Thursday, March 31, 2011

RBL Spring 2011

Tomorrow, Rescue Beauty Lounge is having a pre-sale for the four shades which came out on top in the bring it back voting last December, so this seemed like a good time to finally show off the RBL Spring 2011 polishes I got in the previous pre-sale. (Not sure what I'm going to do this time; I want Bikini Bottom, am leaning against Black Russian, and have Bruised and Purple Haze already. I love that Ji Baek is so responsive to fans, so of course I will order, it's just a question of what.)

Left to right: Insouciant, Decorous, Recherché, and Iconoclast.

Insouciant is a greyed lilac shimmer. In normal room light, the shimmer is rather subtle; in direct light, it flashes blue.

Decorous is a medium milk chocolate brown shimmer. Like Insouciant, its shimmer is on the shy side in indirect light but pops in stronger illumination.

Recherché is a creme, a deep dusty plummy creme.

Iconoclast is a black shimmer. This one was hard to capture on camera; in real life the shimmer flashes with a bit more color than the silvery blue that my lens chose to pick up on.

Insouciant is my favorite of these four; that soft purple shade looks like stepping out into one of the first welcoming warm days of spring feels. That said, I do see myself wearing the other three shades, too, so these are all winners for me. I used two coats of all but Iconoclast, which was one coat. Yep, I said one. Recherché was really close to being a one-coater as well.

If you'd like to see any of these compared to specific polishes, please leave a comment. If I've got the other polishes, I'll gladly do the comparisons.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wheel H1: More Dark Red Cremes

Of course I had more dark reds than would fit on one wheel, so here's the continuation from last week's Nail Wheel Wednesday.

Nail wheel

(all 2 coats unless otherwise noted)

1. Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Brick Wall
2. Essie Bordeaux
3. Essie Masquerade Belle
4. Cult Nails Quench
5. Essence Eclipse Thirsty (3 coats)
6. China Glaze Ravishing Darling (3)
7. Revlon Ruby (3)
8. NARS Chinatown (3)
9. Nox Twilight Sangria
10. OPI Vampire State Building (3)
11. Goldie unlabeled wine
12. OPI Mrs. O'Leary's BBQ
13. OPI Oh ... To Be 25 Again (3)
14. Sally Hansen Salon Addicted to Red (3)
15. Wet 'n' Wild Fantasy Makers Black Red
16. Essie Wicked (3)
17. Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Flirt (3)
18. Sally Hansen Salon Pat on the Black
19. Maybelline Express Finish Blackberry
20. Borghese Carnevale Grape (3)

Bottles 1 through 5:

6 through 10:

11 through 15:

16 through 20:

When I finished this wheel, I still had a handful of pink and red cremes that weren't on wheels, so I started a new one with those:

Nail wheel

1. Rescue Beauty Lounge Plie (3 coats)
2. Barry M unlabeled mini (3)
3. Orly Fancy Fuchsia (3)
4. Catrice Forbidden Apple (2)
5. Barry M unlabeled mini (2)
6. Joe Fresh Cherry (2)
7. Joe Fresh Wine (2)

Nail wheel

So now I've got all of my pink and red cremes swatched (except for any that might have gotten in the wrong Helmer drawer, which I'll just have to deal with those when I come aross them). I could start pulling out dupes for sale or swap; I'm just not sure how I'll make those decisions. Should I have a brand hierarchy of some sort? Or should number of coats required be the deciding factor? How would you (or do you) do it?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Essie Smokin' Hot Comparison

The other day I came across an Amazon seller who had Essie Smokin' Hot from this past winter's collection listed for $49.99, which I thought was insane. I'm hoping it was a data entry error, but the same seller has Merino Cool listed for $39.80 so maybe not. I took that as a sign that I needed to get my much procrastinated about Smokin' Hot comparison done. First, Smokin' Hot on its own.

Smokin' Hot is a nice polish, no doubt about that. It's deep grey creme with hints of purple and brown in it, covers in two coats, and is shiny even without top coat. Is it "I must have this or I will die" unique? No, most certainly not. I found three candidates for substitution in my stash: Sally Hansen Grey Area, Nina Ultra Pro Never Glum Plum, and Models Own Purple Grey.

All of these other polishes also covered in two coats.

Top to bottom: Smokin' Hot, Grey Area, Never Glum Plum, Purple Grey.

Grey Area is the closest to a dupe of Smokin' Hot in this group. It, like the Essie, is a limited edition that first appeared near the end of last year, but I have seem it in some stores recently, ones that maybe didn't put out a bunch of new displays during the Christmas season thanks to the glut of fragrance sets they seem to think people need for gifts. I also spotted it on eBay for a buy it now price of $4.99, still over retail but not what I'd consider a ridiculous markup if you really like the color. Never Glum Plum is close, too, just a touch lighter than Grey Area. That's core at Sally Beauty as far as I know. Purple Grey is a hint lighter and more purple, but still a fine stand in if you missed Smokin' Hot and wanted it. This overexposed flash picture shows the differences better, but you need to ask yourself how often you are subject to flash photography. I know I'm rarely in the glare of cameras like that.

I can't stop people from paying super inflated prices for Essie if they choose to, but it makes me happy to be able to share alternatives.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Recent NOTD: Sally Hansen Girl Flower

Yesterday, I finally removed the Sally Hansen strips I've been wear testing, so today I have my review of them. As I mentioned when I posted a picture of the display, I was intrigued by the idea but resistant to spending nearly $10 on color for one manicure, so I didn't immediately grab any of these. They did go on sale at CVS just before I left on vacation, and I decided to satisfy my curiousity. I got several of the more elaborate designs—ones I couldn't see recreating myself with liquid polish. Because my trip overlapped with the first day of spring, I packed the very spring-like Girl Flower design with me to try when I got some downtime (the ski slopes are only open so many hours a day, after all).

These are packaged in a small box which contains the strips (16 of them in various sizes in a blister pack), a mini orange stick, a mini file/buffer, and instructions.

The instructions were good, and definitely necessary as without them I'm not sure I would have realized that there's a clear protective top sheet that needs to be peeled off in addition to the backing on the strips. I was able to find pretty close fits for most of my nails; not all were a perfect match for the curve and width but neither is my application of liquid polish a lot of the time. I got a few wrinkles in the tips of some of the nails, got a couple strips on crooked, and in one case pressed too hard with the orange stick when smoothing around the edges and gouged some of the strip off, but all in all it was pretty easy to do and didn't take very long, especially since this was the first time I'd used them. One of the best parts was I was able to apply them in the same room as Mr. Karen; he hates the smell of polish, so I never get to hang out with him when I'm doing my nails, but these didn't bother him. They do have a very slight odor, probably nothing I would have noticed if I hadn't been hyper sensitive about the issue.

The strips are plenty long. With my fairly short nails, I felt like I was wasting a lot of product, filing almost half of the strip off the end. I'm tempted to try cutting them closer to size the next time and seeing if I can get more than one mani out of a box (or maybe a mani and matching pedi—can't remember the last time I sported that look). I'm not sure how I'd seal them back up to keep air off the strips for later use, though; I'll have to ponder that.

I definitely felt fancy by the time I was done with all ten nails, and I wasn't the only one who found the design eye catching—I got more comments and compliments on this mani than anything I've worn recently, including ones from the kind of people that don't generally say anything about my nails, like food service cashiers, flight attendants, and even a guy at work. One thing I hadn't planned but which delighted me was how well the flowers coordinated with my very girly powder skis—sure I was wearing gloves most of the time when I had the skis on but I still knew.

Ski trips tend to be hard on my hands, so I wasn't surprised to see some signs of wear by Day 6. I was pleased to see how well the strips were holding up, actually. I lost some bits on the tips where I'd gotten the wrinkles when I'd applied (I'll remember to be more careful next time), and a few more at the base of my nails, which I evidently hadn't smoothed down as firmly as the sides and tips (another note to myself for next time). The flower design is busy enough that the missing bits weren't very noticeable, so I was happy. (Day 6 photo below.)

By Day 10, the last day I wore them, there was a noticeable gap at the base of my nails even on the ones that weren't missing bits (I'll put them closer to the base to start with next time), some very minor tipwear, and a chunk out of both the strip and my nail on my ring finger thanks to jamming it on my suitcase handle on the trip home. I was impressed. My conventional manis don't last this well on trips, even with touch ups, which of course I couldn't do with these since I don't have flower polish. (Day 10 photo below.)

Before I took them off, I felt compelled to answer one of the burning questions in the nail polish community these days, namely "what would that look like with crack on top?" Here's the answer:

OPI Black Shatter worked just fine on top of the strips and camouflaged the imperfections that had shown up with wear. I'd been a tiny bit worried that the adhesive in the strips would damage my nails, especially since I didn't use my normal treatment and protective basecoats, but when I removed them (they came off with regular remover same as conventional polish) if anything my nails looked better than they have been lately, probably because they'd gotten a ten-day vacation from acetone. I have to say I'm sold on these strips. I still think they're expensive, but they do last a long time. I liked seeing them on my tips and so did other people. I'll definitely use them again for special occasions or when I have a long stretch when I can see I won't have time to change polish. Good job, Sally; could you not discontinue these for a while, please?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Joe Fresh Moss and Friends

The Sally Hansen strips are still on my nails as I type this, so again I'm sharing swatches I did before I put them on. A while back, I did a swap with Polish for a Polish Girl. I sent her a few things from the U.S. and asked for some colors from the Joe Fresh (or should I be calling that just Joe?) fall 2010 collection, her choice of whichever ones she could find. Well, imagine my surprise when I opened the box and found all of these:

Wow, wow, wow! In the top row, left to right: Orchid, Cherry, Caramel, Dupioni, Midas, Storm, and Sweet Tart. Bottom row: Fog, Persian Blue, Jade, Moss, Imperial, Brick, and Wine.

Faced with all that goodness, I couldn't decide which one to try first, so I set them aside for a bit. When I came across them again, Moss leapt out at me. It's an olive green creme, just the kind of color I used to look at and say "yuck" but now can't get enough of. Two coats of this one was plenty for full coverage; these swatches are as usual without topcoat.

Do I hear some of you out there bemoaning the fact that you don't live in Canada and can't buy this one (or do live in Canada but missed this one)? If so, you're in luck if you can get Zoya, because Shawn is a very good substitute.

Top to bottom: Moss, Shawn, Moss.

Shawn, like Moss, was two coats. It's a touch brighter in hue than Moss, though the difference is very slight.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wheel G1: Dark Red Cremes

Last Nail Wheel Wednesday we had red cremes; this week it's dark red cremes. Why do I have so many reds? There's my innate love for excess, of course, but there's also the idea that reds are classic, and therefore worth investing in. That logic rather falls apart after a certain point, and I passed that point sometime back.

Nail wheel

(all 2 coats unless otherwise noted)

1. China Glaze Seduce Me
2. Revlon Top Speed Vintage
3. Sally Hansen Salon Crushed Berries
4. Sally Hansen Insta Dri Cherry Blaze
5. Maybelline Forever Strong Mighty Mauve [as discussed previously, mauve is tricky]
6. Joe Fresh Wine (3 coats)
7. OPI Just a Little Rosti at This
8. Borghese Puccini Pomegranate
9. OPI Got the Blues for Red
10. Wet 'n' Wild Color Icon Hypnotic Red
11. Sally Hansen Insta Dri Ruby Rocket
12. Maybelline Wet Shine Succulent
13. Sally Hansen Salon unlabeled mini (3)
14. Essie Berry Hard (3)
15. Maybelline Express Finish Berry Exotic (4—there's no reason it should be so) [might have a very, very slight shimmer]
16. Sally Hansen 10 Day No Chip Tenacious Ruby
17. Borghese Sonata Berry (3)
18. Maybelline Salon Expert Bitten Plum (3)
19. Maybelline Express Finish Seduction (3)
20. Maybelline Salon Finish Chic Merlot

Bottles 1 through 5:

6 through 10:

11 through 15:

16 through 20:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Franken: Carnival Blue

I'm back from my trip and done skiing for the season. It's a good thing this isn't a makeup blog, because most of last week I didn't wear any! Here I am taking a break from skiing, showing it is possible to get overheated even when outside while it's actually snowing; if I'd been wearing makeup, it would have smeared off for sure:

I may not have been at my prettiest last week, but the scenery at Schweitzer Mountain was gorgeous as usual (when we could see it between snowstorms):

You can see how much snow there's been there in northern Idaho this season; that's a full-sized SUV in the lower right, with the pile of snow plowed off the street well above its roofline.

The Sally Hansen nail polish strips I put on last week are still on, so I'm not ready to do a full report on them yet. Instead, today I have something swatched before I left. It's my latest franken, which I called Carnival Blue because it's a sibling to Carnival Red. This one also has Wet 'n' Wild Hallucinate as a base with some of the holographic glitters I bought at JoAnn Fabrics added to it plus some Revlon clear; in this case I used two shades of blue plus the lime green (which almost looks gold in some lights).

I used about equal amounts of the two blues with the lime as an accent. There was some bleeding of blue into the base though the glitter did keep most of its color.

The glitter in this one isn't as dense as in the red version, so I swatched this both on its own and over my blue shimmer franken. I like it much better layered.

I like it layered in low light, too.

I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to make more frankens; I hope soon since I'm finding it great fun to experiment and see how they turn out.