Saturday, November 10, 2012

Review - Mont Bleu Files and Compact Mirror

Those of you who have been with me for some time may remember my first review of Mont Bleu products. A while back the representative contacted me again, asking if I wanted to try out something else. Since the file I tried last time has remained my go-to nail file I was excited to give it another go.
This time I received three items to try: a travel nail file, a callus file and a compact mirror.

The travel file, properly called ‘hard case glass nail file,’ is something I wouldn’t want to do without any more. The file itself is identical to the one I tried before, with a fine grit yet very efficient. Folks who like shaping their nails with polish on can easily remove traces of nail polish and the file is easy to keep clean by just rinsing it and gently brushing it with a nail brush.
The great thing about the hard case is that it protects both the file and all your stuff. If you drop the file it’s much less likely to shatter, and in case it does the shards would be contained. And for those amongst us who just toss their nail files into a handbag or backpack: no pierced fabric or hand cream tubes, no linty file.
Highly recommended.

I was extremely excited to try the ‘foot glass file,’ meant to remove dry skin, i.e. calluses. I’m not going to traumatise you with photographic evidence of my horribly dry feet, especially as sock-season has begun and that always makes my cracked heels even more horrifying.
So far I’ve used (a) PedEgg type scrapers to get most of the dead skin off, (b) sandpaper-y buffing files to smoothen everything out, and (c) creams and lotions. After using the glass callus file for a while I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’re at a ‘cracked heel’ stage, it will take forever to scrape off all of the dry skin since the file has a rather fine grit. It works beautifully for buffing and smoothing though, and will save me lots of money, because my usual sandpaper thingies wear out super quickly. If your heels aren’t as bad as mine you may not need any other tools, and while it’s meant to be used on the feet I don’t see why you couldn’t smoothen dry elbows, too.

Now the compact mirror is a bit hard to really review. It reflects well.
Seriously, though: the oval compact is decorated with plenty of Swarovski crystals on a highly reflective silvery surface. On the inside you’ll find a normal and a 2x magnifying mirror, both of them round. Overall I found the compact mirror to be of high quality, the only real downside being that the surface shows every fingerprint. And that it proved to be really hard to photograph with my basic setup, I just don’t have the means to properly light something shiny. So please click on the link above to see the promo photos.
Definitely worth checking out if any of the designs appeal to you.

Mont Bleu is a Czech company that makes glass files and creates jewellery, beauty tools and other items, beautifully decorated with Swarovski crystals. If you’re interested in seeing the full range of products or the company history you can visit the Czech Glass Nail Files or Mont Bleu websites. The products are available at Glass Fuzion (for US customers), Design Glassware (for international customers) and a number of retailers. You can also contact or follow them on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.
Though I received the products for the purpose of reviewing them, all opinions are mine.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

NotD - Failed Again in Townsville, Kind Of

I finally got around to redoing an old mani, using acrylic paint this time. It turned out semi-better but still not the way I wanted to.

These are the products I used:

  • essie grow stronger
  • essence btgn base sealer
  • essie Ballet Slippers
  • acrylic paint
  • essence btgn top sealer
  • Seche Vite

I started by applying grow stronger and btgn base sealer, then two of Ballet Slippers and sealed it with Seche Vite.

Ballet Slippers is a sheer, extremely pale pink crème polish. There’s no point in trying to get it opaque, you’ll need five or six coats and the nails would get very clunky.
Though the viscosity is excellent and Ballet Slippers doesn’t tend to pool it is a bit of a pain. I found this polish very hard to get even. Every ridge and dimple on your nail will show up, even with ridge filler. I do like the brush, essie is rocking the flat brush with a round-cut tip.
Unless you have smooth nails without any discolouration or structural issues I wouldn’t really recommend this. I’ve seen similar colours that are easier to deal with.

Here’s Ballet Slippers in two coats with top coat:

Then I used acrylic paint to add various Powerpuff Girls characters. The only one that really came out well was Buttercup. Overall they look nicer than the previous try, but I really shouldn’t have tried getting a full-body Mojo on my short nails. Also, even with acrylic paint, the PPG’s eyes are protruding like crazy. And let’s not even talk about my right hand, ‘kay?
Then I added top coat, first top sealer, then Seche Vite.

I’m shocked at how long it’s been since I’ve posted. That cold hit me hard and I still haven’t fully recovered.
What’s going on with you guys?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Nail Quickie - Short-Nailed French Once Again

I’m ever so slowly recovering from my very nasty cold, the cough is lingering, but otherwise I’m decent, just exhausted. So yay, more energy for nail art. Of course I had to completely nubbinise my nails a few days ago, since I had a series of incidents of the “reach for something, finger slips, nail catches” kind, lots of breakage.
As so often when my nails are very short, I got the urge to do something with a French tip. I considered a lavender or mint green tip, but sometimes I just want my nails to look like my nails, but better. That does not mean a band-aid/mannequin nail, those are horrible and disgusting to me. I mean a nice, sheer base and an off-white tip. No opaque nude and stark white for me.
It took quite some time for me to find the ideal combo. I’ve used both polishes before, but never together: Estée Lauder Peach Sorbet gives me that sheer peach with a bit of shimmer to disguise flaws and Nivea Calcium Power French White is my perfect natural tip white.

It’s a quick freehand version of the French tip, so it’s not perfectly even and the lines aren’t perfect. *g* Perfection is boring. I considered doing some accents, but didn’t really feel like it in the end, so a basic French for today.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Swatch - essence party princess

I hate being sick. On Thursday I awoke achy (due to major tidying on Wednesday) and was tired all day. On Friday I got out of bed and felt like I was on the verge of nausea and dizziness, enough so that I got over my phone aversion and cancelled my appointment with my therapist, and over the course of the day developed a seriously sore throat. That continued through Saturday with bonus coughing and Sunday just added a runny nose. I even developed a bit of a fever, which is super rare for me. Add a really bad period (sorry, TMI) and you have a seriously miserable CucumPear.
Why do I whinge about that here? You try and paint something pretty on your nails when you cough constantly. So I dug out an older swatch, I typed up the main review back then, but not everything.

essence colour& go 105 party princess

party princess is a sheer medium pink base with multicoloured glitter, lots of red-green shifting particles and a strong blue sheen. If you want an opaque mani you’ll have to layer it over something.
Like many essence glitters, party princess is quite gloopy to keep the glitter suspended. This makes for fairly thick coats, but overall it applied well and the particles were evenly dispersed. The new colour&go brush is a bit chunky, but definitely useable.

This is party princess in two coats (maybe without top coat?):

And here it is over a pink base, but I can’t for the life of me recall which pink it is, I wore a few similar shades around that time:

I like picking up sheer glitters for layering, I’m guessing party princess would look rad over dark blue or black.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Swatch - GOSH Galaxy

Wooo, no daily posts. Since continued cleaning is doing a number on my nails, that really makes me happy. And all that polish remover certainly wasn’t good for my nails and cuticles.
Now let’s get to it. I recently pocked up a new nail polish from GOSH’s current special edition and it’s a beauty.

GOSH 612 Galaxy

Galaxy is a strange, yet pretty thing. It’s closer to a glass-flecked polish than to a foil, which I had initially expected. In any case there’s a super-sheer brown base densely packed with multicoloured microglitter. The first glimpse shows lots of gold and yellowy green particles, but also red and blue. The result is a very complex polish with lots of depth; as I went through my day I kept looking at my nails and saw them look sort of olive-y and even like a shimmery taupe. Weird. I ended up applying four coats, but polished like that can seem totally opaque from one angle and then suddenly you can see the tip shine through again.
This applies a lot like China Glaze’s glass-flecked polishes (think Watermelon Rind). Galaxy is very thin and required a bit of care to prevent flooding the cuticles, just don’t overload the brush. But it levelled beautifully and was quite even after a couple of coats. The brush is round and works very nicely.
If you like the colour, definitely pick it up, you may want to consider layering it over a brown polish.

Here’s Galaxy in two coats without top coat:

And this is Galaxy in four coats with Seche Vite:

I expected to like this, but I didn’t expect how awesome Galaxy would be.

Monday, October 1, 2012

31 Days: Day 31 - Recreation

*snerk* My mind is going places.
For the last day of the 31 Days Challenge we’re supposed to recreate a manicure we love. The challenge list doesn’t specify whether it’s one’s own or someone else’s, if it’s to come from the challenge or not. I chose to do a variant of Mimi’s Tentacle Nails, which can be found on her blog MakeupWithdrawal.

Here’s what I used today:

  • essie rock solid
  • essence btgn base sealer
  • LOOK by BIPA Nail Quickie 37 blue stars
  • acrylic paint
  • essence btgn top sealer
  • Seche Vite

First I applied one coat of each base, two of blue stars and some Seche Vite.

blue stars has a blue base on the verge of purple, almost like a super-deep periwinkle, with fine turquoise-y blue shimmer. It’s one of those colours that change vastly depending on the lighting, from obviously blue to rich purple. It’s quite opaque, two coats provide full coverage.
This polish is a bit thick and doesn’t level perfectly. But overall it didn’t apply badly, blue stars is easy to control and doesn't streak past the first coat. The brush is an old-school round one, it works quite well with the formula.

Here’s blue stars in two coats with Seche Vite:

Then I mixed some salmony shades with acrylic paint, painted on the tentacles and dotted on the suction cups. Then I added a coat of top sealer and one of Seche Vite.

I like octopodes. And no matter what I do, these days my cuticles don’t want to not look dry.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

31 Days: Day 30 - Metallic Spillage

I’ve had this tutorial bookmarked for a while now, so having an ‘inspired by a tutorial’ challenge is awesome. So here’s a splatter mani, as per The PolishAholic’s tutorial. I love the neon, but today I did a black base with metallic splatter (China Glaze Khromes).

This one I definitely need to try again, I didn’t have the proper technique down yet. I have to admit to being quite relieved that this challenge is almost over, daily posting is so not my thing and I’ll be glad to return to a gentler pace.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

31 Days: Day 29 - Lead, What Else?

I’m a pretty mundane girl. I don’t believe in magic, telekinesis, telepathy or precognition. However, I do enjoy Fantasy novels and the like, so I do have some favoured supernatural fandoms. None of them seemed right for a supernatural themed manicure, so instead I went in the historical direction.
Have you ever heard of curse tablets? Quite a lot of them have been found across the Greco-Roman world (including Etruria, of course). Not all defixiones are true curses, some are love spells or binding spells of some other kind. Typically they’re found buried, often in necropoleis and wells, written on lead and in some way distorted or pierced (nails to secure the spell). The contents range from ‘A offended me, punish them’ to ‘someone stole from me, punish them’ to ‘make B love me’ and so on, usually calling upon chthonic deities.
For this mani I applied some silvery polish, used a black liner to add the lettering and dabbed on some mystery glitter polish (review planned for next week) to add some faux corrosion.

In case you’re interested, I used the beginning of CIL II 462 for this.
What’s your supernatural vice?

Friday, September 28, 2012

31 Days: Day 28 - Flagging

The challenge for today: a flag. I first thought to do the coat of arms of the district I live in, but then realism reared its shiny head and I remembered that only one segment was even remotely within my skill-level. Guess which.
Instead I’ll give Austria another try (the last try happened a long time ago and ended in an unpostable fail).

Here’s what I used:

  • essie rock solid
  • essence btgn base sealer
  • essie blanc
  • acrylic paint
  • essence btgn top sealer
  • Seche Vite

I started by applying my bases, some blanc and Seche Vite. On that base I painted all of the designs with acrylic paint, then sealed them with top sealer and Seche Vite. I first tried taping, but as usual the tape decided that curved surfaces are evil and the paint went under it, so I took off the tape and freehanded everything.

I had to severely simplify the Austrian coat of arms (here’s the original). If I do this again, it’ll be all stripy flags. No more coats of arms. The ring finger was such a pain, you can see how wonky it is and I’m actually thrilled with how it turned out. Sad innit?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

31 Days: Day 27 - Some Art Isn’t Pretty

I’m still made of busy so let me tell you a little story that goes with the image.
A few years ago, when I was still with the university’s choir, we were asked to participate in one of Hermann Nitsch’s performances. I advise you to follow this link rather than google Nitsch if you have a weak stomach, ‘cause he often works with blood.
Was that day fascinating? Absolutely.
Am I glad to have participated? Indeed.
Was it gross beyond what I imagined? Hell, yes. The whole thing went on for hours, there were dead pigs and blood. After a while it smelled like a pile of used pads and tampons. The naked people weren’t gross, just kind of average.

So yeah. Little story, a bit gory. Have you ever done anything really weird?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

31 Days: Day 26 - Tartanesque

As I mentioned last night, this too is a quickie post, just the one photo.
I’m not too good at neat, geometric patterns, no matter how much I love them and how often I try. I did consider stamping, but figured that an accent nail should be doable. So kinda sorta tartan thing:

The green is a bit too hard to see, but there are some things that just can’t be fixed (at least with my meagre editing skills).
Can you believe that this month is almost over again?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

31 Days: Day 25 - Fashwhut?

I’m not a fashion person. Though I have my personal style, it’s very simple and the only reason I have half an eye on trends is to evaluate if my preferred cuts and colours are available (there have been no-buy seasons where everything was pastel and cropped or tapered trousers *shudders*).
That being said I do sometimes enjoy fashiony stuff, but not enough to know anything, really. Thus a fashion-inspired mani was a bit of a pain: I chose to do a simple mod pattern of layered dots.

I’m super busy right now, so today and tomorrow are just single picture posts. Not sure how it’ll go later this week.

Monday, September 24, 2012

31 Days: Day 24 - My Precious

Most of my favourite books are not all that useable for nail art. I pondered and pondered until I had a moment of facepalm.
No, this is not Lord of the Rings. This manicure is inspired by… my Latin dictionary. I started Latin just around the time the Hundertwasser Stowasser came out and got a gorgeous green variant. These days it’s scraped and scuffed and faded, I rather love the beauty of a well-used book.
Turns out I don’t have an exact match for the green cover in my polish stash. Boo.

This is what I used today:

  • essie rock solid
  • essence btgn base sealer
  • Orly Wandering Vine
  • black acrylic paint
  • Seche Vite
  • essence nail art special topper 07 soft touch
  • China Glaze Millennium

First I applied my bases and tow coats of Wandering Vine. Then I added the black design, sealed everything with Seche Vite and mattified it with the soft touch topper. Only then did I dab on the golden dots.

Between school and university my Stowasser is probably my most-handled book. Ever. Nerd Power!
Here’s a wonky photo for reference:

What’s your most-used book?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

31 Days: Day 23 - Fruity and Oaty

ZOMG, this was so difficult! I wanted to do a mani inspired by Serenity, more specifically the Fruity Oaty Bar advertisement. The octopus wasn’t too hard, but the two girls were ridiculously hard to paint.

Here’s what I used tonight:

  • essie rock solid
  • essence btgn base sealer
  • essence colour&go 126 date in the moonlight
  • acrylic paint
  • essence btgn top sealer
  • Seche Vite

Today’s base manicure routine was: one coat of rock solid and base sealer, then two of date in the moonlight and some Seche Vite.

date in the moonlight is a muted, deep steel blue with fine, royal blue glitter. It’s fairly opaque, I applied two medium thick coats, but three thin ones would work just as well.
The second coat was perfectly even and date in the moonlight levelled beautifully. I liked the medium viscosity; it made the polish easy to handle and the flat, wide, round-tipped brush made applying this a snap.
Beautiful colour, good application: highly recommended.

This is date in the moonlight in two coats with Seche Vite:

After the base was fully dry I used acrylic paint to paint on the design. I then sealed it, first with top sealer, then with a coat of Seche Vite to even out all of the bumps.

While the girls are seriously wonky-faced I’m insanely happy with this mani. I’m going to be so sad when I have to remove it.

31 Days: Day 22 - Life Is A Lemon

I meant to do this for Day 3, but then I face-palmed, ‘cause what other song-inspired mani could I have done. Silly, silly me.
Even after all those years I distinctly remember being buzzed from my first exposure to The Darkness, who had just played, when the Meat Loaf concert began with an epic chant ‘Iiiii want my money back…’ Apparently, when life is a lemon, one should demand one’s money back. As a fanfic aficionada I’m kind of fond of lemons, even if my life doesn’t roll that way. :-D

This is what I used:

  • Seche Base
  • LOOK by BIPA Nail Quickie 20 street
  • acrylic paint
  • essence better than gel nails top sealer
  • essence matt top coat

street is a basic medium grey crème, ever so faintly blue-toned, in my opinion. Definitely a three-coater.
The first coat was horribly streaky, but it evened out well with the second. I’d call the formula average, no especially great things to say, but no real complaints, either. The brush is stubby and round, I’m not too hot on it.

This is street in two coats without top coat:

And here’s street in three coats with top coat:

Then I used a bunch of acrylic paints and a dinky brush to add the lemony design and sealed it with more top sealer. The other nails stayed plain and were mattified.

I had this pre-written, but completely forgot until 11:55 PM. D’oh. So we’re (where did that ‘we’ come from?) a bit late due to photo-uploading and such.

Friday, September 21, 2012

31 Days: Day 21 - Who Can Decide?

… a.k.a. The Glittery Hoof

Today the challenge demands something inspired by a colour. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. Should I use the colour of an object I love or one that symbolises something special?
In the end I came to the conclusion that the details are up to me and that I should work with my favourite colour. Green. Wait, teal. Gah! Layering to the rescue!

Here’s what I used today:

  • essie rock solid
  • essence btgn base sealer
  • China Glaze Watermelon Rind
  • China Glaze Atlantis
  • China Glaze Sour Apple
  • a little star-shaped rhinestone
  • Seche Vite

First I applied one coat of rock solid, one of base sealer and five of Watermelon Rind. And just to be on the safe side in regards to drying the whole thing through I added a layer of Seche Vite after the third and fifth coat of Watermelon Rind.

I already swatched Watermelon Rind a couple of years ago, but this swatch is much nicer. Please follow this link to the review. While I still feel that this polish is wearable in three coats, perfectionists and haters of VNL will need more.

Here’s Watermelon Rind in two coats without top coat (eeek, wavy nail line):

And this is Watermelon Rind in five coats with Seche Vite:

Then I added a coat of Atlantis

…and a coat of Sour Apple.

A dinky star rhinestone and plenty of Seche Vite finished of the teal-green glitterbomb.

Love. There’s the tealy-green base with the green and bright blue sparkles, some holo and chunky green particles. The only thing I don’t love is how clunky my nails are. o.O

31 Days: Day 20 - Messy Marble

This is a bit late, sorry. I spent today (a) being less than healthy, but felt better after a long nap, (b) cleaning, and (c) making ravioli from scratch. Thus the lateness.
Good thing there isn’t too much to be said about water marbles. I generally prefer water marbles to be random and irregular. Annoyingly, the dark blue always made problems and glooped up.

I rarely do these because even with the taping the clean-up is a pain in the butt.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

31 Days: Day 19 - Got Milk?

Galaxy nails… the final frontier. Or something. I really didn’t feel like doing swirling galaxies and gleaming stars today, even though I love how them. I thought about somehow working in Talk Like a Pirate Day, but I don’t know many space pirates (except maybe YoSaffBridge, but she’s mostly a con artist). Hermione Granger and galaxies don’t work together, either.
And therefore I’m going to be a bit cheeky.

Galaxy Nails:

Got it?
I know there are many mythology buffs out there who totally got that. If you don’t: The creation of the milky way is part of the complex of myths surrounding the life of Heracles. Since the whole thing is an amalgamation of many local stories there are several variants. The one I first read as a teen told that when Heracles was an infant, he was exposed by his mother and Athena took him to Hera and asked her to nurse the hungry child (without telling her that it was Zeus’ bastard, of course). Hera agreed, she’s responsible for children after all, but Heracles bit her. When Hera pulled away her breast, milk sprayed across the sky and formed the milky way.
Wikipedia has different versions. Interestingly, there’s an Etruscan mirror with a variant of the scene engraved on the back: Uni nursing an adult Hercle in what is often interpreted to be an adoption rite.

As a side note ;-) the polish seen above is s-he 115 in two and three coats. It’s a completely average white crème.
And I definitely can’t cheat like that tomorrow, ‘cause how would I fake a water marble?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

31 Days: Day 18 - Half Moons in the Sky

While I don’t mind half moon manicures on other people I really don’t like them on myself. They never look right. Maybe my nails are just too wide and I make the half moons too thick.
So I wasn’t too excited about today’s challenge and decided to be more literal in two ways. Firstly I mimicked how the lunula gets slimmer from thumb to pinkie (I, for example, only have a clearly visible lunula on my thumbs and a barely-there sliver on my index fingers). Secondly I thought it would be nice to do a silvery half moon and ‘starry night’ polish combination.

Excuse the dry post-cleaning cuticles, please. In case you’re wondering, the silver is a frankenpolish, the sparkly black is Eyeko Cosmic Polish.
Which reminds me: do you remember the early (awesome) days of Eyeko, then they made cute, ‘Manga-style’ make-up?

Monday, September 17, 2012

31 Days: Day 17 - GradGlitter

I spent most of today cleaning and inhaling unhealthy amounts of dust (maybe I should clean more often?), so we’ll just have a little glitter gradient. With an amazingly creative title.
I just popped on a few of my favourite glitters over Manglaze Matte is Murder.

I love glitter, love, love, looooooove it. The only downside to glitter gradients is the resulting chunkiness of one’s nails.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

31 Days: Day 16 - Very Graphic and Meaningful

When I read ‘tribal print’ on the list my mind immediately jumped to an especially lovely Daria episode, Road Worrier. Why? Let me paste a snippet of the transcript I’m stealing from Outpost Daria:

Daria - Oh. (pause) Umm, nice tattoo. Tribal?
Trent - Maori. I copied it out of Tattoo World's international issue.
Daria - Very graphic, and meaningful.
Trent - Yeah, it makes a statement. You know what it is?
Daria (VO) - I got a tattoo out of a magazine?
Trent - I got a tattoo out of a magazine.
(both laugh)
Daria - I guess it's better than trying to copy one off the TV.

See, how could I have resisted doing a Trent-inspired manicure?

This is what I used:

  • essie rock solid
  • essie navigate her
  • black acrylic paint
  • essie good to go

First I applied two coats of rock solid, two of navigate her and one of good to go.

navigate her is a light, muted green crème with a strange balance, it doesn’t really look warm, despite clearly being yellowy. I’d call it a pale pistachio. Two medium thick coats are quite opaque, but upon further inspection I’d recommend three.
Like most essie polishes, navigate her applied very nicely, the second coat covered any streaks. The viscosity was spot-on for coverage and good levelling without pooling. I love the flat brush with the rounded tip.

This is navigate her in two coats with top coat:

Admittedly, putting the tattoos on a base colour that only kind of resembles Trent’s shirt is a bit odd, but as I said: inspired by Trent’s tattoos. :-D
I used black acrylic paint to add the tattoos and put on another coat of good to go.

Now pardon me while I have a moment of rage. This episode needed Everybody Hurts, the traffic jam scene makes no sense without that song. Darn understandable reasoning on MTV’s part.

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