Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Happiest Manicure Ever

R.E.I.T. and I live in Michigan, and as you probably know, Michigan is the single darkest, coldest, most depressing place on earth during the winter. It's wet and dank and gray all the time, from about November to about May. But then this week, a miracle happened! The sun came out, in February! And the temps were in the upper forties! I went outside without a coat on!

To commemorate this amazing occasion, I crafted the funniest, sunniest, most happiest manicure you've ever seen:
Two coats of Pure Ice "Superstar" (white) as a base for two coats of Studio M "Neon Caution", topped off with a coat of Milani "Gems". Super sunny and bright, perfect for these precious few sunny days.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Valentine's Day Manicure Conundrum

Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays. One, you get candy, usually. Two, it's the one day of the year that pink and red are totally acceptable when paired together. As such, I planned my Valentine manicure so as to achieve maximum foofiness. Last month, I gave this one a test run:

That was too saccharine, even for me. So, I decided to go with something more like this:
Which was a little more understated. But ultimately, I didn't wear any red or any pink on V-Day. I wore OPI "Simmer and Shimmer". I guess I just wasn't feeling the V-day spirit.

R.E.I.T., however, had her own plans for Valentine's Day. She wanted to wear OPI "Black Shatter" over red. Which would have been an awesome combination, if we actually owned Black Shatter. Mommy had to get resourceful. R.E.I.T. ended up wearing China Glaze "Salsa" with a very, very thin coat of Sinful Colors "Black on Black" over the top. The brush strokes were just enough to convince her that she was wearing "Black Shatter".

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Random Manicure

Inspired by Chloe at Chloe's Nails I decided to do another patchwork manicure a few weeks ago. I wanted to mix up finishes, so I went glossy glitter and matte black. Take a look, and I'll tell you how I did it:

Again, please excuse my cuticles, the winters here are brutal to my skin. Also, I just got that nubby ring finger to grow out to a normal human length, and wouldn't you know, the middle broke!

Anyway, I started with Color Club's "Bewitching" which is a vinyl matte black. I didn't care for the finish as much as I thought I would, so I topped that with a coat of Hard Candy's "Matte-ly In Love" top coat, and waited for it to thoroughly dry. With my nails dry and matte to my liking, I carefully taped off alternating sections (I didn't want every nail to be identical) and applied Finger Paints "Easel-y Entertained", a stunning blurple glitter in blurple jelly. Yes, blurple. I said it.

After my patches of "Easel-y Entertained" were dry, I taped off yet another section and applied Studio M's "Fast Play". "Fast Play" doesn't seem to have a Color Club equivalent, at least, not a current one. It's a translucent purple jelly with irridescent gold glitter. That's what's responsible for the green sparkle in the indoor-lighting picture.

After that, I carefully applied Out The Door to just the glitter polished parts, and voila!

R.E.I.T. approves of this manicure, saying, "Is sfarkally!" That's her new favorite kind of polish. The sfrakally kind."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wet N' Wild Fast Dry "Gray's Anatomy"

As Scrangie pointed out, Wet N' Wild's "Gray's Anatomy is a spot-on dupe of Deborah Lippman's "Wicked Game". For those keeping score at home, that's two new Wet N' Wild polishes that mimic Lippmans. And thank god, because I would feel really guilty layering sixteen dollar polish over seven dollar polish, which is what I did with "Gray's Anatomy".

But first, "Gray's Anatomy" on its own:

The coverage on this one was... strange. There were spots on my nails where it seemed like no matter how many coats I used, the polish wasn't going there. My nails were clean and free from oils, and I used a basecoat, so I'm wondering what went wrong. Next time, I'll try a different basecoat, maybe it just doesn't get along with OPI.

I love this color. I love it because it's gray, but it's still delicate. I love the rosey flash to it, and I love that the green flash doesn't look sickly. I also love that it's a buildable color, so it works for layering. Like here, when I wore it over Essie "Sexy Divide":I wish the picture did this combo justice. "Gray's Anatomy" turned "Sexy Divide" into a chameleon. In some lights, it was a shimmery purple ("Sexy Divide" is a dark purple shimmer to begin with). In others, it was black. In my bedroom, it looked hunter green. This will definitely be a polish I will return to when I want to experiment with layering.

So yeah, Lippman for sixteen bucks, Wet N' Wild for one or two, depending where you buy it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Tale Of Two Top Coats

When R.E.I.T. and I first got into the nail blogging world, we were using just one type of topcoat. Okay, to be honest, R.E.I.T. never uses a top coat. It's enough of a challenge for her to keep her nails from smearing with just the color on them (she's perfected her own technique of holding both hands straight up in the air and whispering "don't touch don't touch don't touch" over and over for a few minutes). So, for her, one or two coats of nail color are all she can stand to sit through, at least where drying time is concerned.

So, we got started, I was using Sally Hansen "Hard as Nails" in clear as my top coat. Why? Because it's two bucks at Dollar General, always in stock, and it really does make your polish super hard, which I do like. Ever since they took the cancer-causing stuff out of nail polish, it always feels gummy and not quite dry to me, and I cherish the old formula stuff I have that does dry to a really hard finish.

However, if you've ever used Sally Hansen "Hard as Nails", you know it's thick, takes a while to dry, and dents in a stiff breeze while it's drying. Nail blogs introduced me to what I was pretty sure was the second coming: Seche Vite.

Seche Vite seems to be the preferred topcoat among nail bloggers and nail blog readers. It really is spectacular stuff. It dries fast, the finish is hard, and it's super shiny. Yes, bubbling and shrinking can be a problem, but I'll get back to that later. You see, I had an altogether different problem with Seche Vite: when the bottle got down to about half-full, it turned into glue. Where at first it was easy to apply, it became a nightmare of stringy things and gloopy, wavy finishes. I bought another bottle, but at $7.99 for a single bottle, I wasn't really all that happy about getting just half of the product. When the second bottle also turned into Gluey McGee, I went back to Sally's to get yet another-- what can I say, I was hooked on having a decent top coat. But I complained as the woman at the register was ringing it up. "Do you think polish thinner would work?"
She blinked at me. "Why don't you just buy the good stuff?"
"The good stuff," which she promptly directed me to, was INM Out The Door. Look at that picture up top again. For $7.99, I got .5 fl oz of Seche Vite. For $10.99 I got 2.5 fl oz of Out The Door. And you know what? Out The Door is the superior product.

First of all, Out The Door doesn't cause the dreaded tip shrinkage that Seche Vite does. No matter how I applied Seche Vite, either immediately after apply the nail color or waiting five minutes to do it, Seche Vite always caused my polish to shrink. Out The Door doesn't dull the way Seche Vite does after a few days of wear, even when I'm using hand cream like I'm trying to win a contest for most hand cream used in a single day. It's far more durable, as well. I can wash dishes, clean the house, lug laundry around without my polish chipping.

Most importantly, I've been using it for months now and it hasn't thickened. At all. So, rather than continually thinning your Seche Vite, maybe give Out The Door a try. You can get it in a smaller quantity, but if you do your nails as much as I do, you might want to spring for the larger bottle.

In other news, I found the perfect place to take nail and nail polish photos: my upstairs hallway. That's where the top coat photo was taken. I'd been bemoaning the lack of good light for picture taking in the house, when it dawned on me that the blank wall behind our stairs makes the perfect backdrop to replace the canvas we used to use... before R.E.I.T. decorated it with crayons.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Studio M "Oh Joy!" = The Perfect Layering Polish

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Jill sent me an excited message via Yahoo! messenger. She was at Meijer, buying polish for twenty-nine cents. I didn't really care what it was, I wanted her to grab me some, too. I'm a sucker for a deal.

That twenty-nine cent buy turned out to be the best layering polish I've ever seen. In the bottle, Studio M's "Oh Joy!" looks like a boring white sheer with a pearly finish. Alone, it's a sheer, sparkly polish that's just so-so. But layer it over another color (like Essie's "Playa Del Platinum", one of my faves), it's magic!Winter is wreaking havoc on my cuticles, but I had to share. "Oh Joy!" turned "Playa Del Platinum" from a greige cream to a silvery foil. I can't stop looking at my nails with this on!

Unfortunately, "Oh Joy!" has been clearanced out of Meijer, and I can't seem to find a Color Club dupe (which is strange, because Studio M basically is Color Club in different bottles). I should have run out and bought several bottles, because this one is going to be a fave.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Everbody wants to be Deborah Lippman.

"Inspired by" polishes seem to be out of control lately. We can't have been the only ones to notice this.

Last week, I picked up the much more reasonable alternative to Deborah Lippman's "Happy Birthday", a twenty-dollar polish that I just cannot bring myself to purchase. At just under four dollars, Milani "Gems" was a buy I could live with.

But after I picked that one up, I noticed Wet N' Wild had their own "just like but not quite" version of "Happy Birthday" in "Party of Five Glitters".

These are incredibly difficult to photograph in the bottle because they're so intensely shiny. It's also difficult to tell the difference between them until they're on the nail:

Top to bottom: "Gems" "Party of Five Glitters" "Gems" "Party of Five Glitters" over Sinful Colors "Black on Black"

As you can see, the biggest difference between the two polishes is distribution on the nail. This could be a result of the brush design. The Milani brush is much thinner than the Wet N' Wild brush, requiring more strokes for coverage. This deposits more glitter on the nail.

The only other differences I could tell was that "Gems" includes orange and gold glitter, which are absent from "Party of Five Glitters". The green glitter in "Party of Five Glitters" is smaller than the green glitter in "Gems", and that's about it. They're both incredibly similar, and I wore them for two days before they actually started to look dissimilar.

I don't have Lippman's "Happy Birthday", but at this point, I don't think I need it. I've got two "inspired by"s right here! As R.E.I.T. says, "Is sfarkaly!" ("It's sparkly").