Monday, 30 September 2013

Lush Leopard Print

I don't wear a lot of leopard print clothing, but it is one of my favourite nail art designs. It's quick to do, incredibly versatile and, most importantly, looks great! 

Leopard print can be as garish or subtle as you like, making it a style suitable for any occasion. I have found the perfect office-friendly combination, which can be achieved with any colour of your choice. I chose a black base coat for a classic look and covered this with a matte top coat. Once the base layers were dry I drew the leopard outline on with a gloss nail art pen, and voila!

There are only three steps to achieving perfect leopard print nails, and the best thing is that a bit of messiness just adds to the effect!
  1. Apply the base colour of your choice
  2. Add roughly spaced spots of your accent colour
  3. Draw un-completed circles around the spots, and fill any gaps with extra markings
I find the hardest part of leopard print is choosing my colour combination, so I've included a few of my favourites below.

What's your favourite colour combo? Be sure to tweet us your leopard creations @dahlia_nails!



Sunday, 29 September 2013

Marbella Mini Mani

I was lucky enough to go on an all expenses paid jaunt to Marbella recently to catch some last summer rays. Such a beautiful setting deserved some matching nails. 

I chose a bright blue from H&M to reflect the crystal seas and blue skies, with a single accent nail. For the accent I went for a bit of glitz and glamour, with just a hint of TOWIE. The glitter is actually from Primark. I don't think too much of their varnishes, as you can get much better formulas for a similar price, but I just loved the colours in this one. It took quite a few layers to get completely full coverage!

Unfortunately they didn't survive the quad biking, swimming, sailing and partying too well so I came back bare nailed!



Saturday, 28 September 2013

Splatter Nails

I keep seeing splatter nails on Pinterest and Instagram and have been desperate to try them. The only problem was that taping up my fingers and waiting for each of the splatter layers to dry requires you to sit still for a considerable amount of time, which is pretty impossible for me. I decided I would give it a go on some swatches instead!

I tried a few methods;
  • Flicking the nail polish brush onto the nails - nothing
  • Dipping a small brush into polish and flicking it - nothing
  • Rolling a tube of paper, dipping it into polish and blowing - a little success, until the paper got soggy
  • Dipping a straw into polish and blowing - Success!

For these I used Models Own 'Nude Beige' as a base and 'Betty Blue' for splatter. The other splatter colours are Barry M 'Mint Green' and Essie 'Tart Deco'. 

These are the messiest nail design I've tried and I had to be very careful not to decorate the carpet in nail polish! Here's the finished product after a coat of OPI Rapid Dry.

Have you tried splatter yet?



Friday, 27 September 2013

Models Own Mini Haul

It's no secret that Jo is a huge models own fan. I have always thought of myself as more of a Barry M gal but I decided to see what Jo was raving about and went a bit bonkers in Boots. It took me ages to decide which colours to go for but finally settled on a subtle foursome: Nude Beige, Utopia, Blueberry Muffin, and Apple Pie. 

Utopia: This is a beautifully pale lilac with a hint of grey. It applied much better than I thought and was opaque in two coats. It dried really quickly which is a bonus for someone lazy like me! Utopia is now one of my all time fave shades which is really saying something.

Blueberry Muffin: This is part of the scented range and is a really pale blue. If I'm honest, the smell doesn't really do much for me but I love the colour. Blueberry Muffin doesn't apply as well as Utopia; it's a tad streakier but still opaque in two coats. 

Apple Pie: Another scented polish but this time a pale, minty green. There is not much I love more than a mint nail polish and this shade is gorrrrjuss! It is probably more of a summer shade but this won't put me off wearing it all year round. 

Nude Beige: I bought this based on Jo's post. I know! I am easily influenced. The formula is great but the shade is too dark on me to be a true nude. This will work as a pretty taupe shade in my collection.

Am I a models own convert? Well...a girl can never have too many fave nail polish brands right?

What's your fave models own shade?



Thursday, 26 September 2013

Retro Mint Mani

I just bought a new mint green from Barry M and couldn't wait to try it out. Emma is a huge fan of mint and I'm very jealous of her collection!

For these I decided to team the mint base with gold and white detailing on two accent nails. I achieved the straight lines using a striper brush so I didn't have to faff around with tape. You could use tape for a cleaner line, but make sure the base is fully dry first!

I wasn't sure how this design would turn out but I like the slight 1930's art deco vibe. Will definitely be using this trio of colours together again!



Wednesday, 25 September 2013

In a Galaxy Far Far Away

I've been wanting to try galaxy nails for ages and finally decided to give it a try. I thought I'd stick to a single accent nail as I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out.

There are quite a few variations of galaxy nails around, some really detailed, some a bit more bold and bright. I decided to go for quite a subtle look and ended up using about nine different polishes! 

I started with a black base and then sponged the navy blue over the top. I did this to get a really deep and rich background colour. Then I started to sponge the different layers of colour on, starting with a lighter blue and progressing through to turquoise, purple and pinks. I blended the polishes quite a lot so there were no large areas of one single colour. Once I was happy with the design I lighted sponged copper and gold glitter over the top to give some sparkle and a starry effect.

I'm happy with my first attempt but next time I want to try a more bold galaxy effect. 

Have you tried galaxy nails yet?



Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Lazy Sunday Afternoons

Lazy Sunday afternoons are perfect for a bit of nail art. This Sunday I picked out four of my favourites and set to work creating a design. 

I used Essie - Cocktail Bling as the base as it's a soft colour and not too dark. Taking inspiration from trusted Aztec and Tribal patterns I created a frilled nail art design. Starting with the blue I painted chevrons onto approximately half of the nail. I added the details and frills with a black nail art pen. They're a bit wobbly but I like how it makes it look like the edge of a blanket. 

Let us know what you think!



Monday, 23 September 2013

Daisy, Daisy, Give Me Your Answer Do

We love to take nail art inspiration from all around us, clothes, art, prints, and even our dinner bowls! There I was, happily finishing off the last of my noodles when I noticed how well the design on the ceramic would translate onto nails. Two colours I wouldn't have thought to put together usually looked perfect when I added a consistent white background to link them. I kept the terracotta as an accent nail to reflect it's limited use on the bowl.

Daisies are easy to do with any dotting tool or nail art pen. Start with a circle of five coloured dots. Then add another circle of white dots, just inside, but overlapping the coloured dots. Finish off with a central dot, you could use yellow for this to make the daisies more true to life. I kept the pattern a single colour to match the inspirational design. 



Sunday, 22 September 2013

Back to Basics

Since starting this blog I have been asked quite a few nail related questions. You'll find tips and advice regularly on the blog, but I thought it would be a good idea to put together a post outlining some of the basics for any nail art newbies.

We use a wide range of brands, but our favourites are Barry M, Models Own and H&M. The reason for this is that they are good value for money, have great colour ranges, and regularly release new polish collections.

Base Coat
It is important to always apply a base coat before painting your nails. The base coat helps the nail polish stick to the nail making it last longer. It also prevents damage or staining to your nails and makes them harder which stops bending or breaking. Make sure you run a cotton pad with nail varnish remover over your nails before applying base coat, this will ensure they are clean, dry and free from oil. Because I have pretty thin and brittle nails I splash out on Seche or OPI base coat to ensure a good hard base for my polish. 

Top Coat
I find myself regularly bleating on about the importance of a good top coat, and swear by Seche Vite. It's at the pricier end of the range, but it's so worth it. A good top coat seals the polish and penetrates through the layers to harden them. This means you don't have to leave them for hours before you feel safe to touch anything, or even go to bed (I know bed sheets printing onto nails is a common problem!). I also like OPI Rapid Dry as it really does what it says on the tin, but I only use it for plain colours as I find it can smudge nail art. 

Essential Tools
There aren't many tools you need to create gorgeous nail art. We'd recommend the below as a basic toolkit. 

Nail art pens - These are available all over the place (even Primark does them now!) and are a godsend for creative nails. We use these in most of our designs as they make detailing much easier. We use both liquid pens and the ones that look like felt tips.  

Dotting tool - This can be used to make dots in any colour. Just dip it in and dot it on! 

Striping brush - This is a long thin brush which is essential for straight, even lines. Dip it into any colour, ensuring an even amount of polish on the brush, then place onto nail and drag across. 

Small brush - A small brush is really useful for filling specific areas of colour and for detailing.

I buy most of my nail varnishes at Superdrug and Boots. They often offer 3 for 2 deals which is when I stock up! All my brushes and tools come from Amazon where you can buy packs of 12 brushes for a few quid. I also use Amazon to buy some of the pricier polishes because you can often find good deals, although you may need to be patient with delivery.

Hope this is helpful! If you have any more questions we're always happy to help. 



Saturday, 21 September 2013

Cath Kidston Floral Mani

We love the pretty colours and feminine prints used by Cath Kidston, and they are just perfect for nail art. From simple spots or stripes, through to detailed roses and patterns, there is something for everyone.

This week I was asked to do a manicure for a work colleague, which gave me the perfect chance to try out my latest Cath Kidston design, inspired by these prints.

We settled on a peppermint base colour with white dots on three nails. The two accent nails on each hand both featured roses. One centered in a white scalloped edge frame, surrounded by tiny dots, the other was a less detailed full floral nail. 

To create the dots I used a white nail art pen. My trick is to start with a central vertical line and then work outwards. Remember not to squeeze the pen too hard, this will help ensure the dots are a regular size and shape. 

For the full floral nails I started with pale pink spots painted directly onto the nail with the polish brush, they don't need to be neat! I then used a small brush to draw petal shapes onto the spots with a darker pink, and highlighted with the white nail art pen. Again using the small brush, I painted two or three leaves around each rose in a solid green. The photo below shows you each stage of the process, it's really easy, give it a go!

The feature rose nail was the most difficult. I drew the scalloped edges by eye using a nail art pen which is why it's not as neat as it could be. I found that the tiny dots around the shape helped to frame and neaten it a little. Once the white area was dry I drew the rose on using the same method as before, but this time I left room for a stem and more leaves. 

What's your favourite Cath Kidston print?


P.S. I love that the colours in this mani match our blog!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Paper Planes

I totally copied this look from here - I couldn't resist, it's too fun. I went for the traditional blue base colour but I reckon this look could work with any background. I have seen it online in yellow which worked quite well. I used nail art pens in black and white from Topshop to create the little plane. I did the white bit first and then outlined in black. I might try with a little bee - I think it'd be cute. 

Let me know if you want a tutorial. 


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Alluring Accents

Most girls love a sexy accent, and although your nails can't sound like Colin Farrell, they can look just as good! 

I use accent nails to jazz up plain styles, usually opting for one of two on each hand. Just having a couple of nails with designs on really makes them stand out, it's also a good trick if you're in a rush! Accent nails are a celeb favourite at the moment, we've seen them on Anne Hathaway, Ashley Benson, Kelly Rowland, to name a few.

For these I used two Essie polishes, a Ciate and some nail art pens. Tart Deco was a gift from a good friend and was one of my firm favourites over summer, so keep an eye out and you'll see it popping up regularly. I love how the soft purpley-grey colour of Cocktail Bling works across all the seasons. I use this polish often in my nail art as I find it complements a range of brighter tones.

This design was for a wonderfully relaxing holiday with my old school friends to the South of France earlier this summer. I knew that my nails would take a bit of a battering from the elements so added an extra layer of Seche top coat for resilience. The Essie polishes had great staying power and they lasted the whole five days, no problem!

What designs do you like to use for accent nails?



Wednesday, 18 September 2013

In The Nude

There have been an abundance of sleek nude nails at London Fashion Week and we agree that it's the perfect tone for autumn.

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Models Own polishes, so it shouldn't come as any surprise that my go-to nude is their 'Nude Beige'. It's a little darker than my skin tone, but I find it works as the perfect base for nail art.

I've put together a collection of my favourite Nude Beige based creations; 
Plain Matte - This is two coats of Nude Beige with a matte topcoat (Essie - Matte About You). It's a great classic and sophisticated style.

Big Bow - Two coats of Nude Beige again with a single large bow on the accent nail. I drew the bow on in white first, then outlined it with a black nail art pen and added the detailing.

Leopard & Bow - Gold and black leopard on top of Nude Beige is a fave of mine, I also love this leopard combo on turquoise or mint.

Mix & Match - I used the Nude Beige as a constant base colour for a grey and silver mix and match. This toned down the very busy style a little as these nails were to go with a hot pink and grey dress! 

Wedding Nails - I decided to go for something special for my big bro's wedding earlier this year. Luckily they both have very neat four letter names, so I couldn't resist some lettering nails. As my outfit was quite bright (I wore this Oasis dress) I stuck with a Nude Beige base, with black lettering and a hint of neon pink (Models Own Ice Neon - Bubblegum) on the thumbs.

What's your favourite nude tone?



Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Pink Gets Me High As A Kite

1.Neon Pink 2.Shocking Pink 3.Kingsland Road 4.Bright Pink 5.Raspberry 6.Pink Sapphire Glitter 7.Grapefruit 8.Pink Crackle 9.Strawberry Ice Cream 10.Pink Flamingo
Pink is THE colour to be wearing this season. What better way to incorporate it into your wardrobe than on your nails? It would have taken me a good few days to lay down every pink in my collection so I thought I'd just share my Barry Ms with you this time.  

I do love a good Barry M polish. The formula is so good for the price and lasts well. They have exciting ranges and are constantly en vogue with their effects. I'm a big fan. Hence why I have ten pink polishes from them (seriously, who needs ten pink polishes, let alone from the same brand?). 

My fave shades from this collection are Pink Flamingo (probably my most used pink), Strawberry Ice Cream, and Raspberry. Pink Flamingo is particularly good for this season as it is quite a classy tone. 

How will you be wearing the trends on your nails?



Monday, 16 September 2013

Clinging on to Summer

As the days are getting shorter and cooler it seems we can't avoid the fact that autumn is coming. Despite this, I refuse to put my summer colours away completely.

Florals are a great way to bring the essence of summer into autumnal nails. I chose to use a rich navy blue (Model's Own - Betty Blue) with two accent nails. I've seen florals on stripes before on Pinterest and love the effect. The design is simple and easy to do, it just requires a little patience for drying time. 

You can also see this design by us on Model's Own 'Swatched!'

Watch this space for a florals tutorial...



Sunday, 15 September 2013

Thug Life

I think I'be been scrolling through a few too many of Rihanna's Instagram pics. She's clearly rubbing off on me! The most 'thug' I've ever been is sitting at the back of the bus listening to DMX. Sad. At least my nails look the part. 

For this look I used H&M's Nerd for the base colour as it is pretty close to my skin tone. I then used Topshop Nail Pens in black and white to add the letters and gun. I used a pink nail pen that I picked up in Primark for the heart. 



Easy Aztec Tutorial

I adore the Aztec style - clothes, home furnishings, and especially nail art. The geometric styles are detailed and complex which adds to their mesmerising nature, however, this doesn't translate too well into nail art. It is difficult to achieve perfect Aztec nails without simplifying the themes a little.

I took the signature triangle from Aztec print as a simple focus for this design. By repeating the same design on each nail you get the feel of a pattern emerging, without the painstaking hours of a highly technical design. In this design I added five pastels to reflect the more colourful Aztec prints.

The picture below shows the simple steps I took to achieve this design. The only tool you need is a striping brush to help keep the lines clean. 

  1. Draw a line horizontally across the nail
  2. Connect the ends of the line to a single point at the cuticle
  3. Roughly fill a section in the centre of the triangle
  4. Draw an inverted triangle around the coloured section
  5. Fill the outside triangles in black



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