Helpful Tips and Tricks

This page will be updated when I find something new that I learn about nails and nail art so you won't have to look around for it!
  • Get a good top coat.  My favorite top coat to use is Out the Door which gives a great shine and keeps my nails chip free for a long time.  The reason you could be getting chips or smudges in your nails is because you are using a cheap or old top coat.  Old top coats take forever to dry and cheap top coats don't keep your manicure as well. 
  • Get a good base coat.  I have found that OPI's base coat and the Sally Beauty Supply brand of base coat have worked the best for me.  It's important to have a good one and also important that it's not old.  I've used old base coat on accident and my manicure took forever to dry!  Smudge city.
  • Why are my nails taking forever to dry?  
    • This could be because of a bad base coat.  If you don't use a ton of base coat, I would suggest buying a smaller bottle even though you save money buying a big one.
    • The top coat you are using is old.  Sometimes, when these get old, they get a little thicker and take longer to dry.
    • Your color is old, thick, or cheap.  Yes there are some good polishes that dry quickly and are pretty cheap, like Sally Hansen or Sinful Colors, but mainly, they take a long time.
  • Why are my nails chipping?
    •  Are you careful with your nails?  My nails have almost completely stopped chipping because I am subconsciously careful with my hands.  (That takes time!)
    • Use a good top coat.. it does wonders.  I use Out the Door for a really shiny look or OPI's top coat, but that's not as shiny of a finish.
  • Get rid of the chip skip.  It really doesn't help.  I have used OPI's Chip Skip and I think it made my nails chip.
  • Make sure to lotion your cuticles and nail beds.  This really helps the look of your nails and makes your nail art look even better!
  • What does a base coat do?
    •  If used properly, it protects your natural nails from harmful nail polishes.
    • Some nail polishes, mainly reds, dark blues, and yellows can stain your nails and having a base coat will help from the stain.
    • You can buy a huge bottle of base coat, but only get one if you are positive you will use it all within a reasonable amount of time.  Even when I do my nails all the time, I end up throwing away a good amount of base coat because it gets old.  Just lasts so long!
  • Don't pick off your nail polish.  I do it sometimes when I'm bored, but I know it's bad.  This can make your nails peel and get pretty rough.  
  • Use a buffer, but not all the time.  Fine buffers can help smooth nails and get rid of ridges, but using these too often can make your nails thin and brittle.  
  • For thin nails:
    • Use a nail strengthening base coat in those naked days.  OPI's Nail Envy comes in many different flavors such as for dry nails, brittle nails, or matte.  You can even use these as a base for a color.
    • Don't buff your nails too often.  Sometimes when your nails are thin, they can really hurt.  It's happened to me a ton where if I don't have protection (base color) they feel bruised.
    • Don't go completely naked.  A lot of brands of polishes are really great for natural nails, like Zoya.  They have a complete system you can use to protect and strengthen your nails.
  • Say what you want about nail files, but the ones that work the best are the cheap ones.  You don't need a crystal nail file, or some five dollar one, because the $1 ones from Sally's are fantastic.  They also come in cool patterns like peacock, zebra, and tropical fish!
    • The grittier the nail file, the more damage they do.
    • I only really use a fine nail file because when I use them, it's to get rid of sharp edges after clipping my nails.  If you go gritty, you are filing down like none other!
  • There are many things around the house you can use for nail art.  You just have to be creative!  Things like aluminum foil, plastic wrap, flocking powder, and scrap-booking glitter can make really wonderful, cheap, and easy art.
  • I want to use nail art plates, but where do I begin?
    • Start with Konad.  The brand Konad is one of the best nail art plate series around.  The designs are intricate and they are deep.
    • Use Konad stamping polish.  It's very thick polish and comes in so many colors.  
      • Never use Konad stamping polish as a base polish.  That's a horribly bad idea.  Because it's thick, it won't dry and the brush isn't good for easy spreading.
      • You can also use any thick nail polish, especially metallics.  They show up amazingly!
    • The double ended stamper and scraper is the best stamper you can buy.  It's Konad brand and you need it to do anything with stamping.  It has a small end for tinier designs and the bigger end for full images.
      •  With the smaller end, you can have more precision with your stamp.
    • It takes time learning what pressure you need for the plates you have.  I really didn't get a perfect stamp the first time I did it, and sometimes, I still mess it up!
    • Next place to go is Bundle Monster.  They have great nail art sets.  Some images, however, aren't deep enough, but they've gotten a lot better!
    • My favorite Konad off-brand of nail art plates are Cheeky brand.  They are almost as great as Konad.  They also have very cool designs and they are really cheap!
    • I've also used Gals and MASH. 
  • Where do you buy all of this?
    • I buy all my nail art stuff at Sally's Beauty Supply and Amazon.  It's much cheaper than buying directly from their websites.
  • Where do you get your OPI?
    • I used to only buy from Trade Secret but they're closed all over now!
    • I've been buying all my collections on eBay:
      • When buying collections, they end up being ~$6.50 a bottle (better than $9!)
      • Make sure you are buying authentic OPI from a certified seller.  I've gotten bottles that have been clearly tampered with and it doesn't make me very happy...
    • I find good deals at Ulta:
      • Sometimes they have "Buy 2 Get a Free Base/Top Coat Free"
      • Sometimes they have "2 for $15"
      • You can always find a $3.50 off a $10 purchase online too! 
  • Where do you get your China Glaze?
    • Sally's Beauty Supply.
    • If not there, Head 2 Toe Beauty (online) has really great prices on China Glaze.  You have to buy a lot of polish to get a good deal on shipping.  It's kind of expensive on there.
    • You may also find good deals at the Ulta, but I haven't gone there to buy China Glaze.
  • Where do you get your Zoya?
    • Zoya.com.
    • They have the Share the Love program where you can get points for having people sign up for an account, buying things, and they give random points every once in a while.  With these points, you can get great deals like free nail polish, free shipping, or $$ off coupons.
    • You can also find Zoya at Ulta and it's the same price as Zoya.com so either/or!
  • How about Essie?
    • Walgreens or Target.
    • I haven't really found a website that sells a really cheap Essie, other than Amazon, but I haven't bought them from there yet.
  • Other brands?
    • You can find really great nail polish anywhere.. even K-Mart!  You just have to look around.
    •  Etsy.com, which is a website where people can sell home-made things, like indie nail polish.  There are some really amazing polish producers out there, like Nail-Venturous, Wonder Beauty Products, and etc.!
  • Buy a really good cuticle clipper.  It will save you a lot cuts and hurt in the long run.  I need to perfect the use of these though because sometimes I get a little cray.
  • How do you do a perfect water marble?  
    • First, make sure you have room temperature water.  Needs to be room temperature or the polish won't spread out as nice.
    • You need to pick your colors and they should be newer so they aren't thick and gloopy.
    • Paint your nails with a light base color.  White usually works the best.
    • Tape off your fingers so you don't get a ton of nail polish on your cuticles.  It's a pain.
    • Drop in your colors and dip your finger in.  Keep it there for 10-15 seconds while blowing on the water.
    • With a toothpick, get the excess nail polish away from the finger.
    • Slide your finger out of the water and there you have it.  Perfect.  
    • If you want to watch it live, go to Cute Polish's video on water marbling.  It's amazing.       
  • How do you do the things you do?
    • First off you can use anything at all in your house.  For my Olympic rings, I used a retractable pen (dipped in the acrylic pain and they made perfect circles!)
    • I use a really, really, really thin tipped brush for intricate designs.
    • A lot of the smaller images and designs I do are either stamped or done free hand.  The free had designs I do on a plastic bag.
  • How do you do images on a plastic bag?
    • All you need is a small sandwich size Ziplock baggie.
    • Next, you do your design in a small area and when that's dried and finished, you top it off with a thin layer of top coat and let that dry.
    • With a pair of tweezers, you pull it off the plastic bag, and apply to your polished nail.  Done.  Seal with top coat.
  • How do you do your half-moons?
    • You know those little sticky circles you stick on your pages in a binder to make them stronger?  Yup.  Those things.
  • How can you use striping tape?
    • Striping tape, I've found, can be used two ways.  You can paint your base color put on your striping tape design and seal with top coat.
      • I haven't found a good way to keep this on though.
      • The tape always seems to curl up on the ends and then I end up picking it off.  Disaster.
    • You can also paint your base coat, put on your striping tape design, then put another color over it and take the striping tape off.
    • Either way, you get clean lines!
  • Tattoos on nails?
    • Yes!  Go to your local Target, Wal-Mart, or Dollar Store and find some cheap temporary tattoos.
    • Paint your base coat (white works the best) and apply with water.
    • Pretty simple but looks like you put so much effort into your design!
  • Gradients!
    • I use a cosmetic sponge that you can find nearly anywhere.
    • I would not buy a big bag of them because one little sponge lasts FOREVER.  I'm still using the same one since I started this blog..
    • You can also use a gradient stamping plate.
  • How do you do the french tips?  
    • I use guiders from Sally's or Wal-Mart.  They are inexpensive and they give you a nice clean french tip.
    • Yes you can use stripers and such but I love the way it looks when you have a clean line.
    • Make sure that your nails are COMPLETELY dry when you apply them because of how sticky they are.
    • I've also started using the Konad French Tip plate which works wonders.. but you might not want to try this until you are very experienced in stamping.

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