A couple months back, I was on the hunt for some new content, and you know how Christmas time is. Totally spendy. I won’t tell you how much I spent, because honestly, I don’t know, but the sales y’all. The sales. This isn’t just for nails either, this is all around! I mean I even bought my kids a random bounce house because it was on sale. They love it, and it was set up on Christmas morning because we live in Florida, but still. Does anyone really need to own a bounce house?
So of course when I saw Melissa post a decal sub bag from her company Decals by Melissa, I couldn’t refuse. It was $18, included shipping, and would give me new things to try. You’ll have to forgive the picture of it ahead of time, because I’ve misplaced this bundle at least three times in the past few weeks. That probably means I need to get to swatching so I can finally clean up my nail area!
This January sub bag was a super cute Valentine’s Day theme, and I must not have read the description very well, because I was surprised to see the glitter. On top of the four loose glitters (mix with clear powder, sprinkle over color or sandwich between clear), there were two different types of water slide nail wraps, a sheet of water slide decals, and a sheet of regular vinyl decals. I’m not an over-the-top mani lover, but these were too dang cute!
I wanted to just gingerly dip a toe into the decal world. My last decal was a little Mickey Mouse head I cut out with the Cricut a solid year ago for our Disney trip. It was adorable and I can’t believe I haven’t done it since but life gets busy, right? I was still pretty new to dipping then, maybe a couple months in. So I’m thankful for Melissa saving me time and sanity by just sending these and not making me weed around tiny little images. I feel your pain girl!
For the regular vinyl decal, I chose the adorable skinny line with an embedded black heart. It felt classy and sophisticated and tame enough that my coworkers wouldn’t stare. I even met a vendor with this mani and felt fine about it. Vinyl decals go right over your dip, under a layer of clear or under top coat. I have found that they can leave splotchy marks on your top coat if you don’t apply activator directly on top of the decal as well, if you don’t top with clear. I haven’t tried not applying activator in this way with my current liquids (Triple Vitamin or Sparkle), but I can say that Revel and Panda both dried foggy over the decal without added activator.
So to clarify if you’re not topping with clear:
1. Dip your normal dip steps.
2. Apply a coat of activator. Clean up the nail and make it smooth.
3. Apply decal to nail like a sticker. It’ll stay. You might want to use tweezers.
4. Apply a second coat of activator.
5. Apply your two layers of top coat after waiting recommended amount of time for your liquids.
If you are topping with clear:
1. Dip your normal dip steps, except for the final full layer.
2. Clean up your nail very very gently to get rid of any large lumps or bumps.
3. Apply your decal like a sticker.
4. Apply a layer of clear over top.
5. Complete your steps as normal- activate, buff and top coat.
The top coat only version works really well for small, dainty decals. Anything larger or anything that isn’t laying completely flat will need a layer of clear over the top. I used it with Zooty No Regrets, and it was amazing how little manipulation it needed. The powders are seriously the finest and easiest I’ve ever used. I didn’t buff. This was two full layers of color over clear and decal applied. No fuss! I wore it an entire week and the top coat held, just make sure to cap the edges.
For the second look, I went hard with a water slide nail wrap. I was a little fearful, but honestly what is failure, besides a learning opportunity? I gave myself lots of time to get it right. I used Sparkle & Co colors here, GRL PWR and Smitten Something Fierce. I’m not sure what was going on, or if I just had an off day, but I had to break out the drill for this one. I had to drill down on a couple fingers, do another layer…it was kind of a mess. The regular dip portion gave me more of a run for my money than the nail wrap did!
Did I mention that the decals and both water slides came with instructions printed on business cards? I thought that was huge, since I’ve received other nail art with not a single instruction given. I mean, if I could FIND the instructions and all of the nail art to use them, that would be swell. I know it’s around here somewhere.
That said, while I know the water slide decal is supposed to adhere to your nail after dunking it in water for 15 seconds or so…I couldn’t get that slippery sucker to stay in place! I cheated and applied a layer of base then put the water slide on top. I’m not going to say I did it the right way, but it worked so glad I had that in my back pocket. It’s not perfect, and I did make a little wrinkle in it when I trimmed it, but how cute did it turn out overall? I topped it with a layer of clear, then activator and top coat x2.
I also want to point out something that was so incredibly apparent when I had them side by side. Two dips of Sparkle powders was thick, y’all. Compared to two dips of Zooty, it was probably double? This speaks to how fine Zooty powders are compared to the norm. I wouldn’t call Sparkle a thick or chalky dip. In fact, it’s pretty par for the dip course, BUT it was just really apparent that there was a difference between the two when everything else was the same. Same Sparkle & Co liquids, same thickness of application, and same number of layers.
I’m about over Valentine’s Day manis now, so get ready for something different! I’m thinking some blues, greens, bright colors and maybe some chromes. What do you guys say? Anything I should try?
P.S. No discounts on Zooty or Decals by Melissa (unless you want to join our off-color group, Dip, Shit & Spoilers and look for the group-specific discounts), but you can use code Melanie15 at Sparkle & Co to get 15% off anything site-wide, besides sub bags. Don’t forget to name a current customer as your referral on your first order and you’ll get $9 in your email as shop credit, or $18 if you sign up for the sub bag!