This line of transforming topcoats are a lot of fun, but kind of tricky to apply! Here's some help from your friendly neighborhood polish addict who just spent a weekend experimenting (not with acid ... but with polish!)
Sinful Colors just released this line of topcoats which they call "Punk Yourself" Hypnotic Transforming topcoats. To me they look like marbling, bubbles, or that hairspray technique you may be familiar with. Also kind of reminds me of those swirly printing patterns everyone was doing in the 60s, on paper, on fabric, on the screen. It also seems to work on the same principal as crackle topcoats - it goes on to a base of regular polish and then reacts with it, pulling away to create the pattern. They look really cool when they're done right, and some bloggers/vloggers/polish enthusiasts have already done some really amazing things with them!
Too bad they're really difficult to get to work. I wouldn't recommend these to just anyone - you have to have a lot of free time and dedication and already be very good at general polish application (*salute*) if not expert to use these, and even then you will need practice. You'll see why in a minute. You can't just throw on the base coat, throw these over top, and sit back while it magically becomes something gorgeous - it takes work! However, there's something satisfying about working at it and bringing out the best in this topcoat, not to mention experimenting with colors! Just know what you're getting into before you start.
|Some of my earlier work|
Tip #1: Get a swatch wheel (or spoons etc) and PRACTICE.
I can't see working with these polishes without a LOT of practice on some sort of fake nails. Doing it on your own nails would be too frustrating and take too long (not to mention be uncomfortable and probably not great for your nail health) to redo all 10 nails over and over. It's not just putting the polish over another polish, or else you could use anything really - you need to be able to practice your strokes, because finding that happy medium of amount of polish and evenness of application is essential to making the effect work, and once you get in a groove, it's much easier to get it right on your own nails.
This is rather unfortunate, because ordinarily swatch wheels (or spoons) are pretty expensive in stores, and I went through at least 10 wheels before I was done experimenting and practicing. Luckily I had a large stash of them that I ordered from Asia via Amazon, which is the only real cost effective way to do it. However, the catch with anything from Asia is it takes like a month to arrive - not good if you really want to try these topcoats this season! So, unfortunately, if you have the money, you WILL need to shell out for swatch wheels from your beauty supply store - you will thank me for the avoided aggravation.
Tip #2: Base coat must be WET. Very wet.
I don't usually believe it when polishes say "Apply over wet nails." Psh, right ... I've tried lots of topcoats that SAY they work best over wet nails, but it either worked better dry or actually messed up my base coat and/or spoiled the effect it was meant to do. So I tried the Hypnotics over dry polish like usual. Nothing, but sometimes a little blip of bubbling. I wasted a couple wheels before I figured out the problem: it doesn't work over dry nails, basically at all.
Then I experimented with how dry, how long after throwing on the base coat to put the top coat on: basically the sooner the better. Then again, wet polish tends to get dragged up by the brush, which is why we wait between 1st and 2nd coats normally - this is a factor with the Hypnotics, but at the same time, the "marbling" effect is what you want. I found however I like to let it dry a 1-2 seconds - but no more! - before applying the topcoat; this allows the base color to set just a teeny bit, so that you aren't dragging through it too much with the Hypnotic brush so that it becomes lumpy or patchy. This is basically how long it takes to put your base color brush back in the bottle, pick up the Hypnotic one, and adjust the amount of polish on the brush, so it works out well!
Bottom line, you cannot let the polish dry for more than about 5 seconds - if it's gone that long, the marbling won't work or will be patchy.
Tip #3: Set up your open base color, open Hypnotic topcoat, AND a napkin to clean off the brush.
Since your base needs to be nice and wet, a good procedure is to have both open and ready to go, with the brush resting IN the bottle, of course.
You will also need a napkin, paper towel, tissue, etc. nearby in case you get any of the base color on your Hypnotic brush after application - I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing it can't be good to get too much regular polish mixed in with your Hypnotic topcoat; considering the chemical reaction involved, I would guess it would stop working if you got too much foreign polish in the topcoat. Especially when experimenting, you'll probably end up getting them mixed together a bit on the topcoat brush, and so you'll want to quickly wipe or dab off the brush before putting it back in the bottle.
Tip #4: Get in the groove of a few quick, smooth strokes and a moderate amount of polish on the brush.
There's no good rule for how much Hypnotic topcoat to have on your brush - you just have to experiment and practice. I tried a lot, I tried a bare minimum, and it seems to be somewhere in the middle, erring on the side of less - I'd call it a small to moderate amount. Too much and it doesn't work at all. Too little and it bubbles some, but looks patchy and the brush tears up the base color. If you're looking for more of that "60s marbling" effect where the polish swirls somewhat, wipe more off the brush than if you're wanting more of the "hair spray mottling" effect - but the difference between the two is very subtle. This is where practice comes in.
You also have to have polish skillz handling the brush - most people who are total addicts like me have had years of practice, and that should be good. But this isn't for a beginner. You'll have to practice this too, but I find what works best is the fewest strokes you can use to cover your whole nail, which are quick but smooth, in a nice straight line from end to end, trying as much as possible not to go over areas you've already painted. If you get too much polish in one spot, you CAN sort of go over it once more to spread it out if you're very quick, but it's better not to, because it will spoil the mottling. And then there's your opposite hand ... I had more problems, obviously, getting my (being right-handed) left hand to look good, but doing your opposite hand well just comes with years of experience and practice anyway, and even then it's MUCH harder to do the Hypnotic topcoat on it.
Tip #5: It works somewhat better over a Sinful Colors base color.
I started my experiments with the darker ones (Rebel Rebel and Redrum) over my go-to white: Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear White Out, and the lighter one (Purpunk) over Sinful Colors Mauvelous (cause couldn't find my Sinful Colors black! x.x). I noticed Purpunk bubbled somewhat better than the other two, and decided to try the darker ones over Sinful Colors Cool Credit instead - this improved the mottling effect, not dramatically but noticeably. I noticed the "bubbles" were larger, and it was a little quicker to take effect. So if you're having a lot of problems, I'd suggest switching your base color to Sinful Colors; why not stack the odds in your favor!
However, I did my above mani over L'Oreal, so it DOES work over other brands - again, you'll just have to experiment. I'd recommend experimenting each of your combinations on a swatch nail first before putting them on your nails, to make sure the brands play nice. Different finishes could be a factor too - I only tried creams, but I'm guessing the different drying times and consistencies of things like shimmers, metallics, glitters etc. might affect how easy it is to apply. I'd suggest do a creme first, then experiment!
Tip #6: Each color is different.
I bought 3 of the 5 Hypnotics on my last trip to Walgreens. (They are Walgreens exclusives.) Rebel Rebel was my #1 choice, both for the rich navy/purple and the Bowie reference. Redrum was my other must-have because of the horror connotations, and I enjoy that Sinful Colors periwinkle and wanted a lighter color, so I also picked up Purpunk. There's also Punk the Town, a rich fuschia, and Concrete Jungle, gray.
I was kind of surprised how different the effect was between them! Rebel Rebel (ironically) worked like a dream, and made the largest "bubbles" of all of them, and even worked a little over the drier swatch nails I was doing at the beginning. Purpunk took a little more coaxing, but did some really cool things over the darker color, and seemed to "swirl" more. Redrum was stubborn ... I can't get it to do more than an anemic fizzle, even over Sinful Colors, and even using a very little amount of polish on the brush.
Redrum was disappointed to me, because I really wanted more of the effect of Rebel Rebel in order to make it look like blood for my frequent horror-esque manis. I'll probably buy the other two though - the other 2 work well enough to make me want to try more colors. In fact, I wish there were more and brighter colors (for instance I wish there was a bright orange).
Tip #7: You get a different effect with different layers.
One thing I noticed is your colors mix differently depending on how you layer them. For my practice manis, I did a lot of light colors as the base so I could really see the marbling of the darker ones. But with Purpunk I noticed the cool swirling effect that happens from combining a quick one coat of base and the Hypnotic; it marbles with the "bare nail" visible as well, especially if you wipe more of the topcoat off the brush, and/or apply it to a wetter base. (Plus Purpunk seemed a little more prone to swirly patterns rather than larger bubbles.)
On the other hand (no pun intended), for my actual manicure, I didn't want any of the base showing, so I did one coat of the base color, let that dry, then did a 2nd coat of base color to put the Hypnotic topcoat over - that produced the effect shown here, where there is no "bare nail" showing beneath either.
It occurs to me that you could use this to your advantage and do three layers: a base color that you let dry of one color (so that it won't tear up or marble), then another creme/base color over that (which you want to marble), and then immediately the Hypnotic. This is the next effect I want to try!
Also, I wonder what happens if you do a dry base creme, then apply one Hypnotic, and immediately another over it? That's more chemistry than I could figure out beforehand, but it'll be fun to experiment!
The good news is after allowing reasonable dry time, my topcoat went on like a dream and didn't damage the marbling in the slightest - I almost always use Pure Ice Girl on the Run quick-dry topcoat (the only time I don't is to layer Seche Vite over rough glitters). The Hypnotic topcoat dries pretty quick to begin with so I don't anticipate having problems with any topcoat.
Finally, my manicure uses L'Oreal Pink Me Up, my absolute favorite pink of all time. As you can see, it works really well both in coloring and bubbling with Rebel Rebel!
Anyway, I hope all of this was helpful to you to avoid some of the hair-tearing and cursing and make your experimentation more fun. It's a lot of work, but I had fun doing it - for polish addicts, it's probably more of a labor of love! I look forward to more psychedelic experiments - you know what I mean - in the future.