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.


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!

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.

Revlon Parfumerie Orange Blossom = fail

I’ve been having crazy amounts of success with Revlon products recently. I’m in love with their various types of balm lip crayons, I adore their new Gel Envy nail polish line, and their Parfumerie nail polish line made me wonder why I ever doubted the idea of scented nail polish.

Until today. Today, I decided to hop aboard the summer neon trend and paint my nails with one of my newer Parfumerie acquisitions: Orange Blossom. This is a gorgeous, full-bodied orange color that smells, at least to me, like an orange creamsicle. A creamsicle, guys! What could possibly go wrong?

Revlon orange blossom in bottle
Mmmm, creamsicles

Unfortunately, and very uncharacteristically for this line of polishes, it turns out a lot can go wrong. And by “a lot” I mean “all the streaks. All of them.”

Revlon orange blossom polish
That accent nail, by the way, is also Revlon, this time their new Leather finish in “Leather Skinnies”. Love!

I could not get this polish to even out. It just has no self-level, at all. I tried with base coat, I tried without base coat. I tried thin coats, I tried thick coats. I tried slapping the polish on quickly to avoid dragging, I tried applying it painstakingly slowly. I tried slathering Seche Vite on top to even things up, but all that did was make photography more difficult because of the shine. Nothing worked; no matter what I did, my polish looked like it had been put on by a two-year-old.

Revlon orange blossom polish 2
This is the best photo I was able to get of this hot mess

These photos don’t quite do the mess justice; in real life, the streaks were much, much more evident, but the glare in the pics masks it a bit. It looked so bad, even from a distance, that I didn’t even bother to clean it up or try it on my other hand. I just called it a loss and acetone-d the whole thing into oblivion.

(Comic relief: my husband just came into my work room and asked if I’d painted my nails. I told him that I had, but it looked so bad that I had taken it right off, and offered to show him a picture. I showed him the first swatch from this post, and his response was “Well of course it looked bad, you painted your fingers two completely different colors!” Ah, men.)

My results with Orange Blossom were really, really disappointing, not only because I’ve found that Revlon products are usually very high-quality, but because this particular line of polishes has otherwise proven to be so great for me. The other Parfumerie polishes I’ve tried have applied with no problems at all, and lasted for nearly a week before the first chip. Other than the frosty-finished ones (which tend toward sheerness), many of my Parfumerie polishes have been one-coat wonders, or close to it. The only other Parfumerie polish I’ve had trouble with has been Apricot Nectar, a paler orange, which was also very streaky. I find myself wondering if something in Revlon’s formula for oranges has gone very wrong.

Don’t let this stop you from trying out Revlon Parfumerie polishes, guys. In general, they’re awesome. Just…maybe avoid the oranges if you’re not into streaks.

Review: ORLY Black Hole

Last week I was rocking one of ORLY’s FX glitters called “Black Hole”. It’s a sheer black creme polish with red circle glitter, silver hex glitter, and blue bar glitter. The whole effect is oddly 4th-of-July-ish, considering it’s sunk in black polish.

3 coats on middle finger; 4 coats elsewhere

Unfortunately, the formula and I didn’t get along all that well. For one thing, for all that it’s black, this stuff is sheer. See my middle finger up there? That’s three coats of the polish, and you can still see my nail through it. It’s tough to build this up to a solid finish. It’s definitely going to take you a whole lot of coats to make it look like the swatch of this color on ORLY’s website.

Here’s how it looked as a complete manicure, topped with Seche Vite. Not bad, honestly. It’s pretty cool! Pardon the awkward photo; I’m very much not a photographer and I’m still trying to figure out what angle and lighting works. Also the walls of the room I work in for makeup are…chartreuse. So.

4 coats of ORLY Black Hole
4 coats of ORLY Black Hole

Alas, it’s not going to stick around long-term once you have it on. Here’s how it looked on the morning of day 3:

Starting to chip
Starting to chip

Index and ring fingers starting to chip…and here’s my hand at the end of day 3:

Well. That escalated quickly.

Annnnd this is the point at which I declare a manicure a loss and start picking at it. By the time I went to bed on Day 3, I’d taken this polish off (with much effort. This is as painful to take off as any other hardcore glitter polish. Stock up on acetone!)

I would wear this polish again, but only for something where I specifically wanted either a black polish or a red-white-and-blue effect – its lack of longevity and the (typical for glitter) difficulty in taking it off made it not really all that fun to play with.

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”

Polish longevity check: Polka dot nails

Time to check in on that Polka Dot Nail Art I did last week. How did my Rimmel Salon Pro + Seche Vite manicure last? Amazingly well!  When looking at these pictures, keep in mind that I spend most of my day typing, so my nails are in constant use. I also don’t avoid doing things like opening pull-tab cans or washing dishes. I’d say I’m about in the middle of the pack as far as how hard I am on my manicures – I don’t baby my hands, but neither am I a doctor who has to wash them ten times a day or anything.

Here it was on my left hand the day I applied it:

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

Here’s how it looked on my right hand day 4. No idea why I switched to photographing that hand, but since I’m right-handed and that one is more likely to show wear anyway, it works for our purposes:

Notice the beginnings of tip wear, especially on index finger and thumb, and the slightly ragged edges at the bottom of each nail
Notice the beginnings of tip wear, especially on index finger and thumb, and the slightly ragged edges at the bottom of each nail

There was a little bit of tip wear, and the bottom edges of the polish on each finger had started to catch in my hair, but for the most part, it looks pristine!

Here’s how it looked on day 6, just before I took it off. Again, right hand:

Tip wear has gotten worse, and chunks are now missing from the bottom of my index finger and thumb
Tip wear has gotten worse, and chunks are now missing from the bottom of my index finger and thumb

The tip wear we saw on day 4 has gotten a little worse, and the bottom edge of my index finger and thumb have chipped a bit, but if you just glanced at my hands quickly, you wouldn’t notice anything amiss. In fact, I had a cashier stop me when I was paying her for my lunch on day 6 to tell me how much she loved my nails! I could probably have gotten another day or two out of this manicure before it became obviously crappy.

So there you have it: Rimmel Salon Pro nail polish, topped with Seche Vite topcoat, equals a 6+ day manicure. Is it the Rimmel or the Seche that makes this a powerhouse manicure? I’m not sure. If people are interested, I might do some tests putting Rimmel alone up against Rimmel + Seche Vite, and see what shakes out (or chips off…)

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.