Sunset Stripes...

Well I spent my weekend pretty much re-organizing my nail corner.  It's been a bit of a mess since I moved and since my set up is a bit different it's been tricky fitting everything in.  In the midst of that I got my light box and since I wanted to try it out I thought I'd do up some new nails!  The only problem with my light box is...well...I didn't get a LIGHT for it yet!  So these STILL aren't the perfectly balanced nail pics I wanted. But I plan to get a light for it and work on getting things just right for the next nails I post.  These were inspired by a shirt a contestant was wearing on one of the episodes of The Taste, this food show I stumbled across on Hulu while I was looking for background cleaning noise!  I used Zoya Jacqueline for the base, OPI Cajun Shrimp for the red-orange and then my trusty Models Own art pen for the black. Hope you enjoy!! Check out my new nail corner on my Instagram @bee_polished! :)

Lucy in the sky

It finally feels like Spring outside!! Hopefully this time it sticks.  I thought for the warm weather I'd break out the Spring colors.  Also I just picked up this incredible glitter the other day called Lucy in the Sky.  It reminds me a bit of Tart with A Heart but they're not near similar enough that you don't need both! I also successfully completed this tape mani without pulling my hair out!  Although I did have to start over once. I really need to get in the habit of putting down a base, waiting a day and then doing the tape ones. I have ZERO patience for dry time and even with a quick dry top coat it just never works out for me! Hope you all enjoy this fun, Spring look!

In the Jungle

So in case any of you were wondering about why I try to keep my "holiday" nails more abstract...well...her we go! Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day and while I LOVE doing fun art for one day holidays like that, it really doesn't carry over. It's not like at Christmas when you get a whole season to do themed nails and no one cares if you have Christmas trees on your nails for weeks.'s one day and done.  I work in an office so I can't have SUPER flamboyant nails (although I can be more flashy when clients aren't in) and it's important that I can take my look from festive to professional without removing the whole thing and starting over. Plus, who wants to waste all that work for just one day? Not me.  So here is my recycled St Patrick's Day mani.  It actually only took me about ten minutes to recycle it and most of that was dry time.  I grabbed my Essie Penny Talk and a stamp and then I used the stamp with more coverage to hide those pesky shamrocks.  I actually REALLY loved the gradient under the copper stamp too. It looks a little jungle-esque and it was really cool when it sparkled!!

Luck o' the Irish

It's St Patricks Day! I really LOVE green and I always get excited to do manicures for today BUT....I realized when going through my collection this year that I really don't have many green creme polishes. I have plenty of glitters, shimmers and other such goodies, but not anywhere near enough cremes.  In either event I threw a few China Glaze polishes together with one of my favorite glitters of all time, Dollish Polish The Hero of Time. I think it came out rather nice and subtle. One of those mani's I could carry over into tomorrow if I were feeling sort of lazy. ;) I hope everyone has a happy holiday and stays safe!

Glossy Box...

So today is the final day of the Digital Dozen Brand challenge!  Today I decided to do some nails based on the Glossy Box logo. I actually got this Lauren B polish IN my Glossy Box and it seemed a fitting way to use it! I had some issues getting the crown logo right SO...instead I did the top part of it with the little dots and the swirl. I did some scalloped Frenches on my other nails to tie it all together. I hope you all enjoyed brand week! Check out what the other ladies came up with below!

When it rains, it pours...

So today's brand post is both inside AND outside the box. The design of it is quite straightforward but then it's not really very obvious to anyone looking what the brand is.  Have you guessed it yet? 

It's for Morton Sea Salt!  I had the container on my counter and thought the design was really pretty. It ended up being a great week to unveil it!!  Even though the brand logo is the little girl with the umbrella, all the Morton  brand salt products include the navy so I think it still works! ;) Check out what the other ladies came up with below! (And please excuse my photography on this one. My camera went ten shades of crazy for some reason!)

Those Golden Arches...

It's day three of brand week with The Digital Dozen! Today I did another sort of simple design that works as a brand but also transitions nicely into everyday life. This is for McDonalds in case the title didn't give it away!! I don't really eat there, sometimes I get a soda, but I liked the idea of the arches. It was so simple to do and it actually got a lot of compliments! No one suspected it was McDonalds til I mentioned the design was based on a brand. Win. :) Don't forget to check out what the other ladies came up with!!

Taste the rainbow...

It's day two of Brand Week with The Digital Dozen and today I've gone a bit more abstract. I didn't want to do lettering across my nails and I also like that this was quite wearable without anyone wondering why I'm promoting candies!  Normally there would be a rainbow stripe with white letters and the dots beneath so I just eliminated the rainbow stripes and went with the dots on the white.

Simple and effective!! Don't forget to check out what the other ladies came up with for today's challenge!!

The Digital Dozen Does...Brands!

It's time for another week of Digital Dozen nail art!! This week the challenge was brands.  I started out trying to think outside the box and then sort of ran low on ideas! Today I'm starting with the one I  liked least.  It's fairly obvious that it's for Target, but as my husband aptly pointed out (after I was FINISHED!!), that's not really a brand so much as a store!! Either way though, it came out decent.  It's certainly not my favorite of the week but we all have our days! I hope you all enjoy it! Don't forget to check out what the other ladies came up with!

Rehab your nails: How to do a paraffin dip

It's paraffin day!! Today I'm going to show you how you can give yourself a paraffin dip at home. First I'll tell you what you need to have to do this and then I'll tell you some ways to make this easier on yourself!  You can also give these to friends or family members but please be sure that if you use this for multiple people you do NOT return the used wax to the machine. So above are my preferred tools for doing this.

You need:
  • A cuticle oil
  • A sugar or salt scrub
  • A thick, creamy lotion
  • A paraffin warmer
  • A towel
  • Plastic paraffin gloves, plastic shopping bags OR cling wrap

Optional items include heated hand warmers or towels.

My paraffin bath was a Christmas gift but you can score one like it on Amazon for $29.99. It's fairly easy to use, deep enough to submerge my entire hand, and heats pretty quickly. You can buy larger ones with fancy settings for heat and timers but honestly, this basic one is all I need.  It comes with the wax and you can pick up refills at most beauty supply stores or online. They come in lots of colors and scents. Just be sure that the paraffin you buy is for use on skin and that whatever scent you choose goes well with your lotion!  You'll want to turn it on to heat in advance.  I do this about two hours before hand. 

When you're ready to go, lay out your supplies. I'm doing this myself (WITH ZERO help) so I'm going to get my bags ready to slide my hands into by sitting them in the sink. If you're using the ones specifically for paraffin, you'll want to somehow get them opened so you can slide your hands in (without grazing the sides). If you're using cling wrap, simply lay out two, square pieces about twice the width of your hand and about two or three inches longer.

It might be hard to see here but I've got them just opened up and next to one another in the sink. Plastic bags are free, I have tons and I like to recycle them so that's why I choose to use them rather than invest in anything else. I DO use cling wrap sometimes though and it works just as well.  You'll also want to open your cuticle oil and the top to the warmer. Be sure your lotion is open and ready to go as well.  You'll want to start by washing your hands and then using a sugar scrub to exfoliate them well.  I'm using Zoya's sugar scrub. It smells yum and works well.  You can use any scrub you have. Some people also like salt scrubs and this is fine as well but salt is a bit more harsh and can also irritate small cuts on ones hands. For this reason I like the sugar ones. 

Next, thoroughly dry your hands and then generously spread oil on the nail and cuticle area. We talked about oils this week so if you need some ideas of what to go for there is plenty of info there!  I'm using CND Solar Oil.  During the year I use it with the Almond lotion but today I want a heavier lotion so I'm going to use my Hempz brand. I normally wait a few minutes to let it soak in some before I add the lotion but you certainly don't have to.  Add the lotion next and be sure again to be generous with it. DO NOT rub it all the way in.  I don't know why but when I was in nail school we always used EssieSpa Pedicure Hydro-Masque. It's not really for hands but it did the trick!  

Now hold your hand over the bath and submerge it. Don't go all the way to the bottom but you should go deep enough that the entire hand is covered.  If, for whatever reason, your bath is not deep enough you can just turn the hand over and do the other side that way.  Then lift your hand back out. Do this three to five times to build up a nice coat of paraffin. I usually do four, then I'll let it hover over the bath for a ten count just to be sure there are no drips. Then I'll put it in the bag and wrap it up.  If you're using cling wrap, sit your hand on the square, wrap one side over and then the other side over and then the top if there is any hangover (there should be a bit).  Since I'm doing this alone I dip one hand and sit it in the bag, then dip the other and then when both hands are in the bags I lift my hand upward (so the bag falls over my wrist, and then twirl my hands together to seal. If you're using heated mitts or towels, this is the time to put those over your hands. You can also wrap a dry, room temperature towel around them to keep the heat in.  Wait 5-10 minutes to remove.  Remember that even though they feel cool to you before that, they're still warm so don't be tempted to take it off early!! I usually do seven minutes.

Now remove the bag and slide off the paraffin.  If it's just you, you can drop it back in the bath and reuse it (this is why you first WASH YOUR HANDS!!).  If you're sharing the bath then put both wax hands into a bag and put them in the bin.  There may be some lotion remaining so rub it in and voila! Baby soft hands.  You can thank me later ;)

Rehab your nails: Carrier Oils

Todays post is a quick one about choosing the right cuticle oil for your nails.

Cuticle oil has one simple purpose: to moisturize your nail and cuticle.  There are lots of kinds, colors, oils and fragrances to choose from, which begs the question, 

"What is the right cuticle oil for me?"

The main thing to watch for in these oils is the base oil and the oil content. Esesntially, you want to choose one which has more oil than "fluff" and which has a carrier oil (or even more than one carrier oil) in order to be sure that it's going to penetrate your nail instead of just sitting on top of it.  Application is important too. I don't know why, but I see a lot of people, even at salons, slap some on quickly, rub it around and then swipe the nail with remover or primer and continue the manicure.  You're really doing yourself a disservice this way.  The BEST time to apply cuticle oil when doing a manicure is after the entire process is complete. That's right, even AFTER polishing!  The right cuticle oil will not only assist in drying your nails, but it will penetrate right through it to the nail below. Plus, since you're already waiting for your polish to dry, you have plenty of time to let it soak in so it can do it's job.

So what is a carrier oil? Carrier oils are oils that "carry" into our skin.  In other words, they SOAK INTO the skin instead of sitting on top.  When combined with other ingredients, like Vitamin E, they can also assist in carrying those vitamins or ingredients into your skin.  Here are some of the most common carrier oils:

Sweet Almond Oil     Kukui Nut Oil
Apricot Kernel Oil
Macadamia Nut Oil
Avocado Oil
Meadowfoam Oil
Borage Seed Oil
Olive Oil
Camellia Seed Oil (Tea Oil)
Peanut Oil
Cranberry Seed Oil
Pecan Oil
Coconut Oil
Grapseed Oil
Rose Hip Oil
Hazelnut Oil
Sesame Oil
Hemp Seed Oil

You probably won't see most of these in cuticle oils and that's mainly to do with the texture and absorbancy of them. Of these, the most absorbant are Grapeseed Oil, Coconut Oil and Jojoba because they are thin and absorb well without leaving residue on your hands. That said, some cuticle oils blend heavier oils, like avocado oil, with thinner oils so that you get the benefit of a more fatty oil which absorbs more rapidly.  You'll probably want to experiment a little before choosing the one that best suits you. Remember to apply it, rub it around gently and then allow it five minutes to absorb. During that time, if you need to add more, do so. Anything left over after five or ten minutes can be massaged into the skin with a light lotion. I really love to use CND Solar Oil and Almond lotion for this. The Solar Oil soaks in well for me and when the lotion is massaged in with the remaining oil it leaves no trace of oily residue on my hands. I'm also a fan of the OPI avocado oils.  If you need an extra boost, use the oil with hot towels or a paraffin treatment. 

Here are some of the most common cuticle oils along with the carrier oil used:

CND Solar Oil: Sweet Almond, Jojoba and Vitamin E
OPI Avoplex: Avocado, Grape Seed, Sunflower, and Sesame Seed
Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil: Cotton Seed,Sweet Almond, Soybean
Deborah Lippmann: Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, Mineral Oil*
Butter London: Safflower Seed Oil
Sally Hansen Vitamin E: Vitamin E, Wheat Germ, Apricot Kernel,
Zoya Qtica Solid Gold: Sweet Almond, Jojoba and Tea Tree Oil
China Glaze Orange Oil: Sweet Almond, Jojoba, Castor Seed

*A carry over point from yesterday: AVOID Mineral Oil and Petroluem. Mineral oil and petroleum jelly are byproducts of petroleum production. Mineral oil is used in baby oils and many commercially available moisturizers because it is an inexpensive oil to manufacture. It, however, can clog pores, prevent the skin from breathing naturally, prevent essential oil absorption, prevent toxins from leaving the body through the natural process of sweating. These same concerns apply to petroleum jelly.

Rehab Your Nails: My lotion has WHAT in it?!

Make Over March continues today with a little wake up call as far as your lotion goes.  Everyone knows what lotion is meant to do; moisturize your skin.  For the most part, almost any lotion is going to live up to that basic expectation. Yet haven't we all experienced the dreaded "greasy" feeling, or even dryness after using lotions? That's because all lotion is not created equal.  Even lotions specifically targeted for your nails aren't always the best choice.  We're going to visit oils and the best ones to choose tomorrow but something to keep in mind with both is that there are certain things which your skin just won't absorb.  When a product doesn't properly absorb it can cause you to have a greasy film left on skin where said ingredients just simply won't penetrate the skin. That's bad enough. WORSE is that some lotions actually contain ingredients which aren't good for your skin. 

Let's dispel a little myth I keep hearing first: "There's alcohol in my lotion and it's drying out my skin!!"

Ok, so that's SORT of true.  There are many different types of alcohol though and not all of them are drying to the skin. So what should you look for and what should you avoid? Well there's where it gets a little tricky. Here are some commonly found alcohols in lotions and what they ACTUALLY do for you.

  • Cetearyl Alcohol: This actually makes the lotion smooth and creamy. It's a combination of Cetyl and Steryl alcohol.  It also stabalizes the product, holding the different ingredients together as well as working as a carrier to help the product absorb.
  • Cetyl alcohol: is used as an emollient, lubricant or surfactant, and helps make spreading of a liquid easier.
  • Ethel Alcohol: used as a preservative
  • Benzyl Alcohol: usually a preservative or used as part of a fragrance
  • Steryl Alcohol: Is an emollient which aids in softening skin.
Now that we've sorted that, let's focus on the bad news: fragrances, added colors, and other preservatives and unnecessary ingredients CAN dry out your skin.  They can also cause allergic reactions and more to the point, they simply don't moisturize as well as they could be. Just look at that ingredient list. I bet less than 20% of you can pronounce half of those ingredients, let alone know what they do or don't do. 

OK let's look at another lotion:

I apologize for the quality, my camera really didn't like this one.  But just glance over the ingredients list here versus the one listed above. You're always going to see some chemicals because the lotion has to be preserved and stay a certain texture at various tempuratures and etc. But focus on the fact that here, MOST of the ingredients are easily recognizable: shea butter, sativa seed oil, honey elixir, sweet almond oil, aloe, vanilla fruit extract, water. Moreover, versus the one above, it boasts several types of natural (oill/shea) moisturizers rather than just two and a lot of chemical grossness. Also notice how low on the list the Alcohol is in this one as well as the fragrance, where the one on the top has the ingredients listed much higher. That indicates that this one has LESS of those ingredients which is a good thing.

So what's the point? Short of using straight oils or butters, your best option for lotion is going to be one which contains various oils, little or no fragrance and doesn't list any alcohols or preservatives as the top five ingredients. My personal favorite are the Hempz line but you can shop around to find yotr best match. :)

Here are some other ingredients to watch for:

Glycerin absorbs A LOT of water and can therefore deplete the skin of moisture by sapping what moisture is in the skin. Use it as a moisturizer with caution. High levels of glycerin has no proven increased benefit for skin. In fact, pure glycerin (100% concentration) on skin is not helpful and can actually be drying, causing blisters if left on too long as they can increase water loss by attracting water from the lower layers of skin into the surface layers of skin where the water can easily be lost into the environment.

Petroleum or Petroleum jelly can create the illusion of moisturized, hydrated skin, all the while suffocating your pores. It's water-repellant and not water-soluble, meaning it merely seals the barrier so that moisture does not leave the skin. So while you might feel the instant gratification of a softened surface, you're actually drying out your pores by keeping out air and moisture. What's more, the thick texture makes it difficult to cleanse from the skin.

Instead choose lotions with stearic acid* and natural oil.

*Stearic acid is a fatty acid that is found naturally in the protective outer layer of the skin. It is one of the building blocks of the lipid layers in skin, which help to form a barrier and preserve the skin's natural moisture.

Rehab your nails: Make-over March

So if you're anything like me you've basically been living in a tundra the past three months. It's been one snow storm (or worse--ICE storm) after another, and even on days when there isn't snow the temperature is brutal. It's REALLY wreaking havoc on my nails. So I wanted to do a little mini series for you guys with some quick tips on how to keep your nails hydrated when it's stupidly cold, which lotions are the best to use and some general health tips to keep your nails in tip top shape any time of the year. I'm starting today and the series will continue throughout the week.  I want to hit on just some basic nail care tips today and tomorrow I'll tell you why your moisturiser might be causing you more harm than good. On Friday I'll show you how to do a paraffin dip at home and how to save money by doing them yourself rather than at the spa.  So here we go:

Lesson of the day: nail health starts at the ROOT of the nail.  It's kind of like when you're growing a flower or a vegetable. If you plant it and then you do nothing with it, it's going to die. If you plant it and then care for it and then give up on it...well, it will be great for awhile but then it will start to wilt, and I'm sure ALL of us are guilty of seeing that wilted flower drop off (or close to!) and then hastily gluing it back on and starting up a routine again. Unfortunately, it's just too late by then.  The things you do to your nails now, you may not actually SEE on your nails for four to six weeks. So even if you're using oils like crazy now if you weren't four weeks ago then it may seem like it's not doing much.  Look, your nail is not alive. I mean, it's just like your hair.  Once your hair has a split end, you wouldn't glue it back and let it grow would you? You can moisturise the crap out of it but it's not going to do much.  There isn't really a fix for nails which are already damaged.  

That said, you CAN make them a little better while at the same time improving the health of the nail which is still growing! One thing I see people do a lot and I REALLY caution against is using a strengthener to try to "boost" nails when they're in a state of disrepair. I'm not saying you can't or shouldn't use them at all but they should never be used as a last resort. Why? While strengtheners work on the surface of nails (ie the part which you can see) they also dehydrate nails. That means if your nails are peeling let's say, the strengthener can actually make this worse. It can also hide peels which means you can't really see what you're working with. If you HAVE to use a strengthener I would advise STRONGLY that you use a really good cuticle oil daily in times when nails may be dehydrated by other factors (like weather). A good way to start out with a strengthener is to cut nails as short as you can and then start with it for two weeks. If you need more time, take a week off and repeat another two weeks. Continue as needed so long as there are no side effects. Be sure to remove EVERYTHING from nails once a week or every other week and take a good look at your nails to be sure that they're on the mend rather than worse off! You can also curb peeling nails without the strengthener by just giving them a quick coat of clear polish OR better, a hemp or fiber infused base coat (I like this one, by Duri) under a colored polish. These will add strength without stripping moisture. Remember that health starts on the inside, and stay hydrated by drinking lots of water as well! :)

Stay tuned tomorrow to find out why your lotion could be causing more harm than good!

The Hills are Alive...

OK maybe not hills but these sort of remind me of little colorful mountains! This was actually intended to be a tape mani and I'm sure if I'd followed through with that it would have been much more crisp. But alas, time issues and my own lack of patience won out and I ended up with this! I still quite liked it in the end but it definitely wasn't exactly what I envisioned when I started out!

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