Every once in a while I do a mani that I really really like, this ladies, is one of those times, haha. I loooooove the look of a french manicure and then add a cutesy little flower and a rhinestone.. oh it can't get better for me, really!
For this manicure I used two coats of Orly Nail Armor as a basecoat (I really love it by the way! It has these little fibers in it that for a sort of mask over your nails) I used L.A. Colors "Energy Source" for the tips, its just a relatively opaque white creme. Then I put another coat of Nail Armor ON TOP of the tip. For the flower I used my favorite color ever, Orly "Basket Case". Sealed with a coat of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri topcoat.
I just wanted to make a few suggestions and recommendations and share some things I've tried over the past year or so that often times are overlooked because they're so commonly used!
Top Coat: I've tried a bunch of topcoats, from dollar store finds to Seche Vite. The only one I am really 100% satisfied with (OK, maybe 99%) is Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Topcoat. The one in the red bottle. The biggest thing for me is that while it does get goopy, it restores really easily with a few drops of thinner. I have 1/2 of a bottle of SV that I can't bring back to life, and after spending nearly 8$ on a bottle of topcoat, it kills me to think of spending another 8$ on a bottle of thinner to fix it! What are we paying for if it has such major flaws? I know A LOT of people love SV, and it works great for them, but I haven't always had the same experience! It has caused tip-pull shrinkage that caused me to have to re-do a mani within a few hours. I see girls asking all the time on the Nail Board over at MUA what other alternatives are, and this is definitely my #1 suggestion. It's half the price of SV (and other expensive topcoats) and worth a shot. That all being said, SV is not the worst thing in the world and I certainly don't want to offend its fans. But it falls short for me and my biggest issue is really the price.
Strengthener: NailTekII without a doubt! It's simply a miracle worker. My nails aren't TOO bad when naked, but this turns them into fortresses, I swear. I really only have positive things to say about this one. Even though the bottle is nearly empty, it is still liquid-y and no sign of gooping up- which is something that really concerned me at first. I bought this for almost 10$ and had very high expectations for the price and it has met and surpassed them all. It also makes an excellent base coat, and dries super quickly so there's no treacherous waiting.
I am not sure what Orly Nail Armor is, maybe it is a strengthener, too. It has ridge fillers which is something I need from time to time in between buffering sessions, etc. I've only used it a few times but I am happy with its performance so far. I think this normally runs about 7$-8$ but I got it on sale for 4$. As far as ridge fillers go, I tried China Glaze Ridge Filling Base Coat. There are no reviews for it on MUA, and I've searched.. if anyone finds anything please let me know. It a total PITA. It never dried - even over night. It stayed tacky. I tried to do a mani over it to see what would happen, and that also stayed tacky for a day. I can't figure out if it was a bad batch or the product is legitimately garbage, maybe it just doesn't work with my body chemistry. I have no idea!
Ok, that's it for now, I've rambled enough! Happy polishing (=