Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ruffian Manicure Tutorial!

So, this month's Birchbox was extra exciting for me because it included a sample of the fabulous Ruffian Nail Lacquer collection. Mine came with Fox Trot, which is absolutely gorgeous, and I painted my nails right away. But I did them with just one solid color, and next I wanted to try the Ruffian Manicure style instead. And I'm absolutely loving the results, this is the pic I put on Instagram today:

I think it looks really fabulous, and it's not the same old french manicure look. And it was really simple to do, we'll go through all the steps but it's one of the easiest techniques I've used. I've been painting my nails for about twenty years now, and I was doing some pretty fancy nail art on a budget back in the day, so I've also included some tips here of things I've figured out over the years.

You can watch Birchbox's lovely video tutorial first if like videos:

But personally, I prefer pictures and text so I can follow along more easily as I go.

First, I'm just going to derail for a short minute and talk about how fantastic the Ruffian Nail Lacquer is. These were my nails after over a week with no touch ups, plus plenty of wear and tear since I've been helping a friend set up new furniture and move her stuff around a lot lately:

You can see that the longer nails started to get a little chipped, but for the most part they're still in amazing shape compared to cheaper polishes. I was so thrilled, and the color was gorgeous, it even looks pretty good in the picture after the flash washed everything out a bit! All in all, I want every single color in the entire collection already.

Now, first thing I always do when I'm going to paint my nails is gather all of my supplies:

What you should gather together:
-Nail polish remover (I prefer non-acetone because acetone is so harsh on my nails).
-Cotton balls
-Hand lotion
-Cuticle oil or cream
-Nail file and buffing block
-Manicure kit (mine is cobbled together after losing and replacing pieces)
-Base coat
-Two colors of nail polish
-and for this manicure, I used a secret weapon: drafting dots, I'll explain those in a bit.

Step one is naturally to remove all of the polish you might already have on and get your nails into good shape.

I use both cotton balls and Q-Tips for this process, because I've found that sometimes Q-Tips can get at those stubborn spots on the sides a little easier. Plus, I'll use them again later.

I've also found that the best thing for me is to actually remove my nail polish the day before I'm planning to do a nice manicure. If I'm only going to do a solid color, I don't really bother. But when I want them to look nice, having a bit of time helps me make sure they're at their best.

So after removing the polish, one of the first things I'll do is try to counteract all the damage the nail polish remover may have done, and pamper myself for a bit. First, with some hand lotion, which I forgot to put in my supplies picture:

I am a HUGE fan of Look Ma, New Hands from Bath and Body Works. This bottle is so beaten up because this is what I keep in my purse for the extreme dryness of D.C. winters. It's not necessarily an every day lotion, but with the paraffin, it's the perfect thing for when you want to really spoil yourself or you really need to make sure the moisture stays.

After you treat your hands, don't forget to treat your nails. A lot of troubles women have with their nails are actually caused by lack of moisture, especially hang nails. They're so obnoxious. And after removing polish, my nails always look dry and a bit busted up, so my favorite remedy is The Body Shop's Almond Nail and Cuticle Oil. The applicator is perfect, and you really can make sure that you get good coverage. It only takes two drops of oil (two clicks of the bottom) to cover an entire hand for me so it also lasts forever.

Step two: File, shape, and trim.

I don't have a picture to go along with this because you probably know how that part works already. But take the time while you're sitting down to take care of your nails to file away any snagging edges, and to make them look nice. Personally, I don't think they need to be perfect and even (as you'll see in later pictures) but I do like to make each one look good.

I also don't push back my cuticles, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I might do some trimming with the tool from my manicure kit, but for the most part I leave my cuticles alone other than using oil on them. It never seemed worth the effort, so your mileage may vary. But again, I do all this maintenance the day before so that the next day when I go to paint, it's not as annoying when I find that one more spot that needs to be filed or trimmed.

Step Three: Base coat and choose your colors if you haven't already!

Now, a good base coat is always a good idea, even if you've buffed your nails to a smooth shine. I use Sally Hansen Hard as Nails right now because it's what I have but any good clear coat will do. Ruffian's Gesso Base Coat looks pretty amazing too, I'm looking forward to trying it out.

My husband helped me pick out the colors that I used, the dark blue is actually an old discontinued color from Bath and Body Works, back when they made nail polish. It's called "meteor" and it's actually the color I wore to Prom when I was in high school. This dark, deep blue is just gorgeous and I actually even have a spare bottle of it because I love it so much. We thought the silver would make a great accent to really bring out the deepness of the blue.

The Wet 'n' Wild is also an older color that I think has been discontinued, you can tell by the bottle shape how old it is. Which becomes a bit of a problem later, and is one of the reasons that I can say now that cheap polish has it's place in the world but it doesn't age like higher quality polish does, that's for sure.

Step Four: Stencils!

Now, the official Ruffian Manicure is done with the Ruffian Manicure Stencil Set, obviously. The stickers are nice because they come in different sizes, but I didn't have any of those and since my husband is an architect, what I do have around the house are drafting dots.

Drafting dots are basically little circles of masking tape used to hold down drawings on drafting tables, and they're actually ridiculously useful for a lot of things. I first got the idea to use them for this manicure after reading about using hole reinforcement stickers to do a french manicure.

So I actually tore the drafting dots in half because they're pretty big and I didn't want to use up a bunch of them. This was a mixed success, I would suggest cutting them in half instead of trying to tear them. But when you put them on your nails it's EXTREMELY important to get a good seal. Really press down on your nail and make sure it sticks all the way across. I always paint my nails one hand at a time, and wait for it to dry, but here's pictures of both.

Step Five Paint the bottom color. I decided to do the bright silver as my bottom color, because the blue is one of my absolute favorites so I wanted it to be the main statement. Because you've got the stencil, you can just paint right over top of it, you don't have to be very exact and specific. And don't worry too much about getting polish on your hands, we'll get to that later. A tip - paint your thumbnails last, because the way you hold your hands you're so much more likely to smudge it while reaching for your other fingers.

One thing I learned on this step is that a very thin polish like the one I was using is NOT good for this part of the process. For one, the color is so light that it needs multiple coats to really show up and two, it just wasn't designed for this kind of thing. This is where using your more expensive and nicer polishes is a good idea.

Now you want to peel off the stickers, and make sure you pull up on one side and peel across the nail, instead of pulling from the top down. This way it'll help your polish stay in a nice line if it's not quite dry.

You can see a bit of the problems I had with the super liquid silver polish here. It wasn't a perfect line after I peeled the stickers off because it actually wasn't really dry enough. The picture is a bit hard to see because I had to use the flash and it got all Star Trek lens flare on me (trust me, you should see the ones I deleted).

Anyway, you can see here that I definitely got plenty of polish in places where it "doesn't go" but don't fret! The thing I learned a long time ago about home manicures is that you're supposed to be doing it to relax, and you can fix almost anything. Plus, nobody is actually looking that closely at your cuticles to see if you got polish on them. And if they are, well, they've got their own problems. It's fine to take pride in a good job, but remember why you're doing it, to have fun, right? So make sure you're still having fun!

Step Six Paint the main color.

Once you've peeled off the stickers, you may have noticed that the polish ends up with a pretty nice edge to it because of the way you painted. That makes it a lot easier to paint the main color, because then it's a lot like trying to paint your nails and not go over onto your skin. And again, don't worry too much, you're having fun. I did one coat first where I was more hesitant and then another where I got right up to that edge on the silver, and it worked great.

You can do a top coat if you want, but make sure your polish is pretty dry before you do, otherwise it just gets very muddled and messy.

Step Seven Streaming video.

There's is nothing more distracting than having wet nails and not being able to do anything or touch anything. You're going to suddenly remember every chore you have to do around the house, and every book you want to read and then your nose will start itching.

My solution to that is always to watch something. I'm suggesting Stargate SG-1 because it's one of my favorite shows of all time and I really think more people should watch it. It's streaming on Amazon right now! But I think at least two episodes of an hour-long show (because they're not really an hour) or a movie before you even try to do anything.

Now, what about all that polish that you got on your fingers because you listened to me and didn't care? You can just take out one of those q-tips and put some polish remove on it, then you can really be exact about where you apply it. There are also a lot of different tools available to wipe up any places like that, in the Ruffian tutorial they use a wipe, and I've also used a Manicure Clean Up Pen in the past, and it worked pretty well.

Now your nails look beautiful! You should post pictures of your manicures in the comments, or tweet at me @OneGirlsReviews so I can see them!