Saturday, July 17, 2010

American Apparel Peacock with Konad

It took me a while to get myself to my local American Apparel to pick up some of their polishes, though the buzz about them has never been negative (despite a voluntary recall the company did - I am actually not sure why, but all seems to be well now), cremes are never my first choice, and all of the cool colors this company makes are cremes. The good news is, they are really high quality, well pigmented cremes.

Pictured here is one of the shades I recently purchased, Peacock. Usually, when shades are described as Peacock, they are often duochrome shimmers, not cremes, but I guess when you think about the deep teal in the feathers of a peacock, this shade wouldn't be too far off. The above picture is taken in full sunlight. Inside it definitely looks darker, but it really is a great color if you are a teal fan. This applied opaque in two coats. It was darn near opaque in one, but I just can't feel right with just one coat. It was shiny even before I put topcoat on it and dried very quickly. It wasn't too runny or too thick. It was just perfect! The price is right, too: $6 for one, or $15 for three.

For the clouds, I used China Glaze Metallic Muse, a light green chrome, with Konad plate M79. I was going to use a Bundle Monster plate, but for some reason, the stamper just would not pick this polish up off of a BM plate. It isn't too surprising, really. The chrome colors are very thin and dry very quickly, which is not good for the BM designs which are more shallow than Konad plates. Chromes are awesome for nail art stamping because they seem to literally turn into little pieces of foil on the nail. You do have to work very very quickly, though, because once the polish starts to dry, you might not be able to pick it up off of the plate, and if you do, if the polish dries on the stamper, it turns into a little flake that will slide right off the nail. The effect, however, is worth the trouble!

That's all for today, folks! Polish to the People!

Tutorial: Silk Wraps for Broken Nails

You've been taking care of your nails. You've been moisturizing your cuticles. You've been using a glass nail file. You've stopped over-buffing. You've been using treatment basecoats and keeping your nails polished. You've stopped using your nails as tools. Despite it all, you look down one day and see a split spreading across one of your nails. What do you do? Cry? No, you fight back! For me, when it's a split on one of my fingers, I use Orly's Nail Rescue kit (it includes nail glue and powder; you brush the glue over the nail and stick it in the powder to create a hard, protective shield to hold the nail together), but when it's the thumb (which takes more abuse than other nails), I use a silk wrap. Below I will show you, step by step, how to use a few simple tools to keep the length of the nail and keep on truckin'!
Here it is, my sad, split thumb nail. You can see it better in the larger version, but there it is, the awful split along the right side of the nail. The horror!
Your tools: To perform this magic, you will need a set of Swiss Silk Wraps, available for about $5 at Sally's. One box contains 40 sticky-backed wraps in a variety of sizes. You will need gel resin, which is sort of like glue. I use ibd Brush-On Gel Resin, also available at Sally's for about $3. To trim the wraps, you'll want some small cuticle scissors. To finish the wrap and prepare for polish, you'll need a coarse grit (black) and fine grit (yellow) buffer block, both available at Sally's for less than a dollar.
Step 1: Select a wrap in the size closest to your broken nail. It probably won't be perfect, so trim the bottom and edges so it is just a tad smaller than the width of your nail. If it goes all the way to the edge and goes over the border of the nail on the sides, not only will the gel make it feel awkward, it will also carry the risk of lifting off the nail, which would rather defeat the purpose! Don't worry about cutting off any length, though. I actually have an easier time if I leave it long and worry about the excess later.
Step 2: Peel off the paper backing and stick the wrap on your nail. If you screw up, don't stress. You can take it off and replace it until it's positioned correctly.
Step 3: Trim the free edge as much as possible, but if a little is still left hanging off the edge, don't worry. You will clean it up later.
Step 4: Brush a thin layer of gel resin over the wrap, just enough to see that the fibers have been saturated by the liquid.
Step 5: Wait until the gel resin is dry (this can often take about ten minutes - do not be tempted by fast dry sprays that are sold near gel resin and nail glue; they dry the liquid too quickly which creates a brittle surface that can crack and lift off the nail. You have to be patient with this stuff.) Using the coarse buffing block, buff the edge of your nail to remove the excess from the tip and create a clean edge so that the wrap and your nail are flush. Also, buff over the surface of the nail a few times to smooth out the bumpiness and texture of the wrap that invariably occurs. Normally, you would not use this coarse of a buffer over a natural nail, but between the gel resin and the silk, you're not going to touch the actual nail.
You can usually stop here, but if you're really committed, like I am, apply another layer of gel resin, let it dry, and buff again. If you're going to be following this up with a creme finish polish, as I am, you may want to finish the buffing with a finer grit buffer so that you can't see the texture of the wrap through your polish.
And here it is with polish over it! Like the horrible split never happened! These hold up very well and I can usually keep the same one on through three or four nail polish changes even though I use pure acetone to remove my nail polish. When you are ready to take it off, the gel resin can be dissolved with acetone nail polish remover on felt so you can peel the silk off.

So there you go! Never fear the split nail again! We can rebuild you! We can make you stronger, faster! We can keep the nail length and stop the evil split from spreading! These wraps are so strong, that even if your nail breaks completely off, if you can rescue the piece that broke off, you can use a silk wrap to reattach it. Seriously!

I expect today may be a double post day after I finish the nail art I am plotting. I hope this tutorial helps you! Polish to the People!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Illamasqua Baptiste

Sometimes, a polish comes along that is just, well, perfect. So perfect, even my camera cannot capture how awesome it truly is. As a result, I'm going to try to give two pictures to show two aspects of this most fantastic of polishes, Illamasqua Baptiste. I bought this when I was in Atlanta because it holds one of the very few Sephoras in the US that carries this line (you can also buy it online, of course, but sometimes I like to get my hot little hands on something when I can see it in person!). I have been to another Sephora that carries it in San Francisco, but they were out of this one and I have thought about buying it ever since!

This is an picture with flash to show the fantastic red and blue shimmer in this beautiful medium purple that leans on the red side of purple. This picture makes the purple polish itself way too blue, so this is only to show the shimmer.
This picture in the sunlight shows better the lovely purple shade of this polish. It's still not great because of how bright the sun was, but I think you can still see how hot it is.

This polish is so good, it hurts. Not only is the color amazing with its flashes of red and blue in the purple, but like all Illamasquas that I have tried, it applied like a dream and dries very well with no streakiness, and in two coats. As a serial three-coater, this is always amazing to me. Its one downside may be its price, $14, which is prohibitive for some people in a nail polish. I buy a lot of department store cosmetics, so this wasn't much of a shock for me. Alright, If I talk any more about this color, people will think I have gone crazy, but anyway, it's one of the best purples in my collection. Polish to the People!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

When bad nail polish goes, well, bad.

Even stronger than my love for green nail polish is my inability to resist a gimmick. When MAC put pictures of Disney characters on the packaging of a lipbalm of theirs I really didn't like, I bought it. When Too Faced released a line of Smurf-themed products, I was first in line to get that blue glitter eyeliner that now languishes in my collection. You get the idea. So, when I was at God's gift to hip, financially strapped young adults, Five Below (a place where you can buy one of the coolest nail polish collections ever, LA Girls Rockstar, incidentally, and everything is under $5) and saw the cheap boxes of candy-themed nail polishes that smelled of said candy, I couldn't resist. My friend Amanda was there. She will tell you I was like a moth to a flame. I mean, look at it! Fun Dip nail polish! What could be more cool?

This is where we have to be honest with each other, though. Usually I always find something positive about a nail polish. It was a nice color. It dried well. The application was smooth. It had staying power. Well, I want to have a post where I tell you: the only thing that was fun about this polish was buying it. I picked a pretty good picture to show you the polish, but in reality, it was a horrific experience. I know what you're going to say. Come on, girl, it's Fun Dip nail polish. What do you expect? And I know you're right. But just for fun, let's pretend I expected this to be not awful, okay?

I chose the Mean Apple Green polish to take the set for a test drive because I love green. In the bottle, it actually looks like it might be a bright green creme with silver shimmer, but on the nail it was pretty much a grass green frost. It looks okay here, but those streaks you see? Brush strokes. And this puppy was chock full of them. The application was streaky, and even after four coats, there is still visible nail line. But then I thought, hey, that happens, usually all you need is a little top coat, and all will be well. Wrong. That was when the real fun began. Seche Vite can dry just about anything, but two hours after I did this, the very edges of my nails were sticky. When I woke up this morning, the shrinkage (which is when fast dry top coats dry well in advance of the polish underneath them and pull back from the nail tip, leaving what looks like tip wear) was horrendous. And guess what? It wasn't dry! I can still dent it with my nail! It's been 24 hours, and to amuse myself right now I am denting it with my thumb nail! It does smell like synthetic sour apple, though, which is fun.

And don't tell me it's because it's cheap (this is sold at Five Below for $5 for the box of six polishes). Wet 'n' Wild Wild Shines are $.99, and they are freaking fantastic. And don't tell me it's because it's for kids. Kids deserve fun nail polish too! This is a disgrace to nail polish gimmick fans everywhere. It's like they literally dumped actual Fun Dip into clear polish and boxed it up for sale.

So before the awfulness of this drives me crazy, I am taking this off immediately and putting something on less terrible, because I am here to bring Polish to the People!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Deborah Lippmann Lady Sings the Blues

Every year for their anniversary, Nordstrom has a big anniversary sale, and as a part of that sale, different cosmetics companies will release some kind of collection, special product, or Nordstrom exclusive shade to celebrate, well, one of my favorite stores in the world. Deborah Lippmann, a pretty nice department store polish brand, has been taking that opportunity for the last couple of years to bring us some very fun glitters - some, not all, like last year's Funky Chunky which looked about as yummy as it sounds. This year, they released just for Nordstrom's use a set of three polishes called the All That Jazz collection as well as two other polishes (I believe all of these will be available on Lippmann's website later in the year), all of which are like glitter orgasms.

I just got the set in the mail last week, so after the LiLo manicure, I had to break into it immediately, and out of the three colors, a blue with chunky silver glitter, a magenta with magenta glitter, and a rose glitter in a clear base, I had to go for the blue. I am a glitter H00R.

Lighting was not my friend today, but here is this stunner, Lady Sings the Blues. It is a deep blue base filled with silver glitter, both small and large pieces of hexagonal glitter. Some people hoped it would look like the elusive Essie Starry, Starry Night; it doesn't really, but it does look like SSN's loud-mouthed cousin, so if you want a blue jelly with some kind of silver glitter, this is your girl. What really wowed me about this shade was the application. I will expound on what it means to be a jelly polish in a moment, but usually jelly polishes require several coats before you can no longer see the nail line beneath it, but not this bad boy. I am a serial three coater, and I simply couldn't justify more than two coats. It applied smoothly and dried very nicely with a coat of Seche Vite. Now, what do I mean by jelly?

This is a little lesson for the people out there who are not as, shall we say, totally crazy about nail polish as I am. A favorite finish among nail fanatics is the jelly finish, which I am demonstrating above by holding jelly (actually it's preserves, but I don't think too many Americans make much of a distinction). You know how jelly is sort of transparent, but you can't actually see through the jar when you look at it? And, depending on the jelly, sometimes you can't even see through it when you put it on toast? But you know, somehow, that the light penetrates it somehow so that it can't be totally opaque? That's what we mean by jelly nail polish. The light penetrates it giving it a kind of squishy appearance, but it isn't necessarily clear or sheer. Some jellies are a little easier to deal with than others. This is by far the best in terms of coverage. Lippmann has some other very problematic jellies like Rehab which is named for a fantastic song and a pretty color, but took me seven coats the last time I tried it to get it to the opacity that I like. And even for me, that's not cool.

So, yeah, I love this polish. It is the awesome. Polish to the People!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lindsay Lohan Jail Nails Inspired Nail Art!

The nail polish obsessed world has been abuzz the last several days following Lindsay Lohan's sentencing. She was sporting a very interesting manicure that garnered additional attention because one nail advertised a subtle yet profane message to the court. Of course, we all wanted to do our own interpretations, sans message. You can see a pic of the manicure here.

Obviously, my version is only inspired by Lindsay's (mine is far more pastel), which we believe was airbrushed, and also inspired by the interpretations of other lovely ladies on the Makeupalley Nail Board. This required a shocking 10 coats of polish, but hey, such are the things we do for polish! Here is a pic of the tools, in order of application from left to right:

After basecoat, I applied three coats of Essie Ballet Slippers. I could have gotten away with two given how much went over it, but this polish is so streaky, I had to go the extra mile. After that, I randomly brushed splotches of OPI Do You Lilac It?, Orly Lemonade, Funky Fingers Daiquiri on Deck, and China Glaze For Audrey. I would have been much closer to my inspiration had I used a sponge instead of the brush, but, well, I wasn't that dedicated! Then, to soften the lines, I applied two coats of Essie Tennis Corset (what the heck is a tennis corset, anyway? Wouldn't wearing a corset while playing tennis be horribly uncomfortable?). Finally, I added a little Konad with Konad white Special Polish to get something like the pattern on Lindsay's. Here is the final product:

I haven't had a chance to clean it up completely yet, so that crap around the cuticles is polish, not nasty skin. Sorry about that. Anyway, I rather like it, to tell you the truth. Hopefully it won't turn me into a crazy person. I am, of course, holding the Mean Girls DVD. I actually show this movie almost every year in the university sociology class I teach because it is filled with sociological themes, but I am holding it here to remind us of the sweet girl Lindsay used to be. What a shame.

And that's all for today, folks! I expect my next post, either tomorrow or Monday, will be one of the polishes from the Nordstrom exclusive Deborah Lippmann collection, All That Jazz. Because I just got the set and it is all glitters, and I am a glitter h00r. Polish to the People!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Glitter Party!

I have been feeling kind of blah lately, so I figured that nothing could perk me up like a little glitter. Okay, a lot of glitter. First, I have to admit that this combination was not my idea. I stole, er, borrowed it from some lovely ladies on the Makeupalley nail polish board, theasiangirl, who came up with the original idea, and then minnnnie, who brought it to life on her nails! On to the pics! Apologies in advance for the nasty cuticles, but what can you do?This look requires a shocking four different nail polishes. The base color is the sexy bottle I am holding here, Nfu-Oh #61. This is one of those nail polishes that you have to really be a fanatic to know about. It is made in France, sold in New Zealand, and available in the US from one etailer. This brand makes some of the greatest flakey glitter polishes in existence. This is another beauty of theirs, their basic silver holographic polish. In my version, the glitter sort of obscures the holo effect, but that's always a risk with layering. Isn't that one of the sexiest nail polish bottles you have ever seen? It has corset detailing on the handle! Anyway, one notorious problem with holos is application, and this is no exception. Because it is made of teeny tiny bits of holo glitter, it has a tendency to leave bald spots in not just the first, but subsequent coats. You have to use a good basecoat, and, in my experience, let it dry all the way before carefully applying coats of the holo. This worked pretty well over Gelous basecoat (available at Sally Beauty Supply), and dried very quickly.

Over the holo are three different glitters, two of which are pictured. The first is the bottle on the right, OPI Mad as a Hatter, part of the Alice in Wonderland collection. It is chock full of multi-colored glitter, with the purple and silver the most obvious. There is blue, yellow, green, pink and orange in there also. It is a real pain to remove (it requires the glitter removing tub of doom I have mentioned before), but pretty awesome. Over that, one coat of the polish on the left, Deborah Lippman Happy Birthday, which is chunky multi-colored glitter, basically the bigger, badder sister of Mad as a Hatter. You have to be very precise when applying this so you get enough glitter on your nail, but it is fantastic. Finally, I put a coat of China Glaze Fairy Dust, which is a topcoat of holographic glitter. Because, at that point, why not?

This actually dried very well and has worn very well. I type for a living, and after a whole day, as you see, there is no tip wear. I can't stop staring at the crazy, glittery goodness! I hope you enjoy, and Polish to the People!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

July 4th Mani

I know, I've been MIA and I never posted that neutral mani I promised. I just couldn't. It was.... unsightly. Then I got an airport mani on my way home from the trip that required the neutral mani because I couldn't handle the sheer polish anymore, and that wasn't really worthy of posting either. So I decided to come back with a bang!

American Independence Day is one of those great holidays that just beg you to come up with some obnoxious, over-the-top manicure with glitter and nail art. Other such holidays are Christmas, Halloween, and the first day of football season.

As such, there's a lot going on with my July 4th mani. It's got an accent finger, it's got Bundle Monster, and it's got glitter. It's also a combination of easy to find, not so easy to find, and hard to find polishes, because if I don't show you something it's almost impossible to get, how will you know to look up to me?

Okay, on to the manicure. For this monstrosity, for the majority of my fingers, I used a white base, OPI's The Ghostess with the Mostess, the glow in the dark treat from OPI's 2008 Halloween line. As a consumer, you could only get a mini of this, and only nail professionals got a complimentary full-sized bottle, so if you could find a nail professional with loose morals, you could get a regular bottle of this. Which I did. So, as you can imagine, it's very difficult to get now, but honestly the only reason I used it is that it was the only white I have. Yes, that's right: I, crazy nail polish maniac, have no white polish. Like other whites, it is streaky and somewhat difficult to work with, but it does glow in the dark (pretty well, actually), and it served its purpose.

Over the white is Untold by Illamasqua, which I bought this week when I had the chance to go to one of the few Sephoras in the US who carry it. I was always attracted to this primary red glitter when lusting after Illamasqua, and now it is mine! This is one coat, so if you wanted this to be opaque, you'd probably be looking at three coats or so. Like all Illamasquas, this was perfection.

For the ring fingers, I pulled out an old stand by, China Glaze Frostbite. It's a nice shimmery, bright, primary blue, and it actually applies and dries pretty well. I have a very hard time wearing China Glaze because of application, drying, and wear issues, but this one isn't actually too bad. The ring fingers also feature a Bundle Monster pattern in Konad white Special Polish.

Pretty festive, eh? Freedom and Polish to the People!