Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Can't Take My Eyes Off of You

Every now and then a cake is simply so gorgeous I must take tons of photo's and share them. I fell in love with this little black and gold number somewhere during the 8 hours I invested in the ruffles alone. We shared a bond that day. Ha. While the ever-popular pink and gold combo has certainly held steady over the past couple of wedding seasons, black and gold is emerging strong and is sure to bring sexy back to the cake table. IT'S JUST SO GLAMOROUS. I cannot get enough. Obviously. I delivered this cake with time to spare and couldn't help moving it around a bit, gathering shots along the way. I love twinkly lights and the amaze-balls bokeh they provide. Here are a few of my favourites! 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Manic Mani How-To's

Essie Turquoise and Caicos
I set out to write this post after sharing a pic on social media of my mani-Monday's.  I love nail polish and love to have a fresh coat almost weekly. A few friends asked that I share the steps I take to keep the polish in place for at least a week. It's no secret I work with my hands, and that takes it's toll on my cuticles, big time. I think one of my favorite parts of the manicure is cleaning up the dry skin around my nail bed. If your hands are in water often, wearing rubber gloves will definitely help, but often I fail to take the time to put them on before scrubbing down cake pans. And yes, 90% of the cake pans are scrubbed by these two hands...have I mentioned that I'm hiring? 

When it comes to manis,  the #1 reason I take matters into my own hands (pun intended) is time. I really despise wasting daylight working hours sitting in a nail salon waiting my turn for a manicure. Even if you have an appointment, chances are you'll wait.  With a full to-do list, I prefer to take advantage of hours between 9p-11p or 6a-8a. That said, I hope my steps work as well for you as they do for me. Shooting the photo's has definitely made me self conscious of my crooked, chubby fingers - blame my German genes for big the end of the day, they are clearly the set up God wanted me to have and hey...all the better for kneading fondant.  

  • Start with clean, dry nails - shaped however you prefer. 

  • I apply a cuticle cream to the nail bed that helps to exfoliate the dry skin. Follow the directions on the cream of your choice. I usually leave it on a little longer than the directions because my skin is very dry.

  • With a cuticle stick, push back cuticles around the entire nail bed. 
  • After washing the cuticle cream off and drying nails thoroughly, the next step is one of the two most important - buff the nail surface with a fine grain buffing block. You can see mine is quite worn and has been around a while. I find these at Sally's Beauty Supply.

  • You are not only buffing out any fine ridges on the nail surface you are also helping to dehydrate the nail. Dehydrating (aka removing oil from the nail bed) is critical to keeping nail polish on. 

  • Rinse the nail "dust" from buffing and then wipe the nail down with nail polish remover.

  • This step is the very most important. You are removing all oil from the nail bed and completely dehydrating the nail. Oils prevent the nail polish from adhering. Even though I use a base coat before the color coat, the nail bed still needs to be completely dry. After you have wiped down each nail, it is important that you do not touch anything else - don't run your fingers through your hair, put on hand lotion, fix a cup of coffee - nothing. The first thing to come into contact with your nail will be what sticks.

  • I always apply a base coat of some sort - usually a nail strengthener. I have used several different brands and so far like this one the best. It will go on smoothly and adhere quickly because your nail bed is dry.

  • By the time I get through all ten digits with base coat, the first hand is dry and I'm ready for the color. I don't really notice a big difference in brand of color, though the three brands I use the most are Essie, OPI, and Sally Hansen. Most Essie polishes seem thinner and require two thin coats - I don't notice a huge difference between two thin coats or one coat of a thicker polish, but sometimes I think the two thin coats stay better somehow. In this post I'm using OPI Color so Hot it Berns - yes, it is actually spelled "berns" - and I only applied one coat.

  • Again, by the time I get through all ten digits, I'm almost ready to go back to first one and apply the top coat. You could wait a couple of minutes to allow the polish to slightly set and then go ahead and apply a single coat of Rapid Dry top coat. I'm currently using one by OPI, but I have also used one by Sally Hansen and don't really see a difference in the formula's.

  •  Now, after the rapid dry top coat is applied don't run right into the kitchen and start cleaning or anything. I try to take it easy for a good 20 minutes to let everything set up nice. One thing that can speed drying is to place some ice cubes and cold water into a small bowl and dip your fingertips into the icy water. The cold can help to harden everything up. Another thing that buys you time, so to speak, is to be dressed for a work out before beginning - running shoes and all. Then head out the door for a brisk 30-minute walk - the lack of hand contact with any objects will give time for things set up. Last, but not least, be ready for bed before the manicure process and then sit down with a good book. I typically never take it easy for more than 30 minutes and they set up just fine and last a good week. A week may not seem long enough to you, but for me, after a week I'm ready for a color change and my cuticles are definitely ready for more help. 

That is my entire bag of mani tips and I do hope they work for you as well as they do for me! I think doing a regular buff and dehydrate over time has helped. Dehydrating the nail may worry you that you are stripping too many natural oils from the skin around your nail - but rest assured, once the nail is dry, I rub lots of lotion and cream - sometimes even straight up almond oil - into my hands and cuticles. I really like the lotion with alpha-hydroxy that St. Ives makes. It's my favorite right now and absorbs quickly. 

Happy polishing!!