Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tie-dying your tips!

I've promised many people I would post with directions on how to tie-dye your nails...and here it finally is! I'm leaving for the beach so posts will have to wait for a few days!

Technically, this process is called water marbling, but it gives a tie-dye effect. The picture above is not mine. The pictures below are the results of my third and fourth efforts at this process.

My nails, third time tie-dying

My nails, fourth time tie-dying
(This is after a week and without a top coat; I'm embarassed to post this, but it gives an idea)

Before I get into the "Materials" and "Process" parts of this post, here's some background info. First, I experimented three times before significantly improving my technique to the point that I actually have results with which I'm pleased...okay, pretty freakin excited about!!! So 1.) This is possible! 2.) I've tried to offer tips that will make it as easy as possible--read them all because without them it can be very frustrating 3.) Try it a couple of times and don't give up--even if you stop after one hand. This is supposed to be fun, not aggravating. 4.) Have low expectations at first; it will make it less frustrating...think of the first times as practice rounds. 5.) Have 30 minutes to an hour to play around with it.

Below, I will list the materials and explain the process that's worked the best for me. First, I include the link to the directions that I used, but they are not very thorough and I highly recommend not solely using them; I recommend viewing the general directions at Fashionista for a quick overview before I get into the gritty details. Along the way, I include links to  video tutorials (which use slightly different methods, but are all valuable in some way, which I point out). To help make this more reader friendly, I've set it up in an outline format. Read the whole post first and then go back and follow it step by step. It seems more complicated than it is; hopefully the detail will make it easier in the long run!

Materials and Process

I. Fundamentals:
      A.  Here are the directions at Fashionista to give you a general idea of the steps.

      B.  Materials:
                - wax paper (1-2 ft)/newspaper                         - tape or Vaseline               
                - bowl (cereal-sized or larger) that you can get nail polish on or cup
                - orangewood stick/a couple of toothpicks       - paper towel
                - nail polish remover                                         - make-up remover pads (cotton balls
                - base coat and top coat                                                                    tend to lose fibers easier)
                - white nail polish                                             - water (purified or bottle is slightly better)
                - at least 2 different colored polishes                - wet paper towel
                - Q-tips

      C. Note re: materials
                 1. Water is best at room temperature.
                 2. I like to use wax paper because I'm messy and water doesn't leak through unlike if using newpaper. When a water-marble goes awry, you'll have dried nail polish covered in water, and smearing it on the wax paper is easy (a papertowel can work too).
                 3. I've only used Vaseline, but I'm going to start experimenting with tape because the Vaseline easily gets all over things (again, I'm messy).
                 4. You can use a cup or a bowl. I'll address this later.

II. Setup (assuming you've already taken all polish off, groomed your nails, and washed your hands)
      A. Gather all of your materials and set them up (water in bowl, etc). Have a paper towl wet with water and a cotton round with nail polish remover on it.

      B.  Picking the right polishes:
Shake all of your nail polishes well. Some polishes do not work well for water marbling; they do not spread out across the water. The nail polish needs to spread out across the water! This video shows you what I mean: Water Marbling FAQ. Test each nail polish 1-3 times on a clean water surface   to see how it spreads; if it does not spread well, don't use it! Perform this test by simply taking the nail polish brush with nail polish on it and dripping a drop or two of polish into the water. If a polish doesn't spread well, you might have to sacrifice using a color you really want to use; I'm sorry. But don't shy away from testing any polish: glitter, metallic, matte, etc. I would shy away from using fast-dry polishes; it will be more difficult to draw the design in the polish. Once you've tested a polish and know that it works well for water marbling, put a sticker on it or mark it so you do not have to test it at another time. To start each "test" with a clean water surface, watch the first 45 seconds of Valentine's Day Water-Marble Nail Art Tutorial. As Colette shows in her video, filtered water is more conducive to spreading. To me, it seems that it's the nail polish that makes the biggest difference.

      C. Now it's time to prep your nails with the basecoat, followed by 1-2 coats of white polish. The base polish helps the white to absorb less into your nails, and the result is a brighter white. The white is critical for the tie-dying to have rich and saturated color on your nails. Let dry.

      D. Open all of your nail polish bottles, leaving the brush still in them.


III. Process 
      A. Dealing with your cuticles and skin
              1. Vaseline: If you're using Vaseline and Q-tips, it is very important that you do not get Vaseline on your nail; the polish will flake off. Use the Q-tip to cover the skin on the top 1/3 of your finger with Vaseline. The disadvantage to using Vaseline is that it's messy and if you need to pick up a bottle for some reason, the Vaseline is then on the bottles; I also think it sorta feels weird afterwards since it doesn't wash off entirely. I recommend doing all five fingers for your first hand at the same time. It's easy to forget if you only do one finger at a time.
             2. Tape: Watch this for how to tape your fingers.

      B. It's time to build your bulls-eye and get creative--this is where the magic happens! Now's a good time to watch a video showing the whole process. Take note that Colette uses a cup, builds many rings to her bulls-eye, suggests turning the cup/bowl to get a better angle, dips her finger into the cup, and then clears the excess polish on the water before lifting her finger out (go ahead and skip the first 45 seconds), Valentine's Day Water Marble Nail Art Tutorial.
         Notes!   * If there are times when your polish doesn't want to spread, adding an extra drop of polish can help.
                       * Work quickly! The more time that the polish has to dry on the water, the more difficult it is to draw your design. If you're having difficulty with the polish not moving or sticking to your orangewood stick or toothpick, try starting in the middle of the bullseye with your orangewood stick or toothpick and draw towards the outer edge of the bulls-eye. Sometimes you're going to have to scrap the bulls-eye you made because it didn't turn out right or you can't draw a design in the polish. Unfortunately, this happens and is probably the most frustrating part (for me at least).
                       *  In this video, Colette uses many many rings to make her bulls-eye; you do not need so many rings, but if you'd like to...go ahead. Of course, the thickness of the rings, the number of rings there are, and how you swirl the polish is going to affect your design. Play around with it! This is the fun part! And don't feel limited to drawing straight lines in the polish, try swirling the polish in a circle too for a spiral effect.
                       * When your orangewood stick or toothpick gets gooey, use the papertowel to wipe it off or use another one; you need a decent point to draw the design in the polish.
                       * Cup and dip: Colette dips her finger into the design; so, a cup works well for her. If you don't clean up the polish around your finger after you've "dipped" and just bring your finger out, the rest of the nail polish will cling to your nail and ruin the design and be lumpy. You must remember to clean up the excess polish before removing your finger/nail.
                          Bowl and slip under & up: I use a bowl; I like to bring my nail up through the water from underneath because I can see better which part of the design in the water is going to be on which part of my nail. If you're going to slip your nail into the clear water and bring it up through the polish design from underneath, make sure that the water where you're "entering" is clean and does not have any residue. Using a bowl will give you more space for clean water outside of your bulls-eye. Bringing your nail up from under the water can make getting a good angle more difficult.
                     * Bubbles are bad. You want to avoid bubbles in your bulls-eye. Occasionally you might get one on your nail; if you gently tap it with a toothpick it should break and not be very obvious.

IV. Extras             
     A.  Trouble-shooting.
             1.  Sometimes you'll have a design on your nail that is lumpy or you just don't like. Use your cotton round with nail polish remover to wipe it off. Use the wet paper towel to wipe off any remaining polish remover that's on your nail that could interfere with adhesion. Do your base & white coats (I usually skip the base just because the whole process can get long) and re-do the make-the-magic-happen part.   

     B. Cleanup. If you've used Vaseline, cleanup will mean peeling off the nail polish around your cuticles and on on your fingers; I use my dried nails or an orangewood stick. Wipe off the excess Vaseline and then wash your hands. If you've used tape, take off the tape and use a make-up round with nail polish remover on it to wipe off polish on your fingers, and use a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover for any polish on your cuticles. If you can't get close enough to your nail to remove all the polish on your cuticles with the Q-tip, pull off some of the cotton and you should be able to get closer. Be very careful when holding anything with nail polish remover on it; you do not want to take off polish already on your nails!

     C. Securing your effort.
           1. After all this labor, for heaven's sake, make sure you let them dry!!!
           2. If there are any "blank areas" where there is white showing through the design or you want to have brighter color in a spot, use your nail polishes and carefully fill in/go over those areas. Make sure your fill-in work flows with the design already there; it shouldn't look as if it were drawn on your nail.
           3. Finish with a nice glossy top coat; it will hide any unevenness, add a glossy finish (which you don't really get with this process), and preserve your artsy digits! I'll do another post with recommendations for top coats.

Tie-dyed nails! Get ready for the compliments!

I know that was very long, but I'm hoping that it makes this process easier for you! If you have any feedback--successes, additional tips, suggestions for editing my directions, please let me know. Good luck with your tie-dye!

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