Monday, January 31, 2011

Sally Hansen Grey Area layered with Integrate BL321

The glitter continues...

Sally Hansen Grey Area layered with Integrate BL321

Another one of my drugstore finds from Taipei. I'm pretty sure this is a Japanese company (may be a subsidiary of Shiseido -- I should check on that). I love the idea of the mix of blue, silver, gold and purple glitter (both hex and square glitter)... but somehow, this one falls a bit flat on me. Don't get me wrong: it was a total glitterbomb! And it got pretty opaque quickly. So opaque that my using Sally Hansen XTreme Wear Grey Area felt like a waste at the end. Two coats Grey Area (which was fantastic but I don't have an individual pic for it), two coats BL321.

Sally Hansen Grey Area layered with Integrate BL321
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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Low Contrast Crack!

So by now I'm sure you have all heard of OPI Black Shatter - the "new" (read: 90's throwback. Were the 90s really long enough ago for throwbacks?) polish trend that's putting everyone in a panic. Black Shatter has been released in two OPI collections so far - the Serena Glam Slam Australian Open set, and the Katy Perry collection. I am sure that we will see different colours of shatter (red/pink, white) in upcoming Serena collections. Top secret intel.

The crackle finish...I wasn't sure how I felt about this making a return to trendiness. It can go way tacky, messy and just not wearable for me. Both of the collections this was released in suggest that you pair Black Shatter with a colourful, sparkly polish underneath. BUT I was itching to try it in a slightly different way. I wanted to keep the finishes of the polish the same (creme), and the contrast low to make the effect a little more subtle. So I wanted to show it to you with one of my favourite polishes - Essie Smokin' Hot.

OPI Black Shatter over Essie Smokin' Hot:

Another shot from another angle and with flash - I put so much topcoat on, it was so shiny and reflective it was hard to get a clear pic!

Result? I'm surprised, but I love it. Yes! I think its cool. Appropriate for all occasions? No. But I'm enjoying it. I also tried this over OPI Suzi Skis in the Pyrenees and OPI William Tell Me About OPI and I love those combinations as well. I'd also like to try it over the same colour, but a different finish - i.e. a shimmery black like Chanel Noir Ceramic.

Have you tried the crack? What's your verdict - whack/not whack?

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kanebo Kate PK-22 over China Glaze Empowerment

Still haven't abandoned my sparkly Taiwanese manis yet.

Kanebo Kate PK-22 over China Glaze Empowerment

I was hoping this glitter wouldn't be as sheer as it was but it was extremely holo (small glitter and hex glitter), so I forgave it. ChG Empowerment went on well enough at two coats though if I hadn't meant to layer it with something, I would've put on a third coat to even it out.

So... here's something crazy. We're most likely going to hit 1,000 posts in February. Yikes.
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Inque Nail Stickers in Blue Plaid (and my custom-made Inque Nails!)

I bought these on a whim soon after trying out the Sally Hansen Nail Effects: I love the idea of Minx-like nail stickers and with a sale, it was utterly worth it to pick up a handful of Inque nail stickers. ($30 for 5 sets, with free shipping? Pretty awesome when they're $15 per set ordinarily.) I put these on as soon as I got them (which was about a week after I ordered)!

Inque Blue Plaid

The lightbox photos are not particularly good at showing off how GLOSSY these are. It's like vinyl on nails. (If I recall correctly, these are actually vinyl...) This was taken on the fourth day of wear: I do have some scrunching on one finger where it looks like it might be lifting, I didn't do a fabulous job filing off the excess from my pinky and there is one nail that is sporting a white scrape from something or other... but ummm... dude, still glossy, still patterned, still gorgeous. I love them! And so did everyone else I came into contact with. Even one of my male undergrad research assistants thought they were nifty. (It's entirely possible he was sucking up to me for a good grade though.) A typical encounter during my half week of sporting Blue Plaid Inque nails went like this:

[gesturing about something in conversation]

Other Person:
[staring] OH. MY. GOD. Can I see your nails?

[feigning surprise] What? Oh! My nails! Sure. [giving them my hand, much like a lady gives her hand to a gentleman to kiss]

Other Person:
[sticking their face right up to my nails] THEY ARE AMAZING. How did you do it??

[incredulous but informative] Oh no, I didn't do them! I didn't paint them or anything. No, no... I'm not that talented. These are like stickers. I ordered them from a website called Inque. I just stuck them on and set them with a bit of heat.

Other Person:

[thinking: MWAHAHAHAH. Another convert!]

The process seems similar to the one that people who do Minx at home (sans UV light): trim the sticker down to size (it is more important to get the width right than the length), peel off the backing, and stick the sticky side onto your nail. At this point, you can still reposition them on your nail if you have put them on lopsided. When you're happy with the placement, smooth it down firmly until it is totally flat. After that, use a blow-dryer to warm them up as much as you can stand. While they're still warm, really press down on them to get them to adhere properly to your nail. File the excess length off by filing downwards off the free edge of your nail. Inque includes a rough grit emery board but I find that, like Minx, a glass nail file works better, if a little slower.

I didn't get a good before shot of the Blue Plaid stickers before I used them. (That's how excited I was about them. Couldn't even bother to break out the camera.) But here's an "after" photo: my nails are small and short and, with a little effort, I can probably get one more manicure plus one pedicure out of the rest of the sheet. (My toenails are really teeny.)

The longevity I was getting was great as far as I took it, which was only four days. I had done dishes, washed my hair, put it to the nail wear test really and it held on fine. (The only reason I took off the mani after four days was because China Glaze Anchors Away came the same day as the Inque and I couldn't wait any longer to try some of that collection...)

It did get a little loose on the free edge towards the very end but I actually found this useful for removal. I know it's not good for my nails but I pretty much just peeled them off like stickers: warmed up my hands under some hot water and peeled them off slowly. I had a reason for wanting to keep them intact though: my nails are not at all the convenient sizes that Inque provides and I wanted to have a reference for how wide to cut the next set.

Yes, my nails are small. Yes, the unevenness bothers me too. Some of these fit a lot better than others but I figure I'll cut the next set a little wider to begin and try to give myself a better fit the next time around.

The absolute BEST THING about Inque though... YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN CUSTOM NAIL STICKERS! If you have a (high quality) photo of something, IT CAN BE STUCK TO YOUR NAILS. One set of custom nails costs the same as their premade sets and it is totally worth the extra time if you're inclined to design your own nail stickers at all. They don't take much more time to print up either: I made these on a Thursday and they came the following Tuesday!

I do admit though: my desire to make my own nails arose because I was dissatisfied with one of their premade patterns. See, each nail sticker has the same pattern on it:

Inque All American Girl
If I had my choice, I wouldn't really WANT the same paisley pattern on my all my nails. First of all, it makes it far more obvious when I haven't cut out the nail exactly in the same place for each nail: it's the same pattern but off. That kinda drives me nuts. It's okay for something like paisley which has a more complex pattern but I REALLY wanted (simple-looking) candy corn nails! And their candy corn nails were the same bunch of candy corns on every nail. So... I found a high quality picture of candy corn through Google -- and if someone is pissed off at me for using someone else's photo, I am sorry and I can remove the images of the nails I made if it really offends people -- and even though the pattern does repeat some, it does change from nail to nail:

I did use the same photo for all the nails but I used different parts of the photo and rotated the photo so there is variation. This is, however, harder to see because of the way Inque prints custom nails: it prints exactly how you've placed photos into the online application you use to apply graphics to the custom nails. If you click on the photo and look VERY VERY hard, you can see where each nail is cut out of the overall pattern.

Alas, I was not careful and didn't check to see what size my custom nails were going to be printed up as. I accidentally kept it on a smaller size than intended and I can pretty much only get one use out of each sheet. :(

The nail outlines are more obvious on the other ones I made (click on them to see bigger versions):
A rainbow graphic someone made. I believe this was offered as a free desktop or iPad background. I made sure to use large, high resolution graphics when I could: Inque seems to have some pretty nice printers at work and so a small blurry picture will show up exactly as a small blurry picture on the nail stickers they produce. So... use nice pics!

A photo of leaves on a tree. I love green (and yellow) and am mildly obsessed with photos of leaves (New England fall foliage was to die for) so this one was a no-brainer. Whoever took this photo -- and I feel bad for not saving your name somewhere -- it was such a pretty pic!

Another pattern that was offered by a kind artist as a free desktop background. I used this pattern to see if it was better to use artificially-made graphics than a real photo. As far as I recall, this one was pretty razor sharp originally but the fine black lines on white background came out a bit poorly. (Oddly, the fine white lines on black background were great.) I thought these might turn out the best yet they were the most disappointing for me. I think it's because this sort of customization is best put to use with graphics that cannot be approximated through regular nail polish and a great nail artist: this would be hard to reproduce with just nail polish but I can imagine someone doing it (or with very creative and careful use of various Konad stamps).

And I saved my favorite for last:
Nails made from photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope! Space! Stars! Supernovae! On my nails! I've been wanting to use this sort of idea for months. I went as far to buy some waterslide decal paper but my printer is just terrible. All the decals looked SO sad and pixelated. But Inque made my dream come true with their much better printer and nice glossy vinyl paper. :D

Anyway, I am now OBSESSED. I mean, really. I think about what I want to make into nails ALL THE TIME now. My next order will undoubtedly feature this lil guy:

The SO is playing a lot of Little Big Planet 2 lately. And I want to make him some nail stickers for his big toes. (I offered to do his toes in the blue plaid design but he's kinda skittish about blatant nail art... he's let me do some simple Konad patterns before but apparently, plaid is crossing a line!)

In the interest of full disclosure: I have done some talking to the folks at Inque Nails but I did not receive any of these nail sets for free to review. In fact, I didn't contact them until after my first order (pre-made). (After I put on the Blue Plaid, I may have written a super gushy fangirl email...) And there wasn't that much communication until after my second order (custom-made). But I had to start bugging them because... I had a couple of ideas.

I won't say much about those ideas for the moment because I haven't hashed out all the details with Inque or with the other members of Polish or Perish yet... let's just say that I might have to spend some time learning about what images found online can be used commercially AND that there may be a new contest at Polish or Perish very soon! XD
read more "Inque Nail Stickers in Blue Plaid (and my custom-made Inque Nails!)"

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Orly Luxe

A few months ago, I went on a quest for a perfect gold polish. Not a blingy gold, not a yellow gold, not a rose gold, but a shiny cool-toned gold. This, my friends, was the winner-winner-chicken-dinner: Orly Luxe.

As part of the Orly Foil FX Collection of 2010, this was the true gold in the collection that contained all of the metallics (well, not ALL) that a girl could ask for. It's a light true gold with a subtle shimmer and wonderful opacity in two coats. This has become my go-to gold; it's got some attitude but can also fade into your skin tone enough to not be too in-your-face. It wears well, too.

The whole Foil FX Collex was full of awesome, wasn't it? Who doesn't like shiny tips, I say? WHO?

Happy day, all!
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A "HTF" - Essie Cindy-rella

Today I thought I'd share with you one of the hard-to-find (HTF) polishes in my collection that is "classic kittytokaren" - Essie Cindy-rella.

In the evening sun...look at that sparkle!

I don't have many HTF polishes in my collection, but this rare bird was an Ulta exclusive a while back and I spent quite a bit of time tracking it down. It's basically the pink version of one of my all-time favs - Essie Tennis Corset. (Check out some Tennis Corset manis here and here.) They have the same gold glitter in a milky sheer base. Unlike a lot of rare polishes that I've tracked down, this one did not disappoint me at all - I love it!

What is the rarest/hardest to find polish you have in your collection?

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New York Summer Amaranth

Oh, hello, cool greenish teal that I stalked on TransDesign until they finally had it in stock! Nice to meet you.

Amaranth is a lovely jelly polish that is more than affordable at $1.59 a bottle. It's a teal green, like I said before, and as a jelly takes quite a bit of polish to build up to cover the VNL if you are so inclined to do, which I am. I can see my nail beds in the photo, which, I'm not going to lie, sketches me out a little. I can't get used to VNL! It makes me feel naked!

How about you guys? How do you feel about VNL and this lovely polish?

Happy day, all!
read more "New York Summer Amaranth"

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Petites Periwinkle

Petites came out with polishes in this round bottle in addition small squarish one. Both hold less polish than the usual 0.5fl, but I don't any of the squarish ones so can't tell you how big they are. My camera did not want to capture this color accurately, it came out too blue. This shade isn't exactly periwinkle to begin with. It's more of a dusty periwinkle. Formula on this was perfect with two coats! Quite impressed with a drug store polish that is ~$2, but then again it is smaller than other polishes. Any one else have any experiences with Petites?

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

A pale girl's must-have - OPI Russian Navy

I photographed this on perhaps the worst day! It was really grey, cold, and almost no light. Rare for North Carolina! Despite it being the worst day, I think this is one of the best polishes that I own. So good in fact, that the last time I wore this, I had the following exchange with my cousin. (Who is male. And a scientist.):

Him: "Can I give you a kind of weird compliment?"
Me: "Uhhhh yeah..."
Him: "Your nail polish is *amazing*. Seriously."
Me: "HA! I thought that was going to be much weirder. Thanks!"

With flash, since there was not a photon of real light to be found:

No flash outside...the best I could do:

Lower level flash...see the pretty shimmer?

Thumbnail close-up so you can (hopefully) see the blue, red and purple shimmer.

I often struggle with my super pale skin. To be honest, most colours look better on people with a little something going on in their skintone. For reference see any polish on Piff - everything looks amazing on her! Complete lack of pigment is simply not that attractive to me. (An odd thing to say, as I'm dating someone even paler than I am - yes, it's possible - but there is an exception to every rule I guess!) Navy blue is one of the few colours that I feel really sets off my skin and makes it look elegant instead of sickly. And this particular navy is so rich and deep! It looks velvety on the nails and just glows thanks to the combination of ultra-fine purple, red and blue shimmer in the polish. I highly recommend this to anyone with a ghostly complexion!

Some people buy this thinking it will be a purple, because the nature of the shimmer is so fine that it sticks to the glass in the bottle very well so that in some cases all you see is purple/blurple. These people complain and hate on this colour for being too blue. To these people I say - it has the word navy in the name. As in navy blue. Stop whining, return it, and go buy OPI Ink or something. Hrmph!

What colour do you think really sets of your skintone?

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Friday, January 21, 2011

American Apparel Mannequin.... eugh.

I usually LOVE American Apparel polishes. I think they've got some of the best, most affordable cremes on the market and their color range is eclectic (even though they only do cremes).

This is one I'd return if I could.

American Apparel Mannequin
A nude shade that looks more pink on me than it does in the bottle. Three coats. Goopy, streaky, aggravating, impossible.

Also: I wasn't allowed to use my Groupon that I bought to American Apparel for the purpose of stocking up their nail polish! Why? Because it is "multibrand": the fact that nail polish is considered "multibrand" on isn't on the coupon at all. It just says that you can't use the coupon on "multibrand" items.

Isn't it funny that no other brand is listed on the actual bottle? I was pretty pissed. If there is no indication that nail polish doesn't qualify for the Groupon -- and no indication on the bottle that any other company makes the nail polish -- then I really don't think I should've been prohibited from using the thing.

That being said... obviously they don't manufacture the nail polish like they may manufacture their clothes. But I wouldn't know that if I didn't spend my life immersed in nail polish.

But now what am I going to do with $50 to American Apparel? Buy $50 worth of leggings?
read more "American Apparel Mannequin.... eugh."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sally Hansen Nail Effects Girl Flower (on Day 1 and Day 3 of wear)

It seems to be the first major trend of this year: Minx-like nail stickers. DIY, cheap and readily available. Cheaper than getting actual Minx, easier to apply by yourself (no heating by UV lamp or hair dryer) and I wouldn't be surprised if it lasted as long. I've used Incoco a bunch of times and it has become one of my preferred travel manicures because I can apply it with no distraction to anyone else anywhere -- I've even applied it planes, much to the amusement of flight attendants who all asked me whether they really worked -- and because they last quite a long time (over a week!) without looking ratty. But the Incoco ones are generally plain... and the new drugstore nail sticker thingies tend to have awesome patterns that are as complex as the Minx ones... if maybe a little less vivid (or metallic) for some designs.

Case in point: some toenail Minx that I bought off of eBay. I loved the pattern so much from when I got pedis with Piff I wanted to have some to try on myself.

I mean, look at the colors and the detail of pattern!

Now compare that to the new SH nail stickers that look like they took their inspiration from the Minx design...

Sally Hansen Nail Effects Girl Flower
Admittedly, this lightbox photo washes the colors out a little bit BUT this set of SH Nail Effects still literally pales in comparison to Minx. However, they're pretty easy to apply. Again, I've had some practice with Incoco so it went pretty quickly (took me about 20 minutes to do both hands). They're about $9 at Walgreens but I got them B1G1 50% off. The great thing is that if you keep your nails relatively short, you can cut them in half before you apply them and have enough for two full manicures. (They include 16 nail stickers of different sizes. None of which fit me perfectly but nothing a pair of scissors can't solve.) I have no idea if they'll last more than a few days though it's done well so far.

Closeup of Girl Flower

So pale and pixelated. Sigh. The other designs I chose look a lot better and more Minx-like however.

Here's a photo of the mani (on Day 3) in sunlight, where the colors show up as more saturated.

Sally Hansen Girl Flower (3rd day of wear)
Let's see... in the last three days, I've done a good bit of cleaning, washed my hair twice and have done the dishes twice. And the Nail Effects stickers seem to be sticking... for the most part. You can see two small chips on the tips of my index and ring fingernails (left side of the photo). The "gaps" at the cuticles are still intact though and because this is such a varied pattern with pinkish, whitish details throughout, the chips are actually quite hard to see until you get really close (like with a macro setting on a camera -- I didn't even realize I had chips until I saw the pics!).

I'm on my fourth day of wear today and I'm definitely getting itchy to change my mani. I think, though, I'll see what I can do to spruce this baby up: I'm thinking some glitter polish to fill in some of petals, nail art gems for the center of the flowers... this could get elaborate. (Dude, it was $8... it feels like such a waste of money NOT to wear it for longer...)

Speaking of new nail polish thingamajigs... have people seen the most recent nail polish printer presented at this year's CES?
read more "Sally Hansen Nail Effects Girl Flower (on Day 1 and Day 3 of wear)"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mail call! Long day at school, always nice to come home to goodies.

I seem to be accumulating polish at an alarming rate this January. These came in the mail today from several sources...

Shopping. It's how I cope with stress. Unfortunately, I don't actually have a ton of time to play with my new toys. I'm swimming (drowning) in data. Which is better than having no data. But I've been (non) jokingly referring to my current grind as "one null result a day". I left a lot of data analysis for this week... and none of the experiments are turning out significant results. I'm literally disappointed by a different experiment every day.

I know science isn't about finding significant results. But academic research is.

But enough depressive yapping. On to the stuff.

Essie Going Incognito and Smokin' Hot from eBay; Zoya Kelly, Tiffany and Crystal from during their last promotion. (I've got the entire Intimacy collex coming. Man, those free spoon trays that come with some orders are seductive...)

These came pretty quickly, considering they print them on-demand. (They had a 50% off sale when I ordered. I'm such a sucker.) They look like they're of fabulous quality too.

Bunch of nail stickers from Inque: Blue Plaid, Peacock, Argyles Can Party!, Party Balls, All American Girl. (Apparently, all-American girls wear paisley?)

But the best pretty present (that I, uh, bought for myself) came from the UPS guy:

China Glaze's Anchors Away!

My task for the weekend -- besides finding more null results and watching my nascent academic career fail before even starting: swatching Anchors Away! I've been looking forward to this collex for a long time. :)
read more "Mail call! Long day at school, always nice to come home to goodies."

An Odd Case of Matching - Essie Merino Cool

Memo: This most certainly looks more purple on me than on other people, I'm sure. My whack-a-doodle skin tone is at it again!

Either way, I love Essie Merino Cool - its sleek and chic while still being warm and cozy. I love these colours so much...

In fact, I love purpletaupegreiges so much, Merino Cool is even the same colour as my Laura Mercier eyeshadow in Twilight Grey - one of my favourites for putting in my crease for an everyday look! Neat right?? Application was gorgeous - two quick and easy coats. *sigh* I have so many polishes in this colour family now, but I never get sick of them. I really hope this trend is here to stay!

Do you have a polish that oddly matches something in your wardrobe, make-up drawer, living room, etc.?? I saw a lady with an Essie Sew Psyched purse the other day and I wanted to talk to her so badly!

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