Tutorial for Divine Caroline: Mad-About-Plaid Christmas Nails

Perfect plaid nails are easier than you think, with today's Divine Caroline tutorial! We call this, "Mad About Plaid", and they're perfect for ripping open wrapping paper and stuffing tasty holiday delights down your throat!

The full tutorial is available over at Divine Caroline here, so pop over for more plaid!

Kryolan Professional Makeup Nail Polish Review & Swatches

When I was in a bit of a nail art funk, I started watching a show called Face Off. This SyFy series features special effects makeup artists being pitted against one another week after week to create truly unique beauty and monster makeup. It was inspiring for me to see such creativity, and brought me out of the funk.

The contestants on the show use special effects professional makeup from a company called Kryolan. Turns out, they also do nail polish, which is what I'm reviewing for you today.

This brand of polish retails on Kryolan's website for $13.50, and it truly is professional. Let the colors speak for themselves, starting with this lavender nail art.

The base for this lovely lavender is a Kryolan color, Charming, swatched below the jump along with two others.

Charming (2 coats) is a pastel lavender (hence the nail art) that's beautifully smooth. Application was really flawless, and it dries really quickly. I imagine on movie sets, these qualities are hugely important.

Classy (2 coats) is a deep burgundy-brick red. Again, very easy formula that suits the name perfectly.

Exclusive (2 coats) is a white-silver chrome finish shade. Though it looks streaky up close, from far away (on movie sets, for example) it just looks super shiny.

Moral of the post? Start DVRing Face Off (it really is an awesome show), and if you're looking for a professional quality nail polish, give Kryolan polishes a shot, available here (you can expand the "Nail Color" option to see all of them).

The products in this post were given for review purposes. The reviews are based entirely on my experience with the products and were in no way influenced by anyone.

OPI GelColor - Fall/Winter 2014 Nordic Collection Review & Swatches

Looking outside right now, I feel like I'm living in the Nordic region of Northern Europe. 3 degrees has me looking around for the Abominable Snowman! The cold front should pass, but the memories of the storm align perfectly with today's exciting post about the Fall/Winter 2014 collection from OPI, Nordic.

Nordic Collection was inspired by the great northern lights in Finland, deep blue fjords in Norway, and colorful houses in Copenhagen. OPI Co-Founder & Executive VP Suzi Weiss-Fischmann had this to say about the collection:
I always draw inspiration from the food, music, art, landscape and street style of a particular destination. All of these diverse elements came together to inspire an equally varied array of colors that capture the aesthetic of the Nordic region. Contrasts were also seen on fall runways, where sheer fabrics were paired with fleece and woolen plaids were embellished with colorful beadwork and intricate lace. Nordic Collection by OPI complements the oxblood, coral and earthy tones seen this season and offers a variety of hues.
I am honored to be one of OPI's Pro Bloggers, so today's review is a bit different. I'll be sharing the 12 shades of Nordic with you in GelColor, OPI's gel line. GelColor is an in-salon, professional product only. As a nail tech, I'm thrilled to be able to share these shades in GelColor. (Fun fact: I work at Spa at St. Julien, where we use GelColor!)

First let's take a look at a few nail art designs using Nordic colors.

This dainty bird floral design was created with 3 Nordic shades: Can't aFjörd Not To, Do You Have this Color in Stock-holm?, and My Voice is a Little Norse. Gel nail art is tricky, and something I'm still working on perfecting. Gel polishes will not be smudge-proof until you cure them under a UV or LED light (depending on the formulation; GelColor is LED cured in 30 seconds). So my designs appear a little softer around the edges. I loved the way that made this design feel though...very feminine!

Keeping that polish movement in mind, I decided to create a wood grain effect for Nordic's second nail art look. I could work the darker polish (Ice-Bergers & Fries) over the lighter one (Going My Way or Norway?) to create a very realistic wood grain. Then I added Sighstar decals for a true Nordic feel.

Using decals on gel polish is easy! Most gel polishes leaves behind a sticky residue (called the "inhibition layer") after they're cured, which is wiped away at the end of a manicure. When placing decals though, I preferred to actually leave the sticky layer, which allowed me pat them down really well and perfectly align them. The final look speaks volumes for itself.

How would you use the Nordic colors of nail art? Take a look at the colors below the jump to pick your favorite, and let me know what you'd create! Be sure to read their descriptions, because I've included some fun facts to give you clues as to why the creative geniuses at OPI named them the way they did.

All the swatches were done in 2 coats.

Sweater Nail Art Tutorial for Divine Caroline

I don't know about the rest of the country, but here in Boulder we've been absolutely spoiled by fabulous weather. We're into November and we still haven't had a snow! *Knock on wood*

That doesn't mean the temperatures aren't dropping and the ski resorts aren't starting to open. And with fireplaces being stoked all over the neighborhood, so too are women pulling out their cozy cable knits to boldly bundle up.

How'd you like to recreate that creative cable knit on your nails? Today's tutorial for Divine Caroline allows just that. The illusion of 3D knit is even easy for the novice nail artist to recreate.

Zoya Ultra PixieDust Fall 2014 Swatches & Review

I personally don't gravitate to many of the trendy polish fads that start up every now and then. For example, I hated the crackle effect. I remember trying it as a kid (way before the polish days you've all come to know me for), and it never worked as it was shown to. Lo and behold, when it was rereleased a few years ago, nail artists everywhere continued to struggle with it.

"Stop trying to make crackle happen Gretchen, it's not going to happen!"

My pessimism carried forward when the pixiedusts and sand polishes hit the scene. After trying a few of both, I'm pleased to say I liked them! Sand polishes are kind of gritty, but generally have the same color throughout, whereas the Zoya Pixiedust polishes include dynamic glitter, especially their Ultra Pixiedust shades.

Though they aren't rockable for long (you can't wear a top coat with them if you want the gritty effect), they're pretty unreal while they are on. I think they look like raw diamonds, crumbled up on your nails. So I 'sprinkled' my nail with a trail of Ultra Pixiedust (in Oswin) for this diamond road look.

The smooth creamy base (You're So Vain-illa from OPI) totally pops the red brick road!

Now let's take a look at these colors individually after the jump.

Polish With a Purpose: Breast Cancer Awareness Polishes

October's almost over, but as with every year, it's still Breast Cancer Awareness month, and you can take part in it with the polishes you purchase. Almost every single polish brand out there is doing something, but here's 2 that I've personally learned about: Morgan Taylor and China Glaze.

Morgan Taylor

Morgan Taylor's a fabulous line of beautiful colors, especially this Breast Cancer Awareness trio, called Fight Like A Lady. The brand Always took the negativity out of the phrase "like a girl", and now Morgan Taylor's mirroring that sentiment by donating a portion of the proceeds from this trio to Susan G. Komen Foundation.

I combined the trio into this nail art for the campaign, Fight Like A Lady.

Take a look at the shades on their own after the jump, plus some China Glaze shades!

Fabulous Fall Nail Tutorial for Divine Caroline

I'm totally inspired by the gorgeous colors of the falling leaves here in Boulder. The reds and golds are something out of a painting.

So I've translated these looks onto my nails for today's Divine Caroline tutorial here!