Nail Art: The benefits of a weekly nail bath.

As pretty as nail art can be, the chemicals from acetone, gel, and acrylic polish can take a toll on our nailbeds. That’s why I do a weekly nail bath using essential oils and a cold-pressed oil, and the results are well worth it. The splits and cracks that were so noticeable when my acrylic nails came off are practically gone. Along with using hand moisturiser 2-3 times a day (depending on how many times I washed my hands), careful filing of my nails and using a cuticle oil twice a day, I can easily restart my 50 Shades of Nail Polish blog series soon.

Here are a few pictures of just how bad my nail beds were and how they’ve improved. These are all pictures of my left hand.


December 2017

February 2018


There are several oils that are good for your nails; grapeseed, argan and avocado are among the most popular. For my nail bath I use grapeseed oil mixed with three essential oils; tea tree, lavender and clary sage. Along with those, I add two vitamin E capsules to the soak as well. While the grapeseed oil is rich in vitamin D, C, and E, I use it as a carrier oil for the essential oils.

It will take a while for your nails to show an improvement, although a crack that appeared in my thumb had repaired within a couple weeks. Eating healthy also improves nail beds which is why during the summer months, my nails are healthier.

You can find a list of some of the best carrier oils for nails HERE.

Essential oils are an added bonus for your nail bath. Not only are they beneficial, but they smell wonderful. Many, like tea tree and clary sage, can be used for other purposes. I find using the bath with these three a great way absorb the benefits of all three.

You can find a list of five essential oils that are beneficial for nails HERE.

I hope in the near future to have a YouTube channel so I can upload videos of my nail art along with the reboot of my 50 Shades of Red Nail Polish series; doing video swatches of the polish instead of just pictures.

A Darke Kind of Beauty: Winter Skin Hydration

DarkeBlogClipThe colder weather has arrived and baby is it cold! We’ve had temperatures drop close to -40C several times overnight. Even our poor truck didn’t want to start. With the colder weather comes a change in skin care. Up here the cold weather is dry and the wind can pull moisture from the skin. Dry, flaky patches become very prominent and when that happens, it’s time to boost up the moisturizer.

I started using a couple new products. The first is called Mineral 89 by Vichy. It contains  hyaluronic acid which grabs moisture from the air to plump up my skin. I especially like it around my eyes to lessen the droop and plump them up. My eyes are large and hooded and I’ve found plumping them up helps me to apply eyes shadow. It’s hyped as an anti-aging, but it isn’t. Not really. I’ve also started using a vitamin C serum too. The serum is wonderful for stimulating collagen in the skin, not to mention at least a dozen other reasons. Along with moisturizer, primer and foundation I have a pretty solid barrier for my skin for winter. I’ve also noticed that the dry, flaky and itch has gone too. Another reason for me to keep using these products.


Now Vichy and vitamin C serum are pricey. I use them twice a day when I go to work; once in the morning under my makeup and again at night before bed, and only before bed the other days. This way it holds out longer, but not so long that it expires. There’s also an order to application. I use the serum first and the mineral, primer, concealer, foundation and then powder. This all might seem like a lot, but when you’re dealing with temps that range from -38C in winter to 38C in summer, my skin needs all the protection it can get.

I still use the products I posted about last year, especially the FRESH masks. The masks are more of a deep hydrating treatment. You can read that article here. I still use a night cream during the winter months. As I wrote in my earlier post, the thickness of the night cream adds to my protection. It can be pricey too, so I keep an eye out for when it goes on sale.


Another regiment I do is for the rest of my body. I’m in love with Aveeno Active Naturals.  I discovered them a few years back when I had a serious itch outbreak. My entire body was so itchy for two weeks, to the point I was scratching so much and so hard I bled. I haven’t had a bout of it since, but then I’ve been moisturizing so that may have solved that problem. I put it on after my shower and I have two hand cream lotions; one for home, the other in my purse. Again, I’m dealing with such drastic temperatures that my skin needs this protection. Besides, who doesn’t like to pamper themselves. I told Husband I am now ‘high-maintenance’. I think he agrees.

Nail Art: The art of taking care of your nails.

DarkeBlogClipThe title might seem a big grandiose but one thing I’ve learned from the last year doing nail art and polish swatches is this; it’s all for naught if you don’t have a good base, and by base I mean nail base. Any good nail technician will tell you this too. When I was younger I had great nails and could grow them out long, but as I grew older this changed and until I found gel nails I didn’t risk growing them out.

Well, I’m a sucker for punishment.

I’m going to try to grow them out on my own again, but this time I’m going to pay extra attention to my nail beds. I don’t mind paying for gel nails, but to get them filled every two weeks is costly. I did a bit of research and learned that gel polish (with a led/uv light) might help me to keep the length. Gel polish lasts longer than normal polish, and I have seen a few videos where I can use gel top/base coat on normal polish.

First, the nails. I let my gel nails grow out and cut them back when they got too long. Suffice to say, the hangnails started almost immediately. As the gel bonds weakened, I was able to lift the remaining gel applications, and as you can see, my nail beds suffered for it.

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I don’t plan on doing anything but treating my nails for a couple of months; letting the damaged nail grow out and (hopefully) having a stronger, healthier nail. Then I will do the polish. This also gives me time to save for a UV light. I’m going to do research on lights and what they can and can’t do. I know UV is different that LED so I guess it depends on what brand I plan on using.

For treatments, I’ve been soaking my nails in grape seed oil with some essential oils. Since money is a factor I’ll use these up first. I need to do this twice a week, especially during the cold, dry months of winter. Even with a good hand cream, the cold conditions care brutal. Avocado and argon oil is two of the best oils, and Sephora has hand masks with both. At $8 they’re a little pricey, but considering how the oil is extracted, it’s to be expected. Anyhoo, because of this, I won’t be doing any polish swatches for a while, but I will keep you updated on my nail progress.

50 Shades of Red Nail Polish #18

RapidRed(SH)Name: Rapid Red – Sally Hanson


I decided to break away this time from the more ‘upscale’ polish brands and try out a drugstore brand. I like Sally Hanson, used their Hard As Nails polish in the nineties and never had a problem. One reason I decided to try this was because I felt like I was becoming a nail polish ‘snob’ and only using expensive polishes.

This is a crisp, red colour that stayed the same shade inside and out. It has a wide brush with a tapered end, to make application easy as according to Sally Hanson promo – just brush and go (after 60 seconds).


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Application Process:

Because of the wider brush, it took me a couple fingers before I felt comfortable using it and I did have some over-flow, but it cleaned up no problem. The colour I found was very opaque. I could get away with just one coat, but habit made me put on two. As for the fast drying, they were right. It dried so quickly that a few times it would clump up before I got to the end of my nail, but even then I still gave it a good 30 minutes between coats.


Wear and Tear:

With a base and topcoat, it lasted a full seven days. The problem came when I went to take it off. The red soaked through the pad and transferred to my other hand. It got under my nail and I ended up used close to a dozen cotton pads and Q-tips to get it all off. It was a mess. The only reason I may keep this polish is for stamping. Will have to see.


Nail Art: Add Some Glamour with Striping Tape.

Nail art can be as complex or as intricate as you want. Sometimes it’s as easy as putting a few dots on your polish (like I did for my Ladybug design) or if you want to go with something a little more glamourous, you can use striping tape. It comes in a mind-boggling array of colours and can add a touch of class to your mani.

I call this look Blue Steel.

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Having said that, be warned, using striping tape is not for the weak. I watched hours of YouTube videos on striping tape, but I wasn’t truly prepared for the frustration that would ensue. I decided to do my right hand first (as I’m right-handed and always photo my left hand) and glad I did. What a mess. This is definitely something you need to play with a few times before you get the hang of it. My left hand went on in half the time, so I’ll assume that my frustration was in part, due to my using my non-dom hand.



  • OPI’s Yoga-Ta Get This Blue
  • Striping tape
  • Tweezers
  • Nail cutters
  • Clear top/base coat


-base coat

-two coats of polish

-cut a length of tape wide enough to cover the nail horizontally. NOTE: cut the tape a little longer than your nail width. You can trim the sides later.

-with tweezers, carefully pick up the striping tape on one side. Try not to touch the sticky (un-shiny) side of the tape as the oil from your fingers will dull the sticky.

– (here’s the tricky part) place the tape on the nail in the position you wish. It may take a few tries, be patience. Once in place, press down on the tape with your fingers. I also used a dotting tool to press it to the nail.

– once the tape is in place, trim up the edges. It’s okay if you trim a little short. As a matter of fact I recommend it. I found the tape would lift at the ends even with a topcoat. I think a shorter strip seals better.

-brush on your topcoat. Make sure you cover the ends and don’t be cheap when applying. A good amount of top coat (especially on the corners) will keep the tape from curing.

50 Shades of Red Nail Polish #17

SookieZoyaName: Sookie – Zoya


Keeping with my brand experiment, this time I tried Sookie, by Zoya from their 2011 Zoya Summertime Collection. This was a little costlier than the other polishes, over $10, but look at that colour! This is a nice, crisp summer red. A nice shade too. Not too orange, not too deep. It’s not a fire truck red, more like a tomato red; that nice red shade of a ripe beefsteak tomato. Okay, now I want a BLT.


Application Process:

The formula for this is nice. Unlike the OPI products, this does tend to run a little watery, and the first time I used it, it got away on me. This isn’t really a problem. I just have to adjust my application method a bit. It applies evenly across the nailbed but it takes two coats to get an opaque finish. That doesn’t bother me either as you need two coats for most polishes. It’s shiny with or without a topcoat, but I use one for extra protection.


-two applications of polish

-top coat

Wear and Tear: This polish didn’t chip or split for the week I wore it. Even with me tapping on the cash at work and my keyboard at home. Even with the high-end price tag, this is definitely a brand I would wear again.


50 Shades of Red Nail Polish: #16

SunSetTheMoodMini(ChinaGlaze)Name: Sun-Set the Mood – China Glaze


Continuing with my experiment, the next brand I tried was China Glaze. They’re well-known for their ‘true’ neon polishes (true neon simply means you don’t need a white basecoat), and they have a fun variety of colours. This is also the first matt nail polish I’ve owned. I’m so used to seeing a shine on my polish, that the matt finish kind of threw me.

This is a nice tropical punch shade that looks more orange undertone inside and pink undertone outside. I woke up the other day and was surprised at the orange tone this colour had. I actually lay there and stared at my fingers, in awe of such a drastic colour change. Because of that I feel this colour would really pop with a tan or with darker skin tones.

Application Process:

The formula was a little goopy and it either streaked or went patchy. Considering all the wonderful things I hear about China Glaze, I was more than a little disappointed. It took more than one coat to get a final colour. I had to apply two just to get an even coverage and I should have put on one more. That being said, I think it’s worth it just for the vibrancy of the colour.


-two applications of polish

-top coat

Wear and Tear:

Another reason I will use this brand again is durability. Sealing in the polish with a topcoat gives an extra layer of protection against chips. I put my nails under a lot of stress with typing and work, so the fact that my manicure stays chip-free for a full seven days makes it worth it for me.




Nail Art: The Art of Dry Brushing.

I went to ceramics with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for about a year back when Sithboy was a baby. It was my one night to get out and I loved it. Ask me how many dragons I painted. Too many, and until recently I never thought I’d use the dry brush technique again. Who would have thought my ceramic classes would come in handy outside the class.

I was wrong.


CyberGoth Grunge

I call this design Cyber Goth Grunge. Done with three colours, it was probably the easiest first attempt of a nail art design I’ve done so far.


-clear basecoat

– 2 coats Essie’s Pretty Edgy

-let dry



[l-r] Pretty Edgy, Blanc, 7th Inning Stretch

Here’s where the fun begins. Starting with Essie’s Blanc, I scraped off as much polish on the rim of the bottle as I could. Two or three scrapes at least. I dragged the brush across the polished nail from top to end until I was satisfied with the amount. For this design, think less is more. I then used OPI’s 7th Inning Stretch (which is a nice dark, blue shimmer) the same way as the white. The good thing about this, the two design colours will dry quickly so you don’t have to worry about one colour running into the other. Finish it off with a topcoat and you’re all set! This is by far the easiest nail art I’ve done so far. I did add some neon pink on one, but it changed the overall ambiance of the design so I kept to the three colours. I’ve seen some videos where they’ve used for or more and it still looks good.

A Darke Kind of Beauty: Summer colours and shades.

It’s that time of year, folks. Time to pick out my colour palette for the summer. Now I’m IN LOVE with Kat von D products and I love her eye shadow quads and I’m finding I love quite a few of her products.

I wore the plum quad all spring with Kat von D’s Everlasting Liquid Lipstick “Berlin” (a warm rose tone). I don’t go over-board like you see on some of those tutorials on YouTube. This is how I do it for work. I haven’t done anything for an evening out, probably a darker or more purple for the eyes and a more red lipstick.

‘SAGE’ – Kat von D eyeshadow quad.

I plan on using Kat’s SAGE for summer because I LOVE the green in this.

I’m unsure about a colour for my lips. I did some research and found the main seven (yes, seven) colours for summer 2017 are as follows:


-cherry red

-dusty pink

-deep plum (personally, I’d wear that in winter)

-fuchsia pink

-a punchy red (think tropical punch fruit drink)

-rosey pink

– bright orange (they’re calling it an ‘electric’ orange)


– and a clear gloss.

That’s a wide range of colour for just about any skin tone. Not too sure about the orange thought, at least not on me. I like reds, so I’m torn between a cherry and a punchy. I’ll have to compare the colours with the eye shadow pallet and see what I like. Sephora has an app that lets me ‘test’ the colours, but nothing is as good as putting it on.

50 Shades of Red Nail Polish: #15

VinyLuxPinkLeggingName: Pink Leggings by CNC VinyLux


I stepped away from my regular brands of polish for a while. I like to experiment and see how the others work for cover and possibly future nail art. The first colour I chose is PINK LEGGINGS by CNC VinyLux. I swear to the nail polish gods, this color is haunting me. This is a nice bright pink that reminds me of Revlon’s CHERRIES IN THE SNOW. It also reminds me of BACHELORETTE BASH by Essie. It’s bright like a neon in the sun, and goes quite dark with indoor lighting.

The formula is in between Essie and O.P.I. I found this colour a little gloopy and too thick for my liking.

Application Process:

Even with the gel nails, I have to use a base and top coat. I experimented with just the polish and wasn’t surprised to see that it started to wear off after a day. Also, as the gel nail grows out, the polish clings to the edge and I end up with an oval mark across the nailbed.

  1. -basecoat
  2. -two applications of polish
  3. -top coat

Wear and Tear:

With the extra protection to the polish, this lasts well over fourteen days with no chips or wear. Taking it off was another story. It. Took. Forever. At least five minutes for each finger and I used quite a bit of polish remover too. I’m not sure if it was because I used a base coat or maybe just the formula; I even wondered if I bought some shellac by accident. I’m not sure if I’ll use this colour or purchase this brand again.

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