Saturday, June 30, 2012

Discount Discovery: Essie Mystery

Now, don't go Googling to find swatches of an Essie polish called Mystery because there isn't one. The mystery is which Essie color is this?
What's this mystery Essie polish?
The photo makes it look more chocolatey than it appears in the flesh — it's actually much more like a BBQ sauce kind of color. And, no, my cuticles aren't inflamed (as my husband had thought) it's just that the polish flooded the cuticles and some of it refused to clean off, even with straight acetone.
I had a coupon, so it really only cost me $2.00.
Job Lot had a batch of Essie polishes, most of them were Bordeaux, a deep winy red, and Damsel in a Dress, an iridescent purple, but there were a couple of bottles of this rich reddish brown. I had been looking for a polish that resembled OPI Boris & Natasha and I thought this baked beans kind of shade might do the trick. The label said it was Clambake, which made sense to me since baked beans are a staple at clambakes here on the Cape, so I texted Erin and Anna to see if either of them wanted any of them and Anna informed me that Clambake was supposed to be orange. Hm-m-m-m-m. It would appear that some of these bottles were mis-labeled! No matter, it was a color I wanted and I didn't really care what it was called. (For what it's worth, the name Clambake makes no sense at all for an orange polish.) I got it and put it aside for later. Which is now.
Clambake? "A creamy red-orange"? I don't think so...
So for the long Fourth of July weekend, when traffic heading to the Cape started backing up yesterday afternoon practically all the way to Boston, I thought my mystery BBQ colored mis-labeled Clambake would be the perfect color. I actually have to work on the 4th (time and a half for a holiday!) so no cookouts for me, but my nails will be covered in sauce!

So. Any ideas on which Essie polish this actually is? I don't think it's Downtown Brown or Little Brown Dress, because I don't think they're as red as this. Typically when Job Lot gets in a batch of polishes they are all from the same collection, but I couldn't see anything that released with either Bordeaux or Damsel in a Dress that looked evenly remotely like this. I may have to bring the bottle into Ulta and see if it matches anything in the core line. If it was a limited edition, it will have to remain a mystery!

UPDATE: I brought the bottle to Ulta to compare it to what they had in stock and the closest were Little Brown Dress, only this is redder than that, and Wicked, but that was almost purple by comparison. Since I'm assuming the mystery polish was from the same collection as Damsel In A Dress I checked online and that was from the 2008 Winter Collection. Rock Star Skinny was in that collection and looks really close!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fancy Friday: butter LONDON Yummy Mummy

I got a coupon in the mail from Ulta recently and it didn't have the usual disclaimers not allowing me to use it on "premium cosmetics" so I decided to see if they'd let me get my 20% discount on another butter LONDON polish — they did! So I decided to give Yummy Mummy a try, adding it to my other two butter LONDONs, All Hail The Queen and Lady Muck. We're all big fans of the line here at Polished Cousins (Anna even has their base and top coats) so it's a treat to be able to grab one at a discount.
See the shimmers in the highlights?
While Yummy Mummy is similar (but not the same!) in tone to All Hail The Queen it is also completely different. AHTQ has those little glass flakes that I love so much because they add dimension without texture, whereas YM has more of a shimmer. As you can see in the photo, it's also quite a bit sheerer, with VNL even with two coats. To be fair, it's not as obvious in real life or else I would have added a third coat. As with all the butter LONDONs, application was a breeze, barely requiring a cleanup at all.

They describe the color on their web site as being "magic" and "simply stunning on EVERY skin colour" which is probably due to its being so very neutral; at best, you could say it has a pinkish cast to it, but that's only in some lights. On a couple of blogs it was described as "bleh" and "boring" but I disagree there — I'm a huge fan of taupes and neutral grays, probably because I have short fingers and even shorter nail beds so those colors tend to give the illusion of longer, more graceful hands. I'm all about those kinds of illusions! (In my mind I'm Audrey Hepburn but in real life I'm more Holly Hunter — I need a body polish that will make all of me longer and more graceful!)
The cute little crowned bird on the twist cap hidden under the squared cap.
Label shot, for those who need the numbers.
Now that my nails are all properly dressed I think I'll brew up a pot of Harrod's Earl Grey No. 42 and sit down to read The Guardian on my iPad...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Tweezerman Nail Routine

Tweezerman sent us some awesome products to try out through their Ambassador program. As if we didn't completely love Tweezerman tweezers already, now we're obsessed with their nail care products! Here's a shot of the kit we received

Terrible cell phone picture. I'm sorry. But this kit was HUGE and included everything anyone could need to take care of their nails. Pedicure products included!

Too big to fit in my light box!

Here's a list of my favorite products from the collection-
-Satin Etched Zebra Clipper Set (Stainless Steel)- Transform untidy, tattered or shabby nails into a perfectly pampered, lovingly trimmed look. 100% sanitizable.
-Satin Etched Zebra Cuticle Nipper- The sturdy design is reinforced by its rock-hard, stainless-steel construction and features sharp, long-lasting snipping tips for smooth cutting action.
-Premium Emory Board- Pack of 5 thin wood files. Ultra durable.
-Master Tech Ingrown Toenail File and Cleaner- Features an ingrown file to help relieve the pressure of ingrown nails and a thin, curved end to clean under and around the nail.

I'm obsessed with these products and I've been using them every time I do my nails. I figured you guys might want to get a little insight on how I keep my nails blog-ready. I promise, they are NOT always blog-ready and it requires lots of work. We've come a long way, baby. And we've got a long way to go. I was a life-long nail biter until about 10 years ago. I still have the nasty habit of picking and biting my cuticles and the skin around my nails. Years of abuse! Luckily, my nails have remained strong and healthy.

First step- Nail trimming! I LOVE this clipper! What makes this clipper so much better than other ones? Look at the edge. It's straight across. No more cutting halfway across your nail and having the curved edge cut a hunk out of the middle of your nail. This baby clips straight and easy every time. I don't always clip my nails. Sometimes you might want to skip this step and just file them down a little. If you have brittle nails, definitely skip this step! 

Flat blades!

That's an action shot of me cutting my talons. I must have just finished swatching before I took that picture because the edges of my nails are covered in blue polish. I promise that's not dirt. I'm not that gross. Also, that picture is totally false advertising and you should NOT clip/file/shorten naked nails. Why not? Because your natural nail line is probably crooked. I'm sorry but it probably is. Shape your nails when you already have polish on them. Then take off the polish and look at your crooked nails. Then come back here and tell me I was right!

After you're done clipping your nails they are probably a little ragged. Time to file those babies! What's your favorite shape? Lately I've been sticking with a square shape on shorter nails. I used to do a "squoval" shape. I mostly stopped because that's the worst word in the world. It's a combination of the words "square" and "oval." Get it? Squoval. I also stopped because I had a tough time keeping them all even. As I've said before, you do you.

I love the simple Premium Emory Board. Not too rough, not too smooth. This emory board is perfect for a little bit of shaping and a little bit of smoothing. If you are looking for an emory board to shorten your nails, you might want to use one that is more rough than this one though.

Now that your nails are perfectly shaped, it's time to push back your cuticles and buff out any ridges. I have ridges that go along the length of my nail and I use this yellow buffer block below to smooth them out. 

After my ridges are smooth I give my hands a good wash and let them hang out in the water for a few minutes. Now my cuticles are nice and soft and ready to be ANNIHILATED! I use a wooden cuticle stick (pictured above) to push back my cuticles first. I prefer using a wood stick because it's gentler and doesn't cause any ripping. I usually use a liquid cuticle remover to help with this step but I didn't take any pictures of it so we'll get right to the nipping!

Now my cuticles can get funky and I know everyone and their mother tells you that you shouldn't cut you cuticles because your whole hand will fall off and you'll die if you do, right? Not true guys! But I will say that if you don't know what you're doing, don't bother. You WILL cut yourself and the cut WILL get infected and you WILL die. Just kidding. But you will cut yourself. So be careful.

This Zebra Cuticle Nipper is so amazing. I love the little cover that comes with it. I always have two major problems with cuticle nippers- 1. They are always too dull or get dull too quickly and 2. The spring in the middle usually gets worn out so fast and makes an awful squeaky noise every time I try to use it. Tweezerman to the rescue! These nipper are super sharp, they fit perfectly in my hand so they are easy to maneuver and the joint connection in the middle has no annoying squeak potential. 

Super sharp

Now this is the not so fun part, the toes. When it comes to caring for my toe nails I do all of the steps above plus one more. My toenails are ingrown. Gross and painful! Sometimes the care and attention they need is daunting and I just want to pay someone else to do it. Tweezerman has made this job SOOOOO much easier. Don't worry, I didn't post ay pictures of my feet, just the tools I used.

This Ingrown Toenail Filer is probably one of the greatest inventions I never knew I needed. Now that I have it, I'm never letting it go! The other end of the file (why didn't I take a picture of it?) has a flat hook that is great to use for cleaning out under your nails.

I hope you guys found this post useful! Don't forget to like Tweezerman on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lazy Days of Summer: Green Ombré

For the second of our nail art challenge, I've chosen to do a bright, grassy green ombré. I have so many greens that it was easy to find a series of shades and, what with all the rain we've had here so far this summer, everything is certainly green!
I suppose you could also see this as a progression of the foliage from Spring to Summer.
From light to dark, the polishes are:
Sally Hansen Green With Envy
Sally Hansen Parrot
OPI Hot Fun In The Summerlime
SinfulColors Exotic Green
China Glaze Holly-Day
In the photo Green With Envy appears a bit too yellow but in the flesh it was spot-on.

And here are the bottles arranged in order from dark to light:
These are a few of my favorite greens...

Check out the other blogs participating in the challenge!

Kayono Lan

Monday, June 25, 2012

Blue Monday: KOH Blue Universe!!!

Look at what I have! KOH Blue Universe!!! My wonderful friend who frequently works in the Netherlands brought it back for me, along with KOH Playful. Isn't she wonderful? Thanks, Tina! Remember back in March when I first found out about this polish and tried to dupe it? I'm impressed with how close I actually came to it! But, really, there's no comparison.
The bottle shows the color range of the flakies better than my nails do.
The base is a thin blue-black almost-a-jelly, filled with tiny silver sparkles and absolutely loaded with flakies that change in color from amber to green as the light shifts. Because the consistency is so thin, you build up the color in layers (I used three layers in these photos) so there is an appearance of depth because the flakies float in the base color layers rather than on top, yet it's so thin that you don't get the unattractive thickness of polishes that I had when I tried to dupe it. The base color is difficult to describe because, at first, you would swear it was black — when you brush off the excess on the bottle it looks like charcoal and on your nail it really does look like a thin black polish. But with the second and third coats the true color comes across and it's made up of so many different elements all pulling together to create this amazing tapestry on your nails. It is truly unique among the polishes I own.
This shot shows the different elements a bit better — the tiny sparkles, the flakies, the universe...
I did have issues with the application but I'm blaming the weather. It was 98F hot, humid degrees and I had a fan blowing directly on me. I tried shielding the polish with my body but I think it still made it dry too quickly on the brush and get a bit gloppy. As it's more of a winter color, I am definitely using it again (and again!) in cooler weather. Maybe Anna will write up her review of it once Fall arrives?
Here's a shot indoors under the Ott light, where the color of the polish is a bit truer
but the color shifts don't show as well as the outdoor shots.
I used Seche Vite as my top coat and did notice quite a bit of shinkage at the nail tips, so I'll try a different top coat next time. On its own, Blue Universe dries nearly matte and has some surface texture due to all the flakies, so maybe Gealous? We'll see...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lazy Days of Summer- Beach Theme

We joined up with a group of bloggers who are doing a nail art challenge for the summer. This is my kind of challenge because we get to go at our own pace! The first theme is Beach Theme. Looks like a lot of us had a similar thought process for this theme. It's cool to see the different versions of the beach on everyone's nails!

I did a sponge gradient starting with a base of Sinful Colors Morning Star. This blue has a gorgeous glass fleck and it's definitely one of my favorite blues now. Then I sponged on China Glaze Sea Spray and Sinful Colors Snow Me White. I painted OPI DS Classic on the tips to make sure the sparkles showed.

I loved the way the gradient turned out but when I sent it to my cousins Robin told me one of my nails needed an umbrella or beach ball. She was right. I checked my stamping plates for anything relevant but I didn't have anything. So I tried free-handing it! It's not perfect but it's my first time trying a free-hand design. I didn't have any acrylic paints on hand so I just grabbed some bright colors, a black polish, and a really thin brush. I can't wait to try again!

Check out the other blogs participating in the challenge!

Kayono Lan

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Discount Discovery: Sally Hansen Lively Lilac

I always check out what's in the cosmetics aisle when I go to Job Lot and I get their email coupons, too, but this week I'll show you the fabulous purple that I found in the check-out line. I don't know why these weren't with the other nail polishes and if I hadn't gone to that register I would never have found it!
Sally Hansen Lively Lilac, for two bucks!
I'm not a huge fan of the wide brush on the Sally Hansens, mostly because they are so coarse that they don't bend all that well, but in spite of that the application on this polish was a breeze, requiring only the slightest of cleanup to smooth the line at the cuticle. The bottle says it's a one-coater and I probably could have done that, but I used two coats and topped it with Seche Vite out of habit; it dried quickly on its own, but not quite as shiny as I prefer.
Label shot.
Job Lot had the entire display for this collection, but it was on the top shelf and way over my head, plus I was second in line to check out so I didn't have a chance to pore over them all, darn it! I did see a Tiffany blue shade, but I already have so many of those, and a pale bright blue that intrigued me but was out of my reach. I will have to go back again later to see if they've moved it to a more accessible spot. In the meanwhile I am loving this shade and I can see myself wearing it often over the summer.
It's holographic and a duochrome!
I didn't want to take it off, but after a few days it was starting to look a little shabby so I put a couple of coats of Ozotic 533 over it to refresh it. I should have done it earlier in the morning when the sun was still shining because a cloud cover hit the sky and it doesn't look as if it's going to go away anytime soon, so the best shot I could get of the holos was using my Ott light. The bottle shows the range of colors the best, but not so much on my nails. I'm not sure if that's because of the lighting or because I've layered it over a pale shade — normally I use holos over black or navy. I do like it and it will get me another day or two with this loveliest of lilac shades, but I think Ozotic 533 deserves a post of its own, don't you?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fancy Friday: KOH Playful

Previously I mentioned KOH polishes from the Netherlands and my quest to duplicate their Blue Universe polish. As it turns out, one of my friends travels to the Netherlands frequently for work and she kindly offered to see if she could find it for me. I was so excited! I asked her if she would get Blue Universe for both me and Anna, as well as Playful for me and an assortment of typical department store polishes for Erin (do you think I take advantage of the kindness of friends?) Her first trip over after my request proved unsuccessful but she said she was going to be in Amsterdam on the next trip — home of the KOH flagship store! I had seen Playful on Witoxicity but hadn't really expected her to find it because I was under the impression it was a limited edition, but she did. Is she awesome or what? Thanks, Tina! As eager as I am to try out Blue Universe, it will have to wait a few days because this morning I had a meeting with my financial planner. (Doesn't that make it sound as if I have enough money to afford these polishes?) Anyway, I thought a gray flannel polish was more appropriate for a meeting with money guys, don't you agree?
How graceful is this bottle???
Playful is a medium neutral gray, similar to one of my other favorite grays, OPI French Quarter For Your Thoughts, but with the added feature of tiny black sooty particles in it to add dimension without adding texture. Love it! Misa Grey Matters is another similar — but not the same! — polish in that it has tiny black particles but the base color is a much lighter shade of gray/grey. I see a comparison post coming up someday...
See the sooty particles in there?
Like the long, graceful bottle, the brush is long and narrow so I was surprised at how well it spread out to coat the nail. Two coats over a base coat and it was fully opaque, with the sooty bits becoming more prominent. It dried to a satiny finish, which I hadn't expected, but I needed to be out the door so I put on one coat of Seche Vite for speed and gloss, which I prefer anyway. I was dismayed to see that I had wrinkled my thumbnail when putting on my shoes because I hadn't waited long enough for it to dry, but amazed that I was able to smooth it back down and it hardened smooth as glass. Impressive!

The delightfully fancy part of this is the bag they came in — black netting with a pleated black flower ornamented with a rhinestone. Fa-a-a-a-a-ancy! My friend said they were so particular about closing the bag, curling the ribbon, and affixing the flower. I guess when you're paying €15 for a small bottle of polish you expect the full treatment, although Nordstrom wasn't that attentive to detail when I got the Dior polish — maybe it's a European thing.
Wa-a-a-ay fancier than a paper bag, right?
I am now quite eager with anticipation to try out Blue Universe for next week's Blue Monday post. How close did I actually come with my attempts to duplicate it!?!

KOH polishes are available for purchase in the Netherlands, Germany, 
Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, and Russia, 
so look for it in your travels (or ask a traveling friend!)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

NOTD - Orange Bling French

Hello!  I have a quick NOTD post for you all.  I've been on a self imposed no buy after my husband and I bought all new appliances for our kitchen (more important than nail polish).  And then I got a Siamese kitten (WAY more important than nail polish) and I felt like I needed to stop going crazy with nail polish and start using up my stash.  BUT, of course there's a but...I read nail blogs all day long.  So I'm constantly inspired and want to buy all the polishes I see.  Since I can't, I've recreated a few looks that I love. 
Cutest face ever!
I saw this amazing orange dotticure on Ehmkay Nails and Designs and it made me think about my bottle of China Glaze Riveting and what I could do with it.  I decided to do a blinged out french, one of my favorite looks.

I used 2 coats of China Glaze Riveting for the base, China Glaze Goddess for the gradient micro glitter, Kleancolor 24 Carat for the tips and Sally Hansen Sally Girl, no name so I'll call it Gold Glitter for the chunky gold hexes.  I really love how blinged out this is and the gold and orange are so on trend for summer right now. 

 I just realized that my nails are super coordinated with my handbag! BOOM.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Showing My Pride!

June is Pride month for the LGBTQIA community and last weekend was the Pride celebration here in Baltimore. I woke up Saturday morning and immediately thought, "It's Pride day!" so I ran to my Helmers and grabbed all the holos I could find to make a perfect rainbow. I lined everything up and realized I was missing an orange holo. My boyfriend just ordered a bottle of Hits Demeter for me (thanks honey!) but it hasn't made its way to Baltimore just yet. So what did I do? I made my own. Here's all of the polishes I used. If you follow us on Facebook, you've already seen this!

From left to right
Darling Diva Polish- Barbi Who?
Franken I made- OPI- Ya'll Come Back Ya Hear? with Spectraflair added
Milani- 3D
Milani- Hi Tech
China Glaze- He's Going In Circles
Nubar- Reclaim
Darling Diva Polish- Mata Hari

Now how am I supposed to get 11 polishes on 10 finger nails? I started on a nail wheel to see how well I could get these colors to blend together using different nail art techniques. I quickly discovered that I didn't need to sponge a gradient on my nails at all. Since holos are relatively sheer, it was just going to be a matter of careful layering. So I just went for it and this is what happened!

Artificial light
Pretty cool huh? I was at work all day Saturday and I was obviously staring at my nails the entire time. I noticed a few areas that could use some better blending. Since each polish was from different brands and collections, the holo particles in each color were different sizes and took some trial and error to get everything to blend smoothly. As soon as I got off work, I ran home to touch up a few areas and TA-DA! Now I'm ready to go to the parade!

I had such a great time at the parade and block party. I took lots of pictures, ran into lots of friends and made a few new ones. And of course my nails were a huge hit.

Here's a bunch of photos of my Pride mani in the sun. A rainbow mani that has rainbow sparkles? Talk about a double rainbow all the way!

I used my Essie Protein Base Coat and my new favorite top coat, Hong Kong Girl. I only saw tip wear on my right pointer finger and ONE chip after 4 days of wear. Yes, I wore this mani for FOUR DAYS!

I added a little box to show my thumb next to the others. You know, to give you the full rainbow effect :)

Peppermint stick in a lemon!

I'm so PROUD of this mani and to live in an area that has such amazing LGBTQIA Pride!