Friday, 31 January 2014

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year everybody! Today marks the start of the Chinese Year of the Horse and what better way to celebrate than giving our lovely readers two blog posts?! I was reading up on the year I was born in - Year of the Ox - on Psychic Revelation  as I love that kind of thing. It was pretty accurate although it said I would make a good wife as I "will iron your clothing like your mother once did, never forgetting to fold the newspaper on your desk, and will make you delicious breakfasts. She will be very neat and always punctual." Any of you who know me will find this hilarious as I don't iron anything, I rarely cook, and I am almost always late. However, for the most part I am an ox!

For my nails today I took inspiration from this pic on Etsy. I love Chinese art, especially the blossom trees. They are so delicate and pretty. To translate onto my nails I used my fave shade - Models Own Utopia - for the base and then drew on some branches and dotted on some pretty pink blossoms. Easy peasy! 
How will you be celebrating the Chinese New Year?



The Kensington

The Kensington
It was my birthday this week and I was very lucky to be given The Kensingon, by Nixon. I love their watches and this was one I had spotted months ago. My ever so subtle hinting technique clearly worked on my boyfriend!!
Until now I have been wearing a £10 Casio number which he openly did not approve of (his taste in watches is somewhat more advanced than mine!). I've been keeping my eye out for a new (grown up!) watch for blooming ages but nothing sparked my fancy, until I saw The Kensington. It's simple, stylish design is just my thing. It's not too big, chunky or heavy, but neither is it girly and diamante incrusted. The Kensington is available in a few colours, but I chose the white as it's a little unusual. Also, I love the colour combo of white and gold. So much so it inspired some nail art!

I saw gold and white stripes on a mani by The Pretty Nails a while back and it's lingered in my mind since then. When I saw the same colour combo on my new watch I had to give it a try. Although the watch is predominently white, I chose gold to be the primary colour in this mani. The main reason for this is that the gold polish is much more opaque than the white, and the metallic formula is easier to use with striping tape. Metallic polishes tend to be less stringy when you remove the tape, so don't smudge as much.
I used two Barry M polishes to create this design -  Matt White and Gold Foil. I started with two coats of Matt White, added a thin layer of topcoat to speed up the drying process then applied stripes of tape vertically across each nail. Over the tape I added a thin coat of Gold Foil, its formula is so great you only need one, especially over a white base. Lastly, I removed the tape to reveal the white stripes, let it dry and added a top coat to finish.
I've had a lot of compliments on this mani and really love it myself! I'd like to try it with white as the main colour too as I think this would make it a little more subtle.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Pink Polka Dots

The colour scheme for this mani was inspired by a WAH Nails post I saw on Instagram. The colours are bright, bold and perfect for this time of year. Bringing a single extra colour into a monochrome mani helps to brighten it up a bit and adds a little twist.
WAH added a jazzy pattern to their nails, but I chose to stick with a uniform dot pattern. I find the simplicity of dots beautiful and they are so easy to do. I used black and white Barry M nail art pens to do these dots, but you can use any type of pen, a dotting tool, or even just a toothpick!!

The polishes used here are all Barry M - Black, Matt White and Gelly Pink.


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Wild Thing

We love a good leopard mani here at Dahlia Nails. Today I went for a bright look to cheer up the day. To add a bit of a different twist I went for a matte top coat. If you want to know how to create a leopard look, Jo gave some tips here

I used an array of Barry M shades for this look: Mint Green, Bright Pink, Peach Melba, Pure Turquoise, and Lemon Ice Cream. The print was drawn on using Barry M's black and white nail pens and Rimmel's Matte Top Coat finished the look off. 

What designs cheer up your day?


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

It's My Birthday!

No birthday would be complete without a special set of birthday nails! I decided to treat myself by creating a design inspired by one of my favourite nail artists, Emily (aka The Pretty Nails). As I've got short little nails a lot of Emily's designs don't really work, but I tried my best. I took inspiration from various manis on Instagram - check her out, absolutely amazing! Unsurprisingly I used, Models Own, one of my favourite polish brands to complete the look.

The polishes are all from my new set - a birthday present from my lovely sister! I couldn't wait to test them out but I wasn't allowed to use them until my birthday!! I got six new colours (clockwise from top) - Hedonist, True Blue, Top Turquoise, Emerald City, Apple Pie and Cloud 9. I've been looking for a good coral for ages and Hedonist is awesome, you'll see a lot of it this summer! I got Apple Pie as Emma has it and I was jealous. The others were just too pretty to resist. I've got lots of mani ideas for them so get ready to see plenty of turquoise based manis!!

Overall I can't decide if I'm sure on these nails. Individually I love all the designs, but as a mix and match it's a bit nuts - although I reckon I can get away with that on my birthday! I especially like how the middle finger glitter stripes came out, I hadn't tried this before so wasn't sure what would happen. It was a bit fiddly as it's harder to use striping tape with glitter, but once finished and topped with Seche I was very pleased. Emerald City is such a gorgeous glitter, I can't wait to use it more. I'm also pretty happy with my fade, although it could be a little more contrasting. Definitely feel like I'm getting better at blending fades the more I practice.

Happy Birthday to me and Happy Tuesday to all of you lovely peeps!


P.S. Sorry for the self-indulgent post, it will only happen once a year, promise...

Monday, 27 January 2014

Pink Aloha Print Tutorial

Pink Aloha Print Bikini, Topshop
I don't know about you guys but I cannot wait for the summer. It's unusual for me to be looking forward to summer but I am utterly bored of the cold and dark which seems to have been dragging on forever! Recently all of my mani ideas have been geared toward the warmer months but I am wearing them now to drag me out of my winter coma.

The idea for today's look came from a bikini I saw in Topshop. I was perusing the swimwear thinking about beach hols when the fabulous floral print jumped out at me. Although it seemed a bit ambitious I knew I had to give it a go on my nails. I was pleasantly surprised by the results. 

For this look I used my trusty black and white Barry M nail pens over Bright Pink, also by Barry M. For the leaves I used Max Factor's Cactus. Little details were created using Topshop's Parma Violet and Barry M's Lemon Ice Cream. 

Here's how it's done:
1. Paint 2 coats of your base colour
2. Using white polish or a white nail pen draw the shape of the flower and leaves. I draw the leaves too to make the green pop
3. Paint the leaves and the small details (yellow stigma and lilac shadows)
4. Outline the design using a black nail art pen
5. Use your favourite top coat to seal the look
We'd love to see some of you trying this design. Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram if you do. You can use the print  on every nail like I did or on one or two for an interesting accent. 



Sunday, 26 January 2014

Navy Seal

A central triangle across the whole nail is a fairly traditional nail design and there are endless variaties. I hadn't done any like this for ages so decided to give it a go. We won a new navy polish in a Rimmel competition recently - Navy Seal and I have been itching to try it out. The name of the polish actually inspired me to add some stripes across the designs giving it an almost nautical look. The pattern also reminds a little of very simplified sails (if you look at it upside down)!

Base: Models Own - Blueberry Muffin. Centre: Rimmel - Navy Seal*
I achieved this geometric design using scotch tape and striping tape. Although it seems fiddly, using tape is the best way to get really clean and crisp lines which will make a world of difference to your design. Once your base colour is dry, start by applying scotch tape to the sides of each nail, widening at the cuticle and meeting at the tip. Then apply two pieces of striping tape horizontally across each nail. Once the tape is in place just paint the polish over the top. Quickly and carefully peel the tape away and voila, perfect nails! 
Some tips for using tape:
  • Wait until your base is fully dry - I often use a fast dry top coat to speed up the process and protect the base polish
  • Cut up all your tape before you start painting, scissors are an enemy of wet nails!
  • Apply a thin layer of your feature colour to prevent is spreading or smudging
  • Remove the tape before the polish dries - this stops it peeling away with the tape
  • If possible remove each piece of tape individually to avoid smudging
We would love to see some of your designs created using tape, please share with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Mekat, Myselfkat, and Ikat

I love looking at other people's Ikat nails on Instagram. There is something about the print that I find beautiful. So I decided to give it a go myself. After three attempts I'm still not 100% happy with how these turned out. I like it but it could definitely be improved. It's so frustrating when you have an idea in your mind and it just will not translate onto your nails. Does anybody else have this problem? If any of you have a tutorial on perfect Ikat nails I would love to see it so please share in the comments below. 



Friday, 24 January 2014

Cappuccino Sparkles

One of my Christmas presents was a Barry M & Superdrug Limited Edition holo glitter polish. It is absolutely beautiful! I have been trying to work it into nail art projects for a while, but in the end chose to go for full on coverage. In the bottle the polish appears to have a pink tinge so I wasn't sure what to pair it with, but once on it seems to lose that and the base is clear.
I paired the glitter with Barry M Cappuccino, a subtle purpley-mushroom colour. This helped to tone down the glitter a little and make it look less Barbie-esque!

As it's difficult to capture the full effects of glitter on camera I have included a close up macro shot. This highlights the beautiful multicoloured holographic glitter pieces and how well they catch the light. It's absolutley mesmerizing! I quite like the uniform size and shape of the glitter pieces and that it's easy to get an even spread across your nail. Often glitter formulas can be thick and difficult to work with but this one is pretty light in comparison. When touching up I didn't end up with a sticky mess! 
I'm thinking of including this in leopard print and galaxy designs. What other colours or designs would you use this glitter with?

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Monochrome Tribal

Another mani inspired by clothing, this time a monochrome woven aztec/tribal skirt. This was a lot quicker and easier than it looks, which is brilliant! I started with a white base, let it dry completely and then added four strips of striping tape. One at the base, two alongside each other across the middle and one at the top. This gave me templates for the strips of patterns and helped neaten up the design. I drew the design on with a black nail are pen and then peeled off the striping tape. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out and will definitely be trying this again in summer with some bright colours or pastels. 


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Raspberry Leopard

The inspiration!
Inspiration comes from all over the place, you never know when you are going to see something which will spark your imagination. Not just nail designs, but thoughts, ideas and other projects! Today's post was dreamed up in the office, inspired by a colleagues rather lovely scarf. A bold leopard print, trimmed with a rich raspberry edge, gorgeous! I borrowed it for a little while to take a few piccies, and seriously contemplated 'forgetting' to return it. 

A leopard and fade pairing never fails, but this was a colour combo I may not have thought up on my own. To highlight the raspberry tips I decided to fade out the leopard print about half way up the nail. 

The colours I used here are Models Own Nude Beige and Barry M Raspberry. The leopard was done with a nail art pen, it's such a versatile pattern and really easy to do. Animal print is not uniform so if it's a little messy it just adds to the effect!

Mixing different patterns or nail styles is a great way to create new and exciting designs from things you already know! What designs would you put together?


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Snow White & Rose Red

When I was little I had a bunch of flimsy paperback fairy tales that I could not stop reading. Amongst them were some classics like Thumbelina, Rumplestiltskin, Hansel & Gretel and Snow White. My absolute fave, however, was Snow White & Rose Red. It is probably one of the Brothers Grimm lesser known works but I love it. 

What I loved about this story, more than the actual plot, was the idea of the rose trees in the girls' garden. How beautiful would it be to have a garden full of rose trees? If you are interested in the plot you can read the full story here. It involves a bear and a dwarf and is well worth a read if you aren't familiar with the tale. 

As you know, we love getting inspired by all manner of things. Sometimes the inspiration just hits us. This is a prime example as I have no idea why I this story popped into my head after so many years. 

I created my look using Barry M's White and Blood Orange nail paints and black and white nail pens. If I were to do this look again I think I would try mattifying the polish and drawing the roses on in white on both hands. 
Rose Nail Art
What are your favourite story books?



Monday, 20 January 2014

Nail Inspo: Iconic Albums

I love a little project and after being challenged to create some artist-inspired nails recently I thought it would be fun to set myself another challenge. This time I chose the theme myself and decided on iconic album covers. The best album art is just that, art, and I wanted to see if I could translate some of it into nail art. I didn't want to recreate the album covers onto my nails directly, but take inspiration to create fun (and possibly wearable!) designs.

Blur - The Best Of

The most simple design of the bunch, this mani has taken the main colours from Blur's Best Of album. Having grown up in the 90's this album is full of nostalgic songs and I'm enjoying listening to it while writing! The colours I used here are (L-R): Maybelline - Electric Yellow, Barry M - Cyan Blue, Nail Art - Powder Puff Pink, Barry M - Spring Green.

David Bowie - Aladdin Sane

David Bowie is admittedly a little before my time, but this cover art has to be one of the most iconic out there. I chose to pull out the most recognisable feature, the lightening bolt, and use it as an accent nail. I used striping tape to outline the shape in order to get really crisp lines and sharp angles. My bolt is a little out of shape, but I wanted it to fit the nail so widened it a little. I used a pale pinky shade to reflect the skin tone in the original artwork. The colours I used here are: Models Own - Utopia, Barry M - Bright Red, Barry M - Cyan Blue. 

Blondie - Parallel Lines

I would happily bet that most people have at least one Blondie song lurking on their iPod somewhere, I have a fair few on mine. I had to include this album in my selection as the backdrop is just perfect for a nail design! I started with a while base and painted on black lines using a striper brush. I could have used tape to get sharper lines but I didn't fancy faffing about with it. I love these monochrome stripes and they're pretty on trend at the moment! The colours I used are: Barry M - Black and Matt White. 

The Velvet Underground & Nico

In all honesty I chose this album as I am a massive Andy Warhol fan. I fell in love with Pop Art when I was around 15 and it has inspired my creative side ever since. As with the Bowie design I chose to use the main feature of this cover as an accent nail. I've been wanting to try banana nails for a while and am pretty pleased with how it turned out. I painted on the banana shape in yellow using a small brush and then added the detailing with a black nail art pen. The colours I used are: Barry M - Matt White and Maybelline - Electric Yellow.

Nirvana - Nevermind

There was no way I could put together iconic album art and not include Nirvana - Nevermind. I love the colours of the water, and wasn't about to start trying to create babies in nail varnish, so I did a blue fade design. I made the fade quite messy and mixed up to reflect the illusion of water. The colours I used are: Barry M - Cyan Blue and Blueberry Ice Cream, Nails Inc - Baker Street. 

Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures

And finally, another stripey monochrome mani, this time horizontal. This was the most tricky to translate into nail art and I'm not sure that I've really done it justice. I chose to do three nails just lines and keep the alleviation to an accent nail. I like the overall look, but comparing the nails to the album artwork I can see that I haven't exaggerated the alleviation as much as I should have. I'd like to give this another go so will re-post if I get it right! I used Barry M Black and their white nail art pen. 

As you can see, some worked better than others, my favourites are The Velvet Underground banana and Bowie's bolt! Overall it was really fun and I'm looking for the next challenge, any suggestions??

Just for fun we've included a poll at the end of this post to see which ones you like best, please join in and choose your favourite!!


Which is your favourite?


Sunday, 19 January 2014

Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

Is anybody else dreaming of sun, sand, and clear blue seas? The recent miserable weather has had me looking back through old holiday photos, trying to recall nice warm memories! Photos like this one  inspired me to create a beachy mani. 

I wanted to go for something quite subtle so chose a four colour fade. I painted stripes of polish onto a makeup sponge, starting with Barry M Matte Caramel, then Blueberry Ice Cream, Cyan Blue and finally the aptly named Neptune Green from Nail Rock at the tip. I then printed the polish onto my nails from the sponge. I blended the colours a bit by dabbing the sponge on the nails repeatedly. 

Who else is looking forward to summer already??


Saturday, 18 January 2014

She's Electric

I bought my first bright yellow recently, Electric Yellow from Maybelline, and I love it. The tone is slightly brighter than mustard, and brilliant for jazzing up an outfit. I didn't want to leave my nails just plain yellow so decided to add some black polka dots. We love a good dotty mani! To mix it up a bit I tried a dot gradient, starting with close dots at the base of the nail and gradually widening the spaces between dots. The effect didn't work quite as well as I hoped, I think next time I need to make the gradient more obvious.

Mustardy yellow is great for bringing some colour into your winter wardrobe!

How do you wear yellow?

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