Thursday, January 31, 2013

SuperNail ProGel and Gelish

I have two more new polishes to show off today! And at the end I'll probably do a short review of my striping tape from so far, as I've had some issues...

But anyway, these are my nails!

This is the first time I've ever used a SuperNail ProGel shade (FYI Ulta is clearing out their stock of them, so if you want to buy some cheap without resorting to the internet, go now before it's too late!)  "Creamy Nude" is a nice sheer tan-based color without any shimmers or any pink cast as many french manicure colors have.  It would have worked great as a sheer at one coat; that's how well it evened out on my nails.  Buuuuut stupid me REALLY wanted this color to be a good opaque, since it matches my skin-tone amazingly.  I kept layering the color on, so what you see here is three coats.  It looks very thick on my nails, although I thought I applied thinly enough, and the polish itself was not too thick and goopy. Even at three coats, you can still see visibile nail line and a moon shape if you look closely--you know, at least in real life before I covered it up with stripes!  Next time I will definitely not be trying to make this opaque again.  Oops!  It's still a nice formula and a nice color, though.  I've only had this on for about 4 days, so we'll see about the wear later on.

On top of that I have Gelish "Silver Sand", which is a really confusing color to put on and capture on camera.  It's two sizes of hexagonal glitters that are a sheer opalescent color in a clear gel base; some of the glitters shift pink, some shift yellow, some shift purple/blue... so when the light hits it right it kind of looks like a candy shop on your nails.   BUT since the glitters are essentially clear at the base, in certain lights you don't see them at all, and when you're applying the polish, it can make it really hard to make sure you have glitters evenly placed on the nail, and not too sparse in one area or too concentrated in another.   I only used one coat, so maybe you can see how the glitter placement is pretty random from nail to nail.  It's not a very dense glitter, either, so you wouldn't be able to build this one up to look like a "sheet" of glitter!  It's more to accent or enhance the color you put it over.

Here's a close up I took of Silver Sand on my thumb.  On the left you can see that the left-most side of my nail doesn't look very sparkly, while the right hand side does--that's how this glitter "shines" and "hides" depending on the light.  And actually, in the right picture, you can see that the smaller glitters, while sometimes hexagonal, are not always properly cut, making this look a little more "random".

Lastly, my Striping Tape.  You can probably see in these pictures that there is some curling around the edges of my nails.  For some reason--maybe it's how the tape reacts to the gels, maybe I destroyed some of the adhesive while trying to place it, etc-- quite a few of the stripes on my nails are starting to lift up on the sides.  Since they're not threatening to take off the top coats of my gel and destroy my entire "manicure", it's like they floated to the top of the completely cured gel layer!  Strangely enough, too, the parts that curl up are entirely clear, like it's a clear plastic layer that was put as a protective coat over the metallic layer of the tape.  The metallic part underneath does not lift up and create a curl or a string, but eventually just "wears" away soon after the plastic lifts.

I did not place the tape entirely flat, either, but that's on the middle of my nails where I had to curve it so it buckled a bit.  So far that is still holding in place ok, despite the fact that two top coats did not entirely cover it up.  My error!

I am trying my best not to let it bother me, and my nails still look ok from a normal-person's distance, but I am definitely going to have to pay closer attention the next time I apply the striping tape.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"Born Pretty Store" Haul & Review

First of all, I guess this isn't really a "deal", but I don't have any other categories for this type of stuff yet!

I was looking online for some striping tape recently, since I've really been into "jazzing" up my nails a little more.  While there are a ton of Ebay sellers online that offer it, they are almost all located in Asia, and they mostly all offer "random lots" of colors, which could mean anything.

I've seen a lot of people do "hauls" from the in the past few weeks alone, and I noticed that they had what I wanted, so I figured I'd try it out for myself.  They are also located in Asia, but they sell a pack of every color striping tape they offer instead of just a random lot.  And they always have some sort of "discount" going on, either on their website or through searching  Not that their prices aren't reasonable, anyway--certain things are more than Ebay sellers would charge, but my purchase was still less than $15 shipped. 

I just got my items, and there were a few things that didn't come across well in their pictures, so I figured I would do a video review to try to show some of the differences I encountered and my impressions.  I was a little disappointed with some things, but over all still pleased with my order.

I purchased these two items:
12 Colors Nail Art Shiny Glitter Powder Sheets Tips Tool

Maybe this can help some people intending to purchase the same things I did!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

OPI Gelcolor "Tomorrow Never Dies"... Updated!

So I'm pretty sure I jinxed myself in my last post; the night after I posted it, two of my nails started lifting on my dominant hand.  Then, 24 hours later, the same two fingers on my non-dominant hand did the same.  This was around day 8.  I tried to salvage them for a few more days with some nail glue (it worked, making my manicure last for a total of 11 days).

By the end of that time, I had also felt like the polish had "faded", or rather, some of the blue-tones had diminished, leaving it looking a little more black and purple toned. "Eggplant" is the only color name I can think of to call the color shift I thought I saw.  I didn't do a comparison photo this time around, unfortunately!

Anyway, I put most of my "experience" with the wear on this polish in a video to explain it a little more in depth:

And, since I was not satisfied with how I tried to capture the purple undertones and the red/magenta micro shimmer in the last post, I tried out my camera again when we finally got some nice sun.  I urge you to click through the picture to make it bigger; it's a BIG picture, but it captures the shimmers pretty well.

Lastly, I almost forgot that Ecklipsed by Color reviewed the same gel polish! Her swatches are another great source--the photo with the snowflake nail art also captures the warm undertones and shimmers in this polish very well.

Monday, January 21, 2013

OPI Gelcolor in "Tomorrow Never Dies"

I feel like it's been a long time since I did a plain old review, but today I come bearing one for OPI's "Tomorrow Never Dies" Gelcolor, from the recent Skyfall collection.  Unfortunately it is one of OPI's trickier colors, but through browsing some forums and fellow blogs, I picked up some tricks to help out when OPI gelcolors have a lackluster application:
  • Warm the polish up.  Don't stick it in the microwave or anything! Just warm it up with a hot pack, between your hands for a few minutes, stand it in a bowl of hot water, put it under your leg, etc...
  • Shake it really well. Although that would seem to be unhelpful as it would create bubbles, OPI's bottle even tells you to shake it! Let it sit for a little bit AFTER you shake it to let the bubbles separate, but make sure you do shake it well to reincorporate any pigments that might have settled.
This doesn't fix all the application issues, but it does make the color look a little darker and more vibrant compared to my initial swatches.  Tomorrow Never Dies still suffers issues with "shrink-back" or the color trying to "shrink" away from the sides and free edges of your nails prior to being cured.  You can try to minimize that with a combination of "dry brushing"--or using a dry brush to scrub the previous layer of cured gel polish before applying Tomorrow Never Dies--curing only two or so fingers at a time, and applying thicker coats than normal.  I got away with two coats for this, although some edges are kind of blah looking because of these issues.  The shrinking issue still changes the look of the finished manicure up close, and may cause wear issues, although I haven't encountered this yet.

Anyway, as for the color of Tomorrow Never Dies: It's a complex mid-tone or even darker purple with a warmer purple base and lots and lots of blue micro-shimmer.  It comes off very cool, even blue-ish in some lights due to all this shimmer!  It does include some scattered silver and magenta/red microshimmers, but you have to look very closely for those.  I tried to play with the lighting and camera settings to pick these undertones up, but as you'll see... I need to perfect my camera work much more! Again, I used two thick coats for these pictures, which you can always click to make bigger if you desire.

Natural light:

Inside with flash--funnily it looks much more metallic here than it does naturally, even in sunlight:

Yellow lighting:

And more very yellow lighting to show the undertones... you can kind of see the silver and red shimmers here, mostly on my pinky  (I need to work on my macro camera work, sorry!):

EDIT TO ADD: One much, much better macro photo to show the blue and red glitter reflects and the warm tones the polish carries, taken in natural light:

Now, to compare the Gelcolor to the original regular nail polish?  Personally, I think the Gelcolor looks less metallic and more shimmery, whereas, from what I've seen online, the nail polish has a metallic base that shines more silver in direct light.  The Polishaholic's swatches look so metallic you can see brush strokes! So do the swatches over at Lucy's Stash, but her swatches also capture the same glowy-goodness that the Gelcolor has, as well.  NailXchange's swatches look very close to how my gel appears, however, and they were taken outside with no sun.

I also did a video review of this Gelcolor--although I'm rambling for a while, you can get a good view of how the polish moves as well as a comparison to my original swatch:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Just a Friendly PSA, I Guess...

Hello again!  I don't have pictures of my new nails today, but I do have something else I thought worth sharing. 

As a noob nail-polisher, I am a little messy sometimes.  When I heard that even professionals sometimes need to use extra brushes to enhance their manicures and clean them up, I thought, "well jeez, I should try that out, too!"

So I went to my local arts and crafts store a while ago (which isn't too fabulous, it's just the nearest Michael's chain!) and bought some small brushes.  Later on that week, I realized I forgot a nice bushy brush to help clean up around the sides of my nails or do the "dry brushing" technique with.  I was in Ulta, and I figured why not just buy one of their brushes?  Brushes at Michaels can come pretty cheap, and while Ulta's brushes are much more expensive, I figured that just meant they were a better quality.

Well, they're not such great quality for using on nails and manicures, as I figured out....

OOPS!  This is what my Ulta brush looked like after I soaked it in alcohol for the fourth or fifth time.  When I'm cleaning up my stuff after finishing my manicure, I have a habit of putting the extra brushes I've used in some alcohol for a few hours to make sure the chemicals from the gels on them come off.  This time, when I soaked the Ulta Crease brush, the alcohol broke up the glue holding the bristles in, and they started moving around and sinking down into the handle where the glue had been.

Yeah, I totally ruined it...but luckily Ulta is still great with their return policy.

On the other hand, this is the really cheap brush I bought from Michaels on sale.  It's a "La Corneille" brush by Loew Cornell--a company which, by the way, makes pretty good brushes for the art world anyway, at least for entry level.  Since they're made for artistic endeavors to begin with, they're meant to handle more chemicals than a makeup brush.

Notice how the part just below the bristles on the Ulta brush is round, while on the Loew Cornell brush it's flattened out?  That means the bristles are also clamped in, which is going to make them last longer, too.

I LOVE using brushes over all, though.  I don't think I've ever said it, but I've had some horrible experiences trying to clean up my gel polish with "orange sticks".  All it does is push the gel around, whereas a brush with some alcohol just soaks it up and destroys the gel.  I need to do more experimenting to find all the right brushes for me, but I don't think I'm ever going to use the rest of the orange sticks I bought!

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Wintry Mix - Saran Wrap Nails

We've had so much snow the past few weeks; it's finally melting away, but for the time between the day after Christmas to this past Monday, you couldn't even catch a glimpse of the grass around here! I kind of hate it, but it did kind of make me want to do something wintry with my nails, anyway.

This manicure isn't going to be for everyone.  I myself go back and forth between liking it and being "meh".  It's really out there!

I've got on two coats of OPI Axxium gel in "Gone Gonzo!" This color is almost exactly the same as the regular nail polish (RNP) version from OPI's Muppets collection; a clear base filled small light blue glitter and larger hexagonal glitter in silver.  My glitter is a little sparser than other swatches I've seen online of the RNP (here's a link to a post for comparison), but I think this is just due to my laziness mixing up the color.  My nail beds show through--I'm sure you can tell that even with the white on top of it--but it kind of adds to the layering of the manicure, I think.  It's pretty awesome, though! The glitter moves with your fingers, rather than looking like a sheet on your nails, if that makes sense.  The best way I can describe it is that it looks like the blinking lights on a house or a tree at Christmas time.  Axxium IS thicker than other gels, and people comment on the thickness when they look closely at my fingers--they've described it as looking kind of like I have fake nails on.  But I don't mind it, in fact I kind of like how the thickness makes my nails feel sturdier.

Anyway, on top of that I have Red Carpet Manicure (RCM) in "White Hot".  I had a little problem doing detail work with this polish in my last manicure, and this time I noticed something... my problem ISN'T this gel polish, it's the layer of Axxium gel I'm putting it on! For some reason Axxium leaves a more slippery surface than other gel polishes, so when I tried to layer the thinner bottled polish on top of it, it kind of wanted to bead up instead of leveling out. 

I tried to videotape how I did this manicure, but it came out really badly, so I'll post a short step-by-step instead (really short, this saran wrap/cling wrap thing is ridiculously easy to do!)

  1. Start out with your first color, and paint and cure as normal.  You can decide if you want to build the polish up to full opacity or not, considering the final product will give your nails a very mottled look anyway.
  2. For the second mottled layer, you first paint a coat of a second color onto your nail.  You can lay this one on a little thicker than you usually would, and you don't have to worry about making sure you get as close to your side walls or your cuticles as you would with your foundation layers.
  3. Before you cure the second color, ball up a little piece of saran wrap, and dab it over the polish.  Since the polish won't dry on its own, you can use this saran wrap to play around with the look of your nails a bit--if you dab too much off, use that spot on the saran wrap to put a little gel back onto your nails.  
  4. If you really don't like the "design" on your nail, wipe off with a little alcohol and try again! 
  5. Once you're satisfied with your design, wipe off anything that may have flooded into your cuticles or sides, or even onto your fingers themselves, with a brush soaked with alcohol.  This method shouldn't place much excess gel on your fingers, though, so this step isn't quite necessary!
  6. Cure the color as you normally would, and I would suggest curing every nail as you do it.  Since gel polish is "self-leveling", the design you sponged off your nail will move and change a bit as gravity works on it. 
  7. Top it off with your top coat--you might need two layers to even out the mottling, but you can decide for yourself what looks best.
My color choices make this saran wrap manicure look really over the top, but I imagine it could look totally different with, say, two dark colors like a burgundy and a black or brown.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

OPI Axxium Soak Off Gel

I've done a lot of reading about different types of gels these last few months... the strangest type to me is the "old-style" ones that come in pots. I say "old-style", because I feel like most companies are now into the gels that are packaged much like regular nail polishes, in a polish bottle with their own brush.  Of the pot-style gels, you can get a lot of random brands on the internet, but the most famous one is probably OPI's Axxium.  While I think OPI is continuing to manufacture Axxium gels, I'm not sure if they're coming out with any new shades like they are with the Gelcolor line.

Why? OPI Axxium made special releases of six new gels each to go along with the regular nail polish "Burlesque" collection and, most recently, the regular nail polish "Muppets" collection.  The last two regular polish collections for "Germany" and  "Skyfall" have had OPI release half a dozen coordinating Gelcolors, but no more Axxium colors.  If you count the "Holland" release with it's 6 matching Gelcolors, that's three collections that OPI has stopped releasing Axxium gels for!

After all, potted gels are a little trickier than regular gels.  They settle much more, and you can't shake them, you have to have a palette stirrer to mix them up.  And they don't come with their own brushes, you will need to buy one of your own. This isn't too big of a deal, though, since you can buy OPI brushes yourself, or there are acceptable alternatives at most stores that sell painting supplies (I go to Michael's!)

I bought some Axxium gels recently, and since Elena (the same one I mentioned in the last post) asked me about them, I thought I'd do a video to kind of show what Axxium is like.  It's not a how-to, because I'm not a pro.  And it's a little yellowed out, but hopefully my camera was good enough to catch the details so you can see how thick the gel is and how it lays out.  You will want to watch this in as much of a high definition as you can!

I hope this was a little helpful to you! 

PS: OPI Axxium makes another type of gel system separate from the Soak Off Gels as you can see on their Australian website, and this one is only available in about 5 different pots/shades.  I have only tried the ones that specify "Soak Off Gels"--if you try out the "Gel System" type, I am not sure if your polish will soak off or need to be filed off!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Liebster Award?!?! How many small blogs do you know?

I feel kind of out of the loop of the bigger blogging world, but Elena at Ecklipsed by Color nominated me for this "web award" (and I thank her so much for it!)  It's pretty neat; it gives you a never-ending network of new and smaller bloggers to check out. You could very well waste hours clicking around to check out the "nominators" and click through to all the various "nominees" on the various blogs.  This award in particular is dedicated to helping out smaller blogs, those with less than 200 followers.

The rules, as Elena puts them, are this:
You must post 11 random things about yourself.
Then answer the questions that the nominator set for you
Then create 11 questions for the people you nominate to answer. 
Finally, choose up to 11 people and link them in your post and and go to their page and tell them.
I can see this turning into a long post!  Well, let's start off with 11 Random Facts:
  1. I work in healthcare, and this is why I've loved gel polish since I first used it! Regular polish lasts me three days if I'm lucky, and chipped polish when you're working is a health hazard.  Gels seem much safer.
  2. Sometimes I'm really simple.  Smiles from patients make my day (or even my week!)
  3. I'm a bit of a computer addict, and I play computer games sometimes (sometimes more than others, too). The constant tapping is probably another reason polishes never seemed to last on my nails.
  4. I've moved far from my original home to live with my significant other. Well, not that far, but about 6 hours.
  5. I have two cats and a rabbit back home with my family, and I miss them a lot. Although I'm pretty sure last time I painted my nails back at home, a hair or two got nicely encased in my polish!
  6. I like reading. And I like books.  Nice, second-hand books from stores like  I have an older e-reader but I barely use it. (Look up Better World Books if you're there, by the way.  The most amazing company!)
  7. I also really like music.  Sometimes it's hard to talk when making a video, and I hate the idea of using generic license-free stuff, so I HAVE to put some kind of music from my music player in.  Hopefully my selections aren't too bad, and hopefully I'm not keeping too many people from watching.
  8. I also like makeup, and I have a LOT of colors, but I've mostly stuck to my Urban Decay "Naked" palettes for the last year or two.  IE: My makeup is boring.
  9. I crave fake cheese flavor a lot.  Cheese curls, cheese sauce... anything but cheese whiz.  Why?  I have no clue.  It has no nutritional value. 
  10. I drink a ton of water every day, probably at least 5 bottles.  And I still have dry skin, how lame!
  11. I got a heated blanket for my birthday last fall. It's simultaneously the lamest and BEST GIFT EVERRR.
Now for the 11 questions Elena at Ecklipsed by Color asked:
  1.  What inspired you to start blogging and also your blog name?  I don't see a lot of swatches for gel polishes outside of forums, but there are a ton of blogs dedicated to regular polish swatches.  So I thought I'd try to do something different.  My blog name is REALLY LAME. I love gel polishes!  And the first brand I tried out is called "NaiLuv". I feel so uninspiring.
  2. What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?  That's really hard!  Probably, overall, just overcoming the Fibromyalgia I was diagnosed with as a teen and all the setbacks it gave me, and coming so far as to work full time at a job I don't hate (haha!).
  3. What is your favorite creative outlet? Art? Music? Dance? etc.? Oh man, actually, I do a little bit of everything now and then!  My favorite is sewing I guess, but I can get frustrated with that and I don't get to share the results of my efforts as fast/easily as, say, showing off my nails.
  4. If your life was a book what would be the title?  Can I pick "The Stranger"?  Albert Camus already took the title, but I like it, too
  5. Describe your favorite meal. That really depends on my mood.  But I don't think I'll ever say no to a freshly prepared pasta a la carbonara or alfredo.  I am part eye-talian!
  6. What would be your ultimate polish color and what would it be called? Oh this one's easy!  The perfect linear holographic gel polish! Just a plain silver holographic, but not too bright. 
  7. If you had pick between the two- chocolate or cheese? Can't I have both?  Ok, fine... as a lifelong chocoholic, my answer's pretty simple.
  8. Favorite travel destination that you have been to and one that you would love to go to.  I haven't been many places, but I have been to Germany, and that was pretty awesome.  I still wish I could find bread as good as we had there. Oh, and the K├Âlner Dom and castles were pretty awesome, too:
    Source: via Multi on Pinterest

    As for a place I'd like to go to?  There are a lot, but the ocean is always really close to my heart.  When I was young, I was one of those east coast kids that went to "the Shore" for trips sometimes in the summer.  I'd like to go back, even though this is what it looks like right now:
    Source: via Multi on Pinterest

    Now, as a resident of the northeast I also make a lot of jokes about New Jersey, but it's mostly like the way you poke fun at your family.  Most of NJ makes money by tourism and seaside attractions; I'm not saying Sandy's as bad as Katrina was, but NJ is definitely going to have to do a lot of work to get back on its feet. And I hope sometime soon I can take a vacation and help!
  9. What nail trend do you see happening in 2013? Hopefully lots more easy, wearable, accessible nail art. I love all the simple ideas made with tape, saran wrap, simple lines or brush strokes. 
  10. Do you speak any foreign languages? Donde esta el bano?  Actually that's probably the only phrase I can remember off the top of my head...  I've taken a few years of Spanish, and one of Latin and German, but I don't remember much of any of it.
  11. Favorite nail polish brand and favorite shade? Probably OPI because of their wide variety of types of polishes, gels, and systems they offer, although I do think Zoya has a much more awesome range.  As for shade, I don't have one favorite (yet!), but I feel like I tend to prefer darker, vampier creme colors or ones with a lot of multidimensional shimmer.
Now, most importantly:  Here are some more cool blogs I've come across, all with less than 200 followers, too.  I nominate all of you! 

Under The Lily Shadow may not be for everyone, there is A LOT of bling on this blog! But even if it's not your thing, it's certainly neat to see how it's all done.  I'm just kind of depressed she hasn't updated in a while.

FerretKingdom is a mixed type of blog, but its owner is so creative at mixing up her gel manicures, especially adding her own eyeshadows and pigments and sparkles.  Her nail posts are always helpful!

...All of a sudden it's gotten really late, and I thought I had more blogs, but I apparently didn't "follow" them myself and I can't find them right now!  If I find them, I'll update this post.  Let's end this with my 11 questions for the next "nominees", if they choose to take up the offer:

1. Most favorite type of polish (Creme, sparkle, etc)? 
2. Least favorite color for nail polishes?
3. What's your favorite Movie/Book/whichever you prefer (or both)?
4. What's one of your beauty "bad habits"? 
5. Best beauty/nail care tip?
6. Ever wish you lived somewhere else?  The grass is always greener, right?
7. What's your favorite store (any type of store, really.  The grocery store counts, if you want!)
8. You've turned into a superhero!  What's your super power? 
9. It is the flu and cold season; so how do you keep yourself up when you're sick?
10. Do you have any pets?
11. How much nail polish do you have?  

And thanks once again to Elena, it was fun looking through all the blogs so far. :)