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!

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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?

A Sunday Mani

I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding few weeks from now, and my dress is navy blue. I’ve been obsessively swatching together bits of my nail polish collection for weeks to try to find a combination of colors that lets me do something interesting to match my dress, and I think I found the right pair today!

I’ve got smears of various blue polishes all over my hands right now, but I was so excited by how much I liked this mani that I took the picture to share anyway. Hopefully when I wear it for real at the wedding, it’ll be slightly neater…

bridesmaid mani

Base: Rimmel Salon Pro in “Barmy Blue”

Tips: Freehanded, messily, with Julie G Textured Nail Color in “Sleigh Ride”

Spring weather means spring nails!

Things have been unseasonably weird here in New York lately. We hit 75° a few days ago, and then the night after that we had snow! Nevertheless, the approach of spring means it’s time to start using colors that aren’t quite so…severe. I decided to try my first real polka-dot manicure today, using a couple of colors that seemed springy.

Easter nails!
Easter egg nails!

For a base coat here I used Sally Hansen Double Duty, which, as usual, I then immediately proceeded to scuff up on four nails by smashing them into the edge of my desk. Nevertheless, I plowed onwards and added Rimmel Salon Pro with LYCRA in “Yes sir!”, a dusty sage green creme.

I really like these Salon Pro polishes; they dry quickly and the Lycra really does seem to make them a bit more flexible and forgiving of activities that would chip other polishes. “Yes sir!” applied just the slightest bit streaky on the first coat, but a second coat evened it out and made it perfectly opaque. You could probably get away with one coat on this if you applied it thickly. I also love the brush on these Rimmel polishes – it’s a bit shorter and wider than a typical nail polish brush, and two swipes covers my nails just perfectly.

Rimmel brush
Rimmel brush

I waited about five minutes after applying “Yes sir!” before I attacked with my dotting tool. The polka dots here are L’Oreal Color Riche in “I Will!” (the white dots) and E.L.F. “Nude” from the 14-piece Brights Nail Cube gift set (the pink dots – side note: there is also a E.L.F. Essential shade called “Nude”, but I can’t tell from eyeballing it on the website if it’s the same color).

A dotting tool, by the way, looks like this:

Double-ended dotting tool
Double-ended dotting tool (pardon the crust on the end – I didn’t clean off the polish before I took this photo)

It’s a pencil-sized object with a tip that tapers and then rounds off (mine has two ends, with two different-sizes rounded heads). You dip the tool into your polish, the touch it to your nail, and it leaves behind a perfectly-round dot. Well, or a mostly-round dot. Or occasionally a smear, if you’re me. But at any rate, it produces better dot results than you can ever hope to get by just dabbing a nail polish wand to your nail.

At this point, I had some unevenness in my polish, more the fault of my scuffed base coat than of the polishes themselves. Luckily, I have a secret weapon: Seche Vite topcoat, which is magic as far as I’m concerned. I’d seen blogs rave about it for months before I decided to try it, though I didn’t quite understand what could be so special about a topcoat, but it turns out Seche Vite has a couple of things going for it. First, it can be applied over wet nail polish. Not just “this isn’t quite dry” nail polish, but even “I just put that on thirty seconds ago” nail polish. Second, it dries almost gel-polish-like, so that rather than being hard and chip-y, it dents and then bounces back, and its thickness evens out any unevenness in the polish underneath it. And third, once it’s on your nail, your nails are basically dry in ten minutes. I mean, don’t go smashing them into things or anything – you can still harm your manicure – but the tackiness that comes with normal nail polish dry-time isn’t there. You go right from wet to “can use my hands, carefully”.

A closer look at my dots
A closer look at my dots

And that’s what goes into a polka-dot manicure! With a dotting tool, this is actually a really, really simple way to get some cute nail art on your hands, very little coordination required.

Stay tuned for some shots of how this manicure wears over time, coming in a few days.