Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Want to see some Halloween-inspired nails and eyes I did yesterday?

My nails for the rest of the week will be these awesome Incoco Mischief Night nail appliques. They're an orange glitter base with a sheer black overlay that creates the outlines of jack-o-lantern faces. The application was super easy on these, but I still managed to mess them up by trying to peel tape with my nails too soon after application (Bad! Bad Scrangie!).

My eyes were candy corn!

I want to know what your Halloween nails are and what your costume is!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Essie Winter 2011 Collection Swatches and Review

A little set of six creamy, muted shades from Essie this winter. It actually doesn't feel like a winter collection to me. Nothing snowy, not too vampy, no pairing of red and green, no glitter. Just a few wearable, subdued shades that could really be in any season's collection.

Essie Bangle Jangle. A very soft purple-tinted grey. In some lights it looks more purple than grey, like pictured here. This is not stark or chalky, it, like the rest of the shades in the collection, is very soft and creamy, even a little muted looking.

Essie Brooch The Subject. A light creamy beige. A little bit of grey (just a drop), a little bit of pink. Not pure stark beige. Soft and creamy beige.

Essie Bobbing for Baubles. A very dark dirty blue creme. Actually, it looks more teal than pure blue on me, like a Rescue Beauty Lounge Teal type of teal. The smoky peacock kind.

Essie Cocktail Bling. This one is a blue-toned light grey creme. Not a whole lot to add to that!

Essie School of Hard Rocks. Another teal creme, but this one is lighter. My picture does it no justice, but it's also very soft and muted like the other shades in the collection. It's more pronounced on this color, but I don't think my photo conveys how soft it looks.

Essie Size Matters. A light, pink-leaning red creme. This seems so out of place with all these greyed-out, borderline pastel colors, but somehow it works. I think this collection needed a little splash of color.

The formula on these was great. Smooth and even. Bangle Jangle was a little streaky, but otherwise no problems to report. I did three coats of each. Drying time was great. Brushes were thin and even, no defects.

Nice little set of soft shades, but nothing we haven't seen before. Essie doesn't do teals all that often, so that was nice to see in here. Bangle Jangle is very pretty. Other than that, nothing exciting or brand new, so not much for me to say except that I can't wait for the Luxeffects collection to be released!

(This was sent to me for review.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

New OPI Designer Series Shades for 2011 Swatches and Review

OPI has just released 2011's two new Designer Series additions; OPI Designer Series Bold and OPI Designer Series Temptation. Gone are the days when new Designer Series shades meant brand new holographic polishes to covet... These two new shades are pure glitter without a hint of holo.

OPI Designer Series Bold. This is a light red tinted base with medium sized light red and silver glitter. This polish looks very pink in some lights, and this is definitely a pink toned red. Not quite a coral, not really a pure red, either. The slightly tinted base looks really good mixed with the glitter as it adds depth without drowning the sparkle. The downside to this is that it's basically a duplicate of China Glaze Mrs. Claus from Holiday 2010.

OPI Designer Series Temptation. This is a total glitterbomb. There's so much glitter in here. Lots of different shapes and colors. Large purple and blue, tiny purple and blue microglitter, small sliver glitter, sometimes I think I spot some tiny pink glitter, too. The base is slightly colored purple, as if it wasn't purple enough already. The color is gorgeous and the glitter is very sparkly. It's similar in color to a few other shades, though no exact matches. Some examples of the purple/blue glitter combination are Jessica Funkytown, Sinful Colors Frenzy, Illamasqua Boo, and LA Girl Rockstar Overdose.

The formula on these was disappointing. OPI has released a lot of great glitters in the past few years, so I really hold them to a higher standard. Bold had a good formula despite being sheer. Temptation was thick as glue and extremely rough. I did three coats of each and both needed the third. If I had applied Temptation more carefully I could have gotten away with only two. Drying time is longer than average for OPI. Temptation dries extremely rough and gritty and when I wore it, it needed three coats of topcoat.

While I do like these colors, I am let down by them. They are very pretty (you know how much I love glitter), but they're not Designer Series worthy. Designer Series used to mean something special- namely, it used to mean you were getting an amazing holographic polish. In recent years, they've abandoned that whole "Diamond Dust" holographic special color thing and just started releasing normal colors, calling them Designer Series and then charging more for them. I don't know why they even bother calling it Designer Series anymore if there's nothing to set the Designer Series polishes apart from regular OPI shades.

That being said, when taken at face value, they're great colors. They're beautiful and very fun, sparkly, interesting colors. I wish that Temptation had a better formula because the day I wore it, I got two unsolicited compliments. It really is a stunning shade. I may try thinning my bottle to improve application, but I don't think that will help the scratchy rough edges and the tendency to dry like sandpaper.

(These were sent to me for review.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Nicole by OPI Glitters for Holiday 2011 Swatches and Review

One of Nicole by OPI's Holiday collections this year is a set of four amazing holiday glitters. It doesn't have a name as far as I'm aware, but it's a really nice little set. The other collection they're doing is that Kardashian collection, which is a full 14 shade collection, slightly bigger than the usual 12 shade collection. They'll both be available in November.

Glitter In My Stocking. A super fine warm gold microglitter with red microglitter accents. Maybe there's some copper in here, it's hard to tell. The glitter is very fine and sparkles a lot so it's hard to pin down exact colors. I want to say it's just red and gold but it looks so much more complicated than just two colors. I adore this. This combination of colors is perfect for fall and winter and the very tiny glitter seems extra shiny somehow.

My Sleigh's In The Shop. This is a fuchsia, purple and gold microglitter. The exact color was hard to capture, but if you have Nubar's Petunia Sparkle, it's quite close to that in color. The glitter in this is very fine just like in Glitter in my Stocking, and the small gold accent glitter makes it look so much more alive and complex than purple alone.

Ornament For Each Other. This is the opposite of Glitter in my Stocking: Bright red with gold accents. This red is really rich and vibrant and the gold is warm and bright and the two colors look perfect together. I'm really loving these subtle color mixes; reminds me a little of those Milani One Coat glitters that I loved so much. The splash of accent color gives these something special, something extra.

Snowman Of My Dreams. A blue-based multicolor glitter. It has all kinds of different colors in here- yellow, pink, purple, red, silver, but the dominant color is a light blue and it gives the polish an overall blue look with colored accents. My least favorite of the collection, but that doesn't mean it's bad. I really like it, but the glitter is bigger and not as sparkly and sugar-fine as the other shades.

The formula on these is excellent. It's thinner and more loosely flowing (but not runny or watery) than most glitter formulas, giving a perfectly smooth, lump-free, precise application. One thing that is really important to note about these is that they do NOT have that terrible "Perfect Stroke" brush that Nicole was putting in the polishes for a while. These have a normal, thin, round brush like the old Nicoles always had. That really helps with the application. These are very opaque for such fine glitter and only needed two coats for opacity, but I did three anyway. They dry quickly and are a lot more smooth than I thought they would be. Regardless, they still suck up topcoat after they dry, so you may like do to an extra coat to ensure a super glossy finish.

Overall, I'm head over heels for these. They are awesome. I haven't a single complaint about this collection other than I wish it had more shades! These super fine glitters are fantastic and I really hope they do more shades and color combinations with this type of glitter. Every color is beautiful and applies like a dream. Very happy with this collection. Perfection.

This collection will be available starting in November.

(These were sent to me for review.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Halloween in Montreal 2011 Review

Pretty Indulgent is a Canadian e-tailer for all kinds of great stuff: Nail polish like China Glaze, OPI, Zoya and Nubar as well as some great handmade bath and body lines like Villainess (a personal favorite of mine) and Arcana. Pretty Indulgent has recently started carrying Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfumes, and among them are four limited edition Pretty Indulgent exclusive scents. The four scents are designed to celebrate the culture and history of Quebec, and one of them is dedicated to the celebration of Halloween in Montreal, and that's what I'm reviewing today.

The description of Halloween: Montreal from the site:

"When Halloween comes to Montreal, winter doesn’t lag far behind. Trick-or-treating is done in mad, giddy dashes between houses, an exhilarated rush in the darkness. The air is crisp, sometimes biting, and more than one toddler waddles through the eve, bundled in a snowsuit beneath their inevitably rotund costumes. Chimney smoke and woodstove fires, and all the classic scents of Halloween – loads of candy, leaves, cold earth, smashed pumpkins left over from Mat Night’s debauchery – are sharp and clear in the frosty air.

La fumée de cheminée et toutes les odeurs de l'Halloween - bonbons en masse, feuilles mortes, terre gelée, citrouilles écrasées - parfument l'air glacial."

The very first time I smelled it, I smelled strong pumpkin and earthy leaves. I wore it for a few hours and then set the bottle aside for a few days so I could think about the scent.

I've just tried it again after a few days of not smelling it and I get a completely different impression. Cold air and sweet, sticky pine sap.

Straight from the bottle, I smell syrupy pumpkin and maple, icy air, and pine needles. On my skin, the pine needles come to the forefront and the whole thing smells green and icy. Sap, pine needles, snow, cold air. The pine in this is not sharp and chemical like cleaning products, it's fresh and realistic like sitting next to a Christmas tree. There's a quick hint of a creamy, edible pumpkin, but it disappears shortly after application.

After a while, the pine settles down and a soft sweetness emerges. This may be the candy that's noted in the description, but it's not strong or particularly sweet. It's a delicate, sugary sweetness, not necessarily a candy-like fruity or baked type of sweetness. It seems to provide a smooth and somewhat soft base to what is otherwise a very crisp and outdoorsy scent. Beyond the sugar, ice and pine, I get a very fleeting impression of woodsmoke. Dry and warm, very cozy, but very subtle. It balances the cold and sweet nicely.

After a few hours on my skin, the whole thing blends to a cool sweetness with no detectable single notes. It reminds me in a way of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Snow White, which is cold and sweet, but this is softer and more sugary.

It's a really nice scent that perfectly captures that change from fall to winter. It's not just an interesting scent, it's actually a wearable, flattering scent to wear. And what's more, it's very unlike any perfume you will smell in a store or on someone in a crowd, and that's what I love about Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Every scent is not the standard nondescript-fruity-floral-migraine hell that dominates the mainstream fragrance market. These are definitely in a class of their own.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Halloween in Montreal is limited edition and available exclusively from Pretty Indulgent.

(This was sent to me by Pretty Indulgent.)

Finger Paints Merry and Bright Collection Holiday 2011 Swatches and Review

Finger Paints has done a really different type of Holiday collection this year. None of the predictable reds and greens and golds commonly seen this time of year, but instead the Merry and Bright collection contains a selection of bright colors and glitters for layering.

Comet's Collar. A light metallic yellow-toned green. This is made of medium-sized shimmer particles in a subtle mix of colors- some yellowy, some iridescent, some gold. It gives the polish a textured shimmery look with glints of iridescent color when the light hits it just right.

Drummer Boy. A light blue glitter in a clear base. This is your standard type of glitter particle- big, round, silver-based. The blue coating looks lighter or darker depending on the angle, and is very shiny in a chrome-like way, but isn't actually very sparkly.

Frosty Night. A plain silver glitter in a clear base. Like Drummer Boy, this glitter is shiny but not sparkly. It's actually rather dull looking, it doesn't come alive in the light like normal glitter. This is probably my least favorite silver glitter ever.

Santa Kisses. A red glitter in a clear base. This one isn't as shiny as the others, and it's not sparkly, either. It's colorful, but it's dull and lifeless.

Winter Sky. Under winter skies, we stand glorious.... Winter Sky is a very unexpected bright but soft blue with gorgeous electric aqua shimmer. It doesn't look like much inside, but the shimmer really comes out in sunlight.

Yule Be Merry. Another really unexpected color. Bright magenta with pink and purple flash.

Just for fun, this is what my label for this one said. I know it's not the real label because it's a sample, but it still made me smile. I love typos on polish bottles!

Since the glitters are so sheer, I thought I'd try layering to see what they look like:
This is one coat of Drummer Boy over Winter Sky. Much better layered, but still no sparkle! Just shiny metal plates.

The formula on these was somewhat hit and miss. The glitters were thick and a bit goopy, but the shimmer shades had a fairly even, albeit rather thick, formula. Winter Sky was opaque in one coat, the rest needed three. I'm wearing three plus topcoat in these pictures. Drying time is long due to the thickness of the formula.

I have to say... I'm disappointed. I liked these better in the promo pictures because they looked more sparkly and colorful. In real life, they're just... Eh. The shimmer shades are nice, but I would personally pass on the glitters. They're really sheer and they don't sparkle. I do appreciate that they decided to think outside the box and not do the stereotypical red/green/gold-themed Holiday collection, but I gotta tell you... I miss those stereotypical holiday colors! I love those velvety, vampy reds, sparkly silver and gold glitters, blackened evergreens and snowy whites. To me, this collection feels like a random assortment of colors leftover from other collections.

Maybe I'm being too harsh, but none of these colors really stand out to me or draw me in. This is the first Finger Paints holiday collection I haven't liked. In my opinion, each year Finger Paints does one of the prettiest holiday collections out of all the brands (see 2010, 2009, and I haven't reviewed it, but here's 2008 for reference). This year's collection seemed to lack that holiday magic and sparkle that the Finger Paints holiday collections always have.

Anyway, these will be available starting in November exclusively at Sally Beauty.

(These were sent to me for review.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Deborah Lippmann Glitters for Holiday 2011

Deborah Lippmann has really been cranking out the glitters lately, hasn't she? I'm pretty thrilled about that because Lippmann always seems to have the most interesting types of glitter. All those big sequins, even better when they're in jelly bases. This Holiday brings a few more Lippmann sequin glitters and I have two of them to review.

Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? This is a large red hexagon sequin glitter in a clear base.

I Love The Nightlife. This is a large grey-silver hexagon sequin in a clear base. The base is just barely tinted smoky grey, but it shows as clear on the nail.

Now, what I'm wearing here is two 'coats', and I use the word coat loosely. These have such an odd formula that I couldn't use a normal polish application technique. Instead, what I did was load my brush with polish and place a large drop on the center of my nail. Using the polish brush, I pushed around the glitter pieces until I had fairly even dispersion over the nail and then I waited five minutes and applied another coat the same way.

These are best for layering, but I'm sure complete coverage can be achieved by clever maneuvering of the glitter while the polish is still wet. Using the same technique, I layered one coat of each over my usual Wet n Wild black polish:

Deborah Lippmann Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? over black.

Deborah Lippmann I Love The Nightlife over black.

The formula on these is, like I mentioned before, unusual. It's very thick and the glitter comes out in clumps. A normal brushstroke application didn't work for these. A lot of the glitter is stuck to the sides of the bottles, so I'm wondering if a little polish thinner would loosen the whole thing enough to aid application. Other than the weird texture, the drying time is good and the bottles and brushes are flawless as usual. These need a lot of topcoat to be completely smooth and the removal is a bit rough.

I really like the way they look at two coats, it makes me think of armor plating. The red one makes me think of blood cells and platelets in medical diagrams. The formula on these was strange but not impossible. Layering with these is easier than wearing them solo, but they look fun either way.

(These were sent to me for review.)