Friday, January 28, 2011

Inque Nail Stickers in Blue Plaid (and my custom-made Inque Nails!)

I bought these on a whim soon after trying out the Sally Hansen Nail Effects: I love the idea of Minx-like nail stickers and with a sale, it was utterly worth it to pick up a handful of Inque nail stickers. ($30 for 5 sets, with free shipping? Pretty awesome when they're $15 per set ordinarily.) I put these on as soon as I got them (which was about a week after I ordered)!

Inque Blue Plaid

The lightbox photos are not particularly good at showing off how GLOSSY these are. It's like vinyl on nails. (If I recall correctly, these are actually vinyl...) This was taken on the fourth day of wear: I do have some scrunching on one finger where it looks like it might be lifting, I didn't do a fabulous job filing off the excess from my pinky and there is one nail that is sporting a white scrape from something or other... but ummm... dude, still glossy, still patterned, still gorgeous. I love them! And so did everyone else I came into contact with. Even one of my male undergrad research assistants thought they were nifty. (It's entirely possible he was sucking up to me for a good grade though.) A typical encounter during my half week of sporting Blue Plaid Inque nails went like this:

[gesturing about something in conversation]

Other Person:
[staring] OH. MY. GOD. Can I see your nails?

[feigning surprise] What? Oh! My nails! Sure. [giving them my hand, much like a lady gives her hand to a gentleman to kiss]

Other Person:
[sticking their face right up to my nails] THEY ARE AMAZING. How did you do it??

[incredulous but informative] Oh no, I didn't do them! I didn't paint them or anything. No, no... I'm not that talented. These are like stickers. I ordered them from a website called Inque. I just stuck them on and set them with a bit of heat.

Other Person:

[thinking: MWAHAHAHAH. Another convert!]

The process seems similar to the one that people who do Minx at home (sans UV light): trim the sticker down to size (it is more important to get the width right than the length), peel off the backing, and stick the sticky side onto your nail. At this point, you can still reposition them on your nail if you have put them on lopsided. When you're happy with the placement, smooth it down firmly until it is totally flat. After that, use a blow-dryer to warm them up as much as you can stand. While they're still warm, really press down on them to get them to adhere properly to your nail. File the excess length off by filing downwards off the free edge of your nail. Inque includes a rough grit emery board but I find that, like Minx, a glass nail file works better, if a little slower.

I didn't get a good before shot of the Blue Plaid stickers before I used them. (That's how excited I was about them. Couldn't even bother to break out the camera.) But here's an "after" photo: my nails are small and short and, with a little effort, I can probably get one more manicure plus one pedicure out of the rest of the sheet. (My toenails are really teeny.)

The longevity I was getting was great as far as I took it, which was only four days. I had done dishes, washed my hair, put it to the nail wear test really and it held on fine. (The only reason I took off the mani after four days was because China Glaze Anchors Away came the same day as the Inque and I couldn't wait any longer to try some of that collection...)

It did get a little loose on the free edge towards the very end but I actually found this useful for removal. I know it's not good for my nails but I pretty much just peeled them off like stickers: warmed up my hands under some hot water and peeled them off slowly. I had a reason for wanting to keep them intact though: my nails are not at all the convenient sizes that Inque provides and I wanted to have a reference for how wide to cut the next set.

Yes, my nails are small. Yes, the unevenness bothers me too. Some of these fit a lot better than others but I figure I'll cut the next set a little wider to begin and try to give myself a better fit the next time around.

The absolute BEST THING about Inque though... YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN CUSTOM NAIL STICKERS! If you have a (high quality) photo of something, IT CAN BE STUCK TO YOUR NAILS. One set of custom nails costs the same as their premade sets and it is totally worth the extra time if you're inclined to design your own nail stickers at all. They don't take much more time to print up either: I made these on a Thursday and they came the following Tuesday!

I do admit though: my desire to make my own nails arose because I was dissatisfied with one of their premade patterns. See, each nail sticker has the same pattern on it:

Inque All American Girl
If I had my choice, I wouldn't really WANT the same paisley pattern on my all my nails. First of all, it makes it far more obvious when I haven't cut out the nail exactly in the same place for each nail: it's the same pattern but off. That kinda drives me nuts. It's okay for something like paisley which has a more complex pattern but I REALLY wanted (simple-looking) candy corn nails! And their candy corn nails were the same bunch of candy corns on every nail. So... I found a high quality picture of candy corn through Google -- and if someone is pissed off at me for using someone else's photo, I am sorry and I can remove the images of the nails I made if it really offends people -- and even though the pattern does repeat some, it does change from nail to nail:

I did use the same photo for all the nails but I used different parts of the photo and rotated the photo so there is variation. This is, however, harder to see because of the way Inque prints custom nails: it prints exactly how you've placed photos into the online application you use to apply graphics to the custom nails. If you click on the photo and look VERY VERY hard, you can see where each nail is cut out of the overall pattern.

Alas, I was not careful and didn't check to see what size my custom nails were going to be printed up as. I accidentally kept it on a smaller size than intended and I can pretty much only get one use out of each sheet. :(

The nail outlines are more obvious on the other ones I made (click on them to see bigger versions):
A rainbow graphic someone made. I believe this was offered as a free desktop or iPad background. I made sure to use large, high resolution graphics when I could: Inque seems to have some pretty nice printers at work and so a small blurry picture will show up exactly as a small blurry picture on the nail stickers they produce. So... use nice pics!

A photo of leaves on a tree. I love green (and yellow) and am mildly obsessed with photos of leaves (New England fall foliage was to die for) so this one was a no-brainer. Whoever took this photo -- and I feel bad for not saving your name somewhere -- it was such a pretty pic!

Another pattern that was offered by a kind artist as a free desktop background. I used this pattern to see if it was better to use artificially-made graphics than a real photo. As far as I recall, this one was pretty razor sharp originally but the fine black lines on white background came out a bit poorly. (Oddly, the fine white lines on black background were great.) I thought these might turn out the best yet they were the most disappointing for me. I think it's because this sort of customization is best put to use with graphics that cannot be approximated through regular nail polish and a great nail artist: this would be hard to reproduce with just nail polish but I can imagine someone doing it (or with very creative and careful use of various Konad stamps).

And I saved my favorite for last:
Nails made from photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope! Space! Stars! Supernovae! On my nails! I've been wanting to use this sort of idea for months. I went as far to buy some waterslide decal paper but my printer is just terrible. All the decals looked SO sad and pixelated. But Inque made my dream come true with their much better printer and nice glossy vinyl paper. :D

Anyway, I am now OBSESSED. I mean, really. I think about what I want to make into nails ALL THE TIME now. My next order will undoubtedly feature this lil guy:

The SO is playing a lot of Little Big Planet 2 lately. And I want to make him some nail stickers for his big toes. (I offered to do his toes in the blue plaid design but he's kinda skittish about blatant nail art... he's let me do some simple Konad patterns before but apparently, plaid is crossing a line!)

In the interest of full disclosure: I have done some talking to the folks at Inque Nails but I did not receive any of these nail sets for free to review. In fact, I didn't contact them until after my first order (pre-made). (After I put on the Blue Plaid, I may have written a super gushy fangirl email...) And there wasn't that much communication until after my second order (custom-made). But I had to start bugging them because... I had a couple of ideas.

I won't say much about those ideas for the moment because I haven't hashed out all the details with Inque or with the other members of Polish or Perish yet... let's just say that I might have to spend some time learning about what images found online can be used commercially AND that there may be a new contest at Polish or Perish very soon! XD