Thursday, May 29, 2014

How I Make My Nail Polish Swatch Sticks + Nail Polish Storage + Untrieds

This is one of the most-asked questions I get and since I'm super anal about my swatch sticks I thought I'd share my method. There are a million different ways to do them and I am not claiming to have the "best" or anything. This is just how I do mine and how I like them to look. I'll explain why as I go along.

I will also touch on how I store my swatch sticks and my nail polish.

As a warning, this is a very heavy-picture post but there's no other way to do it unless I make a video and I'm not up for that so photos it is!

Julep - Saaya & Jane

I received Saaya in my May Julep Maven box (I upgraded to the Polish Lover's collection, as usual!), the theme for may was "The Fresh Twist Collection". Julep describes her as a "golden apricot shimmer", which I think is pretty accurate. It's a light orange with gold shimmer/sheen. It's one of those colours I would never normally wear but I keep staring at it so I thought I'd give it a go! To enhance the shade and add some sparkle, I used Julep's Jane (named after Julep's founder Jane Park) on the accent nail. This shade is described by Julep as a, "full-coverage rose gold multi-dimensional glitter". 

I'm super pale so warmer colours like this look kinda "meh" on me. If you have a tan or darker skin tones, this colour would look absolutely stunning on you!

Okay, onto the polish!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Julep's Moisture Mask Trio

I'm sure you've seen these floating around on the Julep site and in the Secret Store. They are special moisture-saturated covers that you slip onto your hands/nails/feet and wear for 30 minutes -- guaranteed to create softy smushy bliss!

I first tried the nail ones I got in the "Mind Your Mani" kit from Julep (has 3 sets of moisture masks, a Mighty Cuticle Serum pen, an Oxygen Nail Treatment, and a Freedom Polymer topcoat). I can't remember how much I paid for it but it was over the holiday season so it must've been a good price! (Julep has the best holiday sales!). I LOVE the nail masks!! Seriously, I leave them on for 30 minutes (you can still use touch-screen devices with them on but be careful, they get slippery and can slide off your fingers easily). They're like little paper fabric covers that go over your fingertip, about down to the first knuckle. Inside is the serum. Feels kind of slimy at first but you get used to it. When you take them off your nails look amazing!!

I snagged the Moisture Mask Trio wondering what it would be like. Feet, hands, and nails?? I was dying of curiosity!

Read on after the jump…

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Color Club - Ulterior Motive

This is not a polish colour I would ever randomly pick. That sounds mean but in the bottle it's just kinda "meh". I was feeling kinda "hot summer" and craving something bright. I made myself skip Llarowe's summer CBL restock/pre-order thingy so wanted to "use what I have" and stop pouting. I picked this randomly and put it on before I could rethink it. I'm SO glad I did! Wowza! I love it!

I bought this a few weeks ago as part of a random Color Club set at Marshalls (all the polishes were from different collections). I looked it up and this shade is from the Alter Ego 2011 (spring?) collection. It's kind of a bright magenta/purple jelly with blue, pink, purple micro glitter. One of those ones that looks weird in the bottle but amazing on the nail. SO glad I have this. I'm not usually a "brights" person but I'm not kidding, I really love it!


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Girly Bits - D!ck In A Box

Another Girly Bits favourite! And hey, who doesn't love the name?? For those of you who don't know, it references a Saturday Night Live skit with Justin Timberlake. It's hilarious! I strongly suggest you find it on YouTube. :) Seriously, it's only funny if you see the whole skit.

And for those of you who HAVE seen the skit, this is giggle-worthy too!
OK, onto the polish!! :)

More please? (jump…)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

China Glaze - Keep Calm, Paint On

I am an absolute sucker for minty greens. I saw this one recently at Marshalls and scooped it up, waiting for a good day to use it. :)

Keep Calm, Paint On is from China Glaze's Avant Garden/Pastel Petals Spring 2013 collection. It's a pastel minty green with a faint silver shimmer. It reminds me of "Siren Song" by Picture Polish but in reality it leans more blue (& the Picture Polish one has chunks of silver glitter, this one just has a shimmer). I have a million minty/seafoamy greens and can't get enough of them. I love it!

I used 2 coats of polish and one of topcoat. Oddly, it was only mildly streaky. The formula was surprisingly good. I expected streak-city but it wasn't. Went on nicely and self-leveled. :)

Under my LED desk lamp. It looks kinda weird… better photos after the jump!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Julep - Alfre

Alfre is one of Julep's older shades. There is no year/number on the bottom sticker and I am having trouble figuring out just when it was released. It has the older, thin brush inside (which I hate) but you can always use the Plié Wand/short brush with it (I used the brush it came with).

EDIT/UPDATE: Shayna, over at The Polish Jinx just let me know it's from August 2012 -- THANK YOU!!! <3

More after the jump...

My Nail Care Routine!

I get a lot of questions about how I take care of my nails so I thought it easiest to put it all in one post.

How often do I have bare nails?
When I was working as a nurse (I'm on medical leave right now), I rarely wore polish. I worked in critical care and polish was not permitted. I would work 2 days then 2 nights and have 4 days off in-between -- not much time for polish!
In August 2013 I started getting into polish more and more but was about to start grad school (to do my masters in library & information science). Again, little time for polish! Up until around the end of March 2014 I was doing full weekly manicures (& pedicures). After March 2014 I started doing my nails almost daily.
Back to the original question: I rarely have bare nails! It makes me feel naked.

Do you do ALL the steps every single day??
Definitely not. As I go through the steps, I'll explain what I do daily vs every few days.

Doesn't all that stuff damage your nails?
I try to use quality products and take really good care of my nails, cuticles, and hands. I think non-polish things damage your nails/hands WAY more (cold, water, alcohol hand sanitizer, not moisturizing, over-washing, etc). I also use preventative products and try to take care of problems right away.

How much nail polish DO you have??
A LOT. I stopped counting though. I went through a phase where I bought a ton but I've slowed down a lot, gotten pickier, and I'm trying to use all my "untrieds" (i.e. polish I bought, shoved in a box and forgot about).

Why don't you do more nail art?
Nail art is not my forte! I'm just not good at it. I might try the odd thing (stamping, for example) but it comes out looking wonky. I'm better at just doing straight colour with the odd glitter or holo topper.

Feel free to ask me any questions. I'll get into my usual nail routine below, after the jump…
(warning, it's long!!)

Julep's Party's Over Glitter Removal Kit

Like most polish lovers, I HATE removing glitter polish. It takes FOREVER to scrub it off using regular polish remover (don't even think about using non-acetone remover). The alternative was to pick it off -- and ruin my nails. I eventually heard about Target's Up&Up brand acetone remover that comes in a little tub. Instead of a sponge inside like most brands, it has a soft plastic bristly scrubber thing. You basically just put your finger in and move it up & down until the polish comes off. It works pretty well except it's killer on your cuticles. The acetone turns your skin white but it washes off easily.

Then I heard about the "Foil Method" -- you can Google it or find videos on YouTube if you're curious. Basically you put an acetone-soaked cotton ball on your fingertip, wrap it in foil, wait 5 minutes and voila! No more glitter polish! This method works extremely well -- but it's messy (drips everywhere) and hard to get the foils on when you're alone and want to do all 10 nails at once (I used to make my boyfriend wrap the last ones that were too awkward for me to do myself).

And then… Julep came out with a "Party's Over Glitter Removal Kit"!! I was super psyched about this and bought it the minute they posted them on their site. Even the name is absolutely PERFECT! (reminds me of the line in "Weird Science" when Anthony Michael Hall passes out in that bar and Lisa says, "Party's over!" LOL).
But… What's in it?? How does it work? DOES it work??

See for yourself… (taking off Enchanted Polish's "Ciao Milano")

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Enchanted Polish - Ciao Milano

I am super excited about this! I bought Ciao Milano last fall but it's been sitting in my untrieds since then (yes, I am crazy). This is one of the more sought-after Enchanted Polish shades. This particular shade is one of four that make up the Big City Lights Collection from 2012. It is a multichromatic super shifting glitter polish and shifts between green, blue, purple, and pink depending on the lighting and the angle of your fingertips. It's sooo beautiful!!

To bring out the best in this polish I layered it over a straight black crème (Julep's Jet). I applied one coat of black (it was nearly a one-coat polish, I love Julep's Jet!). I then applied 2 coats of Ciao Milano and a layer of Seche Vite. I could've gone for an extra layer of Ciao Milano but I wanted some of the black to show through and I don't like my polish to be too thick. I also had a migraine and wasn't thinking straight (NO idea why I was doing my nails with a migraine -- but that kind of explains the imperfect application). Anyway, let's give it a peek!

(warning: picture heavy!!)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

An Attempt At Half-Moons using Julep's Zelda and Trina

I usually don't do much nail art. I have tried but even stamping poses a challenge for me. I'm way better at just straight-swatches (i.e. one colour only!). But I was feeling brave so I decided to try doing half-moons with Julep Zelda (a gorgeous gold foil-finish polish) and Julep Trina (a deep dark shimmery purple, reminds me of grape popsicles!).

I had no idea where to start so I Google-searched a few tutorials and got out a sheet of reenforcement stickers. I dabbed them on the back of my hand to get some of the adhesive off (this is so it doesn't rip off half your polish!). I painted my nails first with Julep's Zelda (just one coat). I looovveee this colour!! I want to use it for everything now! It was in my untried pile, now I want to paint my room with it! After it dried I placed the reenforcement stickers at the base of the nail, near the cuticle where I wanted the "half-moon" shape to be. Of course, I had taken off too much adhesive by sticking them on my skin so they kept lifting up. I used Scotch tape to hold them down (keeping the tape off my nails). My nails are still super curvy and the reinforcements kept lifting at the edges. Grr. See what I mean?? I'm not good at nail art!

I kept at it though and proceeded to paint over the uncovered part of my nail with Julep's Trina (another untried but I lovelovelove this colour! It's a very dark purple but had a glowy purple shimmer inside, it's so pretty! Again, it reminds me of grape popsicles, I love it!

Immediately after painting with Trina I pulled off the tape and reinforcements. I covered it with a topcoat (Seche Vite). This is how it turned out. Kinda blah. It looked messy around the edges so I used a small nail art brush to kinda fill in the weird parts and straighten the lines a bit. It didn't help much. Anyway, here it is.

I took this picture under halogen lighting in my kitchen.

I would most likely try this look again. I like the aesthetic of it, it's just too messy for me to wear out of the house! I'm kinda weird about my nails being messy. It was a fun attempt though.

Any tips??

I purchased these polishes myself from Julep (though these are older shades and may/may not be available presently). You can find Julep polishes at Julep and Sephora.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Crows Toes - L'il Miss Cyanide

After my shimmer experience yesterday I dug through my polishes to find other similar ones -- with the rule of it having to be an "untried" from my stash. Out came Crows Toes "L'il Miss Cyanide". I purchased this several months ago but have yet to try it beyond making a swatch stick (which reminds me, I will be doing a blog post on how I make my swatch sticks, since everyone asks). It is from the springTHIS collection 2013. The *only* thing that bugs me (& just because I'm weird about things like this) is the apostrophe placement on the colour name label is wrong. It says "L'il" when is should be "Li'l" (since an apostrophe in the middle of a word is meant to replace the missing letters). Now that I have that out of my system, onto the review!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Zoya - Happi

Feeling a little inspired to wear pink (yep, it's Wednesday), I wanted to go for a light pink. I asked my lady friends and there was a toss-up between a few shades I selected. Unable to decide between two of them (Dior Princess or Zoya Happi), I literally spun them around, closed my eyes and picked. Zoya's Happi won!

This is one of my untrieds that I bought recently (in the past few months). I had been eyeballing it for a while and finally just added it onto another order I was placing. I'm always worried when wearing anything warm-leaning because I'm super pale and it looks weird -- but this is kind of a bubblegum pink saturated with gold shimmer. It's really quite pretty! There has been some question about Julep's "Laree" looking too similar. And while it's a pink-with-gold-shimmer, the Julep one is darker and less gold-shimmery. The Zoya one is a very light/bright bubblegum pink. The Julep one is a dark, almost salmony pink (but it's also fairly bright). They are different, trust me!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Product Review - imPRESS Press-On Manicure

NB: This product was provided to me free of charge to review. I am giving my honest opinion in this post.

As a member of Influenster, I recently received this product to test and review. I received 2 styles in my package. One is "Evil Queen" (#KL0615) -- which I am reviewing today, the other style is "D050 Hottie" (#KK1020). The "Evil Queen" style is from the Disney Villains collection.

(small warning, this post is extra picture-heavy, wanted to give you the best view of them I could)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Girly Bits - Sailor's Delight!

On Monday's we wear orange. Ok. Not the same as the Wednesday/pink thing but I rarely wear orange. It's just hard to find an orange that works for me. But I'm trying to expand beyond my usual red/purple range and use my untrieds. I bought Girly Bits "Sailor's Delight" a while back because… well… it's so damn pretty in the bottle! But I haven't used it yet because it's orange and I'm always scared it will look weird on me (because I'm so pale and warmer colours don't really work). Girly Bits describes this shade as "a deep red-orange jelly with incredible gold micro-glitter that sparkles like mad!!". I would have to agree! I own many polishes by Girly Bits and ALL of them are incredibly beautiful. If you're looking for a new indie brand and haven't tried her polishes, I highly recommend!

Girly Bits Cosmetics is also located in Southern Ontario (Canada) very near to where I grew up so I'm kind of proud of that fact -- it's always nice when local peeps are successful and create awesome things. :)
The formula is super smooth, applies easily and dries quickly (but not too quickly!). Because it's a jelly you can see the gold micro glitter through the layers and that adds a lot of depth. I hesitated on adding an orange cream base under and opted to just layer up this shade alone. It is somewhat sheer though. I did 3 coats plus Seche Vite topcoat for these photos. I was going to do a 4th coat of polish just to give more coverage against the nail line but I don't like it when my polish looks to thick so I kept with the 3.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Colors By Llarowe - The Mighty Red Baron

It's no secret that I LOVE red polish! A holo red, even moreso. When I saw this one I knew I had to have it but it was always one of the first to sell out during restocks. My patience was rewarded and I finally have my hands on "The Mighty Red Baron" from Colors By Llarowe!

It is described on the website as "deep vampy red scattered holo". The formula is awesome! 2 coats of polish and a coat of Seche Vite. Cleanup was super easy, no staining or issues. It was tricky to photograph as you will see. I take all my pics with my iPhone 5 but holos can make it get a little crazy. This polish reminds me of red velvet cake -- so beautiful and definitely sexy!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Essie - Truth or Flare (Hide & Go Chic Collection)

I'm a sucker for any light dusty greyish blues so when I saw this one, I had to have it. It's so beautiful, like a creamy French blue - so perfect! It's called "Truth or Flare" and is part of the "Hide & Go Chic" Spring 2014 Collection by Essie.

The formula was a bit streaky but self-levelling & easy to work with. I used 3 coats for the photos (with one coat of Seche Vite on top).

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Indigo Bananas - Moonlight (Clair De Lune)

It's commonly known that once you venture into the world of indie polishes, there's no looking back. For those who are new to this, indie=independent polish makers -- (mainly) women who make professional-quality polishes in their homes and sell them online. Some are better than others, of course. Some are short-lived, others are desperately in demand. But you can find some of the most stunning polishes in the world if you look at indies. Of course, you can only purchase them online. You won't find them in your local drug store or chain stores. They are often mixed in small batches and limited edition. They tend to be priced a bit higher for a lot of reasons (quality of ingredients, cost of ingredients, the makers time, etc). Most of them are 3-/5-free (free of carcinogenic chemicals) & are not tested on animals. Shipping varies. But it is ABSOLUTELY worth it!

Today I'm showing you a polish from a maker I found on Etsy called Indigo Bananas. I'm not even sure how I found her Etsy page. I think I just searched "nail polish" and hers came up in the search. I fell in love! I ordered 4 mini polishes (5ml as opposed to the standard "full size" of 15ml) to test them out. This one is called "Moonlight (Clair De Lune)".

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Anna Sui - 701

Ever buy a nail polish and later wonder why because the colour isn't something you would ever wear? This is one of those polishes. I like it in the bottle and something compelled me to buy it. But then it sat in it's little corner for months without a second glance. Today I pulled it out. I had planned on doing Julep's Audrey because… you know… Audrey Hepburn's birthday. But that was disastrous (stained nails, sheer polish, ew, tried an undie but that just made me look like a Disney Princess wannabe instead of Audrey-ish so I took it all off). So yeah.

I have never tried Anna Sui polishes before so I have no idea if my experience with it is common or not? The bottle is crazy cute. This one had a particular scent -- kinda like Thrills gum -- which is lingering and giving me a headache. If it doesn't fade soon I will be running for the acetone…

Oddly, the polish looks okay in photos. As I was applying it (3 coats because it was pretty sheer and I could still see nail line after 2, I added a topcoat also), I kept thinking, "Why did I buy this??". It's not an ugly colour, it's just not really me. It reminds me of the 70's. Anyway, I took a bunch of pics with different lighting (as usual)…

This was taken under my LED desk lamp. This seems to look at close to real life compared to the other pics.

Smoothie matching nails!

I was surprised today when I made my Glowing Green Smoothie (from Kimberly Snyder's book, "The Beauty Detox Solution") and my nails matched almost exactly!

The polish is "Panacea" by Cirque (I reviewed it yesterday here! go see!). The smoothie is all veggies & fruit and is amazing. :) It does have a lot of greens (mainly romaine lettuce, spinach, celery) but some fruit (apple, pear, banana, lemon) to balance it out and make it sweet. You need a high-speed blender (like a VitaMix or Blendtec -- I have a VitaMix) to make it properly. Sometimes I throw in some flax seeds or maca powder. I recently discovered I have a severe allergy to saviseed which was in the protein powder I used to use. Never again! Augh. Sticking to just the green smoothie from now on. :)

What does your manicure match?? :)

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Cirque Heritage Collection - Panacea

I was gonna wait until I swatched the remaining four polishes from the Cirque Heritage collection but once I applied Panacea I couldn't wait to share it -- it's stunning! Not a colour I would normally grab but as part of trying to use my many, many "untrieds" I created little cards with numbers corresponding to dates. If I don't know or can't decide which colour to use, I just look up the date and there's a suggestion. Today was "chartreuse". An odd nail colour but alas, I have several! It gave me an excuse to try this new one from the recent Cirque Heritage collection called "Panacea" (aka "the green one").

Friday, May 02, 2014

Julep - Molly

I love red polish. It's my favourite and I want to try them ALL. I've had Molly for a while but it's been sitting in my "untrieds" pile for a long time. It's an older polish, Julep might still have a few kicking around but I believe it's retired. (I just checked, as of this moment, they have it in stock & on sale for $4.99, free shipping for Maven subscribers, of course). It has the older skinny brush which I didn't like so I used the Plié Wand with Precision Brush cap (it's shorter and flat like their normal brushes). Julep describes this shade as classic red crème. I used 2 coats of polish and one of topcoat.

Molly under my LED desk lamp.

Molly outside (cloudy).

While not my absolute favourite red (Julep has others I prefer, as do other brands), I think it's one of those reds that isn't too flashy/dark and would easily work on anyone. It's a "safe" red, if that makes any sense! I like it and I will definitely keep it in my collection. The formula was great (no streaking!) and dried very shiny (I still like a topcoat to protect my mani).

You can purchase this directly from Julep. While Sephora does not have this particular shade, they do carry other Julep colours.

I purchased this myself.

Julep May Maven - Classic With A Twist & Plié Wand!

For those of you who do not already know, Julep Maven is a monthly nail polish subscription. You fill out a quiz to profile your "style" and each month you receive a box with a few polishes and a product (this depends on which style you are -- but each month you can select another style or upgrade to a bigger box at an extra cost). The subscription is available to US and Canada and shipping is free. Basic monthly boxes are (at present) $19.99 -- but note that they are creating new options for their subscription boxes effective for June 2014 (essentially the next box) so the pricing and options will be different. I have been a Maven since September 2013 and usually upgrade. They also offer Mystery Boxes and a Secret Store -- both allow you to get the goods at a pretty good discount. If you are interested in subscribing, your first box is free. I will put a link at the bottom -- but I urge you strongly to read the details about the subscription to make sure it's right for you and ask questions if you don't understand!

Anyway, this month I DID upgrade to the Polish Lovers Upgrade (9 polishes) and added on a few things. This month is kind of wonky because they crowd funded several months ago for the new Plié Wand so those of us who pre-paid for our Maven boxes had ours shipped out a bit early -- minus all the extras. My other polishes are en route but have yet to arrive. In the meantime, I thought I'd give my impression of what I DID get -- my style is Classic With A Twist -- Maddy & Ramona. I'll also talk about the Plié Wand. As a "Thank You" to the crowdfunders, Julep added Yumi to our boxes for free. I already have this and will likely gift it, it's a pretty pink glitter. :)

Photos and review after the jump...

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Cirque Heritage Collection - Xochitl

Next up in the Cirque Heritage collection is Xochitl. At first glance it looks like an average pretty purple -- I'm always drawn to purple so this works for me. :) Once you apply it though, you really see the beauty of this shade. Both scattered and linear holo are evident (though not a strong linear, soft and pretty), but also flashes of pink and blue. It's really quite stunning! Unfortunately there is no sun here today (in fact, it's supposed to rain for the next week almost *boo*). I took photos under different lighting conditions so you can see how gorgeous it is. The formula is very smooth, applies well and dries quickly. I would use a topcoat as this polish dries kind of flat and you wouldn't really see the holo/sparkle/shimmer without a good shiny topcoat. I used 2 coats of polish and used Seche Vite topcoat. I used HK Girl on the previous 2 manis and as much as I want to love it, it just doesn't compare to my Seche Vite! Of course, it is not a 3-free brand so it's really an individual preference. Cirque polish IS 3-free, just to be clear. Anyway, onto the photos!

This first one I took at my desk under an LED lamp.

The next one was taken in daylight (cloudy) by the windows.

The final photo was taken under the halogen light in my kitchen (always shows the best holo effect).

You can purchase these directly from Cirque. I purchased the collection from Nail Polish Canada. I am sure other distributors also carry this particular collection.

Cirque Heritage - Cerrillos & Powwow

What a better way to begin a new blog with Cirque Heritage collection! I have yet to swatch the entire set but I will start with two of my favourites, Cerrillos & Powwow. The formula on both was amazing and I used 2 coats for the photos below. I did use HK Girl for my topcoat on both manis.

First up is Cerrillos, a stunning teal holo. I noticed it leaned more blue or teal depending on the lighting. Here it is under my LED desk lamp: 

And again under a halogen light in my kitchen:

This next one is called Powwow and is my favourite so far (of the two). A nice saturated bright pink holo! I didn't want to take it off!

Over the next week I will swatch shades from this collection. Stay tuned!

You can purchase Cirque polishes directly from them here. I purchased the Cirque Heritage collection myself from Nail Polish Canada.