The Lacquer Legion: On Holiday - A Familiar View

It's another Lacquer Legion day! I get so excited for the end of the month now—I just love participating in this group.

The LL mods chose "On Holiday" as this month's theme, and I have to say, this one was equal parts fun and challenging for me. I knew early on what I wanted to do and was excited to try, but I also knew that it would be difficult, so I spent most of the month psyching myself up for it.




I'm not spending my vacation time on a big trip this year. I'm not exactly the world's best traveler (my lovely, patient husband can confirm this), so sometimes we just take time off and stick close to home, relaxing and enjoying our own amazing city in a way that we don't get to do when we're busy with the demands of work and day-to-day life. Our "vacation" isn't for a couple of months yet, but when it does roll around at the end of the summer, we're going to stay downtown, attend a convention, and enjoy everything Seattle has to offer. If you've never visited Seattle in the summer, you really should: summer here is short, but definitely sweet. Our small window of perfect sunny days late in the season always seems to make up for all the rain we get the rest of the year.


The challenging part of this manicure for me was definitely hand-painting the Seattle skyline. I'm really not a freehand painter, in spite of my desperate wishes to the contrary, so capturing such an iconic skyline—and actually making it recognizable—stretched my abilities to the limit! I feel like it turned out pretty well, though, so I'm pleased with it. And it was quite the ego boost when I showed my husband and he thought it was a stamp!


Here's the quick breakdown of what I used:

  • I started with a base of OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls (best easy, no-fuss white ever, by the way!).
  • Then I sponged on the gradient of China Glaze Secret Peri-wink-le, Butter London Jasper, and OPI Where Did Suzi's Man-go?!.
  • Finally, I painted on the skyline using black acrylic paint and a very small nail art brush from Stylish Nail Art Shop.


Thanks for looking, and thank again to the Lacquer Legion ladies for another great prompt. Don't forget to check out the #LLOnHoliday hashtag all across social media to see what everyone else created for today!

Easiest Gradient Ever

Gradient manicures are one of my absolute favorite things, but sometimes they're just a little too much work, y'know? Waiting for the base layer to dry, painstakingly sponging on layers, dealing with cleanup—it can take forever! That's why all the thermal polishes popping up these days are so great: if your nails are long enough, you can (sometimes) get that gradient look without all the hassle.




My nails have always been on the shorter side, but I've recently been able to grow them out with a lot of careful attention and the help of some great products. When I realized that they were maybe finally long enough to get this two-toned look from a thermal polish, I got so excited that I ran right to the computer and ordered a couple of Polished by KPT's absolutely gorgeous thermals.


This is Don't Be Ranunculus, a shimmery, sparkly thermal that transitions from a deep raspberry red when cold to a light, pinkish taupe when fully warm. On my medium-length nails, it generally wears as the taupe color with red tips, but I did see a lot of both colors in various environments. Application was very nice, though it's always a little tricky with thermals that become lighter when they touch your warm nails: you don't notice the mess you're making on your cuticles until the first time your hands get cold!




I also couldn't resist adding a little something to the Don't Be Ranunculus base, just to keep things interesting. The flowers here were stamped from plate 06 from MoYou London's Suki Collection using a england Bridal Veil. I kind of wish now that I'd used a darker, more saturated black for the stamping, but it did match well with the base color(s)!



Thanks for looking!

A Walk Around the Color Block

My husband and I were out doing some outlet mall shopping recently, and as we breezed through the Kenneth Cole outlet, this mixed-pattern blouse caught my eye. As you may have already guessed, I always love a good mix of color blocking and patterns—and this combo in particular was so striking to me that started recreating a version of it on my nails almost as soon as we walked in the door at home.




Since my last manicure featured stripes, I decided to change up the pattern a little for this one and go with giraffe spots instead. My teal is also a bit darker and greener than what's used for the blouse, but otherwise I think the basic idea is the same.


This is one of those manicures that's not particularly difficult—just time-consuming. Here are the steps:
  1. Start with a base of white (OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls, here) on all nails and some quick-dry top coat. Let it dry.
  2. Use striping tape to mark off the areas you want to add the solid black (a england Camelot, in this case).
  3. Add the black and let it dry. No need for top coat on this layer yet.
  4. Use scotch tape to cover up the white areas where you'll want the teal. With the tape in place, stamp on the spots. Mine were done using MoYou London's Pro Collection 04 plate and Camelot.
    Note: I didn't bother covering up my black areas before stamping because any spots that got stamped onto them blended away with the top coat.
    Another note: do this step on your nails one by one, so that the scotch tape is on your nails for the shortest amount of time possible. 
  5. Add another layer of quick-dry top coat and let it dry.
  6. Use striping tape to mark off the edges of where the teal will be and then add the teal. I used OPI Amazon... Amazoff.
  7. Let everything dry for a bit and then add one or two more coats of quick-dry topcoat.

Whew! So many steps! It occurs to me now that this might be the kind of design that would benefit from a tutorial? I've been wanting to try my hand at a video tutorial because I really enjoy the ones that other bloggers make, so this might be a good candidate for the video treatment. Stay tuned, and let me know if that's something you'd be interested in seeing!


The perfectionist in me isn't overly thrilled with how patchy my teal areas look on certain nails. They definitely looked much better and much more even in person! Direct lighting and close-up photos can be harsh mistresses indeed.


Oh, and one quick plug before I wrap this up: my giveaway ends in a couple of days. Have you entered? There aren't a huge number of entries yet, so your odds of winning some awesome geeky nail wraps from Espionage Cosmetics are really good!

Thanks for reading!

Taboo Dreams... Come True!

Today I'd like to talk about dream polishes.

Everyone has them, right? The polishes (and/or brands) that you admire from afar and fantasize about owning one day, but that remain frustratingly out of reach because they're discontinued, from another country, too expensive, etc. For me, this dream polish has always been anything Chanel—and, more specifically, Chanel Taboo. Everyone raves about Chanel polish and I've coveted Taboo forever, but because that one little bottle costs what I'd normally spend on two or three of another brand, I could never quite justify buying it for myself. 

Thankfully, however, my birthday rolled around recently, and because I have very cool parents who are kind enough to indulge my nail obsession, I received an awesome gift from them: my dream polish! 


As I hoped and expected, Taboo really is a dream to use. I generally brace myself for a lengthy cleanup after applying dark, shimmery polishes: my application skill are pretty good, but definitely not perfect, and dark polishes are excellent at getting everywhere when you're trying to paint clean lines. (That goes double for dark shimmers.) So, needless to say, I was beyond delighted when Taboo applied smoothly and cleanly on every nail—literally almost zero cleanup required here! And this is two coats, because... I just like to do two coats, I guess, but I could have easily gone with one and still had great coverage.

Wear time for this polish is also pretty amazing: eight days (at least)! I finally changed it because I was just ready for something new and I think I had one tiny little chip on one nail. I mean, wow.

My one minor quibble is that the polish looks quite a bit different from bottle to nails. I didn't realize this would be the case and I was actually a tiny bit disappointed at first, but the more I looked at all the depth and subtle sparkle of the color on my nails, the more I fell in love with it. Definitely a challenge to photograph, though! I did my best to color-correct and show the polish as it looks in real life (which is why my skin tones are a little wonky), but I'm still not sure I got all the way there.


I actually feel sort of strange having polished-but-plain nails for any length of time, so I couldn't resist the temptation to add a little something to my Taboo base after the first day. I had a really hard time deciding what could possibly do this amazing polish justice, but in the end, I decided to keep things simple and incorporate another unique polish I received as a gift (this time, from my sister!).


This is OPI Next Stop... The Bikini Zone stamped over Taboo with the tiger stripe image from MoYou London Pro Plate 04. I loved how this looked in real life—so deep and sparkly, and so many amazing shades of purple—but if anything, the stamping took a difficult polish to photograph and made it... even harder to photograph? Go figure! I guess this is just one of those manicures that was always destined to look more impressive in person.



Thank you all for looking & reading, and thank you to my family for the wonderful gifts!

Nailed It! Nail Wraps Review and Giveaway

As the title of this post so slyly hints, I have a couple of exciting things to share today: a product review and a giveaway! (You're shocked and amazed, I know.)

Like a lot of geeky nail art lovers, I was super extremely excited last summer when Espionage Cosmetics launched their "NAILED IT!" Kickstarter for geek-themed nail wraps. I mean, geek-themed nail wraps! That basically has my name written all over it! I supported the project within the first few days, and then gradually kept increasing my pledge as they released more designs and I got more and more excited... and then suddenly, when the funding period ended and all the stretch rewards were tallied, I had a lot of nail wraps coming my way. Like, a lot a lot. Like, way more nail wraps than one human could ever hope to use. I gifted some to friends and family who were interested in sporting geeky nails, but I still had so many left that now I'm sharing some with you, my lovely readers, too.

First, however: my review!


I've used a handful of all the different nail wraps on the market, and overall, I think these stack up really well in comparison. They're essentially an extremely thin sticker (not the "real nail polish" style wraps), but I've found that they behave a lot like the "real polish" wraps when it comes to application, wear, etc. And as you can see, they look stunning! This set is called Burtonesque and does a really amazing job of evoking that whimsically creepy Tim Burton vibe.


The Espionage Cosmetics team wrote up some really great instructions that are included with each set of wraps (you can check out the full line of them here, by the way), so I won't rehash those, but I do want to go over some additional observations/tips from my experiences with these wraps. (And, this is going to be one of my long-winded numbered lists, so apologies in advance! Keep scrolling if you just want more pics and/or giveaway details.)
  1. Unless you're a pro at using nail wraps, expect application to take a bit longer than the advertised 10 minutes. It could be that my perfectionist streak was just really working against me, but it took more like 30 minutes for me to get all my nails wrapped and looking just how I wanted. That's still a totally doable time investment for impressive nails, in my opinion.
  2. These puppies are thin. That's great news overall, because that means they look better on your nails, but it also means you need to slow down and be patient when applying them or you can end up with crooked wraps, wrinkles, or wraps that curl over on themselves in mid-air when the wind gusts through your window (ahem).
  3. You can use a small brush and acetone for cleanup, just like with nail polish. I filed off the excess wrap on my free edges, but rather than trimming or using another nail to pull off any excess around my cuticles, I just grabbed my normal cleanup brush and some acetone and it worked great! Takes a few more passes than when you're just cleaning up polish, but I got nice clean edges and the acetone even helped melt the wraps down onto my nails so that I didn't get any lifting at all when I applied top coat.
  4. These wraps just peel right off when you're ready to remove them. Really! Even after more than a week of wearing them! Even when they're shellacked with top coat! Don't be like me and try to remove them with polish remover, because it will go very poorly and you will curse and be frustrated and then feel like a dummy when you finally try to peel them off with tweezers and they just pop right off.
I think that covers everything! Seriously though, minor quibbles aside, I really love these wraps and I couldn't stop staring at them the entire time I wore them. (Which was a long time: as I mentioned before, they still looked perfect after more than a week.) I'm planning on hoarding the rest of my stash for when I go on vacations or to conventions and I want a long-lasting, unique manicure.



And now for the giveaway!


As a thank-you to all my readers for making my first full year of blogging so much fun, and to help spread the word about these great wraps, I'm giving away four sets of Espionage Cosmetics's Nailed It! wraps from my collection. (Don't worry, these are all new and unopened.) I picked out what I think are four of the most universally awesome and wearable designs for this giveaway, since I know not everyone is as geeky as I am and may not be into circuit board or Ninja Turtle nails. The wraps included, from left to right, are Burtonesque, Smashing, Clinically Insane, and Chainmail.

Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. You must be a follower of Amateur Manicure to win. This giveaway is open internationally, yay! The giveaway closes at 9 am PDT on June 20, 2014, and once contacted, the winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize. More detailed terms and conditions are listed in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Little Spotty

I've been incredibly short on time for writing posts lately, but I've still been doing my nails! So, rather than wait until I have more time to write up something longer, I thought I'd go ahead share this quick Cruella de Vil–esque manicure that I did recently. Very little explanation required!




I started this one with a base of piCture pOlish Frank-n-Furter and then added the leopard print with black and white acrylic paints and tiny nail art brush. I actually posted about the brush(es) on my Instagram recently—I ordered them from IG user @stylishnailartshop, who is in the process of opening an Etsy shop—and they're fantastic! Very nice quality and a good buying experience.


My freehanding skills are not amazing, to say the least, but I still had fun doing these spots. I like that working with acrylic paints is relatively low pressure: if something comes out really terribly, you can just wash it off (as long as you haven't applied top coat yet).




Thanks for looking!
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