Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Recent NOTD: Christmasy Trees

You may recall that when I did my mani for the meetup, I sealed up the unused Incoco strips with the silver sticker thing in the package. I was very curious if this would keep them usable, so eleven days after I'd put them away, I took them back out to try. Since I'd only used four strips for the first mani, I had plenty left, so used them on all my nails save one accent nail. I also added some accents with dotting and glitter so the strips wouldn't look exactly like they had when I'd used them the first time. Here's the whole lineup of products I used:

I used the Sally Hansen Age Correct Growth as a basecoat; my supply of bottles that I hoarded just before they discontinued this is still adequate. On my accent nails (both index fingers), I used two coats of Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Royal Shyness topped with two of Liquid Sky Lacquer Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins. All the rest of my nails got the Incoco Santa's Forest strips. I dotted the trees with Maybelline Salon Finish Outright Red, China Glaze Capacity to See Beyond, and individual glitters fished out of Rimmel Glitter Bomb Bling Thing. Each tree got topped with a big dot of Butter London Pimms, except for the two that got a glitter star fished out of Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins. Because I'd like Wet Paint Stardust over the strips so much the first time, I did that again, then put Hong Kong Girl topcoat over everything.

I'd noticed when working with the strips that they were not as flexible as the first time; they'd definitely gotten at least a bit dried out. They still stuck to my nails, mostly, but you can see them lifting and rippling at the sides. After I took these photos, I addressed that problem by splooging some topcoat along the sides of my nails, then squishing the strips down with the flat end of an orangewood stick before cleaning up the excess topcoat. I had to be forceful enough with the stick to smooth the strip but gentle enough that I didn't rip it or scrape part of it off.

If I were doing trees freehand, I would have rooted them at the tips of my nails, not the base, but with these strips they have to start at the base (I don't see how they could be printed the other way, since Incoco you have to apply them from the base and everyone's nails are a different length). I guess this way they’re right side up for me when I hold my hand out flat, and I look at my nails way more than anyone else does. Here are the trees on my right hand, flipped right side up:

And here's the mani just before I took it off four days later; you can see the sides are much smoother after the topcoat squishing treatment. There is some tipwear and some jagged bits at the base of some nails—I was bad and picked at them there.

When I took this off, I noticed some slight staining on my accent nails, I suspect from the Sally Hansen Royal Shyness. I'll have to be sure to use more than just a thin treatment as a basecoat next time I wear that. The silver sticker did preserve these strips well enough that I was able to use the leftovers successfully, but I'm not sure I would have been so lucky if I'd left them in storage much longer, and it's rare that I'd want to wear the same design twice that close together. I did seal up the remainders again and plan to pull them out at some point to see how stiff they've gotten.

Merry Christmas to those of you celebrating tomorrow! I'm going to take the day off from blogging; in fact, I might take the whole rest of the year off. I have swatches to share, though, so I'll for sure be back before too long.

The Wet Paint polish shown in this entry were provided free for review purposes. The others were purchased by me or swapped for.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Smitten Polish Holiday Collection Swatches

With just a couple days 'til Christmas, it seems important that I share the Smitten Polish holiday collection, some of which is still available from the Smitten Polish webshop. There are seven shades in this group: Snow Day Sunrise, Jack Frost, Nose So Bright, Maple Sugar Candy, Between the Baubles, Ghosts of Christmas, and Figgy Pudding.

I started with the two most typically Christmas-y colors, which also happen to be the two linear holos in the group: Nose So Bright, which is red, and Between the Baubles, which is a deep leaf green. I did two coats of each, no topcoat for my swatch. In indirect light, the holo stays pretty subtle.

In direct indoor light, the holo comes out to play; it was stronger in the green than in the red in these condtions. (Because the weather gods seem have it in for my swatching lately, I was not able to see these outside in full sun.)

I combined two microglitters for my next look. Maple Sugar Candy, a brownish gold, got an accent nail and funky French tips of Ghosts of Christmas, a red wine. Both of these have jelly bases packed with tiny glitter particles. I used three coats of Maple Sugar Candy and two of Ghosts of Christmas, and did add topcoat since that smoothed out the demarcation between the base and the French tip detail.

Maple Sugar Candy has some holo in its glitter mix, while Ghosts of Christmas is straight metallic. They popped best in low direct light (I'm sure sun would have been even better).

Jack Frost is a light blue microglitter; it seems to have both metallic and holo glitters, though when they're this small it's hard to tell. I did two coats plus topcoat; the pictures show that three might have been better, though to the naked eye it seemed opaque at two.

Jack Frost was so pretty in low light:

Snow Day Sunrise has a similar finish to Jack Frost, except it's pink. I used two coats plus topcoat for my swatch, putting dots of Jack Frost on an accent nail just for fun.

Like its blue sibling, Snow Day Sunrise sparkles prettily in direct light:

I saved my favorite for last: Figgy Pudding. It's a purple jelly with gold to bronze color shifting flakies and coppery shimmer.

Pretty as Figgy Pudding was on its own, I couldn't resist trying one coat of Maple Sugar Candy plus topcoat on three of my nails to see what that would do. In indirect light, is mostly served to obscure the lovely flakies.

In direct light, though, the combination was quite entrancing.

While Figgy Pudding is my absolute favorite of the collection, Jack Frost and Between the Baubles are close behind. Maple Sugar Candy and Snow Day Sunrise are my least favorites just because I don't find them all that flattering with my skintone.

The formula on all of these was smooth and problem free as I've come to expect from Smitten.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Bonita Jolly Nails Set

My friend Tracey (on Instagram as traceyloveslacquer) went to the Kmart where I'd spotted the Bonita sets that I shared in my recent display post and saw not only the three that were there when I visited but four more besides. Could I resist going to see for myself? No, of course I couldn't.

The four other sets all look more like spring/summer colors than the fall/winter ones in the other sets. One is even called All Summer Long (top left); the others (going clockwise from All Summer Long) are On the Boardwalk, Hello Sunshine, and Color Theory. Maybe these were in a warehouse somewhere and someone saw them and said "hey, gift sets sell well at Christmas" so out they came. I don't think stores have a lot of back stock these days, though, so who knows.

Stuck on the shelf behind these sets was something else from Bonita: a set called Jolly Nails, with square bottles and two glitters in the group of six polishes. This was one of the things I'd hoped to find when I saw the original three sets; where it was then I've no idea. There was just one of these, so there was no question of thinking about it and coming back later—I grabbed it. I was hoping if I looked at the back of other shelves I might turn up even more things I hadn't seen before, but no such luck.

This set got scooted to the front of my swatching queue, what with it being a Christmas set and Christmas being just around the corner. I tried the silver and gold first (none of these bottles have shade names on them). The silver was what I consider a true metallic finish; it only took one coat for full coverage. The gold is more of a metallic/shimmer hybrid; it took two coats.

Then it was time to try the glitter toppers, both of which have clear bases. The multi glitter has red, green, silver, gold, turquoise and lilac hexes in different sizes.

The red glitter also has a mix of hex sizes, but they're all red.

I put two coats of the multi glitter on the gold base and two coats of the red glitter on the silver base, then added clear topcoat over all.

Next it was red and green's turn. The red is a creme; the green has fine silver shimmer. I used three coats of the green and two of the red, though perhaps I should have gone three on the red, too, since I see a hint of visible nail line in these photos that I don't remember from real life.

Once the glitter went on, I things really got festive.

I'm quite happy to have found this set, especially for the price (I think it was $6.99, something around there; yeah, I should do a better job of keeping track of my receipts). The square caps were a bit odd to work with (they don't come off, or at least not with the amount of force I was willing to apply to them) but not too bad. I wish they'd made the red a shimmer like the green, but the multi glitter nicely distracted me from that issue.

I was surprised that nothing new from Bonita showed up at Rite Aid this season. Maybe the brand isn't selling as well as they'd hoped. I do

Sunday, December 21, 2014

My First Empties

Every time I see someone else do an empties post, most often my friend Lizzy, I think "I should do that", then pretty much immediately forget until the next time I see one. But today is a historic day: I remembered to snap a photo before I put some recently emptied containers into the recycling bin (or the trash in one case since I couldn't find any indication it was something my community would accept in the bin).

Starting from the left, there's Eucerin Calming Body Wash Daily Shower Oil. I didn't buy this; Mr. Karen brought it home from one of his visits to his parents' house. I guess they tried it and didn't like it, which doesn't surprise me since I didn't like it, either. I generally use a mild soap in the shower anyway, so this didn't seem loads more gentle, and it wasn't moisturizing enough that I felt like I could skip my post-shower lotion in this Michigan winter, so it didn't save me any time, but mostly I didn't like the smell. It's fragrance-free, so has no masking agents or pleasant scents added, which meant it smelled like its ingredients, which include oils like soybean and castor, so basically there I am in my shower getting a whiff of something that reminded me of my frying pan on those rare occasions when I cook. That's not something I associate with being clean and fresh, for sure, so I haven't replaced this.

The Ion Color Defense Sulfate Free Shampoo was the thing I picked as my free product when I renewed my Sally Beauty card. I did like the smell of this, sort of like grapefruit, which although I don't like to eat, I do find refreshing to smell. It was just okay at cleaning my hair and leaving it feeling nice when it dried, though, so I don't plan to buy more. I did like the scent, though, so maybe I'll look at some reviews and see if there's some trick to using this that I just didn't know about—diluting with water first or massaging into my scalp more or something.

Unlike the first two products, it was not my first time trying the Bikini Zone Anti-Bumps Shave Gel. It's one of my staples; I keep it in the shower and use it for all my shaving, not just my "bikini zone". I like the product and the packaging—no metal can of shave cream to knock over accidentally and make a huge clang in the morning, a time when clanging should be kept to a minimum. I failed to snap a shot of the ingredients on the empty, but here they are from my backup:

When I used up this tube of the Bikini Zone, I decided to try something similar from a store brand, figuring I could save a little money. Thus the CVS Bikini Smooth Shave Gel came into my shower. It's clearly targeted at being a Bikini Zone replacement, with the same product color and similar package design. I'm not sure why they felt it necessary to put "for women" on the CVS one; seems to me if a man wants to shave his bikini area there's no reason he couldn't use this stuff.

I should have turned the packages over in the store and compared the ingredients, though, since unlike a lot of store brand equivalents, the CVS shave gel is not an exact match for the name brand in everything but packaging and price.

I might have still bought the CVS knowing the ingredients were different but having that in my head fact would have made me less surprised when it proved to not be as suitable for me as the name brand. It's a little thicker in consistency than the Bikini Zone, which wasn't an issue. The problem came when I tried the CVS on my most sensitive areas and felt a slight burning sensation. That does not happen with the Bikini Zone. Apparently the CVS has something in it which does not agree with my lady parts. It's now relegated to leg shaving duty, and I'm back to the Bikini Zone for everything else. I'll save money somewhere else.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sally Hansen Patent Gloss and Luxe Lace Swatches

Since the Patent Gloss and Luxe Lace colors from Sally Hansen are labeled Limited Edition on the display (see yesterday's post), I figured I'd best get them on my nails sooner rather than later. But first, I carefully balanced the Luxe Lace bottles on top of the Patent Gloss for a group photo. Top row: Intimate, Eyelet, Ruffle, and Crochet. Bottom: Vinyl, Moto, Chic, and Slick.

In all the swatches to follow, I used two coats of the Patent Gloss colors. The formula is somewhat thick yet still flowy. They are very shiny without topcoat, but since my default is to wear topcoat anytime I do a full mani, that feature is lost of me. I used two coats of the Luxe Lace shades as well, followed by topcoat. I did have to do some fishing for the bigger glitters, but nothing extreme. I'm happy to say the clear bases in these are not goopy; ever since that one awful set of glitters this past summer I've been a little leery of Sally Hansen's bases (not enough to not buy them, obviously).

I started with Chic, a light camel creme. Compared to Inst Dri In Nude-tral from the other day, this leans more peachy.

Chic got topped with Luxe Lace Ruffle, which has mixed sizes of black hex glitter.

Moto is a red-leaning-toward-burgundy creme.

Moto's Luxe Lace friend was Eyelet, which has a similar mix of hex glitter as Ruffle, just white instead of black. Either I didn't let Moto dry enough or the clear base of Eyelet reliquified it, as I saw some of the smaller glitters take on a pink tinge as I stroked on the glitter topper.

Slick is a navy creme. I would like this one more if it were a little less dark.

I topped Slick with Crochet, which has white and sky blue hex glitter in the same mix of sizes as the other Luxe Lace shades.

Vinyl is a glossy black creme.

Vinyl got gussied up with Intimate, the pale pink and white Luxe Lace shade.

Before I put these away, I tried a mix and match look, brining in one of the Sally Hansen Velvet Texture colors to play, too. Top to bottom: Chic with Ruffle and Eyelet, Vinyl with Eyelet, Vinyl with Velvet Texture Velveteen, and Chic with Eyelet.

I liked the smooth & shiny versus textured & satin contrast so much that I couldn't resist putting on Slick and then doing dots of Velvet Texture Plush, Velour, and Crushed.

These are all fine polishes, though if you've been collecting indie glitters, you're likely to have some similar to the Luxe Lace colors already. I do think it's great that mainstream brands are getting this look out to the masses; not everyone knows about indie polish or can afford it. These were $4.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond, and you know there's always a coupon for that. I don't tend to wear plain cremes on their own, so I'm not the target market for the Patent Gloss. If I see the black on clearance, I'll grab some, because black and white cremes are the only polishes I've finished bottles of in recent years, and Vinyl is a very nice black.