Monday, December 26, 2011

Nail Quickie - Christmas Eve

I was in such a hurry on Christmas Eve and of course I ended up running out of time and having to apply my polish as quickly as possible. So I decided to do an opaque French with a layer of a pink holo top coat. It’s a redux, actually, though last time a did a little flower on the ring finger rather than the square rhinestone accent.

And that’s it for today. I hope y’all had a nice Christmas/holidays/weekend.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nail Quickie - More Krampus Than Christmas

Well, that title probably isn’t all that clear to non-Austrians (and folks from nearby regions). Basically, it’s a quasi-demonic figure that accompanies Saint Nicholas and punishes as he rewards. Hmmm, goat-like features, kinda nasty, I wonder why the Catholic church doesn’t like those traditions. Anyway, while I doubt that there’s a solid tradition about colours, I have observed a tendency to wear red and black for Krampus-themed celebrations.
Though the whole Krampus and St. Nick thing happened a couple of weeks ago (Dec. 5th and 6th), my mani brought it up.

This is what I used:

  • China Glaze Nail Strengthener & Growth Formula
  • essence btgn base sealer
  • Catrice Ultimate Nail Lacquer 550 Marilyn & Me
  • s-he cracking top coat 002 (black)
  • essence btgn top coat
  • Seche Vite

As usual I started by applying my base colour: four coats of Marilyn & Me over one coat of each base and sealed it with Seche Vite.

Marilyn & Me is a rich, shimmering and glittering red, The first coat looks pinkish, but at full opacity it’s a tad deeper and nicely balanced. I don’t love it as much as my favourite sparkly red, but it is a gorgeous colour. Like many glittery polishes it isn’t all that pigmented, you’ll need four to five coats for full opacity.
Other than the relative sheerness I found this polish quite lovely. It applied smoothly and evenly, without any streaks past the first coat. If you like sheer polish you could wear Marilyn & Me in two coats. The formula is on the runny side, but the particles don’t seem to settle so far, as they’re quite fine. I really like the not too wide flat brush, it’s precise and suited to narrow pinkie nails.

This is Marilyn & Me in two coats without top coat:

And here’s Marilyn & Me in four coats with Seche Vite:

When the base was mostly dry I applied a coat of s-he cracking top coat and when that had set I added some top sealer and Seche Vite.
s-he was very late coming into the crackle polish game, but if you still want to pick up a black or white crackle (I think that’s the only colours they have), they work just fine.

I like the occasional crackle mani, but generally prefer more interesting combos, for a sort of seasonal mani this colour combination is lovely, though. Not that I’m much about Christmassy nails.
Do you do the green and red thing these days?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

NotD - Late Monkey-Picked Tea

I’ve been wearing today’s mani for a while now and am rather surprised at how well it’s holding on. This is another holiday-themed one: December 14th was Monkey Day, the 15th Tea Day.

Here’s what I used for this mani (there’s something wonky about this photo o.O):

  • China Glaze Nail Strengthener & Growth Formula
  • essence btgn base sealer
  • OPI French Quarter For Your Thoughts (miniature from the current Glossybox)
  • acrylic paint
  • essence btgn top sealer
  • Seche Vite

I started by applying one coat of each base, three of French Quarter For Your Thoughts and sealed it with Seche Vite.

French Quarter For Your Thoughts is a mushroomy taupe crème. I had hoped that this may turn out more of a dirty grey on the nail, but sadly it really isn’t grey or greenish enough for me to like. Not a colour that I would choose for myself. Interestingly the swatches looked more greyish when I viewed them in the browser. There’s a distinct brownish tone, though, more like it looks on the ‘products used’ shot. The opacity is average, three coats were needed for perfect coverage.
The formula is excellent, were it not for the very average brush and cramp-inducing cap the coats would probably have been even enough to make the third coat unnecessary. I found this polish to be very shiny and it levelled very well.
If taupes are your thing you may like French Quarter For Your Thoughts a lot, though I recommend always getting full-sized OPI polishes (so far only Orly has miniatures I really like). Personally, I didn’t like it. I just find taupe, greige, nude, and beige nail polish very unflattering.

This is French Quarter For Your Thoughts in two coats without top coat:

And here’s French Quarter For Your Thoughts in three coats with Seche Vite:

Though I did not like this colour, I found it quite appropriate for Tea Day. The shade does resemble a cup of tea with the barest hint of milk (never cream! Philistines!), which *gasp* I find rather unsightly.
So I used acrylic paint to add a row of kind of messy leaves along the tip of each nail, except for the left ring finger nail. That one got a grumpy-looking generic monkey. And can you blame him? He’s been bloody picking tea all day, the poor bugger.
After letting the acrylic paint dry for a few minutes I added a coat of top sealer and then one of Seche Vite for more durability.

I don’t really love this manicure. I liked the idea, but the execution could be far better.
Also: Happy International Migrants Day! I can’t think of how to nailify that one.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mini Review - Glossybox Austria

After some pondering I decided to go ahead and write this in English. After all, at least some of the products are available to y’all.
And before I go into the details I feel I need to give you a heads up: not everyone likes the concept of sample-boxes. Yes, samples are meant to be free. Well, with purchase. If you frequently go to the same store, are a sweet-tempered customer and don’t go in the busiest of hours you may get samples just because. But most stores give a specified number of samples from a very limited range of products and they are always tiny. The point of the sample-boxes is to distribute more generous sizes and I think that makes sense. I won’t buy a moisturiser after trying it for three days or so, my skin can be a bitch. It’s even worse for bodylotion and shampoo, which usually come in single-use sachets.
If you must tell me how this is all a scam, please feel free to do so, but don’t expect me to agree.

And now: to the actual reviewin’:

Recently I received an email informing me that from now on, the Glossybox would be available in Austria, too. I considered for a while and then decided that I easily spend the same amount of money on stuff I don’t like and that I could just funnel some of those funds into that direction. (In case that wasn’t clear enough: I paid for this box.)
I call this a mini review, because I’m not going to wait until I’ve properly tested the skincare and such, ‘cause then I won’t ever remember to write this up. I also don’t know if I’ll make this a regular feature, if half the Austrian beauty blogs do reviews I’ll probably stop since they’re bound to do a better job. :-D

Here’s what I got in a pretty red and green Christmas edition box:

01 Maria Galland Hydra Lift Yeux 100: This is described as a light eye gel-cream. At 5 ml the sample is pretty big for an eye cream, especially as the full size contains 15 ml (at € 45.00 o.O Eeep. So technically that alone is worth more than we pay for the box plus shipping.)
The pump-dispenser is weirdly elongated, but I have to give it to whoever designed the bottle: it’s quite pleasing to the eye and I found it very easy to get the correct amount of product on the first try. My very sensitive peepers didn’t complain at all and my skin feels moisturised without being sticky.
I usually steer away from anything other than pure gels because creams just sit on my skin and never get absorbed, Hydra Lift Yeux seems to work well for me so far. Depending on how long this sample lasts might consider getting the full size, but I find the price rather high.
Also, I keep getting thinking of Herakles lifting the hydra with his eyes. Weird? Moi?

02 Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Shampoo: I like this shampoo. It lathers nicely, even though I trained myself to use the proper (i.e. very small) amount of product a long time ago. The scent is very neutral, my hair feels soft and isn’t straight and limp, which is what usually happens when I use something hydrating. I wouldn’t say I’ve seen more volume, but I never encountered shampoo that can do that to my meagre wisps of hair.
At € 16.25 per 300 ml I can’t see myself repurchasing this. I do have cheaper shampoo that works perfectly fine for me.

03 Babor Glossy Liplite 01: I’ve owned lipgloss with a mirror and LEDs before and I find that needlessly gimmicky (and I do like a nice gimmick in general). How often have you thought ‘oh noes, I have to reapply my gloss and it’s just too dark to do so?’ 
The gloss is full-sized (7 ml), but I’m not too impressed. The colour looks like a pretty shimmery coral-pink in the tube, but is a basic shimmery pink on my lips. It lasts a few hours and is just a little sticky. I find it way overpriced at € 16.50 and have seen the same quality for a fraction of the price.
I definitely won’t get a second tube. It’ll take me forever to get through this anyway and while it’s a useable gloss it just doesn’t stand out.
Mirela has a pretty swatch!

04 OPI French Quarter for Your Thoughts: My first reaction was ‘yay, polish,’ followed by ‘meh, miniature’ and ‘ick, mushroom.’ It’s nice to see some OPI in this box, but the colour is not my cup of tea and I’m generally not impressed by OPI’s minis. The caps are uncomfortable to hold and the brush just sucks. I’ll withhold the final judgement until I’ve properly swatched the polish (soon on this here blog), though, as Scrangie’s swatch looks quite greyish. From the description card it seems that they also sent out bottles of Honk if You Love OPI, which would have been infinitely preferable to me.
I obviously won’t be buying French Quarter for Your Thoughts in full size (.5 fl. oz, which is slightly under the supposed 15 ml), especially at € 16.00. Way overpriced in my opinion.

05 Biotherm Bodylotion  Lait Corporel: This one I like again. I love the fresh citrusy scent and how easily it sinks into the skin. It certainly outperforms some of the creams and lotions I’ve tried over the years and my skin is beautifully hydrated, bit like I said about the shampoo above: I have products that work as well at less than € 27.50 per 400 ml.
If you have horribly dry skin, though, this might be amazing for you (but make sure you get a trial size first).

Even though I’m happy with the products I got in my first Glossybox, the only thing I may possibly get in full size, depending on how far it goes, is the eye gel. And I kind of doubt even that, because The Body Shop’s Elderflower Eye Gel works perfectly fine for me so far.
I do think that this box was worth the € 10 (just under 12 with shipping), we’ll see if the following kits are as nice.
Have you ordered any of this kind of boxes? If not, which ones would you like to try most? I’d just love to get a Whimseybox. Crafty samples FTW (of course it’s US only :-( ).

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Swatches - LOOK by BIPA Special Effect LE

Most of the limited editions that I checked out at the drugstores recently were pretty much a yawn (I did get three set of Catrice’s Vegas lashes, though). So coming across the LOOK by BIPA Special Effect polishes was rather refreshing.
This collection is polish only, ten lovely colours ranging from simple shimmers to duochromes, from holo* to chrome.

* European brands have a bad record when it comes to promising holos and delivering duochromes. Upon reflection I find that a bit unfair. There’s no real definition of what polish may be called holo, just what the lacquer-lovin’ community tends to call thus. I feel that the confusion stems from the fact that over the past decades the most ubiquitous items that were referred to as holograms/holographic were those silly card that show a couple different images as you tilt them. How is it surprising that polish companies would call a polish that shows a couple different colours holographic?
Yes, I do think they should have checked what terminology their customers may expect, but they definitely don’t deserve the hate.

You will note that as usual I don’t comment on wear time and such. If you’re reasonably familiar with nail polish you should know that these depend on one’s body chemistry and which base and top coat you use.
All polishes from this collection come with a slightly short round brush that I don’t dislike. It’s not especially great, but I can’t complain. They’re not super-cheap at € 1,99 per 5 ml bottle.

LOOK by BIPA Special Effect Nr.1 metallic pearl

This is a metallic silver, quite similar to China Glaze Millennium. I’m impressed, if you have a nice even base metallic pearl will be fine in one coat, my nails are eternally wonky so I used two.
There are no more brush marks that any other chrome, if you’re in the market for a basic silver this is a lovely choice.

LOOK by BIPA Special Effect Nr.2 metallic diamonds

I love me good silver foil, this is nice and sparkly. Chances are you already have one, but if you don’t this is very nice indeed. Technically you’d need three coats for an opaque layer, but it looks opaque in two.
metallic diamonds applies smoothly and evenly. Highly recommended.

LOOK by BIPA Special Effect Nr.3 metallic hologram

I have no idea how to describe this, the base is kind of burgundy-goldeny, packed with shifting greenish sparkle. Holy awesomesauce. I just with this was more opaque, so I put some silver foil on the index finger nail to see what that might look like. Two coats over the foil look amazing, three without are still sheer.
If not for the lacking opacity I’d be perfectly happy. But it is lovely and applies great.

LOOK by BIPA Special Effect Nr.4 metallic matt

Now this is what many Austrians will be looking for. The silver holo. It’s not insanely striking, I don’t have any of the China Glaze OMG polishes, but those seem to be a lot more vibrant. There is a distinct holo effect though and metallic matt is very opaque, one coat can be worn by itself. I applied two again for the same reason I stated above. Sadly the holo doesn’t want to come out and play with my camera.
I can only say: smooooth. The formula is great. Though I wonder where they got the ‘matt’ from, this polish may not be high-gloss, but it definitely isn’t matte. (Whoops, forgot not to put my unpainted thumb on the cap.)

LOOK by BIPA Special Effect Nr.5 purple-green

The fist duochrome of this lot is, as the name suggests, muted green to pinkish-purple. The shift isn’t too strong, but I always have trouble finding the appropriate lighting to photograph duochromes. This is quite sheer, I applied three coats and unless seen at a certain angle where the shimmer hides the sheerness it looks pretty opaque.
The formula is quite nice.

LOOK by BIPA Special Effect Nr.6 metallic violet

Nummy, this bright shimmery purple shifts gently to a bronzy shade. The opacity is quite good, two coats work beautifully.
Again, I had no trouble applying this colour.

LOOK by BIPA Special Effect Nr.7 metallic blue

This shade doesn’t shift, it’s just a gorgeous intense blue shimmer with just a touch of violet. Three thin coats are fully opaque.
This too applies easily, just with a few brush marks that one can always expect from a shimmery polish.

LOOK by BIPA Special Effect Nr.8 green changer

This and the following two shades are a bit more grainy than metallic violet for example. It’s a metallic golden green that in the bottle shows an almost peacock range of colours that I just can’t see on the nail. The colour is gorgeous, but the duochrome effect is too weak. Two coats are opaque.
green changer is smooth and even, no troubles with applying this.

LOOK by BIPA Special Effect Nr.9 gold changer

The main colour of this polish is a brassy gold, shifting through green to blue, but again this is apparent only in the bottle. On the nail I can make out the green, but no blue at all. This, too, is opaque in two coats.
It applies exactly like green changer, no trouble at all.

LOOK by BIPA Special Effect Nr.10 bronze changer

bronze changer is a bronze-blue duochrome, the blue does make it onto the nail, though it’s hard to capture. This is a lovely two-coater and I wouldn’t mind having an eyeshadow like that.
Application is same as above.

Overall I’m really impressed by the quality of these polishes, most are really opaque and quite wearable in one coat if one doesn’t mind a bit of sheerness.
metallic hologram is sheer, but it’s beauty make up for that and purple-green has been done before numerous time, but I love the pinkish sparkle. I’d say purple-green is the closest to a dud in this LE. All other polishes are beautiful, even though the duochromes are a bit weak in their shiftiness. ;-)
If you can find the collection I recommend getting at least a couple of colours. I was especially intrigues by metallic hologram and bronze changer, neither of which resembles anything I own. The first couple of silvers are basic, but good staples to have.
I suggest hurrying if you feel you must have these polishes, especially if you want the holo and duochromes. My guess is that those will go insanely fast.
Will you pick up some colours? Which ones would you get if you could?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

NotD - Layered Hexawesomeness

A while ago I showed you this horrible mess, and now I’ve actually managed to use two of the hexagonal glitters in a way I adore.

Here’s what I used for this mani:

  • China Glaze Nail Strengthener & Growth Formula
  • essence btgn base sealer
  • Color Club Gossip Column
  • essence colour&go 78 blue addicted
  • unnamed claire’s polish with fine blue and hexagonal lilac glitter
  • Seche Vite

I started with one coat of each base coat, then two of Gossip Column and one of Seche Vite.

Gossip Column is an amazing blue-ish teal crème. This was instant love for me, it’s utterly flattering and contrasts so nicely with my skintone. Add to that the fact that it’s opaque in two coats (three if you apply the thinnest coats possible) and it’s a perfect polish for me.
The application was smooth and easy, Gossip Column spread and levelled beautifully. I’m trying to find some flaw, but even the round brush was perfectly useable.
If you didn’t get this polish back when it first appeared, go and get it now. It’s amazing.

This is Gossip Column in two coats with Seche Vite (I had to photoshop this, as my camera turned it into a muted blue):

I ran out of time the night I applied Gossip Column, so I wore it plain for a day and managed to bend the corners of a couple of nails. The extra thickness of the added nail art and extra layer of Seche Vite usually prevents that from happening. Since I didn’t want to completely redo the mani I just added some base coat to the chips and cracks, added another layer of Gossip Column and then layered one coat of blue addiction and one of the claire’s polish. Another coat of Seche Vite to seal the polish and the mani was finished.

That blue addiction would look great over a deeper blue or teal base was obvious, but even though I suspected that the lilac glitter would good on to I was unprepared for the astonishingly harmonic contrast going on there. I did consider also using the gold hex glitter, but gladly skipped it. After the lilac the mani just felt complete.
Do you love hexagonal glitter just as much as I do?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Colour Me Baffled

Warning! This post contains my face with very little make-up (and barely-there brows, since I was too lazy to emphasise them properly *sadface*), If you’re afraid of double-chins and moles on noses, go no further.

The point here: I’ve had a long, unsatisfying relationship with my hair. Like many women I haven’t ever had a good cut (other than “just trim the very ends, no layers” in my longer-haired phases). My hair went from awesome big curls (toddler) to dead straight (kindergarten), then there was a phase of having it cut short enough for the texture to be unnoticeable. When I let it grow out again it was pretty wavy, but over the last decade or so it slowly got straighter again (so it’s a gentle wave now, I suppose).

For the past five years or so I’ve been cutting my own hair, since I refuse to pay ridiculous amounts of money for a cut I don’t like. There’ve been ups and downs, but my current asymmetric cut is pretty neat, if I say so myself (though I do need a trim, especially the short side).
Generally I wash my hair not long before going to bed, because sleeping on damp hair can enhance the waviness.

So cut to today.
I washed my face, looked up into the mirror and went “Whu? *blink* *snort* This is… awesome!” My hair was completely flat on the short side (which it always is), but the other side was doing this amazing messy almost-curl thing. Sis was walking past a minute later and I couldn’t but tell her to come look at my Jekyll and Hyde hair, which led to her insisting I take photos and y’know a photo ain’t worth anything unless someone you’ve never met gets to snicker about it, too.

So here’s the short side (pardon the random debris in the background):

And the messy thing (no styling products were used, I didn’t even use any treatments or conditioners):

Super happy with the layered glitter I have on my nails right now, so expect to see that soon. And yes, I really need to sort through my stacks of 90s VHS tapes soon, I haven’t watched any in years and they take up so much space.
I’m feeling nosy! What’s your hair like? Has it changed a lot over the years?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

NotD - Spiky Olivey Thing

I really haven’t liked a lot of what I’ve been doing recently. And though I sometimes consider just posting the swatches without the failed nail art, that’s not how I roll, really.
So here you go: a not terribly nice mani with odd messy spikes in olive green and grey.

This is what I used for this mani:

  • China Glaze Nail Strengthener & Growth Formula
  • essence btgn base sealer
  • Bourjois 10 days #23
  • OPI Suzi Skis in the Pyrenees
  • Spooky Nails black nail art liner (not on the photo, ‘cause my brain is leaky)
  • Rimmel 60 seconds 805 Grey Matter
  • color club Artsy Crafty
  • essence colour&go 68 high spirits
  • essence btgn top sealer
  • Seche Vite

First thing was, obviously, applying the base colour, Bourjois #23 in two coats over my base coats and sealing it with Seche Vite.

#23 is a muted military green/khaki polish with very subtle silver shimmer. This colour is a lovely autumnal neutral and will flatter a wide range of skintones. And since it’s a two-coater, there’s not a lot of effort involved.
I also have no complaints whatsoever about the formula, considering its pigmentation #23 is slightly runny, but not prone to pooling. The first coat was a tad streaky, but all the unevenness vanished upon applying the second coat. I’ve already talked about the angled brush in depth, but after using it before I found it surprisingly easy to use. This time I actually didn’t do any clean-up on purpose to show you how neat the brush can be if you take a couple of minutes to get used to it.

Here’s Bourjois 10 days #23 in two coats with Seche Vite:

I then used all coloured polishes and a couple of nail art brushed to paint on some messy spikes. Too bad they weren’t really meant to be messy. Then I added loads of top coat to even out the surface and seal the nails.

By the way, don’t expect to see any new Bourjois polishes. I still have one in my untrieds, but after that I probably won’t get any more since Bourjois won’t be available at BIPA any more. I snagged some backup foundations, of course, since I very much enjoyed using them for a few years now.
So if you happen to pass by a BIPA, grab some stuff at 50% off!
How do you feel about Bourjois? Will/would you miss it? Or is it completely unavailable where you live?

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