Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Fine Cruelty Free Cuticle Oil. Not using one? Get one!

My next manicure will be with LeChat. It means "the cat", hence the clever little feline on the bottle! The best news is that LeChat is Cruelty Free! YAY! I invested in a bit of it, if I like it I will invest in more because I really, really, really want to stay as cruelty free as possible. Also, I have tried the LeChat Nobility line of cuticle essential oils, one scent so far, the citrus lavender. Love love love. I just ordered another set of 4 for a really great price off of evilbay. I may go back and see if I can't find more scents because I love the stuff. It's an oil but it soaks right in, left my cuticles nice and soft and the scent is nice but not cloying. I've read the cucumber variety is really nice, I may have to institute a search.

It comes in a nice size, .85oz, most come in .5, which isn't a lot, really. I thought it was a bit spendy until I found it for roughly $4.95/bottle on the evil site which we don't want to name.

It comes in these pretty bottles with the little rampant lion on them for the Nobility line:

It's a nice hourglass shape, as you can see, and it's also a frosted glass, which makes it easier to handle. The top of the bottle cap is the bladder for the dropper. In a pro environment you can't use a brush because cuticle oils are not self disinfecting like polish so you need droppers. I've actually ordered a small stash of droppers so I can use things that come with brushes if I want, plus stuff gets broken, it's the way of life. 

The dropper on this is interesting. It's a very wide one, not the usual tapered end. What I'm discovering is the beauty of this is that it is very economical, surprisingly! I don't feel I have to use the bladder much because the shape of the dropper already wants to distribute a nice drop without the bladder. I'd say you can maybe even only use the bladder to get product into the vial end and then let it do the rest of the work dispensing. Pretty clever stuff. Here is a shot of the vial end of the dropper, emptied so it didn't get all over my chair:

 Please ignore my nails, I'm in the process of taking off the Nein! Nein! Nein! Ok Fine! That you saw in my last post. I'm moving a little slowly. It's a tough job when you can't lift your lower arm!

Part of what I want to present on my table is a collection of pretty but useful items so when a new client steps up she (or he) knows that I'm aware of the aesthetics of this business. That this is cruelty free is just...well. Psht. How can I not be thrilled with that!?! This bottle definitely does it, from it's regal little roaring lion, to the shape, the essential oils have a markedly different scent to the watered down scents one gets with diluted nut oils, and the silver cap just looks elegant. Recommend!!!

The scent itself, you are wondering. I love it, but I am a big fan of lavender and citrus mixed together. I'm also a big fan of amber and other so called "Oriental" scents used in perfumes as a frame of reference to my schnoz. If you are not, this isn't going to be a good one for you. It's more lavender than citrus, the citrus adds more of a middle note of sweet tart to the lavender. I like this, personally. It lasts nicely, but not hours. I am thinking this scent would be a good ending to a nice spa manicure or for a client who tends to like to sit and be quiet through their service. It's relaxing, which is what lavender does, and the feel is so lovely. I am really excited and hoping the other scents are as wonderful as this.

I hope you're taking good care of the skin around your nail plates out there in Talonland!!

Stay tuned! I may post something in another month or so. **eye rolling at myself**

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Nein! Nein! Nein! OK Fine!

So today I'm showing you a couple shots of OPI Nein! Nein! Nein! OK Fine! Gelcolor. This is about wow, 10 days old, you can see I'm growing it out.

OPI Gelcolor has some odd habits. It likes to shrink back from the tips and sometimes pools. I've found that if I go back on a third try and just do the tips quickly, I can get the free edge covered, but it creates a little swoop shape instead of a nice smooth axis. I can live with this. I get a ton of compliments on my nails while I'm working at school and more than once I've had clients eyeballing my nails and hinting they want that on them, but it's usually not something we have at school because I'm a dingbat. However, I will be able to offer my professional clients whatever I am wearing because duh, I bought it for them.

I have read online that doing two base coats will take care of this shrinkage. I will be trying that and will try to report back my findings. My next manicure will be with LeChat, more on them in my next post, which believe it or not, is scheduled and will actually post Saturday. Ha. Yes, making good use of my I used to be a ballet dancer but I wiped out and sprained my shoulder and that's way more humiliating because I used to be a ballet dancer time. I can barely move my right arm. It sucks. I can only type because I can rest my hand on the keyboard tray and I wish I were playing.

Nein, as I will heretofore lovingly refer to it because while the name is amusing it's freaking long to type out (Sorry to my German Friends, I know you guys will forgive me *waves to Chicago and Frankfurt*) was a part of, get this, the German collection. I know. Right?? The gelcolors I purchased as The Divas set, which...not sure why the Germans are considered Divas, but whatevs. This manicure has been on for about 10 days, I put it on in my usual ritual of painting everything black for the wretched You Suck Cause You're Single holiday known to the rest of the world as Valentine's. (When you have a good male friend who hates Valentine's too, but he lets you know he's thinking of you...that's pretty special. Thanks, darling!)

Nein is a dark charcoal with a greenish hint in it. It's an interesting color and I know it's been really popular but I found it a tad drab. On my uber white skin it was a striking contrast, and it was elegant. I have to admit that. As I'm looking at my talons, one hand with the top coat buffered off, I'm thinking I might actually like it better matte. Let me take a snap of that to add to this post because...I think you should see it, really. It's not a great matte job but you'll get the idea. It softens it, gives it that stealth bomber feel, makes it seem a little dangerous. pain meds are getting the better of me. You decide.

Take a look:

I have abused the crap out of this manicure. You can see I'm growing it out. I wish I had a better shot, but forgive me please. I can't really maneuver around to get shadow free. I managed to get you a couple good nails here. This has been hit with the electric file, foot files, I've tried to get it to rub off on paper (it doesn't) and it's still ticking. This was one tough set of nails, and you know, that being said, the Diva moniker seems even sillier, don't you think?

You can see here very well that there is a hint of olive drab to this, it's definitely grey and not black, there is also a brown feel to this. But you see what I mean about drab? Maybe it's just my skin tone. I like it, don't get me served it's purpose So well.

Here's the buffed down version. Interesting, don't you think? OPI does do a matte top coat for gel now, I may try this again with that instead. I might like it better softened. I don't know, something in the original gloss makes this kind of off for me. Maybe matte is the answer. Or glitter. What problems of the world can't be cured with more glitter? It's even better than cowbell.

So there it is! And another post to actually follow in a timely manner, you can't stand the prosperity out there, can you? Huh? Anyone?




Tuesday, December 31, 2013

ARG! Happy New Year!

I think we already know I'm pretty much the world's worst blogger. I rarely post these days and I've gone back on my word on no cruelty just because of the reality of the industry I've chosen to get into and its prejudices. I have invested in OPI Gelcolor because that is what clients want to see. I've shown them pretty CND Shellac colors and they gravitate towards the OPI box regardless. Mind you, I don't really care for the CND is goopier and I find harder to work with, but that's simply a preference thing. I also recognize, and I hope you do as well, that when it comes to building a clientele you have to have what they want. Once I've done that I will be able to put any weird thing I find on my table and most of my clients will be willing to try it because they trust me, but I have to build the trust first. And I'm sorry, but the OPI LED light frankly rocks. They are hella expensive, but they do work amazingly well. Plus the easy to see and read timer is just so wonderful, more so than you can imagine. I've used the CND light and it has a timer on it as well, but you have to hit the button every time. OPIs is motion activated. I can't tell you what a help that is.

So I have a scary picture for you, finally, a swatch! Of sorts...don't get excited. I kind of wanted to show you what a nail tech in training deals with when it comes to her own nails. They're a mess most of the time, I assure you. Gels have been my saviour, though I still am not a huge fan, I can't fault the wear, now that I understand how to apply and remove them, and as my nails are my advertisements...well, I can only hope you all understand.

This is a gorgeous Vinylux color that I do actually recommend you pick up called Wildfire. It's an amazing pure red. I don't have the latest Chanel amazing red, I just can't afford it right now, so I can't compare them for you, but this is really gorgeous. It comes in all three CND formats, as far as I know, so if Shellac is your thang, you can rock this. However, this was one day after a day at school. Stay out of the acetone, that's all I can say:

Oh my, right? However, you can see the color on that pinky! It's really a beautiful red. This is the only picture I had of it, but I'm positive I will wear it again.

My nails are currently sporting the OPI Gelcolors Big Apple Red and Which is Witch from the Oz collection which mostly did not exactly take my breath away. However, Which is Witch is GORGE, and I recommend it in one form or another.

I took this Friday night after I had painted them Thursday morning before class. The background is from a magazine ad, I apologize, I can't even tell you which one at this point so if someone finds this and gets all in a tizzy about it, sorry about that.

The holo bar glitters in this just really make it. It's now Wednesday and this hasn't been abused overly much, I have to say, not a lot of dishes or typing, but it has done a couple standard manicures at school, 4, I believe, and as long as you stick to non-acetone removers or even acetone based removers, which are less damaging to your nails (or your client's), then it stays on and shiny like a dream. Big Apple Red is a classic OPI from years and years ago, it's a straight up cream, but I can tell you from experience, you can put tons of stuff on top of this and it's going to look great. I've even seen this with a micro glitter additive and it's gorgeous. It's a classic Joan Crawford-y, scratch your eyes out kind of red. If your skin tone is good for blue reds, you can't really go wrong with either of these reds.

Yeah, I know, I don't wear a lot of reds, and I have a ton of gelcolor spoons to get made...anyone know how to do that?

Also, I've been reading a lot of message boards, getting ideas on popular colors, what will people want to try, etc, and finding where many of you out there are trying this yourselves and not having a lot of luck. Well...stop it. There is a knack to this stuff. I'm not saying you can't figure it out, but honestly? If you want good results, let a pro do it. And I'm not just saying that because I almost am one. I'm saying that so you don't go invest hundreds of yen on a light and gelcolors only to find you have shrinkage or lifting or bad application. Let us do it. We actually enjoy it, and you'll get beautiful shaping and cuticles to go with. It's worth it. And as gel polishes, not enhancements, that is a whole other beast, wear for about 10-14 days, sometimes longer on some people, it's worth letting us take care of you in order to get the best result.

That's just my two cents, you can think I'm an idiot if you want to.

As for gel enhancements...don't try that at home. It has taken me numerous tries to even get it right, let alone looking good. Plus, it's painful. I'm thinking of putting it on my menu of services as The Dominatrix Deluxe or The Masochist's Delight. That shit burns like a mutha. It makes grown women cry, I'm not even exaggerating. It looks gorgeous. It feels terrible! I may offer them, haven't will partly depend on where I get a table. I still have a shot at working with BMWWU and I sincerely hope that happens because I can learn so much from her. We'll see.

So that's what's up with me. I find it amazing that I can spend 6 hours at school doing nails and looking at nails and learning about nails and come home some Assassin's Creed Brotherhood (almost done!) while playing with nail polish. This might have been a good move for me happiness wise.

I hope all of you out there find your happiness as well! Here's to a better 2014 than 2013:

Here's to more sweet Vietnamese guys who send me beautiful pictures and poems and serenades of my favorite songs. I hope the moon is gorgeous tonight to ring in the new year. I know we'll both be watching it.

Here's to fewer psychotic Syrians who call me wretched names and flip out. I still hope you don't get blown up even though you obviously have PTSD. When you were sweet you were very sweet. Nutjob.

And to the magical disappearing Moroccan? What happened to you? We were having a good time! Left your job and everything without a word. What up wit dat? 

Here's to no more bosses who say things like "Oh no no no. *I* get that day off." and not being accused of making meth at my desk. (True story! Then she called me "hot pants". I'm not even sure I know what that means!)

To my German, find what makes you happy and don't let her go. Stop throwing yourself away on whackadoodles. It breaks my heart each time you break yours. You're one of my besties and I love you.

To Ruby Pumps - you go girl! Busting out of your comfort zone like a mutha! Keep it up girlfriend! I'll be there every step of the way.

And BoBo - Stay with it girlfriend, you're almost there. Don't give up now. It's worth it.'ve got a good one, hold on to him. I'm so happy for you. You deserve it! I know 2013 was up and down. I so hope 2014 is only up and into the stars!

Here's to a year filled with color and life and lacquer!

Here's to more champagne and less pain in general.

Decide this year will be amazing and amazing things will happen.

Happy Talons to all and to all a Great 2014!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Updates from Nail School

Howdy y'all!

Two posts in one day, must be some sort of recent record for me. I barely get to post at all. Plus, I get my nails done all the time at school so others can work on completing their "Book", which is the state board proof of 4000 manicures, pedicures, enhancements, drills, repairs, etc, that is required at the time of our state exams. It's usually OPI, not usually mine (stuff goes missing, I don't take my good polish to school, I just use what's available) and I basically have nubbins now. I had to take them off. Two broke, were repaired by a friend at school and then broke all over again so I did the big snip. Blah.

I'm starting to learn acrylics. I hate them. I won't be offering them. I will learn to do them and do them as well as I am able, but I don't really want anything to do with them. They're pissy and difficult and not good for your nails. Plus they take FOREVER. I will offer gel polishes, I'm working on getting the light I want right now through a fellow student with an esthetician's license, so she gets the good deals. I don't personally care for them, but they are everywhere and it's going to be necessary to offer them. I also plan to offer VinyLux as a UV free option. I like those a good deal better, removal is hella easier and the price point is much more manageable.

Speaking of which, the mark up on nail products is obscene. I am now able to shop at the supply houses and DAY-UM. Unreal. I may have mentioned that before.

I haven't started on gel nails yet. The jury is out. I have a ridiculously expensive AXXIUM light that was part of my school kit that will just sit if I don't. We'll see how I feel about them once I start actually trying to use them. They're so versatile...I don't know. Just not sure yet.

So these are my latest ramblings on nail school. I need to go find some sustenance as I need to get ready to motor in about an hour or so. This night schedule is a killer!

A really wonderful Vegan Polish Resource
I just found this, immediately sent a comment thanking the writer and subscribed to her blog. Please take a look at it, it's probably the best resource I have found out there, I can't believe I haven't found it before. What I love about it is she links you to the correspondence she's had with the various companies so you can see for yourself what is said, plus she is really clear on what is or isn't completely vegan and why in the products. I found this fantastic. While I'm very worried about testing on bunnies or monkeys or any other critter, I'm not so worried about the plight of the silk worm, though maybe that is bad.


Well, now I feel like I need to go on a Save the Silk Worm crusade.

This introduced me to some new brands I want to check out!! Take a look for yourselves and see what else is out there. The only thing that would make this perfect would be a linky to places to shop for these. Maybe it's in there and I missed it, I only have a little time before I need to scram to get ready for school. Which is going well, sorry I'm not sharing that here, I get really tired. Night school sucks.

I hope all is going well for all of you! Happy Talons!

Monday, October 28, 2013

How Being Cruelty Free isn't possible in nail school, and other various rants

Arg. So I have completed my first week in school towards becoming a nail technician. I've done one manicure, observed part of a spa pedicure and been studying my brains out. It's weird how my school does it. Everyone starts at different times. I'm the only one who started this month, so I had to do the manicuring chapter and then 3 other chapters to be on the same page as the rest of the class. Everyone I know there will be gone by January some time. Two already have spots in salons, one, ironically, where I get my hair done.

I was informed Friday that I'm far behind on manicures and pedicures. I haven't learned pedicures yet. And everyone else is so far ahead of me that I have no one to practice on. They're all wearing gels and acrylics. And of course the obligatory mean girl I have to win over. Why is there always a mean girl? And how did I get so far behind? How far behind am I? I understand we accomplished nothing with me last week. I don't understand! I had no direction! I don't know what I'm doing!

They're big into nail art, most of them. I'm wearing nail art right now. I'd show it to you but I only know one color name, it's OPI and I didn't do it. I don't want anyone thinking I did this art when I really just sat there trying to watch the process.

Nail art is so not me.

I'm going to have to learn to do it, I will have to submit some as a part of my classwork, not me. I'm thinking of ideas and I ordered some cheapy stuff (beads, rhinestones and whatnot) to help me out and a good set of brushes. I hope they're good anyways. Not like I'm going to know the difference. They were very highly rated on Amazon and had a good amount of different brushes for me to play with and I got everything for less than $20. I did my first attempt which was black and purple horizontal stripes for a school fashion show Friday. They weren't very good. The brushes were very tiny and the purple was being uncooperative and I suck. Basically. It will never be my forte. I can probably offer to stick on some rhinestones and maybe learn to paint some stuff. Spa manis and pedis and standard wet manis and pedis are probably going to be my main thing. UV gel nails scare the crap out of me as does the drill thing. Who looked at a dremel tool and said "HEY! Let's use that on nails!"? But I will learn to do that, too. Just probably won't really, you know, offer it as a part of my services.

So here's the deal. EVERYTHING is OPI. Everything. Polish, tools, lotions, scrubs...all of it. OPI is supposedly cruelty free but their parent company definitely is not and I try not to support any kind of profit from animal testing which rules out a lot of companies with testing parent companies. Any Lauder company, though that's the one I slip on the most, Nars, Shisheido, just about anything at the drug store. Incidentally, if you didn't know, Sinful Colors was bought by Revlon. Good-by cruelty free status. My KIT will be OPI. It's a gigantor train station case thing on wheels with one of those telescoping handles like on a suitcase. It's really quite nice, I confess that openly. However, it has a  big old plate on it embossed with a big old OPI. The girls decorate these up with stickers and whatnot because there really is no way to tell them apart without that. Lots of hearts and butterflies. I have a ManGlaze sticker because...I'm me. If I can score something like pin-up girls or skulls I'm all over that shit. Because...I'm me. Something cutesy and sweet would feel like posing. As will carting around a big ass case from a company I don't support. Will I have to cave on OPI? Just to have a recognizable brand on my table? I sincerely hope not.

So...I can either drag my really expensive cool stuff in there to support my cruelty free choices and risk losing them when I can't afford to replace them let alone buy lunch, and still have to use school stuff to fill in what I don't have, or I can suck it up, get through the next 5 months and then pick up where I left off with companies I am willing to support, which...that's probably the answer. Finding a part time job has proven challenging. The schedule just doesn't work.

So apart from is OK. I don't know what I'm doing, which I hate, I am learning the routine, but today is another day of fumbling through as I don't know how theory classes work or even where they are. I think I know. Not sure. I've been kind of left to my own devices which means I observe some and study a lot. Our teacher is one of only a couple, possibly only two, left on the floor at night so she's gone a lot looking at hair styles and sometimes getting styled. I find this lack of structure very frustrating. I'd rather three or four of us would start at once and go through together, but I suppose that cuts into school profit as then there are weeks when no nail services can be offered to the public. Still. I don't like being the only newb though the other students are helpful and open for the most part.

Right now I feel weary. I have tests today as a part of theory and I don't know how that's going to go, though I can retake them if I flunk. I didn't sleep well at all. I'm trying to review now, but you can see how that's going. Not well!

I hope your talons are happy and you're hanging in there! Posts will likely be few and far between with school. It eats up an amazing amount of time, though I hope that will get better as I'm doing more practical work and less book learnin'.

Take care, everyone! 'Til next time!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Illamasqua Venous, some Halloween glitter and a GRRRRR

I haven't blogged in awhile, not seriously. If you read me, you already know this and maybe you are cursing my name, or thanking me, depending on how you feel about my posts and their general silliness. Today, in the midst of my unemployment (I had a brief moment of wishing I hadn't done it and then I thought about the job. That was all that took. POOF. It was begone.) I thought...I need to post something. Anything. So editing photos was not something I had done in awhile, either. Yeahhhh. Picasa editing has been done away with, you now must edit in google+. Not a fan. And I can't add TEXT. So...I can't help protect my photo work from unscrupulous evilbayers who steal your photos to sell their shit. Not. Amused. I've been looking for another way. If any of my fellow bloggers are out here and reading, please comment and let me know what you do. I don't want to hog up valuable hard drive space with ridiculous amounts of photos for the blog...what do you all do? Help! A different hard drive? I can maybe do that. A different website? That would be great. Any and all help is appreciated.

So here are my very theft available photos of Venous on it's own that I took months ago as well as my current Venous fun mani with Glow in the Dark pumpkin polish! (very likely not cruelty free, which I hate.)

Pretty green cream, this is a lot lighter than in real life, but it does have that dusty quality to the color. Wow, never mind the nubbin!

2 coats of lovely goodness, but still lighter than in real life. I think some of my photos from today turned out truer. I have a different phone, because I'm that serious of a blogger I use my phone for swatching, and it is much nicer.

And the box label. How much do I love these? A lot. Like...mondo a lot. Like I want to kiss the genius at Illamasqua who decided to put a color reference on the name dots. Not only is Illamasqua one of my favorite brands for about anything, but they are so stinking smart. Love love love.

I like Venous, it's a pretty, very rich and deep green. Not forest green or pine, but just deep velvety green. Much more so than my swatches show. I'm so frustrated I didn't even go back and try to adjust them. GRRRRR.

I mean, come on Google. Don't you know that photo theft is rampant??


So I finally actually decided to wear this for real the other day and it's wearing well. This was partly brought about by the release of all things Halloween, including the nail polishes! I'm on a pretty strict no-buy, having no money does that to you, but when I see the Halloween polishes I splurge a little. These are only $3 and I can never resist. I'm pretty sure they are not cruelty free but I'm trying to find out. I'm a bad cruelty free person. I try. I think I've mentioned that's all I can do, right?

OK. Look what a little digging produces: Pumpkin Polishes,
and a little more digging found one list that lists them as cruelty free. Do with that what you will.

It's the spooky eyes side! These two make a pretty good match. The pumpkin polish is really very sheer. Like...clear level of sheer, I could detect no color. So I immediately took it off, redid the base coats and found Venous as a good match for the base, though really anything would have worked.

The happy eyes picture! The bottles are two faced little Jacks. It's so fun. Halloween polishes are the best. If you want definite for sure cruelty free status, the coffin polishes are made by Wet-n-Wild. I have a couple fun Halloween ideas for those, so hopefully I fix this photo issue and can show you!

OK, here we go. This is a very color true photo of Venous, even with the top coat sparkling things up. This really did turn out pretty. The glitter from the pumpkin is really tiny, though not micro, and it's amazingly smooth. The polish was a tad goopy to apply, but I have to say, I was impressed with the finish. The sparkly spread evenly and with very little trouble and the thing with a goopier polish is it freakin stays where you put it. I kinda like that. A little thinner wouldn't have hurt things, though.

And those pencils are awesome. They're mechanical pencils that look like pencils and they're small for us teeny handed people. Look for them today at your local Evil Empire outlet. That's where I got mine and I'm hooked.

But little black and white puppies steal and chew them. Be forewarned.

Last shot coming up!

Whoa, little blurry. Sorry. If I could have edited these I would have known that! GOOGLE! Haven't you ever heard if it's not broke don't fix it?? Learn it! However, it's very color true so I'm leaving it. blog will be deleted for something like "Excessive rage" or something.

And yes, the glow in the dark really works! I just don't have a photo of that.

This was a fun combination for any time, I recommend you try these little pumpkins if you see them. This one will work equally well over anything, it's so sheer. On a lighter polish you might see more of the blue in it but I can't see it being any kind of problem.

What do you think? Love it? I do!

Happy Talons!