Micro-beads are the latest trend in textured nail art. Read our review of budget beauty brand MUA's Nail Constellations and follow our step-by-step guide to achieving the look!
For months beauty writers have been raving about 'Nail Caviar' and posting photos of this 3D micro-bead nail effect all over the bloggersphere. I've been meaning to try it for a while but only after seeing how amazing it looked on a friend was I finally spurred into actually trying it.
Ciaté were the pioneer's of this 3D nail effect and coined the term 'Nail Caviar' but being a high-end nail brand their kits cost an eye-watering £18. Thankfully, there are now a few affordable alternatives available on the high street and cheap-as-chips non-branded versions on Ebay.
As it's Frugal February here at MF HQ, I thought I'd try one of the cheapest versions on the high street - MUA Nail Constellations at £3 a bottle. The Nail Constellations range consists of five bottles of different metallic coloured micro-beads. In keeping with the space theme they're all named after star signs - Scorpio, Pisces, Leo, Gemini and Libra. I went for Pisces, a very pretty turquoise, pink and cream combo. Each bottle of micro-beads comes with a detachable funnel a bit like a mini baster but without the suction - so unfortunately you can't control how many beads come out.
I read the basic instructions provided and watched MUA's Online Video Tutorial to prepare then settled into the sofa and followed these steps...
1. I prepped my nails with a base coat then painted each nail with a thin coat of MUA's Nail Polish in 5, a mint green shade to match the micro-beads. I then applied a second thicker coat to my thumb nail and whilst still wet poured the beads onto it until it was fully covered, rotating my thumb to get the sides. As recommended by bloggers, I also placed a small bowl underneath to catch and re-use all the excess.
2. It looked disturbingly messy at first but after using a cuticle stick to gently flatten and spread the beads out it instantly looked neater. I repeated this process one-by-one on each nail but I found it almost impossibe to apply the beads to my right hand (due to an incredibly shaky left hand) so instead of the funnel, I used a teaspoon to carefully pour the excess micro-beads from the bowl onto the nails.
3. Once I was happy with the shape of the micro-beads on every nail, I applied a top coat. I intended to apply just a thin layer but it ended up quite thick which unfortunately dulled the colour a bit. I read that in order to retain the vividness of the beads some people prefer to go without topcoat but as I had applied a fairly dense layer of micro-beads I felt they needed to be 'secured' so ended up going a bit overboard.
4. I then unscrewed the funnel, turned it upside down and poured all the excess micro-beads back into the bottle. There was roughly 3/4 left so I've got a good few applications left.
5. The only thing left to do after that was wait. Then wait some more. Then go to sleep. It took an absolute age to dry! I applied them at 8pm and by 11pm they were still tacky and I was able to nudge the beads around (this did mean I was able to continue to shape them to perfection). It was only in the morning that they were completely dry.
The 45 minute process was a tad fiddly but in fairness it wasn't anywhere near as difficult as I'd imagined and the overall look was definitely worth the effort. The 3D beaded effect coupled with the pastel colours looked great and I even got a few compliments from fellow commuters and random House of Fraser sales assistants.
Within the 48 hour period I had them on I only lost a few beads around the tips and edges - no major loss. I could of kept them on for longer but where I blend my concealer with my fingertips some of the cream beads got stained with concealer. Looking a bit grubby, I took them off with nail varnish remover and they left my nails feeling a bit weak. Nothing a bit of nail cream and a coat of strengthener can't fix but it did put me off from wearing the micro-beads again for longer than a day or two.
I haven't tried any other micro-beads so I can't compare but I'd definitely recommend MUA Constellations to both newbies and nail pros. They look impressive, are long-lasting and fantastic value for money. For me, the process and drying time is far too long for every day wear - plus I want to avoid weakening my already fragile nails - but I'd definitely do it again for a special occassion.