Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hello Kitty from OPI

I was interested in the OPI Hello Kitty collection, but I was afraid it was going to be a bunch of supergirly pinks and I'd hate most of them. And, well, it is and it isn't, and I don't. There are a bunch of pinks, yes, but there's also black and white and bright blue and yellow, and some of the pinks are pretty interesting. It's definitely not all cremes. (Here's all the colors.)

I got this set:
This is Look At My Bow! a medium rose-pink, and Starry-Eyed For Dear Daniel, a dark-pink microglitter. I want to compare Look At My Bow! to Zoya Shelby - that's the ballpark it seems to be in.* Starry-Eyed For Dear Daniel is much more interesting to me. (And hey, I got a coin purse!)

*But it's not quite a Shelby dupe. See ALU's comparison here.
I did swatch these, but I don't have pictures of that yet.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January Sephora Play

And the January theme is...
It had several layers:
I got honey but other pictures showed other types, so they may have varied. Several months ago when the box included the full-face masks all I ever saw was pearl. There are a bunch of varieties (for both the face version and the eye one): lotus, rose, pearl, honey, green tea, and more. (I did finally try the pearl one and I liked it pretty well, but I think it wasn't really the right one for me. If I try them again later - and I might - I'll probably try a moisturizing flavor.)

Then there was this - it's just a little tube but it was inside this package:
I suspect with a name like that they thought it needed some extra explanation.

And here's the rest:

No Appointment Necessary
Sephora Play 05 - January 2016

  • Dr Brandt Skincare Needles No More
  • Living Proof Prime Style Extender Spray
  • Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel
  • Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Highlight
  • Tocca Isabel fragrance
  • Sephora Collection eye mask
Like I say practically every month, I'm wary of peels. But I might try this one anyway. The rest of it I'll try out for sure.

Christmas glitters compared

As I've mentioned, I started going through my stash and swatching everything onto nail wheels so I can compare. The first thing I did was red glitters - and I'm working on more reds but haven't gotten pictures of that yet. I also compared a couple of red-violet jellies. Now I have Christmas-themed and/or multicolored glitters - I know nobody really cares about this in January, but if I wait until next fall I'm most likely to forget about it completely, so January it is. I've seen these called "ugly sweater" polishes but I actually like them, which is why I have a fair number of them. If you're careful about how you apply them they can be really beautiful.

I did show one more of these back in December and it wasn't there in the box when I did this round of swatching so I didn't go hunt it down again - I knew I already had pictures, anyway. That was Twinkle Lights from Nine Zero, with Christmas glitter in a silver holo base. None of the ones I'm about to show you have that silver base - that was why I went and bought that polish, because it was different. So there's certainly no issue of dupes there - in fact there's no real issue of dupes here at all, although there's one pair that does look a bit similar on the wheel.
R-L, this is Unicorn Farts (Funky Fingers), Bling Tree (Sally Girl), Yuletide Treasures (Pahlish), and Yule Light Up My Life (Serum No 5) - on the wheel they go from bottom to top. You may not be able to get your hands on any of these particular polishes, but there are always lots of similar polishes around every year for the holidays. Indie polish-makers in particular love this kind of thing. (For example, still on KBShimmer's website right now there is sELFie, a mixed glitter in a green base, and Holly Back Girl, in a crelly base.)

Note: I wandered over to Serum No 5's website looking for something else and I noticed that Yule Light Up My Life is currently still available (as of late August '16). Just in case somebody happens to be interested...

Added: I almost forgot that I had a second set. These are smaller glitters and they're not as obviously holiday so I think you could use them for other purposes if you cared to.
This is Out Of Space Convertible from Different Dimension, and Holiday Spirit from Sation. I actually like both of these quite a lot. I had swatched them on either side of Punk-ish Purple, so I tried some glitter on the tip of it, too - I'm pretty sure that one was Holiday Spirit. Out Of Space Convertible has a dark base, making it much more elegant looking. Good party material for Mardi Gras, maybe. (I do have a Mardi Gras polish, though, which I will show swatches of soon!)

Here's the wheel picture above turned sideways and cropped so it's larger:
They do look slightly fugly, I have to admit. I think these really look best over a color. The green on the right is Lodgepole Pine (Square Hue) and I slapped one of the glitters on the tip, and I'm not entirely sure now whether it's Yuletide Treasures or Yule Light Up My Life. Those two are pretty similar on the wheel, except that Yule Light Up My Life has more smaller-size glitter pieces, and of course, like most Serum No.5 polishes, it's glow-in-the-dark. (I am basically uninterested in that particular effect so I haven't really tried to see whether it works. I know it's said to but I can't say I've ever noticed it.) As far as the other two, Unicorn Farts is not really a Christmas polish, per se, but I stuck it in with these. I will say that I have heard of problems with the big glitter pieces in this polish curling up (aka tacoing) but I didn't notice it this time - they seemed to lay entirely flat as far as I could tell. And you can't really see much of Bling Tree here - especially since the big white pieces are almost invisible on the near-white wheel. I think it'd be cute with the right base but I didn't get around to trying it in real life yet.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


I had a fairly huge amount of polish that I hadn't really talked about one by one yet. I added everything I'd gotten to the big list but they didn't link anywhere, so I started working on that. It almost immediately got so big that I started separating stuff out again - here's the Zoya piece, and I went back and edited my Pretty Serious haul post and my Nailkale post from December to have the information that otherwise would be here. There were also some Square Hue polishes in there which I have posted about already, but those may also get expanded.

So here's what hadn't gotten talked about elsewhere (in the case of the BLs, I guess I could have edited them in along with the Nailkales, since I do talk about them both in that post, but I didn't)
  • Cor Blimey - I thought it was beautiful as soon as I saw it. ALU (see the link) calls it a grape shimmer, and maybe that's right because I always do love my grape colors. A lovely shimmery dark purple, anyway.
  • Knackered - this is very sheer, and basically a topper, although I have seen somebody's pictures where it was built up to near-opaqueness (it took four or five coats, mind you). It's blue-looking sheer duochrome (blue-purple or green-purple or maybe it's blue-green-purple - seems to vary with who you ask) with some fairly sparse holo glitter.

(Of course when I swatched them I managed to put them in the opposite order, but I don't think there's much danger of getting these two mixed up.)
  • Punk-ish Purple (SH Miracle Gel) - slightly periwinkle-leaning purple creme, not too dark or too light. I could not find a single swatch of this or even an eBay listing or anything - the only picture I found was in one of Karen's display posts! I'm guessing that this was LE and it came and went and nobody paid attention to it. But it's quite a nice color and apparently is still floating around in various drugstores if you can get your hands on it.
I swatched it on the wheel - it's the one pointing right at the bottle - but the lighting was obviously not perfect and I don't think you can tell too much about what it actually looks like. The bottle looks more true to the real color than the swatch was, at least in this light. I didn't notice the swatch looking this much darker than the bottle color, but maybe I just didn't pay attention!

Not actually new but had never gotten discussed and linked to my satisfaction:
  • Ignite (Formula X mini) (this came from Ipsy back in September) (on Sephora's website) - a dark-red creme, really luscious. This is still available from Sephora at the moment, although it's in with the fall 2015 polishes so it could be pulled any time now. (Which, on the other hand, means it might also conceivably be marked down!)
  • Mingle With Kringle (China Glaze) - this is said to be a dupe for Zoya Ziv. I have never bought Ziv so I can't speak to that. What I can tell you is that it's a golden metallic and it's really pretty and also that it stained like mad. I've been a bit reluctant to wear it again because of that. But it's absolutely lovely and it's worth wearing, I just recommend doubling up on base-coat. (This is part of the only set of polishes I've ever received free from a manufacturer, in a giveaway. It was the holiday collection from two years ago, Holiglaze.) (also see S&L's swatches here)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

NOTD: Ice Hotel, In Hell

Seriously, that's it's name. This is an old Liquid Lacquer polish, and since Liquid Lacquer has gone to the great indie beyond, I feel free to post a picture that seems to have come from their website:
(Their website says they're "closed at the moment" but I'm pretty sure it's said that for a year or more. Come to think of it, that's almost the definition of a defunct indie polish - I've seen so many that say "We'll be back in a week or two!" or something to that effect. Although sometimes they really do come back, I have to admit.)

Anyway, this is a great and slightly insane polish. I bought it from a blog sale in 2014, I think; apparently it was a 2013 release (see here for a couple more of their polishes). As you can see above, it's a sort of icy cyan jelly with a variety of glitters: squares and circles, many sizes of copper, rose-pink, iridescent white, and some tiny bits that may be silver. It's reasonably opaque in three coats, partly because there's so much going on that you forget to look for any stray VNL. The glitter comes out without too much fishing.

I intended to post my own pictures, but I decided against it because they're terrible. Color-wise they look just like this. I don't think I got this much glitter density, but I got enough - even the big circles aren't hard to come up with. For the record, the polish did have that tendency to wear off on the tips, like many other jellies. It looked that way almost immediately, but I've had it on for three days now and it hasn't gotten much worse.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Purple-not-purple: a comparison

I just happened to notice this a couple of weeks ago, and I never have seen anybody mention the likeness, that I recall, and so I wanted to show you. This is two things I had in my stash: Orly Purple Poodle and OPI Houston We Have A Purple. (That latter name never ceases to amuse me. I live a few miles from the Johnson Space Center on the outskirts of Houston, so it may be that I find it extra-funny because of the local angle. Or maybe I'm just easily amused - you be the judge.)

I put the nail wheel on a notebook I happened to have handy because I thought it made it stand out more. Now of course these are manifestly not dupes because one is a heavy shimmer and the other has no shimmer at all, but I was amazed at how similar the base colors are on the wheel:
In case you can't read my scribbles on the wheel, they are the two bright pinks (so I would call them) pointing at the bottles - HWHAP is on top & PP is below it. Purple Poodle is maybe a hair darker, but they are really, really close on the wheel. They don't really look alike in the bottle, either - the only reason I thought to compare them was because they both say purple in the name and yet neither of them is really what most people call purple. Purple Poodle comes closer because the shimmer is purple, at least. In both cases the base color is what most people would call hot pink (which is actually red-violet, yes, but more pink-leaning). I've seen many people mention this about Houston We Have A Purple - the other is not so famous a color. As usual, OPIs get all the love.

For the record, HWHAP was in the OPI Texas collection, in spring 2011; PP was in Orly's Surreal collection in the fall of 2013. Honestly, I'm not sure why the shimmer doesn't show more on Purple Poodle here - looking at the bottle it looks like I left it on its side too long and the shimmer's all down on that one side! but I did try to shake it up. The shimmer is pretty evident on the nail, normally, as I recall. (I looked and I don't seem to have a picture on the nail - but here's one from ALU.) I didn't try to take a close-up picture because I was in a hurry - and of course this is an iPhone picture but it's all I have these days. I really miss my dearly departed Canon and its macro feature.

I do have other red-violet jellies, so I'll probably end up re-swatching these against those, just to see. I know I have Zoya Paloma and I have WnW Deception, which was a Wild Shine LE a couple of years ago. I suspect that neither of those are this pink, but it'll be interesting to find out for sure.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Too much online shopping

I've been buying a good bit of new stuff lately, more than I ought to be. I've got some pictures below but I got more boxes in the mail today and I thought I would tell you what they were, even though I don't have pictures yet of those. Some polish, some skincare & makeup - there are even some shoes, down below. (Click here if you just want to skip below the cut and see the pictures, because this got very long!)

One thing I know I mentioned before, and that was from Macy's, a full-size bottle of Starry Starry Night plus a set of two OPI Hello Kitty polishes that came with a "free" coin purse. I was hesitating between that set and the set that had the Swarowski bows in it. But crystals on my nails are just not my kind of thing, anyway, and the set with the bows only had one polish in it but it was more expensive than the set I bought. (It did have the "special edition shade" which is only available in sets, but I wasn't so in love with that polish anyway. I've forgotten now which one it was, even.) (This link shows several of the different sets & polishes.) So instead I have Starry-Eyed For Dear Daniel, which is a dark pink microglitter, and Look At My Bow! which is a paler pink. In retrospect I might have waited and just bought the Daniel one separately - especially since Look At My Bow is apparently a pretty close dupe to Zoya Shelby, which I have and rarely wear - but I haven't even seen these in a store so far, so I think that was a factor in my thinking. (Also, if you're like me and you're not really up on Hello Kitty lore - I'm too old, it wasn't around when I was a kid - Daniel is apparently Hello Kitty's boyfriend. I had no idea.)

Another thing that arrived was the set of nail wheels that I bought on Amazon - I ordered these ages ago but they ship from China and they always take forever, I knew that. (I went ahead and ordered another set already since I've got a swatching project going and I imagine I'll go through a bunch of them.)  And another was the Sephora Play box for January, which is called No Appointment Necessary, and has a bunch of stuff I'm interested in, including an eye mask. I'll get pictures of all this stuff up later. And then a huge box also came, but that's the stuff Rob mailed to himself from Ohio so I'm letting him open that when he gets home from work.

Aaaaand the last thing is something I actually bought from QVC, which is something I rarely, rarely do. I mostly avoid watching shopping channels just to avoid these kind of weak moments. I bought two things, and one of them was totally practical (a set of those "Guard Your ID" stamp pads, which I gather you can buy everywhere). The other one, though, was a Mally Beauty set that was marked down - it wasn't a "Today's Special Value" but they were really pushing it, so it was some kind of special deal. It was super-reasonable for this big of a set - it was 5 full-size products and a bag. (I think it was $45, something in that range, and it includes a full-size foundation which is $38 by itself, normally.) Mally is one of those brands that you always hear about so I'd been wanting to try it. I will get pictures of this up eventually.

Now, on to the pictures. Click link below!!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The last RBLs

RBL has gone out of business, so these are presumably the last ones I'll have (unless I buy them on a secondary market, which I am usually too cheap to do). So let's talk about the ones I bought from the clearance sale. Two are from the last Blogger Collection (I think it was 3.0) and the other one is from the "A Poem" collection, which I think was a couple of years ago now - looks like it was early 2014, making it almost exactly two years ago, in fact.

Here's two of the three I bought; the other bottle is MIA at the moment. I like this picture because you can see the glitter in Small Dim Summer Stars. (I did find other pictures that had all three bottles & those are below.)
I've got most of my polish sorted by color in a variety of containers at the moment, as I've think I previously mentioned, so it's not terribly surprising that I have trouble laying my hands on something specific. This isn't the greatest lighting but here are all three:
L-R: Makeupwithdrawal,, Small Dim Summer Stars

Hmm, you can see the colors better in this picture, actually: - here's the blogger's own description: " collaboration polish with RBL!  It has a deep purple-toned burgundy base with loads of pink, gold and blue microshimmer.  It ends up looking a bit metallic-y because of all of that shimmer.  I was inspired by berry color palettes.  Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc." I am big on berry colors myself, which is why I figured I would like this one.

Small, Dim, Summer Stars - here's RBL's own description (again, bear in mind that this is from the collection called "A Poem"): "Lost in the woods on a moonless, un-illuminated night, they stumble through the darkness. Looking up at the sky amid the fragrant forest...they appeared, countless tiny stars embedded in the dark sky... This sweltering silvery black base hammered with multifaceted and spectacular green, blue, pink, shimmery, glittery twinkling stars will bring you back to that summer night long ago, full of wonder and beauty."

Makeupwithdrawal - blogger's description: "It's been one of those colors that I feel like I've always been looking for, but I can never find. My perfect shade would be almost if Piu Mosso and IKB 2012 had a child. Not quite as inky as Piu Mosso or as creme-like in its finish, but with some of IKB's vibrant jelly-like properties (but more purple). I picture it containing large gold particles instead of Piu Mosso's fine, coppery shimmer. In fact, perhaps even bigger than the gold flakes in Naked Without Polish, but sparse enough to not overwhelm the base color. I am imaging a color that is regal, guilty of hubris (that is, if a color could even be accused of such a thing), something simply exquisite like a lapis lazuli gold filigree necklace." (It's definitely got particles in it; I'm not clear if they're quite as big as she was dreaming about!)

Here's my swatches; I'm overloaded with Christmas-gift polishes and haven't even gotten around to wearing any of these yet. I expect to love them when I do. (I was very late to the RBL party but I became a big fan toward the end of it. It might be better for my budget that they've gone away!)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

NOTD: Starry Starry Night

I don't know about you, but I can't hear that name without Don McLean starting up in my head. ("Vincent" came out when I was just starting junior high, and I knew all the words without having the foggiest idea what it was talking about.)

Okay, so, everybody knows about this polish, right? The star - so to speak - of Essie's newly released collection of re-releases, basically. It sold out everywhere and I couldn't find it anywhere by itself, so I bought a foursome of minis from Ulta:

Here they are out of the box:
They are tiny. I mean, totally ridiculously tiny, almost as small as those Glosstinis I griped so much about a couple of years ago. You can see it on the box if you look close: they are 0.16 oz. Barely more than a full-size bottle between the four of them. The names are also on the box, but for the record, L-R, this is Starry Starry Night, Life Of The Party, Bikini With A Martini, and Birthday Suit. The palest one is predictably not my thing, but I quite like all the others. And I am crazy about Starry Starry Night, not surprisingly. I swatched it on a wheel, and I loved it so much I couldn't bear to wear it until I had found a full bottle. (It's on the way to me from Macy's. I decided to get the inevitable OPI Hello Kitty purchase over with at the same time, so a little set of those is on the way as well.)

(Incidentally, I have also worn Life Of The Party, already, but the sun didn't cooperate to get a decent picture. It's a nice slightly-offbeat red that reminds me a bit of I'm Not Really A Waitress. I'll have to compare.)

I hear the old version of SSN may have had diamond dust in it, and this one does not (allegedly because they couldn't get their hands on enough diamond dust for the purpose, although I've already forgotten where I read that). It is somewhat like a navy-blue version of Ruby Pumps - in that it's glitter, but not out-there glitter, in a jelly base. Instead of tonal glitter, though, it has silver. Man, it's beautiful.
Shade above, full-sun below.
(It looks like out-there glitter in the bottle, doesn't it? But it doesn't really go on the nail that way. I guess maybe that's because of it being a jelly.)

As for the others, Birthday Suit is apparently one of Essie's original colors - y'know, the ones I found so boring I can barely be bothered to buy an Essie at all, normally. (Pastel and creme, the kiss of death as far as I'm concerned.) Bikini With A Martini is very 90s and sheer and will be fun for layering. You know how I love a good layering polish.

Incidentally, while it's still pretty hard to find the new Starry Starry Night, the common wisdom among polish junkies seems to be that this polish will likely go core and be widely available for the foreseeable future - but Essie hasn't actually confirmed that yet. I decided I'd better snap up a bottle and hedge my bets.

Added: A comparison with the original. Ok, so maybe the new one doesn't quite measure up to the original but considering the original can only be had for hundreds of dollars on eBay (if at all) that's not an option for most people. What is available for only slightly more money than the new Essie polish are some indie polishes deliberately created as dupes. CbL Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is one. So if you're not happy with the new SSN, there are alternatives. (I still think it's beautiful, though.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New Zoyas

I've got so much polish I bought in the last couple of months that I'm breaking it down by brand.
  • Aurora (Zoya) - fine holo-glitter in a plum-colored base (Zoya's description: "a full coverage, medium sugarplum purple flecked with a high concentration of micro fine diamond holographic glitter")
  • Ivanka (Zoya) -  I notice that Zoya's website first calls it emerald-green and then mermaid-green. I'd vote for more towards the mermaid side since it has a good bit of blue tones in it. ALU calls it "light emerald" which I'd come closer to agreeing with. (Zoya's description: "sparkling emerald green metallic. This luxurious mermaid green has a darker, forest green base with a hint of emerald and gold glitter!")
  • Isa (Zoya) either a blue-leaning purple or a purple-leaning blue (Zoya's description: "a deep blue-based purple with a micronized metallic pearl finish and an aqua flash that embodies the beauty of exotic island flowers!") (see also Swatch & Learn for lots of good pictures) (I realized after I posted this that I didn't really know exactly what "micronized" meant, and I looked for clarification from Google: Micronization is the process of reducing the average diameter of a solid material's particles. Usually, the term micronization is used when the particles that are produced are only a few micrometers in diameter.   (from Wikipedia, here) - I'm still not entirely sure that that tells me much about nail polish, per se, but at least I learned a new word!

And then the mini Color Lock set (which also included a Remove mini which I promptly gave away). I wanted to try the whole set so I could see if it helps with wear, and the results are not really in on that - at least, I haven't done a scientific wear study or anything. Based on a couple of tries, so far I'd say it's more or less average. I can't say there was a noticeable difference, so far.
  • Zoya Anchor basecoat (mini) - I actually like the feel of this one a lot. (I don't know why I judge my base-coats on "feel" but apparently I do.) Before this I'd only tried Get Even, the ridge-filling one, which I was not utterly crazy about. 
  • Zoya Armor topcoat (mini) - seems okay, early returns also seem about average. Not as goopy as Seche Vite, I thought.
  • Zoya Fast Dry drops (mini) - haven't really given these a good try as of yet. Comes with a dropper, which you can see on the left in the picture below.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

NOTD: Zoya Thea + Sally Girl Matte

I took two different pictures of Thea (with Sally Girl matte top-copat) and I'm not really happy with either one, but at least you can get the general idea. Mixed holo glitter in a purple base.

Bear in mind that this is what it looks like matte.

Added: After a day or two, I decided to experiment - I put a coat of Zoya Haven, which is a really similar color, on top of this. And it worked well, really - it was just sheer enough that some of the glitter peeked through. It looked cool.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Red glitters compared

NOTE: Zoya has a sale on til the 13th, in case you don't already know. Four bottles for $15 S&H, I believe. The promo code's on their front page.

This is the start of what is presumably going to be a series - I'm going through my stash and comparing things. Theoretically this may cause me to thin out my stash some but I'm a hoarder at heart so don't hold your breath there.

I came up with six red glitters from my stash, and actually, none of them are dupes, although several of them are close. Some of them are the same ones everybody else has (Ruby Pumps), some are discontinued (Hard Candy Stop), and some are indie (I Know You Are But What Am I?). If you're just starting a collection, you certainly don't need six, but a nice subtle (or not-so-subtle) red glitter is a good thing to have. Red's a color most everybody can wear, too.

Here's the whole side of the wheel. (You can see my new-and-last RBLs at the top, which I'm not sure I've really talked about, come to think of it. I'll have to remedy that...)
I tried out a couple of things that didn't turn out to be proper red glitters - I'll talk about that as I go. Here's all the polishes in question:
L-R: Echarpe de Seda (Jade), Stop (Hard Candy), Delilah (Zoya), Bad Santa (Ulta), Ruby Pumps (China Glaze), I Know You Are But What Am I? (Black Cat), and at the end, Aura (Formula X), which is a red glitter in a black base so it's not a proper red glitter, really. But it sure is pretty, and the glitter looks identical to some of these others, so it felt like it fit here.

The polish on the far left on the nail wheel above (next to the blue RBL at the very edge of the picture) belongs in the same collection as the Jade polish next to it, but I didn't put the bottle in because it so obviously didn't belong with this group, upon swatching. The collection is "Special Glitz" and the pinker polish is Vestido de Gala (which for those who want translations, apparently means something like "party clothes"; Echarpe de Seda means "silk scarf") - but Vestido de Gala is clearly much too plum-toned for this group. I have tons of other plum-colored things which I'll get around to showing later, and it will undoubtedly make an appearance later with all of those. (With all these swatch comparisons and bottle shots, this is going to be a long-drawn-out process. I've already resigned myself to that.)

Here are close-ups of the wheel (although I'm not sure they're much more help than the picture above):
So the two reds here are Jade Echarpe de Seda and Hard Candy Stop. These Jade polishes are tiny holo glitters and they are great. I don't know if they are still available at all here in the US, but I really do like the whole Special Glitz collection and I recommend them if you can find them. The bottles are tiny but they are not super-expensive, I think maybe $6. Hard Candy Stop I bought ten years ago or so, and they've changed the entire collection since then so I doubt that this is available. Stop is pretty, but it's just a standard glitter and I don't think it's worth paying megabucks for on eBay, which is likely the only place you'd find it (although I haven't actually looked).

Here we have Zoya Delilah, Ulta Bad Santa (which is long discontinued), China Glaze Ruby Pumps, and Black Cat Laquer I Know You Are But What Am I? I'm putting links to the three that are not discontinued. (For the record, these are not affiliate links. I will tell you that Zoya is slow - sometimes very slow - when they're having a sale, but reliable, in my experience. I've ordered from Sleek Nail before and had good service, and they have really good prices on China Glaze. I have not ordered directly from Black Cat, but I've heard nothing but good things about them.)

As I said, none of these are dead dupes - of the three that are easily available, I'd say Delilah's a bit more neutral; Ruby Pumps is slightly more pinkish; I Know You Are But What Am I? has a much bigger glitter load. All of them read as red, though.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

NOTD: Lake Louise

Actually this is Lake Louise plus Alpha Nail, but Alpha Nail is practically invisible here so I decided it didn't quite count.
I did flood my cuticles a bit but this is by no means the sloppiest manicure I've ever posted.

Square Hue describes Lake Louise as a frost. A frost! Who does frosts these days? I would honestly be happier with it if it was a nice shimmer or glass-fleck, or something, but on the whole, it's very well-behaved for a frost. It's not streaky and it only pulled a little bit. And it's a beautiful color. It's just dark enough to get past my aversion for pastels, too. (And as I mentioned before, it's actually a relatively close match to Pantone Serenity, the (co-)Color of the Year. Serenity seems slightly more periwinkle-leaning than this, though.)

And because you know I can't leave well enough alone, I put Alpha Nail on top, but since Alpha Nail is just tiny specks of blue, you can't see it unless you look very close. I can see it there if I look, but I doubt that anybody else will.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 favorites swatched - and a #1

Getting me to give you a straight answer about my favorite anything is never easy. I had just as bad a time picking a favorite movie from last year. You can't even get me to settle on a favorite color - either I say something like "all of them" or I pick a semi-random color which varies depending on my mood. That said, I did finally pick a favorite polish of 2015:

RBL Pretty Gritty
It's basically a sort of grungy greyed-out purple with a ton of gold shimmer. It's better than it sounds, that's about all I can say. See here and here and here. I can't seem to get a picture of it that really does it justice, but here's the best one I found:
It's subtle, that's the problem. Subtlety is always hard to get a good picture of. And purple is also sometimes problematic, in itself, although I don't think that's the main problem here.

I suppose it would have been politer, in a way, to pick something that's not discontinued as my favorite, but I would be lying if I called something else my favorite (once I'd decided once my favorite actually was, mind you). And Bubblegum Punk - from the same collection - was #2.

The rest of the top five is still available, though.
L-R: Bubblegum Punk, Daphne's Disco Party, Elliot, She's Beyond Kelp! and Pretty Gritty

(Click on link below for swatches & more)

SquareHue "Hike Banff" collection

SquareHue's new theme for 2016 is Adventures - I'm not very adventurous these days but I got the first set and I do like it.
My ancient iPhone did not do a good job of focusing in on this, and everything's a bit fuzzy, but you can still get the idea. The blue of Lake Louise, the green of the Lodgehole Pine, and the peachy tan of the canyon.

Lake Louise is actually very close to Serenity, which is one of the Pantone (co-)colors of the year - along with a pink, Rose Quartz. It's a fairly pale blue but it's nice and shimmery, and I think it's beautiful and hope it will be flattering on me. (Because as I've said many times, pastels and I do not get along, in general.) Lodgepole Pine is a dark green, which they call a creme but I think may have a slight shimmer to it. SquareHue has been known to slip some shimmer into their cremes before. Anyway, it's a lovely color either way. And Johnston Canyon is absolutely not my kind of color, and yet... I am intrigued. It looks like a plain old beige/light tan sort of thing, and then I decided it was almost yellow, and then I decided it had a peachy tint to it. This is the sort of color that always looks terrible on me, but I'm going to try it out. I'll probably end up layering something over it, but if I still dislike it at the end I'll give it away. I'm gonna give it a fair shake first, though.

This is my last SquareHue box, unless I change my mind. (It's also not the first time I've cancelled, though, so that doesn't mean absolute finality.) I actually cancelled a month ago, and didn't expect a January box, but I guess they work a month ahead and I'd already paid for it, because I apparently didn't get charged anything else. Anyway, nothing against SquareHue, I enjoy the mystery but I can't afford it, so I'm down to just Sephora Play now, among the monthly things. I'm definitely going to stick with that a while longer.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

First 2016 mani - Explosive

Since I didn't get around to it for NYE proper, I made Formula X Explosive my first mani of the new year. Unsurprisingly, all those red layers I had one before didn't last terribly long. Explosive is a very good New Year's Eve polish, though - I put two layers of matte top coat on it because I felt like it needed toning down a bit for normal wear. (I'm not sure that doing two layers of the matte stuff is any more effective than one, honestly, but I switched brands - the first layer was Matte Me Crazy and the second one was Sally Girl. Different brands definitely have slightly different finishes.)
It's mixed holo glitters in a black jelly base. Matted down, it read mostly bronze and green, as far as I could see. But I'm adding a picture in partial sunlight to show you that even mattified, the bling is not gone completely - at least not when the sun hits it.

YSL Bleu Cobalt & more

My sister works for a luxury retailer so I periodically get a fun gift box from her. Last year it was mostly home decor, but this year she sent only one decor thing (Mackenzie-Childs coasters) plus a large bottle of Givenchy EauDemoiselle and a YSL nail polish:
It's Bleu Cobalt - as you can see it's a very dark blue with lots of shimmer. It's missing its fancy cap but that doesn't matter to me.

The scent is actually eau de toilette, which suits me because I like my fragrances very light. It smells lovely. And the bottle says 3.3 oz but looks much bigger. (Is "eau de toilette" literally watered down? Because it looks more like it's at least 6 oz.) Anyway, she did good, I like all this.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Top 20 of 2015

I took the polishes I said were my top 20 in a previous entry, and tried to rank them. I swatched them on a nail wheel, which I will take pictures of if we ever get a sunny day again. (I might even try artificial light if the weather stays this gloomy!)

What I came up with for a ranking was 4 sets of 5. Within the sets of 5 they're in alpha order. If you've read my past favorites posts, you know that my criteria is a little different from most people, since the polish only has to be one I used for the first time in 2015; it doesn't have to be a newly-released polish.

We're starting with the bottom 5 - although these are all polishes I wore and loved this year:
Black Metal Dahlia (OCC)
Boom (Formula X)
Flake Your Booty (Painted Polish)
Hot Couture (Color Club)
Ichi Hanami (Pretty Serious)
While new or old wasn't the criteria here, it happens that the majority of these are new-to-me but not new in 2015. Ichi Hanami - and I think Flake Your Booty - are the only ones of these that are actually 2015 polishes.

When I got down to the top 15, I pulled another five out, and this time I did deliberately pull out older polishes. I think I did this last year too (it's down at the bottom of this entry - I just called it "honorable mention"):
Bat My Eyes (China Glaze)
BSOD (meaning "blue screen of death") (Pretty Serious)
Bit Faker (Butter London)
Dorothy Who? (China Glaze)
Love Potion No. 99.9 (Lynnderella)
I really am crazy about all of these. Dorothy Who, in particular, might have been a serious candidate for #1 favorite if I had decided these were eligible. (In any case, it's awesome, and it's in the permanent collection, so if you haven't tried it you really should! Bat My Eyes is not permanent, to my knowledge, but it's still been pretty widely available. The rest of these may not be so easily found, though.)

So this leaves a top 10 composed of polishes that I believe to be newer - as far as I know they were all released in late 2014 or in 2015. I'm hedging because I'm not 100% sure of that, you understand, but since it's not my main criteria anyway I didn't go looking for answers on that. I did poke around some about what is available and what's not, and that's noted below.

Here's the bottom half of the top 10 (again alphabetically):
Aurora Borealis (Lucky 13)
Cinnamon (Zoya)
Harlow (Zoya Matte Velvet)
Lichen (Cirque)
Stuck In The Middle (Pretty Serious)

So that leaves a top five composed of 2 Rescue Beauty Lounge (both from the same collection, the Refinery 29 collab), 2 Pretty Serious, and a KBShimmer duochrome flakie:
Bubblegum Punk (RBL+R29)
Daphne's Disco Party (Pretty Serious)
Elliot (Pretty Serious)
Pretty Gritty (RBL+R29)
She's Beyond Kelp! (KB Shimmer)
All three Pretty Serious polishes from the top 10 are still available, and so is the KBShimmer (which is from last summer's collection, I know). RBL, of course, is out of business, so your only hope of finding those is alternate channels like eBay or possibly Amazon. Zoya Cinnamon was a fall color, so it should also be available - Harlow, likely not. Lichen was still available the last I looked. Aurora Borealis was an LE, so pretty definitely not available - but there are similar things around.

(I just did a Google Shopping search for RBL, and apparently they are still pretty widely available right now on eBay, and the prices aren't completely outrageous - yet. They were mostly running about $25-35, that I saw.)

I'm still undecided about a #1. I'm mulling it over. I'm going to have to do another post, anyway, so you can see my nail wheel, so I'll decide (or not) then. I might decide to leave it at this, I don't know.

One more thing: it occurs to me that all three brands represented in the top 5 are the same type of brand: not full-on indie, not mainstream, but that middle ground in between. And a thing regarding my own preferences, which isn't really a surprise: there are no cremes in this entire list. And only one big glitter, and that one's matte. I think that's pretty typical of me, really - I like the middle ground there, too - shimmers and metallics and small glitters.

A few pictures from the archives for these:

Love Potion 99.9 (over a purple base, I think):

Bubblegum Punk alone:

and as a top coat (which is how I like it best):

Zoya Cinnamon: