But nail polish is a whole different ballgame. Maybe because it's so much more accessible to me as a fat woman than regular runway stuff. Maybe because nail polish is a fairly cheap indulgence. Whatever it is, I actually do try to keep abreast of new developments in (and I can hardly believe I am typing these words) the nail fashion industry.
When I saw the xoJane tweet about the caviar manicure, I'd already been trying to figure out how to manage it at home. The caviar manicure was created by Ciaté Nails; their creative director was going for something feminine and dimensional and delicate. The caviar moniker actually creeps me out a little bit (I don't much care for caviar texturally) but the look of it was super intriguing. So the tweet about it renewed my determination to find the supplies I needed.
And, really, there was only one thing hanging me up. Microbeads.
Ciaté calls them caviar pearls -- they've developed fancy kits that won't be hitting stateside until some time in April. (Kiss has something in development as well.) But, really, these tiny little pearls are microbeads -- beads without holes that have a diameter of about a half a millimeter. Yes, that's seriously small. Before this manicure, microbeads saw most of their use in the world of scrapbooking, as a way of adding texture and dimension to pages.
I knew what they were -- I was just having a hard time finding them. But I finally tracked down what I needed at Michaels; I splurged (they were on sale!) on two packages of microbeads, each with six colors.
You can get much larger containers of individual colors but this manicure calls for such a small number of microbeads that it seemed a waste to only get one color. Plus, I like colors!
For my first attempt, I considered duplicating the black caviar manicure that is floating around Pinterest and the rest of the Internet. But then I remembered this amber nail polish and went for a slightly different effect.
The basic method for this is really simple. You polish your nails as normal with base coat and a single coat of color. Then, when you're ready to do your second coat, you're ready to apply your microbeads.
Put a thickish second coat of polish on one nail and then pour the microbeads over your nail. The microbeads stick in the wet polish. I used a bowl to catch the excess and a funnel to return the extra beads to their container. No muss, no fuss.
Because I used two colors, I actually used two bowls so the colors wouldn't mix. I just kind of eyeballed it for an ombre effect. Once my nail was covered, I very lightly patted the microbeads to make sure they were thoroughly embedded in the polish.
That seems to be the trick to this manicure having any sort of durability -- making sure the microbeads are held securely means they won't just pop off randomly later.
I did apply a thin line of clear polish to the free edge of my nail, just to kind of seal things. I was careful not to overlap the microbeads, however, as clear polish tends to eat all the color off. That's why you do not want to apply a clear coat. Well, that and a clear coat would completely change the texture, which is most of the point of this manicure.
Even my husband thought this was really cool and he generally suffers through LOOK AT MY NAILS with complete apathy.
Seriously, give yourself a good half an hour of not touching anything to let this manicure dry, as well. Otherwise you're going to freak out about disrupting the microbeads and then you're going to want to take everything off and start again. Or maybe that's just me. Not that I did that. That would be ridiculous. Cough.
The big question with this manicure seems to be durability. Which is understandable because, I mean, look at it. It's a bunch of eensy tiny beads without any sealer on top.
I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that it was sturdier than I expected. The color wearing off the microbeads is actually the biggest worry. I am a fidgety person, so I obsessively ran the pads of my fingers over and over each nail to feel the texture of the microbeads (quite pleasant, actually), so I wore the color off of some of my beads by the next day. However, it actually still looked really cool. That's partly because of the color scheme I started with and partly because I think distressed things are neat looking.
I showered and washed my hands and didn't suffer any noticeable damage. I potted marigolds and got dirt in all the tiny crevices between the beads, too. That was a little more distressing (because dirt stuck in my nails, omg) but only cost me a few microbeads. Every now and then I'd notice a loose microbead clinging to my cuticle, but I could never tell where it came from.
There are, I must be honest, some things I would not attempt while wearing this manicure. It isn't much thicker than some of the fancy nail stickers that are available, but it does have a texture. And because microbeads can come off...
I will be blunt: I wouldn't recommend fingering your girlfriend or yourself with this manicure. External body play only.
Also, be careful if you have to put in contacts or otherwise touch your eyeballs with your fingers.
By the end of the weekend (two and a half days of wear), I didn't really notice anything that would have prevented me from keeping the caviar manicure on my nails. I was just eager to find out how hard it was going to be to remove it.
The answer: super easy! I pressed a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover onto my nail for a count of thirty or until I got bored; then I used my thumb nail to just scrape the microbeads off. There was no damage to my nail. I had to go back over all my nails with more nail polish remover, but it was actually pretty quick and easy.
I wasn't sure I was going to like this one, even though I had to try it. I'm surprised at how much I really do love it. Pictures don't do this manicure justice. I had five people comment on it in two days, all positive, all strangers. I'm already excited about the other colors of microbeads I have at home -- I'm planning red next.
This makes me want to use other scrapbooking supplies when I do my nails, too. You can buy flocking powder, you know. Flocked nails. I think I need to make that happen. Possibly tonight.