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Nail Polish Noob: Loose Pigment Nail Colors

Posted Dec 25 2011 12:00am
While I may have over 700 eyeshadow colors in my stash, my nail color collection doesn't even come close. If I were to paint every single fingernail and toenail with a different polish color, I wouldn't have enough colors.

As I was watching a nail tutorial video showing how to apply loose glitter onto nails, it got me thinking; can I do the same with loose pigment eyeshadows? I've heard of people using pigment on nails... hmm...

The method that I used ended up being a tad different though.

Almost all of the nail tutorials using loose pigments involved premixing a clear nail polish with some pigment powder. I wasn't too sure if I wanted to experiment with my one and only bottle of top coat. Alternately, I tried out the loose glitter application method but with loose pigments instead. And it worked!

On top of being able to have many shades of nail colors, I get to utilize those neglected sample baggies of pigments.

You will need:


Top Coat
Small Brush (that you don't mind damaging)*
Loose Pigments (I'm using random mineral pigments)

*The brush doesn't really get damaged but you will get polish stuck to it and have to clean it with polish remover. In other words, I don't want to use this brush on my eyes anymore.

WARNING: This is going to create quite a mess! Lay down your "workstation" with some newspaper


Let's do this!
  1. Work with 1 finger at a time
  2. Apply a thin and even layer of base coat (or top coat as a base coat)
  3. Working very QUICKLY, pat the loose pigment over the base coat. Lightly but firmly press the pigment onto the nail while you allow about one minute for the pigment to set. You can start working on the next nail while you wait
  4. Knock off any excess and apply another thin and even layer of top coat over the pigment
  5. Repeat step #2 & #3 for more opacity
  6. When the pigment settles completely, you'd probably get a rather "textured" finish so you may want to add on another layer of top coat to smooth and for more shine

You're probably wondering... "This is so much work! How is this for Nail Polish Noobs??"
Well, here's why:
  • If you're an NPN, you're probably not so willing to spend much on nail polishes in funky colors. This is a great way to try out all sorts of different colors without committing to a full bottle
  • As messy as the process is, this is going to be one of your neatest application. NPNs tend to get polish on areas besides the nail such as the cuticles, sides of the nails, finger pads, palm, hair, knee, etc. I guess we're just more confident with clear polish rather than colored and the pigment that does get everywhere can be easily washed off with soap and water
  • You don't have to be neat at all when you're patting on the pigments. The base coat would just grab what it could and you can easily knock off the excess
  • Little downtime for drying is required so you gain use of your digits much quicker and not have to walk around with your hands sticking out like a zombie's
The tricky part...
  • You must have very good timing to work with this method ie. quickly! If the base coat dries before you can pat on the pigment, it won't stick
  • Your base coat cannot be too thick or it would grab too much pigment and make the nail color look goopy
  • If you don't knock of enough of the excess pigments, the finish will be "textured"
  • When applying the final top coat, use a thicker layer but you have to be light-handed. Too much pressure may cause the pigment underneath to slide

I did bright cool colors on my left hand. They're all random pigments that I have lying around which I can't remember the names of...

On my right hand, I did earthy warm colors which I wasn't too crazy about... Too boring!

Have fun experimenting!

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