Happy Post-Christmas! I think until you're done eating Christmas food, it still counts as the holidays. Thankfully, I started the pain turn-around yesterday afternoon after my tonsillectomy, so I was able to go out and celebrate with friends and family. I hope all of you had a great holiday, whatever you celebrate! I'm sorry I didn't get to my promised posts yesterday, but since Friday, Minnesota has been having major snow - it made for a lovely Christmas, but poor swatching conditions. At least we have some celebrating left to do for New Year's Eve - the blingy manis are still in season!
Tonight, I have my comparison of the "ruby red" polishes in my collection. It seems like any reasonably popular nail company these days must have one of these. You know what I mean: those red jelly polishes packed with red glitter, almost invariably named after Dorothy's ruby red slippers. I've always wondered that most of these polishes have such similar names, since we all know Ji Baek had to change the name on Rescue Beauty Lounge's Revamp to Black Russian after legal snafu's over that name, but I digress. (Also, did you know that Dorothy's slippers weren't even originally red? They were changed from silver for the movie, because Technicolor had just come out and they wanted to show off a more vibrant color!) I have had Essie in Ruby Slippers forever and as such, never saw the need for the most popular "ruby red", China Glaze in Ruby Pumps. Then last year, I caved and bought Orly in Star Spangled because it was on super discount at Sally's Beauty Supply and I thought I might want a finer-grade glitter. So by the time the re-vamped China Glaze Wizard of Ooh Ahz collection came out this winter, my resolve was already low; I decided I needed to have it to complete the collection. At this point these are the three ruby red's I own, but here are some other's I know of: BB Couture in Cherry Baby, Butter London in Chancer, Color Club in Ruby Slippers, Finger Paints in Pretty Poinsettia, Finger Paints in Red Marzipan, Maybelline in Red Comet, OPI in Crimson Carol, OPI in Dear Santa, OPI in Smitten with Mittens, Pop Beauty in XMas, Precision in Twinkle Toes, Savina in Ruby, Savvy in Ruby Slippers, Zoya in Delilah, and Zoya in Jade. That's only polishes in a true red jelly base with red glitter - I allowed different sizes as well as those that include some gold glitter because Essie in Ruby Slippers has a gold glitter look at times. Most of these polishes are still available.
Orly in Star Spangled came out this summer, along with two repromotes (Star of Bombay and White Out), to celebrate Independence Day. Now, I am all about a theme mani, plus my birthday is July 2, plus one can never have too many reds, plus GLITTER, plus it was on sale for an insanely cheap price. Donc, I had to buy it - it's not a compulsive sickness, it was clearly necessary, all right? This is three coats, indoors in indirect light (it's not often we're going to have sunny days while it's winter here in Minnesota) - it only needs two coats for opacity, but three gives it more depth. Application is typical of a jelly glitter, it's not hard to apply, but it does have a slight tendency to pool at the tips. I was perfectly happy with this ruby red, but every season on the NB, China Glaze in Ruby Pumps continues to be ranked in the Top 20, so I figured there must be something special to it, right?
Posted on 9:22 PM by J.
For Fall 2009, BB Couture came out with a men's line called BB Couture for Men. The initial collection was comprised of 6 polishes, 45 Caliber (a silver chrome frost), Blue Steel (an almost-black charcoal metallic frost), Military Blues (a deep blue shimmer), Night Ops (a blackened-teal blue jelly with silver particle flakes/glitter), Widow Maker (a dove-grey with silver shimmer and sparse black microglitter), and Grenade (a dark olive green with gold shimmer). I'm not a fan of frosts, so I only picked up Widow Maker and Grenade because they seemed the most unique - and I'm a sucker for grey and olive polishes. When Keerthi (kmalladi on the NB) started her blog in October and posted Night Ops, I decided it had to go in my next order. So, my BB Couture for Men collection is incomplete; Scrangie has great pictures (of course) of the other three polishes here.
Below, you will find swatches of the 3 BB Couture for Men original collection polishes I have. I hope you enjoy them and please feel free to email me or leave any comments or questions!
Posted on 1:31 AM by J.
Everyone who polishes their nails should use top coat. It extends the life of your manicure, speeds drying time, protects colors from fading, etc. There are two types of functional top coat: quick-dry and normal. Quick-dry tend to have a thicker formula and require special application instructions. However, once you know how to handle them, they are just as easy to apply as any other top coat. There are also top coats for finish, ie. satin and matte finish top coats.
Unless you are crazy, I would suggest you use a quick-dry top coat for your nails. Most quick-dry top coats (QDTC) have a more viscous formula, which is why some people steer clear of them, but it only takes a couple manicures before you become accustomed to the difference. Here are the instructions that come with Seche Vite, my favorite QDTC: "
Another important thing to keep in mind with QDTC is that when you get about halfway through the bottle, the formula will get unworkably thick. Don't throw your bottle out! Just take a few drops of nail polish thinner (I use Seche Restore), shake or roll the bottle, and your top coat will be like brand new! Make sure to let your bottle settle after thinning, so that you don't get bubbles in your application. You can use any nail polish thinner to thin your top coats, but many people like to match their B3F formulas, so keep that in mind. Thinner can be used with all your polishes, not just nail treatments. Keep in mind that nail polish remover is not the same as nail polish thinner - using remover as a thinner will degrade and destroy your polish. If you use thinner conscientiously (not remover!), your polish can live with you your whole life! You can also buy large bottles of a few of the most popular brands - I just refill my bottle of Seche each time I get about half-way and it works like new.
Not pictured, but useful as a top coat, is American Classics Gelous Advanced Nail Gel Coat. It's meant as a base coat or treatment to strengthen nails and fill in ridges, so it's not quick dry, but it's really good for using as the first layer over rough glitter polishes. It's not quick-dry, but once you top it with Seche Vite, your glitter polish is smooth, incomparably shiny, and dry to the touch in 15 minutes! Just be aware that since it's not quick-dry, you will want your polish to be dry, not wet before you use it, or you could get color bleeding into the Gelous.
- Flattest: Rescue Beauty Lounge Matte Top Coat, Essie Matte About You, China Glaze Matte Magic, Deborah Lippmann Flat Top, NYC New York Color in #247 Matte Me Crazy!, ELF Matte Finisher, ManGlaze Matte-astrophe, Butter London Matte Finish, Chanel Beauté des Ongles Top Coat Velvet, Sephora by OPI Matte Top Coat
- Slightly less flat (ie, perfect IMO): Nubar V for Men Matte Finish Nail Protector
- Suede (between flat and satin, like the Orly Matte Couture collection): NailTek Foundation II Ridge-Filling Base Coat (used as top coat), Butter London Nail Foundation Flawless Basecoat (used as top coat), Chanel Suede Laquer, Maybelline Matte Maker, Barielle Matt-inee, CND Super Matte Top Coat
- Satin: Orly Matte Top, BB Couture Matte Finish Top Coat, Orly Nails for Males, China Glaze Man Matte Finish Nail Treatment
Posted on 5:36 AM by J.
The easiest way to get better at polishing your nails is to practice! It's obnoxious getting polish all over the place at first, but the more you do it, the more you will get a feel for what works for you. For instance, I always polish my right hand first. I am right-handed, but somehow I find that polishing with my non-dominant hand first gives me overall better application - maybe it's a mental thing, but it's true!
I also have a few things at hand to help when I do make a mess and need to clean up.
- You've seen the StudioTools 100% Acetone Nail Polish Remover tub before. Not only do I use it to remove stubborn glitter polish, I also use it as a well to dip my clean-up brushes into. I find this to be neater than pouring out a portion into a tiny cap - which can get tipped over - or dipping into a bottle - which can strip the paintbrushes of their paint and make a mess. I always use 100% acetone for clean-up; it's more efficient and since I'm not using it all over my fingers I don't worry about it being too drying. The StudioTools brand is Target-specific, but there are a few other brands that make similar tubs sold at other drugstores.
- The other remover I use is Zoya Remove+. This remover was like an epiphany when I tried it. You can get polish off your nails without your hands going as dry as the desert or your nose and brain shutting down due to the fumes! Now, I have heard that there are other acetone removers that are just as gentle and pleasant smelling as Remove+, but I'm happy sticking with it for now. It is also easily dispensed with the flipper mechanism at the bottle opening; just press down at the top with your cotton pad or felt and you're saturated - no flipping the bottle over and over (meaning less risk to knock it down for me)! Remove+ smells pleasantly of lavender and keeps my hands feeling great. I'm actually a fan of Zoya polish, but the last few times I've ordered from them their customer service has left much to be desired. However, if you follow them on Twitter (@Zoya_NailPolish) or through their blog, they do have good deals every month or so if you're willing to put up with a mad frenzy of crashing on their site from the rush, as well as slow (and sometimes rude) customer service. I usually wait until one of their promotions and then buy a big 32 fl. oz. bottle to refill my 8 fl. oz. flipper (which you can see above), vowing to never buy from them again.
- I buy felt by the yard from a craft store. It's insanely cheap and will last you forever (it doesn't matter what color you get; I usually get white or black). This makes nail polish removal much less frustrating. No cotton fibers getting caught on your cuticles or under your nails! No pads disintegrating until your fingers are the ones doing the removing! Felt is what they use in those little single-use remover packets and for good reason - they're durable and retain liquid. I like to cut them off into little 2-x-2" squares and have them at hand during clean-up to soak up excess remover from my brushes, wipe off polish from my orange stick, or do-over a whole nail.
- I use three tools for clean-up: a fine-point paintbrush, a chisel-point paintbrush, and an orange stick. Orange sticks are easily purchased at any drug store - I prefer the longer ones over the tiny stubby ones. As you can see, they have a chisel tip so they can do fine or broad work - I use them to remove any polish I may have accidentally gotten on my skin or to run at the edge of my cuticles if I accidentally flood them, wiping the polish on my felt. Once you get the hang of painting your nails, you will probably use primarily this tool. The two paintbrushes are affordable Loew-Cornell's that I got from Jo-Ann Fabric's. If you click to enlarge the picture, you can get the exact brushes. I like these specific brushes because they are not too broad, but not so precise they're worthless for clean-up; obviously, other people may have different preferences. It's also nice that their handles are plastic because if you dip varnished handles in acetone, the paint starts to come off and make a mess. [Update 2013: My current favorite brushes for cleanup are the e.l.f. Essential Concealer Brush (which retails for $1!) for bigger areas and the Chanel brush that comes with the Illusion d'Ombre shadows for work near my cuticles. The e.l.f. brush has a good stiffness to really get into dry bits of skin near the tip of my finger and remove stubborn stains. The Chanel brush is thin, long, and flexes exactly where I want it to to help me get a super thin gap near my cuticle.] Brushes are good if you make a big mess and an orange stick doesn't do sufficient clean-up. I wait until I've done all my nails to go back and use these brushes, dipped in remover and swiped to remove excess liquid; otherwise, the remover can pick up wet polish that you don't want removed, as well. I use another finger to pull back my cuticle as I do this, to ensure a nearly invisible gap. MeganChair of the NB has a great tutorial covering brush cleanup.
Some other quick (and probably obvious tips):
- Before you do your nails quickly go over your nails with some remover and wash your hands. Any dirt or oils on your nails will keep the polish from adhering well and cause quicker wear to your manicure.
- Use a glass file if you have delicate nails. This helps keep your nails stronger and helps prevent cracks or splits on the nails. I actually have very strong nails so I use a coarse-grit file to get the shape and then use a fine-grit file to seal the edge. I file at about a 45-degree angle under my nail, which helps get rid of any lingering "bits" of nail that want to stick around and snag on my clothes, leading to tears. To "seal" the edge of the nail from any splitting, I take my file at almost a 90-degree angle parallel to the edge and run it down, to close off the layers of nail from water or debris that wants to sneak in.
- Moisturize in between manicures. No one likes to look at "frazzle" or unkempt cuticles (although we will, of course)! Obviously in the winter months it's tough to control, so just always have some lotion with you and moisturize whenever you think of it. I like to have a lightweight lotion in my car or purse for when I'm doing things that require my hands not to be greasy (I like Aveeno, but I think it might just be lingering childhood affection for the scent) and a heavy-duty creme for when I'm sitting around watching TV or going to bed (I love hand cremes so I'm always trying out a new rich citrus-scented one - no go-to for me). I don't know if they're actually helpful, but my favorite cuticle cream is Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme, because of the smell. [Update 2013: I don't think Burt's Bees is super effective. Although smelly and messy, I use lanolin cream (available near baby supplies in drugstores) when I'm in dire need. However, I mostly just rely on moisturizing morning and night, as well as after every time I wash my hands.] Occasionally I will have a hangnail or something where I find it's easiest to use cuticle clippers, but honestly, I think that 99% of cuticle issues can be solved by using hand creme diligently and often. Using cuticle clippers more often results in worse damage to your cuticles than leaving it alone - like popping a pimple instead of treating it!
- Use a base coat to add longevity. In addition, some nail polishes will do better with certain base coats - often B3F polishes like to have a B3F base coat; I also find that using Chanel's base coat with their polishes gives me longer wear time than using my usual CND Stickey.
- Thin coats adhere better and are less likely to bubble and peel off the nail. Lots of times it's just body chemistry reacting with formula though, I think.
- If you're doing housework or washing your hands often, you're mani's are simply not going to last as long. If you can, use gloves to help protect them from water and bumping into things.
- If you're having trouble applying polish, it may not be you! Sometimes polishes are too thick and goopy or streaky. Use nail polish thinner (not remover) to fix them up - you never need to throw away old polish!
Posted on 3:39 AM by J.
I'm not claiming to be an expert in nail application and care, but people do often ask me what I use. This is what I've found works for me (keep in mind that I haven't done extensive head-to-head tests or anything, my picks are just from trial-and-error plus experience).
For tacky-style base coats, I like CND Stickey. It dries fast and doesn't stain my nails. I can get anywhere from 2 to 8 days with this, depending on the polish. I've also tried Orly Bonder, which did stain and, I felt, didn't keep my polish adhering to the nail as long. Stickey is my go-to base coat.
NailTek Foundation II is my favorite ridge-filling base coat. I don't have much experience using these formulas because I don't have prominent ridges, so this is just the first brand I've tried. It does not dry as quickly as Stickey, but its dry time isn't anything stress over. It also dries down to a satiny matte finish, so I've seen people use this to franken their own matte polishes, or - before matte topcoats became so popular - to mattify normal-finish polishes. I use my ridge-filling base coat under CND Stickey when I know a polish has a tendency to stain or when I'm applying a matte nail polish, which shows the slightest contours of the nail. However, using this method under a matte polish adds to its dry time (which otherwise is super speedy); base coats need to be completely dry before a matte polish is applied over them or they will not apply as smoothly.
A base coat is a necessity for me to prevent staining and to lengthen wear-time (this is especially crucial when using a matte polish, which chips more quickly).
Posted on 9:49 PM by J.
I used one coat of Color Club in Witchy Woman/Master of Disguise (a plain black creme from the Halloween 2009 "Master of Disguise" mini set) as a base for one coat of Color Club in With Abandon and two coats of Wild and Willing. However, I think my technique was just not as good as Steph's. When I did some clean-up by my cuticles, the top layer of Wild and Willing came off, showing the black layer underneath, which made the mani look sloppy to me. I also think thinner coats would have served me bettter.
In all, I don't think I'll be layering these two color's together again. It's a shame, since I bought Wild and Willing because I thought it would look so good layered over With Abandon - maybe next time I'll try it over a deep blue or violet. I do like With Abandon on its own, but I would say it's not super unique, although it is a jelly. It's similar to Chanel in Or de Russie, Dolce & Gabbana in Stromboli, and China Glaze in Wagon Trail - darker and less shimmery than the Chanel or D&G and a bit blacker and glossier with a touch more shimmer than the China Glaze.
Posted on 6:19 PM by J.
Posted on 5:28 PM by J.
In the past few months I've become a huge collector of nail polish (500+ and counting), and I want to get better about posting my NOTD's on the Nail Board of Makeup Alley. Unfortunately, being a full-time college student majoring in Written Communications and Pre-Med (either an editor or a surgeon - how's that for disparate career choices?) and working two part-time jobs, puts a bit of a damper on my ability to do this. BUT... I have the month off for J-Term, and I've got about 10 days of sitting on my butt with nothing to do but sip ice chips (yeah, an adult tonsillectomy? not highly recommended - at least by me), so I'm going to try and get it kick started. I think the main problem for me on NB is that I like to look at lots of pictures, but I don't have time to take lots of pictures. So, I end up waiting a month or so for my NOTD's to accumulate and then I'm already bored with talking about them. Hopefully this blog will mitigate that by allowing me to get my pictures up on a day-by-day basis, as they happen.
Here's one of my favorite NOTD's from October. I did about 4 Halloween-themed mani's, but this one was just so blingy! It stood out. A definite, keep-your-eyes-on-the-road-while-you're-driving manicure - the sunlight reflecting off all of the glitter was super distracting.
I used 2 coats of China Glaze in Spellbound Topcoat (Halloween 2009 "Spellbound" collection). Spellbound is a glitter in a transparent base but it is dense enough to use on its own. The main component is medium hexagonal silver glitter and small hexagonal orange glitter. There is also large hexagonal orange glitter more interspersed. I layered Spellbound over 1 coat of Revlon in #918 Silver Screen, a silver metallic that shows brushstrokes but is pretty opaque and thus good for layering. I think Silver Screen is discontinued, but it's still available online.
|Indirect natural light - indoors, direct flash|
|Indirect natural light - indoors, direct flash|
I cannot get over how reflective this was. I probably took about 50 pictures of this. The mix of medium and smaller glitter layered over each other looked like cool metallic fish scales or armor. It was just right to ease into Halloween madness, since the orange didn't overpower the silver and get too theme-y.
|Indirect natural light - indoors, direct flash|
|Indirect natural light - indoors, direct flash, indirect natural light - indoors|
- The tinfoil method - Here's Nihrida's super easy tutorial. I first remember seeing this attributed to tobywoo; regardless, this method never fails. I like to do one hand at a time, letting my fingers sit in their tinfoil "hats" for about five minutes, before swiping the cotton - and the glitter - off in one stroke.
- An 100% Acetone Nail Polish Remover tub - aka the "angry pink va-jay-jay" or that alien from Star Wars.
|Picture via www.sashasays.com|
Some people say that warming acetone helps remove polish faster - maybe it does, but you might die finding out! Acetone is extremely flammable: do not heat!
This post is a bit long, so I think I'll stop here. My next post will be my nail polish essentials or some more October NOTD's. If I'm feeling really crazy (or doped up on Percocet), you might get both! Hopefully I'll get the hang of this and work out a posting schedule soon. If you enjoyed this, please leave me a comment and come back soon!
Posted on 2:55 PM by J.