Monday, January 25, 2010

Alice? Absolutely! (OPI Absolutely Alice)

I swear, I wasn't planning on wearing this until the no-buy month was up, but then I violated the no-buy on something else, and Alice was sitting there, and...

Yeah. Quick and dirty pictures below. The thumb is still the franken test. The franken dries smoother, but takes longer to dry. I really only needed one coat of Diamont to make it perfectly smooth, but it dented within the hour.

Three coats Absolutely Alice, two coats Diamont.

One of these fingers is not like the other.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

OPI Absolutely Alice dupe recipe notes

No pictures yet, because all I have are two thumbnails, one in the frankendupe, one in AA, that I'm about to strip off to do a real manicure, but it looks like AA is going to be one of the easier polishes to franken, should you have problems tracking it down.

It looks like about 2 parts Pure Ice Strapless to 1 part Sinful Paris will get you a dupe that's so dead on, I can't tell them apart.

This experiment will be confirmed once I'm off my no-buy and can pick up extra bottles of the ingredients.

I'm just not a string/bar glitter kind of girl.

If you are, of course, and you're in the States, you may want to swing down to a Hot Topic to pick up a bottle of their black/charcoal jelly polish with the holo string/bar glitter, because it's down to .98 cents .

This polish didn't even make it into my Helmer. I applied it last night, went, "My, for a string glitter, this is probably nice, and yet? Eww! Into the swap box with YOU!" and accepted that my accidental no-buy violation on Friday Night was, in this case, a Huge Mistake.

This is just not me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

NotD: China Glaze Metallic Muse

Sometimes, being on a no-buy doesn't mean you don't randomly get polish. I approve of these occasions.

Specifically, I got a text from a friend a few weeks back, asking if I had seen or had Metallic Muse, followed by one saying that, naturally, I needed it, and it would be coming to live with me next time I saw her.

She's totally right: I needed that polish.

Hello, shiny chrome finish!

Metallic Muse is a little greener than she photographs, is a terror to apply, wears like a typical chrome (in other words, horribly), and is one of the more stunning polishes I own. Lighter and more seafoam than China Glaze Adore, Metallic Muse's finish is slightly smoother, though I found the application worse. In terms of the finish, it's the closest modern chrome I've found to the old Sally Hansens, and is a close dupe to the SH Aquamarine Chrome.

Doesn't she photograph well? Both pictures natural sunlight.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tomorrow's polish today: OPI Designer Series Glamour

I love the OPI DS polishes. I do not, however, love the price. Once polish prices get double digit, I start to get twitchy. It's easy to justify a $2 bottle, not so easy to justify a $12 one.

Lucky for me I managed to score a whole bunch of discontinued ones at Trade Secret when they were at 60% off.

Tonight's DS is Glamour. It's my second favorite of the DS polishes I own, behind Desire. Glamour's a rich blurple, with one of the brightest holos in my collection. The formula's a little on the thin side, so cuticle flooding and drips are a risk, but the application is smooth, and you can almost get away with two coats.

OPI Designer Series Glamour

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Layers of laziness: L'Oreal Jet Set Confetti Girl's Night Out over Casey

At least I think it's Girl's Night Out. I can't remember which of the Confettis I snagged on eBay, and I think I misfiled the polish last night, because it's not back in my glitter drawer, although the Poshe is back with the topcoats, and I can't imagine bringing one bottle back to the polish station and not the other. This is what happens when I do my nails while watching TV, I tell you.

The Confettis fall into my Polish Regrets file, right near the top. I'm not sure what year they came out, though I expect it may've been while I was pregnant or in the year or two after my daughter was born, because those are the missing years for me in terms of polish. They're what I still think of as "new formula" Jet Sets, from the Shine line, with the nasty, awful, long, stiff, annoying brush and somewhat wonky application.

Please ignore my tipwear and focus on the green flash.

Flake glitter makes everything better

This is two coats over Sunday's Casey.

So pretty, so hard to track down! It's like having opals on your nails! And to think, these were available in drugstores during the short window when I wasn't polish shopping! It is enough to make a girl weep.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tomorrow's polish today: Zoya Casey

Tonight, one of my favorite TV shows, Chuck, returns to what feels like every TV but mine. You see, for almost every show I watch that's still airing, I'm on streaming delay.

In honor of the S3 premiere, I'm wearing one of those polishes I own because it shares a name with a TV character I like, in this case, Zoya Casey in honor of Chuck's John Casey.

Casey's a deep, deep vampy brown with a plum tone to it. It's jelly-ish, though by the three coats it takes for even coverage, you lose a lot of the effect.

Zoya Casey: l - halogen; r - fluorescent

Casey is also super shiny. I had a hard time getting my camera to focus on it because of the glare off the finish, and that's before I put a top coat on it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Polish time capsule: Sweet Georgia Brown Grape Surprise

The late '90s were a thrilling time for drugstore polish devotees. Liquid Euphoria, Gumballs, the early days of Sinful, glitter polish everywhere. If I had a time machine, I would go back and stockpile the stuff. I mean, more than I already have.

In 1997, I was living in a studio apartment in the University District with my now-husband. We were young, just out of college, and I my serious polish collecting had not yet quite begun. I think the polish I'm wearing right now was picked up then, but it could have been sometime later in 97-98, when we were living in Olympia and came up to Seattle to game on the weekends. My memory's fuzzy, and it's been a while. I do know that I bought this particular polish at the Bartell Drugs on the Ave, as part of my quest for the perfect purple polish (ongoing).

Sweet Georgia Brown Grape Surprise (I should file it with the blues, but know I won't)

It was not, as the pictures would show, the perfect purple polish. Heck, although I file it under purples, it's really more blue. Possibly blue enough that it's not even blurple. This is three coats. It's streaky, the formula's strange, and the color's slightly muddy. Oh, and did I mention it's a scented polish? Because it is. That's the surprise. The grape one. In the name. And yet it's still one of my favorite of my old polishes, perhaps because that smell of grape Kool Aid sends me spinning straight into nostalgia for my youth. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday franken: Oliva's Wall Art

Name of the franken taken from the children's book Olivia, specifically her attempt to recreate a Jackson Pollack on her wall (her opinion on the piece being that she could paint that in five minutes).

See, when the Rescue Beauty Lounge glitters made their debut, that was my reaction, "$18 for a glitter polish? I could franken that in five minutes!"

 Olivia's Wall Art
To make a long story short, Olivia's Wall Art turned into one of those frankens you randomly tweak, adding glitter as you find it, until it's been a heck of a lot more than five minutes, and you can't quite remember what look you were going for in the first place, nor what all you put in the thing. I know there's some old Tony and Tina glitter in there (a fine purple microglitter), and some large copper glitter that came with a mineral makeup order over five years ago, and I recently added MAC Purple glitter to it, but as for what polishes were there, that's lost in the mists of time.

Blurry, to show the sparkle.
I get good coverage in two coats, opaque by three, and this is actually four because I spaced out and started doing another coat by accident. Any spots that look like voids are actually just silver that didn't photograph well. For the amount of glitter that's in there, it's pretty smooth, which is always a plus.

While not my favorite franken (that's a blue jelly with gold glitter called Evening in Paris), it's certainly up there. If only I could remember what the ingredients were!

LOL part 2

Huh. I am liking this polish a lot more in the not so bright light of
day. This pic is a little bluer than RL, but the purple wound up a lot
less muddy than first impressions.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tomorrow's polish today: China Glaze LOL

See the previous post for the application warning. Like many holos, this one's grabby, so let each coat dry before putting on a new one.

I was able to get away with two coats per nail, once I put the Mirror Image base on, but I suspect with a regular basecoat, this polish would take three.coats to get even.

The OMG line holos are smooth, and the holo effect is very impressive under bright light. It also photographs well.

China Glaze LOL, (l-halogen light, r-fluorescent light, injury on middle finger from a tragic gate accident.)
The finish on this when it dries is almost satiny, which, combined with the slight grey tones in the base color, just makes it look like a muddy purple in dimmer light. This is one holo where I think it's worth the slight loss of holo effect to throw on a top coat. Sally Hansen Hard as Nails (technically a treatment), the one the MUA nail board posters have recommended, seems to work pretty well, with minimal dulling. Over all, a decent purple holo, but not one that makes me weak at the knees,

LOL with Hard as Nails on top.

Huh. (A trick for tricky holos.)

While doing Tomorrow's Nails Today, I was having a bit of trouble with my chosen color, China Glaze LOL.

Which is to say, it was applying like the worst possible hot streaky mess from hell.

Operating on a hunch, I broke out one of my bottles of Part 1 of the Mirror Image system (I always have more of the base than the top. Back when Maybelline was still selling it, I'd run out of the silver and still have 3/4s of a bottle of the clear base left. At last! A secondary use for it!), and painted it on over my usual basecoat (Barielle Natural Nail Camouflage). Suddenly, my hot streaky mess was a smooth, streak-free dream!

I suspect that the Nfu-Oh Water Base for holos would be similar, but as long as I have the Mirror Image base, I doubt I'll be finding out. (Some day, when I'm less tired, I'll do a comparison on the application with and without.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tomorrow's polish today: Zoya Irene

Zoya Irene was another one of my untrieds. I got it as part of the Green Friday promotion, and it's exactly the sort of color that's usually right up my alley, but over a month later, and it was still sitting in my green drawer, looking forlorn. I guess I haven't been in a mossy mood lately.

Zoya Irene

This is three coats, and it still felt a little on the sheer side. No application issues, dried fairly quickly with a coat of Nubar Diamont, but I suspect this is going to be one of those polishes that winds up on my toes more often than my tips (I'm more forgiving of coverage issues at ground level).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Layers for Humpday: Nfu-Oh 39 over Drinkin' My Blues Away

Drinkin' My Blues Away survived my Tuesday with nary a chip in sight, so rather than remove it, I added a layer of Nfu-Oh 39, an opalescent flake glitter in a clear base.

I'm not sure what I would do if it weren't for layering. I have the attention span of a crack-addled gnat and the "Ooo!! SHINY!!!" impulses of a magpie, which adds up to me changing my polish more often than is good for my cuticles. (Once, I went a whole work week wearing the same polish. I started freaking me out around day two, and I spent the rest of the week trying to get it to chip. Want a manicure to stay intact? Start looking for an excuse to remove it, and it will remain pristine for all eternity.)

Nfu-Oh's flake glitters are pretty much my favorite thing in the whole wide world for jazzing up an existing manicure. For starters, they cover exceptionally well: the picture on the left shows how flake-laden a single coat of this stuff is. (Ignore the appearance of bumps, which is a trick of the low light. The Nfu-Oh flake glitters are silky-smooth.)

Left: low light, Right: bright light.

The green flash of the flakes is almost identical to the green flash in the glass fleck glitter of the base color, which is hard to tell from my pictures. This range of Nfu-Ohs really does look just like opals on your nails, and make me wish I had the time and space to do a proper nail photography set up.

The flakes shift to an almost-indigo as you angle your hand. It's hard to capture against a blue background, but I expect it would look incredible against black.

Left: green glimmers, Right: the purple/indigo flash

Except for the stigmata-inducing drip off the brush stem, application with Nfu-Oh polishes is good. The brush is easy to handle, and decent-sized without being a mop. The formula is less gloppy than some of the Big 3 free polishes, though it does have an especially plastic smell.

Nfu-Oh polishes aren't cheap (they're $12.50 a bottle at the US distributer,, but the flake glitters are the best I've ever tried, and at 17ml a bottle, they're 2ml larger than OPI or China Glaze, so for a high end polish, it's almost a bargain. (MAC polishes are around the same price, but come in dinky little 10ml bottles.)

Flake glitter stigmata

Oh, Nfu-Oh, I love everything about you. Except your price, your strange melting Barbie chemical smell (thought that's growing on me), and your bad habit of dripping all over my palm.

Monday, January 4, 2010

NotD: China Glaze Drinkin' My Blues Away

I picked this up at a dusty last month, and haven't had a chance to wear it yet. Sure, I've swatched it on a nail wheel and drooled a little, and I think I may have layered it over Navy Baby one day, just as a trial, but I haven't worn it solo.

There's a good reason for that: this lady's a four-coater, and while all accounts were that she was worth the hassle, I hadn't had time until tonight.

So is she worth it? Let's just say if I wasn't on a no-buy, I'd be heading back to that dusty to buy up the rest of the bottles and hoard them so I never, ever, ever run out.

China Glaze Drinkin' My Blues Away
The picture on the left is a more accurate representation of the color, but the picture on the right captured the green and purple sparks that fly off the glass fleck shimmer. Both pictures capture my pre-cleanup nails and thrashed cuticles with embarrassing accuracy. I have a whole drawer of blues, but I don't have anything else quite like this one. She's special.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Nfu-Oh 554 + Sally Hansen Grape Going

Because a lack of content makes me sad...

Nfu-Oh 554 + one layer Sally Hansen Grape Going

Grape Going's been driving me nuts since I got it: it's too sheer to get away with just one coat (or even just two), but the Insta-Dri polishes take forever to dry on me if I add additional coats (most of them are pigmented enough that this isn't a problem). As my Nfu-Oh 554 was too subdued for a Monday Morning Manicure (look, I'm going back to the office after two weeks on vacation, I need something eye-catching to keep me conscious), I thought I'd see if I could get approximate bottle color this way, and indeed! Success! The end result's slightly darker than Grape Going alone, but not so much that it bugs me.

Bonus: when I move my fingers just right, I'm seeing an awesome red flash in addition to the blue. Curious. (I see it if I angle the bottle, so it's not just a side effect of the layering.)

How to get through a no-buy month by shopping your stash (and starting a [second] polish blog)

So at some point, looking at my budget, looking at my overflowing fraternal twin Helmers, I decided that, after the holidays, no really, I was going to go on a no-buy. And, of course, start actually trying some of the many, many untrieds in the place.

After three days of that, and daily photos sent to my Tumblr (where I have been sending photos of my nails whenever I remember to do so for a while now), I realized, nope, that wasn't going to cut it. Too quick, too easy, too much time left to go drool at picspam over at the nailboard and "accidentally" make large online orders of polish that was just too good a deal to pass up.

So I'm going to try my hand (my left one, because it won the coin toss or drew the short straw) at actually blogging about polish for a while. And what better way to start than by talking about me and nail polish?

The first time I remember counting my polishes, I had over 100. That was 1998. I  hit 200+ before 1999, a polish volume that remained more or less constant for the better part of a decade.

And then I started reading nail polish blogs. And reading the Makeup Alley nail board. Suddenly, 200 polishes didn't seem like that many, and hey! If you stuck them in one of those Helmers everyone was talking about, they'd take up hardly any space at all.

I think I have over 500 polishes now. I had to get a second Helmer about six months after the first. My blue, green, and purple drawers are all stuffed to the gills, and my glitter drawer is getting there.

And speaking of purple...

Today's nails are Nfu-Oh 554, a stunning true purple jelly that photographs a lot bluer than it is in real life.

Nfu-Oh 554

Three coats to bottle color (the first two were a streaky mess), and it's worn fairly well on a day when I've been more than usually active. The formula is typically Nfu-Oh drippy, so I had a purple polish stigmata look going on for a while, but if you're more patient than I am and actually wipe your brush before you apply, you shouldn't have that problem.

Testing mail post