Stars and Stripes Nail Art How To

Shannon Smyth2 comments
It doesn't necessarily need to be the 4th of July to show your patriotic side. Show off your stars and stripes with these easy nail art how to's from editorial manicurist, Jin Soon Choi.

JINsoon Patriotic Nails - Get the look! #nailart

Look 1 Stars and Stripes 


  1. Apply a base coat like JINsoon Power Coat
  2. Apply Michael Kors Gossip on the entire nail bed, leaving the ring finger bare
  3. Apply JINsoon Cool Blue to the entire nail bed of the ring finger
  4. Using JINsoon Coquette, apply horizontal stripes with a thin brush over the middle finger and the thumb
  5. Using JINsoon Coquette again, apply vertical stripes with a thin brush over the index finger and the pinky
  6. Apply JINsoon Polka White over the JINsoon Cool Blue on the ring finger to create the stars
  7. Apply a top coat like JINsoon Top Gloss over the nails for a lasting glossy finish

JINsoon Patriotic Nail Art #HowTo

Look 2 Patriotic Stripes 


  1. Apply a base coat like JINsoon Power Coat
  2. Apply JINsoon Cool Blue on the entire nail bed
  3. Apply Michael Kors Gossip to the middle of each fingernail, leaving two stripes of blue visible on each side of the nail
  4. Apply a stripe of JINsoon Coquette in the middle of each nail
  5. Apply a top coat like JINsoon Top Gloss over the nails for a lasting glossy finish

Shop the look:

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle tooShannon on G+ *Disclosure

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Gel Manicure Nail Polish Tutorial & Review

Sarah-Jean Ballard
Great news for those of you that love your Gel Manicures! Sally Hansen recently introduced an easy to use, economical, at-home Gel Manicure Nail Polish Kit that costs less than $65. When you get a gel manicure at a salon, you can pay anywhere from $30 to $50 and up PER manicure. With this at-home kit, you can do up to 10 manicures that will last at least a week or more. Now, admittedly, I had never had a gel manicure before this, so I didn't have a lot to compare it to. That said, it wasn't as hard as I anticipated it would be. It took me about an hour from start to finish and I don't think it would take me nearly as long the second time around. The first 15 minutes was reading the enclosed instructions to make sure I knew what I was doing before I started. Always best to venture into these things well prepared!  I started with very clean, freshly washed and dried, naked nails. I then read the enclosed, easy to understand instructions one last time before I began. Then I placed everything out on the table to make sure I had everything easily accessible. You don't want to be digging around in the box with wet nails! Before you begin, you have to clean your nails with the enclosed Nail Cleanser Pads that come with the Gel Manicure Nail Polish kit to make sure your nails are totally and completely clean. You want to get into every crack and crevice and make sure that you cuticles are well moisturized (previous to this step) and do not have any loose edges. First, you put a thin layer of "Step One" bottle one each finger nail on your left hand. You then promptly place it under the UV lamp to "set". It leaves your nails looking like you put on a shiny top coat, but don't let it fool you. Nails are still tacky at this point and you do NOT want to let them touch anything. Second, you put a thin layer of "Step Two" bottle (the actual color - in this case it was "Red My Lips") on the same hand and put it under the UV light for 30 seconds. Repeat with another thin layer on the same hands and put under the UV lamp for an additional 30 seconds. At this points, nails are still tacky and you want to be super careful with them! The final step is what hardens and "sets" the manicure. After you apply a thin layer of "Step Three" bottle and dry it under the light for 30 seconds, you are left with an INSTANTLY touchable, totally hardened gel manicure. After you finish your left hand, you then repeat all the steps all over again on your right hand. Then you're done! You are left with a mirror shine, no dry time and indestructible, chip-free manicure that will supposedly last for up to two weeks. Mine lasted for 8 days before 2 of the nail edges lifted and got caught on stuff and ripped off. After that it was one nail after another that the edges lifted up, got caught on something and that was it. I attempted to repair one of them with the "Step three" bottle and 30 seconds under the light, but that only worked for a day. It warns not to get it anywhere near your cuticles. I made every attempt not to get it near my cuticles, but I thought perhaps I had put the polish too close to the edges and that's why it failed before it's alleged 2 week lasting power. My friend came to visit and I asked her if I could try the Sally Hansen Gel Manicure Nail Polish kit on her and she was more than happy to oblige! So I got a second shot at trying the whole process and it was slightly easier since I wasn't doing my own nails. I stayed far away from the cuticles and edges. The process from start to finish only took a little over half an hour this time. Much more reasonable. However... her manicure only lasted 5 days before all the edges lifted up and she ended up ripping them all off out of frustration. (I don't recommend doing that because it can take a layer of your nail off.) She said that if it had lasted longer that she would have loved it and totally bought one of the kits for herself. Overall, I would probably recommend this kit. It certainly lasted MUCH longer than regular nail polish does on me. It took me about the same amount of time to apply as the Sally Hansen Nail Polish Strips, but didn't last quite as long. So the nail polish strips from Sally Hansen would still be my number one preference, but this would definitely be a runner up. It's on par with COVERGIRL Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss that lasted the same amount of time with a finish that was just as glossy as the gel manicure. Basically, it lasted more than a week, it had a high gloss finish the entire time and it never chipped. When the edges started to lift up, it wasn't visible, it was just disconcerting if you ran your fingers through your hair. I'm sure if I didn't play with it, I could have made it last a tiny bit longer, but as soon as the edges started lifting, I just couldn't leave them alone. Also, I was doing a lot of demanding activities like floor scrubbing, bathing two dogs, vacuuming, laundry, baking, cooking, washing 2 children, putting up Christmas lights outside, etc. I'm sure for someone with an office job, this Gel Manicure Nail Polish kit would easily last the proposed two weeks. You can purchase Sally Hansen Gel Manicure Nail Polish at Target, Walmart, chain drug stores such as Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, food stores and mass retailers nationally. The kit retails for $64.99 and it would make a great Christmas gift for someone who loves nail polish! For more information, visit Check out our other nail posts over at and our favorite nails on Pinterest! Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! for more beauty reviews! Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! *Disclosure

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Pros and Cons of Shellac and UV Gel Manicures

Shannon Smyth70 comments
Pros and Cons of Shellac (TONS of comments on this post - good and bad!)
When I first heard about Shellac, UV and LED gel manicures, I was over the moon excited. I could finally have polish on my nails sans chipping and polish peeling for more than 3 days and all without having to apply fake nails. In August, while at Cosmoprof, I received an awesome manicure from CND in Hot Pop Pink (pictured below.) The manicure took just as long as having acrylic nails or wraps put on (an hour) and the result looked just as amazing. I remarked to the manicurist just how gorgeous her own nails looked, as they were long and it didn't even appear to be naturally her own. She told me they were and that wearing the Shellac helped her achieve the length. I believed her, until my own experience has led me to believe otherwise. My CND Shellac lasted me 3 weeks. I was ecstatic. I applied CND's SolarOil to my cuticles and under the tips of my nails on a daily basis as instructed by the manicurist. My nails had grown a bit during this time and I was excited to go for round two of another CND Shellac at my local salon. This time I went for a French manicure CND Shellac. My nails were finally long enough to adorn some white tips and I was stoked. I went about applying the SolarOil again daily, but this time it only took 3 days for one of my nails to peel and the Shellac to come off. Day 4, one of my nails broke and it became clear how brittle my nails were becoming. By day 5, all of my nails were either peeling (the nail itself, not the polish) or breaking.   Looking at my very soft, peeling nails, I decided to not apply any polish at all for 2 weeks, but continued to put the SolarOil on them. But sadly, they didn't seem to recover. In the meantime, I had been sent the complete Red Carpet Manicure LED Starter Kit and as I was about to have my first television appearance, I knew my nails had to look amazing. So I used the kit, which comes complete with a portable LED light and is a DIY home LED manicure kit. Colors were gorgeous, time was still about 1 hour to complete the manicure and I used their Revitalize cuticle oil daily. But by day 3, my nails were peeling and even more brittle. I now had stubs for nails (even shorter than pictured above.) Finally I asked fellow friends in the salon business and fellow bloggers if they experienced the same of gel manicures, and it was a resounding yes.
Pros: Manicure can potentially last up to 3 weeks No chipping Manicure is instantly dry upon last UV go round Mirror finish (nails look wet, but aren't) Can DIY and look just as amazing as at the salon Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous Cons: Very drying to your nails Repeated application (without a breather) will result in brittle and peeling nails Wear time gets less and less with each application If you don't apply the cuticle oil daily, your nails will dry out a lot quicker Costs add up, especially if the manicure doesn't last 2-3 weeks CND Shellac requires it's own Remover Wraps According to some doctors, the UV lamps can cause skin cancer (but the jury is still out on this) So it appears that, at least for me, a CND Shellac or UV gel manicure will only happen for special events (like holidays, TV appearances, events) and cannot be worn all of the time. Unless I want to continue having man hands with my stubby nails. In the meantime, I will be in nail re-cooperation with Qtica's Cuticle Repair Balm and Qtica Nail Growth Stimulator to regain my length.  I'd love to hear from you: what has your experience been with UV gel manicures? Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle tooShannon on G+ *Disclosure: affiliate links

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Which Nail Polish is Good for Vacation?

Shannon Smyth
Reader question - what's the best nail polish color for vacation? via @agirlsgottaspa The warmer weather is here, which means no more hiding our hands in gloves and instead finding some great nail polishes to show off our jazz hands. And just in case you haven’t noticed, nail polish has now trumped lipstick as the recession staple. So when I received a question about nail polish recently, I thought it was a good break from some of the hair care questions the blog has been receiving lately. “What are your suggestions for a good vacation nail polish? (My swimsuits are aqua and navy.) Kathryn, Rhode Island” This is a great question because honestly how many of you have applied your most favorite polish only to have it chip a few days into your time away? I guess if you are going for the Chris Isaac/Helena Christensen “Wicked Game” video look then you are all good, otherwise it is very frustrating. First, before recommending a color, I strongly suggest Zoya Nail Polish’s Color Lock system. I cannot sing the praises of it enough and I use it with other brands because it is THAT good. Do I dare say I could potentially guarantee that your nail polish will last longer if you use it? I think I just did. If you want your nail color to be matchy matchy to the color of your swimsuit, some blues I am loving right now are Charla from Zoya. I also love Zoya's Robyn. Otherwise, I love pink (my super favorite color of all time). Again, I'd go with Zoya and they have many pink hues to choose from. But let’s open it up to you readers, can you suggest a great, long-lasting nail polish and nail color for Kathryn? Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!

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