Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Finger Paints Special Effects "Motley"

Finger Paints Special Effects Motley
How to describe this polish so that you can understand just how ethereally lovely it really is? It's like gazing at sapphires through sparkling Caribbean waters. It's as if you were able to decoupage the wings of a Blue Morpho butterfly to your fingertips. It's as though your fingertips were able to generate tiny electric blue sparks. It's amazing.

All of the Special Effects play to their best advantage over darker colors; they each do very well over black, but I really wanted to emphasize the blue shimmer of Motley so I used two coats over a single coat of Essie Midnight Cami. I was going to take a shot of just that base but it seemed so boring on its own (plus I was pressed for time.) Motley has shimmers of mostly blue with minty green highlights. Unlike Flashy, which seemed to show its highlight colors nearer the edges of my nails, Motley has them at the center. I also didn't notice a complete shift in color if the direction of the light changed as I did with Flashy, although I can't explain why that would be. Not that I'm disappointed! I like that the color changes are limited to blues and greens and weren't unexpectedly changing to, say, bronze or brass as I moved my hands around. Two coats of Motley and a single top coat of Seche Vite turned my fingertips into lapis lazuli.
A close-up to really showcase the shimmering play of colors.
The flakes in the Special Effects aren't really like glitter, they're almost like fish food, so they lay flatter on the nail and are a bit easier to get off. You don't need to use a method as drastic as the foil method to remove it but it does take letting the remover stay on the nail a bit longer than you would with a creme. For this I found those pre-saturated felt pads (travel packs?) to be the best, maybe because of the texture of the felt. I happened to find about a dozen of those packets, forgotten in a drawer, so I gave them a try and found them to be a lot less messy than soaking a cotton ball in remover and holding it against the nail. I really was able to clean off all ten nails with one pad! Who knew? If I could remember where I got these I'd definitely go get some more. I did have to go over the nails again with a regular cotton ball and non-acetone remover to get at the color stuck in the cuticle area, though, but no big deal.

Now to decide which colors to layer the other Special Effects over...

Stay tuned for our special give-away of these fabulous polishes!

UPDATE: I found a box of pre-saturated remover pads at Sally Beauty Supply. The felt is actually white even though the one on the box is red. Still works the same.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Essie Sparkle Manicure

Maybe you follow me on Pinterest. Maybe you don't (you should). Either way, you may have seen this manicure before.

That's me.

If you have't seen the one above, you most likely have seen this one. This is a manicure from emery.b. It's Pinterest famous.

My manicure is Pinterest D-list at best. I got the idea for my manicure from emery.b and pinned my own version using some Essie colors I own. Unfortunately, I uploaded the image from my phone and it was long before we had this blog. So every time it was re-pinned it just linked back to my own Pinterest page. This made me sad for two reasons.

1. It should link to a blog. I hate when pins don't link to their original sources so this image should have linked to a source more awesome than an "Uploaded by user" page.
2. My cuticles look like hell. How embarrassing. 

So here's my do-over. Plus a little how-to. Feel free to pin the hell out of it! I take much better care of my cuticles now.

I started with my new Essie Protein Base Coat. I'm really loving this base coat by the way. Once dry, I topped it with three coats of Essie's Chinchilly. This is one of my favorite neutrals. Some call it a "greige". That a beige/grey combo for those who don't spend the majority of your screen time reading nail polish blogs.

Essie's brush is a little on the thin side and so people who don't polish their own nails often might have a seriously hard time with it. Many of Essie's polishes are also relatively thin so a lot of them need 3 coats for full opacity. My favorite thing about Essie's formula is its magical ability to smooth itself out. A sloppy application seems to transform to a smooth and shiny manicure while it dries. I don't understand your witchcraft, Essie, but I like it.

Three coats of Chinchilly by the window
At this point you can add a fast drying top coat like Seche Vite over this if you'd like. I had the time so I let it dry almost all the way on its own. 

Now it's time to add the sparkle. Set In Stones is from Essie's holiday Luxeffects line. It's a nearly perfect silver glitter that's comparable to OPI's Crown Me Already! from their Miss Universe line. Set In Stones is a clear base loaded with all different sizes of silver glitter. It's not super packed with glitter so it would take awhile to get full coverage but that's the point. It's supposed to be used as a glitter top coat. Crown Me Already! can easily reach full coverage so they are not exact dupes. Maybe a comparison post is in order.

Apply the Set In Stones just around the cuticles. You may have to "dab" the brush a little to make sure you get the larger hex glitter in the right places. The goal is to make the sparkles look like they are sort of falling down the nail.

Once dry, apply a coat of Gelous to smooth out the glitter and then add a coat of Seche Vite on top. SV doesn't always play nice with Essie polishes so you might see some shrinkage or chipping if you use it. I had great results with this combo and the manicure lasted about three days with minimal tip wear before I changed it.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Finger Paints Special Effects "Flashy"

Finger Paints Special Effects Flashy

Sorry for the bad photo but I had to use a flash to show the effects to their fullest advantage (plus it was a bear to clean up the black around the cuticles!) Even then, it doesn't do the flashes justice — with the light hitting one way you get these awesome amber-gold flashes, but in another direction they will be blue-green. Really lovely. I have to be careful while driving because the color shifts as the light changes and it really catches the eye.
A close-up to show how the colors shift to the green range
at the curve of the nail toward the cuticle.
I use Orly Bonder as a base coat, one coat of Finger Paints Black Expressionism, two coats of Flashy, and one coat of Seche Vite. I actually prefer Sinful Colors Black on Black but it's a bit thicker and I knew I wanted to use two coats of Flashy, so I went with the thinner Black Expressionism. It wasn't until I looked at the photo that I saw how thin the coverage was along the tips but I can assure you it doesn't show up in person. I'll have to see what the tip wear is like in a day or so. One of the reasons I don't really like Black Expressionism is because it's so runny, so there was a lot of clean up afterward along the cuticles. I know it will look better after the polish has hardened enough to really clean up without disturbing the polish, though.

The Flashy goes on really easily but I quickly learned that you get the best distribution of flakes if you let a glob of it fall on the middle of your nail and then spread it around with the brush. One coat covered nicely and I'm almost wondering if two coats was overkill. (Naaaah...) With two coats, in the right light it almost makes it look as if my nails are burning coals — if I had a matte black it certainly would.

I managed to get four of the five Special Effects — Asylum (red & blue flashes), Flashy (amber-gold flashes), Flecked (green flashes), and Motley (sapphire blue flashes) — only lacking Twisted (all the colors) which was apparently the most popular one, but I read that you can get the same effect by layering the others. I played around with them a bit, putting Flecked over a green metallic but it kind of got lost, although Motley over Essie's Midnight Cami was pretty cool so I will swatch that later on. I also tried them over some whites and grays, but they don't seem to show off as well over lighter colors. Asylum on top of Essie Fishnet Stockings is also lovely, with the reddish flakes adding a subtle sparkle and the bluish ones an accent. So many options!

These flakies are really fun, but since they were a one-time special only available at Sally's Beauty Supplies last month they are getting hard to find. We did manage to snag some extras, so stay tuned for our first give-away!

Deborah Lippman - Across the Universe

Anna let me borrow Deborah Lippman Across the Universe to review.  I have Bad Romance and I absolutely love it so I hoped that this wouldn't disappoint.  It doesn't.  Across the Universe is a sheer navy blue jelly with bright blue micro glitter and pale blue and bright green hexes.

Bottle porn! Glitter packed perfection

I don't think my pictures captured how great this polish is and they also look a little messy and I left them like that on purpose.  I used one coat of Sally Hansen Hard As Nails, two coats of Across the Universe, one coat of Gelous and one coat of Seche Vite. The first coat of ATU was so streaky and thin, I was worried that I wouldn't get full coverage with a second coat.  With the second coat, I had a lot of dragging at the cuticle but I really didn't want to add a third coat.  I've become super picky about glitter lately.  Taking it off is so annoying to me that it really needs to be worth it.  I thought two coats of this polish was worth it and I really don't mind the cuticle drag and the messiness.  The sparkle really makes up for it.

Please excuse my nub pointer finger.  This shot shows the cuticle drag

A messy application but this shows how the glitter is perfectly suspended in the base
The glitter is so densely packed and the hex glitter is spread over the nail as evenly as I could have hoped for.  I sort of like the way the navy blue jelly is see through at some parts.  I really like this polish because it's not just a solid glitter polish.  There are so many new polishes that are just chunks of glitter suspended in clear polish.  Or lots of different sized glitters that don't lay flat on the nail.  This the best of both worlds...lots of sparkle glitter spread evenly over the nail and it lays flat and smooth.

This was my first manicure using Gelous over glitter polish and under SV.  I LOVE it!  I'm a convert.  I've read all about how it smooths glitter so well.  If I ever get my Lynnderella order, I'll do a comparison post of Glitter Tamer and Gelous. I keep comparing ATU to Bad Romance and I don't want to talk too much about it because I have a Bad Romance/Revlon Facets of Fuchsia Dupe post coming soon!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

butter LONDON- British Racing Green vs. SinfulColors- Last Chance

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Okay, on to my post.

Last year when I was in the market for a new car, I did what any normal person does. I went out and bought nail polish to match the car I wanted.

2011 Mini Cooper Hardtop in British Racing Green- Courtesy of

butter LONDON- British Racing Green
This was my first butter LONDON purchase. How could I pass up a color that’s named after my dream car? A $14 a bottle of polish is a little high end for me but I went for it. Ulta had just started carrying butter LONDON at the time so I had to order from the website because they didn’t have it in my local store yet. But I was supposed to go buy my car the next day and couldn’t bring myself to show up at the dealership without matching nails. Normal.

So I went to Walgreens to see what I could find. Enter SinfulColors- Last Chance. As far as I could tell, it was the same exact color as BRG for $1.99. 
Should I cancel my Ulta order? No, because this color isn’t actually called British Racing Green. I obviously needed them both. I had my priorities in the right place.

I painted my nails with Last Chance, went to the dealership and drove away in my new British Racing Green Mini Cooper. I think it goes without saying that my nails were painted green for pretty much the entire first 2 months I owned my car.
Now for the side by side. Both of these colors are the same dark hunter green. The only real difference is that BRG has a subtle silver/green shimmer in it that matches the car’s paint job. Last Chance is a true crème.
The shimmer in BRG is more obvious in the bottle but sort of gets lost on the nail

Last Chance has a much thinner formula than BRG. I was able to get pretty much full coverage in two semi-thick coats of Last Chance but I did find a bald spot once I got outside in the sun. Next time I’ll use three coats.
BRG actually applied a little goopy. I used two coats. I don’t remember the formula being so thick so maybe some of you guys have experience with a newer bottle. I have used this polish a lot so plenty of air has ended up in the bottle and could definitely be the cause. I added some thinner after I was done for next time.
Once dry, I had a moment of panic where I couldn’t remember which nails had which polish on them. They are that similar. I had to go to the window to find the shimmer in BRG.

BRG's shimmer is much less obvious in lower light

I used Essie's Protein Base Coat and SV as a top coat. Within a few minutes of applying the SV, the tips of my Last Chance nails shrunk.
Last Chance shrinkage!

Extreme shrinkage close up

When my nails match my car, what else is there to do but go for a drive?

There's that ring finger bald spot from Last Chance

Overall, I love both of these polishes. I gravitate more towards the butter LONDON because it's a true match to my car. But it's pretty obvious that Last Chance isn't very far off.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A England - St. George

If you follow me on Pinterest, you know I've been coveting this polish for a while.  There were so many amazing reviews by all the awesome bloggers and every single review raved about the formula, color and overall awesomeness so I caved and bought it.

There are so many amazing pictures online so I'll show you a few of mine and then rave about the color and formula like everyone else.

 Direct sunlight - I think this is the most true color shot

Bottle shot - there is so much silver showing in the bottle but none on the nail

Artificial bathroom lighting

Day 3 - showing the slightest tip wear

This is the description from A England's website:  Bearer of a valiant & courageous heart, this fathomless teal reveals the strength of the brave knight's convictions with his gleaming, fiery core.  Many bloggers described it as "dark teal holo" but I would describe it as an emerald green holo with flashes of teal and blue in the light.  This polish also literally glows from within.  Inside, under artificial light this polish looks like a pretty emerald green but outside it is the most stunning polish I've ever seen.

The formula is perfection.  Bottom line. It was the smoothest polish I've ever used.  It could have been a one coater but out of habit I used 2.  I think it may have deepened slightly after the second coat.  I don't know if I had shaky hands while I was painting but it go on exactly like it looked in all the blogs but I'm also not the most amazing painter either. 

I used my usual Sally Hansen Hard As Nails base, 2 coats and one coat of SV.  I've never owned a polish that I could forgo the top coat on, much less a sparkly holo but this polish dries to a perfect shiny finish.  I still had to add the SV just to make it even more gorgeous.  I've had it on for 3 days and I do have some tip wear.  Three days is my max for a mani though so I don't mind at all!  Now I NEED NEED NEED NEEDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD  Princess Tears.  But I've really been going insane lately and I need to back off the nail polish hoarding.  I've probably used 10% of my stash so I really need to swatch what I have.  Or at least take a week off of shopping...

A England polishes are sold in the US on Llarowe.  Leah Ann restocks once a week and her shipping is the fastest and cheapest on the internets.  Get some.  Stare at it.  Take pride in your awesome nails.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Magnetix Polish

I've been wanting to try out a magnetic polish for awhile. Each color has iron particles mixed in with the shimmer polish so that when you hold a patterned magnet over the still-wet polish, the particles shift to create unique patterns. Science and nail polish, two of my favorite things! 

Magnetic polishes have been big in the UK for awhile and they are starting to make their way to the states. Sephora sells Nails Inc magnetic polish that comes with a magnet in the top for $16. China Glaze also has a line available on Head2Toe for $4.60 a bottle but you have to buy the magnet separately.

I came across these Magnetix polishes at Rite Aid for $7.99 a bottle so I figured I'd give it a shot. Each bottle comes with two magnets.

Cat hairs land on everything in my house
Each magnet that came with this polish was in a rubber base so they were pretty easy to hold. They also have a little indent on the bottom to rest on your finger.

There were a few different colors of this polish available. I passed over a dark chrome, a bronzy gold, an emerald green, and a dark blue for this light burgundy color with lots of shimmer. I couldn't find color names on any of the boxes.

The instructions tell you to apply a thick coat of polish to your nail and immediately hold the magnet over the nail for 15 seconds to create the pattern. I had read on a few blogs that two coats usually works better to show the pattern. 

I'm not gonna lie, even with the rubber covered magnet and finger-placement indent, I had the hardest time keeping the magnet at a good distance from my nail to create the pattern. If I held it too far away, no pattern showed up at all. If I tried to get it closer, I'd knock my nail onto the magnet and ruin the polish. Maybe these magnets aren't very strong. Maybe I just need more practice.

The worst part? The formula was thick and goopy and blobby and just gross. I got so frustrated with this manicure I didn't even finish all of my nails before taking it off and moving on. Here's what I got finished.

I used the straight diagonal lined magnet for my pointer, middle and pinky fingers and the squiggly design for my ring finger. You can see the straight pattern doesn't look as strong on my pointer finger as it does on my middle finger. I must have held the magnet too far away.

The squiggly magnet was much weaker than the straight pattern so sometimes it didn't show up at all. The pictures above show my third attempt with it.

It's such a shame this didn't work out because I was so excited to try these! I still really like the idea of magnetic polish and I've heard great things about the China Glaze and Nails Inc formulas so maybe I'll try one of them at some point. All I know is that I'll be staying away from this brand in the future.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Glitter Gal- 3D Holo Light As A Feather

I'm on a bit of a holo kick these days. After I went a little nuts over Glitter Gal's Green holo, cupid decided to send me some nail mail with Light as a Feather!

3 coats- artificial light
Light as a Feather is a great white/light grey linear holographic polish. You can purchase these polishes from Llarowe in the US for $14 (9mL) or $20 (15mL). A lot of them are out of stock right now but she restocks regularly. Glitter Gal also ships internationally from Australia.

The holo effect in this polish isn't as strong as in Green, but it certainly is lovely. As with Green, the formula applies like a dream and I got full opacity in three coats.

I'm only posting this picture because it shows how sheer the polish is with one coat and you can really see the holo effect in the bottle. I know the lighting is terrible.
One coat
After two coats, Light as a Feather is still pretty sheer but I dig it.
Two coats by the window
Since I knew Glitter Gal's holos are sheer, I first tried layering Light as a Feather over white polish. It was so WHITE that I hated it and took it off before even taking any pictures. I very much prefer this color as a neutral shade.

Subtle linear holo even in the sun

I had to do a lot of adjusting in Photoshop to get the holo to come out in these pictures. Since my iPhone was having such a hard time capturing the effect of this polish, I decided to bring out my real camera. I have an old Canon PowerShot but it has a macro setting so I tried it out. Of course, by the time I thought to use my real camera, I was no longer wearing Light as a Feather. So here are some bottle shots. No adjustments necessary!

Seriously, how gorgeous is this polish?

Just for the sake of comparison I also took some bottle shots of Green too.

So it looks like I'll be switching over to my grown-up camera for the most part. It also looks like I need to add some bolder brighter holos to my collection.