Saturday, May 31, 2014

Daphine Polish - His Dark Materials collection, part 1

Hi, everyone! Today I am very, very excited to be sharing the first half of the His Dark Materials collection by Daphine Polish with you! This collection of eight polishes is inspired by a trilogy by Philip Pullman that includes The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. I think this collection has some really gorgeous polishes that will appeal to fans and strangers of the trilogy alike.

Admittedly, I am not familiar with this series, but I go absolutely nuts for literary-inspired collections, (anyone remember my "BUY ALL THE HUNGER GAMES POLISH" days?) and Joanne of Daphine Polish was kind enough to send me an amazingly detailed write up of the collection, inspiration for each polish, and quotes from the books to accompany them, so I will be borrowing heavily from her summary. I also watched the movie version of the first book, but won't even pretend that this makes me an expert on the series!

In the words of Joanne: "To quickly summarize these books, they tell the coming-of-age adventures of Lyra Belacqua, an ordinary orphan from Oxford who turns out to be the most important person in not just her universe, but in all universes. This collection mainly draws on The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife for inspiration." For reference, I have denoted all text written by Joanne in underlined text.

Now, on to the swatches!

Polishes provided for review.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Simple Sunflowers

Mondays are the worst, but hopefully this sunflower mani will brighten up your day a bit! I do floral designs a lot, but I realized when doing this that I've really only ever done roses or daisies. I definitely need to work on my sunflower technique, but I thought the finished product was pretty enough to share anyway.

The gradient base was done by sponging China Glaze - Too Yacht to Handle and That's Shore Bright. These are two of my favorite colors in my entire polish collection, and I especially love them together!

I used the Elmer's glue clean up method, which I have to say is one the best ideas ever. I emptied and cleaned out an old bottle of base coat I don't use, and use the brush to apply a thin coat of glue around my entire nail. The "thin" part is key if you don't want to wait around for it to dry forever. Also, you don't want to get the glue line too close to your nail--you might end up accidentally peeling off some of the polish you actually want on your nail. Then, once you're done doing the gradient, just peel the glue off! It saves your cuticles tons of acetone exposure, and who doesn't love peeling dried glue off their fingers? I distinctly remember getting in trouble in kindergarten for doing that ALL the time.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Polish Pusher - Unicorn Sneeze

Good morning and happy memorial day to my USA nail babes! Today I have a fabulous design inspired by an even more fabulous indie polish -- Unicorn Sneeze from Polish Pusher.

Unicorn Sneeze is a vibrant, hot pink jelly polish with pink, blue, and orange small glitters and large blue holo dot glitters. These photos show three thin coats of squishy goodness, and these first three photos show it topped with HK Girl Topcoat. Without topcoat, this polish dries to a velvety, semi-matte finish. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Juliet Inspired Florals

Do any of you use the app Timehop? If you don't, it's this app that you connect to your social media, then every day you get an alert of things you posted that day in past years. It's a really funny way to be reminded of how far you've come (or how old you are!) Today, I got an update that it has been SEVEN YEARS since I performed in a local theater company's production of Romeo & Juliet. I really loved theater in high school, and playing Juliet during my senior year was a great way to end my "career." 

In reminiscing back to my glory days, I realized that I, appropriately, just received Juliet by Polish Addict Nail Color in my recent order. So, I decided to use the polish and the the play as inspiration for today's mani!

This mani started with a base of Polish Addict Nail Color - Juliet on my middle and ring finger, and China Glaze - Spring in My Step on my index and thumb nail, two coats of each. Juliet is a pretty, white crelly with small gold, rose gold, and holo glitters throughout. Formula and glitter spread was ideal! The China Glaze was another story, though...application was splotchy and difficult. Without a generous coat of HK Girl Topcoat to smooth it out, it would have been a total loss. The color is certainly very pretty, though! This light, feminine color pallet set the stage (get it!) for the rest of my Juliet-themed mani.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Polish Addict Nail Color - Purple Potion #46

Nail babes, I FINALLY popped my Polish Addict Nail Color cherry! PANC was one of the first indie brands I ever followed, and for some reason I waited an entire year to take the plunge. Last week, I finally picked up some minis, (because I wanted too many!) which included this gorgeous thermal, Purple Potion #46.

These photos show three thin coats of Polish Addict Nail Color - Purple Potion #46. It is a cool-toned, glitter and flakie packed crelly polish that applied like a dream.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

UVA Graduation

Hi everyone! Today I finally had a chance to post my mani from this past weekend. I was in Charlottesville, Virginia for my boyfriend's sister's graduation from the University of Virginia. I also graduated from UVA three long years ago, and I haven't been back since. I was so excited to revisit my alma mater that I did some Wahoo-themed nails.

Polishes used were Sinful Colors - Snow Me White, OPI - Eurso Euro, and a Nail Honey custom orange polish. The studs are regular gold studs from the Born Pretty Store that I painted orange using a small Winstonia brush.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Gradients & Glitter

Gradients are probably my favorite nail art technique. Once you figure them out, they're by far the quickest way to make a simple mani something more striking and special. Usually I try to stick to similar colors, or shades at least in the same family, when doing gradients, but for this mani I pushed myself to try something new. 

The pink half of the gradient was made using Revlon Parfumerie - Ginger Melon. I have a handful of polishes from this collection, and I've been really impressed with the quality of all of them--not to mention their amazing scents! Ginger Melon was one I wanted to for a while, and it was difficult to find, but I'm so glad I finally did. It's a gorgeous, warm toned pink that smells incredibly delicious.

The blue half of the gradient is Sally Hansen - Blue Me Away! This polish was a birthday gift from my dear friend Rei, and I can't believe I'm just now getting around to using it. Its a summery, vibrant turquoise that gets amazingly opaque coverage. This actually reminds me that I should pick up more polishes from the X-treme Wear line, since they've always had great formulas and I hear they're good for watermarbleing. 

Also, I used the Elmer's glue anti-clean up method for the first time. It's AMAZING how much time it saves, especially for this blue that screams "NAIL STAINER!" I need to practice my application a little, (I got to close to the nail and ended up pulling up some of the polish from my nail) but I'll definitely keep practicing this method just because it's so easy, and saves my cuticles from too much acetone bathing.

I topped the gradient with one dabbed coat of Lumina Lacquer - Dance in the Rain. If you can show me an indie line with better mixes in their glitter bombs, I will eat an entire humble pie. Every polish I've tried by Lumina is incredible, complex, and unique, and it's always easy to grab all of the glitters--even those large dots I love so dearly!

I went macro crazy when photographing this mani, so you get two!

For the two macros, the first photo in the post, and the one below, I topped the entire look with a generous coat of Sally Hansen - Big Matte Topcoat

I loved wearing this and got lots of compliments! I even got one from a stranger on the train this morning, which always makes my day. I wish I could keep it on for a few days, but I've got plans for a very special themed mani for the weekend, so it will have to live on in photos alone. However, expect to see LOTS more gradients now that I've found the glue method!
Wednesday, May 14, 2014

NOTD: Hare Polish - For Margot Tenenbaum

My dear ladies and germs, (and gents, if you're out there) today I have the distinct pleasure of sharing my new favorite polish of all time with you! Without further ado, I give you a polish I love in name as much as I love on my nails, For Margot Tenenbaum by Hare Polish.

For Margot Tenenbaum is a mint/aqua jelly with gold glitters in various sizes and gold hued flakies throughout. These photos show two coats with top coat. Formula is fabulously smooth to apply, and glitter spread evenly with each stroke. This is my first polish from Hare, but it definitely lived up to its stellar reputation.

I honestly fell in love with this polish the very fist time I saw it. The color of the base is stunning, and I adore the glitter mix within. I am also obsessed with the Wes Anderson and his classic film The Royal Tenenbaums. Gwenyth Paltrow plays the sullen, emotionless Margot, the namesake of this polish, which is somewhat ironic since she's missing a finger in the movie. I think Wes would approve. 

Naturally, I had to pair this stunner with a polish that could complement its beauty without taking center stage. The lovely OPI - Love.Angel.Music.Baby. seemed an ideal choice. I honestly never get tired of the beautiful satin finish in this polish. The turquoise studs are from the Born Pretty Store, item #5603. If you order from them, be sure to use the coupon code JNJ61 for 10% off your order!

Le sigh. I don't know how I'm going to justify using any polish besides For Margot Tenenbaum from now on, because I am totally obsessed with it. Do you have a polish like that? And more importantly, do you love The Royal Tenenbaums?! (if your answer to that one is that you haven't seen it, RUN DON'T WALK and see it now! but only if you like hilarious, ironic, understated cinematic masterpieces...)
Monday, May 12, 2014

Cracked Confetti & Jelly Spots

Today I have a super bright, summer inspired mani! I've seen this sheer jelly over polka dot design all over Instagram and have been wanting to recreate it for awhile, but I also wanted to put my own twist on the design. These colors just make me want to crack open a summer ale, put on a comically large pair of sunglasses, and lounge by the pool all day!

With Sinful Colors - Endless Blue, I used a Bundlemonster striper brush to outline my nail, and a large dotting tool for the polka dots. Then, I applied a single coat of L'oreal - Miss Pixie to give a sheer layer. These two polishes went together perfectly! I'm really loving all of these jelly L'oreal polishes in general. Sheer seems to be a huge nail trend right now, and I found them all on Amazon for about $3 each. 

For the accent nail, I started with two coats of OPI - I Just Can't Cope-a-cabana from the Brazil collection. I have to say, I absolutely adore this yellow. Perfect full coverage in two coats, no undies required?! It also seems to flatter so many skin tones, which is really hard with yellows.

For the glitter gradient, I used Pinwheel Polish - Cracked Confetti. OMG! This glitter bomb is amazing. Check out the macro!

So many colors and shapes, and very festive! I think it really tied the entire thing together. For some reason, I always associate royal blue and yellow with summer. What are your go-to summer shades?
Saturday, May 10, 2014

My first Stitch Fix + inspired manis

My post today is a bit different from what I usually do, but I really hope you all enjoy the mix of fashion and nail art.

Have you heard of Stitch Fix? It's an innovative online personal styling service! Here's how it works: go to the site, fill out your style profile, and schedule a fix! That. Is. It. Within a few weeks, five items tailored to your size and style preferences will arrive in your mailbox, and you get to choose which ones get to stay in your closet. When you schedule a fix, you will be charged a $20 styling fee, which goes towards anything you keep in your box. Also, if you keep all five of the items, you receive a 25% discount on everything.

When I got the alert from my apartment building that my package had arrived, I practically sprinted home and tore into my Fix! I was immediately excited by the patterns and textures I saw, and found the personalized note from my stylist, Elle, to be a nice touch.

Your fix also comes with styling cards for each item with recommendations on what to pair each piece with. So, what was inside?!

First of all, I had specifically requested a maxi skirt or dress when I scheduled my fix. My first reaction here was conflicted: my stylist included both a skirt AND a dress (yay!) but they were also both horizontally striped (as a curvy girl who's always trying to drop 10-15 pounds...hmmm...) However, one of the cardinal rules of Stitch Fix is to try everything on, even if you think it won't work for you. So I followed the rules.

I was so surprised to find that I loved everything about the THML - Kahlo Racer Back Striped Maxi Dress ($78) dress. The pattern was (somehow!) figure flattering, the shape was surprisingly structured, and I love the pop of color and detail at the neckline. The length was also perfect, which I was concerned about since I'm on the shorter side. My only complaint about this piece was the price tag--$78 seems like a lot to spend on a dress without much structure or substance like this one.

I promised you nails, didn't I?! This mani was inspired by the dress above.

I applied two coats of OPI - My Vampire is Buff, and used a striper brush by Bundlemonster to add thin stripes of Zoya - Storm. I tried to replicate the loopy embroidery using a small detail brush and dotting tools by Bundlemonster in OPI - Live.Love.Carnaval.

Once I realized I loved the dress, I figured the similarly-styled skirt would be a definite return. Then I tried it on, along with the Fate - Antonietta Zip-Front Sleeveless Blouse as my stylist recommended:

For being, theoretically, almost identical to the dress, this is such a different look to me! The color pallet is more beachy and low key, and the shape more casual. This Honey Punch - Quincey Striped Maxi Skirt ($58) was a bit longer on me in length, but the foldover top made it adjustable to a certain degree, and I like having the option of pairing it with flats or heels. On the downside, I also found the price of this one to be a bit higher than what I would usually pay for such a simple piece.

On another note, the Fate - Antonietta Zip-Front Sleeveless Blouse ($58) is just SO me. I love white tops, I love zipper details, and I love sleeveless/tank styles that cover enough to be office appropriate, but are still wearable and fun for the weekend.

This paring also inspired a mani!

This mani began with a base of China Glaze - Too Yacht to Handle (index & middle finger) and In a Lily Bit (ring & pinky finger). I used striping tape to create the striping with Colores de Carol - 1912 and the lattice pattern with Sinful Colors - Snow Me White. I used a Bundlemonster dotting tool to enlarge the crosses to mimic the embroidery on the top.

The next item I tried was the Pomelo - Kenedy Lace Crochet & Ikat Print Dress ($78). This is so perfect for spring and summer! This length can be tricky for my shape, but the flair in the skirt balanced out my bust and hips, and adding a belt (my own, not included in the fix) really accentuated my shape. Again, I love that I could wear this to work or to Sunday brunch. The material of the skirt is so soft, and overall it just felt like a nice, well made piece.

The final item in my box was Papermoon - Wynn Arrow Print Front Pocket Blouse ($48). I had seen this on some other bloggers who reviewed their fixes, and was so excited to pull it out of my own. This style top (gauzy, loose, and 3/4 length sleeved) is such a staple in my wardrobe, since it's wearable year-round depending on how you style it. Pairing something so light and airy with a cami is a great way to prevent sweating to death in the heat of DC summer.

Even though I love the pattern and cut of the shirt in general, I wasn't totally enthused about the neckline, and it was a little small in the shoulders.

This one also inspired a nail look!

I began with a base of Cult Nails - Time Traveler (middle & index fingers) and Riot (index & pinky finger). Using a Bundlemonster striping brush, I added the chevrons in Sinful Colors - Snow Me White and Riot.

When I initially scheduled my fix, I had planned on keeping two, maybe three of the items. However, once I had all these pretty clothes in my actual home, it was reaaaally hard to imagine letting them go. Even with my misgivings about the top and some of the prices, I took the plunge and kept everything. I'm glad I didn't sign myself up for monthly fixes right away, because I could see this being a serious drain on my bank account! Luckily, the 25% discount for buying all five items made one of the dresses free. I'm definitely a Stitch Fix convert...I scheduled my next fix that same day.

What do you think? Would you like to see another post like this when I get my next fix? Or should I keep to showing my hands instead of my face? Let me know in the comments! Also, if you're interested in giving Stitch Fix a try, use this link and I'll get a referral bonus towards my next purchase!
Sunday, May 4, 2014

NOTD: Ladylike Golden Tones for Rei!

I have a special nail-of-the-day to share that was inspired by my numero uno nailbabe, Rei of Reinovate Nails! It's her birthday today, so I tried to channel her in my mani. To me, Rei's work screams class and simplicity, when she's not blowing me away with her mind boggling stamping skills. For some reason, I am unreasonably terrified of trying stamping, so I had to go the clean and simple route. I also wanted something that called to mind how wonderful and ladylike (lol) she always is. I'm really pleased with what I ended up with!

I combined Fancy Gloss - Golden Swan with Zoya - Godiva. I used two coats of each, and topped Golden Swan with HK Girl Topcoat. 

Fancy Gloss is a new to me indie brand, and I was very impressed with the quality! The polish has tons of silvery, gold, and holo glitters in a white crelly base, and I loved how much glitter I picked up in each stroke.

Godiva was one of the first Zoya polishes I ever bought, and it remains one of my ultimate favorites. I'm a total sucker for nudes, and this one is so understated and classy. Even though I've moved past my obsession for texture polishes, they definitely still have a special spot in my collection. Again, I'm often inspired by how Rei combines texture with glossy polishes for a really dynamic look.

If you've been following Rei for any length of time, (which, if you're not, what's wrong with you?! Find her here or here!) you'll know that her signature pose has caught out like wildfire all over the Instagram nail community. I love this photo style, and especially love when I see others using it and giving Rei credit for the idea. It's such a unique way to showcase the polish!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

OPI Tribal Nails

Hi everyone! Can you believe it's May already?! I'm excited because this means I'm almost done with my first year of grad school, and will very soon have WAY more time for fun stuff, like nail painting! I only hope the weather will catch up because it is still way too cold and rainy here in DC.

Today I have this fun tribal mani to share with you, done entirely with OPI polishes. I've seen lots of tribal patterns in the blogosphere and on Instagram lately, and love this trend for spring and summer. I'm pretty limited in my artistic abilities, but I can always come up with combinations of lines a geometric shapes, and the color palettes are endless for this type of design. 

I started out with a base of My Vampire is Buff, the quintessential creamy nude shade adored by nail lovers around the world. True to OPI form, application of this polish was easy, and the finished product was a beautiful, neutral blank canvas. This is two coats topped with top coat. I was quite tempted to leave it this way.

But of course, the "more is more!" in me won that battle, especially since I haven't done much actual art lately. I used a thin Bundlemonster brush to apply Can't Find My Czechbook, Live Love Carnaval, and Love.Angel.Music.Baby for the tribal designs. Then, I topped everything with 2 coats of HK Girl Topcoat to smooth everything out. 

These tiny details took me a few hours, but I find this very therapeutic and relaxing, and I was excited to be so pleased with the finished product! I've been feeling uninspired a lot lately, and have wound up with designs that have way too much going on, or just don't flow together. Hopefully, this mani will pull me out of my rut!