Watched Ingrid’s tutorial.
Pretty much died and embarked on an unyielding Joan of Arc-ian quest to recreate this for my paws.
Being a leopard-print lover (Stephen Sprouse stole, I yearn for you) and general ailurophile, I wasted no time in sniffing out the perfect leopard decals (read: dropped all my shit and made a beeline for Priceline in search of Sally Hansen nail strips because there are no comparable brands available in Aus yet, AFAIK), and I am so pleased to share with all you lacquerized ladies – and gents! – my super-easy Hanna Marin inspired leopard mani.
For both hands, I used one coat of Orly Bonder Base Coat, two coats of OPI’s Cajun Shrimp, five individual strips of Sally Hansen Salon Effects in 320 Kitty, Kitty and two coats of INM Out The Door Top Coat.
Now I’ve never sat through an episode of PLL and am quite certain the whole premise will never float this Titanic boat, but if the stylists are going to continue churning out fierce manicures such as these, then I’m all for the trendy tips, and the Katy Perrys and Nicki Minajs of the world can eat shat! (Did y’all get that? Shat-ter. They can go and eat their Shatter. I know I know, my wit is three layers deep and my maturity in exponential decline)
Let’s chat about Cajun Shrimp. Ingrid regularly raves about this feisty coral-red creme on her channel and employs it in her Hanna Marin tutorial.
I am ashamed to admit I have had a bottle of Cajun Shrimp sitting in my drawer for well over a year and I never gave it a chance to see the light of day until now. For this recreation, I had contemplated using other reds in my collection, but saw no real reason to begrudge Cajun Shrimp of precious tip-time, and oh my mittens, I am so happy I ended up sampling its wares. This was love at first swipe. It catapulted into my favourites category in the space of a millisecond, and all because it is a super-rich, densely pigmented, baby-butt smooth polish that is the purrfect coral. Throw out your coral mimickers, this girl right here holds just the right amount of orange in its base to level out the too-red/too-pink seesaw that many coral polishes teeter around. Opaque in one coat, fast dry-time, a pliable signature Prowide brush and an evenly consistent formula with no bubbling/dragging/streaky issues whatsoever, and I am sold ten times over. It is a most flattering, bright and happy shade that amazingly complements warm and cool skin tones alike; and, despite being a spicy hot coral, Cajun Shrimp is somehow soft and lends a feminine sophistication to the overall nail. The quality of the polish is exceptional and I can see myself wearing this all year around, it’s just that versatile. This is a mainstay in OPI’s permanent line and therefore widely accessible to all. I simply cannot stress this enough: if you are a self-respecting nail polish collector, you must have this in your collection now!
And now for the exciting part of the post – my first foray into nail polish strips and Sally Hansen products! (FYI Ingrid uses Sephora strips)
I do not have an artistic bone in my body (Draw Something is as thought-provoking as it’s ever going to get for me), and there was just no way I could muster the effort to attack my nails with what would only be a botched attempt at leopard spots. They say leopard spots are the easiest to master, but honestly, I’m going to leave it to the nail strips, they know what they’re doing. Overall, I am not very fond of nail art because they are generally tacky (Advice To My 15 Year Old Self: Do not freehand tiny white paw prints on black-polished thumbs; this is contrived), but I do appreciate the few manis that are done well (see here – Oooh! The nerd in me is squealing at the ingenuity of Ishihara plates on nails). I particularly like the random clipping of the leopard spots at the tip of the nail where the strip is filed off – see how the print cuts off differently on each nail, leaving variable parts of the leopard spot at the tip? It gives a much more “natural” and effortless look, boosted by a convenient and easy application. I also enjoy accenting just a few of my nails with these strips instead of all ten digits as that would definitely be overkill and nobody likes tramp stamps. The strips purport to last up to 10 days, and it’s dawning on day three now, so I’ll update in a week to verify its claims.
As you can see from my awkwardly positioned hands, I alternated the strips on my left (index and ring) and right (thumb, middle and pinkie) hands, just as Ingrid did. However, I prefer Hanna’s original look where the leopard nail accents are asymmetrical with only two nails leopardized on each hand.
The compact Sally Hansen box comes with instructions, a cuticle stick, a mini buffer and filer, and 16 strips of all shapes and sizes (split into two blister packets). The instructions are easy enough to follow, but I do think SH PR neglected to mention a few very important things:
- You must reseal any unused strips in the blister packet as they will dry out (I lost a strip in my room and when I picked it up a day later, it flaked on me!)
- Apply a top coat to bond the strip to the nail for longer wear
- These ultra long strips can be trimmed to size, and even cut in half for thriftier use
I realized this third point all too late as I was eager to use up just one blister packet and not risk drying out two, so I had a limited amount of sizes to choose from. I made do with what I had for the right hand, and unfortunately they all sat slightly larger at my nail bed (with the exception of my pinkie as I had trimmed that final strip to size). This wasn’t an immediate problem, but after a few hours, the strip began fluting with a rigid edge at the base that was threatening to rip off. I gently removed the edge lifts with my fingernails (the polish on the strips can stretch over the nail, and with enough careful pulling/overstretching, they can tear off neatly. Alternatively, you can use polish remover. By the same token, don’t be too rough with the strips either when applying), and filled in the missing areas with OPI’s Glitzerland which proved to be an exact match to the pale gold shimmer polish on the strip (note: the photos here were taken prior to troubleshooting with Glitzerland). The lesson learnt for next time is to ensure perfect coverage over the nail that is not too large nor too small; and, resizing the strips with scissors is definitely going to make life easier!
The strips are 3-Free, and retail for ~$15 at Priceline.
I am so excited about this mani, and have a whole blister packet left to play with! I’m thinking they will go marvellously with a sunny yellow nail polish or a juicy orange next! Maybe even a minty green or a sky blue! What do you think?
Stay cool, cool cats! xd
UPDATE: This truly lasts 10 days and beyond, both the strips and Cajun Shrimp. I’m happy to report there was only minor tip wear, although I did show considerable nail growth as my nails tend to grow quite fast. However, it still looked great and remained chip-free for almost a fortnight. I’m mostly surprised at how well Cajun Shrimp wore, considering the strips should have outlasted regular nail polish. Is it the new top coat I’m using? INM…the qualitative trial continues.