Why Use Acrylic Paints for Nailart?

acrylic paint folk artUp until three months ago I had never used acrylic paints for nailart.  I didn’t even know that was an option. But when a fellow nailartist recommended I give them a go I went to the local art shop and bought a few tubes of acrylic paint by folkArt – a red, blue, yellow, black and white – and went home to try them out.

I couldn’t really see why they would make any difference, I was getting on just fine with nail varnish and nailart pens after all, but I’m always keen to try new techniques, and this was one I’m certainly glad I did.

What I discovered totally transformed my experience of nailart.

1. Waste not, want not

Using nail varnish, I was often reluctant to try an intricate design as I knew how much polish I would waste – pouring out small amounts of varnish onto a palette and then using a tiny brush or dotting tool to transfer the correct amount of paint to my nail.  I knew I needed to work fast as the polish would dry so fast on the palette, turning thick and gloopy and would therefore need frequent top ups.

Compare this scenario to using acrylic paint – you squeeze some out onto a palette and it stays the perfect consistency for over an hour, allowing you to work at your own pace.  If it does start to dry up, just add a small amount of water to thin it out.

2. See your true colours

With acrylic paints you can mix the exact colour you want with ease and accuracy – beautiful pastel shades by adding white, murky colours by adding the opposite hue – the possibilities are endless.

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3. The best mistake you’ve ever made

Have you ever done a design and had to start all over again after making a mistake – painstakingly reapplying your base coat and two coats of your background colour?  Well if you can make the properties of varnish and acrylics work for you, you won’t have to again.  Paint your base coat and background colour with nail varnish and do your detailed design in acrylics, and any errors with the acrylic paint can be wiped off with water and won’t upset the varnish.

4. Pure concentrate

When doing a gradient or ombre with nail varnish, you often need to apply three of four layers to see the richness of the colours.  However, with acrylic paint, just dabbing one layer of colour gives you a strong, vibrant and faster finish.

Rainbow Gradient Nails

5. No messing around

Every girl knows how frustrating it can be waiting for nails to dry.  Well, with acrylic paint, though it dries slowly on a palette, it dries almost immediately on your nails!  In addition to the obvious benefit of being out the door soon after painting, another plus is that if you make a mistake you can paint straight over it and it doesn’t form a thicker section that then takes even longer to dry.  It also means that if there is a second or third part of the design which requires sticking striping tape onto your nail, you needn’t wait for an age before applying it.

Illusion stripe nails

6. Cheap and cheerful

Acrylic paint is a lot cheaper than nail varnish and goes much further too, plus with the options of colours you can mix, there’s no need to fork out for all the different shades.

7. It won’t get under your skin

When doing a gradient with nail varnish it can be an absolute bore to try and remove any that ends up on your skin.

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When using acrylic paints however, after applying top coat to your nails, you can simply rinse your hands and any water based acrylic paint that went on your skin will wash right off.

8. To top it off

Not only does acrylic paint dry super quickly, but after putting a normal top coat on your nails to seal in your design, the top coat will dry much faster too.  You may need to use a few layers of top coat however, especially when using light shades, as acrylic paint isn’t quite as hard wearing as nail varnish, but if sealed in correctly, your design can still last up to a week. And an extra couple of layers of top coat is a small price to pay for quick and striking designs.

My technique

So those are the benefits of using acrylic paint – but where to start?

Here’s some advice on 10 Tools for Nailart with Acrylic Paint which outlines what equipment you’ll need and where you can buy it.

Now for the method…

When using acrylic paint I will always put on a clear base coat, followed by two coats of white nail varnish.  This is like canvas preparation.  It provides an opaque backdrop and will make the colours of the acrylic paint stand out and seem brighter.  I have tried using just white acrylic paint as the background but it came out too translucent.  Depending on my design, I will sometimes put a layer of white acrylic paint over the two coats of white nail varnish so that my canvas dries faster, as it will mean I can start painting a design or sticking striping tape over my nails straightaway.

Take a look at my Love Nails Tutorial to see acrylic paints in action.

Valentine's Day Love Nails

I hope that’s helped explain why acrylic paints are so fundamental to nailart. Let me know if you decide to give them a go and how you get on.

Nailart Through my Birthdays

It’s been about three years since I started painting designs on my nails and here is how my skills have developed over the years.

January 2013

My first birthday nails were these Balloon Nails which spelled out a very basic HAPPY B-DAY.  I love looking back and seeing how far I’ve come – in terms of technique, neatness and photography.  I mean – just look at those cuticles!20140118-145235.jpg

January 2014

Last year, I had recently started using acrylic paint for nailart and was able to attempt much more delicate designs like these Happy Birthday nails.  It was encouraging to see how my nailart writing had improved since the year before but I seem to remember it still took a couple of tries to fit the words in!

Birthday Nails

January 2015

This year, I opted for acrylic paint again and also reverted to some balloons for my birthday nails.  I love how colourful these ones are and they should last for a full week of festivities!

Birthday Balloon Nails

I’m looking forward to seeing what January 2016 will hold, when I turn 30! Hopefully I’ll continue to see improvements in my nailart skills.

10 Tools for Nailart with Acrylic Paint

You may already have read ‘Why Use Acrylic Paints for Nailart?‘ which outlines why I prefer acrylic paint to nail varnish for painting my nails. But I thought I’d go into a bit more detail about what you might need in order to get started and where to buy your tools.

1. Paint palette

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The first thing I recommend is a palette to squeeze your paints onto. These paint palette sheets are great as you can easily dispose of them afterwards without a mess.

2. Paints

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The next thing you’re going to need are some paints.  I use Folk Art paints – mainly because they were the cheapest in the art shop!  When starting out, I advise getting a white, black, blue, red and yellow tube of paint as those will give you the basis to mix whatever colours you’re after.  I also bought a pink and a turquoise to brighten my palette a bit.

3. Brushes

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It’s a good idea to get 3 or 4 little brushes of varying thicknesses.  I find Royal and Langnickel to be a good brand.  You’ll want a very little one for doing tiny details and then possibly a long one for doing stripes, a wide, flat one for applying a whole base of colour and then a medium-sized one.

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I’ve also found it really helpful to have a slanted clean up brush for neatening up the edges of my designs.  MAC make up do the perfect one.

4. Dotting Tools

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I’ve mentioned these before in an equipment list but I can’t recommend these dotting tools enough – so great for getting perfect circles.

5. Base Coat

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There’s no escaping it, I still advise you use a base coat to protect your nails even for an acrylic paint design. I’m using a Kale base coat by Nails inc. which I got at a recent UK Nailartists Meet up.  It’s wonderful and feels really luxurious on your nails – like you’re doing them a favour with an enriching spa treatment.

 6. White Nail Varnish

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Regardless of the fact you’re doing acrylic painted nails, you’ll still need a white nail varnish to use as a base to allow for the fact that acrylic paint is rather transparent.  I use White on White by Revlon.

7. Top Coat

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More so than when you’re using nail varnish, you will most certainly need a top coat to protect your acrylic paint design as it won’t be resistant to water without a top coat. I’ve just started using a top coat by Nails inc. which dries in 45 seconds.  I mean what’s not to love?! It literally takes away the sticky feeling in less than a minute.  You’ll find that with acrylic paint, your top coat will dry faster than with nail varnish but you’ll probably need more than one layer of top coat.

 8. Jar of Water

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As acrylic paint is water based, you’ll need some water to clean your brushes. I use an old jam jar for water as it tends to get a bit dirty from all the paint.

9. Nail varnish remover

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I find it’s still helpful to have nail varnish remover for an extra cleanse of my brushes between colours.

10. Kitchen Towel

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You’ll want a few sheets of kitchen towel within easy reach to help clean your brushes and soak up any excess water from your brush.

That’s it!  Now you’re ready to try an acrylic paint nailart design.  Make sure you’ve got lots of light so you’re not straining your eyes with the detail. You might want to check out my gallery for some inspiration, or have a look through my tutorials to help you get started. Now go and enjoy the wonders of acrylic paint!

Nails on Tour – South Africa

It’s now been almost two months since I was in South Africa for my sister’s wedding.  I thought I’d left it too long to write about it but I’ve had so many people ask me how it went that I’ve decided to jot down a few memories from my time there.

It was my first time to Africa, my first time south of the equator! And the tenth country I’ve ever visited. What took me there was my sister’s wedding and what resulted was an adrenalin-pumping adventure packed with overcoming challenges and facing up to my fears.

Hannah, my sister has always been the adventurous one in our family – swimming across seas and cycling all over Europe. The only mountain I’ve ever climbed on the other hand is a metaphorical one.

The first obstacle I had to overcome was my fear of failure.  Before heading out, I needed to accomplish watermarble nails to go with the pink, romantic theme of the wedding.  Having tried twice to master this technique, it was very possible that it could all go wrong again.

Pink watermarble nails

However, one by one, I slowly and carefully dipped each finger in the swirls of varnish. I was thrilled with the outcome and they set me up for the multitude of challenges still to come during my trip.

To begin with, relocating an entire family to the opposite end of the globe is no mean feat.  Add to that the threat of ebola and the anxiety of missing various flight connections and what you have is a disaster just waiting to happen!  Fearing the worst, we all set off on our separate journeys.

Sadly one of our party was struck with an ear infection the day before flying and was unable to travel, but with a sigh of relief, the rest of us made it there in one piece.

Most of my family arrived the day before the wedding and that evening we met up with my new brother-in-law’s family for drinks before the Bride and the Groom’s families went their separate ways for dinner.

The morning of the wedding was a happy chaos of eating a delicious breakfast whilst getting ready.  My sister had her hair and make up done and I painted her nails a nude pink. She looked stunning and all the details were utterly beautiful.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so happy!

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It was a huge privilege to have been a bridesmaid for my sister but that of course comes with further fears of looking like an idiot and tripping up the aisle or forgetting key duties and responsibilities.

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Thankfully, however, the day ran perfectly.  We had photos on the beach …

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… and then we drove a little way to the reception – a breathtaking location filled with millions of twinkling fairy lights with a backdrop of Africa!  The whole day was glorious.

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The day after the wedding my boyfriend, Jonathan, and I decided to embark on an adventure trail which bordered the hotel my family was staying in.  It started off tamely enough …

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… but before long, we were crossing rickety little bridges with no rails to support us, and strong gusts of wind intent on pushing us into the rushing waters beneath.  It sounds lame, but I honestly feared for my life out there, or at the very least, falling in and getting drenched. Naturally I sent Jon off ahead to test the waters!

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We made it across safely – thank goodness!

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And were rewarded with a stunning view of a little pathway down to the beach.

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On another beautiful morning, a few of us decided to go on a bike ride along the coast.  Given that I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was about 12 you can understand why I began to feel anxious.  I was struck with multiple fears – the fear of disappointing everyone if I stayed behind, the fear of missing out if I didn’t join in and the fear of ruining the experience for everyone else if I went with them but couldn’t remember how to do it.

I should have listened to the old adage and taken comfort in the fact that it really is ‘as easy as riding a bike’!

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Once I was out there, it soon came back to me and there was no stopping me!

Whenever I go on holiday I try to create a mental snapshot of a time when I feel completely happy so when I’m back in rainy London I can think back on it to cheer myself up.  This was one of those moments – cycling along that promenade in the sunshine.

A video posted by Jonathan Bacon (@jonnybacon12) on

We took a rest mid cycle-ride to visit an aquarium and had to combat another common fear: fear of sharks!

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And that wasn’t the only life-threatening animal I would see that holiday.  A few days later, the remaining party went on a safari to the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve.  There we saw three of the Big Five on our first afternoon: rhinos, elephants and buffalo.

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What I discovered while on a guided tour that evening was that they are called the Big Five because of the degree of danger they pose to humans.  If I’d realised that earlier in the day, perhaps I wouldn’t have tried to get quite so close!

We also managed to get near to a sweet little warthog family.  I couldn’t resist a photo!

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In total we saw over 20 species of birds and animals, including zebras …

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… for which I’d gratifyingly done matching nails.

Zebra Print Nails

And giraffes …

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… which inspired my nailart following the trip.

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All in all, it was a wonderful holiday filled with huge excitements as well as the satisfaction of facing up to personal challenges.  I know I sound utterly neurotic going on about all these fears but you’ll be happy to know they in no way tainted my experience.  My memories of the trip are all wonderful and now that winter has set in, I find myself thinking back to that cycle ride more and more often…

Six Easy Dotted Christmas Manicures

You may already have tried out a few of my simple striped Christmas manicures.  Now I bring you some super easy dotted Christmas nailart.  For these, all you’ll need is a set of cheap dotting tools, an array of nail polish colours and a reasonably steady hand.  So what’s stopping you from joining in the festive fun?!

1. SANTA HATS


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These are the quickest nails I think I’ve ever done!

1. Paint a layer of your base coat.

2. Then paint the tips red – it should just take a swipe of red polish along the tip, but you might need two coats.  Don’t worry about keeping it neat!

3. Paint half a vertical stripe of red, near to the edge of the nail.

4. Pour out some white nail varnish on a palette or on the back of an old book and, using a medium-sized dotting tool, place dots of white along the edge of the horizontal red stripe and one on the tip of the vertical red stripe. Allow to dry and seal with your top coat and there you have some super swanky, easy peasy Christmas nails!

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2. SNOWMEN SCARVES


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1. Paint a layer of base coat, followed by two coats of white nail varnish.

2. Pour out some green polish and, using a medium-sized dotting tool, place some green dots in a curved shape near the tip of your nail with spaces in between, and do a couple of dots just below the curve, again with spaces in between.

3. Pour out your red nail varnish and, having cleaned your dotting tool, use it to place red dots in the gaps between the green dots.

4. Pour out some black polish and take your largest dotting tool and place two dots for coal on the snowman’s front.  Wait for it to dry before topping with your top coat.

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3. RUDOLPH NOSES


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1. Apply a layer of base coat followed by a double coat of brown nail varnish.

2. Pour out some white polish and take your large dotting tool to place two white eyes half way down your nail.

3. While the white dries, pour out some red polish and take your largest dotting tool to add a big red nose on the tip of your nail.

4. Pour out some black polish, take your small dotting tool and add some eyes to the centre of the white circles.

5. Pour out some light brown polish and, using your smallest dotting tool, add four little dots in a cross-shape above each eye for antlers.  Leave your nails to dry before adding a layer of top coat.
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4. CHRISTMAS TREES


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1. Paint a layer of base coat, followed by two layers of white nail varnish.

2. Pour out some green nail varnish and take a medium-sized dotting tool to add dots, randomly spread out, within an imaginary triangle shape.

3. Pour out a darker green polish and repeat step 2.

4. Pour out a light green polish and repeat steps 2 and 3.

5. Pour out some red polish and take a small dotting tool to place a few red dots within the triangle shape.

6. Take a gold glitter polish and swipe the brush over the triangle to add some twinkling decorations on your tree.

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5. CHRISTMAS PUDDINGS


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1. Paint your base coat and two coats of brown nail varnish.

2. Pour out some white polish and blob dots using your largest dotting tool, along the cuticle and also in a wave shape half way down the nail, then join the lines up so that you have an icing effect.

3. Take your smallest dotting tool, pour out some red nail varnish, and apply three tiny red berries to each Christmas pud.

4. Pour out some green polish and use your tiniest dotting tool to add six little dots either side of the red berries in an oval shape, to make it look like holly.

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6. FESTIVE FLOWERS


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1. Apply your base coat, followed by two coats of red varnish, then pour out some white polish and take a large dotting tool to add four white dots in a semi-circle shape near the cuticle.

2. Pour out some red polish and use your medium-sized dotting tool to add four red dots in a semi-circle, overlapping the four white ones.

3. Repeat step 2, using a small dotting tool and white polish.

4. Take your largest dotting tool and place a big red dot in the centre by your cuticle.

5. Follow up with a medium-sized white dot on top of the red dot.

6. Finally take your smallest dotting tool and add a red dot in the middle of the central white dot and, after leaving it to dry, follow up with top coat.

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So there are another six easy manicures, this time using dotting tools. Which design is your favourite?  Join in the festive fun and give them a go. I’d love to see yours if you decide to try any – simply tag me on Instagram @tillynailart.

Six Simple Christmas Manicures

Christmas nails are an absolute must for this time of year, so I wanted to make it super easy for you to join in the festive fun.  Here are six simple designs for anyone to try and the best thing is you don’t need anything except a few Christmassy nail polishes to give them a go!

1. SANTA’S STAIRCASE


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1. Paint a layer of your base coat followed by two coats of green polish.

2. Paint a series of white stripes, each a little shorter than the last.

3. Repeat point 2 using some red varnish but allow some of the white polish to show through.

4. If your hands are steady enough, do the same in gold for a super Christmassy staircase.  Finish up with your top coat.

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2. DIAGONAL GLITTER STRIPE


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1. Paint a layer of base coat, followed by some red varnish.

2. Apply a slick of glittery polish diagonally across the tip.

3. If you’re up for adding something extra, then stamping is one option.  I stamped a little robin on each of my nails for an added detail.  Don’t forget to seal it all with your top coat.

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3. SNOWY FINGERTIPS


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1. Apply a layer of base coat followed by a double coat of black nail varnish.

2. Paint short diagonal stripes in blue polish.

3. Follow up with a layer of white stripes over your blue polish, but leave a tiny bit of blue showing.

4. Finally repeat with some silver polish and finish off with your top coat.

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4. CANDY CANES


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1. Paint a layer of base coat, followed by two layers of white nail varnish.

2. Carefully paint thin, straight lines in red polish.  Don’t be afraid to get it on your skin. You can always clear it up with a cotton bud afterwards.

3. If that’s not enough, then add some green and silver stripes with nailart pens and seal with your top coat.

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5. CHRISTMAS CRACKER CHEVRONS


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1. Paint your base coat and two coats of white nail varnish.

2. Paint two green stripes at an angle that meet in the middle.

3. Apply two gold stripes parallel to the green ones.

4. If you’re tempted to add more, try some red glittery dots using your nail varnish brush just above the green lines.  Wait a while before adding your top coat.

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6. PEPPERMINT CREAMS


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1. Apply your base coat, followed by two coats of dark green varnish.

2. Paint a thick stripe down the middle in a lighter shade of green.

3. Then add a slightly thinner stripe down the centre in a pale green.

4. Finally paint a thin, white stripe right along the middle to make it look like a highlight and follow up with your top coat.

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There you have it!  Six easy ways to achieve Christmassy nails. Let me know if you decide to try any – I’d love to see your recreations. Just tag me on Instagram @tillynailart.

My Nailart Station

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Inspired by the WeWork “Show Us Your Dream Space” campaign I wanted to show you my nailart station and share a few tips on how to create a beautiful workspace of your own.  WeWork is a a co-working company that builds communities across the globe to empower freelancers, small businesses and entrepreneurs to do what they love.

There are two main factors that contribute to an ideal workspace – Work and Space.

1. Work

The first thing to bear in mind is that your desk has to be a place where you’re able to work.  It sounds obvious enough, but ensuring you have everything you need to complete your work within easy reach is essential.  I have various activities that constitute ‘work’ when I’m at my desk.

Burberry Nails

First and foremost is nailart.  I need to know that all my tools and paints are easily accessible – this is especially important for me because with wet nails, the last thing I want to have to do is get up to find something else that I need.

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My nailart tools are stored in two places – the things I use most frequently, nail varnish remover, base coat, top coat, acrylic paints and palette are on a shelf unit on my desk, alongside a bucket of all my brushes and dotting tools while my collection of nail varnishes are stored in a drawer unit under my desk.

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The second activity that I do at my desk is blogging.  For this I need my notebook, pen and pencil and my laptop.  These are also stored on my desk within easy reach and with a laptop charger close at hand.

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The third thing that comes under the ‘work’ banner is writing cards and letters.  I have a box of personalised letterhead and some sharpies on my desk and a drawer of notecards and stickers, so I’m ready to write whenever the moment arises.  My favourites are some blank cupcake cards, Vogue postcards and personalised stationery from Honeytree Publishing.

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So that explains how my desk actually allows me to work.

2. Space

The second aspect to consider when creating your workspace is that your desk has to be a place where you want to work.  It’s as much about building an environment that encourages productivity as it is about factoring in practicalities.

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Firstly, there has to be enough space for you physically as well as mentally.

Physically, there needs to be ample room for you to sit comfortably and spread your things out around you whereas creating mental space which gives you a desire to work is about appealing to all of your senses.

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i) Sight
Lighting is essential to working effectively.  Combining a mixture of natural light and artificial light is important to make sure you can work at all times of the day.  Having brighter lights and softer mood lighting will also affect your creativity in different ways so it’s good to be able to cater for both.  I find brighter lights keep me alert when I need to work and think quickly, while softer lighting and candles are conducive to thinking creatively and mulling over ideas.

Colours are also an important factor to consider.  I love the cleanness of white but I also have accents of pink around my desk for a feminine touch and my selection of acrylic paints for extra pops of colour.

Imagery is equally as important for enhancing creativity and productivity. What do you have around you and how is it impacting your work?  I have some photos of loved ones in crisp white frames and also a photo of my first ever nailart portrait taken by a good friend of mine.  It serves as a reminder that other people believe I’m good at what I do.   Then above my desk I have a big mirror that reflects the rest of my room.  It enables me to expand my vision to beyond what I’m doing in the moment. Another incentive to working is having a vase of flowers on your desk.  I find it draws me in to wanting to work.

Neatness is a great contributor to creating an enticing work environment. Having to shuffle through clutter to find any space is going to hinder both your productivity and your creativity.

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ii) Smell
A pleasing aroma is the easiest way to enhance a work space.  My favourite scented candles at the moment are Peony and Blush Suede by Jo Malone, Pomegranate by The White Company and Baies by Diptyque.  The combination is alluring, clean and floral and helps relax me so I’m able to work peacefully.

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iii) Sound
Music is really important for me in creating an atmosphere that motivates me to work.  Right now I’m listening to the new Ben Howard album, I Forget Where We Were which is the perfect background, chilled vibe.

iv) Touch
A comfortable chair is essential to the ideal workspace.  Occasionally I even work on my laptop in bed for extra comfort.

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Working all day long can lead to very dry hands and lips, so I like to have hand moisturiser and lip balm within reach at all times so that I have no distractions that might prevent me from working.

v) Taste
Whenever I sit down to work at my desk I’ll always have a mug of lemon and ginger tea and a glass of water nearby.  I also have a pot of chocolates for the moments when I need a sugar hit for extra inspiration.

So there you have some details about my workspace and all the things to consider when building your own.  For me it’s about combining convenience with creativity in equal measure.  If I could add something to my workspace it would be a chalkboard where I could write up my blog schedule and tick posts off as I went along.

To understand some of the inspiration for my nailart station, check out my Pinterest board {Dream Home} Workspace.

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Velvet Nails – Yes or No?

Velvet nails have been around for a while but I’d delayed trying them until very recently.  I’d had so many doubts and questions, primarily, would I be able to get them wet?  Here’s what I discovered.

Velvet Nails

How Do Velvet Nails Work?

Velvet nails are achieved by applying a special powder to wet nails which gives a furry texture. I used a brand called Nail Rock and along with the burgundy velvet powder came a bottle of nail varnish in a matching colour.

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— Velvet powder
– Matching nail varnish
– Base coat
– Tweezers
– A piece of paper
– Old, clean make up brush
– Nail studs (optional)
– Top coat for studs (optional)

Instructions

To begin with, I folded and unfolded the paper in half and used this as my workspace so when I was finished I could easily pour the excess powder back into the pot.

Next I painted my nails with a base coat and one coat of the nail varnish provided.  Then focusing on one nail at a time I applied a coat of the matching nail paint and then, with the polish still wet, using the tweezers, I picked up some of the powder and dropped it onto the nail.  I repeated this until there was a thick layer of the powder on my nail and then pressed it down relatively firmly using my finger.

After a few seconds I brushed the excess powder away using the make up brush and moved onto the next nail.

I then applied the nail studs using a drop of top coat as glue.

Pros

1. I found velvet nails to be really quick and easy.  Wonderfully there is no need for a top coat and they dried really fast.

2. I decided to add a nail stud and didn’t have any problem applying it on top of the velvet.  I just used a drop of top coat as an adhesive.

3. Quite surprisingly, velvet nails are very resilient.  I knocked them a number of times fearful that I would have ruined them but remarkably they remained in tact.

4. Velvet nails can withstand water, soap, moisturiser, shampoo and conditioner.  Thankfully I didn’t need to change my routine in order to accommodate them.  Velvet nails will look slightly darker when wet but will return to normal when dry.

5. A very small pot of the powder will last a long time.  After doing ten nails I still had almost a full pot remaining.

6. Mistakes are easily covered up.   If you happen to smudge or nick a nail, you can simply apply a tiny bit more of the varnish and some powder and press it down to blend it in.

7. The whole process was extremely fun and therapeutic and the finished effect got a lot of admiration too.

8. Removing velvet nails is not an issue.  The powder comes off with an ordinary nail varnish remover.

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Cons

1. Although velvet nails can cope with water and soap, any tinted creams, foundations or powder will show up on your nails and can produce a balding effect on the velvet.

2. As a result of the bizarre texture, I was nervous of everything I did for fear that I would ruin them – brushing my teeth, tying my hair up, cooking, eating etc.  I found oil left a residue on the nails and it made me wonder how much dirt the velvet harboured as they don’t give a wipe clean surface. I wouldn’t even have attempted these if I’d had a baby’s nappy to change!

3. In fact, the odd texture actually put me off doing a few things – peeling an orange for example and eating food with my hands which might cause me to put my nails in my mouth.

3. Velvet nails easily attract fluff so I found I was constantly cleaning them which quickly became annoying.

4. When adding the nail studs I had to be careful not to apply too much top coat adhesive as it showed up as a darker section on the velvet.

5. The stray powder can get stuck in your cuticles and edges of your nails making your manicure look messy, and cleaning up the edges with a thin brush is slightly precarious as the nail varnish remover seeps into the velvet and can cause more of the velvet to be removed than was intended.

6. Velvet nails don’t last as long as a regular manicure.  I removed them after a couple of days as they had already started to bald. Opting for a darker colour makes the balding less noticeable however. (Here are some tips on how to make your manicure last a week.)

Summary

Velvet nails are minimum effort and high impact – great if you’re just running to a party or a night out because they don’t take long to dry.  Just make sure you apply your make up beforehand.

I hope you found this helpful.  Let me know if you decide to give them a go!

Work-Appropriate Nailart

Job hunting can be hard, stressful and demoralising. Not just because of the endless emotional roller coaster of interviews, the aimless trawl through websites and being herded like cattle through recruitment agencies, but perhaps most drastically because when you have no idea how long it is until your next interview, the only course of action is to ensure you’re constantly sporting a preened and perfect, professional-looking manicure.

And I don’t just mean nails that look like a professional did them – hopefully we can all master that by now.  I mean, nails that are suitable for the workplace.

Gosh it’s so tricky!  Of course, I want to be seen as a serious candidate for job opportunities. But I also want to let a little of my personality, and passion for nailart, show.  With that in mind, I thought I’d take you on a tour of my 4 tips for achieving sock-it-to-’em, knock-’em-dead, money-back-guaranteed (*ahem, maybe not right now!) office-appropriate manicures.

1. Embrace Textures and Fabric Patterns

Tweed and Border Nails

One way to ensure your nails are suitable for the workplace but will still impress on the design-front is to match them with the texture of your outfit.  Think glamorous thick tweeds by Chanel or you could try out some tartan like the Burberry design below.  Keep colours dark or neutral to maintain a slick appearance.

Of course it depends which industry you work in.  It may be that you can get away with much brighter prints, like this pink and black houndstooth design.  If the latest Spring/Summer 2015 line by Moschino, inspired by Barbie is anything to go by, perhaps this look is more acceptable than we would previously have imagined.

Burberry Nails Pink Houndstooth Nails

2. Adopt on-Trend Colour Combinations

Subtle Peacock Nails

No one can reprimand you for nailart in the office when your digits are this bang up-to-date.  Keep on top of this season’s colour palette with muted greys and flashes of berry tones.  Blend the two and you’ll have mastered a subtle concoction that will fit in just about anywhere.

If you can dare to bare a little more of your personality then some pastel shades or neon brights on a black backdrop will surely gain the respect of both your peers and your superiors and who can resist a chic twist on a leopard print design?  Just what’s needed to brighten up the office – no one can argue with that!

Spiral dotted nails Pink leopard nails

3. Utilise the Negative Space

Negative Space Nails

Nothing breathes fresh life into a mono-coloured mani like a bit of negative space. It’s also a great way to make black nails wearable but not too aggressive.  Try this punchy matte black design with a semicircle base that’s just eye-catching enough to get you noticed.

Or for a simpler take on the design, this ruffian manicure adds a sheen of gold for the perfect assertive yet understated design.  For pure demure however, the sophisticated subtleties of lace are too hard to resist.

Demilune Ruffian Nails Lace Nails 2

4. Opt for Dark Colours and Metallics

Dry Marble Nails

Shimmer into the office oozing glamour with this petrol-coloured dry marble design that’s easier than it looks to achieve and utterly effortless to carry off in the workplace.

Or for added sheen, this quatrefoil design commands instant awe and appreciation. And for a faint glimmer of sparkle, try and sneak a triple glitter gradient through the office doors.  You certainly won’t regret it when you catch a glimpse of it as you’re typing away.

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There you have my suggestions for personality-filled nailart that won’t undermine your authority at work. Now let’s see if one of these designs will bag me a job…!

Nails on Tour – Memory Lane

Discovering My Inner Child

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Nails

Not long ago I was in Devon for my oldest friend in the world’s wedding. We’d been at nursery school together and now she was beginning a new life as a married woman!  All the nostalgia caught up with me and I felt the urgent need to go to a tiny village about an hour’s drive away the following day.

The village was Lustleigh and happens to be where my granny lived before she passed away about twenty years ago.  I have never been back but I have so many fond memories of my time there – Christmases together as a family, making secret hideouts in her garden and rolling down the little hill which ran adjacent to her thatched cottage.

A long and winding drive later, we eventually approached the village and a lump formed in my throat as the emotions started creeping in.  I couldn’t believe I was finally returning to this treasure trove of memories.

Anyone who’s met me will know that I have a terrible memory – I write everything down and try to document life events as well as possible purely because I have so much trouble retaining information about my life.  I envy friends who can reel off anecdotes from years ago with no struggle at all.

You can understand therefore why I was slightly nervous about having dragged my boyfriend to the middle of nowhere, in the rain, with the threat of Bank Hoilday traffic all around us, with absolutely no promise that I would recall where we would need to go or how to get there!

We parked up on a winding little street and wandered along a road barely wide enough for a car to drive down.  Suddenly I picked up the pace as the smells all around began to scream familiarity, beckoning me further along the road.  I couldn’t believe it.  Turning a corner, a sign boasting ‘Yonder Wreyland’ swum into view and I realised we had found the house.

I was hit with mixed emotions.  It certainly looked and smelled familiar but so much work had been done on the house over the years that in some senses it was barely recognisable from my childhood memory.  I so wanted to explore the grounds and peak through the windows and sneak upstairs to find my room but I no longer had that right.  I didn’t want to corrupt what little memory I did have with any new images and thoughts associated with the house.

I began looking up and down the hedge, I could have sworn it was around here somewhere.  Turning a corner, I spotted it.  Set back from the road, was a little green gate that opened from the bottom of the garden onto the road.  My eyes began to tear up as I realised I hadn’t imagined it.  My memories were becoming a reality!  

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Wandering further down the road passing quintessentially English cottages, the smells of wet leaves and berries and honeysuckle consumed me.

IMG_8522.PNGI felt like an exuberant child again.  The walk into the village always felt like an eternity when I was little, wrapped up in my coat and wellies, but now it was only a few paces before the sound of the stream began getting louder.  Honouring my childhood tradition we played pooh sticks over the bridge, reliving the endless competitions I’d had with my siblings growing up.

The road had now become a path and, as we continued down it, I realised I could see over the hedges to my right.  I had never even considered that there would be a cricket pitch there.  I had always been completely oblivious to life beyond what I had been able to see.  I guess when your line of sight gives you nettles and bugs and puddles, you’re pretty content with what you have that you don’t have to spare a thought about what you can’t see.

IMG_8523.PNGAs I looked ahead my eyes gleamed with excitement as another memory came rushing back.  Standing under the bridge I hooted and squealed as my voice echoed all around me. I felt five again!  I don’t do this often enough in the busyness of every day life.

Veering around a bend we came up the ascent to the centre of the village. We ducked into the church and I was hit again by the familiar smells of dusty hymn books and wooden beams.

Now for my final search – I had to find the playground.  My memory was starting to get hazy. There were so many possible avenues and things looked a little bit different from what I could remember.  The post office had closed so there was no option of penny sweets for us today.  

Then, coming over onto the other side of the hill, I spotted the silver glint of a slide.  Yes, the very same slide that had graced the edges of the park all those years ago.  Skipping past the swings and the apple trees, I headed straight to the middle of the green, where the May Queen rock stood, a giant rock with a throne on the top and the names of the former May Queens carved into its side.  I took a seat on the throne and surveyed my kingdom with glee.

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I was so relieved that my memory hadn’t failed me, that I had been able to reminisce on all the happy times I’d had here and reinforce the fading images in my head with fresh ones.  My trip down memory lane has reminded me that my past is as important to me as my future.  So often I forge ahead with plans and forget to appreciate what’s got me here and made me who I am today.  It’s taught me to embrace a child’s perspective again, taking each day as it comes and enjoy the simple pleasures once more.

Friday Faves – Episode 14

Happy sunny Friday!  I hope you have some beautiful summery plans for the weekend.  Today I bring you another episode of my Friday Faves – this time, it’s the best of the gradient nailart.  Gradients are brilliant for making your nails stand out and once you get the hang of them, they are really simple to master. Click here for a tutorial for my rainbow gradient nails.

Rainbow Gradient Nails

The following designs aren’t by me but I’ve let you know who each of the artists are so you can find and follow the ones you like and I’ve organised them from easy to difficult so hopefully you can find something to inspire you.

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Difficulty rating: *

First up, @ohmygoshpolish shows us a simple blue to white ombre with a stencilled accent nail, but you could freehand a similar design if you were feeling confident.

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Difficulty rating: **

Next, @sharingvu demonstrates a perfect pastel rainbow gradient with glitter placement details – so eye-catching. She’s done a tutorial for the gradient here.

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Difficulty rating: ***

I love this sideways gradient from @nailsandpolkadots. It reminds me of pic ‘n’ mix sweets. She’s kindly done a tutorial for us here.

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Difficulty rating: ****

@simplynailogical shows us a double chevron gradient. It’s so cool how it looks like an alligator!

 

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Difficulty rating: *****

More blue and pink gradient nails, this time by @lieve91. She does tribal nails so well.

 

 

There you have it.  If you haven’t tried a gradient before, definitely give it a go – it’s such an easy way to get a beautiful, breathtaking design.

Want more inspiration? Then catch up on more of my Friday Faves.