Saturday, December 3, 2011

Reflecting on my first year as a nurse

There is so much you just don't learn in nursing school.  Really.

Nursing school teaches you how to pass your NCLEX.  Yeah, you learn the pathophysiology of disease processes and all that stuff, but nursing school really doesn't teach you to "be a nurse".

I had worked in the hospital for a couple years as a CNA.  I knew every day was not perfect.  I knew nursing was hard.  I knew there was a lot going on that the patient's and family don't realize is going on "behind the scenes" to make happen what we accomplish in a 12-hour shift.  I knew that even after I graduated I'd still have a lot to learn.  Still, I was a little bit shell-shocked into the "real life" of nursing.

Even 4 months of orientation with a preceptor doesn't really teach you to be a nurse.  Though, you sure do learn A LOT more than you do in school about real bedside nursing.  But I don't know if you are ever really prepared for the first time things go south, or your first emergency, etc.

This day last year I was a couple of hours into my very last night of preceptorship, and on December 9th I graduated at the top of my class with a 4.0 GPA.  And when I walked up on that stage to get my GPA award and my 3 year old daughter shouted as loud as she could "Good job mommy!" it made my eyes well up with tears.  Because all that hard work I put into my schoolwork was worth it.  I had done what I had set out to accomplish.  I'd become a nurse, and I was going to be a damn good one!  I was going to help people!  I was going to help make them better!

I started out and had a GREAT preceptor right off the bat.  And I mean great.  She really helped me learn to think for myself, build confidence, and learn to start trusting my judgement.  She was always there when I needed her to be, but she also knew when to step back and let me do my own thing, even when *I* thought I wasn't ready yet.  And I learned very quickly that as an RN you are NEVER alone.  If you feel alone where you work and like there is no one to help you, no one you can ask questions to, then there is something wrong.

My 4 months of precepting with another RN though were relatively uneventful.  In a way that was good, but my first day on the floor taking my own assignment by myself I experienced TWO things I'd never had to deal with before.  Nothing anyone could have done to prevent that, it's just the way the cards fall.  My whole first week was tough, full of surprises, LOL.  But everyone told me I did great.  I stayed calm, I asked for help when I needed it, and everything was good in the end.  Stressful day?  Yes, but I went home reflecting on it - what did I learn?  Should I have done anything differently, and if so, what?  I try to do that whenever possible.  If you ever stop learning as a nurse, then I think you probably need to go do something else.

I've also had days where I went home frustrated, or upset.  I've come home in tears from that frustration.  I think all new nurses probably have.  I've had great days, I've had bad days, I've had mediocre days.  Most of them have been good.  I work with a great group of people and never once have I really felt like they didn't have my back.  Even when I've been sent to other units, other hospital campuses even, I felt like the other nurses where there to help me, and tried to make it the best they could.

I'm not really a person who likes change.  Especially not sudden ones.  As long as I have time to prepare, I'm OK.   In nursing however you don't always get time to prepare.  Sometimes there's not really much warning when a patient starts going south, or you have an emergency.  Still, I'm OK with that, mostly.  I say mostly because I'm great in a crisis - I can stay calm and focused for the patient.  I just tend to fall apart when it's over.  But I recollect myself and move on.  I've come to terms with the fact that nursing is ever-changing, and sometimes it changes quickly.

Something I haven't come to terms with yet is that I can't "fix" everyone.  I want to.  I want to make them all better.  Today was one of those absolutely hellish days.  It just started out chaotic with technical difficulties abound, but the patients were all OK.  I sent two home and picked up two new ones, and my third was all set to go home tomorrow.  And then things went bad.  And it upsets me.  It's nobody's fault, and nobody could've done anything differently.  Sometimes it just happens.  

But you are always rooting for your patients.  As a good nurse I think you want to see everyone get better and go home.  And when they are so close and then something else happens it's just upsetting.  You are upset for them, as well as upset because you can't just "fix it".  At least that's how I feel.

I'm sure that as I am a nurse longer I will learn to accept the things I cannot change.  Sometimes I know that even when you can't make someone 100% better you can still be there to help do the little things and support them and just keep doing everything you can until they really ARE better and DO get to go home.

I feel I have really come far over the past year.  I've learned a lot, I am trusting my own judgement more and more, but I still ask a lot of questions.  I've never been afraid to ask for another opinion on something I was unsure about.  I'd always rather be safe than sorry, and not be overconfident.

I wonder how things will be this time next year.  How will I feel as nurse?  How will I be doing?  What obstacles will I overcome?  What will I learn or experience next?

Overall, I love my job.  Yup, some days are tough, but I love being a bedside nurse.  Even when things aren't perfect, or a person is having trouble and not getting better as fast as they'd like or whatever the situation, I hope that I made a difference to them, even if it was just for my 12-hour shift.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

UV Light Cured Gels - CFL vs. LED

Let me start out this post by saying I am NOT an expert in this.  Don't take what I say here as gospel please.  This is merely how I understand it, and hope it may make some sense to others and help them understand it as well.

As more and more gel polishes come out on the market, it seems more and more of them are also "LED curable".  This sparks much debate over what is better, LED lamps or traditional Compact Fluorescent (CFL) UV lamps?

So, here is how I understand this whole concept, and someone please let me know if I am totally wrong or can shed even more light on the subject.

UV stands for Ultraviolet light, which is a type of light in a wavelength that our naked eyes cannot see (about 100-400 nanometers (nm).  The reason UV lights look blue/purple is because that is the first wavelength of light our eyes CAN see.

ALL Gel-curing lamps emit UV light, but the bulb by which they do so differs, Thus....

There are two types of bulbs used in gel curing lamps that emit UV light - Compact Fluorescent and LED

    1. Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs emit a broader wavelength range of light
      1. The light is more diffused, thus longer cure times
      2. CFL bulbs have been around a long time, are cheap and easy to come by, and a lot of research has been done on them.  
      3. CFL UV curing lamps are much cheaper
    2. LED bulbs emit a narrower wavelength range of light
      1. Light is more concentrated and targeted, thus allowing for a faster cure time
      2. LED bulbs are not cheap and possibly not as easy to come by for manufacturers, thus they are more expensive lamps
      3. Not as much research has been done on LED curing lamps (as compared to CFL) because they are newer.
Gels that are sold as LED cure will also cure in CFL UV lamps, But all UV curable gels will not cure in LED lamp.  This goes back to the narrower wavelength of LED bulbs.

Just for an example, say the wavelength of a particular brand of LED bulbs is only 10 nm, the Gel Manufacturers that sell LED lamps have their lamps using bulbs that cover the wavelength of light that their photoinitiators (what makes the gel harden) cure at, and this isn't the same across all brands.

For example, say Gel Brand A cures at 325 nm, and Gel Brand B cures at 355 nm (and I'm making these numbers up as an example only, I don't ave brand names here that use those specific numbers)

The wavelength of light for Gel Brand A's lamp might be 320-330 nm, but that wouldn't cure Gel Brand B's gel product.

However, if a CFL UV lamp covers the range of say for example 320-375 nm, it would cure both brands.

When looking at the directions for any gel polish product, many of them that are LED curable will also give CFL UV cure times.  If they don't ask the manufacturer if they have UV cure times if you can.

Remember, both types are emitting UV light, so if the reason  you want an LED light is to avoid UV exposure, that just isn't the case.  The advantage LED lamps have is faster curing, so that might lessen UV exposure slightly.

If speed of curing is what makes you want an LED lamp, just remember that not all gel products are LED curable, so buy accordingly.  Also, because of the narrow LED wavelength, even all LED lamps may not cure all LED gels.  Granted, some LED lamps will have the same wavelength and cure another brand's product, it might not.

A good thing to remember - always do you research, and don't believe everything you read.  Always consider the source as well.  Plenty of genereic lamps are popping up, and they all claim they will cure all gels, while the manufacturers maintain that only their lamp should be used.  On both sides is it a scheme to make more money?  Maybe.  But the manufacturers have tested their product with their lamps.  Do you think that seller that is selling the lamp has really tested all those products?  I doubt it, but who knows, as I did my own test with my LED lamp.

That's not to say one shouldn't try it, just remember you are doing so at your own risk.  I use a generic 36 watt CFL UV tunnel lamp.  So far I've had no issues with wear time or issues with it obviously not curing.  I also have used a Better LED lamp.  I liked it briefly, then found I was having issues with curing, especially on the tips.  I dont' want to risk allergies due to over exposure to an under cured product, so I chose not to use it.  Many others use it and have no problem.

Some interesting articles and other posts on CFL UV vs. LED UV and the safety of nail curing lamps, from a variety of sources
The Science of Gels
What makes a Gel Cure?
Is the UV light a skin cancer risk?
Ultraviolet Manicures: UV cured gel, LED cured gel, and should we worry?
Do nail lamps emit unsafe levels of UV light
7 secrets to curing UV gel Nails
UV or not UV?
Two Words.  Doug.  Schoon.  - Discussion with Doug Shoon on LED/UV lights from Nail Talk Radio

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Color Morphing Powders and Spectraflair

A while back I purchased some color-morphing powders from an Australian blog that I follow - More Nail Polish  It's a great blog, and anyone interested in holographic nail polishes and frankening polishes should go visit there!  Another great one for pigments, glitters and more is Polish and Pigments.  While I don't do much with regular nail polish, although I own plenty of it, Pretty much all of the frankening and mixing can be done with gel polish as well.

I never mix up whole bottles of anything.  I merely mix small batches to do manicures and what I need on a square of tin foil.  If it doesn't come out to be what I wanted, I've not wasted much.  The downside is if you have to redo a single nail or just fix a small chip, it's a pain in the arse.  

Anyway, back to the stuff I bought!  :)  

I ordered some coarse grade (35 micron) spectraflair from her, as well as 3 color-morphing pigments.  She has MUCH better pictures than anything I captured on her blog.  She also just over the past couple days did swatches of some color shifting powders from TKB Trading, which I ordered a couple weeks ago but haven't swatched yet.  I'm even more excited to get working with them now that I've seen them on her blog!  

The manicure I just did and am sporting now is Spectraflair.  I mixed a small amount of the Spectraflair with Orly Gel FX Ruby on a piece of tin foil.  I find that most of the time my mixtures that I'm applying with a separate brush apply a little bit thinner than if I'm using the brush from the bottle, so this is 4 coats.  The pictures really do not do it justice.  It's a beautiful dark red with that amazing multi-colored holo shimmer you get from Spectraflair.  I'm absolutely loving this color...... way more than I liked Orly Ruby by itself, and I actually did like that color!  LOL.  It's actually a darker, deeper red than it appears in this picture.  I had a hard time really capturing the color, but you can see the sparkle!

The color morphing powders are equally amazing.  There are 3 - Blue to teal green shift, Green to gold shift, and red to green shift.  The red-green has the most distinct, obvious color shift IMO.  I love it!  For these swatches, I did 2 coats of Gelez Pitch Black as a base.  I mixed each of the color morphing powders with a little clear, and applied 2 coats of that mix over the black base.  

In order to try to show the color shift even better, I made a little video.  It doesn't do them justice though!  

My previous manicure I had on was also a color-shifting pigment that I got on Evil-Bay.  It was from Sik Custom Paint, and it was a green-blue-purple shift.  I had a REALLY hard time capturing the color shift in that one, as it was really dependent on the lighting.  In some light it was very teal green, in others very purple.  In the sun the green was the most obvious, while indoors it was the purple, and in dim lighting it was the blue.  Very pretty color.  Again, it was done over black for a base.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Repairing a cracked nail, update

Well, Unfortunately I got a bad tear on the side of one thumbnail.  Unfortunately for me that is!  For you guys, LUCKY!  Because now I get to show you how to do the silk repair on a real nail!  :)

Here is my updated video.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Repairing a cracked nail

I often get asked how I repair a cracked or split nail.  I have a couple nails where I tend to get low splits on the sides near the quick.  For one, they can be painful if the nail tears all the way across.  Secondly, I never like having a shortie nail, so whenever possible I will repair the split with some silk and glue under my gel manicures until it grows out enough that I can either deal with the nail being a tad shorter or until it's filed off completely.

At the moment I don't have any splits or tears, So for the tutorial I did this on a sample nail with a line drawn to simulate a crack.  Next time I have a nail that splits and needs repairing I'll do one on my own nail and update this posting.

In addition to your usual gel manicure supplies, you need some brush on glue, silk or fiberglass nail wraps (I prefer the self-adhesive silk wraps), and very sharp small scissors or large nail clippers to cut the nail wrap.

Using very sharp scissors or the nail clippers, cut a small piece of the silk wrap.  Just a small rectangle enough to cover the split and a little bit around it.  If you don't have very sharp scissors, the edge of the nail wrap tends to fray and can leave your manicure not as smooth as it should be.

With the self adhesive nail wraps it's very easy to carefully place the piece of silk or fiber over the split, and smooth it down and into place with a dotting tool, cuticle push, orangewood stick or toothpick, whatever you have handy.  Make sure the silk or fiber goes right up to the very edge of the nail where the crack is.  You can even let it hang over just a tiny bit, as you can file it smooth later.

Apply a very thin layer of brush on nail glue over the silk and let it dry.  When it's dry, add another thin layer for additional strength.

When it's completely dry, take a fine buffer block (mine is a 240 grit I think) and gently buff over the repair to smooth it down.  Don't over buff it or you'll weaken your repair, just enough to smooth it.  You can use a nail file along the edge in a DOWNWARD MOTION ONLY to smooth the edge or side of the nail if you left any material hanging over.

Now continue on with your Gel manicure as usual!  Basecoat, color coats, and topcoat.  Voila!  All fixed!

If the split is very large, I will also add Gelish Structure Gel to my manicure in between the base coat and color coats.  Just a thin layer or two is all you need to add a bit more strength.  Even without adding the Structure, most of my split repairs last me a full two weeks.

Just remember, when you soak off your gel polish, the repair will soak off too.  Either you need to redo it each manicure or file off your color very gently instead.  I think it's much easier to just fix the crack again than to file off the color.

Check out the tutorial on YouTube!

Gel Manicure with Swirled tips

This is my current manicure:

I did a swirl/flame type design using different colors on the tips.  I used Gelish Ambiance for the base, and on the tips I used Orly Gel FX Rage and Artistic Colour Gloss Eccentric.  Of course you can use any colors you like, and you could swirl the design all over the nail instead of just on the tips (just skip the sheer base color and use your swirl colors only).  

This is really no more complicated than a plain gel mani, all you need is a dotting tool, toothpick or something similar to swirl the colors together.  

  1. Prep nails as usual, do cuticle work, etc.
  2. Apply Gel base coat, cap free edge and cure.
  3. Apply 2 coats Gelish Ambiance for base color - don't cure second coat yet
  4. Add ACG Eccentric on the tip - paint on like you would if you were going to do a french manicure
  5. Carefully dot on a few dots of Orly Rage
  6. Use Dotting tool to swirl the design, bring up "flames" if you want, etc.  Make it yours!  :-).  Cure
  7. Add Gel topcoat, cap free edge and cure 
  8. Wipe with alcohol to remove tacky layer
  9. Voila!  
Check out the Tutorial on YouTube!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Soak off Gel Water Marble and Peek-a-boo glitter

This next tutorial is a two-for-one special, LOL.  Within the video for the water marbling, I give you a quick how-to on doing a Peek-a-boo glitter design.  

Water marbling...... Well, let me say that I am the queen of suck when it comes to doing this with regular polish.  So, if you are like me and gave up on the idea of water marbling, give it another try with the gel polish.  It's much easier, and if you mess up you just wipe it off and start over!  

Personally I like to do this over a completed manicure.  That way, if I mess up and/or hate the way it came out I can easily wipe it off and try again without ruining what's underneath. I've done it this way and it came out fine and wore as well as any other manicure.  I usually just do this as an accent nail or two.  Another advantage to doing it over a complete manicure - it can spice up a mani you are getting bored with.  

In addition to your regular nail supplies you need a small cup with some room temp water (I use bottle water because I live on a well and our water sucks, LOL), lots of extra paper towels handy, and some toothpicks or manicure sticks.  

Since I like to do this over a completed manicure, I recommend doing a start-to finish manicure.  I do like having a base color, as some areas of the water marble may be sheer and color would show through a little bit, so use something complementary.  Alternatively you could do just base and topcoat with no color in between, or do just one layer of color instead of two.  

Water marble nails:

  1. Open all your bottles of gel polish you are using and line them up around your cup in the order you want to drop them into the water.  
  2. Drop the color into the water
    1. The first drop will spread out the most, and will almost disappear onto the water surface because it's so thin
    2. The next drops wont' spread as much, and you may have to shake the cup gently to get them to spread a little
    3. Hold your brush close to the water and just let the drops fall.  You don't want to touch the brush to the water as you can contaminate your polish then.  You also don't want to let the drops fall from too high above the cup, or they will just sink right to the bottom and not spread out
    4. I usually do 2-3 rounds of my colors
  3. Make your design
    1. Take a toothpick, manicure stick, dotting tool or whatever you want to use, and make your design.  You can carve out from the outside in toward a center point, in from the center toward the outiside, etc.  Whatever you want to do!  
  4. Dip 1-2 fingers at a time, depending on the size of the cup you are using and your design.  
    1. You want to dip them in with our nail plate parallel to the top of the water and the design, as much as possible
    2. try to do this in one smooth motion into the cup
  5. With your fingers still in the water, clean up all the excess polish on the surface of the water with a toothpick, manicure stick, etc. 
    1. It's going to form a gloopy mess on the stick
    2. This is why you need plenty of paper towels handy to set this messy stuff on top of!  :)
  6. Clean up your fingers
    1. I use a paper towel to wipe off the bulk of the mess on my fingers
    2. You can then take a manicure stick and clean up around the cuticle and sidewalls
    3. wipe a cotton pad or ball with alcohol over your fingers to remove any remaining gel before you cure.  
  7. Cure for 2 minutes in a UV lamp
  8. Apply Top it off, cap free edge, cure 2 minutes

The Peekaboo glitter nails:
This is something you can do as a complete manicure when you are first doing it, or something you can do as an add on over a previous glitter mani when you get bored with it (is it even really possible to get bored with a glitter mani?  LOL).

I've also done this to make a french with glitter tips.  Instead of adding glitter only at the tip, I will do the whole nail as glitter, then add a color and carve out the smile line.  It makes a much smoother and cleaner smile line than when I try to just add a tip of glitter.  The whole manicure ends up being smoother as well when done this way.  And you can carve out whatever you like as a design, leaving the glitter "peeking" out from under the color.  
  1. Start out with your basic glitter manicure: base coat, 1-2 coats of color and then glitter scrubbed into the tacky layer
  2. Now you can proceed one of two ways
    1. Apply top it off and put your color over it, carve design, cure and topcoat again
    2. Simply apply color over the glitter instead of top it off first, carve design, cure color coat, and then apply top it off and cure
  3. Either way you want to do this, when you apply your color coat, just make it a nice, thin layer
  4. Take a small brush dampened slightly with alcohol and carve your design out of the color
    1. You can also use a toothpick, corner of a manicure stick, dotting tool, etc. 
  5. You may want to flash cure each nail for a few seconds as you go.  
    1. If you let it alone too long the nice crisp line will start to blur a little sometimes
    2. If you have very small/narrow areas you carved out, the gel polish will try to self-level those right back together.  
  6. When you are done carving your design, cure in the UV light 2 minutes
  7. Add top it off, cap free edge, cure 2 minutes.

One of my best water marbles:
The colors just all worked so nicely together, and it looked great over the holo-y background because in the sheer areas you could see the blue holo underneath.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Spectraflair Franken Manicures

Spectraflair is a holographic pigment.  It's actually intended for automotive paint and industrial uses.  That being said, here's my disclaimer:

It is recommended that you use a mask when dealing with Spectraflair.  If I were making large quantities of anything and had dust flying, I would.  I don't feel it's necessary to franken a tiny amount of gel polish.  I have several other "car paint pigments" and I've not had any fingers turn green and fall off, I've not had any reactions, etc.  However, if you are concerned or not comfortable using this, DON'T.  I am not recommending anyone try this or use any other product that isn't intended for use in nails or cosmetics, this is just my personal experience and what I do.  

Spectraflair is a very, very, VERY fine powder that has a holographic effect.  It actually comes in a few different particle sizes, from 20-35 microns.  What I have currently is the 20 micron size, but I'm trying to get some of the 35 micron size, as it is supposed to be a bit more blingy.  

The Spectraflair isn't a super-bright, obvious holo.  Indoors or not well-lit areas it just looks shimmery.  Outside or in well lit indoor areas however, it creates a very nice holo effect.   The holo effect is more predominant when used over a black base or other very dark color.  

I've mixed Spectraflair into Structure gel and also into a few colors of gel polish.  It seems to work fine either way.  With the structure (or you could use TIO), you can mix a tiny amount to make a more sheer topcoat, or you can mix a slightly larger amount in to get an opaque silver color.  Either way, the amount you need is REALLY tiny!  

For this Manicure I mixed up the Spectraflair with Gelish's Up in the Blue
Here is a close up of one of the nails:
 Here are some other samples I've done:
From left to right: Spectraflair mixed into Structure to make opaque, Spectraflair mixed with black and painted over a black base coat, Spectraflair mixed into Gelish Up in the Blue (I used a bit too much spectraflair here, but it came out great when I did the manicure), Spectraflair mixed with Gelish Exhale

Here is a the video on mixing spectraflair with Structure, but again you can use any color you want to mix with.  Or, you can apply any color polish, then use clear mixed with spectraflair as a topcoat over it.  :)

Rockstar (or glitter) Nails & Toes

Next up I have a tutorial for how to do Rockstar nails/toes (or Glitter nails/toes).  

It's a really, really easy process!  It's just like doing a regular mani or pedi, just with one extra step - you scrub glitter into the lefty tackiness of one of your layers!  Yep, that's really all there is to it!  

  1. Prep your nails as usual - file and shape, do your cuticle work, clean off any dirt or filing dust, etc.  
  2. Apply dehydrator and let dry a few seconds
  3. Apply bonder if you need it and let dry
  4. Apply thin layer of base coat, cap free edge, cure 1 minute in UV lamp
  5. Apply a thin layer of color, cap free edge, cure 2 minutes.
    • What color you choose is up to you, but I recommend using a color that's similar to your glitter color.
    • For Example here I used a dark metallic silver because I was using silver glitter.  If I was using red glitter, I might use something like Gelish Hot Rod Red or Stand Out
  6. You can apply a second layer of color if you want to, but if you are covering the whole nail with glitter as we are here, it's not really necessary.  
  7. Using a small brush dampened slightly with alcohol pick up some glitter and gently pat and "scrub" it into the tacky layer
    • Keep picking up the glitter and scrubbing it in until the whole nail is covered
  8. After the entire nail is covered, take your brush and quickly brush back and forth and from top to bottom to brush off any excess glitter.  This also help make sure all the glitter pieces are laying flat.
  9. If I'm using a larger size glitter, like 0.008" or larger, I generally will apply a coat of Structure gel over the glitter to help smooth it all out.  Alternatively, you can use two layers of topcoat if you need it.  
  10. Apply top it off, cap free edge, and cure two minutes.  
    • It has been recommended that you use a separate topcoat for glitter work so you don't end up with glitter mucking up your topcoat.  
    • Personally, I haven't had an issue with this and have never used a separate topcoat.  Applying a layer of structure after the glitter would be done with a separate brush, thus your topcoat bottle brush would be protected anyway.  
    • If a rare piece of glitter does end up in my topcoat brush, I just wipe the brush with a clean paper towel and it's fine.  I'm still using my original bottle of topcoat that I bought almost a year ago.  

Nars Orgasm Blush and Black Funky French

Hello Everyone!  So my current manicure is a funky french with a custom color that I mixed up using Nars Orgasm blush.  I use black for the tips.  It's a very fun mani!  

  1. Do the basic prep on your nails first - have them clean and shaped, cuticle work done, etc.  
  2. Next is to mix up the custom color that I used for the nail bed.  For the video below I'm only doing one nail that I broke and needed repairing, so I'm using a very small amount of product.
    • Place a small amount of Structure on a piece of tin foil.  For this I used 2 little blobs of stucture, and one would've been more than enough really.  For a full manicure I use 3-4 blobs.  If I were using a bottle polish color, I use 8-10 drops for a full 2-coat manicure.  That of course will vary depending on the length of your nails.  
    • Using the end of your mixing stick, scrape a small amount of the Nars blush onto the top of your little blob of gel.  Mix it all together.  You can always add more if you want it to be darker or more pigmented
  3. Now that your color is mixed up, start working on your nails
    • Apply Dehydrator and let it try a few seconds
    • Apply bonder if you use it and let it dry
    • Apply base foundation gel, cap free edge, and cure 1 minute in a UV lamp
  4. Now it's time to apply your custom color
    • Using a gel brush, scoop a very small amount of the color you made off the tin foil and apply it thinly, just like you would Structure alone or a pot-style gel.  The viscosity of the Structure is a bit thicker than regular Gelish, so it can take some practice.  
    • Apply a thin coat, cap your free edge and cure 2 minutes.
    • Apply second coat, cap free edge and cure 2 minutes. 
  5. Next is to apply the black tips.
    • I used EZ Flow Gelez Pitch Black, because it's what I have.  Other blacks are Gelish Black Shadow, Shellac Black Pool, ACG Swag, RCM Black Stretch Limo, etc
    • Wipe most of the polish off the bottle brush and apply a VERY thin layer of the black to the tip of your nail.  Don't worry if it's not a perfect smile line!  You'll clean it up next.  Make sure to cap your free edge.
    • Dip a small brush into a bit some alcohol, and wipe the excess off the brush - you only want it damp, not dripping.  
    • From the center to the edges, clean up and smooth out the smile line
    • Cure for 2 minutes in a UV Lamp
    • Repeat for a second coat - the second coat often doesn't need much if any cleanup, because you have a guide you are already following from the fist coat
  6. Apply Topcoat
    • Apply a thin layer of Top it Off over the whole nail, cap free edge, cure 2 minutes
  7. Finish
    • Wipe with alcohol to remove the tacky layer
    • Apply cuticle oil

Here is the video.  You can see it also on YouTube

Videos now up on YouTube!

Ok, Ok.  So, I know I said I wouldn't be doing any videos for a couple of reasons, but I decided to give it a shot anyway.  My editing isn't so good, and I'm having to use a crappy old camera for the video because I cannot find the charger to my digital camcorder, and my regular video program I use to convert videos from my DSLR isn't working for some reason - hubby says missing a codec or something.  Sigh.  So, at any rate, crappy old digital camera in movie mode and Window's movie maker for the editing, but it does an OK job.

I just thought it would be easier to show you guys some things than try to just explain them.  I will go through the step by step here and also link to the videos.

for future reference, this is my YouTube Channel.  :)

I will go back and add videos to previous posts when I get videos done that relate to those posts.  :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to do a soak off gel manicure

OK friends, here is how I do my soak off gel manicures.  This includes shaping, prep, and the gel polish itself.  I started with Gelish, and use the same process for my manicures no matter which brand of color I am  using.  

An important thing to keep in mind is that cuticle is not what most people think it is.  It is not the skin that surrounds your nail, it is skin that grows over the nail plate and can be invisible until you go about trying to remove it!  If you've not had or done a proper manicure, there could be a lot of cuticle that you didn't even know was there!  It just depends.  Some people seem to have very little cuticle.  You should also never go about nipping or cutting the skin around your nails with "cuticle nippers".  The ONLY time I ever use them is to take care of the occasional bad hangnail.  

I also recommend watching the basic video on how to apply Gelish.  There are many on YouTube, and mine is linked at the bottom of this post.  

  1. Shape all nails:
    • Using a 100/180 grit Zebra file (my favorite one) I shorten my nails if they are too long for my liking and shape them.  I prefer a squared or squoval shape, so that's what I do.  do whatever you prefer.  I most often already have this step done, as I do this before I remove my old manicure usually.  For some reason I find it easier to do it that way, and in the process it breaks the seal at the free edge making soak off easier
  2. Remove cuticle from all nails:
    • Place a small amount of cuticle remover around the edge of my nails.  Let it set there for 1 minute.  
    • GENTLY push back the cuticle on the nail plate with a cuticle pusher. 
    • After this, I use a Curette GENTLY in a small, circular motion all over the nail plate and around the lateral and proximal nail folds (the skin surrounding the nail) to remove any additional cuticle.  
      • It really helps to get into that area, especially if you have any deep nail folds.  I thought I was doing great at removing cuticle until I got this tool and realized just how much I was missing! I highly recommend if you don't know how to use this tool that you google some information on it and watch some videos on you tube.  Search for Cuticle Work on YouTube and watch some of the first videos that come up.  
    • Most cuticle remover needs to be deactivated with water.  Since I don't do a wet manicure (meaning I don't soak or wash my hands) I just use a paper towel that I dampened with water before I start to wipe my nails and the surrounding skin off when I am done with my cuticle work.  
  3. Buff the nail plate on all nails:
    • Not everyone does this, and it's not a recommended step in all Soak off gel systems, so keep that in mind.  
    • I use a 320 grit soft block buffer and just lightly go back and forth across my nails to remove the shine, nothing more.  I'll also usually smooth the free edge where I've filed to shorten and shape.  
  4. Clean all nails:
    • Take a cotton ball with a little alcohol on it and wipe the surface of my nail clean.  This cleans it from any filing dust and any dirt that might be there. 
  5. Dehydrate the nail plate:
    • On whichever hand you are doing first, Apply Gelish pH Bond over the entire nail plate and let it dry (It dries very fast)
    • Alternatively, you can use swipes of alcohol and then acetone soaked cotton balls to do this, as that is basically what pH bond is
  6. Apply Bonder only if needed:
    • I apply bonder (Gelish Pro Bond or similar, acid-free bonder) only to the tips of the nails I have problems with tip lift with.  
    • Bonder does make removal slightly more difficult, but if you have eliminated all other possible causes of lifting, and using bonder works for you, then I say go for it.  This is only my opinion.
  7. Apply Base Foundation Gel:
    • Wipe almost ALL product from the brush on the sides of the bottle.  
    • Using a scrubbing motion, apply foundation to the entire nail plate in a very, very thin layer. 
      • This scrubbing motion with very little product keeps the layer very thin.
    • Cap free edge by swiping brush along free edge of nail
    • Use the light around you and look at your nail from different angles to make sure the entire nail is covered.  
    • Clean up around the cuticle and sidewalls if you get any on your skin with a manicure stick or fingernails of your opposite hand
    • Cure for 1 minute in a 36 watt tunnel lamp
  8. Apply color coats:
    • Thinly and evenly apply color coat by placing brush in middle of nail, pushing back toward the cuticle before pulling the brush to the free edge.  
    • After covering the nails cap the free edge
    • Clean up any gel on skin and cuticle area with manicure stick or fingernails
    • Cure 2 minutes.  Very dark colors may need 3 minutes.
    • Apply second (and 3rd if using) coat in same fashion and cure again.
  9. Apply Top It Off (TIO):
    • Thinly apply top it off to entire nail, ensuring the entire nail is covered.
    • Cap free edge
    • Remove any gel that has gotten on skin with manicure stick or fingernail
    • Cure 2 minutes.  
  10. Remove tacky layer:
    • With alcohol on a cotton ball, wipe nails and free edge to remove the residual tacky layer
  11. Repeat:
    • Repeat Steps 5-10 on your other hand.
  12. Apply cuticle Oil:
    • Brush or drip cuticle oil (depending on the applicator you have) on the skin all around all your nails and massage in gently.

Soak off gel nails - what you need to get started

One of the questions I see asked most commonly by newbies to Soak off Gels (SOG's) is "what do I really need to get started?"

Many of the items you need can be purchased at a drugstore, local Sally Beauty Supply or Ulta store, or other open-to-the-public store.  If not, there are plenty of places online to purchase them.  I personally do not use the Gelish cleanser or their remover product, so if you notice they are missing from the list below, it's because I just don't use them.  There are some products here that I use, but you may not need or want to.  There are also products I use that aren't listed here, as I don't use them all the time - they have a more specialized purpose and will be covered in other tutorials.  

The links I have listed here are in most cases what I actually have, or some variation (i.e. full size vs. Sally's Mini).  In other cases it is just to give you an example

These are the tools and things I use when doing a basic SOG manicure.   They are not really listed in any particular order, sorry.  

  • A nail file.  My favorite is a 100/180 grit dual sided, curved Zebra file.   Right now I have a straight one, which also works fine.  It's just preference. 
  • A 120 grit block buffer (optional, but I use it to buff the topcoat before I soak off.  You could also use your nail file).  
  • A 240 or 320 grit polar block buffer (they make several grits in this, so just pay attention so which one you are getting.  You want a super-fine grit. The 320 is my favorite).  
  • Cuticle remover (this is the one I use and I like it)
  • A cuticle pusher.  This is the one I have, but there are much nicer ones out there. 
  • A Cuticle Curette (optional, but really helped me in removing all cuticle from nail plate)
  • Manicure Sticks (Orangewood sticks, birchwood sticks, whatever you want to call them.  Optional, but helpful for many).  
  • Alcohol (70% actually works fine, but 99% is recommended.  Sometimes my local drugstore will have 91%, but not always.  Use what you can find.)
  • 100% pure acetone
  • Cuticle Oil.  I have this one, as well as the CND solar oil and several others.  They all work well so use what you like.  I think consistency of use is more important than which brand you use.  
  • Cotton ball or squares
  • Tin foil or silicone rubber finger protector/thimbles.  (See below for more info)
  • Gelish pH bond (optional.  You can wipe the nail with acetone and alcohol to dehydrate the nail as well)
  • Gelish PRO Bond (optional.  Should only be used if you have problems with lifting polish after you've troubleshooted other potential causes)
  • Gelish Base Foundation (often referred to as just Base)
  • Gelish Top It Off (often referred to as TIO)
  • A Gelish color polish (or other brand if you prefer)
  • A UV light.  This can be a 36 watt fluorescent bulb tunnel lamp (as shown here) or an LED lamp.  Which you choose depends on many factors.  
    • To my knowledge, all brands will cure in a fluorescent bulb UV lamp.  Not all brands will cure in a LED lamp.  For the purposes of my tutorials I will be basing curing times on a 36 watt tunnel lamp, as LED cure times vary depending on wattage.  The tunnel lamp I have looks much like the one I linked to, although mine was an eBay purchase.  I recommend getting a good lamp, as while I got lucky with my Shipped-from-China Ebay purchase, others didn't have as good of luck.
OK, back to the silicone thimbles.  I found these things at WalMart with the office supplies.  They were in a pack of 12 assorted sizes for $2-3.  I cannot find them online on to show you what they look like.  They look sort of like these, but mine are blue and have holes on one side, and are textured on the other side.  I just place the hole side where the pad of my finger is, and leave the closed, textured side on the nail side of my finger.  I have used them many times and they are showing no wear from the acetone exposure.  You can see the ones I have in the photo below of my basic supplies.  

Note the wooden manicure sticks are missing from my photo.  That's because I actually don't usually use them anymore, I just use my nails on my opposite hand to swipe around the edge of the cuticle and sidewalls to clean up.  It was easier when I started though to use the manicure sticks.  Also, those little pump-top bottles hold my acetone (black one) and alcohol (white one).  I got them at Sally's.  

Soak off Gel Nails

I'm going to try to start posting some tutorials here on soak off gel manicures and nail care.  I don't as of yet have pictures of my processes, but hopefully it won't be too hard to follow along without them.  I'll try to do some with photos soon.  I hate being on camera, so photos are probably all you'll be able to get out of me, LOL.  Videos aren't likely at this point, because I think my voice sounds funny on camera and I absolutely do not need the extra 10 lbs it supposedly adds, LOL.  Also, I don't know squat about video editing,  LOL.  

First of all, the disclaimer: I am NOT a professional nail technician.  I am receiving NO compensation for doing this.  ALL of the products I use have been purchased by ME with my own money.  This is just what I do and what works for me.  Trying to do soak off gel nails yourself using my way of doing things or any other is something you do at your own risk.  

I personally feel that this is not an adventure you should embark on without having done a little research, so please, before you begin do some research, watch videos on you tube, visit forums related to doing this, etc.  There is a bit of a learning curve with soak off gel polish, so expect a bit of trial and error before you find what works best for you.  

I use mostly Gelish products, but I do have some things that are not Gelish.  I also have colors that are Shellac, Artistic Colour Gloss (ACG), IBD Gelac, Geleration, Gelez, Red Carpet Manicure, and several others that also include pot-style gels such as Axxium that need to be applied with a separate gel brush.  Since it is what I started with and what I have, my base coat and top sealer are Gelish.  I have experienced no incompatibilities between brands, and use the Gelish base and top with all my colors.  I have a new bottle of ACG base and top as well, which I tested once and also had no problem mixing it will another brand, so I don't forsee an issue when my Gelish runs out.  

So, let the tutorials and information begin!  :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Random update

Well, it's been quite some time since I wrote last.  Work and life have been keeping me busy.

My little girl just turned four recently.  We had an awesome party here at the house for her.  It went great, there wasn't any family fighting really, all the kids and adults had fun, a lot of people showed up, we had great food.... it was one of the nicest parties I've ever thrown.  She started VPK this year, and we also got her started in Ballet.  She's very excited about that part!

Work has been.... interesting.... lately.  I've just been feeling overwhelmed.  I finished my internship and started working on my own at the end of June.  I really like the unit I work on, I get along with everyone I work with, etc.  I just feel so overwhelmed most days.  I'm sure that all just comes with time.  I'm still new, I still have a lot of questions, and it doesn't take much some days to put me in the weeds!  I just can't wait until I don't feel like I am 10 steps behind all day long.  Sigh.  I know that there will always be some days like that, but I can't wait until it's not EVERY day.

I don't feel like I've had much free time lately.  I've been trying to really keep up on the housework around here, and that takes up time.  So far the house has been clean a whole month!  LOL.  It's been a long time since we've been able to keep up with it this long.   We did major cleaning before DD's birthday party, and it just looked so nice and felt so good to have a clean house.  During school, the last thing I had time for was cleaning house!  I would often not get to sleep for over 24 hours, I couldn't have cared less if my house was clean, LOL.

At any rate, I do still make time to do things I want to do.  I got really into doing my nails with the soak off gel polishes and made a little hobby out of that.  I love that my clumsy arse can't smudge the polish 10 minutes after I worked so hard to make it look nice, and that it doesn't chip in a day.  Of course I can't wear acrylics or anything at work anyway, but the soak off gels are so nice and don't lift or chip or anything.  They are THE BEST THING EVER!

On the photography front, not much exciting going on there.  I haven't been taking as many pictures lately.  It's too hot to go out during the day and get any nature stuff right now.  I'm too lazy in the early mornings on my days off anymore to get up and go out before it gets hot - that was easier to do when I worked nights, LOL, I was already up!

Crafty stuff, haven't been doing much lately.  Just unmotivated to drag all my sewing stuff out lately.  I'm in a mode where i just like to read or play on the computer or something.

Well, nothing else new going on.  I just need to keep on keeping on and hope it all settles down eventually.  Sooner rather than later, I hope.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

State boards and new job!!!!

Well it was a long road, but I was so glad to see school end. Then as the date I had signed up to take my NCLEX exam got closer, I got more and more nervous! I considered changing the date to give myself more time to study, but figured a couple more weeks probably wouldn't help me anyway. If I didn't know it by know I wasn't going to I thought.

I am glad I didn't change it. I got to the point where I really just wanted it behind me. I didn't want to study anymore, and I just wanted to take it and pass so I could apple for nursing jobs.

I studied all day the two days before the test, and then got a good nights sleep. I scheduled my test for the afternoon, since I am not a morning person and the test center was an hour away. I slept in and left 2.5 hours before my appointment. I got stuck in a traffic jam on the way from an accident, had to get off the interstate and go another way. It took forever and I was glad I'd given myself so much extra time. I got there a half hour before my appointment. The closer I got to the test center the more nervous and shaky I got! By the time I went upstairs, still 30 min early, I could barely focus through my fear of failing and having to explain to the few friends and family who knew I was testing that while I had graduated with a 4.0 I was too dumb to pass the NCLEX.

I checked in and was taken into the testing room. You are not allowed to take ANYTHING in there, not a chapstick, not an inhaler, not even your watch! I sat there and went through the little tutorial and started my test, almost terrified to click that start button. But I did. I started doing the questions, trying to use the knowledge and skills I had to get the answer, as I really didn't KNOw any of them for sure.

I had about 25 select all that apply questions, which was way more than they had prepared us for in school, and I suck at those anyway. I got a ton of med questions, but mostly meeds I had never heard of and didn't even know what they were for. Weird mess, not the more common ones. I got questions about illnesses we'd never covered in school. I didn't feel confident in a single answer I chose. Wy couldn't I have gotten a bunch of math questions I wondered? I Am good at math!

I about burst into tears when I got my 20th SATA question, but I managed to stave it off. I did however mentally give up. I stopped trying to think through the questions and just started reading them once, picking the first answer I thought was right and moving on. I thought I was going to fail anyway.

When I got to 75 questions I was afraid to click next. I was afraid it would shut off and then I would never have a chance to get questions I knew the answers to! I couldn't stare at that question forever though, and when I clicked next it went to a plain blue screen, much like the blue screen of death when your computer fries. I sort of felt like it was that blue screen of death, because I thought there was no way I passed that. I went to the car and called my mom in tears. She assured me she thought I had done fine. If only I had had had same faith!

I went home and tried the "person vie trick". It gave me the good popup, which I can tell you was my only hope and consolation for the longest 48 hours that followed until I was able to pay $8 to get my quick results on Saturday afternoon. By Monday my license number showed up on the board of nursing!

That was definitely the hardest, most stressful test I have ever taken, and I am glad I should never have to do it again! On the following Tuesday morning my director called me at work and told me there was an internship spot in OB and I needed to find out from the recruiter what I had to do to apply for it. I called her and they allowed me to apply to the internship late since I am already an employee. I tested the day after the application deadline, so I thought I was going to have to wait a whole other month to apply. I am glad I didn't.

It all went so quickly and smoothly. I applied on Tuesday, interviewed with the recruiter on Wednesday, the unit director of OB on Friday and got my job offer on Monday! I was never really expecting to get into OB as a new grad, but I am SOOOO happy I did! I want to do labor and delivery, and while this is in antepartum/postpartum, it is totally a step in the right direction! So much c,Oder than I thought I would get as a new grad!

I get to start February 15th and I am so very excited! I cannot wait for that date to come! I am a real nurse now, and will get to be working as one very soon!