Here it is, finally! The Pigment Tutorial!
For our purposes, pigment is a dry coloring material that can change the color or texture or a nail polish. Some pigment is loose, and some is pressed (think loose eyeshadow vs. the kind in the compact.) Pigment can make a drastic change in the color of a nail polish.
First, some pigments:
TKB Trading Yellow 5, MAC, Fyrinnae. Pigments come in jars, tubes, and plastic bags. I really recommend putting them in screw-top jars or shakers like spices come in. Mineral makeup is not the same as pigment but sometimes produces good results but generally doesn’t pack enough color opacity to be really fantastic. More on that later.
Pressed eyeshadows can also be a good source of pigment. Creams are out- only powder will work, and the drier the texture, the better. They don’t have to be expensive, but do watch out for the Chinese ones. Shown above is the “Manly 120 Colour Palette” that I bought online from a seller in Hong Kong. Many Chinese cosmetics have not been tested or approved for use outside China and there can be some nasty stuff lurking in them. These made me itch when I wore them on my eyes. Buyer beware.
However, there is one type of pigment that you should NEVER be putting on your body.
Artists pigment. This is intended to be mixed with paint and never for use on human skin, nails, etc. Let me say it again: DO NOT PUT ARTIST PIGMENTS ON YOUR BODY OR MIX THEM WITH MAKEUP. While artists pigments have an amazing color payoff, are incredibly vivid, and dirt cheap compared to cosmetic pigments, they are generally very poisonous. Many contain lead, cadmium, arsenic and other unpleasant stuff. If you have any doubt about whether a pigment is safe for cosmetic use, don’t use it. Pigments will usually say “Approved for cosmetic use” or something along those lines. Pigments sold by cosmetic companies, eyeshadows, etc. or pigments intended to be used on the face should be OK for nails.
So, if you’ve got your non-toxic pigment, what else do you need?
A little teeny spoon (I got this at a Japanese coffee shop) and silicone baking tins. These are great for mixing polishes. After the polish dries, just flip the cup inside out and it will all pop out in one big piece- no need to clean with acetone or remover. Silicone doesn’t react with polish either, but certain kinds of plastic cups will often melt or turn gooey in contact with nail polish. If you can’t find silicone baking cups, try an artist’s palette. But the silicone baking cups are worth getting if at all possible.
Last, you need a spare bottle of clear nail polish. It can be cheap- you just need the brush and maybe a few drops of polish now and again.
The most basic pigment mixing is with clear polish. But it’s good to check the pigment opacity before mixing away. Some pigments will produce a polish that’s opaque in one coat and some will only tint the polish. I recommend swatching a little bit on the skin first to get an idea of the opacity. The more opaque on the skin, the more opaque the polish will be.
Left to right: MAC Teal, Fyrinnae Aztec Gold, Fyrinnae Boytoy, MAC Green Brown. It’s difficult to tell the opacity or finish in the jar, so take a moment to swatch them. Some will also be more matte than others.
Next, get ready to mix! For the first part of this tutorial, we’ll start with clear polish. I get the best results from mixing sheers with pigment, but this can be a little more tricky, so let’s start with clear. I’m going to make a dirty khaki nail polish with Fyrinnae Aztec Gold.
1. Put in one spoonful of pigment (about the size of a pea) in your silicone baking cup. Use a tiny measuring spoon or a plastic stirrer spoon. Don’t forget to wipe your spoon off with a tissue.
2. Drip in some clear polish. Just hold the brush over and let it drip, about 20 drops, swirling the pigment and the polish together. Your clear polish will get muddy with pigment over time, so use a cheap clear polish. If you’re a seasoned pro, you can just pour the polish in.
3. Keep swirling away until the polish is mixed with the pigment. It will generally be a little thicker than regular polish. Add more clear polish if you want a thinner mixture.
Voila! It dries fast, so paint it on your nails ASAP. I’ll talk about how to make a bottle of pigment polish later, but in truth, I rarely make a whole bottle. I usually just make enough for one manicure. I get bored with color easily, so a whole bottle of one color is a waste for me. Also, pigments tend to sink the bottom of the bottle and can get glunky. But onward to the finished mani (that I just smudged, whoops).
Here’s one coat (over the bright yellow I had on before!) It comes out in a satin finish, not matte but not shiny.
With a coat of Seche.
Well, there’s Part 1 for you…next time I’m going to talk about eyeshadows and adding pigment to color polish. Have fun!