Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Holidays...a Little Belated!

December has been a bad month for me! I took a break from painting my nails while I went across state on a short trip, I ended up getting dehydrated from the traveling, THEN getting the stomach flu, and THEN having to go on another trip a few days after that cleared up.

TMI but, what that means is my nails suffered because my health suffered.  My nails are almost uncomfortably short for me right now, because they ended up breaking off quite a bit.

But I finally painted my nails again very fast a few days before Christmas... you can tell I rushed the job a little bit, and I was in an unusual setting for me, too.  I still think the nails I did turned out pretty cute (idea-wise, at least!) so I wanted to share.  I tried a plethora of different nail polishes and made attempts to add nail jewels and nail art with gel polish.   I had so much running through my mind while doing it, that I might as well just wait and put it in a different post.  I'm finally back home again, and it's late!

The thing I like most about this manicure, though, is the thumbs! My painting job is pretty wobbly because I was using only gel polish, but it's still so much fun every time I use my phone!

Feel free to click the pictures on Pinterest to make them bigger, by the way.  I feel like Pinterest's resizing is making them look blurry today.

Really quickly, I'll mention the colors and stuff  I used:
  • Nailuv "Bulletproof"
  • OPI Axxium "Fresh Frog of Bel Air" sparkles over top of "Bulletproof"
  • Red Carpet Manicure (RCM) "Glitz & Glamorous"
  • OPI Axxium "Gettin' Miss Piggy With It" sparkles over top of "Glitz & Glamorous"
  • Red Carpet Manicure (RCM) "White Hot" to make the stripes and candies
  • Nail Jewels were a seasonal purchase from Avon (one already fell off, but that was my fault!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hautelook "Open Box" Haul featuring Nailuv!

Hello again!  So the first time I ordered a soak off gel LED light and polishes from Hautelook in October, I was so impressed that I started hoarding gel polish colors and creating this blog...

Well, Hautelook recently had another NaiLuv event, so of course I had to buy some more.  This is one of the best gel polish deals I've seen yet on the 'net, unless maybe you lurk on Ebay for hours and hours.  They're full sized gel polish bottles for $7.50 each.  Many polish brands--Sensationail, Red Carpet Manicure (RCM), Sally Beauty's version of Gelish bottles, Orly SmartGels, Sephora OPI Gelshine colors....etc!.... all come in bottles that are slightly less than a third of an ounce or so.  These bottles are half an ounce.  So they are cheaper, and also bigger!

I'll try not to type up much more, since I made a video of my box:

But I figured, if you don't want to watch a haul and just came for the swatches, I'd post those individually on my blog, too!

The color I am most perplexed by is "Bullet Proof".  It isn't really green like the heart on the bottle suggests, or like the swatches/descriptions online suggest.  It is more of a steely grey metallic that has a multidimensional shimmer... with the shimmer reflecting more silver and green than any other color.  So I guess there's hints of green, if I look hard enough.

"Going to the Mauve" and "Rum Cola" are both a bit lighter and more grey toned than their swatches online would suggest, but that's fine.  "First Crush" and "Merry Mermaid", however, are just beautiful, although I'm afraid Merry Mermaid's subtle shimmer will get lost under the high shine coat of the gels (it doesn't even show up in photos!).  I'm sure it will still be something for me to stare at up close for hours for the weeks it's on my nails.

I haven't worn any of these yet, so we'll see how they apply a little later on! I think I'm going to wait and do a wintry blue manicure, first, though.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

First Tutorial! Glitter Ombre-ish Nails.

Hey again! I think I said in the last post that I used two of my OPI Gelcolors (The Spy Who Loved Me and GoldenEye) for the first time already, and this is what I concocted with them!

It's a neat glittering look that shifts around on your nails quite a bit... sometimes it looks like this, but when your fingers are moving fast it just looks like your tips are dipped in glittering gold...

And at other angles the glitter is so subtle your nails almost look purely one color...

It's an easy DIY idea, and it reminds me of a messier ombre look, so I'm calling it "faux ombre", haha.  It also reminds me a bit of the "rockstar nails" trend, too, thanks to how in-your-face the glitter in OPI's "GoldenEye" is.

The best part is that it's done with only a liner brush, and no mess making!  The finished product isn't as smooth and polished as a traditional ombre look, however. 

It's a little too reminiscent of "The Holidays" for me, and a little bit early for my liking, too (I painted my nails before Thanksgiving, after all--today it's a bit more fitting).  But I just told myself that it was more like a fiery manicure than a "The Holidays" manicure, and wore it just the same!

I also filmed myself painting my nails in the middle of the night, to make a video tutorial for this:

Oh, and since all my photos are taken inside, I thought I should add a natural light photo just for swatching purposes, although the bright sunlight kind of washes out the glitter, and my camera makes the red drown out anything the sun might have missed!

I'll try to do a better review of the colors a little later... I didn't want to make this post too long!

Monday, November 19, 2012

OPI Gelcolor Skyfall Collection Take Two... Swatches!

Hello again! It's a few days later, but I finally sorted through all the pictures I took of the OPI Gelcolor Skyfall colors (did I say that right? man, that's a mouthful).  It was hard to find the clearest pictures, since a lot of these colors have complex glitters... but I tried!

I don't have any polishes from the regular Skyfall line to compare to myself, but there are a few comprehensive blog posts from more well known bloggers that show the colors quite well, in my opinion. I feel that most of the gel polishes are very much the same as the original nail polishes, but you can also do your own comparisons by eye by visiting these few blogs that I found particularly helpful:

Lucy's Stash "OPI Skyfall Collection: Part 1"
Lucy's Stash "OPI Skyfall Collection: Part 2"
The PolishAholic  "OPI Holiday 2012 Skyfall Collection Swatches"

Now, let's start with PICS!  I painted two coats for every swatch I did in these pictures.  And please remember, you can click through the pictures to Pinterest to make them bigger and get a little more detail.

Outdoor lighting, towards evening:

Indoor Lighting Without Flash:

Indoor Lighting With Flash:

Indoor Lighting With Flash:

And the color reviews... so far, I have just painted swatches with most of these polishes, so I'll have more in depth reviews in the future as I put them on my nails.  Well start left-to-right, with...

  1. Goldeneye -  It's a very thick warm yellow gold glitter in a clear base, with a few hints of orange-ish flecks in bright light.  The glitter isn't a uniform hexagonal shape, but more tiny random flecks, kind of like mica.  You can make this nearly opaque in two or three coats, and it's so dense that it could be used with a thin brush for nail art decorations as well.   This polish has a higher density to it because of all the glitter packed into it. 
  2. The Spy Who Loved me - This was particularly hard to capture in pictures.  I have painted my nails with it, and it's a great color that is jelly-like with one coat, and opaque with a second slightly thicker coat.  Because of the ever so slightly transparent jelly quality, the gold irregular shaped micro glitter that it's speckled looks like it's floating between layers.  It becomes a very multi-dimensional color with glitter that is both subdued and in-your-face, depending on the layer it's situated in.  It is, however, sometimes hard to see the glitter because of the high-shine coating that comes with gel polishes--All the shininess is blinding!  It was particularly hard to capture in photos, but I tried with a close up.  Here you make out some speckles of uneven color, that in real life make up the layered sparkles:

  3. Skyfall -  A great brown-toned red color, which I don't see often with gel polishes.  I wish this were a little darker, a little more like my defintion of "oxblood", but it's an amazing creme shade. 
  4. Casino Royale - Let's see if I can find the right artsy technical term to describe this color; this and Skyfall both have a similar "shade", but with different "hues".  What I mean is that they both carry the same amount of black and white to tone down the pure color or hue-- and while Skyfall is a brown-red, Casino Royale is a awesome berry plum color.  In the first two pictures the lighting makes them look kind of similar because of this shade similarity, but in real life you can definitely tell the two apart. 
  5. Tomorrow Never Dies - This is the only color in the collection that I felt did not live up to the regular polish formula.  The swatches of this on other blogs looks amazing--a purple, highly metallic color with blue undertones.  The gel polish has more of a scattered shimmer that comes off as much more dull.  It's a great color, but I was expecting something different.  I don't usually like all the highly metallic blue/purple/teal colors, and I thought I had finally found one I liked in gel form... only to be disappointed when the color came in my mail.  This gel polish also shrinks back from the edges of your nails, as you can kind of see in the swatch, and looks a little bit patchy in real life--you might need three coats to fill this color out.
  6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service - Oh man, wasn't sure this would live up to the regular polish swatches I had seen, but I was awesomely surprised.  It's a lot like Goldeneye with the density of the irregular shaped micro sparkle, but it carries a lot more colors in its shine.  It has a slightly grey-blue sheer base, as well.  And the sparkles... the sparkles!  They come off mostly as a metallic grey-blue silver, but they also shine green and yellow and sometimes orange in the right light.  This kind of makes the polish sound like it's holographic, but it isn't... it's just that complex.  I think this is the most awesome gel polish I own.
And once again... if that was too much reading for you, have a video!  I actually like the video I made for this collection slightly better than my photos... it was a little easier to capture the sparkle and shine. :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

OPI Gelcolor Skyfall Collection Take 1

I bought the OPI collection of Skyfall themed Gelcolors off of Ebay recently, purely because I didn't own any similar colors yet, it came out to be a little bit cheaper per bottle of polish, and, well... I liked the packaging.  I'm a sucker!

I tried to get photos of everything the collection came with: some papers with guides, a nail swatch board (whatever those things are called), some removal pads, the polishes, and the case.  There was a problem, though....90% of my room is black, and therefore not really conducive to taking pictures of dark products, so the video footage I took shows everything best.

The colors from the main line of nail polishes included in this gelcolor collection are:
  •  Goldeneye
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service
  • Skyfall
  • Casino Royale
  • The Spy Who Loved Me
  • Tomorrow Never Dies
I am uploading a precursory review of the individual colors at the moment--for the most part, I really like them, even though I only painted swatches for most of them.  I would totally recommend this if you need to build up your SOG polish collection, and especially if you're a sucker for packaging like me!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nailuv Deals!

Nailuv is back on Hautelook!

This is probably my favorite deal of all so far...why?  Because it involves LARGE sized gel polishes, for HALF OFF.  That makes them cheaper than an OPI from the drugstore!

I wish I had more money to spend at the moment (the holidays are coming... eek!), but I couldn't resist buying a few colors.  I'm not sure I like the selection as much this time--they must have pulled a more wintry selection, because last time I remember there being a lot more blues and brights and such. 

But let me reiterate: these are "regular sized" nail polishes!  I'm kind of saddened that all the colors I've been picking up lately come in tiny bottles, even though I know that's not as important with gels, because you use less and they last longer.  But Nailuv sells their polishes in 15ml or 0.5 ounce bottles.... that's the same size as most regular nail polishes from the store, and the same size as a regular Gelish or OPI Gelcolor.  And they're only $7.50 on Hautelook right now!

Oh PS: The sale only lasts until Friday--it's pretty short, as with most Hautelook deals.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gelish "A Runway for the Money"

Edit: Apparently, overseas and in some Sally Beauty stores, this color is called "Dear Johnny Green". No clue why Gelish wants to use two names for their gels! But it DOES seem more fitting for this color.

This was my first Gelish gel polish... I should have known by the few reviews I could dig up on this color that it wouldn't be the best place to start, but I was really itching for an emerald-like dark green polish, and there are few out there on the market.  I don't even think I could find any photo swatches of this online when I purchased it!

Unfortunately my photos for this aren't the greatest. I painted my nails the week Sandy came around, so there wasn't much sunlight... and on top of that, all my photos ended up turning a little blurry. But for the sake of showing the color, here you go!

This first one is most representative of the color you'll get:

This one shows the yellow-green tinge the polish has:

Lastly... I tried to do a sunlight picture!  It didn't quite work! But this color can appear darker or lighter depending on the lighting, and this picture shows that: 

At the beginning I kind of hinted that this wasn't the greatest Gelish polish to start with... and here's why:
  • The color warps and wrinkles under the LED light if you apply it just a smidge too thick.  I managed to only mess up one of the first nails I did, but it made me on edge the whole time I was painting!
  • It's very patchy for the first two coats... meaning you need three coats to get a good manicure.  I tried dry brushing later on when I needed to redo the nail that warped, and this helped a little. 
  • The color also pulls away from the edge, at least for the first coat.  This means you need to do about two nails at once, and work FAST! and cure it, or the color will start to shrink away from the free edge of your nails.
  • Because of the patchiness and everything else, it is harder to work the side and bottom edges of your nails to make them look nicely done.  If you don't have them painted how you want for the first coat, the color is so patchy that the next two coats probably won't be able to fix it.  If you're a pro this may not be a problem, but I'm a n00b to gel polishes, so this was a downfall for me. 
So there you go; there's quite a few downfalls to this polish.  On top of that, I almost felt like this gel acted more like a regular polish on my nails.  A few of my longer nails got cracks in the gel where the nail naturally bends after a few days; another layer of top coat fixed this up, but I had to remove the color by day 9 or so when the problem resurfaced.  After removal, I noticed that the edges of the problem nails had more cracks and flaking on the sides.  Now, it's possible that I could have not noticed this before I painted and that could have been the source of my problem, or it could be the gel itself caused it.  It's hard to tell. 

The color itself is a dark green creme color, it can play off as a darkened emerald green in some lights, but it really carries a little too much yellow and grey tones.  Someone described my nails as a "swamp green" color, and I guess that's pretty fitting!  A commentator online also called it the color of plastic fence covering...and that's also pretty accurate.

That totally does not sound like an appealing color for nails, but I think it's a nice color despite that.  It reminds me of leaves that darken before they turn in the fall, or certain types of pine needles in the winter time. 

I think it's a somewhat uncommon in the gel polish world, so you'll have to decide for yourself if it is worth the problems or not. 

Oh and I forgot... I did a video review of this polish, so if that was a little Too Long; Didn't Read for you, watch this instead!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


The weather has been awful lately--Sandy gave my town a week of clouds and rain (but luckily no damage, no power outages, and no roller coasters in the ocean like it did at my childhood vacation spot at the Shore).  I've made a few purchases and have a new shade of green on my nails, but no pictures due to the lovely weather. 

I do come bearing DEALS!, however.  I figured it would be a great idea to keep track of some awesome deals you can get on gel polishes on my blog.  Gel polishes can be quite the investment, so any deal is a great help! And there are two running at the moment...

One is the 20% off friends and family sale at running until 11/09/2012 (let's hope that link works!)  They sell Orly SmartGels, as well as some other brand called "Gel Haute Polish".  I know I will probably be picking up Orly's famous "rage" and a shade or two more, but I'm on the fence about this other brand--their polish bottles seem to be translucent and not black or white like gels usually come in (since gels cannot be exposed to any UV light until you're curing them, after all).

Two is the Sephora friends and family sale via Musing's of a Muse's blog.  This one runs 11/08 to 11/12 2012, and the percentage off you get may vary depending on your type of account with Sephora (I've not bought very much at Sephora in the past few years, so I'm not sure what type of discount I might get!)  Sephora sells their branded OPI gels... at $17.50 for two-thirds the size of a regular OPI or Gelish bottle, I don't find this a very economical purchase.  I'd only buy them when Sephora is running their rare sales! But they have a few shades in their small collection which are pretty unique, such as the once-insanely-popular "Metro Chic" and a nice Lamé looking color called "I Only Shop Vintage".

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween! NaiLuv Soak Off Gel Polish in "Hard Core Rock" Over "Love Power"

I used two new polishes in one manicure this time! It's a Halloween themed take on the half-moon manicure with a triangular base instead of a semi-circle.

This is actually really simple to  DIY without any "guides" to help you out--since it's just two angular lines forming a point, you can use the side of your nail brush to guide you--and it doesn't look so bad if you aren't 100% even or accurate with your shape.  So I have about two reviews in one for you; I say "about" because I wasn't really able to assess "Love Power" on its own.  We'll start with that, though.

NaiLuv's "Love Power" is an orange-creme color.  It's hard to describe, because here's the thing: it yellows over time thanks to the UV rays present in your everyday life.  It starts out this nice red-tinged creme color, almost a little coral in quality.  It is mostly a creme, but under very yellow indoor lighting, somehow the milkiness in the color disappears and it kind of looks jelly-like. Here's what I mean:

How different does that look from the orange in the finished product up top?  The top pictures with it under the black gel--taken with natural lighting--are much more representative of this gel color, but I figured I should include this tidbit anyway.  Your lighting really changes the look of this polish!  I used two coats before putting the black on top, and it was opaque except for when I looked close up in yellow light (again, where it suddenly turned jelly-like).

The only reason I noticed this polish yellowed was because I had to redo a nail about 5 days after my original manicure.  Yes, by five days this polish had yellowed.  This comparison photo, however, is after about 9 days on my nails, and a few days without any sunlight on my "swatch":

They are two pretty different hues of orange! One is a nice red-orange-almost-coral, the other is a definite yellow-orange.  It's a nice color, but this yellowing is something I'm going to have to keep in  mind if I ever decide to pair it up with another color--what may look great on day 1 may look disastrous by day 5!

As for NaiLuv's "Hard Core Rock", on the other hand, I have nothing but glowing praises.  Sadly the best part of this review will probably also be the shortest--because really, how much can I go on about a great polish?  The first coat goes on looking sheer as normal, but the second coat?  The second coat is like MAGIC.  It's like liquid latex suddenly enveloped your nails, and they are completely opaque.  No matter what fashion mags may say about what's in style or not, I think a black polish is as much of a staple as a nice pair of black heels.  You never know when you will want to wear it, and I'm glad I picked this color up. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Removing NaiLuv Polish...How Long Does it Last?

A little while ago I uploaded a video about my first experience removing NaiLuv's soak off gel polish (or any gel polish, for that matter). It's a little fragmented, though, since I misplaced some of the pictures I had taken of the process...

For a short recap, though, here's my nails the day before I took my polish off... this was day 11 of my manicure--not too spectacular, but considering my nail polish usually lasts 3 days, I was in awe!

There's definitely chipping--mostly from where my gel polish had adhered to the cuticles and started to lift off.  There were probably two small chips on the tips of my nails from actual wear and tear. 

Removal took at least 20 minutes with a warm pure acetone bath and some work with an orange stick and my opposite thumb to get off stubborn bits.  I'm not sure what happened, but there were a few parts of the gel that seemed to have crystallized onto my nail!  Those can be filed away (especially while they are still soaked in acetone), but they may leave a few spots of color on your fingers or may be visible as a different texture upon close inspection of your nails.  I have a few theories as to why this happened to me:

  1. It's the polish itself.  Could  be true, but I'd like to eliminate other possibilities first.
  2. Applying the polish too thick?  I tried to use nice thin coats, but it is sometimes hard to see when you're working with a clear polish!
  3. Over-curing? So it went from a "gel" consistency to a "crystal"?
  4. Considering the spots that "crystallized" onto my nail seemed to be on the whites of my nails, I'm wondering whether it isn't a very specific type of over-curing.  My light has mirrors all around to bounce around the rays--is it possible the UV rays hit the "overhang" of my nails twice as much due to the mirrors and made them overcure?  Does this idea even make sense to anyone but me?!? 
Either way, I have already used my NaiLuv system again, with slightly better removal results the second time around.  So again, maybe it's all just my error and I will continue to improve. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

NaiLuv Soak Off Gel Polish in "Hollywood"

This was my first SOG manicure... keep that in mind as you read my review and see the pictures!

First things first, though; let's start with the base coat.  NaiLuv's dual base/top coat is great for giving you  a high gloss shine that lasts and lasts. However, I find the formula a bit thicker than the polishes, for some reason!  It's hard to get all the excess gloss off of the brush aplicator, and since it's clear, it's also kind of hard to see that there's too much on your nails until your cuticles are flooded... I've mentioned this in a video review (I'll link below), but I just wanted to reiterate it again.   I feel like I could have less problems chipping at the cuticle area if I had a more precise application with this.

But as for the polish! NaiLuv "Hollywood" is a classic wine color... it looks like a deep brownish red in low-light, but in sunlight it has subtle berry tones that come out.  I've been wishing for a nice really dark brown/black tinged cream color with no blue tones, and this is not it.  From all the blogs and sites I've lurked on though, I'm not sure a color like that exists in a gel form yet.  Boo!

The application?  Hollywood goes on a bit streaky... I have also heard this can be common with similar shades in other SOG brands, too.  I would have needed three coats for a nice opaque finish, but I only used two in all these photos, since I was kind of hurried.  If you have superb application skills, you could get away with two coats, but then the color might be a little transparent and jelly like in bright light.  If you used two thicker coats (as I did on my thumbs), well, then, you risk having the color peel!

This manicure stayed on for 11 days... I could have lengthened that if I was more careful and did a few more touch ups with the top coat, but my nails were growing out a little too much by then, and I felt like my thumbs were getting a little too chipped. 

And now... Pictures! First in daylight, then two in inside lighting.

Also, a video review for you as well:

It All Started...

Hello again, Internet!

I'm going to use this blog to keep tabs on my foray into the world of Soak Off Gel (SOG) polishes.

It all started a little while ago when I ventured onto while they were having a sale on "NaiLuv" gel polishes and LED lights.  I had heard about gels a little bit, and knew they were supposed to last a long time, but it all seemed quite confusing and expensive, what with all the brands and kits and types of lights. Plus, I am not the best person at nail polish application, and I know gels require a lot precision.

I tried doing some Google searches for reviews and swatches for this NaiLuv brand, and didn't find much, unfortunately! Being an internet savvy beauty lover, I really hesitate to buy things online without swatches and reviews first.  I did find, though, that their LED light that they were selling on Hautelook was the optimal type for most gel polishes-- LED lights cure gels faster using a more limited spectrum of UV rays, so there's less chances of damaging your skin as well as getting a faster manicure.  So whatever, I hopped on the bandwagon, and got my first order from Hautelook:

And after my first (somewhat subpar) manicure, I was pretty hooked!  But more on that in a next post...