Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How To Grow Long, Strong, Healthy Nails Naturally

Well folks, I wanted to do a blog page about growing out your own natural nails.  I have done it myself, and I actually did document my own nail growth journey with photos, which I’m going to share with you here.    But first, I would like to share with you what originally inspired me to start growing my own nails out.  Which is probably similar to the reasons most people decide to do it... 
I started getting into nail art halfway through 2015.  But in the beginning, I had ZERO knowledge about caring for my nails, or protecting them.   I knew nothing of base coats, top coats, or proper moisture for nails.  
So of course, the crazy things I was doing with my nails had them constantly breaking, especially at work.   So I resorted to using fake nails (glue-ons and acrylics) in order to have a decent canvas to paint on.  
Between the repeated fake glue-on nails, acrylics and tons of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas designs I went crazy doing—oh, and the peroxide/baking soda treatments I did to get rid of the polish stains-- I completely ruined my natural nails.   They were obsessively buffed thin, weak and brittle as Pringles potato crisps!  
I was so upset by all this.   My natural nails just did not seem to want to stay long enough for me to do nail art!  But of course, the way I was abusing and neglecting them didn't help...   Still, even when I was "nice" to them, they still broke every time I tried to grow them.

 I started to think I was doomed to using artificial nails permanently, if I wanted to continue on with nail art.  
But then I started doing lots of research online, taking tons of tips from all the YouTube users and bloggers who were doing nail art on their own natural nails—and maintaining their beautiful length.  

I envied them, and decided to learn as much as I possibly could.
My video below contains everything I have learned about growing long, strong and healthy natural nails.   I began growing my own nails out in January, 2016.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that all I had to do was learn to care for them properly, and I could have my own long nails on which to do art, without having to deal with the grueling, damaging prep work of the falsies:

The proof is in the pudding, these methods DO work.   Here are my “growth progress” photos, dates included:

This was Day 1, January 15th, 2016-- right after I removed some fake nails.   Yes, my nails had grown out quite a bit under those falsies.  But in order to make those falsies bond to my nail, I had to buff the surface (which I had done many times before several applications).  Then peeeling it all off really tore them up.  Just look at that peeling and chipping.

This was after I trimmed off all the chipped and torn stuff.    I had also gone to the store and purchased "Skin, Hair & Nails" vitamins with lots of Biotin, some Keratin supplements, as well as a brush-on nail treatment for damaged nails and some cuticle oil.   I applied the cuticle oil to clean up the look, and began incorporating all the other items into my daily routine.   

That night, I also did a cute "pink plaid and and hearts" design, to cover up the fact that my nails were so darn short!  But of course, while practicing my new routine of applying my treatment, base coat and top coat. I figured I would wear a cute design while I waited for them to grow a bit.   I'm always wearing nail art now, but protect and nourish my nails and I remove the nail art to take growth pictures.  

 By the end of the week, January 22nd, you could see some natural nail beginning to grow out.  

This was February 2nd, looking better.  

February 9th, I could actually tap them at this point.  

February 14th, Valentines Day!  

February 23rd, with a little gloss from my base coat.

March 8th, getting closer to where I want them!

March 18th-- I have reached my goal!  This is about as long as I prefer my nails to be.  Long enough to do some good art, but not so long that I can't perform basic functions in daily life or at work.   

So everyone, this concludes my post on how to grow out your own nails.   I hope it has shown you that it certainly IS possible.  Hey, if I can do it with my paper-thin, brittle nails, then anyone can!   Unless you adore working with acrylics and sculpted gels-- toss those falsies and grow your REAL nail out.   

Love and care to you all,

Melissa Valentine

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Valentines Day Nails

Well of course I'm going to get in on the holiday that represents my namesake (yes, my last name is actually Valentine, lol).  

For Valentine designs, I like a lot of pink, white and red.   So I searched YouYube and google for some cute designs.    "Cutepolish" on YouTube did this adorable pink plaid and hearts design, so I decided to try it out.   It wasn't all that great because my nails were soooooooo short.  But still, it was ok.  

This was around January 8th, 2016, right after I removed my acrylics and trimmed away all the damaged stuff, pretty much bringing my nails down to the quick.  

I had been using glue on nails and acrylic nails all through the holidays, to give me a bigger canvas to paint all those lovely holiday designs on.   But at this point, I had made the decision to forget glue-on fake nails and acrylic nails, and start growing out my real nails.  I began taking "skin, hair and nails" vitamins, keeping my nails moisturized with cuticle oils and lotions, and developing a good nail care routine, using a brush on treatment.   More about that later...

But this was how I started, using cuteness to cover up the lack of length, until they grew out.   I knew Valentine's Day would be the next holiday, so I wanted to have my own nails grown out enough for decent nail art by then.  

The next design was "kiss lips".  I simply painted a light pink base color, then used a tiny dotting tool to draw darker pink and red lips.   Building up a little bit of length, here...

Next I tried a different variation of "hearts and plaid".  I thought this one was adorable too, inspired by google images.  
Now this design, I saw online while searching for "conversation heart candy nail art".   I just thought conversation hearts would make cute nail designs, for some reason.   I found a really cute design, but the problem was, the original artist used a "stamping plate" with a conversation heart theme, which I did not have...   I also knew it would be a real pain in the neck painting all those hearts directly onto my nails (left and right hands), then going over them again to put the letters on.  So I figured a way around that....   

So I went to work painting little hearts in pink. purple, light green and yellow, on a plastic document protector.   Then I allowed them to dry overnight, and used a thumb tack needle dipped in polish to write cute little phrases on them.    
I was then able to peel them all up and to keep them from sticking again, I laid them over a cushion.  

I painted all my nails a hot pink color.  Then went to work placing the hearts on my nails in a similar pattern to the one I saw online.  I trimmed away any excess parts and pressed them down to secure them.    

Then I added a top coat and there I had it!   A cute design that got me a lot of compliments at work. 

My final Valentine design was this one-- red and white hearts.  Inspired by a YouTube video, of course.   Alternating red and white sections, with countering hearts.   Kind of reminds me of playing cards, lol.   But adorable, still.  

Minie Mouse Nails

I chose this design to make my extremely short nails look cute, while I waited for them to grow out a bit.   I got the idea from a YouTube user.   Paint a simple base color of pink.   On the middle finger, use a dotting tool to make a large dot int he corner of the nail, for Minie's head.  Then 2 smaller dots on top for her ears.   use a tiny striper to paint 2 tiny triangles in white, with the points touching in the middle, as her head bow.   On the other nails, dip a dotting tool in white paint to make polka dots.  Adorable! 

Black And White Polka Dots

This was a cute and simple design I saw on YouTube, using a nude polish, white, black and silver.   Only a dotting tool was needed.   So easy and quite elegant! 

Start off with a base color of nude polish.  Or you can simply keep your natural nail color.  

Paint the right corner of your nail white.

Paint the left corner of your nail black, overlapping part of the white in the center.  

Use a dotting tool dipped in black polish to make 4 or 5 black dots above the white section of the nail.   Then do the same with silver polish, but this time go over the black section of the nail.   If the sivler dots cover one o the black dots, that is fine.  

Finish with a fast-drying clear top coat, and you're done!  

Cinderella 2015 Nails

This design was inspired by the 2015 movie Cinderella movie.   I absolutely ADORE the crisply faceted look of the glass slipper int heat movie, and I thought "Wouldn't it be cool if I cloud paint that slipper with a dark background (the way it is depicted in a lot of the photos online) on one accent nail, and make the other nails like a see-through glass with a sheer, bluish tint?   So I searched YouTube for ideas, and I found a design by NailedItNZ. 

She did an excellent nail design of the 2015 glass slipper.   I was soooo jealous of how cool it looked and wanted to re-create that.   So I studied her video.   Then watched another video of a sketch artist actually drawing this same exact shoe, to get an idea on lines, angles, facet cuts and colors....   I drew a tiny version of this shoe, freehand, on some paper.  Then put it behind a plastic document protector and went to work painting over the design on the plastic.   I basically made a "decal" using clear top coat as the backing, then painted the slipper over that.   I used a TINY detail brush to paint the outline of the slipper and the facet cuts.   Then I used a tiny dotting tool color in the tiny sections with dark and light blue, to give it that  sparkling "faceted" illusion.  

For the nails, I used clear acrylic tips, for that "see-through glass" effect.  I didn't have a sheer, light blue.   To I mixed clear polish with blue, and made my own.   Painted that over the other nails.  Then taking inspiration from a Robin Moses Cinderella nail art design, I painted magic swirls and twinkles with a detail brush on the other nails, using white and silver polish.  

Looking back now, I wish I had made the other nails an even lighter sheer blue, and maybe covered less of them with the magic swirls, so the glass effect would have been more noticeable.   But I think they still turned out quite nice. :) 

Starry Night Nails

This idea came from a YouTube User, but I can't remember which one.   She painted her nails a dark blue, then went over that with a sheer blue with blue glitter.  She added gold stars for a sparkle effect.   I didn't have a sheer blue polish with blue glitter.  So I mixed solid blue with clear, and stirred in some blue glitter I had from a glitter set I bought in Walmart.  Then of course I used a striper dipped in gold polish for the stars and finished with a clear, fast-dry top coat.  

Work with what you have!   :)

Christmas Nail Art

There were so many beautiful, fun and cute Christmas designs to try, it was difficult to decide!  But after a lot of web browsing, these are the ones I chose: 

Design 1:   Candy Cane Stripes

For this design, I Painted a base color of white, then used painter's tape cut in wide and this strips.  I placed them in candy cane-like patterns across my nails, pressing them down firmly.  Then painted red polish over the top and peel the tape away to reveal the stripes.  

Now...   The KIND of polish you use for this matters.   The first time I tried this, I used a rather thin red by China Glaze, and for some reason, no matter how hard I pressed to secure the tape, the red would bleed under the tape, smudging all the lines...    I had to go back and fix the lines with a white striper.   So I would strongly recommend using a thick, opaque red for this.   And an equally thick and opaque white. Thin polishes just tend to bleed together too easily. Allow the white to dry completely, before applying the tape, or the red polish.     

Design 2:  Grinch Nails

This one was really quite fun!  But...   I had to combine 2 different designs together.   I liked the Christmas lights from one Grinch design, but the face from another.   I studied how the Grinch face was painted, and even practiced a few times on paper first, before attempting it on my nails.   When painting with my non-dominant hand, I had to go super slow, and mostly move my dominant hand, instead of my non-dominant one.    But they both came out great.   The designs were painted over a base coat of nude polish, with white French tips.  

Design 3:  Wrapped Presents

This one was actually fairly simple, yet elegant.   Just a base color of alternating red and green, and I used a small, thin brush to paint a gold criss-cross, then gold bows.  people LOVED this one!

Design 4:  Christmas Skittle

Oh you know me by now, I love a good holiday skittle design!   I wore this design for about 2 weeks during the month of December (the others I wore maybe 5 days?).   These were actually a combination of about 8 different designs I found on YouTube and google.  I simple chose one favorite for each nail.   Something to represent every part of Christmas.  

So on the right hand you have:  Rudolph, ginger bread man, holly with a gold background, snowman body, and I kept one of my wrapped present nails on the pinky, from the last design.

Then on the right hand, you have:  Santa's suit, Christmas tree, Elf outfit, candy cane and a snowflake.   These were such a big hit!   So much fun to show off.  

Design 5:  Christmas Poinsettias

I have always absolutely LOVED poinsettias, they are my favorite Christmas decoration.   I borrowed this idea from Robin Moses on YouTube.   Again, mine is nowhere near as clean and elegant as hers, but they really caught attention.  Most people loved them.   I followed Robin in using a shimer/pearly white for the background (it was softer and more elegant than a plain white), and both dark and regular red for the petals of the flowers.   Then gold glitter for the yellow center.   The thumbs and pinkies are a red base color, with golden ribbons winding through.   

Thanksgiving Nail Art

Thanksgiving may not be as big as Christmas or Halloween, but it is our favorite "Turkey Day" and it brings families together.   So I looked for designs to try that represented Fall, turkey feasts and pilgrims.

Design 1:  Fall Leaves

This was my very first Ombre design.  Ombre is when you start with a white base color to make your design really stand out.  Then paint 2 different colors in stripes across the edge of a makeup sponge, and repeatedly blot those colors over your nail to create a "blending color" effect.  For this design, the original artist (and I) used orange above yellow, to represent a Fall "setting sun" skyline with brown leaves drifting about.  The orange I used was actually lighter than the orange used by the original artist (mine was a cream, but she used more of a burnt orange).   I was still happy with the results, though.

However, when you do an ombre design, blotting paint with a sponge over your nails gets A LOT of paint on your skin!   Clean up was a bit of a pain, having to dip a Q-Tip in some nail polish remover and rub the polish off my skin.   That was the only part I really hated, lol.    I wish I had one of those peel-off coatings you can paint around your cuticles and finger tip so you could just peel the mess away.   One of these days I will get some.  But this design was a hit, especially at work (I work in retail).  A lot of customers noticed them and I got a ton of compliments.  

Design 2:   Turkey Nails

This design was pretty easy, from YouTube.   Just a white base color, and a tiny brush to pain the "feathers".   The rest of the work was done with different sizes of dotting tools (the turkey's body, eyes and beak).  These were also an attention grabber-- that white background really catches people's eye and when they look closer, they delight in the cute turkey design.

Design 3:  Water Marble Turkey

This was my first ever attempt at "water marble" nail art.    What is water marble?  Well...   Its a technique of dropping different colors of polish into a water cup/dish and using a needle or tooth pick to create designs in the paint, then dipping your finger into the design.    The design sticks to your nail when you remove it from the water, and you have an awesome design that would be difficult, if not impossible, to paint free-hand!

Again, I got this design from a YouTube video.   Basically, the water marble is being used to create the turkey "feathers".  Then the turkey body and face are painted free-hand.

So for anyone else interested in trying water marble, let me offer you a few tips that will make your first attempt a success.   I got all these tips from a water marble do's and dont's video, and I can honestly say that video was probably the only reason my first try was such a success and a positive experience.  Too many people write off water marble as "too hard" or impossible, because they didn't know these simple tips:

1.  Use a SMALL water container.   A narrow cup is best.  It wastes less polish and the polish won't have to spread so much, or be too thin.

2.  Use ROOM TEMPERATURE water.   Distilled or bottled / filtered water is best, because the stuff coming out of the tap has things in it that mess up the quality and spreading of the marble design.   Also if the water is too hot or cold, it can ruin the design. 

 3.  Use thinner polishes.   Thicker ones don't spread as well and can sometimes sink to the bottom.

4.  Keep the brush VERY close to the water when you drop the dot of polish.   Dropping from too far up can cause the polish to sink to the bottom, or not spread.

5.   Work quickly!   Keep the caps/brush handles unscrewed and open on all your bottles, to help you switch colors faster.   Working quickly is the big key, as leaving the colors to set too long will allow them to dry and make the polish impossible to work with.

6.  Drag a needle or tooth pick through the rings of polish, to create a design.   When you go to dip your nail in, your nail should face DOWN, directly over the part of the design you like best.

7.   Keep your nail under the water, while you clean up the surface.   To do this, use a Q-Tip to sweep up the extra polish out of the water and away from your finger, on all sides.   Blow on the on the extra polish before sweeping it up.   This will dry it and make it easier to sweep up.   If you don't get rid of the extra polish, it will stick over your design when you pull your finger out of the water, and ruin your design.

Ok, now that you have all the important tips, here is how to water marble!

Paint your nails white, to make your marble design shows up nice and clear.   Then put some tape around the sides, tips, front and back of your fingers, to protect your skin from the polish and make clean up much easier.   You can also use a peel-off, like liquid latex.  Cover everything except the surface of your nail, as much as possible.

Have your water in its container and loosened/open polish bottles ready.   Its best to only work with 2 or 3 colors in marbling, but not more.   I didn't use all of these colors in the marble; some of them were for hand painting the Turkey features.   Basically, for the feathers, I used solid/opaque/cream colors of yellow, orange and brown.

Drop your polish on the water, placing one color dot inside the other.  You will notice the lighter colors and thinner polishes spread faster than the darker and thicker polishes.   For this reason, its best to alternate lighter/thin polished with dark, to help the darker ones spread.    Drag a needle or tooth pick through the rings of polish to create a design.   I drug mine toward the center to create rounded shapes like fanned out feathers. 

Dip your nail into the polish, following the tips above and keeping your nail face down.   Try to aim so that your favorite part of the design will be on your nail.  While you hold your finger under the water, sweep up the extra polish with a Q-Tip.  Remove your nail from the water to see your design.

Peel the tape off your fingers, and clean up the edges of your cuticles, either with a Q-Tip or a small flat brush, dipped in nail polish remover.   Try not to wipe any color off your nails, as you do so.  Its best to use as little nail polish remover as possible, because completely soaking the Q-Tip / brush can cause the polish remover to run onto your nails and damage your design.   Try not to touch your nails as you clean up.   

Finish with a clear, instant-dry top coat to protect your design and add a nice glossy shine, and you're all done!

Design 4:  Thanksgiving Skittle

For this one, I looked around online for designs that included a little of everything to do with Fall and Thanksgiving-- turkey, pies, pilgrims, leaves.   I found a good one on google images.   This was a lot of fun to do!   On the thumb, we have a pumpkin pie with whipped cream in the middle.   Then a pilgrim hat, lattice crust cherry pie, a turkey, and some Fall leaves.   Adorable!  I wore this one for the last week of Thanksgiving and it got a lot of attention.