Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Nail Art 101: Week One - The Tools

I get asked so many questions about nail art and how to do nail art and the supplies that are needed...the list goes on and on. There is simply too much info to put in one post so I have broken it down into a four part series that I will be posting each week over the next month. Today's post will deal with the basic tools and items you will need if you are a nail art newbie.

Let me start off by saying that you don't need a whole heck of a lot to get started with nail art.  Nail art is an expressionist art form after all. There is truly no right or wrong way to do it. However,there are tips, tricks and tools that can make your nail art life easier.  Over the next four weeks, this series will cover some of the basics of nail art from understanding nail polish finishes to basic nail art techniques.

1. A fast-drying top coat  I covered this awhile back in my 7 items every polish addict should own post as well as my top coat comparison post. A good top coat is always important but even more so with nail art.  Fast-drying top coats are your best friend when it comes to nail art. It will drastically cut down the amount of time you have to spend waiting for layers of polish to dry. I currently use KBShimmer Clearly on Top and I love it, but I encourage you to find one that you love and that works for you. 

2. A detailing brush & striping brush I won't get into too much detail about them since we will talk more in depth about their use later in the series. They are pretty inexpensive and easy to find. You can buy them in a set along with other brushes - I got my first brush set from Born Pretty Store. You can also get them on Amazon. Just make sure that you type in "nail art detail brush" or nail art striping brush" in the search bar. I highly recommend buying a full brush set. They all will come in handy at some point.

3. Dotting tool. Now this one is something you don't necessarily need. You can create dots using lots of different things: the bottom of a pen, a hairpin, etc. But if you are looking for  consistent, clean dots then a dotting tool is where it's at. I got my first one for .99 on eBay. I now use a dual-tipped dotting tool that has a large bulb on one end and a small one on the other. Perfect for those multi-sized dotticures. They also come in handy for making hearts, birds, flowers you name it.  

4. Black and White polish. You will use these colors more than any other when it comes to nail art. They don't have to be super expensive. My go to cheap black and white polishes are Sinful Colors Black on Black and Snow Me White. They retail for $1.99 ea. They both stamp well too, which is always a plus.

5. Striping Tape. I bought this thinking I would never actually use it. I was so wrong! All those amazing art deco nail art designs you see on Pinterest? Striping tape! I know some people use regular old Scotch tape for their designs but striping tape is easier. Trust me. I have used both and scotch tape is far more time consuming. Who wants to spend time cutting stripes into perfectly straight smaller pieces? Not me. Striping tape is actually cheaper than regular tape so you will be saving yourself some pocket change on this one. Again- you can find it in bulk or by single rolls on eBay, Amazon and Born Pretty Store

Those are the basic items to get you started on your nail art journey. Stay tuned next week for the next post in this series!

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Monday, April 20, 2015

The Disney Princess Series: Cinderella- inspired Nail Art

*Press Sample

Hi gang! I am so excited for today's post! I have been dreaming of doing a Disney Princess series here on the blog for what feels like forever. I decided it was finally time to bit the bullet and get to it. For the next two months or so I will be posting Disney Princess inspired nail art. I decided to kick the series off with the quintessential Disney Princess - Cinderella! I recently received a few stamping plates from Born Pretty Store for review and one of the patterns was perfect for the idea I had for this design.

Tools used:

Polishes used:
Girly Bits More Cowbell
Super Black Lacquer Guilty
Pueen White in White

I didn't want to be too literal with this design. I was inspired by the colors that are seen throughout the story: blue, gold and white. I started by painting my nails with two coats of More Cowbell. Once dry I used a makeup sponge and created a soft gradient using Cowbell and Guilty. I then stamped on my pattern with White in White. I had some really pretty nail art charms from Born Pretty that I have been waiting to use and added that as my accent nail for some extra bling.

About the plate: I was really impressed with how crisp the etching was on it. I had no issues with my stamping picking up the image and as you can see the pattern transferred cleanly. Born Pretty Store has really been stepping up their stamping plate game lately. I saw so many plates on their site that I had to add to my wish list!

BP Plate15 retails for 2.99. You get free shipping on any order you place on the Born Pretty Store website. And you can use my promo code PSL91 for 10% off your order!

Stay tuned for more Disney Inspired nail art on the blog! 

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Friday, April 17, 2015

5 Things I've Learned About Blogging

This upcoming Sunday marks my three year blogiversary. Three years! In a lot of ways it feels like I've been blogging forever and in others I still feel like a newbie. The one thing that is exciting- and at times a bit frustrating - is that there is always something new to learn. Not just in terms of nail art but with the ins and outs of blogging itself. Looking back to when I first started blogging I laugh at how utterly clueless I was about it. I had been doing nail art and posting on my Facebook profile for awhile and friends kept urging me to start a blog. I shrugged and thought, "Why not?" And that was that. I did no research, no planning, nada. This now makes me cringe. Why? Because my learning curve was looooong (I actually just went back and added another extra "o" on this it was that long). Super long. I still feel like I'm walking that curve sometimes. SEO. What's that?! Photography. Huh? Blog Statistics. Wha-? 

Yes dear readers - I was clue-less! I can't say that I have the advantage of doing tons of research before starting Valiantly Varnished. But I can say that learning everything while actually blogging has given me a bit of extra insight. So as my blogiversary looms, I have decided to compile a little list of the biggest lessons I've learned over the last three years.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sheer Matte Polka Dot Nail Art

Happy hump day peeps! Today's nail art is a technique that I have been wanting to try for awhile. I have seen various versions of it on Instagram and Pinterest. It looks simple and easy - and it is - once you find the technique that works for you. Which was a bit trial and error for me. For my version all you need are three polishes: A clear polish, a black polish and a matte top coat! Pretty simple right?

Tools used:
MoYou Plate Pro Plate 10
Small striping brush.

Polishes used:
Clear Polish
Zoya Willa
Konad Black
KBShimmer Clearly on Top
OPI Matte Top Coat

I tried a few techniques before settling on this one. I found it to be the easiest. I started by adding drops of Willa into a bottle of clear polish. I basically kept adding drops until I reached my desired opacity, which was slightly lighter than a black jelly polish would be. I then applied three thin coats of my sheer black and a coat of Clearly on Top to speed up the drying process. I then used Pro Plate 10 and Konad Black for the polka dots. This is entirely optional. You can always used a dotting tool and your black polish but I'm not very good at keeping my small dots uniform so I opted for stamping. I then used my striping brush and Willa to create the black frame around my nails. I finished with my Matte Top Coat.

So what do you all think? Would you try this technique? I love how simple it is and yet really eye-catching and dare I say - sexxxy?? ;)

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Tweed Pattern Double Stamping

Hi all! With the weather finally turning around and beginning to feel like Spring, I was in the mood to wear one of my favorite "Spring-colored" polishes, American Apparel L'Esprit. I decided to jazz it up a bit with some double stamping nail art.

Tools used:
Bundle Monster plate 706
Color4nails Crystal Veil

Polishes used: 
American Apparel L'Esprit
Pueen White in White
Konad Black
KBShimmer Clearly on Top

This was super easy and simple to do. After applying L'Esprit, and allowing it to dry I applied a thin coat of Crystal and allowed it to dry. I stamped my tweed pattern with Konad Black to half of my nail. I then stamped with White in White on the other half. I finished with a coat of Clearly on Top.

L'Esprit is one of my all time favorite pastel polishes. It's one of those shades that always looks amazing with nail art over it.

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Hi all! My name is Ameerah and I'm a nail polish addict. Valiantly Varnished is my creative outlet and my way of expressing and sharing my love of nail polish, nail art and makeup!





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