Oh Holo There

I haven’t used any holographic polishes in a while, so I thought I’d dig some out but try a style I’ve never attempted before – gradient dotticure! I’ve always liked this mani style, and luckily I have some colors I thought worked really well for a gradient.

Color Club Harp On It, Ludrana (Brazilian brand, can be found at llarowe.com) Supremo, CC Eternal Beauty, China Glaze Shower Together

Color Club Harp On It, Ludrana Supremo, CC Eternal Beauty, China Glaze Shower Together

I didn’t want to use a neutral like black or gray, and yet I was afraid Supremo and Harp On It wouldn’t pop over a lighter color, so I chose teal. Eh. I didn’t LOVE that combo, but I also didn’t hate it (I am sometimes very hard to please, color-wise.) But who cares about that when there’s HOLOS to drool over?

Loves it.

Loves it.

I used three sizes of dotting tools from this set by Born Pretty Store that I’ve had for ages. If you’ve never seen this before, basically you just put a little blob of polish on a piece of paper/plate/whatever, dip your dotting tool in, and dot onto nail. Here’s a good, quick tutorial. I really lack patience with dotting tools – I want to make one blob of polish last for more than one or two dots, but once the polish starts to dry it won’t make a full circle on your nail, resulting in a weirdly-shaped spot (like you can see on more up-close photos below), so you need to keep adding more polish to your blob before it dries too much, but I just didn’t want to take an hour to do these. Oh well, you couldn’t tell too much in real life unless you were really looking hard.

Taken on the pool patio. Yes, it's painted aqua.

Taken in full sun on the pool patio. Yes, it’s painted aqua.

09-26-13 hand sunlight curled

Blurred, as always, for sparkle.

Blurred, as always, for sparkle.

You can see that Harp On It has more of a full-rainbow/linear effect even in such a small amount of polish, that Supremo is less linear but still has a bit of that effect, and that Eternal Beauty doesn’t seem linear at all so it just looks like sparkles (I realize now I should’ve swatted each color ughhh. But here’s a link to Scrangie’s swatches where you can see HOI it a lot more linear/strong than EB).

With the rainbow sparkles it’s hard to see the actual color of each polish, so here’s a look out of direct light. I think the deep purple–>lavender–>silver looks pretty good, right?

See how some of the dots aren't 100% circular?

See how some of the dots aren’t 100% circular?

I originally got Supremo because it was supposed to be close to OPI’s legendary Original from the Designer Series. More Nail Polish has a great comparison post about it, but basically Supremo is a bit more blue, and I actually like its color better, so yay!

I really don’t use my holo polishes enough, but I think it’s because I still feel like I need to hoard them despite how many indie companies are coming out with them now. I do prefer this kind of holo – mostly linear but slightly scattered enough to look sparkly. I have two polishes from the infamous China Glaze OMG collection from 2008 or 2009 (riiiiight before I got into polish in a truly obsessed way) but they’re extremely linear, meaning they look kind of dull in low light. Slightly scattered holos seem to perform even if they’re inside (or maybe it’s just because the ones I have are newer holo formulas?).

So ahhhh, currently I’m trying to catch up on Breaking Bad before the seires finale this Sunday. I started watching it on Netflix earlier this year, but aside from a few episodes I wasn’t all that into it – I mean, it’s a good show, I don’t hate it or anything, I just never got the hype of THIS IS THE BEST SHOW EVAAAA. I actually stopped watching halfway through season 4, but then two weeks ago when I realized the end was almost here my pop-culture-obsessed self wanted to experience the resolution of such a juggernaut show with everyone else, so I started it up again. I only have 3 episodes left, and I gotta say, season 5 was pretty great. Maybe I like it more now because they’re clearly leading up to an explosive ending so everything seems more tense? To be honest, I don’t even remember much of the previous seasons besides a few moments here or there because I marathoned them so it seems like one big blur, but maybe I’ll rewatch in a year or so and see if I like it better. I have to admit, it’s been a pretty exciting last season.

What do you think about this manicure? Are you terrible at doing dots as well? Any thoughts on Breaking Bad?

Thanks for checking out this post! See you next time! A x

Champers on Baker Street

09-21-13 bottles

So full disclosure, I have a bit of love/hate relationship with Butter London – they chip pretty quickly on me; the price is ridiculous, especially since it’s less polish than mainstream brands like OPI and China Glaze; and the formulas on a lot of the colors I have leave a lot to be desired, which is inexcusable for the price. But some of the colors are really great and unique, I do love the bottle and brush, and obviously as an Anglophile I appreciate the names (although they do seem to be stretching a bit now – Cotton Buds?). That being said, BL’s metallics are some of my favorites because the formulas are fantastic, which is the case with Champers here.

09-21-13 hand to side

I decided to pair two fancy polishes together – elegant Champers and my iced-out bottle of Baker Street. I got this bad boy a year or so ago when Sephora had a few select colors with this cap for $10, which is only 50 cents more than what a bottle of Nails, Inc. polish costs normally – how could I pass that up? I haven’t worn Baker Street in months, so it was definitely time to revisit!

Awkward claw hand! But look at Baker Street. SO BLUE, Y'ALL.

Awkward claw hand! But look at Baker Street. SO BLUE, Y’ALL. Ooh and sorry for those chips, this is a few days old.

Closeup so you can see that despite sort of looking like crackle polish, this mani is actually really nice and smooth - crackle polishes usually need a few coats of top coat to smooth them out.

Closeup so you can see that despite sort of looking like crackle polish, this mani is actually really nice and smooth – crackle polishes can still have texture even after a few layers of top coat.

This was the fastest mani EVER. Baker Street dried really quickly and it’s almost opaque in one coat (I’ve definitely done one before when I was being really careful) so basically I painted one round of polish and by the time I finished it was ready for a thin second coat. Then I took a tiny piece of tin foil since I didn’t have any Saran Wrap and balled it up, dipped it into a little splotch of Champers I put on some paper, and gently dabbed it on my nails. I’ve never done this kind of manicure before, and I didn’t know if there was a trick to balling it up or if the harsh foil would mess up the base coat, but I think it worked out great! Champers dried quickly, too, and then I did a light coat of Seche and my nails were done in record time. I can’t quite decide what color Champers is – it doesn’t seem pinky/peachy enough to actually be rose gold like the website claims, yet it’s also too light to be copper – but it’s lovely and also perfect for the upcoming holiday season. I tried to get a good macro so you can see that it’s not just a straight metallic, either; there’s the tiniest green and pink shimmer to it. You can sort of see it in the blurred pic below:

It's easier to see in sunlight but you can kind of see the pink/green sparkles here.

It’s easier to catch in sunlight but you can kind of see the pink/green sparkles here.

Okay, can we just talk for a second about how amazeballs my cuticles look?! I’ve been using this Sephora by OPI cuticle cream that was on sale for $4.50 (I actually got two of them) and it’s AWESOME. Nice light smell; you only need a little bit at a time; it’s really hydrating but also exfoliates away excess cuticles, which is great for me because I apparently suck at the usual cuticle-removing products)…the only problem is it’s so cheap because Sephora is discontinuing that line. :( I’m pretty sad it’s being discontinued but let’s be real, I wouldn’t have even tried it at $9 a bottle (let alone $14 #cheapbitch). I should try to grab a few more bottles this weekend. It’s seriously holy-grail status for me. My cuticles are dry as hell so I do have to use it sometimes more than once a day, but it works really well as you can see, so I highly recommend it and if you can still find it in stores, at $4.50 you can’t really go wrong.

Champers was a actually birthday present from a friend – thank you so much, T! I also got a bottle of real champers to go with my polish, so I will probably be breaking into that this weekend…maybe I’ll try out a cocktail with champagne in it, I’m sure I have one somewhere on my boozy Pinterest board.

I hope you enjoyed this post! I wish all of you a lovely glass or three of champers and a fantastic weekend. See you next time! A x


Birthday Nails!

Somehow half the photos I took for this post got deleted, but I only noticed when I went back to upload them and had already repainted my nails, so my nail pics aren’t great :/ But anyway, this is the combination I wore on my birthday a few days ago!

09-19-13 bottles

I had a few ideas of what to do on my nails for my birthday, but the day of I got OPI’s I Snow You Love Me and Color Club’s East Austin as a birthday present for myself at my favorite beauty supply store and they seemed like a fun choice. I originally went in looking for China Glaze’s Son of a Peach but they were out, so I settled for East Austin. It’s hard to capture accurately in photos, but I consider East Austin a neon pastel peach, whereas from swatches I’ve seen Son of a Peach looks to me like a fluro version of Peachy Keen, which itself is pretty orange. (Peach is one of those colors that’s a different hue to everyone – for me it’s more like these first four images that pop up, and Peachy Keen is more like the fifth one, more genuinely orange than pinky-peach.) I really like the color, although the formula is what you’d expect from a pastel, super streaky and annoying, so I had to do three coats. This manicure was pretty time-consuming because in addition to the three coats of East Austin, I painstakingly placed each of the glitters from I Snow You Love Me with the help of an orange stick.

I love square glitter, but honestly am not a huge fan of the circle glitter I’ve seen – mostly in indie polishes – but I love me a holo glitter and I Snow You Love Me was only $5 so I grabbed it. ISYLM is a really interesting polish, but I can’t decide if I like it or not. What’s cool about this is that each disc seems to have a fractured effect, so it’s not just one smooth holographic image but rather a bunch of rainbow sections.

Sigh. I love anything holo. The bottle is packed full of glitter, too, and a layer has sunk to the bottom there because they're so heavy.

Sorry for the gross chipped nail closeup! This bottle is packed full of glitter and even though the suspension base is thick, a layer has sunk to the bottom there because they’re so heavy.

09-19-13 blurry macro

I took some pictures of one swipe of polish on a piece of paper I had but most of them were deleted. I like the above blurry photo because 1) it looks like they’re rainbow-y little amoebas in a microscope or something, 2) you can see how there’s different sections of holo on each piece. In the bottle closeup you can see how the weird surface makes the glitter look faceted almost, like those craft sequins, but they’re completely flat. Like I said, interesting, but I can’t decide if I like it or not. I think the refracted holo sections give the impression that they’re just hexes, which is pretty standard for glitter polishes, so it doesn’t come off as unique as circle glitter is (in mainstream polish brands, anyway). Also, after two coats of my usual top coat Seche Vite, it was still kinda bumpy but wasn’t bad enough to really bother me.

Some weird-ass bubble situation happening in my top coat there that I didn't notice before these photos.

Some weird-ass bubble situation happening in my top coat there that I didn’t notice before these photos.

I like the chevrons I did on the left ring better, but the polka-dot effect I was going for is definitely better here, because I did the left hand first and kept adding more dots later.

I like the chevrons I did on the left ring better, but the polka-dot effect I was going for is definitely better here, because I did the left hand first and kept adding more dots later.

Sooo much tip wear in this pic, but it's the most color-accurate image I have of East Austin.

East Austin looks too pink and not neon enough in this pic, but it’s not too far off.

That’s Shore Bright was also hard to capture accurately, but it looks pretty correct here. My bottle seems darker than swatches I’ve seen online, but I still like the color a lot. I was taking pics and realized that TSB might be close color-wise to Lavendairy from Lime Crime so I did a little comparison:


Lavendairy is definitely lighter, but the formulas are similar – they’re both pretty opaque at one coat if you’re careful, and dry sort of matte.

My sister had Color Club’s Twiggie out so I went ahead and compared that one to my only other Lime Crime, Pistachielo.

09-19-13 green compare

Pretty close! The Lime Crime is a little more yellow, but they’re both neon mints(?), which should be an oxymoron but is definitely one of my favorite colors. I love mint but some hues are a little too pale/boring – definitely not the case with neon!

I had a really fun birthday weekend, but the standouts were a block party where I saw Matt & Kim and Major Lazer among other performers and a really awesome dinner with some friends. I even got a polish in my present goodies – Butter London’s Champers (thanks, T!)! I’ll be doing a look with that next time.

Any thoughts on I Snow You Love Me? Do you do a special manicure for your birthday? I hope you enjoyed this post, see you next time! – A x

My version of a palate cleanser

I rarely wear the same color on all my fingers so this feels a little weird, but I think it’s good for me. I have so many polishes that sometimes it’s like I’m overstimulated or something. For example, one day I’ll paint my left hand green and my right hand blue. Then that will seem boring so I’ll add some shimmer or glitter, or maybe tape off a section and paint over that. That will seem dull, too, so I’ll take it off only a day or so later and paint each nail of each hand a different color, and then I’ll be over that before the polish dries. I think at this point I have so many colors (plus admittedly, my moods and tastes has been very mercurial lately) that every now and then I need to just calm it down and do a normal manicure, almost like a reset of my polish appetite. Enter…

09-10-13 bottle pic with name

Zoya’s Mimi is from the 2010 Sparkle collection. I also have Gilda, a Barbie hot pink, and have wanted Ivanka, the lovely green, for ages. These polishes all have a heavy shimmer/glass fleck that’s really pretty.

I used flash to show the all the shimmer, but it's not this bright a purple in real life.

I used flash in these two pics to show all the shimmer, it’s not this bright a purple in real life.

Mimi is a true, royal purple with pink/lavender shimmer. You can see that around the edges of the bottle there’s a pretty yellow glow, but it doesn’t show up at all on the nail. The formula is pretty nice, although it can be a bit sheer – a few nails needed a third coat.

Sorry for the slight tip wear, this had been on for a few days.

Sorry for the slight tip wear, this had been on for a few days.

Closeup of shimmery goodness

Hey! My cuticles aren’t a hot mess anymore!

I chose Mimi because purple used to be my favorite color to wear but I haven’t worn a true, saturated purple in…so long I can’t even remember. I think it looks really lovely on my short nails, too. I just can’t seem to let them grow out lately; they start to feel gross and I have to immediately file them down.

So every once in a while I get an idea in my head and can’t seem to let it go. My current obsession is trying to make fancy Jell-O shots. I’ve never really liked them since my – and probably most people’s – experience was limited to gross flavors laced with too much booze in awkwardly tiny cups, but a few months ago I found this site that makes really cool Jell-O shots that are actually real mini cocktails. I totally forgot about it until I was cleaning out my bookmarks the other day. Having never made even shitty, college house party Jell-O shots before, I was curious to see if I could make them look half as nice as the ones from that site (and taste great, obviously).

I got a cheap loaf pan and unflavored gelatin, and tried to create my own recipe using stuff I already had: Sparkling Ice black raspberry juice, lemonade, vodka, Chambord (raspberry liquor). The unflavored gelatin I got was marketed as “make your own flavor” – you use a juice of your choosing to make whatever flavor you want. I decided to make my little shots layered, so first I did a layer using raspberry juice and Chambord, poured it into my loaf pan, and let it set in the fridge for about two hours. Then I mixed the other packet using lemonade and vodka, then s-l-o-w-l-y poured it over the raspberry because I didn’t want a cascade of the lemonade mixture to rupture the bottom layer or something.

I wanted to get this post up tonight so the top layer has only been in the fridge for two hours, which is why I could only get out a sad little chunk instead of a nice, perfect square like in the Jelly Shot Kitchen pics.

Sad mess, but see how nicely the layers turned out?

Kind of a mess, but see how nicely the layers turned out?

I gotta say, it tastes pretty good, too! The recipe on the box called for 1.5 cups of juice, so I used 1/2 cup of booze and the other cup juice, and I think it was the perfect amount of alcohol – you can slightly taste it but it’s not overpowering in the least. I think I could even have added a little bit more booze and it would’ve been fine. I’ll try cutting these tomorrow after it’s been in the fridge all night, but on the tasting front it’s a success!

I hope you enjoyed this post! I’m going to go look through cocktail recipes for something that seems like it would be good in Jell-O, and the next post will probably be my birthday nails. See you then!

Labor Day Neon Fun

It’s been a busy weekend, so my pictures aren’t the best since I had to take them quickly, but I tried something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time – DIY nail stickers. I used this tutorial, with pretty great results! I actually love this manicure, and although it’s a bit of a pain in the ass, I can’t wait to try it again with different colors/designs.

I used a buttload of polishes and supplies for the stickers:

Funky Limelight, Pool Party, Too Yacht to Handle, Def Defying, Surfin' for Boys, Dream On

Funky Limelight, Pool Party, Too Yacht to Handle, Def Defying, Surfin’ for Boys, Dream On

Seche Vite, Wet'n'Wild clear, Skull & Glossbones

Seche Vite, Wet’n’Wild clear, Skull & Glossbones

Plastic sandwich bag (folded in half to fit better in the picture), my adorable mermaid tweezers, tiny scissors, heart-shaped hole punch

Plastic sandwich bag (folded in half to fit better in the picture), my adorable mermaid tweezers, tiny scissors, heart-shaped hole punch

I painted some sections of each color – I figured it would be easier to cut tiny shapes out of smaller sections, which is why I did two smaller swatches of each color. (The lone section of salmon on the end is Butter London’s Trout Pout; I ended up not liking how it looked with the other colors so I didn’t use it.)

09-01-13 swatches

I had to do 4 or 5 coats of Funky Limelight (which is a true yellow neon despite how it showed up in pictures) and it was still streaky as hell but the other colors did well in two or three (Dream On, which was also streaky, and Pool Party) coats. When they were dry I painted Wet’n’Wild’s clear on top of each section and slightly beyond it so I could easily pull up the dried sections later. I thought using the thinner clear polish would be better because it wouldn’t make the stickers too raised up on the nail, but I really should’ve used the Seche Vite because after I left this to dry for a few hours, it was really hard to get the edges to peel. I worked at them with the tweezers, but a few of my sections ripped like this:

09-01-13 peel

It took a while but I eventually got them all off the plastic bag and started to cut shapes into each color with my teeny tiny little scissors (these might be cuticle nippers? I don’t know, it was part of a mini nail kit I’ve had forever).

09-01-13 cut

I forgot to get a pic of the heart shape cutouts because I only remembered that I had the hole punch after I’d taken these prep pictures.

I forgot to get a pic of the heart shape cutouts because I only remembered that I had the hole punch after I’d taken these prep pictures.

As you can see, I had a bit of trouble cutting in a straight line since the scissors are curved, but really the only thing that annoyed me was the bigger triangles, so I’ll use bigger scissors next time. I dabbed a teeny bit of clear on the places I wanted the stickers to go – most of them stuck pretty well on their own for me to figure out placement, but it definitely helped them stay in place before I applied top coat. I put a good, thick layer of Seche Vite on top of each nail and while I feel them raised up a tiny bit, it doesn’t bother me and there’s no sharp edges.

Left hand

I took these outdoor so the neon colors showed better. Left hand!

09-01-13 left hand 2

Right hand - sorry for the busted cuticles! All the moisturizing in the world isn’t helping.

Right hand – sorry for the busted cuticles! All the moisturizer in the world isn’t helping right now.

And sorry for how dry my busted cuticles are! All the moisturizing in the world isn't helping.

Ooh I didn’t do a very good job of painting around my cuticles, either.

I think my favorite designs might be the triple hearts on my right-hand pointer or the fanned out triangles on the pinkie, but I do love all of them, I think this turned out so well! I like all the neons but I would trade out a neon green for Def Defying next time and I’d do a coat or two less on Pool Party so I could get more of the cool see-through/color mixing effect I got when I layered Funky Limelight pieces over the other colors.

I hope everyone’s having a great Labor Day weekend! On Saturday my sister and I went to see John Williams at the Hollywood Bowl and it was awesome. The first half was a tribute to Blake Edwards and Henry Mancini and was narrated by Julie Andrews, who was as lovely and charming as you’d expect. The second half was mostly dedicated to Indiana Jones themes, which were fun, but the best was when they played a bunch of Star Wars scores because the lights dimmed for everyone to bring out their light sabers!

My video wouldn't upload so here's a crappy pic, but hopefully this gives you an idea of how cool it was!

My video wouldn’t upload so here’s a crappy pic, but hopefully this gives you an idea of how cool it was!

Have a fun and safe rest of the weekend!