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.

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.

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.

Nail Art: Gel Nails and Dotting Tools

If you’ve been following my Instagram account, you know that about a year and a half ago I started posting pictures of my nail art. Most of it was on short nails because my nails have become weak and brittle. Gel nails solved that problem and I just learned that I can put regular nail polish on gel nails! Using nail polish remover (with or without acetone) doesn’t hurt the gel overlay! Yes, I tried it and the shiny surface appeared without a hint of discolouration or damage. I am so impressed, so you know what this means right?


I came up with so many ideas in the last year and now I can work on making them happen.

One of the first nail art tools I bought were dotting tools. They’re inexpensive and easy to use, mind you, I had to get a feel for them first before I attempted anything. My tools came in a set of five, double-ended tools ranging in size.

dotting tools

Dotting Tools

Dotters are probably the easiest of nail art tools to use and perfect for beginners like me. They add a bit of flair to your manicure, and using them was way easier than the sponges for the gradient work I did in the summer. This was the first time I used them. After two coats of base polish (Revlon Red) dried, I put two large drops of black nail polish (My Gondola or Yours) on some paper and dipped the large end of my #5 dotting tool into it. I did a few test tries on the paper first, and when I got the feel for it, randomly put black dots over the red.


Reminds me of ladybugs.

Nail Art: Metallic and Pinks

Now that I’ve found a way to keep my nails long without them braking (yay for gel nails) I’m going to try and have a new polish swatch/nail art each month. I realised I’m a month behind, so this month will feature two nail art; one that I had for the month of January and the other that I have for all of February.

First, January;

I saw this metallic polish on a YouTube channel I subscribe to. I thought it was the most incredible and so beautiful! I was hoping for an ice blue or some kind of blue shade for winter, but they had either the metallic green or silver, and you know me, can’t resist the dark shades.

Not as many compliments as the gold glitter, but not everyone is into the darker shades. This really stands out in natural lighting. You can distinguish the greens and purples more than inside lighting, and the faint hint of blue is more prominent too with natural light, or I thought so.

The base for this was green, which went neon after it set. The power my manicurist applied was dark and sparkly; like a fine glitter and he put it on with an application brush that would be the same as those disposable eyeshadow brushes, but a longer handle. The only drawback was; it began to peel a few days later. Not by much, but I noticed it. They were all still pretty good four weeks later, and I was pretty hard on my nails. Also, as you can see my nails are SO LONG! I couldn’t do anything with them. As much as I love long nails, there is a point where I have to cut them. I have no idea how those women with really long nails do anything with them.

For February I decided to go with a red, and wouldn’t you know it, this colour stood out.  I swear, I find this colour in everything and have two bottles of polish at home that is this same colour, but I figured fuchsia for Valentine’s Day. I got accent nails too; and my manicurist did this free hand. Can you believe this? I don’t think I could do this; not on myself. Nails are shorter too (such a relief).


A Darke Kind of Beauty: It’s all about the blues

The colour for spring is blue. This according to all the online fashion ezines I checked out. I really don’t have a problem with it, except that they like the 80’s bright blue, and I’m sorry, I wore enough of that colour the first time around. Yes, I’m that old.

I haven’t worn blue eye shadow in years, decades even, so I was a little upset this was the colour they chose for spring, but after looking around, I found some nice shades, and Urban Decay didn’t let me down either. I found a wonderful shade of blue that I proudly wear and blend in with the other shades. Yes, I said other shades. I refuse to have only one shade on my lids. I like the smoky eye style and I try to use it for all my colours.


Revlon’s Avante Guarde 525 eye shadow [right], Urban Decay’s Haight

Not to be outdone, I found some blue nail polish in the bargain bin. These colours look good with the dark blue I found on the O.P.I site.

I alternated fingers when I painted them, which is why I’m holding the bottles so weird.

These are nice blues – almost an icy tone to them, but you need at least three coats to get the bottle look. They’re nice enough and hint at a rebellious side to your personality. It’s okay to wear pinks and purples, whites and reds, but with blues, you can step out of the ordinary and be a little rebellious.

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