Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mini Swatch Time: OPI Gelcolor "Suzi and the Seven D├╝sseldorfs"

Ok, one more post featuring my super tacky Sally Hansen Salon Insta-Gel Strips manicure!

In the last posts, I focused on the Insta-Gel Strips and only mentioned by name the color that I used as an accent.  Before I moved onto my next manicure, I wanted to post a review and some dedicated swatches of this color, as well!

OPI Gelcolor "Suzi and the Seven Dusseldorfs" is what I'm wearing on my index finger in this picture.  I applied two coats for opacity, although I noticed that since it is a heavily metallic shade, the metallic shimmer and pigment settled pretty quickly.  I had to shake up my gel again before applying it on my other hand--or else it sheered out noticeably!

This color is kind of the warm-toned sister of OPI Gelcolor "Tomorrow Never Dies".  Both are purple metallics, but while "Tomorrow Never Dies" is very blue-toned, "Suzi and the Seven Dusseldorfs" is true metallic purple--maybe leaning just a little more red-violet rather than blue.  If you look closely, you can see that this shade carries a few blue and red shimmers scattered in it, too (just like Tomorrow Never Dies"!)

See all of those shimmers?!

Since it is highly metallic, it transforms a bit depending on your lighting--hence why it looks rather dark in my last post about the Insta-Gel Strips, where the sun kept going into hiding. It looks most true to everyday life in the first photo of this post, in my opinion.  This metallic finish also means that it may show brush strokes, which is most noticeable on my other hand:

Overall I found it applied rather well, though (unlike my experience with "Tomorrow Never Dies"!) If it settles too much you may have some application issues (sheerness or "shrinking" from the free edges of your nails), but a good shake of the bottle seemed to fix that.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sally Hansen Salon Insta-Gel Strips: Take Two

Hello again!

So last time, I posted some initial photos and an initial review of the Sally Hansen Salon Insta-Gel Strips I applied to my nails recently.  Now that they've been on my nails a little while, I'm going to do a review on the lasting power of these things!

First of all, though, I want to mention something disconcerting: the smell.  These things smell for while after you apply them to your nails,  and I could sense the chemical-like nail polish smell up to 48 hours later.  Even later on, when I get a chip, the smell comes back full-force.  Normally, gel polish cures instantly and there is no smell afterwards, so this is a smell I associate with regular polish.  I get the impression, then, that the strips underneath are not totally dried or cured or what-have-you, and possibly the cured gel on top is keeping them from drying like they should.  I'm not sure what's at work here, but it's a little bothersome.

Now, everyone's probably most concerned with chipping: Do these things last chip-free as long as normal gel polish?  Definitely not!  

FYI: The purple color in these pictures is OPI Gelcolor "Suzi and the Seven Dusseldorfs"

I had miniscule chips at the tips of my thumb nails by day 3, and larger chips starting at day 5 (while I was crocheting!)  By day 7, I had at least small, miniscule chips on about half of my nails.  There are areas along the free-edges of some nails that have not chipped, but have definitely lifted a little bit, which makes me worry about keeping these on my nails too much longer.  These lifted areas, even if they don't chip off and look unsightly, still create the perfect space to harbor bacteria that can be hard to wash away. 

I noticed two main problems with these: First, since you apply the Insta-Gel Strips in a sheet rather than by painting, it is much easier to trap miniscule amounts of air  between the layers of your manicure.  These miniscule pockets of air will expand when your hands warm up drastically (like when you wash them in hot water), and can eventually spread--cause lifting and shortening the life of your manicure.  Second, since the Insta-Gel Strips cover 99% of your nail bed, it is hard to encase the strips with the gel top coat to create a good seal--the gel top coat in effect seals the strips, but does not create a sealed barrier between the strip and the nail bed underneath it.  This lead to threads getting caught on the strips by the cuticles of my nails  and creating some lifting there, too. 

The Insta-Gel Strips still aren't as strong as a regular gel manicure, either.  I applied these to my nails and applied TWO coats of top coat--to strengthen and even out some wrinkles from the strips--and still my nails felt more bendable than they usually do with gel polish.  As you can see if you compare the first picture to my last post, I even tore one nail on my third day of wearing these!

The color/pattern of the strips themselves are still something unique and interesting: the metallic finish (with a multitude of cool and warm gold sparkles) as well as the intricate pattern help to hide minor application flaws and even minor chipping.  Not to mention they give you the ability to wear nail art you wouldn't have the skill to do yourself!

Lastly, I want to mention something about removal:  These things were a major nuisance to remove!  And I remove gel polish bi-weekly, so I'm used to long and sometimes tedious removal processes. I soaked pads in acetone and covered them with tin foil as usual--and as Sally Hansen recommends.  The Insta-Gel Strips didn't take a long time to soak off, but they left a sticky residue on my nails that traveled around to my fingers, and that I had to wipe down twice with towels soaked in acetone to remove.  It was yucky, trust me.

Monday, January 13, 2014

More Ulta Red Carpet Manicure Deals!

Apparently, the day after I posted my last Ulta Deals post, the store decided to offer some more great steals. 

So from now (actually from 1/05/2014) until 1/25/2014, Red Carpet Manicure gel polishes are BOGO 1/2 off! 

The fun thing with this is that, at least in stores, the clearance polishes ring up for the same BOGO sale, too!  For example, currently on the website the "Touch of Bling Duos" are $7.49 and a few of the glitter gels from the holiday collection are actually on sale for $2.49.  If you add one of these to another gel to get 1/2 off, you could get a duo for $3.74 or a single shade of gel polish for $1.24!

If you check out in store, though, your selection may vary--I still found some shades from the two summer "Postcards" and "Hamptons" collections at mine, although those are not on the website. 

Keep an eye out on your emails, as well--Ulta recently sent out one-time use coupon codes for $5 off your $10 purchase instead of the usual $3.50 off. :)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sally Hansen Salon Insta-Gel Strips in "Walk the Catwalk"

Since Sally Hansen had such great clearance prices on their Insta-Gel Strips, I picked up a pack to try. And since I do reviews on this blog-thing here, I figured I would do a set of reviews on how the strips apply and last on my nails.   I applied these a few days ago, so I'll do my initial review first--then I'll update with how they lasted later on.
I'll probably get better pictures a little bit later, too, but I wanted to get some initial photos on day 1 after I applied them.  So this is my right and left hand:

Just for reference, on my pointer finger I applied OPI Gelcolor "Suzi and the Seven Dusseldorfs" (or "Suzi and the Seven D├╝sseldorfs" if you want to get proper!). And once again, the Sally Hansen Salon Insta-Gel Strips are in the style "Walk the Catwalk". 

Anyway, I noticed a few things about this product as I opened it up: 

First of all: they are marketed as gel strips, different from the regular nail polish strips.  BUT in practice, I found the only thing different from the normal strips is the included gel top coat.  The strips themselves are just like any other regular nail polish strip--they don't need to be cured in a UV/LED light, and they have a faint nail polish odor.  And just like the regular polish strips, they come air-tight sealed in two individual packets containing eight strips each--one pack is meant for each hand, so you can choose out of the eight the best size for your nails.

Second: That included gel top coat I mentioned?  Well, it seems like a nice generous addition at first, because it comes in the usual Sally Hansen Gel Polish bottle.  But then you read the label closely: the bottle is only about half full, at 4.0 mL/0.14 fl. oz.  instead of the usual 7.0 mL/0.25 fl. oz.  This 4.0 mL size seems like it will be just enough to get 4 usages out of--I used two coats of it to top my nails off this time.

Third: I actually really like the 3-finished file/buffer that comes with this product, even though it's super small.  It works well, and it reminds me that Sally Hansen does indeed make some great nail products!

Now, as for the application...

Well, in short: if your nails are short these may apply easier.  But once your nails get to a certain length, the curve from cuticle to tip becomes more apparent, in addition to the curve from  side-wall to side-wall.  This means that you have to manipulate a flat strip to fit not just one curvature, but two, which may cause wrinkling or even tearing if you're not careful.  Sally Hansen suggests slowly pulling the strip to stretch it out and get a good fit, but the problem with that is that you may stretch out the print on your strip as well.   If you look closely at my pictures, you can see evidence of all three things occurring.

The size selection of strips in each pouch is kind of lacking.  I ended up using one pouch to cover both hands, and cut down some sizes as necessary, since I found that a few were way too big.  Unfortunately, as you can kind of tell by the wonky application on my thumb, sometimes you'll see that neither size strip is a great fit for your nails.  At the same time, though, I am glad I didn't get a wider selection of sizes that would have gotten thrown out and wasted, so I won't complain too much about that.

Lastly, I'm worried about possible wear issues.  Rule #1 of nail painting is pretty much "wrap the tips of your nails"; that's impossible to do with these stickers!  This makes me afraid that I will have chipping and lifting, but you can wrap the tips with the gel top coat, at least. Since the strips apply so close to your side walls and cuticles, it makes it hard to wrap the top coat around them to "encase" the strip in a layer of gel, which leaves an exposed ridge around those areas, as well.

Overall, once you take the time to perfect your nails, the process is not that much faster than applying gel polish from a bottle!  But it's still faster than attempting to free-hand paint a design like this on my own nails...not to mention it looks 100x better.  Hopefully they wear just as well. :)

Edit: Update on how these strips wear has been posted! 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ulta Deals!

Hello again!  I just got back from my first round of after-Christmas shopping today, so I may be a bit late on these after-holiday markdowns, but I wanted to bring attention to some great clearance steals going on at Ulta right now!

I'll link to the equivalent sales online, but keep in mind that your store may have a varying selection, with more or less than the website may have.

First of all, Sally Hansen is updating its gel polish line--I've posted about seeing some of their shades on clearance at random stores before, including pharmacies and grocery stores.  But now Ulta is going to revamp their selection, it seems, and their old stock of Sally Hansen gels are SUPER CHEAP!  In store, the Pro Gel Polishes range from $1.68 (for the black shade only) to $3.19 for all current stockThe Insta-Gel Strips are similarly priced--$3.69 for most of their styles or shades, although when I went, most of the nicer patterned strips were already sold out.  In store you can also find some of the starter kits on clearance, although only the smaller kit is to be found on clearance online.

Here's the links:

Sally Hansen Salon Strips Starter Kit from $7.49

Sally Hansen Pro Gel Polish from $3.19

Sally Hansen Insta-Gel Strips from $3.69

Actually, it looks like most of the colors for the gel polishes are full-price online even though the gel strips are still on clearance, so if you really want a steal, get to a store!

Once again, some Red Carpet Manicure is on clearance as well--but this time with a twist.  Apparently, they had duos on sale over the holidays for $14.99, but now that they're on clearance they are $7.49.  Yeah, that's TWO Red Carpet Manicure Polishes for $7.49! 

Here's the Red Carpet Manicure "A Touch of Bling" Color Duets on clearance online, but only 3 of the 6 sets that you can find in store are actually on the website.  Once again, if you want a better selection, try out some of your stores!

There's more to it than that, too: these duos that are on clearance include exclusive holiday shades that I have not seen for sale separately, that are dupes for most of Gelish's 2012 holiday collection. 
Most duos have one permanent shade and one exclusive shade, for example:
  • "Dripping In Luxury" (Permanent) & "Looking Like A Million $$" (Gelish "Just What I wanted" dupe)
  •  "I Am So Honored" (Permanent) & "Black Tie Affair" (Gelish "Naughty List" dupe, although this shade does sound familiar from 2012 too...)
  • "Red Carpet Reddy" (Permanent) & "Ring My Belle" (Gelish "Little Miss Sparkle" dupe)
  • "9 Inch Heels" (Permanent) & "Sapphire & Ice" (Gelish "Holiday Party Blues" dupe)
  • "You Like Me, You Really Like Me" (Permanent) & "I'll Toast To That" (Gelish "Danny's Little Helpers" dupe)
  • "White Hot" (Permanent) & "Holiday Soiree Red-y" (Gelish "All Tied Up With A Bow" dupe)
And for the sake of completeness, I'll also mention that there may still be other random Red Carpet Manicure shades floating about your clearance sections at Ulta, too.  The website has a few shades for $2.49 it seems, but I'm not sure what the full extent of that sale is!

Oh yeah, and don't forget to sign up for their emails or store card to get their usual $3.50 off $10.00 coupons.  This way, you could find yourself getting 4 gel polishes for about $10!