Welp, finally done did it. Full on rhinestones, no mucking about. Maya sent in a request a few weeks ago for a tutorial on how to do the full-cover bling nails, so I went for it with the first round of colors from a new wheel (for the record, it took about 2/3 of one of those wheel pockets to cover); turns out the colors were very Irish! You’ll also note that one of the yellows snuck into the bed of gold stones, so that’s a fun little accident that hopefully only I notice in real life.
These are actually pretty easy, aside from being time consuming. I used clear polish for this, but you can use any color that will work for you; if you’re not packing them really tightly together just pull something that’s a little matchy (or not!) with your stone color.
THE step (because it’s really one, done over and over): put a stripe of polish down on your nail and then start dropping rhinestones into that wet polish to set them. Try to find a polish that doesn’t dry really fast, you’re going to need that time (I used some of the last of my CND Super Shiny Topcoat, because it’s down to the bottom and cloudy as heck/not really good for much else at this point). I start with a swipe down the middle so I can build the rest of the nail up around that line:
Start with the tip of your nail when creating the rows. On the pinky I started at the base of my nail and got into all sorts of trouble with gaps once I got to the tip — working in reverse is way easier to deal with and keeps your tips from being super snag-able.
Some folks are dextrous enough to use tweezers to pick up and place the stones (there are even tools specifically made for this) — I’m not. I’ll normally use the tip of a dotting tool to pick up the rhinestone and place it in the wet polish, but you can use whatever you’re comfortable with: orangewood stick, toothpick, even just the tip of your finger. If you get the tip of any of those wet it’ll pick up the stone, but as you get going whatever tool you’ve got will start picking up some polish too, which makes it even easier to grab a jewel. The dotting tool is also helpful for pushing the stones into place so you get a straight line — they’re pretty easy to play with when the polish is still wet.
Once you’ve got that first row down, and have probably used a little time to adjust the alignment, you’ll start building up rows next to it. My first swipe of polish is usually pretty dry by this point, so I’ll swipe another round of polish on whatever side I’m working on; build it up with polish (which will also leak into your control line, locking that down a little more) and start placing stones again. In all, each nail gets about 5 swacks of polish: the one in the middle, the left side next to the middle once to build up another two rows, another next to that to finish that side with two more rows and get right up against the nail bed, and then the same repeated on the right side.
Each one took maybe 10 minutes all said and done… If you’ve got enough polish at the base that you feel confident they’ll stay in place, go for it!
Or, you can cover it all up with more polish to lock it in a little better.
Honestly either texture was alright; rhinestones sometimes drive me nuts because they’re these big bumpy things on your nails, but something about having them all packed together feels less alien and more like nail armor. That shines like crazy. And the nice part about doing this vs. using one of those rhinestone nail transfers you see in the store is that a) it doesn’t cost you $10 (you can get thousands of these rhinestones for that much) and b) it’s “custom fit” to your nails, so the stones aren’t going to stop/start in weird places or leave patches on the sides of your nails. Sure, it’ll take a little longer, but c’mon, those look ridiculous and are kind of worth it.
Don’t know where to get the stones? Easy peasy — here’s a link to the ones I just bought off of Amazon from Cheeky. I have and use the Bundle Monster ones too, but I will say this for Cheeky: when I got the BM stones in they were all muddled together so that each pot had like 3 different types and colors (at least!) in them, whereas the Cheeky wheels were packaged in a tight enough wheel assembly that the wheel contents didn’t knock around and self-mix at all. And $16 for 15,000 rhinestones is a pretty good deal. MASH has a bunch of options too if you just want to start with one wheel instead of a whole collection.