Sunday, February 23, 2014

Red Carpet Manicure BOGO Sale 2/23/14 through 3/15/14!

Hello again! 

No, I didn't forget about my promise to review Red Carpet Manicure's gel polish in "After Party Playful", which I had a simple swatch of with my last manicure post.

And yes, I still want you to keep in mind some of the "hidden dangers" that you may encounter when buying gel polish, when you can't actually SEE the product of before you buy it.

...But I feel compelled to mention that Ulta is offering another buy-one-get-one half off sale for Red Carpet Manicure starting today, February 23, and it should run all the way up to March 15.  They have lots of new collections out at the moment, including some unique shades and some Gelish "Trends" dupes.  That means you can pick up a few shades for much cheaper than the $16.95 price tag for the same size bottles at Sally Beauty!

You can take advantage of this in store, or you can shop online--and if it's like last time, the sale should apply to full price and clearance items as well. :)

Apparently RCM is also offering regular nail lacquer as well, now, too.  Who knew?  I haven't seen them in person, but it looks like they are dupes of some of their popular gel colors--so it will be easy to coordinate your fingers and toes, whatever type of polish you want to paint with.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dupe time! A word of warning about limited edition collections...

So most people know that Red Carpet Manicure and Gelish seem to share manufacturers, right?  And that they often have polish shades that are exact dupes to one another?  I've posted about dupe shades between the two brands before--in fact, most of the posts on my blog tagged with "Dupes?" are RCM/Gelish comparisons! 

The way I see it, the main difference between the two is that RCM is targeted to the ULTA crowd, and Gelish is targeted to professionals or the Sally Beauty crowd.  Personally, I will buy either brand, depending on who has a nice collection out or who has the best sales at the time. 

The thing that keeps all this fun and interesting, though, is that sometimes each brand has unique collections, with unique colors--although many colors eventually get repeated by the opposite brand at a later time. If I talked about dupes like this, I could go on forever.

But with all these new collections, another problem is coming to light: Dupes of colors within the same brand.  

You see, when I had a chance to swatch the color "Paradiso Blue" from Red Carpet Manicure's Postcards from the Greek Isles collection, I thought it looked pretty similar to their "Love Those Baby Blues" color.   I actually opened up the bottles side by side in the store, and sure enough, there was only a tiny shade or two of a difference between the two colors--definitely not enough to warrant buying both bottles.   So I just put the color back and went on my merry old way.

...And now enters the new "Dazzling Gems" collection for 2014:

A short blurb about the product first:  The "Dazzling Gems" collection contains 6 gel polishes, all of which supposedly contain some real precious gemstones.  The price tag on these is $11.99, and I'm not sure if that price hike is because of the precious gems or the totally gratuitous box that they packaged the gels in.  I'm pretty skeptical, but I love me some unique colors, so I bit the bullet anyway. The downside is: since they're in boxes, you can't open the colors up to see what they look like before buying. 

One of the colors I picked up, pictured above, is "Trendsetter", which is supposed to contain real aquamarine, and looked like an awesome teal with a dimensional metallic shimmer, or something to that effect.  Well,  I got this shade home, opened it, and this looks like another color... what about RCM's "Shimmering Gown"?

At one coat of each color, they're not exact dupes, but one does look like a pale comparison of the other (quite literally).  Can you tell which is which?  "Trendsetter" (on the left) is not the awesome metallic shade I thought it would be, but a clear blue "jelly" based gel polish with teensy scattered teal irridescent flakes.  It's actually LESS pigmented and glittery than "Shimmering Gown" (on the right), which looks to have some more round glitters in the mix as well.  "Trendsetter" would be a nice topper shade to transform you manicure, if "Shimmering Gown" is too bold and glittery for you.

I wanted to try out three coats, too, since you would need a few coats to build up opacity with jelly shades like these.  That's where the differences between the two shades just about disappears completely:

Now which is which?!   This time, "Trendsetter" is on the right, and the glitter looks only slightly more sparse than "Shimmering Gown" on the left.  But remember these are macro shots, too; take a few steps back from your computer, and you might notice that no one's going to notice the difference from far away!

If that's a little TL;DR for you, here's the short version:
Multiple collections = awesome sauce.
Dupe-able shades within the same brand = definitely NOT awesome. 

Oh yeah, and if you want to avoid situations like this, look in person BEFORE you buy, and/or buy at a place that has a good return policy.  Since that may be hard with the limited availability of gel polishes, the only other resource you have is the internet, which you should use to your full advantage to look up swatches (that's why I do this blog thing, after all). 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pink & Chocolate

This manicure was also a little Valentine's Day inspired, but since I was doing my nails a few days before the holiday, once again I didn't want to go too over the top.  And what's the best part about Valentine's Day?  Chocolate!

So I finally broke out one of the brown shades I've been wanting to wear all winter (to be honest, I've also been lusting after some of the browns OPI Gelcolor has released...but I'm trying to keep myself from buying them!)

So here we have Red Carpet Manicure "Toast of the Town".  My accent nail is Red Carpet Manicure "After Party Playful"....but I'm going to have to get to a review on that in another post, because it's definitely more complicated than it looks. 

Toast of the Town required three coats for opacity, although even at three coats it's kind of weird... the free edges of my nail still show a lot of light through the back, although you can't see any visible nail line or anything.  The color itself is a nice milk-chocolatey brown metallic.  Here's where the color gets just a teeeensy bit tricky, though.  In my flash picture and in the macro photos I tried to capture, the metallic sheen looks mostly bronze-gold.  However, in everyday life, the predominant sheen on this metallic is silver with some glints of bronze-gold, much like the natural light photo. This kind of disappointed me, because I felt like the silver reflection made the color look a little basic, and I was hoping for some more unique gold shimmer.  But just like a lot of the metallic golds I seem to review, this color also has some orange and light green reflects in it, which you can see best in this slightly blurry photo I managed to capture:  

As for application, despite being kind of thin it applied just fine.  Since it is a metallic, it may apply a teensy bit streaky depending on your application.  You can see a thin streak or two in my macro shot, but unless you regularly have people inspecting your nails from a mere two inches away or less, no one else will notice at all! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Vampy Valentine's Nails

Hi again!  Last post I had a tutorial for some Valentine's inspired nails, and now I have the swatches/pictures associated with it!

Once again, I took pictures of both my hands, because I want everyone to see how easy nail art can be to create with your dominant AND non-dominant hand.  While I'm definitely not a professional, and my nail art has some flaws, it still came out pretty well and garnered a lot of compliments.

I tried to get some pictures of my thumbs, but I wasn't too happy with my photography skills in this aspect:

And lastly, an inside photo with flash:

Ok, as for the review of this color... this is going to be hard.  I apologize for what looks like black blending into black blending into more black...but that's what you get with this shade!  OPI Gelcolor "Lincoln Park After Dark" is an almost black creme with hints of reddened purple.  It kind of blends in with the black bottle and my purple-black walls because, well, they're all basically one tint away from being the same color! However, you can definitely see the reddish purple tint, especially around the edges of my nails and the nail art, and the color has a bit of a luminescence best seen in the flash photo.  The best way to get an idea of this color is to compare it to a true black, like NaiLuv's "Hardcore Rock" that I wore in 2012.  Just by comparing the photos, you can tell that in comparison to a true black shade, "Lincoln Park After Dark" looks just a smidgeon warmer and slightly red-purple or even red-brown, depending on the lighting. 

As for the formula, I had heard bad things about the OPI Gelcolor version of this shade...but I personally had no problems! There was maybe just a hint of shrinking from the edges of my nails, but since I was doing nail art, I was fiddling around a bit before curing my nails.  That lapse of time before curing will cause shrinking all by itself.  To solve this, I just quickly recapped the edges of my nails and smoothed them out right before curing.  I did have to use three coats to get this shade looking smooth and non-patchy--it would have looked brighter and not so black if I had managed to get away with two coats, but with my application skills, two coats just looked uneven and ugly.

That's all for now... hopefully I've inspired more people to attempt some simple nail art. :) It can be time consuming, but with the lasting power of gel polish, it's worth it!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Valentine's Cut-Out Heart Gel Polish Tutorial

Hi again!  Everyone's favorite corporate holiday is coming up, and it's inspired me to finally try out an idea I've seen floating around Pinterest for a long time.

Basically, it's a "cut-out" looking nail art, where you are wearing a colored polish, but there is a design "cut out" of it so you can see your naked nail underneath.  I'm not sure if there's a name for this, but it looks super cool!  I've gotten some comments on these nails nearly everyday I've gone of the house. 

To keep this a little edgy and not so girly or Valentine's-ish, I paired my design with a vampy shade--OPI Gelcolor "Lincoln Park After Dark".

I have better pictures of my manicure in another post, but for now, here's the tutorial.  As usual, all you need is a brush and some isopropyl alcohol!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Winter Blues

This winter is enough to make anyone blue, at least around here.  We've had now two spells of negative-degree-Fahrenheit weather lasting multiple days (I know that's usual for people in, say, Alaska and Minnesota--but not around here!), and between all that it seems like the sun hasn't been shining much lately at all.  I count myself fortunate that my family is all warm and safe, with no accidents, burst water pipes, etc; but all that means my hands have been extra-extra dry, and it's been really hard to find sunlight to get some pictures this past month. 

Ok, all that rambling aside--the cool weather had me itching for some blue polish, so I finally decided to put on an awesome blue that came out with the Euro Centrale collection about a year ago.

OPI Gelcolor "OPI... Eurso Euro" is an awesome blue creme shade, somewhere between a cobalt blue and a navy.  The second photo with flash shows its true brightness, but it is a little deceiving: while it's a simple creme gel polish, it has a lot of "depth" to it, and it transforms from a bright blue to a navy depending on your lighting.  The first photo, with natural light, shows this pretty well, even though the sun was setting as I took it!

I was honestly hoping for a truer, brighter cobalt blue to cheer me up this past week, but this is still a beautiful color. :)

As for the coverage, I only needed two coats for full opacity!   I love when colors are that easy.

But as for removal... well, here I have a problem.  This is the only gel polish I've worn so far with a pigment that has stained my nails.  Yes, I always use a base coat to start out with to avoid staining--but during the removal process, some of the pigment separated from the hardened gel and stained my nails, leaving translucent streaks of a magenta-blue color.