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    How To Do Tortoiseshell Nails

    1st February 2021

    This is a real trend of the moment and you can see why! When tortoiseshell nails are done well, they look stunning. It is such a lavish nail design which suits any time of year and any occasion!

    The best thing about it is, its not that difficult to achieve! There are many different ways of doing tortoiseshell nail designs, some are more intricate and fiddly than others.

    I have chosen a really user friendly method which doesn’t require a lot of specific tools or colours and definitely doesn’t require a massive amount of nail skill, it can certainly be tried at home!

    So, use my tutorial below and get your lockdown tortoiseshell nails out…

    What You'll Need...

    • Yellow Gel Colour
    • Dark Red/Brownish Red Gel Colour
    • Clear Top Coat
    • Clear Base Coat or Blooming Gel
    • Black Gel Colour
    • Dotting Tool
    • UV or LED Lamp
    • Gold Leaf or Glitter (optional)

    Place dots of your yellow gel, dark red/red brown gel and clear top coat onto a cleanable surface – I have used a small piece of metal, you could use a small plate or some tin foil (just make sure its flat).

    Mix the yellow and brown/red to achieve an orangey hue similar to that above. There are no hard and fast rules for this as to which tone you create. To achieve the colour I have used, I used 3 parts yellow to 1 part brown. Then mix with the quite a lot of the clear top coat, this will create a clear/glass type colour.

    Paint the nail – I recommend using a clear tip or a clear press on if you are using false nails – with 2 or 3 coats, depending upon the colour and consistency you have created and cure under the UV or LED light for whatever the recommended time is for your lamp. I have used 3 coats on this nail.

    Cover the nail with a medium coat of base coat, it is important there is enough base coat for the gel colour to bloom on top, but you don’t want too much or it will run out of control. DO NOT CURE!

    Collect a small dot of the red/brown gel colour onto the end of your dotting tool and place it on the nail. The pattern of this is totally up to you, I just googled some tortoiseshell and copied the general smattering (amazing word) of dots. Allow this to settle for a minute, you will notice the colour spreads and blooms.

    This is what it should look like at this stage. I always feel it sort of looks like a giraffe pattern! So feel free to stop here and rock some giraffe print if that’s your thing! If it hasn’t quite “bloomed” enough, remove the colour and the base coat, add a bit more base coat and try again.

    Cure the bloomed red/brown gel for however long is recommended for your gel lamp. Then add another layer of base coat or blooming gel, the same amount as you did last time.

    Next, you simply repeat what you did with the red/brown gel, but with black. So get a small dot of black on your (cleaned) dotting tool, and place it over the red/brown spots. I tend to focus on one side of the red/brown dots, as in tortoiseshell the black is often more concentrated to one area.

    Allow this to “bloom” again and it should look something like this. The black gel will spread out to fill about 80% of the red/brown dot area, but it will leave a subtle but effective halo around the edges where you can see the colour underneath. This is the vital effect which makes tortoiseshell. The depth and layers are vital. Now cure!

    Using what is left of the original base colour (where you mixed the yellow and red/brown), cover with a medium coat and cure once more. If you had quite heavy colour in your original base colour, mix it with more clear top coat for this step, as it is just supposed to act as a slight buffer, it is not supposed to cover the pattern.

    This is the finished article! Some people like to go even further and paint on top of this. It looks great with gold or silver metallic, so try a spider gel or some gold leaf (as I do next). Some people like to paint hearts or colours on top of this. Tortoiseshell nails look amazing with baby pink!

    Optional additional step: add some gold leaf! There was no plan for this, I purely put another layer of top coat on and added some little specs of gold leaf into whatever pattern I fancied! It does look lovely and lavish so feel free to have a go! Check out my other blogs for nail ideas and tutorials!

    Lots of love,
    S&G x

    Lots of love, S&G x