Manicure round-up, guest starring Avon polishes

Time for another round-up! I bought my first roll of striping tape recently, so the past couple manicures have been all about getting the hang of the stuff. I have to say, I like it! It’s not going to keep me from getting polish everywhere, but it definitely makes art easier.

Let’s start with purple. Purple polishes make up one of the largest portions of my collection because, well, I like purple. It’s fun. I decided to use my striping tape to attempt a french manicure. This was the result:

Purple french manicure - Avon Gel Finish in Lavender Sky (light), ELF polish in Violet Velvet
Purple french manicure – Avon Gel Finish in Lavender Sky (light), ELF polish in Violet Velvet

Yeah, so like I said, striping tape isn’t a panacea. It made my lines neater than they otherwise would have been, but that can only go so far when the fact is that I just don’t have steady hands. I also had some problems with Lavender Sky, which is from Avon’s Gel Finish line of polishes. I do like this line – in fact, I own every color they make it in because I like it so much – but this polish, on this day, was just misbehaving. Somehow it managed to be both watery and gloopy; it’s a thin polish, but it begins drying so fast that it can out-dry itself. I ended up with a weird bubble on one thumbnail where the outside of the polish had started drying before the rest of it had had a chance to self-level. On other fingers, when I pulled the tape up moments after applying it to my tips, it had already started to get stringy.

Ah, well. Ignoring the technique bobbles, I still like the effect.

Next, it was time for another trollicure (wondering what I mean by that? See here. Short version: my husband dislikes certain colors because sports. So of course I wear those colors!). This time, the colors I was aiming for were black and gold. Now, I do own a black creme, but it’s not a great formula, and it ends up looking gray and patchy. So I decided to use another polish from the Avon Gel Finish line as a stand-in. Inked Up is a deep, dark blue – so dark that on my swatch sticks, it was pretty much indistinguishable from black. On my fingers, it turned out to register more clearly as dark navy, but I don’t care because it looked so awesome.

Avon Gel Finish - Inked Up (dark), Avon Gel Finish - Glimmer (gold)
Avon Gel Finish – Inked Up (dark), Avon Gel Finish – Glimmer (gold)

This is another striping tape manicure; I laid down one coat of Glimmer, a gold also from the Gel Finish line, let that dry for half an hour, and then placed a strip of striping tape at about french-tip level. Then I covered it with a single coat (yes, a single coat! OCW!) of Inked Up and pulled off the tape. If you look closely, you can see that it’s still not perfect – there are spots where the blue bled into the gold, and vice versa – but it came out neater than the previous manicure. My husband and I both loved this look, he in spite of himself, and I was sad to take it off. So elegant! So simple! I think next time I need a manicure for a wedding or job interview, I might try this one again.

Before I get into the next manicure, a bit of backstory: My husband was traveling this week, and I have a dangerous habit of comforting myself when he’s away by buying makeup. I went into Rite-Aid one day to buy some decongestant and walked out with…all this (hey, and the decongestant!). In my defense, Wet ‘n’ Wild was 40% off, Revlon was BOGO50%, and there were a bunch of new-to-me displays of inexpensive polishes out (satin finish Jesse’s Girl? Yes please!). What else was I supposed to do but buy it all?

The results of going into Rite-Aid during a moment of weakness
The results of going into Rite-Aid during a moment of weakness

As I was swatching the new polishes later that day, I realized that I now have a pretty wide selection of full-coverage, textured glitters, especially in shades of purple. I toyed with the idea of a skittles manicure of purple, blue, gold, and green glitters, but then decided that might be a little too out-there, given that it’s not Mardi Gras. So I settled on a purple ombre effect, instead.

A variety of textured purple glitters. Starting from pinky: Avon Brushed Metals in Dusty Copper, L'Oreal Gold Dust in Sexy in Sequins, Julie G in Sugar Plum Fairy, L'Oreal Gold Dust in Too Dimensional?, and Avon Brushed Metals in Lilac Quartz
A variety of textured purple glitters (no flash). Starting from pinky: Avon Brushed Metals in Dusty Copper, L’Oreal Gold Dust in Sexy in Sequins, Julie G in Sugar Plum Fairy, L’Oreal Gold Dust in Too Dimensional?, and Avon Brushed Metals in Lilac Quartz

Brushed Copper didn’t quite fit into the purple theme, but I needed a fifth polish to round things out, and it stuck out the least in that role compared to the other textured glitters I pored through.

Though this isn’t a fantastic gradient – I think if I were doing it over again, I’d switch Too Dimensional to my ring finger – it’s still pretty, and when the light hits it, it seems to have a glow of its own.

Textured purple glitters - flash
A variety of textured purple glitters (flash). Starting from pinky: Avon Brushed Metals in Dusty Copper, L’Oreal Gold Dust in Sexy in Sequins, Julie G in Sugar Plum Fairy, L’Oreal Gold Dust in Too Dimensional?, and Avon Brushed Metals in Lilac Quartz

This is over a peel-off base coat (remove five fingers of hardcore glitter? Ain’t nobody got time for that!), so I don’t expect to get more than a few days’ wear out of it. After that? Hmmm. I have a beautiful Barbie pink from Sinful Colors that has a gold pearl to it, but it’s a bit too bright to do on its own. I’ll have to think about what I can add to it. I’m open to suggestions!


Manicure Round Up, guest starring Sally Hansen Miracle Gel

It’s been a while since I did one of these, so I think it’s time again for a manicure round-up, where I show you pictures of manicures I’ve worn recently and do a short paragraph on each rather than a full post. In this case, these manicures go back quite a while, some a month or more (this summer has been one crisis after another; I’m lucky I got paint on my fingers at all!), and not all the pictures are that great. But nonetheless, there are pictures and that’s gotta count for something, right?

Let’s start with the one I called my mint chocolate chip manicure:

L'Oreal "Mint Glacee", Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Matte "Mauve Matter"
L’Oreal “Mint Glacee”, Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Matte “Mauve Matter”

This contained, at its heart, only two polishes, but since one was gloss and one was matte, it also involved a sandwich of topcoats. I started with L’Oreal “Mint Glacee”, a pale mint green gloss. Then I freehanded – really, really messily – half of each nail over it with Sally Hansen Insta-Dri in “Mauve Matter”, a brownish-mauve matte. I slicked the whole thing over with Seche Vite to get it a bit drier, then added Nicole by OPI’s Matte topcoat over everything. As you can see if you look closely at my middle finger, the layers of topcoats got a little wonky in spots, but this nevertheless turned out pretty nice, at least from a few feet away. Everyone who commented on it told me it reminded them of mint and chocolate. Inspiring cravings everywhere I go: my work here is done!

Next a manicure I did solely to troll my husband, because I’m just a terrible person like that. You see, I’m an artsy girl. I don’t really get sports in general, and I really don’t get the religious fervor with which some people approach certain sports. My husband, on the other hand, will comfortably tell you that football was a second religion in his house growing up, and he continues to be obsessed with it. There’s a longstanding rivalry in his home state between two schools; one’s colors are red and black, and the other’s color is orange. He worships the red-and-black school, and apparently doing so requires loathing the orange school. So far, so understandable. I don’t feel it, but I can understand fandom.

But here’s where it got weird for me: because he dislikes a school that likes orange, he has a genuine, deep-seated emotional hatred for the color orange, everywhere. He automatically dislikes orange clothes or makeup I put on, even if they look objectively great, solely because they’re orange, and orange is the color of that team.

So when he told me how excited he was for the beginning of college football season and the first game his red-and-black team would be playing, what else could I do but…this.

Revlon Gel Envy "Long Shot", Avon Cosmic "Saturn"
Revlon Gel Envy “Long Shot”, Avon Cosmic “Saturn”

That’s Revlon Gel Envy in “Long Shot” on everything but my ring finger; Avon Cosmic nail enamel in “Saturn” on my ring finger, and a matte topcoat on everything. I didn’t particularly love the all-orange look, but it did its job: hubby squealed in indignation when he saw it. Mischief managed!

Next up was another Sally Hansen Miracle Gel, this time in blue:

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel - Hydro-Electric
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel – Hydro-Electric

If you look closely here, especially at my pinky, you can see one of the weaknesses of the Miracle Gel line: opacity. This is two coats of Hydro-Electric, and you can still see visible nail line (noooo, the dreaded VNL!). The same thing has been the case with all the Miracle Gels I’ve tried: two coats isn’t going to cut it, and depending on the color, three might not either. Now, each coat dries quickly, so it’s not like it’s a huge hardship to have to slap a third on top, but I still keep being surprised by how even colors that look deep, dark, and opaque in the bottle thin out on my nail. I expect “gel” colors to be thick and opaque; Miracle Gel is neither.

After a couple of mostly-creme manis, I decided to go wild with a glitter. I laid down my trusty Nail Pattern Boldness Glitter A-peel, then went to town with Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in “Mermaid’s Tale”.

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure - "Mermaid's Tail"
Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure – “Mermaid’s Tale”

This is a deep blue-black jelly with blue and teal glitter. This is also a really terrible photo of this manicure. I apologize to those of you with a sense of aesthetics. For those of you who don’t care about my photography skills: I got about four days out of this before an entire index finger’s worth of polish popped clean off, signalling it was time to move on. Ah, peel-off base coat. You giveth and you taketh away.

Time for something that was neither creme nor glitter. Yay metallics!

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel - Purplexed
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel – Purplexed

Can you tell yet that I really like the Miracle Gels? Because yeah, this is another one. Folks, meet “Purplexed”, a metallic eggplant with just the tiniest smidge of blue duochrome effect. It was awesome. It lasted a week. It basically functioned like every other polish I’ve tried from the Miracle Gel line. Moving on…

Zoya - Dream
Zoya – Dream

Oh, my moons and stars! This is Zoya’s “Dream”, which I picked up during Zoya’s July three-for-free sale. I bought it hoping for a galaxy on my fingers and it did not disappoint. Zoya is a brand I don’t own too much of, so I’m still feeling it out for longevity and such. I put “Dream” on on September 5th, and though tip wear happened as usual, I didn’t see my first chip until the 11th. Six days: not too shabby for a non-gel polish.

And finally, the simplest manicure that’s ever made me feel disproportionately proud of my nail art abilities:

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel - Sugar Fix; Whet - Facetious
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel – Sugar Fix (light); Whet – Facetious (dark)

After seeing a similar manicure on Pinterest, I figured a) this would be pretty hard to screw up, and b) I totally had the colors to make it perfect! I did actually manage to screw it up a little – centering all those dots can be hard, and it’s easy to get drag marks on your dots if you’re not careful with your topcoat – but I still think it came out awesome. I am ze nail art wizard, yezzz.

What colors and patterns have you been wearing lately, my dears?

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel: how long will it really last?

Sally Hansen’s new Miracle Gel line of nail polishes is a gel hybrid that doesn’t require a special UV light. Instead, it cures using a little bit of chemistry between color and top coat, and a little bit of natural sunlight as you go about your day. It bills itself as lasting “up to 14 days”. Awesome, right? No fancy lamp, but just as much wear time? Well, I was skeptical. Even real salon baked-in-the-UV-oven gels don’t last that long on me; they start peeling from the bottom after about a week. But Sally produced some really cool colors in this line, and I found myself picking some of them up hopefully. The worst that could happen, I figured, would be it lasts as long as a not-particularly-special normal polish (on me, usually 4 days) and I get some cool colors into the bargain.

My first attempt with Hunger Flames, a metallic fuchsia, ended in sadness as I managed to scuff, gash, and ding half my nails into oblivion within the first hour (though each coat goes on thin and dries quickly, and the top coat will dry multiple coats to the touch in a few minutes, the finished manicure remained soft and harm-able on me for about 30-40 minutes. whoops.). I’m lazy, though, so I wore that for about five days, because who looks that closely at my hands?

Still, I wanted to give this stuff a serious road test to find out what it could do. So after I cleaned Hunger Flames off my nails, I decided to try again, with an accent nail and perhaps a bit less klutziness. So I grabbed Dig Fig, which is a red sort of in between strawberry and burgundy, my dotting tool, and two other polishes, and went to town. Freshly painted, I ended up with this:

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Dig Fig (red), Avol Gel Finish in Mudslide (brown), Piggy Polish in Yellow There (yellow)
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Dig Fig (red), Avon Gel Finish in Mudslide (brown), Piggy Polish in Yellow There (yellow). In my head this looked more like mod dots and less like googly eyes.

Each nail got three layers of Dig Fig, then a layer of the Miracle Gel top coat. Then I wandered outside and stood around for about five minutes to let the sun get at my hands. This isn’t strictly necessary – it’s not in the instructions or anything – but it seemed like a good idea. Sunlight = UV = more curing! When I came back inside after that, I added the dots on top of an accent nail on each hand, and then topped those nails only with NYC Grand Central Station top coat. I gave myself about an hour off doing anything heavy with my nails, to make sure everything was good and set, and then carried on with my life.

How did it last? Well, Day 5 was the first day I noticed tip wear; here’s my left hand that day:

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel manicure, Day 5
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel manicure, Day 5

On day 7, I noticed some tiny chips on my thumb and index finger on my right hand, but forgot to take a picture. Here’s how my right hand (I’m right-handed) looks today, on Day 9:

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel - Day 9
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel – Day 9

It looks pretty noticeable from that angle, especially on my index finger, but here’s the same hand a few minutes later, at a more realistic angle:

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel - Day 9
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel – Day 9

Tip wear? Sure. Edge of my thumb looking a bit worse for the wear? Yep. But the polish is still almost as glossy as it was on day 1, and I could definitely get at least a day or two more out of this before it got so bad that anyone but me noticed the wear. And I have had zero of the peeling-from-the-bottom problems I have with “real” gel that lasts less time.

I’m going to take this off today, because I want fresh nails for tomorrow, but I’m calling it: Sally’s 14-day wear time is more or less confirmed. Obviously everyone’s nails are different, but for me, where a typical manicure lasts 4 days and a salon gel lasts 6, 9+ days of wear from Sally is about as good as it gets.

Ipsy Bag July 2014

Ipsy time! This month’s bag was a weird one for me; the stuff I expected to love was pretty “meh”, but there was an unexpected gem, as well.

Ipsy Bag - July 2014
Ipsy Bag – July 2014

Let’s start with an inventory. From left to right up there, we have:

  • Whet Nails polish in Facetious, an electric blue. It took three coats to make this color even out and really pop on me, but when it popped, it popped and it looked great! The nail polishes I’ve gotten from Ipsy previously have been ehhhh, ok-ish, so I didn’t expect this one to blow me away as much as it did. This is a mini-size bottle, at 0.3 fl.oz. A full-size 0.5 oz bottle retails for $15, which means the bottle Ipsy sent me is worth about $6.
  • Pixi Tinted Brilliance Balm in Unique Pink, which supposedly a pH-reactive color that personalizes itself to you. You guys know my love for balm crayons, so I was excited to try this, but apparently my pH is “clear chapstick”, because that’s what this looks like on me. I received a 1.8 g sample size, while a 3 g full-size costs $14, so the sample is worth about $8.50
  • Befine Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15. This is an SPF moisturizer with “Rosemary Leaf Oil, Pomegranate Extract, Safflower Seed Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, and Rice protein.” Sounds tasty. I got a 1.5 fl. oz. sample, while a 1.7 oz full-size costs $24, so the sample is worth about $21.
  • Hang Ten Dark Tanning Oil in SPF 08. I’m frankly appalled that a beauty subscription service is sending out (sun-)tanning products when everyone is well aware of the effects that tanning has on skin and health. And considering that Ipsy knows that my skin tone is “ghostly pale” and I thus burn like a lobster at the slightest bit of sun, there’s even less of an excuse for sending something like this to me. There’s simply no way I would ever use a product like this, and I would discourage anyone from using “tanning oil” to bake themselves. For the record, this was a 1 oz. sample that appears to be worth about $4.
  • Bare Minerals 5-in-1 BB Advanced Performance Cream Eyeshadow with Broad Spectrum SPF 15 in Divine Wine. This is supposed to be a miracle potion that primes, brightens, smooths, sunscreens, and basically does everything except the dishes. I was super-excited to be getting a Bare Minerals product in my bag, because I lust after their eyeshadows, but the color they sent me is a dark-cocoa-brown-but-with-a-bit-of-sparkle (“wine”, my left foot!), which is about as far from a primer shade as you can get on my skin. It applied smoothly and blended ok, but I dunno, just…the color. It was weird. As a primer this is actually a pretty good product, but given that primers are usually skin-toned, and a properly colored primer thus won’t stand out as an eyeshadow, it seems weird to be trying to do both with one product. I received a teeny-tiny 0.03 oz sample tube of this (seriously, so tiny. I opened it and promptly fumbled the little cap/applicator and smeared brown eyeshadow all down the front of my shirt. Don’t be like me, kids). A full-size 0.1 oz tube retails for $18, so this was worth about $5.50.
  • Total retail value of products in bag: $45 (though nearly half of that total is made up of just the Befine moisturizer)

And now for pictures! Here’s my face using the Bare Minerals shadow and the Pixi balm (also wearing: Maybelline Dream Wonder Fluid-Touch Foundation in Porcelain Ivory, ELF Long-lasting Lustrous Eyeshadow in some sort of sparkly rose-pink color, and Milani Liquid Eye liner pencil in Purple). The hint of pink you see on my lips is not from the Pixi balm, but from remnants of a pink lipstick I had on before I decided to use the balm instead).

Ipsy July 2014 face
Ipsy July 2014 face

Here’s a close-up of the eyes.

Bare Minerals - Divine Wine (blended up into crease)
Bare Minerals – Divine Wine (blended up into crease); ELF Long-lasting Lustrous Eyeshadow in ??? (sparkly pink but I lost the box with color name on it)

And here’s Facetious. Ignore what looks like shimmer in the bottle, that’s actually just my fingerprints. This is a straight-up creme finish.

Whet Nails - Facetious
Whet Nails – Facetious

Overall, I’m ok with this bag. The nail polish alone is worth the whole bag, and I’m sure I’ll find ways to use the eyeshadow and lip balm. I haven’t tried the moisturizer yet, but it never hurts to have another one of those around. As for the tanning oil…straight into the trash bin, and I’m considering writing Ipsy a “wtf???” note to boot.

Nail Pattern Boldness – Glitter A-Peel peel-off base coat

Ah, glitter polish: love how it looks, hate getting it off. Even with the foil method, where you soak your fingers in acetone-covered cotton balls for a few minutes, I still find myself picking bits off with my nails, and what should be a two-minute removal turns into a half-hour ordeal that leaves my nails gouged and sad.

LA Girl Pop! - Birthday Cake. It looks so happy...until you try to take it off.
LA Girl Pop in “Birthday Cake”. It looks so happy…until you try to take it off.

So I was really excited when I started noticing blog posts late last year talking about peel-off base coats that can be used for glitter manicures. It seemed like one had come out from an Asian company at one point, but quickly become unobtainable, and lo, I was sad that I’d missed my chance. This was well before OPI released their peel-off, too – you darn kids don’t know how good you have it these days, with mainstream peel-off options!

Anyway, just when I was worried that I’d missed my chance, a bit more investigation turned up an indie polish brand who had developed their own peel-off base. Everyone, meet Nail Pattern Boldness and their Glitter A-Peel base coat! Per the product description, “This is NOT a glue basecoat, this contains the usual solvents and plasticizers found in all nail polish. This is also NOT three-free – it does contain Toluene.” So Glitter A-Peel is a different animal than the usual PVA (glue) base coats you’ll see homemade on Pinterest or for sale from brands like OPI.

I’ve used this base coat a handful of times now, and though it had a bit of a learning curve, I think I’ve finally figured out the winning formula for an effortless glitter removal. The trick for me has been to always use two coats of Glitter A-Peel, preferably thick-ish coats, as the base-est of my base coats (top it with any other base coat you use, like a ridge filler, etc) and to make sure I cover all of my nail and none of my cuticle (if you get it on your cuticle, it will not peel off easily…until you assume you’re safe, at which point it will snag and take half your manicure with it). Top with polish and top coat as you normally would.

Now, don’t expect a peel-off base coat to give you a lasting manicure. By definition, these bases keep polish from sticking tenaciously to the nail, which means it will chip and it will probably chip in large chunks. I haven’t had the experience with Glitter A-Peel that some bloggers report with other peel-off base coats, where an entire nail’s worth of polish pops off at once, but the chips for me are definitely more substantial chunks than they are tiny chips. I got about three days out of the LA Girl polish pictured above before the chips became noticeably large, which based on reviews I’ve read of peel-off base coats, is pretty damn good for a peel-off manicure.

Actually peeling off a manicure is ridiculously fun for me, when it goes right and things come off easily (as a kid, I used to beg my mom to buy me peel-off kiddie nail polish just so I could put it on and immediately peel it off). The trick to that part, I’ve found, is to believe Nail Pattern Boldness’s recommendation and resist the urge to use your fingernails to peel off the polish. Yes, you can get it started that way, but a) it will be messier and b) you risk breaking or chipping your nail itself. And anyway, you’ll be more likely to get a solid one-piece peel with something that can reach more than a millimeter or so under the polish. Here’s a demonstration of that.

A peel started with my index finger
A peel started with my index finger
The end of a peel started with my fingernail
The end of a peel started with my fingernail

In this peel that I started with my opposite hand index finger, the peel started ok, but because my fingernail is short and can’t go far, the polish fractured quickly into multiple pieces. They all peeled off (even the chunk at the bottom of my nail did, just separately), but not in a satisfying way.

Here, on the other hand, is what happened when I started the peel with an orange stick.

Peel started with an orange stick
Peel started with an orange stick
End of peel started with orange stick
End of peel started with orange stick

Seriously, popping it off in one piece (or almost one piece) is so much more viscerally satisfying! Here’s what the leavings of all ten nails looked like.

The remains of a peeled-off manicure
The remains of a peeled-off manicure

The whole thing took about ten minutes, including pausing to take these pictures, and I didn’t have to touch a single drop of acetone to clean up around the edges (though you may if you find you’ve applied polish to areas of your nail that you missed hitting with the base coat).

If you’re in the market for a peel-off base coat, I would definitely recommend Nail Pattern Boldness’s take on it!

Sally Hansen Triple Shine – Make Waves

So, remember a few weeks ago when I told you about my utter fail with Sally Hansen Triple Shine’s “Make Waves”? It swatched sheer, so I tried to put it over white polish and ended up in a layering disaster. Well, I decided to give it another chance this week. After all, what better time to try a sheer blue-green duochrome than when your nails are stained Kermit-the-frog green and you’ve cut them rather overzealously short (seriously, I managed to cut my right index finger below the quick somehow. Ow.) to try to nip it in the bud? The staining can only help with opacity, and with no nail above the tips of my fingers, there’s no possible visible nail line through the sheerness!

Sally Hansen Triple Shine - Make Waves
Sally Hansen Triple Shine – Make Waves

And you know what? I like this polish. A lot. Every time I catch sight of my hands I have an urge to shout “My fingers are mermaids!” (yes, I might be weird) because it’s just that perfect, summery, mermaid-scale iridescent blue-green. It’s not even as sheer as I was afraid after swatching it. The manicure in this photo is two coats, and though if you look hard you can see some nail, it really doesn’t come off as sheer at all once it’s on.

I’m on day three of this manicure now and I’m seeing some tip wear and a small chip in the same place on my right thumb that always chips (seriously, I swear I am not hitting it with a hammer, what gives?), but the other nice thing about this light shimmer is that it’s disguising those imperfections pretty well. Make Waves, I love you!

Manicure round-up

I’m sorry I’ve gone quiet this week. There’s been some pressing real-life stuff that’s been forcing me away from the computer.

The good news is that due to that real-life stuff, I did some more stress buying, and I just acquired what I believe are the last 3 colors from Revlon’s Matte Balm collection, which means that when I find the time – hopefully this weekend – I can do a complete on-the-lips swatching of the whole collection!

The bad news is that post isn’t happening today 😦 Instead, I’ve got a quick round-up of the polishes I’ve tried out over the past few weeks. Hey, it’s better than nothing! So, onward.

Revlon Parfumerie - Lime Basil, topped by ELF - Enchanted
Revlon Parfumerie – Lime Basil, topped by ELF – Enchanted

After the orange fails I had with Revlon Parfumerie polishes, I wanted to give another bright a try (I’ve already had success with darker colors from the line, but I wanted to see whether all the brights were problematic). Lime Basil, a bright lime green, was thankfully not nearly as streaky as Orange Blossom was a month ago. I wouldn’t say the formula was anywhere near perfect – it was still a bit of a struggle to get on neatly – but it’s at least way better. And how much do you love this matte white glitter topper from E.L.F? It reminds me a lot of the much-more-expensive “Doily” topper from Butter London.

On the other hand, let’s talk about Lime Basil’s scent. Whoever called this “Lime Basil”, well…let’s just say their nose is not my nose. Or my husband’s. He and I both agree that this would be better titled “soapy pine trees”, but I suppose that wouldn’t be as catchy a name.

And, well…after taking it off, I looked like I’d been doing illicit things with Kermit the Frog. Even though I wore a basecoat under the Lime Basil, this was the scene after removal:


This is not the first Parfumerie polish I’ve had staining troubles with (Autumn Spice was also hellish, though looks great on the nail!). I took that staining picture on…let’s see…June 15. It’s now July 1, and no amount of scrubbing, acetone-ing, or anything else has budged that damn stain. Which has made it really difficult to wear the lighter colors I’ve been wanting to wear. Case in point, Sinful Colors’s “On the Bright Side”.

Sinful Colors – On the Bright Side

This is an egg yolk-colored orangey-yellow, and I loved it at first sight in the bottle. But it’s a little streaky and it’s definitely not an opaque enough color to hide dark green kermit fingers, which meant I had to try layering it over white polish. And as usual, that made things awkward. The final result wasn’t actually that bad – I could certainly have worn this out of the house, for all that it’s a bit chunky – but by the time I finished two layers of white and three layers of On The Bright Side, plus some Seche Vite, on one hand, I was sick to death of staring at this manicure and just took it off!

I replaced it with something I knew wouldn’t show the kermit stains: vampy dark red.

Rimmel Salon Pro - Red Award
Rimmel Salon Pro – Red Award

This polish is actually close to a jelly on first application – I believe it took three or four coats to build it to this opacity, and the color progressively darkened with each coat. Initial coats were closer to the color you see staining my cuticles here, more of a strawberry red. I kind of wish that lighter color had persisted through the coats, but then it’s not like I don’t already have lighter reds in my collection. Nevertheless, the final result here was very nice indeed, especially when I added a matte topcoat (Nicole by OPI, to be specific) to half of each nail, which added some quick and easy dimension.

And lastly, we have what I’m wearing now: Jessie’s Girl High Intensity Nail Color (only available in Rite Aid, at least near me) in Blue Moon:

Jessie's Girl - Blue Moon
Jessie’s Girl – Blue Moon

This is a really great blurple metallic polish. If you’re familiar with Rimmel Salon Pro’s Barmy Blue, imagine that with a metallic finish added and you’re pretty close to this. I’ve had this on for three days now and it’s holding up pretty darn well – only the very tiniest of chips on my right thumb. This did have some weird reactions with Seche Vite, though – after applying the top coat, the polish underneath cracked in a couple of spots, like the Seche Vite had pulled it apart. It was easily fixed by dabbing some new polish on top of those spots, though, so not a big deal.

Polish Longevity Check – Sally Hansen Color Foil

*bzzt* *PA system whine* We now interrupt your previously-schedule swatch week to bring you a polish longevity check!

As a reminder, here was Sally Hansen Color Foil Nail Makeup in “Purple Alloy” immediately after application (polish only, no base or top coat, as per the bottle instructions):

Sally Hansen Color Foil - Purple Alloy

Here’s that polish the next morning:

Sally Hansen Color Foil - Purple Alloy - day 2

As I expected, this was not a long-wear polish. Within 24 hours, I had a significant chip on my left middle finger and tip wear everywhere else. I decided to let things ride and see how the polish looked again in a few days. Here it was on day 5, this afternoon:

Sally Hansen Color Foil - Purple Alloy - day 5

On the one hand, it’s obviously significantly degraded, and if I weren’t testing the formula, I probably would have taken the polish off before this. On the other hand…there really were no more chips after that middle finger. Abundant tip wear, yes, but no chips or flaking. No missing chunks that scream “if you don’t take me off right now, you’re going to look like a fool in public.” I’m actually impressed with how well this held up for a “nail makeup” type polish. I could easily have touched it up with a tiny bit of polish to the tip of each finger and kept wearing it past day 5.

Overall, as long as you go into your relationship with this polish knowing it’s not going to last long-term, it’s pretty darn good at being what it is.

Swatch week – manicure edition

My posts have been coming really slowly lately, and I think part of that is because I’m putting pressure on myself to write nice, comprehensive reviews of everything I’m posting about. But I know that when I go hunting for a product on beauty blogs, the thing I’m mostly interested in is seeing the product in use, on/against someone’s skin! Reviews, while useful, are sort of secondary.

So to try to shake myself out of this rut, I’m going to devote the next few posts to swatches and quick comments about many things, rather than trying to go in-depth on a few.

Today, I’m doing a sampling of manicures I’ve worn in the past few weeks. Some were awesome; some were…not. All of them will display my usual utter lack of talent when it comes to cleaning up around my cuticles, so I apologize in advance for that horror.

Avon Purplicious and Rimmel Punk Rock
Avon Gel Finish in “Purplicious” (lighter color) and Rimmel Salon Pro with Lycra in “Punk Rock” (darker color)

I loved the color contrast in this manicure (and both formulas are a long-lasting dream), but it was my first time going back to plain creme finishes after a few weeks of fancy glitters, and I got bored of this quickly.

Sally Hansen Triple Shine - Make Waves
Sally Hansen Triple Shine in “Make Waves” (over L’Oreal “I Will!”)

This was a complete failure. I really wanted to make “Make Waves” work, because that iridescent sort of seafoam greenblue is awesome, but this formula was so. damn. sheer. Even four coats on my swatch stick couldn’t opaque it up, so when it came time to put it on my hands, I decided to try layering it over a white polish. Unfortunately, the only white polish I own is also prone to streakiness. So I piled on two coats of L’Oreal’s “I Will!” trying to get that evened out, and then followed it up with three coats of “Make Waves” for a still-not-completely-opaque finish, and by then I had so many damn layers of paint on my fingernails that they still weren’t dry a few hours later and I dinged them all to hell every time I moved.

So yeah, this lasted about six hours before I gave up and took it off.

Revlon Gel Envy - All In
Revlon Gel Envy in “All In”

This was my first try at Revlon’s new Gel Envy line. I bought this and the line’s topcoat and tried them together. Love this color, a vampy sort of dark blue. The wear time was really good – I think I got a week out of this – and removal, despite the glitter bits, was simple. The only complaint I had here was that the Gel Envy topcoat, which I used instead of my usual Seche Vite, dulled down faster than I would have liked. So the manicure’s shine only lasted me a few days, followed by a few days of “polish still unchipped, but it’s not really popping”. The next time I tried a polish from this line (“Showtime”, a sparkly purple I forgot to take pictures of, sorry!), I topped the Gel Envy topcoat with Seche Vite.

Revlon Moon Candy - Orbit
Revlon Moon Candy in “Orbit”

This is the polish I just took off today. I’d say that while this was brilliant in concept, the execution went a bit wonky. The creme polish in this duo is a really pretty dark blue-purple, but it’s a bit on the thin side, and I got it all over pretty much everything when applying it. On the bright side, it’s pretty close to a one-coat wonder (I did two here just to be sure, but I probably didn’t need to).

The glitter in this is shards, which are prone to sticking up off the nail, rather than thinner, more flexible flakes. I had a small amount of trouble with them sticking up, but really it was less trouble than I expected to have, based on reviews I’d read of this polish. The real problem I had with this glitter is that something about it didn’t play nice with my Seche Vite topcoat. It was almost like some chemical in the Seche Vite (which, for the record, is pretty much a chemical concoction of doom and is neither 3- nor 5-free ) started partially dissolving the glitter shards. It didn’t happen on every nail, or on every piece of glitter on nails it affected, but on some chunks of nail, this is what I ended up with:

Revlon Moon Candy - Orbit - Seche Vite messy
“Orbit”s glitter didn’t get along so well with Seche Vite

See that patch on the upper right? That’s where Vite and Orbit had a fight and I was left with some chewed-up looking glitter. The Seche Vite also didn’t completely even out the finish on this, so my nails looked chunky rather than smooth.

Also, this stained my nail beds hot pink, even though I used base coat under it. Why hot pink, for a dark purple polish? Dear reader, I have no more idea than you do; just keep it in mind if you decide to pick this up.

Sally Hansen Color Foil "nail makeup" in "Purple Alloy"
Sally Hansen Color Foil “Nail Makeup” in “Purple Alloy”

This is what I put on today after taking off Orbit, so I have no real idea how it’s going to last, though I suspect it will chip quickly (I’ll keep you guys informed about that). The biggest things I noticed about this polish are

1) That it’s labeled “nail makeup” rather than “nail polish”. For no particular reason, I suspect this to be code for “it’ll last about as long as you leave on face makeup, rather than as long as nail polish does”. The label also explicitly notes that you should “touch up as needed”. Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to get a week out of this baby.

2) You know how all nail polish tells you to “shake well” and you’re like “yeah uh-huh, looks fine to me” and you maybe give it one halfhearted shake and call it good? Yeah, no, you can’t do that here. When they say to shake they mean it, because the purple pigment and the silver “foil” pigment separate, and if you don’t give it a good five-second shaking, you’re going to end up with some purple streaks and some silver ones.

Oh, also I got this one everywhere when trying to put it on, too. Yay me.