Sunday, July 31, 2011

NotD - Easy Doesn't Mean Plain

Somehow today is not a good day. I seem to be running late in everything I do. Not it’s almost 1 in the morning I haven’t even started my nails yet. But since the orchid/magenta/fuchsia polish is showing just a bit of tipwear I’ll use that as my base and I won’t do my usual step-by-step images (those eat time).

Basically I sponged on a gradient using Barry M Bright Purple and then applied a diagonal stipe of dots in dark purple, red, white and mint green. Took only 20 minutes plus drying time!

Pardon the dry cuticles, I didn’t slap on moisturiser until after I took the photo (I usually do that before even starting, but not doing a full re-paint changed that).
I feel like I’m missing a vital colour, ideas?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Swatch - MNY 174A

Is there a term for colours between pink and purple? I absolutely can’t come up with one that anyone might want to use.
Punk is out, Pirple is too close to purple and a bit to pimply, and let’s not even talk about Pinkle (German-speaking folks know what I mean). The closest I can get is Purnk. And who’d want to use that word? Maybe if I use violet: Violink? Piolet? Bleh.

Today’s polish brought this about. MNY 174A - another polish from the Island Dream LE - is a shade between Orchid and dark Fuchsia, it’s so hard for me to classify. However it’s called, this crème polish is quite lovely and reminds me a bit of Barry M Bright Purple (Bright Purple is more purple and a bit darker), which I love dearly. Not everyone might be comfortable in this colour, though. This is nice and opaque in two coats.
I almost wrote ‘or three thin coats’ but this polish tends to drag a little if there isn’t enough product on the brush. Otherwise 174A’s formula is great, not an issue in sight. I’ve said this so often now: Love, love, love MNY’s relatively narrow flat brush.

Here’s MNY 174A in two coats with top coat:

I’m really impressed by MNY’s development since it showed up in Austrian stores. There used to be so many badly pigmented, frosty, brush mark-ridden polishes and now there are more and more two-coaters, crèmes, and shimmers with perfectly dispersed particles.
And I also love most of their eyeshadows.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review - Mont Bleu Glass Files and Tweezers

Recently I was approached by a rep on behalf of Mont Bleu, offering me the opportunity to test their products. I was happy to try something new and soon received a package containing one of their glass nail files and a pair of tweezers. And you know what? They are both green, showing much more care than any other PR requests I’ve received before (note how I haven’t accepted any of those form email-type requests).
Though I got both products for free I promise that this review is unbiased and honest.

Mont Bleu is a Czech company that makes glass files and decorates many different items with Swarovski crystals. For further information and an overview of the history and range of Mont Bleu 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.


The glass file I was sent is from Mont Bleu's luxury line, the green Marbles Color file. It very pretty, unsurprisingly I love the green gradient and matching variety of crystals. At 13,5 cm the file is a few millimetres shorter than my other glass files and slightly thinner (2 mm) than some. But it doesn’t feel fragile at all and unlike another rather expensive file - from a brand which shall remain unnamed - this one is double-sided. The crystals seem firmly attached, though I obviously haven’t tried to actually pick them off.
But what’s really important is the performance when it come’s to shortening and shaping the nails, and I am pleased to say that this is the best file I’ve ever used. The grit is extremely fine and still more efficient than the closest match I have in my small collection of glass files. The edge of my nails felt perfectly smooth after filing and that’s all I’m looking for, really.
If you’re not that much into sparklies, there are also plain clear and coloured files for less money - the two two online stores I mentioned above don’t sell the exact same range, so check out the one appropriate for your area.


The tweezers are quite good, I like that the green coating gives me a bit more grip. I wouldn’t want to slip while plucking my eyebrows. The slanted tip is precise and sharp, but not quite as good as my favourite pair of Tweezerman tweezers.
I’m sure they would be great for most people, but I’m obsessive when it comes to hair removal and like to remove stubble as soon as I see it. The tip of these tweezers is just a bit too bulky to reach the shortest of stubblies (mind you, I have dark hair and fair skin, so I see the regrowth before it even pokes out of the skin).
If you need tweezers to keep up your brows in a more normal way than I do and only pluck once in a while, Mont Bleu’s will work for you. Crazy folks like yours truly might need something sharper.

In conclusion: Both tools are high quality and beautifully made.
I highly recommend the glass files, they are incredibly smooth. The price is higher than your random dollar store file, but I believe that when it comes to nail files, quality is definitely worth the price. And if you’re on a budget: the undecorated files are quite a bit more affordable than the prettified ones.
Personally I wouldn’t get another pair of tweezers, but I can see more casual brow pluckers getting along with them well.

Have you tried any Mont Bleu products? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Monday, July 25, 2011

How to Embellish… a French Manicure

You may know the following situation.
You’ve applied a plain French Manicure and you’re just utterly bored after a day or two. Or it’s a bit worn but you don’t have the time or motivation to fully repaint your nails.

Last time my NotD was such a plain French and today I’ll show you a four ways to embellish them and disguise chips and tipwear, ranging from the utterly basic to the silly.

  • Let’s look at the obvious first: On my pinkie there’s just a coat of sheer glitter polish. My chosen colour is green, but this could of course be any colour.
  • Then there’s another really basic option: Adding a thin stripe of colour between the white tip and nude-y nail plate. I used gold, silver is another safe choice. But if you feel like bright red or electric blue, go for it!
  • Now this is the weird and silly way: I added a thin lime green stripe at the tip to hide a little chip, a few more stripe across the nail and added some red and white dots. You don’t have to go that far. ;-)
  • And lastly, a more girly design: Again I hid some chips by covering the tip with bright pink and purple. Then I used a dotting tool to add a fat little flower.

I think I’ll make this a new series on how to embellish worn and boring manis. Whatcha think?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

NotD - Short Nails Demand French Manicures

I don’t wear French Manicures very often and I think mostly when my nails are rather short. Somehow I just felt like that today.

Here’s what I used for this mani:

  • OPI Nail Envy
  • LOOK by BIPA Diamond Hardener
  • essence 50’s girls reloaded 01 ahoy!
  • Estée Lauder C4 Peach Sorbet
  • Seche Vite

There are so many ways of achieving a French tip. For me the method depends on my mood and amount of staining on my nails. They’re not too bad these days (though you can see them getting a tad greenish towards the tip), so I applied my base coats and then used ahoy! with a striping brush to outline the tips. I prefer to use the normal brush to fill them in, though, and that’s what I did.
A coat of Peach Sorbet and some Seche Vite and this extra-simple mani is done! I’m not even going to add any embellishments today.

If my nails had been badly stained I would have applied a couple of coats of Peach Sorbet before doing the tip. This can also be used to disguise a strongly curved smile line if you prefer a straighter tip.
It’s always a good idea to have a silver or gold nail art polish nearby. If the lines are wonky I just add a thin line between the white and nude areas.
If you’re wondering why I don’t just use a nail art liner for the whole tip paintage: I find that while they tend to be beautifully pigmented, they smudge and transfer. A simple white crème polish is much better (though I have yet to find a white polish that doesn’t smudge at all).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

NotD - Sparklepants

I’m feeling like doing something sparkly today. Therefore I applied a shimmery blue I recently got and embellished it with other shimmery and glittery polishes and rhinestones.
I totally failed at clean-up today, sorry.

Here’s what I used:

  • OPI Nail Envy
  • LOOK by BIPA Diamond Hardener
  • MNY 175A
  • China Glaze Dorothy Who?
  • LOOK by BIPA nail tattoo liner 9 green
  • LOOK by BIPA nail tattoo liner 11 gold
  • LOOK by BIPA nail tattoo liner 13 silver
  • clear round rhinestones
  • Seche Vite

As usual I started with one coat of either base, three of 175A and sealed it with Seche Vite.

MNY 175A is a shimmery medium blue from MNY’s Island Dream/At The Pool LE (the Bravo Girl one). This is so much better than the first MNY shimmers I’ve tried! It’s reasonably opaque, two coats are wearable and three are opaque.
This polish applies very nicely. The formula balances spreadability and levelling with preventing pooling. Very nice indeed. 175A does show some brush marks, but they’re not that visible. The brush is excellent: a fairly narrow flat one.

This is MNY 175A in two coats without top coat:

And here’s 175A in three coats with Seche Vite:

After the base was almost dry I added a partial coat of Dorothy Who? (I really need to wear that more often).

Then I added a starburst pattern with its centre at the middle of the tip of each nail. First with the green liner, then gold and lastly silver - which covered up most of the gold as I just wanted hints of that peeking through. I dunno why I took three photos.

The last step was to add a small dot of Dorothy Who? at the centre of the starburst and embed a clear round rhinestone in it.

OK, so the real last step was the whole applying two coats of Seche Vite thing, but I tend to almost forget to mention that, because it’s standard for my rhinestone manicures.

Random BTW: If you’re on Google+ feel free to find me there, talk to me, whatever. :-D

Monday, July 18, 2011

NotD - Brava Aquatica

If you live anywhere around here you probably haven’t been able to escape from the ‘teen magazine’ Bravo. Personally I haven’t read a single issue, but even I’m aware of it and some of its features.
Why am I mentioning this? MNY decided to release their Island Dream LE in Collaboration with Bravo Girl… I picked up a couple of the polishes.
I also picked up a pretty shimmer polish that I combined with it.

Here’s what I used tonight:

  • OPI Nail Envy
  • mixed up ridge filler
  • MNY 176A
  • LOOK by BIPA nail tattoo liner 1 silver
  • LOOK by BIPA nail tattoo liner 3 black
  • p2 deep water love 020 green lagoon
  • Seche Vite

I began by applying one coat of either base, two of 176A and sealed the polish with Seche Vite.

MNY 176A is a bluish green crème polish, greener than teal, bluer than pine, brighter than slate green. I love it, it’s utterly divine. And it’s lovely and opaque in two coats.
MNY definitely did something right there, ‘cause this applied smoothly and evenly. The viscosity is just on the thick side of perfect, making the polish spread and level quite well without pooling. As usual, I love the narrow flat brush, I rarely have to do that little clean-up.
I can highly recommend this polish to anyone who can find it.

Here’s MNY 176A in two coats with top coat:

Then I added a silver stripe and outlined it in black. Looks odd and scary, right?

But it all gets less frightening with the coat of green lagoon plus some Seche Vite.

So yeah, really basic (also done quick ‘n’ dirty), but I’m not going to spend hours on a mani when I have major cleaning to do in the morning. ;-)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Swatch - L.A. Girl Crowd Surfing

When I saw swatches of this polish I knew I had to have it. Green, flakies… questions?
Anyway, just a li’l swatch tonight, I’ve been working on the kitchen walls all day and let me just say: this whole flat has horrible walls. Half the time the rollers took off patches of paint. We’re not all that happy, but ran out of time.

L.A. Girl Rock Star NL122 Crowd Surfing

Crowd Surfing is sheer apple green polish with fine green glitter and green/orange flakies. Due to its low opacity I wouldn’t recommend trying to try to get it to full coverage by itself. If you need an opaque nail, layer it over a pale apple green for a relatively similar colour or go crazy with a blue, black, silver or even red base.
I found this polish very easy to work with. Crowd Surfing is rather thin and levels nicely. It also dries quickly. No bubbling, no issues for me. The brush is a standard round one and works well with the formula.
Overall: absolutely recommended. It’s a gorgeous polish suitable for a sheer coat of colour, layering, or an interesting gradient nail.

This is Crowd Surfing in two coats without top coat:

And here’s Crowd Surfing in three coats with Seche Vite:

Do you have any of the Rock Star polishes?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Swatches - essence 50’s girls reloaded

Oh Em Gee, essence used a capital R on the bottles! Nowhere else though, so I’m sticking to my usual lack of capitalisation for essence products.

This trend edition is rather interesting and I’m proud of my relative thriftiness, buying only the polishes, the eyeshadow brush and the red lipstick (which is truly lovely). I’m especially happy about two things concerning the polishes: the bottles are a full 15 ml (0.5 fl. oz) rather than the usual 7-10 ml from most TEs I’ve seen and the fairly narrow flat brushes. Thank you, essence!
There are five colours, two crèmes and three shimmers, all are gorgeous and wearable.

essence 50’s girls reloaded 01 ahoy!

ahoy! is a white crème polish, not the brightest white I’ve seen, but not off-white in any way. Two coats are pretty opaque, but I prefer three.
This polish is, like most whites, faintly chalky, a bit streaky and not completely easy to apply. ahoy! didn’t level all that well, so top coat is necessary.

This is ahoy! in two coats without top coat:

And this is ahoy! in three coats with top coat:

essence 50’s girls reloaded 02 back to the 50’s

This is a gorgeous classic red crème. The residue on the bottle neck and sheer layers look pink, but when opaque it’s neither particularly warm nor cool. back to the 50’s is opaque in three coats.
This really applied evenly, even a single coat is wearable if one doesn’t mind a bit of sheerness. back to the 50’s is very shiny on its own and as this levels beautifully one might even wear it sans top coat.

This is back to the 50’s in two coats without top coat:

And this is back to the 50’s in three coats with top coat:

essence 50’s girls reloaded 03 i’m a marine girl

i’m a marine girl is a deep navy blue polish lightened up by bright blue shimmer. Very pretty and great depth. This one is opaque in two coats, which is always nice.
Overall this applied well, smooth and even. The only negative point I can find is a slight case of the brush marks; not unusual for shimmers.

This is i’m a marine girl in two coats with top coat:

essence 50’s girls reloaded 04 love me tender

Now we’re getting somewhere interesting, love me tender is a champagne golden coloured polish; its shimmer finish verges on metallic. In the bottle it almost looks like a foil, which would have been lovely. Two coats are almost fully opaque.
I had a little more trouble applying this, I kept overloading the brush, but that’s my own fault, not the polish itself. Again, there are some brush marks, otherwise I can find no fault with love me tender.

This is love me tender in two coats without top coat:

And this is love me tender in three coats with top coat:

essence 50’s girls reloaded 05 you’re a heartbreaker

This is a pretty slate grey with silver and, as far as I can make out, green/purple holo shimmer microparticles. I love how the shimmer in you’re a heartbreaker warms the grey base and turn it into something awesome. Once again, two coats almost suffice.
Utterly smooth! you’re a heartbreaker applies smoothly and with very subtle brush marks. I had no issues whatsoever.

This is you’re a heartbreaker in two coats without top coat:

And this is you’re a heartbreaker in three coats with top coat:

In conclusion: very well done, essence. All polishes apply beautifully, the colours are fantastic and yay for full sizes. I’d say that only the grey is fairly unusual, but if you’re building a collection these are great staples.

Friday, July 8, 2011

First Impression - LOOK by BIPA CutiClean Gel

In Austria affordable cuticle removers are rare. I’ve tried one from Astor and was underwhelmed, there’s a new essence one which I have yet to try, I’m sure p2 also make something, but that brand isn’t readily available. So this week I picked one up at BIPA, from their own brand (obviously) LOOK by BIPA: CutiClean Gel.
I’ve used a few treatments from that line and wasn’t impressed, though I do like the ridge filler.

This greenish gel contains “Vitamin-Pearls,” I find those gimmicky and pointless (I had exactly one blue blob after anointing all nails), put the vitamins directly into the product, please! I followed the instructions on the box - I would have preferred them to be on the bottle as I rarely keep packaging - and applied the product with the doe-foot applicator. After five minutes (the box recommended 3-5 minutes) I pushed my cuticles back with the included cuticle stick.
CutiClean Gel did remove some excess cuticle, but not more that I get rid off with my usual routine of leaving Lemony Flutter on for 15-20 minutes and the pushing back gently. And that also moisturises (the gel is supposed to be moisturising, but that’s nowhere near enough for most of us polishin’ folks).

I have one nail that’s a bit more overgrown than the rest, so I added more gel and left it on for 15 more minutes and much more was removed. Then I repeated that step on all nails and lo! much better! So if you do try CutiClean Gel, adjust the time to suit you and be sure to moisturise after removing the product.
Here’s a progression pic (click it!), the 20 minute image was taken after washing and vigorously brushing my nails to remove every last bit of loose skin.

So right now I’m not fully convinced, The fact that I had to quadruple the time recommendation doesn’t sit well with me. I will keep using CutiClean Gel, though and if my opinion changes I’ll write a follow-up.
Please keep in mind that though this product didn’t work miracles for me it might be a Holy Grail for someone else.
What’s your favourite cuticle remover?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Layered Nail Quickie - Neon Apple

I blame today’s mani on two things: my need for something simple in case I need to do manual labour (read more about my new kitchen’s progress here) and a questions about folks’ go-to China Glaze polishes on twitter. So i thought I’d wear the two polishes I named, Kiwi Cool-Ada and Sour Apple, today.
The colours didn’t photograph accurately, so I have adjusted them a bit.

This is what I used:

  • OPI Nail Envy
  • Seche Base
  • Maybelline Colorama 51 French White
  • China Glaze Kiwi Cool-Ada
  • China Glaze Sour Apple
  • Seche Vite

For extra strength I did this mani in two phases. First I applied one coat of each base, two of French White and one of Seche Vite.
When that was dry I added two coats of Kiwi Cool-Ada and one of Sour Apple, followed by another coat of Seche Vite.

That is bloody awesome, IMO.
What do you think?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

NotD – Inadvertently Pseudopatriotic

I was absolutely not planning to do a special mani for Independence Day. Firstly: I’m not American. B: I don’t believe in patriotism, because self-declared patriots seldom can explain why their country is the awsomesauciest. And III: Red, white and blue isn’t one of my preferred colour combinations.
But I just happened to paint my nails in this pretty blue and was just about to add some white dots when I realized that I was just one colour away from a Fourth of July mani and figured I might as well go there.

Here’s what I used today:

  • OPI Nail Envy
  • ArtDeco Ridge Filler
  • MNY 659
  • essence black & white 02 white hype
  • Eyeko Saucy Polish
  • Seche Vite

I started with one coat of each base, two of 659 and and sealed the base colour with Seche Vite.

MNY 659 in a fairly bright, clear medium blue crème polish. It’s similar to, though a couple of shades lighter than essence my boyfriend’s jeans (from the denim wanted! TE). The pigmentation is very good, 659 is opaque in two coats or three very thin ones.
Overall this applied beautifully, though it clearly didn’t like my ridge filler (the first coat of blue dragged, despite a dry base). MNY 659 was even in two coats and levelled very well. I can never complain about MNY’s rather narrow flat brush. I just love it.
I had the impression that layered over something else a single coat of 659 might look a bit jelly-ish and squishy.

This is MNY 659 in two coats with Seche Vite:

When the base was almost fully dry I used a dotting tool and white hype to add a row of dots neat the tip of the nail and then put a dot of Saucy Polish onto each white one.
Another coat of Seche Vite finished the mani.

What are you wearing on your nails this weekend?

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