Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Stash: new purchases + a few more strays

I'm getting the existing stash part out of the way first. The newest of my new purchases are further down, so if you're uninterested in this top part just scroll down!
What I have here are three polishes off my "MIA" list plus the two new polishes from KBShimmer (both of which I've already worn and posted pictures of).

on top:
  • Harlow (Zoya Matte Velvet) - a plummy-pink with shimmer that's really beautiful. I usually end up wearing all the Matte Velvets with top coat, because it brings out their shimmer in them.
bottom row:
  • Dirty Sexy Money (Misa) - this is more green than it looks like in most pictures. It's also a near-dupe for Color Show Tenacious Teal (or more likely it's really the other way around, since I think DSM is an older color.) If it was a bit brighter I'd call it a crayon-green - it's in that neighborhood, anyway.
  • Chimera (OCC) - a silver-green foil, very different but I never think it really looks good on me, unfortunately.
  • She's Beyond Kelp! (a new KBShimmer duochrome/metallic flakie for summer) - a blue-to-green flakie that reads like a foil. It mostly reads green but the blue shift is pretty strong when the light hits it right. (Here's my mani that I just took off. I had it on for most of a week.)
  • Witch Way? (KBShimmer) - I'm guessing from the name that this was a Halloween polish. (The link above says it was part of an Autumn collection, so I guess that comes to the same thing.) It's a dark grape-y purple jelly with pretty heavy holo glitter. (my mani here)
As for the MIAs, these were the top 3 polishes on my list which I linked above, and I found them practically the minute I went looking for them - they were in my boxes mixed in with everything else, which was what I suspected all along. They just managed somehow to get skipped in the picture-taking process. I haven't come up with the rest of that list yet, though.

As for other new purchases, I went on a little tear of ordering stuff and everything is here now, so here are the other new additions. Absolute New York is a brand I had never heard of, but they are apparently a sister brand to Nicka K NY, which I had, so when I saw these on an Ipsy special offer I thought I would try them out. So far I'm very pleased with them - they have a really nice formula (a bit streaky but that's not surprising with these kind of colors). Note that there are wheel swatches of all these further down!
across the top:
  • Bronze Foliage (Virago Varnish) - it's not something I'm likely to wear much until fall, but this is so beautiful that I had to order it when I saw it. A glitterbomb of fall metallics in mixed sizes and shades. (There aren't many pictures of it online that I could find, other than Virago's own, so that's what the link is to.)
  • A Dragon Is Not A Slave (Paint Box Polish) - this polish is so bright in the bottle that I thought when it arrived that it was a Spectraflair-type holo polish, which it's not. It's a green jelly base packed with gold & green holo glitter, instead. Look at the wheel pic below and you can see the glitter bits. Apparently you can build it to opaqueness or at least near-opaqueness, but I'm thinking I'm going to try it over a darker green and see how that works.
  • Nourishing Cuticle Oil (Paint Box Polish) - I really did the PBP order for this, not for the polish above, much as I like it. I'd heard good things about this cuticle oil, and since I seem to prefer oils over balms, I wanted a purse-friendly oil. This is .33 ounces of oil in a rollerball dispenser. Mine is citrus-scented, which I adore, but it comes in a great variety of scents if citrus is not your thing.
bottom row (all Absolute New York polishes - I can't find any swatches of these anywhere, but see below):
  • Blue Email - This is not really a neon blue but it's pretty bright. It's darker than cyan, lighter than teal. This one was thicker than the others - it was pretty opaque after one coat, on the nail.
  • Purple Neon - not a neon, but a bright-orchid creme. Very pretty.
  • Dear Tiffany - I thought "oh, this is going to be a Tiffany blue," but really it's not, because it's greener than that. I need to compare swatches with Dirty Sexy Money above, because it really seems to me to be more in that ballpark (although possibly it's a bit paler than that one).
  • Magenta - this one is the only one that I would call a neon. It's very bright, brighter than it looks from the bottle picture below or the swatch - more like what it looks like above, really.
Here's a screenshot of the Ipsy offer on the four polishes above. They were $10 including shipping, and since they retail for $4.99 each on AbsoluteNY's website, it's a good deal. (It sold out some time ago, sorry!)

And the wheel pictures:
Bronze Foliage (one coat over black) and A Dragon Is Not A Slave (one coat on its own!):

Purple Neon, Magenta, Dear Tiffany, Blue Email:
I wasn't keeping good track of the coats when I did this, but I believe this is probably three coats on all, because these were still looking pretty sheer after two. Possibly only two on Blue Email. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

NOTD: Witch Way?

This is 3 coats of KBShimmer Witch Way, and it's still not entirely opaque. Next time I may try putting another dark purple under it. (I certainly have plenty of those.)
The color's a little off here - purples are always difficult. I would say this is more blue than in real life - although I would also say my fingers don't look this pink!  I would call this sort of a dark grape color overall.

Details (1 coat of each except for the color polish):
Nail Nutrition Strength Formula
Colorstay Base Coat
3 coats of Witch Way?
HK Girl

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ipsy vs. Birchbox

I've been getting Ipsy bags for some months now, since last fall. And I'd never had a Birchbox, but a month or so ago, there was a promo through some YouTube beauty blogger (or vlogger or whatever you want to call them) where you could get a Birchbox for $1 with free shipping. So I tried it. It was cool to try Birchbox but I'm not going to continue it. Ipsy is cheaper (I don't know where I got that idea, I think they're actually the same price, but Ipsy gives you a bag where Birchbox gives you some other extra item) and the samples seem to be equally good, although presumably not identical. And twice as many samples is just not something I need or can really afford.

Here's the Birchbox (I know anybody who cares has probably seem a million unboxing pictures/videos already but I took the pictures that way anyway):

(I did like that the card in the second picture had a list of what you got on it. That's something Ipsy doesn't do.) Note that these are not actually unboxing pictures and so this is not exactly what it looked like when I first opened the box - I didn't think to take the pictures at the time. Certainly the products were not all neatly lined up like in the last picture; I did that myself. I think there was another piece of packaging that I discarded, too - a little box like the one the perfume is in, but bigger. (I don't remember which item was inside it.)

I'm not going to list everything exhaustively, but the items here are a liner pencil, some sunscreen, a perfume sample, a BB creme, a peel-off mask, and a hair clip. I don't have a navy-blue liner so I'm sure I'll try that out, ditto the BB creme. (In fact I've never actually used a BB creme so that's something new for me.) The sunscreen is something I'll use - or I might give it to my husband to use, since he spends much more time in the sun than I do. I'll use the hair clip, I'm sure. The perfume smells pretty good. The only thing I'm really not sure I'll use is the peel-off mask, but it's possible I might.

Here's June Ipsy:
Actually this is not the very best month of Ipsy I've ever gotten, but it's not bad. I do want to try the Smashbox primer, particularly, since it's something people always talk about and I've never tried. I'll probably try out the lip stain and the eyeshadow pencil. The blue tube is something called "pores no more" which is not really one of my particular issues, but I may try it out, just the same. The big tube is hair goo meant for blowouts, and I hardly ever blow-dry my hair so I might never get around to trying that one. (I do own a dryer but I can't tell you when I last used it. Maybe I'll get inspired.)

I did really like the embossed bag, it's very cute. (It almost looks like embroidery, but I'm pretty sure it's actually embossed.) I have to say that the bags are a factor in my preference for Ipsy. I'd definitely rather have a makeup bag than just a random "extra" item in a box. Even if I can't actually use 12 makeup bags a year, still, you can switch them out, and you can put gifts in them or just give them away (and, for that matter, you can put things other than makeup in them).

Other factors: Birchbox does have a nice store that you don't have to have a subscription to use, so that's something to bear in mind. Ipsy doesn't have that kind of store but they have discounts on full sizes of the samples, usually (usually at that brand's website) and they have some periodic specials. I bought one of those the other day - it was a nail polish set, of a brand I'd never heard of - and I'll report back on that when it comes in. These special offers go up at certain times of day on certain weekdays, and I'm never one to set an alarm for sales. (There are some fancy nail polish brands I'd probably have more of if I did. It's undoubtedly better for the state of my wallet that I don't.)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Stash: A last round of strays, + a few still MIA

This picture is a bit fuzzy, but here are the last of the strays I have rounded up:
top row:
  • Frozen (Orly Color Blast) - This is (as you may guess) part of a "Frozen" tie-in collection. I got mine in a duo called the "Sister Duo" but I believe these were also sold individually. This is pretty much what you'd expect, an ice-blue - but it's very sheer and shimmery. It reminds me of polishes like Sinful Let Me Go, because while it's not the same color, it's similar in finish and sheerness.
  • Wicked (Essie) - I think it says a good bit about Wicked that they put it on Uhura in the last Star Trek movie. This is a dark vampy red - various sources have it as a near-dupe for Chanel Rouge Noir and also for some things I already own like Sinful Rich In Heart (which I would never have guessed, it seems more brown) and Revlon Vixen. (Some more info here.)
  • Sew Psyched (Essie) - different sources describe this as a greenish-gray or a sage green. (On the other hand I suppose that's what sage green is, really.) And it's got a lot of shimmer. There's dupe link and some more info here.
  • Anais (Zoya mini) - I thought this polish was dark green when I got it, but nobody but me seems to see anything greenish in it. Apparently it's actually a very dark gray or brownish-black. (What it comes down to is that it's very dark and shimmery and nobody agrees about exactly what color it is.)
  • Mad Women (Miracle Gel) - this is my one-and-only Miracle Gel polish, but I like it and it wore well, by my standards. (I think I managed to make it last something like four days.) This is a fuchsia, I'd call it similar to something like Zoya Lilith because it seems to have some blue flash. But maybe that's just my imagination.
bottom row:
  • Gossamer (Jin Soon) - another brand that I own exactly one of. I liked this polish a lot when I first got it, and then I sort of forgot about it. It seems, now that I look at it again, a lot like China Glaze Travel In Colour. I'm not sure if it has exactly the same kind of shift, though. I'm gonna have to remember to try this out again!
  • Severine (Zoya mini) - Along with Anais, above, these were two of the three colors in the Zoya Mystery Box from after Christmas this year. As you can see at the link, these were actually colors made for the fall 2014 Peter Som collection. Severine is the most interesting of the colors to me - a sort of dull neutral-ish gold frost.
  • Jordana's Skinny Jeans (Barielle) - I first saw this polish on somebody's Pinterest and I thought it was mislabeled, since Jordana is also a polish brand. But no, it's Barielle and it's named after the cult 80s jeans. So it's (naturally) a dark 80s-ish denim blue with a lot of shimmer. It's quite beautiful.
  • Spinning Out Of Control (Misa) - blurple shimmer. I haven't tried this one yet, but Misa and Barielle both seem to have awesome formulas and I'm sorry I waited so long to try these brands!
  • CE39 (I think - the number is totally illegible, but I decided the last time I wore it that that was correct) (Layla Ceramic Effect) - this is a very pretty dark purple-gray shimmer, an unusual color since grayed-out colors tend to be lighter than this.

Well, separating my polishes out by finish turned out not to be the easiest thing in the world, but I learned so much doing it that I can't regret having tried. And I finished, more or less, which is kind of amazing! I say "more or less" because there are a few polishes that I still haven't managed to get my hands on for pictures, after all this. The ones I know of, in no particular order, are:
  • OCC Chimera
  • Misa Dirty Sexy Money
  • Zoya Harlow
  • SOPI I Only Shop Vintage (mani from early 2015)
  • China Glaze Mingle with Kringle (which is said to be a dupe for Zoya Ziv, according to JessFace90)
  • NYC Ruby Queen
  • Hard Candy Vinyl
  • Glitter A-Peel basecoat
Eight out of 400-odd is not bad. I've actually seen all of these pretty recently, I think. They're floating around somewhere; I'll track them down eventually, and when I do, I'll google them as I have been doing with all the others and add them to the big list. And I'll do new polishes as I get them, too.

(Update: I've already found a couple, which are marked out. Hopefully the others are just lurking around somewhere in my boxes as well! And incidentally, if you're asking, why can't I Google without the actual bottle - which is what I thought myself when I read back over what I'd written - well, of course I can, and I probably will if I don't find them, just for completeness' sake. But it's a bit pointless if I've lost the actual polish!)

Friday, June 19, 2015

She's Beyond Kelp! and other recent manicures

This is KBShimmer She's Beyond Kelp! - which is one of their recent series of awesome duochrome flakies:
I'm holding my fingers at an angle here so you can see the blue-to-green flash. At right angles it just looks bright green. This was kind of a booger to apply but not too too bad. It's thick and it's prone to leave bald patches, but two thick coats - with a little extra dabbing - was enough (and there's no way you're getting thin coats with this stuff anyway!) - and this is without top-coat at all. I did have on Colorstay base-coat.

This is one of the Dollish Ultimate Fandom polishes that I've had for almost a year now (I just looked and I got them in June last year) - this is One Lifetime With You, which was the Lord of the Rings polish. If you're a geek like me you kinda take this reference for granted. Hmm, I think I have an old LJ icon that went with this, I'll look. Anyway, it's the color of Arwen's dress in Fellowship of the Ring.

(Did anybody besides me out there read The Secret Life of Dolls? Because if you don't know what it is, this isn't going to make much sense, probably. But I'm putting it in anyway, because I'm having a Geek Moment.)
(I used to know the words to "Aniron." And they're in Elvish. That kind of geek moment.)

Anyway, I bet Accio Lacquer has a picture of the dress in question. Here ya go.  (Added much later: that link is no more, but I'm sure it's something you can google.)

Getting back to nail polish... well, it's pretty but that is four coats above. So a little thinner than I find acceptable, for normal use. (It's also possible it's faded some in a year. I had issues with fading with another Dollish Polish, so who knows.)

And then I got nail mail and the aforementioned four coats of polish got covered up with two more coats of Witch Way? because I couldn't resist trying it. And it was really pretty, but it didn't set very well on top of all that and I ended up taking it all off again. (And then put on the other KBShimmer, which is the one at the top. Which gets us back around full-circle.)

I do have a couple of previous manis to talk about real quick, but I have no pictures for these. After the last NOTD post - which was a couple of weeks ago - the next thing I wore, apparently, was Teal The Cows Come Home (which is LynB) with Flake Your Booty on top. This was only moderately successful because Flake Your Booty doesn't seem to show up very well on a light background. But Teal The Cows Come Home is pretty, even if it's not what I'd call teal, really (but then I am judgmental about color names - as far as I'm concerned it's too light to be teal).

And then for most of the last week - up til Arwen's dress reared its head a couple of days ago - I had on Pretty Gritty again. You know I like it because I didn't put anything but HK Girl on top of it. (No flakies, no Travel In Colour or anything, I mean.)

I'm sure I will have more on the subject of nail mail to say before long. (I think I have another thing or two on the way, as well.) But this has gone on long enough, so I'm stopping.

(Oh, for the record, no disclosures necessary here. I paid full price for all this stuff.)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stash: formerly MIA metallics

After I did this round of stash pictures, I went through my list to see what was missing, and there was one bunch that stood out, that I knew had to be together. They were polishes that I usually mostly wear in the fall - metallics, mostly, and especially a bunch of copper and bronze-colored things. I had looked around for a stray storage box and not found or remembered anything like that, and I couldn't imagine where I had put them - but finally "fall" rang a bell somewhere in the back of my brain, and I remembered having put these away somewhere where I would (presumably) find them again in the fall. But honestly, I had put them so thoroughly out of sight that it's a wonder I remembered - they were in my grandmother's jewelry armoire, which is stuck back in a corner with some assorted junk in it, and I mostly ignore the existence of the whole piece of furniture. I apparently cleaned out the top drawer last fall, and put these polishes in it. I guess maybe I was thinking that I could use that armoire like a Helmer. Only then I came perilously close to forgetting about it completely.

So, to go by the standards that I started out with on this stash round, we have here some very large glitters (Falloween and I-Space), some chunky glitters (in a clear base for the SOPI and in a jelly base for RIP) and the rest are microglitters that verge on foils.
top row:
  • Traffic-Stopper Copper (Sephora by OPI) - bright copper hexes in a clear base. I like this in theory but I haven't really worn it much. (I need to do it over black like P'aholic shows.)
  • Falloween (Glitzology) - a crazy fall-themed mix of glitters in a clear base: shards, squares, hexes, and bars, in black, white, orange, purple, and green. I bought this in a blog sale and completely forgot to use it at the proper time of year. I can't really see wearing it in any other season.
bottom row:
  • Glitz (Orly) - as I recall, people used to get really worked up about this polish back a few years ago, but I never thought it was all that, especially. Still, it's a nice golden metallic and I've actually worn it a good bit over the years. (Here's a comparison post.)
  • R.I.P. (Orly) - this polish was the very first NOTD post on this blog, and it's still a fun polish, although it's kind of a pain to deal with. It's orange glitter in a black jelly base, and it's kind of balky, but on the other hand, I can't think of anything else like it. If I remember to wear it this fall, I'll definitely put Black Creme under it. And I do still like my post-Halloween version that I mention in that post where I got it to look more brown, too.
  • Intergalactic Space (Orly FX) - This is mixed glitter in a black base, and I wasn't sure I would like it but I did. (here's a mani from 2014) Among the mix of stuff are scattered larger white circles that come out looking sort of like planets. And like several of these, it does have bronze leanings.
  • Seared Bronze (Cover Girl Glosstini) - this is from the Cover Girl Catching Fire collection - it's not available in the Glosstini size any more but I believe these colors are still in the permanent collection. This is a really pretty bronze that's said to be a dupe for Warm & Fozzie.  (Note that I also now have a full-size of this, and that these are being discontinued as of late 2015.)
  • Chop Chop Copper (SH Insta-Dri) - the review linked is ALU again, and Michelle didn't actually like it that much, but I do. It's beautiful, and I don't care that it's not all that opaque.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Stash: clear top-coats

I'm pretty sure I posted some other stuff from my stash labeled top-coats (or possibly "top coats" or "topcoats", because I never can decide whether it has spaces or a hyphen on any given day), but this is not glitter top-coats or shimmery ones, but the clear kind like Seche Vite. (I actually have three bottles of Seche Vite - two of which were from a BOGO sale - and two of NYC matte top-coat. And I think there's a bottle of Grand Central Station or something in my backpack that didn't get into the picture.)

This is just what I've got, and I'm not trying to do an official comparison. There are a lot of those around: a quick search found thisthisthis, and this. For matte top-coats, there's this and also Karen's long series of them. (Which doesn't mean I won't get around to doing my own wear-test eventually; in fact I think it's a good idea! Just not today.)
At the top:
  • Manicure Extender - You can tell if you're a Gelous user that this is the same company - all their products seem to use the same bottle with different-colored caps. I've only used this a couple of times, and I can't say I noticed any miraculous results. I can't find any reviews of this online, although I found a couple of pictures. I think this is actually discontinued - it's not on Sally Beauty's website any more. You may be able to find it online somewhere else, though, if you feel the urge to try it, because it was around only a few months ago.
first full row:
  • NYC Matte Me Crazy - it's more a satin-finish than a true matte, but on the other hand it's super-cheap. As I said before, I have two bottles of this stuff. (I like satin-finish.)
  • Sally Girl Matte (the mini) - this one is more matte than the NYC, so it's nice to have.
  • NYC Extra-Shiny Top Coat (my bottle says "Long Wearing" and the number is 271 instead of 271A as on the MUA picture, so I don't know, maybe it's an older formula?) - I can't say I wear this much, and it's not one of my favorites, but I haven't had a horrible experience with it either, (Read the MUA reviews at the link to see why I say that.)
  • Vinylux Weekly Top Coat (CND) - I don't have any Vinylux polishes, although I keep meaning to get around to trying them. I bought this because I'd heard people say it helps extend the life of other brands of nail polish too, only - my usual problem here - I haven't really remembered to try it much. It seems fine as far as I can tell, but I don't recall having any exciting results.
  • Miracle Gel Top Coat (Sally Hansen) - I bought this in a two-pack with a bottle of polish, and I've only worn it once. I did get about four days of wear from the that mani, though, and that's awfully good by my standards. (Here's a couple of reviews of the polish itself, too.)
  • Revlon Colorstay Sealing Shine (the oldest formula, or at least I think it's the oldest) - When Colorstay first came out, it only came in two-packs with a top-coat. You couldn't buy either the color polish or the top-coat by itself. The colors weren't terribly interesting, which is why I only ever bought a couple of them, but the top-coat was pretty good.
bottom row:
  • Gelous - I've actually been using Gelous a lot lately, in an off-again, on-again way. I don't really buy into the massive hype about this one, but as a specialty thing I think it's fun to play around with. Don't expect it to really be like a "gel" any more than any other non-gel top-coat.
  • Seche Vite - Even more than Gelous, Seche Vite has a lot of fans; if you read a lot of the online reviews, you'll probably come out thinking it's the best thing ever. Personally, I'm on the fence - it does a good job, it's fine, but it's smelly and expensive and the last third of the bottle is rarely useable (or only useable with Seche Restore, which basically exists specifically for that purpose). I won't pay full price for it again, but as I mentioned above, I did give in & get more when faced with a Sally Beauty BOGO for it recently.
  • HK Girl (Glisten & Glow) - I like this one a lot. It's pretty similar to Seche Vite in texture and dry-time (and for that matter, the bottle, which seems exactly the same) but it's not quite as smelly as SV - or at least I think so on some days! - and doesn't seem as prone to goopiness at the bottom of the bottle. One unusual thing about HK Girl is that you can buy refill bottles for it - I can't think of any other top-coat where that's the case.
  • Hardwear (Butter London) - I usually forget to use this, and I've had it for ages (I bought it at the same time as the base coat, which is almost empty). It's not that I don't like it, it just gets lost in all this other stuff. It's a nice big bottle, and reportedly is not prone to the SV-type goopiness issues
Hall of Fame (because I don't own a bottle of this right now): Insta-Dri, which is just a very good top-coat for the price. Also I should say a bit about NYC Grand Central Station, which I mentioned up top - it's technically just a clear polish but does very good work as a top-coat.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Stash strays: reddish shimmers and some cremes

I'm still gradually getting up the leftovers from my big stash project, which I've been working on for six months - basically any post labeled "stash" in 2015 so far is part of this. I am not noted for finishing big projects, but in this case I was motivated by having an index, which showed up really clearly what polishes are still undone. So here's another small group:

at the top:
  • Charlotte mini (Zoya) - this was part of a trio that Zoya sent out with one of their promo sales back in January. I think they were the Peter Som colors that they did for one fashion week or the other last year (apparently it was fall 2014, if I'd just read what I linked I'd know that already!) KG says this is a creme although I thought in the bottle it looked like it had some shimmer. I believe I swatched it (and it was almost invisible on the wheel because it was the same slightly-off-white color as the wheel itself!) but I haven't worn it. I might get around to it eventually but it's just not my kind of thing.
bottom row:
  • Free Spirit (Orly Color Blast) - this was a Frozen duo that Rob bought me for my birthday. Again, I thought this was a shimmer but maybe not. Apparently it's a crelly, which is interesting and different, and maybe I should actually get around to trying it out! It's a very bright purple-leaning fuchsia which I have a zillion of, but crellies are more rare.
  • Stuck In The Middle (Pretty Serious - I believe this was a blogger collab polish) - this is a fabulous polish (even though it's basically pretty close to that same fuchsia as the one above - you can see that it reads a bit different, though) - it's a jelly packed with shifty glass-fleck sparkle. (PS has recently come out with a second blogger collab trio, which looks pretty awesome too. I'm still wanting Undercover Mermaid, which is the one I didn't get from the first trio!)
  • Black Metal Dahlia (OCC) - remember how I kept going on about how I wanted a blackened red? I knew all along that this color existed, but I thought it was discontinued, for some reason. But it's not (or it was and they brought it back, I'm not sure which) and I now have it and... well, it's pretty but it's still not quite the blackened red of my dreams. OCC describes it as "deep maroon with red pearl." (Note that the Temptalia link above has some comparison swatches, too.)
  • When U Say My Name (Misa) - this one I haven't worn because it's such a fall color and I'm saving it. (However, I have so many fall polishes I'd probably have to start now to actually wear them all!) This is a shimmery dark brown. The Misas I've tried so far have awesome formulas so I'm looking forward to this one.
  • Film Noir (Finger Paints) - this is a matte polish in a dark wine color. Polishaholic notes some application issues, and I had the same problem. I don't have a lot of matte polishes but they seem to be somewhat cranky, in my limited experience. But it's really different and pretty.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Stash: base-coats

Frankly, I picked base-coats to go first before top-coats because I have fewer of them, and therefore it's not so daunting to do. I'm not sure why I have fewer - to some degree this seems like a chicken-and-egg thing, I have fewer because I use them up, but I use them up faster because I have fewer (compared to top-coats, in particular, as you will see). One of the few nail-related things I am quite methodical about is that I always wear base-coat, so I'm sure that's part of the equation. Mostly that's because I don't want to stain my nails any more than I can help, and also because I think it helps with wear, which - unless you're one of those fortunate people who have nails that really can keep a manicure unchipped for 10 days or more - is always a problem.

The selection below is not really representative of what I've worn in the past. Those are the ones, after all, that got used up, as I said. I do think I'm on the second bottle - and probably last, since this formula's discontinued - of Colorstay. Most of the ones I have now are frankly somewhat higher-end than what I've worn in the past, which as far as I can recall, mostly involves Sally Hansen. I've gone through a couple of bottles of Insta... (hmm, Insta-something, I think, but not Insta-Dri, which is polish & top-coat - aha, Insta-Grip!), and at least one of Complete Salon Mani base-coat and before that, I was probably using Hard As Nails for base-coat, because that gets you back to the dark ages before I knew all this other stuff existed.

By the way, I seem to be primarily using Makeup Alley (aka MUA) reviews to link to here. Reviews of boring stuff like base-coat are just not as easy to find as for shinier things!
top row:
  • Rimmel Base Coat Top Coat Pro - I think I put this one at top left so that I could get it over with first; I don't really approve of the whole concept of combined base- and top-coat. (It came in a combo-pack with a bottle of nail polish, or I wouldn't have it at all.) MUA reviewers at the link above seem to agree with me here - although I didn't have as terrible a time with it as some of those people. It was just okay.
  • Revlon Colorstay - as far as I know, this is discontinued, but I haven't exactly been haunting the Revlon aisle lately, so I could be wrong. (MUA says yes, it's discontinued. But even so, it might well still be findable at various discount places, if you're really moved to go look for it.) Anyway, I've gotten good results with this in the past, and it is (or was) reasonably priced, and so if it's gone, it's kind of a shame. (But Colorstay Gel is not supposed to need a base-coat, right? So I guess that's the reasoning there.)
  • Orly Bonder - I like Orly Bonder. I have used it a lot. I can't say I'm in love with it but it works.
  • Chick Base Coat - another one that's discontinued. I've liked most of Chick's products I've tried and I expect to like this one too, when I get around to it. (Some of these, I've saving until the other stuff is gone...)
bottom row:
  • Nail Foundation (Butter London) - You can't tell it since the bottle is not transparent enough to see, but this bottle is damn near empty. I have used the heck out of this stuff. It's got a high list price but you can get deals on it, and if you find one, I have to say it becomes totally worth the (lower) price. (I'm not sure anything at all is really worth full-on high-end prices, in the end.) Anyway, there are mixed reviews up there but honestly, I have had very good results from this. Also it's in a big bottle with a long brush that's pretty good at fishing the product up from the bottom of the bottle, and that becomes important when you get down low there.
  • Get Even (Zoya) - I really only bought this because it was said to be important to keep your ridges from showing on Zoya's matte polishes. I use it on other occasions, too. It's even more gluey and goopy than other ridge-fighting formulas, but it works.
  • Bridge the Ridge (from American Classics, the same people who make Gelous) - obviously, another ridge-fighting polish. My aunt gave it to me for Christmas and I haven't tried it at all yet, I'm waiting on some of these others to run out first! It only has a few reviews but they seem positive enough.
(And now it's time to go to bed - I've had an Ambien, and when you start seeing patterns on what's supposed to be a plain white background, then it's time to go to bed because it's kicking in. 'Night.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Stash: glitter and creme strays

More strays - some glittery top-coats, a couple of cremes, and Pretty Gritty, which is almost a class by itself (I'll get to that below):
top row:
  • Black Creme (Wild Shine) - I had a picture of this in the old bottle, but since this is not the same bottle style, I felt like I had to put this one in for completeness' sake. As far as I know, it's exactly the same basic black creme that I talked about back in the very first installment of cremes. (I do have to admit, though, that I particularly wanted the new bottle because of its very small footprint. I wanted to start keeping it out with my "manicure basics" - i.e., base-coat and top-coat and all that kind of thing, and I liked the idea that it wouldn't take up much room.)
  • Pretty Gritty (Rescue Beauty Lounge) - I suppose this is technically a shimmer, but it's an unusual one, which is how it ended up in the post with a bunch of glitters. It's a dusty purple with gold shimmer, and it's really beautiful. This is from RBL's collab with Refinery 29.
bottom row (except for the lone nail art polish, these are all top-coats):
  • TNT (Formula X) - from the Effects Top Coat line, this is cobalt blue matte hexes of various sizes in a clear base.
  • Boom (Formula X) - this is from the same line as the one above, and it's exactly the same idea - mixed matte hexes, but this one is a cornflower-ish blue. (Here's a mani over dark blue.)
  • Fairy Snot (Chick) - iridescent top coat, which shimmers in a multicolored way, very pretty.
  • Hot Couture (Color Club) - another iridescent glitter similar to Fairy Snot, above, but in a rose-pink kind of base. This looks awesome over paler pinks, that's the main way I've worn it so far.
  • Bad Chick (Sinful Colors Nail Art) - I just don't do nail art, as much as I kept trying to persuade myself in the past that I was going to start. So this polish has mostly just sat and moldered. I did use it once, for painting stripes on a 4th of July mani a couple of years ago. There's not really much to say about a white striping polish, anyway. It's white, it has a skinny brush... and it's apparently discontinued, since it was seen at Dollar Tree back a couple of years ago.

(I felt compelled to put in both bottle styles of Black Creme, but I didn't take "completeness' sake" so far as to take pictures of backup bottles where both (or all) the bottles look completely alike. (The only color polishes I have three of are Black Creme, as of last week, and Colorstay Rainforest, because I bought two more bottles when it was on clearance. I also have two bottles of Colorstay Amethyst, and there are a couple of top-coats I have multiples of, but I think that's it.)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Stash: treatment products

I went through everything else in my stash (well, almost everything, there's still more strays coming), and at the end it seemed a bit weird not to talk about the other bottles in my stash - the top-coats and the nail hardeners and other miscellaneous bottles o' stuff. This installment is the things that are neither a color polish nor specifically a base-coat or top-coat, but instead have some other purpose. Base-coats and top-coats are each going to get their own installment, also to come.
top row:
  • Green Tea and Bamboo Strength (Sally Hansen Nail Nutrition) - I'm a fan of Sally H's nail treatment products, generally. Nail Nutrition has 2 formulas, Strength and Growth. I've tried both of them and I like both of them. I've mostly settled on strength formulas rather than growth for treatment products generally, because I've given up on trying for grow my nails terribly long. However, I used up a whole bottle of the growth formula before I got the strength one, and I haven't remembered to use the new one as much. The link above is from Makeup Alley and it has reviews of both. I didn't especially think the growth one helped with growth, that I could tell, I just liked the way it made my nails feel.
  • VitaSurge Strength Gel (Sally Hansen) - this is a different type of product, a gel with little bubbles of stuff (vitamins, I guess!) which you're supposed to massage into your nail bed. I usually forget to use this, but I like it as far as I can tell from my limited use of it, at least! This also comes in Strength and Growth formulas, I believe, but I haven't tried the latter one, in this case. This does not come with a brush, instead it has a little sponge wand. I usually just use the sponge to spread it around and then massage it into my nails with my fingers. It claims that you will notice results after 5 days, but I would have to remember to use it for 5 days in a row, I assume, to test that claim, and that's just not going to happen.
bottom row:
  • Instant Artificials (Salon Sciences) - you can buy this at beauty supplies, but this bottle came from somebody's blog sale, because I wanted to try it out for cheap. Again, I forget to use it regularly, but I like it as far as I can tell. I don't try to substitute it for a base-coat, normally, but I think this one is more like a base-coat than most of these others. (Update: Once I finally started using this, I fell in love with it. I couldn't find any new bottles in Sally's stores (although some stores may have it) but it's available on their website.)
  • Beauty Secrets polish thinner - I know the bottle says Seche but what's in the bottle is not Seche. See below for the story about that. This is another one that I don't use often enough to say yea or nay on it, myself. (The link above has a lot of information about how polish thinners work, chemically-speaking, which is helpful.)
  • Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil (Sally Hansen) - again, I forget to use it because I usually am using the ones below. But it works fine.
  • Cuticle Oil (Chick) - this is by far my favorite cuticle product - although in practice, I alternate randomly between it and Badger Cuticle Balm, which I talk about a bit more at the bottom of this entry. The Chick oil is tangerine-ginger scented and it smells divine. Unfortunately Chick is out of business to the best of my knowledge. (I did buy two bottles while these were on clearance at Llarowe, though, so I'm still good for a while. I'm sure going to miss it when it eventually runs out, though!)
  • (upside downBeauty Secrets Hardener - I have flaky, peel-prone nails, but I'm hard on my nails - as I've said here ad infinitum - and so it's hard to know how much of that is diet or body chemistry or whatever and how much is because I use my nails as tools and then bang them against a keyboard all day. But this product does seem to help, in my fairly limited trials of it. I need to use it more regularly and then I might have a better idea about how much it helps!
(I said at the top that these are not base-coats, but actually some treatment products say that you can use them instead of one. In my experience, you're better off not listening to any such claims, though. Put the treatment product on first and then a base-coat on top of that, and you'll usually get better results.)

As far as the Seche Restore bottle, I bought it from some random Amazon seller, and I didn't open it for a good while - like, a couple of months - and when I finally opened it, it was an empty bottle. I don't know who the seller was anyway, but I'm not entirely sure this should be held against them because I didn't give them a chance to make it right. It's entirely possible that they didn't know it was empty, either - it may well have just been a mistake at the bottler. And so much time had gone by that I just said, "Eh," and went and bought some Sally-Beauty-brand thinner instead, and poured some in the empty bottle. (So I have still not actually tried Seche Restore at all. I gather it's particularly good for those gooey half-empty bottles of Seche Vite.)

I didn't take a picture of my cuticle balms, because they're scattered all over, but I have three different ones, all of which I talked about over here. For practical purposes, Badger Balm is the one I use most often. It comes in quite a big tin and is hella cheap for the amount of product you get.

Stash: stray glitters and flakies

Like I said a few posts back, I knew I had a good many strays that didn't get into the first round of stash pictures this time around, and most of them are polishes I've either bought lately or worn lately - or in many cases, both of those things. (Calling them strays makes me think of various lame jokes about having rounded up the herd, but I'll try to refrain.) Here's the first installment, which is flakies and some glitters (with a few more glitters to come in installment two):
top row:
  • Neeka (Zoya) - a slightly grayed-out purple, similar to Zoya Lotus in basic color, but with a fine gold microglitter. (I wrote about this one not long ago, and I was complaining because I had wear issues with it. I haven't yet retried it to see if that was just a freak occurrence or whether it's an ongoing problem for me, though.)
  • Butterflies & Rosebuds (Julie G) - a dark fuchsia with a ton of tonal microglitter. This is a really beautiful polish; as VV says at the link there, it almost glows. (mani from 2014)
  • Flake Your Booty (Painted Polish) - as the name implies, it's a flakie, but it's blue. I've never seen a blue flakie before. I tried it once over Nail-Robi, a dark blue, and it was beautiful (but I don't think I have pictures). I want to try it again over something else and see what it looks like - a blue-green, maybe, or a blue-violet? that seems like it would work...
  • Shine Of The Times (Essie) - I talked about this just last week - it's more what I think of as the standard color for a flakie - copper shifting to green, more or less. But it's also got an extra-heavy concentration of flakes, I think. (more swatches)
  • Aurora Borealis (Lucky 13) - this is a different type of flakie, to my mind, than the more standard kind above - this kind has smaller flakes and goes on more like a clear-base glitter. I am actually wearing this as we speak - here's the picture I put up the other day. It's really exceptionally beautiful. (I've been saying that a lot so far in this entry, but these are some great polishes!) Color-wise, it's pretty similar to Shine Of The Times - coppery shifting to green, mostly, although it seems to have bits of some other colors as well.
bottom row:
  • Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey (Lucky 13) - blue jelly with silver glitter of various sizes and shapes, including some stars. The link is to Accio Lacquer, and she describes this polish as having "limitless depth" - and while that's maybe a little bit out-there (as befits a Dr Who-themed polish, really) the jelly does definitely give it that illusion.
  • Locavore (Rescue Beauty) - I just bought this lately and I haven't worn it yet - I tend to wear glitters more in the winter than the summer - but boy, is it pretty. It was on clearance and I gave in to temptation, since I was already doing a RBL order (with my birthday RBL coupon). It's a small glitter with green, blue, and violet, I think - it's one of those that's small enough pieces that it's hard to pick out the individual colors. (RBL doesn't have it listed any more so I guess it's gone away now.)
  • Hue Left A Message? (Finger Paints) - Hmm, I'd forgotten, if I ever knew, that this is a near-dupe for BL Rosie Lee. Holly says it's more muted but close (and she's talked a number of times about how much she loves Rosie Lee so I'd say she's fairly expert on the subject!) - anyway, this is a packed glitter in a fairly subdued rose color. I haven't gotten around to wearing it yet.
  • Purple Palette (Finger Paints) - I couldn't find much for this online, and the picture at the link shows it looking much more blue than I think it actually is. I may have to swatch this one myself!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

2 months of Ipsy bags

So here's April's Ipsy bag, a bit late:

The white box is a perfume I'd never heard of (but then Ipsy's all about stuff you never heard of); here's a shot where you can see the bottle, a little rollerball:
It smelled pretty good, but I am super-sensitive to everything these days and something in it gave me a headache. I'm going to give the Essence mascara away (despite the adorable packaging) because my eyes are far too sensitive for mascara, as I've said before; I gave up on that one long ago. I've had the StarLooks lip gloss in a previous Ipsy bag, and it was okay, but I'm not big on the texture of lip gloss so that'll probably end up going away too.

Here's the inside of the "nude" package, which is an eyeshadow from The Balm:
Funny. I'll probably try that one out. And I've already tried the Theorie hair serum, but I put it on so sparingly that I can't say I can tell any difference. The jury's still out on that one, too. So overall, probably not my best month for Ipsy. I did really like the little raffia-style bag! Very summery.

Here's the official list from April (the theme is "Beautifully Bohemian"):
  1. Starlooks lipgloss in Cuddle
  2. Jor'el Parker Femina fragrance (8.8ml bottle)
  3. Essence Lash Princess mascara
  4. Theorie argan oil hair serum
  5. theBalm Nude Dude eyeshadow single in Fit (shimmery copper)

Here's May, except I misplaced an item:
I haven't tried the dry shampoo, which appears to be full-sized, but full-size items are rare enough here that I was impressed. (I knew something was up when I got a larger-than normal pink mailer.) This bag is very cute but feels flimsy, although it is lined. I'll try the eyeliner (I seem to have less trouble with eyeliner than with mascara, in my recent trials with this) and I love getting brushes. The tube was moisturizer which I'll report back on. I located the missing item after I took this, of course; it was an Urban Decay lip primer pencil, which I'm sure I'll try out, and also some little samples of lipgloss.

The May theme is "Jetsetter" and here's the full contents:
  1. Oscar Blandi volumizing dry shampoo spray, 5 oz. (I wonder if they substituted a larger size at the last minute or something on some boxes, because Ipsy's online list says 3.2 oz. Interesting.)
  2. The Organic Pharmacy Double Rose Rejuvenating Face Cream
  3. Bellapierre gel eyeliner in Ebony
  4. Luxie Beauty eyeshadow blending brush
  5. (not pictured) Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on lip pencil in Ozone + bonus Revolution high-color lipgloss
I've tried several more of these since I wrote the above. I've been experimenting with the gel pencil and it does stay on well. I like the face cream. The dry shampoo is okay - I've tried several brands of dry shampoo now and I can't really say I'm in love with any of them. I think it's partly that my hair has such weird texture now, and so much volume on its own that I don't much want anything that adds more volume. (I may have to go get my hair cut soon, anyway, because it's driving me crazy. I think my hairdresser got carried away with the layers the last time around.)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

NOTDs: AB/black & Hipnotic

This is 2 coats of Aurora Borealis over WnW Black Creme:
This is a picture of my right hand instead of the more normal left - even though I'm left-handed, I almost always take pictures of my left hand. (I'm fairly ambidextrous but that still seems a bit odd, and I'm not entirely sure why that's my habit.) In this case, I took pictures of both but I thought the angle was more interesting on this one. Anyway, AB does what flakies tend to do and shimmers and shifts around depending on the angle and the light. (For example, here's the picture I took on its previous outing, which looks quite a bit different.) It definitely inclines toward green/gold/copper, though, I would say. (And actually in the light I'm in as I write this - fluorescent - I see what might be purple.)

This is a mess of a painting job, but I did think it came out pretty cute, overall. This is Finger Paints Hipnotic - 2 coats - over whatever I had on before that, which I guess was I'm Not Really A Waitress. (Hipnotic is very opaque, so whatever is under it isn't peeking out much, anyway.)
Karen had sent me this polish... man, a while back, I'm not even sure... definitely a year or more ago or probably more like two or three... and I just hadn't ever gotten around to trying it. I really mostly never did get the hang of magnetics, which is probably why I avoided trying it for so long! but this one did decently well, and I like the color. (In real life it wasn't actually as bright as it looks here.) So overall I'm still running at maybe 40% success rate with magnetics, but it's also still a small sample. I need to dig some more of them out and have another go with it. (I do know that the ones I've done the best with - Finger Paints and OPI - are the ones where the magnet design gives you a better look at what you're doing. It's hard to get the magnet close enough if you can't see.)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Essies from Karen

Karen gives away a lot of stuff on her blog, and I don't always enter her giveaways, because we're friends and it would feel weird to be winning all the time, were that ever to happen. (I've won one prize from her nail blog, previously, but that was years ago.*) I suspect that this is one of those things where I'm way overthinking it; I've never seen any indication from anybody in the nail polish community that it's considered bad form to enter your friends' giveaways - heck, nail polish bloggers are not that gigantic a group, I think if everybody recused themselves for people they knew, there'd be nobody to enter, sometimes! So anyway, once in a while when I see something I particularly like, I enter one. She had a huge giveaway for her 5th blogiversary lately, and there were a lot of cool things among the 12 separate prizes, but the one that called out to me was the Essies - particularly because it included Shine Of The Times, which I failed to buy while it was still available, silly me. (I don't remember what my other choices were. It occurs to me that there may have been less competition for the Essies since at least two of these are polishes that many people probably already own. Added: It sounds from this post like that was in fact the case.) Karen assures me that I won fair and square - and really, she's just not the kind of person that I can imagine fudging on things like that anyway, so I never imagined otherwise.

Here's what I got:
Sew Psyched - a gray-green with shimmer. (This sounded familiar to me, but I think I was thinking of one of the Square Hues from last fall, a similar gray-green, but without the shimmer). (here's some dupes from Karen, though, and it appears to have several: compared with drugstore brands, and compared with RBL Diddy Mow)
Shine Of The Times - your basic Hidden Treasures type of flakie (except I don't have Hidden Treasures, either) - except having worn it now, I can say that it's really, really dense compared to most flakies I've worn. (I had seen this said somewhere, but man, I was not prepared.) I mostly noticed it shifting from coppery-orange to green. (also here's another dupe post from Karen for flakies)
Wicked - The link here is to the Daily Varnish, and she compares Wicked to I'm Not Really A Waitress - not in color, but in the way it's Essie's unofficial signature color in more or less the same the same way that I'm Not Really A Waitress is OPI's. It's even older than INRAW, too, apparently, although they've both been around since the 90s. As far as color, Wicked is much plummier and darker than INRAW - I'd classify it as a red, but a vampy (and slightly jelly-ish) wine-red, not a bright one. It does still seem to have some of the application issues that DV talked about - although there's certainly no noticeable chemical smell from my (presumably somewhat newer) bottle. It is streaky and wants to pull a bit, though.

Now I'm thinking about what other brands' signature colors would be. The ones that come to mind are reds - maybe Carmen, because it's Zoya #1 (although I think there would probably be other contenders there - Charla? Jem?), and Cherries In The Snow, maybe, for Revlon - that one dates back to the 1930s, I think. (Anybody got thoughts on this question? What would other brands' signatures be?)

Back to the Essies: I haven't managed to get a picture of these so I ganked Karen's picture of them (I'm going on the assumption that she will be okay with this, since I'm certainly not trying to take credit.)
(The same link is up above, but for the record, that came from here.)

*The box Karen sent me is in this picture from 2011, and I assume that the polishes are in there somewhere too, but all the polishes are scrambled around so much that it's hard to tell!