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Going Gray

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I’m all about going unconventional with your nail polish—when there's so much to choose from, why stick to something so expected? But because there are times when rainbow bright or glittering nails aren’t entirely dress-code appropriate, you sometimes have to find ways to funk up your fingers while still maintaining a subtle and sophisticated profile. Perhaps inspired by the impending fewer hours of sunlight, my hopeful wishes for a not-quite-winter snow, or the recent bevy of articles regarding unbelievable hottie Jamie Dornan and his 50 Shades of smoldering looks, my latest tryst with post-modern manicures is all about the grayscale.

Warning: This manicure is not as easy as it looks—it demands patience. Be prepared for some less-than-ideal thickness levels and a bit of a mess, but we’re all in this together, right?

  1. Prep and prime is always number one. Make your canvas as clean and even as possible with your file, buffer, and moisturizer/ oil.

  2. Base coat : I’ve recently been addicted to Jin Soon’s Power Coat because it strengthens my naturally weak nails and prevents unattractive, I-don’t-care-that-it’s-dishabille-trendy, chipping and peeling.

  3. Start by applying two thin coats of black on one pinky for an opaque finish. Essie is my golden goddess when it comes to nail polish and I've always found that Licorice is one of the best, long lasting blacks out there.

  4. Now this is where things get messy. Start mixing. Have a tray—an old CD case (who needs those anymore?), a disposable plate, a few pieces of paper, etc.—to mix your polishes (one black, one white). In order to keep your new vernis fresh, several smaller mixes work better than one giant glop of drying paint. Put a few drops of black onto the dish with two or three spots of Essie's Blanc and begin swirling. I’ve found, in order to keep my mixing colors pure, it’s best to use the brush from an old polish that’s too thick to use anymore, or just one that you don’t like. Once your two shades are combined, go ahead and paint your ring finger!

  5. Repeat the previous step eight more times, increasing the white-to-black ratio incrementally with each finger.

Tip: Because you will be the opening and closing your polish bottles several times, the paint can get thick pretty quickly. Make sure you put the top back on between each mix, and shake the bottles before you begin mixing a new gray. If your application brush gets dense and messy, try carefully swiping a nail polish removing cotton cloth over the brush after a few fingers to refresh it.

  1. Clean up the mistakes! (And there are bound to be mistakes.) Even the most professional hand makes an errant mark here and there. My favorite tool is an orange stick wrapped with a bit of cotton on its end, which I dip into nail polish remover and then, with the utmost precision, swipe away any unwanted streaks.

  2. Top coat! Seal the deal with your topcoat of choice. If you’ve found one that works for you, go for it (I’d love to hear your suggestions!), but I’ve always been a fan of Jin Soon’s Top Gloss for its high shine finish.

  3. Take photos, upload, share, and show us your best work!

—Elizabeth Brockway

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