Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stash Swatch Initiative: Zoya Blogger Collection by Birchbox

Hello again!

From left to right: Zoya Kate, Zoya Belle, Zoya Coraline
Zoya Blogger Collection by Birchbox. Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

Today I have a long post covering the limited edition Birchbox Blogger Trio of Zoya polishes. This trio is comprised of three jelly polishes--one with shimmer! The three are fabulously coordinated and great for summer. These are bright and fun and I love them.

First we have Zoya Kate. Kate is a grapefruit pink jelly. This one was the most opaque of the bunch. For the two photos below, my index finger has one coat, middle has two coats, and the rest have three coats. I used Sinful Colors Nail Hardening Base and no topcoat for these as well. At three coats, this wasn't quite opaque, but the color saturation was nice.

Zoya Kate. Outdoors, sunlight, no flash.
Zoya Kate: Indoors, artificial light, no flash.
Next is Zoya Coraline. Coraline is an orange jelly, which reminds me of Tang (nom!). As above, this is Sinful Colors Nail Hardening Base on all fingers, one coat of Coraline on my index finger, two on my middle finger, and the rest have three coats. I found Coraline to be the sheerest of the three, and it seemed slightly murky to my eye.

Zoya Coraline. Outdoors, sunlight, no flash.

Zoya Coraline. Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

Finally, we have my favorite of the three, Zoya Belle. Belle is a fantastic light pink-based jelly with gold and pink shimmer. I also used the same Sinful Colors base coat and left my index finger with one coat, middle with two, and the rest have three coats, so you can see exactly what this polish is like. Belle is so gorgeous! Even at only one coat, I thought this was glamorous.

Zoya Belle. Outdoors, sunlight, no flash.
Zoya Belle. Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

 Formula on all of these was great to work with; they are sheer, as you would expect for a jelly finish, but they build nicely. The polish flows smoothly onto the nail, and I did not have any issues with pooling. They dry very glossy all on their own. I have worn Kate as a full mani, and I recall that wear time was about two days before tipwear became an issue. However, I just used Coraline for a mani, which lasted four or five days just fine. Perhaps, topcoat has something to do with it?

These are great for layering--both over eachother and other polishes. Here I've compared two coats of Kate to three of Coraline.

Coraline on the left, Kate on the right. Outdoors, sunlight, no flash.

 I also slapped a coat of Belle over two coats of Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Black Out for kicks. It definitely highlights the shimmer! These are one coat of Sinful Colors base and: Coraline on my ring finger at three coats plus one of Belle; Kate on my middle finger at two coats plus one of Belle; Sally Hansen Black Out on my index finger at two coats plus one of Belle.

Belle layered over (L-R) Sally Hansen Blackout, Zoya Kate, Zoya Coraline. Outdoors, sunlight, no flash.

Belle layered over (L-R) Zoya Coraline, Zoya Kate, Sally Hansen Blackout. Outdoors, sunlight, no flash.

And again indoors under artificial light. No flash.
I really hope that Zoya will add these awesomes polishes to their permanent line-up. It was great to see the Gloss Collection, which is three darker jelly polishes that Zoya introduced for fall. I can't wait to get my hands on those, but Saturday's little excursion ate up my polish budget for August and most of September. No more pretties for me until October! Wow that seems so far away... but, just as well, my current polish organization system (a two tiered tote) is full. No vacancy. I can't squeeze another polish in there, nor do I want to--I need a new solution because that tote is definately not beefy enough to handle the weight of all those polishes I put in it--it bows alarmingly when you pick it up. All those little bottles sure do add up!

Zoya Kate, Coraline, and Belle are part of the limited edition Birchbox Blogger Trio sold exclusively at Birchbox.com (here is the product page). Last I checked, it was still available, but who knows how long they will last since they have been out for some time now. 

Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

More soon! ^_^

Monday, July 30, 2012

New: China Glaze Bohemian Duochromes!

Hello again!

Indoors, artificial light, no flash. Ignore the red in the middle, that's actually the reflection of my red Olympus camera.

Today I have my picks from the newest China Glaze collection--the Bohemian Collection! I was lucky enough to snag this before they're supposed to go on sale thanks to the kind lady at Sally Beauty on Saturday. I just realized that my bottles have black caps and all the press I've seen for these has them wearing silver caps. I wonder what's up about that--has anyone seen these with the silver caps? Are they different?

I'll start with my favorite: Swanky Silk:

Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

 This is Swanky Silk at three coats with one coat of Sinful Colors Nail Hardening Base and one coat of Seche Vite. This was a bit sheer on the first coat, but by the third, it was opaque and had a fantastic depth to the color. The formula on these is slightly runny/watery but controllable. This one dried to an almost foil-like finish. It does show a little bit of the brush strokes, but nothing to worry about as long as you are careful. The duochrome effect is, sadly, very slight from a greenish-gold to a pinky-champagne. Even though the duochrome shift is underwhelming, I think this is a very elegant and beautiful color. I can see myself wanting to wear this in fall a lot.

Before I took this off, I wanted to experiment a little. I was curious to see what a gradient would look like with two duochromes, so I used the method made famous by Sammy over at the Nailasauras to make the gradient with Swanky Silk and Unpredictable. I was blown away by how gorgeous it ended up being. So much so that I didn't want to take it off... so I didn't! And you'll get a sloppy right-hand swatch of Unpredictable as the result. But here it is topped with Seche Vite:

Outdoors, natural light, no flash.

Outdoors, sunlight, no flash.

 Using the sponging method really brought these polishes to life. It took care of the brush stroke problem and made them super sparkly. Check out these sparkles!

Outdoors, sunlight, no flash.

I'm still wearing this now, and once I swatched Unpredictable on my right hand, I did this same thing. It's gorgeous! I keep staring at my nails!

As I mentioned, I used my non-dominant hand to do the next swatch. It is less than stellar--and definitely a lot more sloppy. I need practice! Here is three coats of Unpredictable, one coat of Sinful Colors Nail Hardening Base, and one coat of Seche Vite:

Outdoors, natural light, no flash.

Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

Unpredictable shifts from a greenish-gold to a greenish-blue. It had the same formula as Swanky Silk. It dried to less of a foil-like finish and far more metallic. As a result of this, it shows brushstrokes pretty bad and also highlights any flaws in the nail or the application. I'd suggest sponging on a final light coat of this to alleviate that problem, even if you don't do a gradient effect.

Overall, I'm happier with these than I thought I'd be. I was initially underwhelmed by the swatches I'd seen and disappointed by the weak duochrome effect. So, I only picked these two up because they looked the most unique. Now, I might consider snagging more if I see them on sale. I'm curious to see what other color combinations would make great gradients. I bet Swanky Silk with the purple of No Plain Jane would be stunning!

Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

More soon! ^_^

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bonus Post: NOTD and a Haul!

Good evening!

I wasn't planning on posting anything more until tomorrow, but I had some fun yesterday that I wanted to share. Mr. NeverWithoutPolish and I went on a shopping trip, and I scored some exciting things.

But before we get to that, I wanted to show you what I wore on my nails for this adventure. You see, by Friday night, my current mani (which you can see here) was in less than great shape, and I was tired of it anyway. I knew I'd be doing some swatching Sunday, so I needed a quick, fresh coat of paint to wear while out and about the next day. I told Mr. NeverWithoutPolish to pick a bottle, any bottle. He dug around a bit and surfaced with Zoya Maisie. Plan failed--this is a topcoat, I tell him, pick something to go under it. He searched some more and handed me my bottle of China Glaze Riveting. Here is the end result, excuse the tipwear, the pictures came after a long day of shopping.

Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

I thought this ended up rather nicely, and Mr. NeverWithoutPolish thought he did a good job. The green-blue flakies show up in nice contrast to the orange sparkle of Riveting. For extra fun, I mattified my ring fingers. 

Outdoors, natural light, no flash.
Onto the good stuff!

Sally's Loot!

I had a ton of coupons to use up yesterday, and the first stop was Sally Beauty. The lady at Sally's yesterday was kind enough to get the new China Glaze Bohemian Luster Chrome collection out of the back for me to look at and take my pick from. I was really grateful for this since the ladies in my local Sally's don't do that kind of thing (even though, I'd heard of this happening to many people throughout the Interwebs, I hadn't been privileged enough to experience it firsthand until now). The display she brought out had all the polishes except for Unpredictable, which was one of the two I wanted, so the lady was even more kind to go dig through the extra inventory to get one for me. While she was gone, I hit up the clearance rack and scored Glam-more, which was one of those polishes I wasn't planning on picking up unless it was a deal. Score! I've seen a few jelly sandwiches that use this and now I can't wait to give it a try. I also had my 15% off to use this month, so I walked out of there with Swanky Silk, Unpredictable, and Glam-more for less than fifteen bucks!

Ulta Loot!

After that, it was time for Ulta. /rant on Now, I love Ulta stores--I like how they're set up. I like how friendly and helpful the staff are, and I like how everything is sectioned off and samples are out for me to play with. What I don't like is that nearly all of the good stuff is excluded from coupons--if you send me a 20% off my purchase coupon, I get bummed when less than half of what I buy is eligible. I know, I should be thankful for any savings but still, it's like their baiting me. /rant off  I picked up a few things I use everyday that I was running low on--the Urban Decay Primer Potion (totally awesome stuff--eye makeup stays on all day. Love. It.) and some more mascara from Tarte (I also love Tarte--I experimentally switched form drug store brands to cruelty free, higher end brands a few months ago and Tarte was my brand of choice. I snagged a few value sets to try a range of their products all at once, and I'm hooked. I have never been this happy with my skin before--it's finally clear! Rejoice!). And since I was already there, I of course had to look through the polish displays. Sadly, everything was very picked over and only a few lonely bottles were left anywhere. I had wanted to try some Essence polishes but they were completely gone. They have a buy 2 get 1 free deal going so I grabbed some Zoyas from my wishlist and Orly Androgynie at random (I fell victim to the gorgeous gold holo glitter peeking out through the black base). The Zoyas are Robyn, Mimi, and Charisma.

Fresh Sugar minis and a big ol' purse for traveling.

After that, it was on to the mall where I got my birthday gift offer from Sephora, free underwear from Victoria's Secret (not pictured), and a new purse! Mr. NeverWithoutPolish snagged some clearanced golf shirts, and we perused new luggage options from several stores in anticipation of our Montana vacation next month. It was a fun day--we ate some bad for us food (waaaay cheating on our diets--Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast, Famous Dave's for lunch, and Coldstone Creamery for dinner. Nom!). We ended the day watching the Dark Knight Rises.

Such fun! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I spent most of today swatching in front of the television with the Olympics on. Go USA!! Check back tomorrow--I'll have swatches of the two China Glaze Bohemian duochromes for you!

More soon! ^_^

Friday, July 27, 2012

Nails of the Week: Wednesday and St. George

Hello again!

As promised, here is what I wore this week featuring Zoya Wednesday, A-England St. George, and Nyx Aqua Glitter:

Outdoors, sunlight.

I used one coat of Sinful Colors Nail Hardening Base Coat, two coats of Zoya Wednesday, and a coat of Seche Vite. After a day, I wanted a little more flair so I used hole-protectors to cover the base of Wednesday at the top of my nail and painted the rest with one coat of Nyx Aqua Glitter, which just added some sparkle. Once that was dry, I used Bundle Monster plate BM 21 and St. George to stamp over the same area. I then removed the hole-protectors. I had planned on leaving it that way, but it looked unfinished. My solution was to freehand a line at the top, creating a stronger half-moon design. This was my first try with a nail art brush and freehand, and I have to say, I dislike how thick the line became. I didn't have time to try again, but I'd have been much happier with this had it been a thin line. Live and learn, I guess! I topped everything off with a coat of New York Color's In a New York Minute Fast Dry Topcoat. This is the only topcoat I've tried that doesn't smear the stamped polish.

Outdoors, sunlight.

I had high hopes for this mani, but failed at executing it. I love the idea, so I'll have to give it another shot sometime.

More Monday! ^_^

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stash Swatch Initiative: Black Cat Lacquer

Hello again!

Today I have a very special set of polishes to show you. I haven't been this excited for an order to get to me in awhile. Here are my picks from Black Cat Lacquer, an 'indie' seller:

Indoors, artificial light, no flash.
That's Let Them Eat Cake on the left--a mix of pastel hex glitter in pink, blue, and green with small white glitter and a sprinkling of tiny holographic glitter. We have Rainbow Brite on the right--a rainbow mix of matte hex glitter in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple with tiny holographic glitter as well.

These are layering polishes. Both have a clear base and the glitter application with one coat is sparse. No glitter bomb here, but I like that for these. It creates a cute sprinkled or dotted look on the nail. I chose to show this layered over a few different things. Application was easy, however, I did not apply this like regular polish. I swirled the brush in the bottle then used the neck of the bottle to bend the brush enough to trap the glitter on the top of the brush and allow extra base polish to drain back into the bottle. I then smooshed the glitter on the nail and carefully slid it around until I was satisfied. The glitter in these lays flat--no curling! However, I did see a few oddly shaped glitters in my bottle of Rainbow Brite, like they weren't cut correctly; I don't mind at all (there aren't enough of them for it to be an issue for me), but I thought I should point it out. Both these polishes add some fun and flair and uniqueness to a mani. I'm very glad I snagged these. All photos today were taken indoors under artificial light without flash.

First off, let's look at Let Them Eat Cake:

Pastel glitter is awesome!

I first tried this over OPI Skull & Glossbones:

Then over one of my favorites, China Glaze Sunset Sail:

And finally, over China Glaze Sweet Hook:

All of these were one careful coat of Let Them Eat Cake, using the method detailed above, and no topcoat. I think my favorite is over Skull & Glossbones. The colors seem to pop the best over the neutral base.

Rainbow Brite--Happiness bottled!

Next up is Rainbow Brite. I picked out a few of the neons from China Glaze's summer lineup. Once again, these are all one careful coat and no topcoat. Here it is over Splish Splash:

Then over China Glaze Love's A Beach:

And finally, over China Glaze Beach Cruise-r:

I am loving this over these neons. The neon collection was excellent to begin with, this just makes them better!

Black Cat Lacquer can be purchased from her Etsy page here: BlackCatLacquer. She has a good selection of awesome-looking glitters; I plan on getting a few more as my polish budget allows. Tune-in to her Facebook page for updates and news about restocks and new items. Shipping was super quick; I ordered this midweek and had my nail mail Saturday afternoon!

More soon! ^_^

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stash Swatch Initiative: Zoya Wednesday

Hello again!

Indoors, artificial light, no flash.
Since it is Wednesday, I thought this would appropriate. Meet Zoya Wednesday from their recent summer Beach & Surf Collection. It's a beautiful dusty blue-green creme. It's a little more green than it looks here; no sunlight available at the time to get a better picture.

Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

This applied nicely and was so smooth when I was finished. I waited a day to stamp over this, and I kept running my fingers across my nails because they felt so perfectly glasslike. The first coat was slightly streaky, but a second coat evened everything out. Shown here is Sinful Colors Nail Hardening Basecoat, two coats of Zoya Wednesday, and one coat of Seche Vite. Seche Vite usually doesn't play well with Zoyas, but this time it didn't pull or shrink the polish noticeably.

I compared this to a few other polishes I thought might be similar:

Orly Gumdrop, Nyx Algae, Zoya Wednesday. Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

Indoors, artificial light, no flash.
Algae is pretty similar to Wednesday, but it is darker. Gumdrop is much lighter and cleaner than the other two. Formula-wise, I had no issues with any of them, though all apply streaky on the first coat and even out with a second.

Zoya can be purchased at their website Zoya.com and at Ulta stores (though, every time I've been in Ulta, the Zoya displays have been severely picked over). If you're interested in trying them, I'd suggest liking their Facebook page. They do a ton of promotions with really great deals. In fact, that's the reason I tried this brand in the first place--I had a buy 3 get 3 free promotion code that I just couldn't pass up, which led to about 20 more bottles jumping in my shopping cart.... Addict? I think so ^_^

This beauty is part of my current mani--check in Friday to see how I dressed her up!

More soon! ^_^

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stash Swatch Initiative: A-England Lady of the Lake

Outdoors, sunlight.
Hello again!

Today we start my attempt to swatch everything in my collection, which I've dubbed 'The Stash Swatch Initiative'. I got a lot of swatching done this past weekend, so updates will be short swatch posts daily during the week until I run out of polishes (unlikely, as I'm on the hunt for new ones any time I leave the house). I plan to show you what I wear each week, too.

Anyway, on to the polish! Today's swatch is Lady of the Lake from A-England.

Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

Outdoors, sunlight.

This is a gorgeous deep blue-purple polish with a scattered holographic effect. When I added this baby to my shopping cart, I didn't think I had anything like it. I was wrong. Take a look at Lady of the Lake compared to Color Club's Wild at Heart. Both pictures show Wild at Heart on my index and middle fingers while Lady of the Lake is on my ring finger and pinky.

Outdoors, natural light. Lady of the Lake on pinky and ring fingers, Wild at Heart on middle and index finger.

No base or topcoat here. Both are shown at two coats. Formula-wise, they are very close. The each have a great formula, which becomes opaque in two coats. I didn't have any problems with application and dry time was quick.
Indoors, artificial light, no flash.

They certainly aren't dupes, but they are similar. Wild at Heart is warmer and has a pink-tinged holo effect, where Lady of the Lake's holo is full spectrum rainbow.
Lady of the Lake is a part of A-England's 'The Mythicals' collection and can be purchased from A-England's website as well as from llarowe (which is where I got mine). This was in the first order of polishes I purchased from llarowe, and I was impressed. I ordered on a Friday afternoon, received shipping confirmation two hours later, and by Monday afternoon, the package was sitting in my mailbox. Magic, I say! It's a long jaunt to the mid-Atlantic states from Colorado.

I purchased my bottle of Wild at Heart from Head2Toe Beauty. It's been a long time since I made that order, so I can't recall how quickly it came. I do know that I will order from there again--they've got a great selection of polishes from older collections at really cheap prices (I think most Color Club are $3 and China Glaze too).

More soon! ^_^

Friday, July 20, 2012

Copy Cat: Jelly Sandwich - Nails of the Week

Hello there.

First off, I want to be up front about this: this mani was not my idea.

Have you heard about Pinterest? Are you using it yet? It is awesome, so if you don't know what it is, go check it out (I'll gladly send a Pinterest invite out to anyone who wants one--just shoot me an email). Sometime last fall, I discovered Pinterest and that's how my addiction to nail polish started. I saw a photo of a mani just like this there back in January. It intrigued me, so I followed the link and discovered nail polish blogging. It's taken me six months to work my way down the list of "Mani's to Try" to get to this one, but here it is: 

The inspiration for this week's manicure came from Cristina over at Let Them Have Polish. I'd link to her, but I'm not sure what the etiquette is for doing that... is there a Blogger 101 course I can take? I think I need that. Anyway, I don't want to be discourteous and make the link if that's not okay, but I do want to give credit where credit is due. I saw this on her blog first! Google exists, I'm sure you can find your way over there if you don't follow already (she's awesome; I love reading her posts!). 


This is three coats of Zoya Coraline from the Birchbox Blogger Trio, which is excessive for this mani, I admit, but I stopped there and took swatch photos (so look for a post with that on it's own soon!). One smooshed around coat of Milani Jewel FX in Gold. Topped with another two coats of Coraline. This was super shiny, but I did top the whole thing off with a coat of Seche Vite to help dry it all.

Wear time on this has been great. I put this on Sunday night, and it is still looking good this Friday morning with some barely noticeable tip wear. I wasn't sure it would last this long because Zoya Kate, Coraline's pink sister, showed a lot of tip wear after just two days when I wore it on it's own.

I'm excited to see the new Zoya Gloss collection. I love these Birchbox jellies from Zoya, so I am thrilled to see them come out with more. I'll have to swatch the rest of the Birchbox trio soon--you don't want to miss out on it. It's limited edition and can be purchased at Birchbox.com for $22 with free shipping! The Milani Jewel FX I found at CVS. 

More soon! ^_^