MAKING MAGIC WITH FAIRY DUST
This is where the magic starts to happen, but it's also where different schools of thought come into play. When I began doing glitter tattoos, I read a lot about many different methods for applying the glue, and applying and finishing the glitter. This next part is my own personal style, based on experimentation and experience.
Body glues are pretty potent, and that means two things: you have to move fast, and they can make a mess. The best method I have found to combat both problems from the start are the "lip-gloss" style applicators. You never need to clean the application swab, and you avoid the extra work of dipping a brush into a bottle. Either way, quickly apply the glue to the open areas of the design, being careful to not get outside the edges of the stencil border. The "small" size stencils offered here can usually be glue-coated in one step, the larger sizes will probably need to be done in stages.
A little side-track here, but when I was first learning this craft, I read in quite a few places that you should let the glue dry for a short while and "tack up" for better adhesion. I'm going to disagree with that idea. The nature of this type of glue is to be immediately adhesive, and every second it dries it loses that adhesion. The quicker you can get glitter or mica into the glue, the more glitter or mica is going to stick. And that makes for a denser layer of glitter and a longer-lasting tattoo. The glue goes on in a very smooth coat; I have yet to see any instances of gliiter or even mica "globbing up" to ruin the surface of the tattoo.
Now, on to the fairy dust! This is probably the part that causes the most concern. Poof? Pour? Be extra careful and not make a mess? Slap it on and make it fast? Really, it's the middle ground that gives you the best results. Poofing is conservative, but poofing is actually spraying glitter into the air, with less than half of it landing on the glue surface. Plus, our "work fast" concept goes out the window because of the time poofing takes. Pouring tends to ultimately use a bit more glitter, but the economics involved will justify a little spillage in the cause of good tattooing. (Okay, you'll probably use less than 2 cents worth of glitter either way.) Pouring is a bit difficult with most poof bottles, because the hole in the tip is too small. You can try widening the opening with a pin or something else pointy, but slicing off a TINY, TINY bit of the tip with an Xacto knife or other razor cutter is cleaner and won't lead to clogging later on. You want the glitter to pour slowly out of the bottle, but pour freely.
With a surface that's pretty much horizontal, you can start drizzling a little glitter in a spiral from the inside of the image to the outside. If you cover about half of the open area, that should give you enough glitter to work with. I use the tip of my finger to spread the glitter into the rest of the image area. Use a stiff cosmetic brush to tamp the glitter into the glue, then gently brush away the excess. If you find that you've missed spots, just apply the glue again to the missed spots and glitter them. For less horizontal surfaces, you CAN try poofing, but I've used a technique that can save time trouble and glitter. Lay the back of your index finger at the bottom of the image, and SLOWLY pour glitter into the image right above the finger. Start working the finger upward, pushing the glitter as you go. For other tricky areas, you might have to resort to poofing.
Once you're brushed the excess glitter away, catch a corner of the stencil and pull it up. Go a little slowly, and the entire outside of the stencil should come up in one piece. For designs that have interior pieces that aren't attached to the rest of the stencil, I use the tip of a round wooden toothpick to lift those pieces off. Remember that alcohol swab that you put aside? Use it to clean up any spots where the glue and glitter have strayed outside the stencil.
By the way, I've been asked a lot lately about this method of using a toothpick to remove detached pieces; more specifically, what KIND of toothpick. You can get round wooden toothpicks in the picnic section of almost every grocery store. (I favor white birch picks from Maine, which aren't that hard to find.) I do something to them however that might seem a little scary, but it's perfectly safe. I use an emery board to sharpen the tips slightly, which allows them to slide under the pieces much more easily; remembering that you're approaching the piece with the pick almost flat against the skin. I will stop maybe once a day to resharpen them, but I also have 3-4 at my disposal. You can attach little "flags" made out of tape on the non-use end, to keep them from rolling away.