rough Riders romance series by Lorelei James. That one, I drew a simple sketch of the design, and it made the painting go much faster. With this one, I decided that I wanted a simple puppy paw print, four toes, one per nail, and that I wanted each pawprint to be in a different spot on the nail and facing different directions so it didn't look like stickers.

5. Starting with the center paw pad, I blobbed a nice circular spot of Hard-Kourt Fashionista in the middle of my right thumb and carefully smoothed it out using the end of the brush. I used the lacquer that was remaining in the brush to carefully dot four toes. You could also use a toothpick for this if you have a heavy or shaky hand.

6. I repeated the process with all nine of my remaining fingernails, never starting in the same place twice and mixing up which directions the toes pointed.

7. I waited ten minutes for the paw prints to set. I have read in many blogs that a lot of nail artists recommend waiting several minutes between colors so your colors don't mix on the nail. Another tip is to clean your tool between nails for a crisp, clean line. Since mine was just the brush, I just made sure that I checked it between nails for not an excessive amount of polish.

8. My final step was a top coat of HK Girl, a spray of my drying spray, and voila, my manicure is complete!

And the inspiration, my yellow Lab Katie. *smile* I miss her and can't wait for her to come home.

Zoya Brooklyn is available for $9 straight from the manufacturer. I acquired my NOPI Hard-Kourt Fashionista as part of a mini-set, but I was surprised to find that you can get this great glossy chocolate brown at WalMart for $5.97. The Blue Cross cuticle remover, squeeze bottle and metal cuticle pusher I bought at Sally Beauty Supply, and the Julep cuticle serum I got directly from Julep in one of my monthly Maven boxes (and it is quickly becoming a staple in my manicure routine). All of the products featured here are pinned on our pinterest board...except for my sweet Katie, who is not for sale. *grin*

Have fun with your nail art!

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