Sunday, May 25, 2014

UV-Nails & NaiLuv

Hello!  I feel like it's been a while since I last posted, but I've been having some issuses.  Remember I lost my old camera a while ago?  Well, now I'm using my phone camera (which is actually 18mp, so it's not too bad) but then after a computer update last week, my computer doesn't want to connect to my phone via USB cable anymore! So it was a slow process getting these photos to your screen today.

I feel like I just said I was tired of pastels and glitter already this spring...and what do you know, I have both on my nails! But I am amazed at this combination, and I feel like I have princess nails. 

The base color is UV-Nails "Lady Lavender".  I used three coats for this, although I easily could have used two.  Yes, really!  Pastel creme gel polishes can be hard to get good, even coverage in so few coats--they tend to be a bit streaky until you build up coverage--but this one was a totally different story.  The color itself is a nice light pastel purple creme with a pretty strong grey tint to it.  Unlike OPI Gelcolor "A Grape Fit", this is much lighter and looks like a true pastel in all lights.  The shade of purple is slightly warm toned, but transforms and looks quite cool toned under the flash of my camera light. 

Most importantly, I'm happy to say this color doesn't fade at all--that's another rarity for pastel purple gel shades! I was only able to get a flash picture to provide as evidence of this (as usual, when I bring out my camera, the sun hides away), but you can barely tell the difference between the old polish and the one coat of "Lady Lavender" I reapplied to the left side of my nail in the picture.

As an accent on the tips and "half moons" of my nails, I used NaiLuv "Diamonds R 4ever".  This is a teensy irregular silver glitter in a clear base.  I tried to get a macro shot to show you the glitter shape, but I'm not sure I succeeded this time!  I used one quick coat for the accents, and it's a little patchy, but paired over a color with a greyish tint like this, it gives the illusion of being much more opaque and even. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Red Carpet Manicure Deals...maybe? (a bit late)

So I had heard about a BOGO sale for RCM in Ulta's flyer a little while ago, but I didn't pay attention to it.

Why?   It looked like this:

The text just says nail enamel, and you'll notice that, even though I cut off some extra colors, the only four brands pictured are Essie, Ginger + Liz, OPI (at the bottom left) and RCM regular nail enamel.  Now in my head, I think "nail enamel = traditional polish"--and coupled with that picture, I thought the deal this month was just for the regular polish side of RCM alone.  I closed the sales flyer and didn't bother to look into it more.

But I was so wrong!  I took a short trip around some shopping centers yesterday (during which I got lost, but that's another story), and I noticed this:

So yeah, I guess until the end of the month (5/31) RCM gel polishes are buy one get one half off at Ulta. 

Interestingly enough, I don't see this sale at all online--so your deals may vary from store to store, too! 

Also interesting is the fact that I haven't noticed any new releases from RCM since the slew of summer/winter collections, which seemed to end with the release of a few glitters that correlate with some colors from Gelish's "Trends" line towards the beginning of this year. On the positive side though, if you look closely at the last picture, you'll notice that some of the limited edition polishes from some collections last year (IE "Mimosas by the Pool") have been repromoted to permanent shades.

Friday, May 16, 2014

UV-Nails Application & Wear Review

Hi again!

I said earlier that I wanted to do a review of my experience with UV-Nails gel polish so far--not just the color, but the application and wear, too.  Well, I decided to make it into a video review, because some things are just easier to see than explain! 

My little complaints are:
  1. The slightly wobbly brush.
  2. The thinness of the gel--although this doesn't decrease wear or strength, it totally causes accidental overloading of gel on your brush...which then causes flooding on your nail when you get too much gel on it at once! It's just something you have to get used to, I guess.  You'll see what I mean in the video, hopefully.
  3. Once again, the confusion of LED/UV light and the "cure times" listed on the bottle.  Like I said: you'll see what I mean! :)

By the way, my initial review of the color I'm wearing here, UV-Nails "Green Diva" is over here.

Overall, I found some things with the UV-Nails brand of gel polish to be a little different, but not bad... not bad at all!  If they had the right deals on Hautelook or Groupon, I would purchase from them again--especially if they had some colors I was lemming for.  The worst downside is probably the (in)accuracy of "swatches" from the company--which is the downside of purchasing any gel polish online, I suppose.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Just in Time...UV Nails Deals on Hautelook

How strange is this?  Just after posting my first review of my UV-Nails gel polish in "Green Diva" that I bought on Hautelook,  UV-Nails is back on Hautelook again from now until Thursday 5/15 .  The gel polishes are $10.00 each plus $5.95 flat rate shipping, but for that price you get a full size 15mL bottle of gel polish and a HUGE variety of colors to choose from. 

If you're curious about the brand or some color swatches, here's my post where I hauled three colors from Hautelook's last sale originally: "Green Diva"  "Lady Lavender" and "Show Stopper".

I'm actually still wearing "Green Diva" on my nails right now, and just posted my initial review on UV-Nails gel so far in the post just before this one.

I haven't seen many people post swatches of UV-Nails yet, so I hope some more people take up this offer--and most importantly, share with the internet! :)

Friday, May 9, 2014

UV-Nails "Green Diva"

A little while back I did a hautelook haul with some UV-Nails gel polishes.  I finally decided to take a break from the usual spring/summer shades and put on one of the gorgeous greens I bought on my nails!  I kind of feel like this is Fall 2013 all over again--with the emerald green overdosage--but I'm pretty ok with that.

Flash photo included for completeness..but it's not the most accurate!

My pointer nail is glowing thanks to the jelly polish and the reflection of light from my bottle.

This is "Green Diva" by UV-Nails.  It is an extremely jelly-like blue toned forest green creme.  What I mean by "jelly-like" is that it looks a bit like jello on the nail--you can see the light through it, like in my last photo (which I included just show that fact!), and you can definitely see visible nail line in many different types lighting, like in the subdued sunlight of my second photo.  I used four coats because, as in the past, I don't always care for jelly shades and was hoping to build the polish up to be opaque.  Sadly, this didn't happen, so I'm a little disappointed in this shade even though it's such a gorgeous color. 

As for the color, though: if you've seen my blog before, you might notice that I wore a pretty similar shade two months ago--Gellaka "New York, NY".  But color-wise, UV-Nails "Green Diva" is a bit darker and bluer than the Gellaka shade.  The first and second photos show it truest to life, here--although it can look a tad bit yellower or darker depending on the lighting.  While I was taking photos, I noticed that due to its jelly-ness, "Green Diva" tended to soak up the lighting and use it to transform the green color just a little bit--hence why the reflection is just so blue in the photos by my window, but the whole gel polish tends to look much more yellow with flash inside.  And I think I just described my polish as a sentient being...I should move on now...

Ok, as for the formula: I  found UV-Nails "Green Dive" to be a bit thinner while applying, but not after it was cured.  So the edges of my nails look a little sloppy in some parts--and I definitely had some flooding into the cuticles while I was adjusting my application to the gel--but after curing, I still feel like I have the usual security and strength that the thickness of gel gives my nails.  While the shade was very transparent, the coverage was mostly even, with just a teensy amount of streakiness until I built up the color on my nail--2 or 3 coats would do, but again, I was striving vainly for opacity.  I did notice a little bit of shrinking from the edges of my nails, but that is common with a lot of darker shades, and this problem has only caused a little excess tip wear so far--but not to the point of chipping, mind you!

I'm going to do a bit of a more in depth review on my UV-Nails experience so far, hopefully within the next few days!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

100th post! 10 or More (Gel) Polishes Tag

Hello again world! This is my 100th post on my blog! I'm pretty excited about that, but wasn't sure what to do to "celebrate" the occasion.  I'm not sure I have enough repeat readers/commenters to do a giveaway.  Most of you come here for swatches, brand reviews, and the like--and that's just fine with me, since I'm mostly a silent lurker, reader, and oogler of others' swatches and reviews, too.

As if a stroke of lightning came forth to light everything up and solve all my problems while I was thinking of ideas to mark the occasion, I saw  "Secretary's Nail Art"  start a new tag called "10 or More Nail Polish Tag".  This is a pretty awesome idea, as I think it reflects well on a brand if you can say you gladly put your hard earned money down to purchase 10 or more of their products.

And yes, I have bought all of my gel polishes with my own money--so that's a definite investment and a definite show of trust in some brands!

Obviously, though, I'm a gel polish lover; that means brands are a little more limited to begin with, and it can be easy to stockpile a few brands in particular.  This is pretty much the case with me, but I found that for each brand that I have for this tag, I have a unique reason why I have so much.  So I'll explain why I like each brand a little bit.

The pictures aren't the best, but this is just to give you an overview, so I hope it's ok. :)  The extra annoying watermarks aren't to generate any views for my blog, but to save you guys in case they're stolen by scammers online.

First is NaiLuv.  This is the smallest brand on the list, and I'm bringing this up first because it's the first brand I tried; I even use their LED light for all of my gel manicures with no problem.  Although I do NOT recommend their "dual base/top coat" (that's another story for another time...), I've had nothing but good experiences with all of their color shades.  I like this brand because of the consistency I've tried so far, the size of the product (a full 15mL for the price), and the fact that I can frequently get it on sale at Hautelook.  The only downside is that I've noticed their prices on Hautelook going up over the past two years!  To their credit, they are frequently expanding their color line a few shades at a time to entice me more.  Check out my NaiLuv swatches.

Second is OPI Gelcolor.  This is the most expensive--and the only "salon-exclusive"--brand on the list, although you can easily find it on Ebay if you're a careful buyer.  In fact, I bought most of these colors second hand as a "lot" from someone selling off her collection, so I got a great deal!  I like this brand mainly because of the coordinating (and iconic) regular polish colors.  That sounds kind of stupid at first, but sometimes it's kind of nice to identify with the regular polish wearing masses by wearing a brand new, unique shade with a name that everyone can remember.  Of course, not all colors are that unique, but if you don't have any similar colors in your own collection, OPI Gelcolor is a pretty good way to fill it out.  While not all of my experiences in the past have been awesome (see "Tomorrow Never Dies"), I've since learned that a lot of my problems are due to my own nail prep and application errors--now I can say that I've had great application and wear, even with such problem Gelcolor shades as "Lincoln Park After Dark"Want to see all of my OPI Gelcolor swatches?

Third is Gelish.  This is partly "salon-exclusive", partly consumer based--depending on what bottles you want to buy.  The full sized 15mL bottles are salon-exclusive, but they can also be bought on Ebay from reputable sellers, while the smaller 9mL sized bottles are found at Sally Beauty Supply.  What I like most about this brand is the "trendy" variety and the ease of buying.  Gelish has TONS of colors and is bringing more out constantly.  They usually bring out on-trend colors for the seasons, and they are also doing complex glitter polishes similar to the kinds that are popular with a lot of regular nail polish enthusiasts.  I'm lucky enough to live near a Sally Beauty Supply, so I can go see the gel in person--but if I don't like Sally's steep price point (about the same price or MORE as a full 15mL size online), I can go home and purchase online.  Although, while Sally Beauty Supply is a little more expensive, they do have sales from time to time, and you can also purchase bottles on clearance for under $8 or even under $3.  What I DON'T like about Gelish is that the application isn't consistent from shade to shade, with some colors being extra finicky--and one shade with very lackluster glitterHere's some more Gelish swatches if you're interested.

Last and definitely not least is Red Carpet Manicure.  What do I like best about this brand?  It's kind of a trifecta of positive points: variety, availability, and sale price.  Many speculate that Red Carpet Manicure (or "RCM") is produced by the same company as Gelish, with RCM re-releasing a lot of Gelish shades to a more casual consumer-based store (in the US, that's Ulta).  So there's a large variety of colors to begin with--but RCM also releases a lot of limited edition collections of their own.  The only downside to it being kind of an off-shoot of Gelish is that RCM suffers from the same application inconsistencies from shade to shade--although most gels apply well, or I wouldn't have this many of either!  It's also easy to see and buy the gel in person, since Ulta is a convenient beauty store for many.  The BEST PART OF ALL, though, is the price point!  I have a ton of colors, but I estimate that I paid less than $5 for over half of them, and I don't think I paid the full $9.99 price point for more than five shades.  They can be found in the clearance bins of Ulta pretty often, and the store also sends out coupons about every other week.  With deals like that, I'm more than ok with buying a smaller 9mL size bottle.  Click on through if you want to see my RCM swatches

Ok, I guess that got pretty wordy--but I wanted to give you a good overview of the brands!

Laying all these colors out was kind of eye-opening, too.   Should keep these photos of my horde from my boyfriend?  Is this photographic evidence of valuable assets I should be claiming on insurance?!  Most importantly: I clearly have a lot more colors to swatch--what should I wear next?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ready for Summer? Orly SmartGel "Oh Cabana Boy"

Well, I'm definitely not ready for summer--I DO, however, want the allergy season to be OVER! With that in mind, I wanted to pick out a girly summery shade for this manicure. 

Is that summery enough?  I think it looks a little bit like my nails went back in time to the 80's or early 90's (especially with the length they're at now... I was too lazy to file!)  But I like it. 

Orly SmartGel "Oh Cabana Boy" is a fluorescent pink gel with a fine blue micro-shimmer.   The color is kind of cool, because the base leans a bit on the warmer/more orange side of pink (think of fluorescent pink plastic toys or office products, and how they almost look orange at certain angles and bends).  You can see this tone around the side wall of my nails in some photos, especially the second one.  But the blue micro-shimmer adds a cooler tone and extra depth where it catches the light, so you get a good range of "pinks" with this one gel.  For a nice change, the shimmer definitely is not overpowering, so it may stand out a lot or barely at all depending on your lighting--compare the first photo (with flash) to the third photo (with more indirect sunlight).

 I think I used three or four coats for this gel polish, but I really can't remember.  The problem I had with this color (as well as the other Orly SmartGel I used previously) is that it was just a little too sheer for my liking.  While the application was smooth and even, the color just didn't build up to full opacity, so I stopped once I was just "OK" with the amount of coverage.  You can still see some "visible nail line" in a lot of lights and even in some of my photos--especially the first and fourth photos.

I have two more Orly SmartGel shades to wear eventually--hopefully the sheerness isn't a problem with all of them!

PS Did you know the 10th anniversary of the movie "Mean Girls" was April 30th?  I'm happy to say that yes, that Wednesday I WAS wearing this pink! :)  Look at this LinkUp of others who wore pink recently, too: