Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Really Fun Halloween Manicure

When consulting about what to put on next I suggested to MDAMO that he keep in mind that it's Halloween. I love Halloween. I do. I love the idea of the spirits coming back to have one hell of a bash once a year. I love the pumpkins and the black cats. I just wish I could find that Ouija board necklace to mess with the people at work who would probably crank up the gospel and form a prayer circle to save my damned immortal soul. **massive eye rolling**

I might know where it is....

MDAMO said what kind of oranges do you have? I want ORANGE. I want PUMPKIN ORANGE. I don't look good in orange. I have a few, but with my red hair it is generally going to clash with me all the way around. I ran a few in front of him but he wanted pumpkin. Well, poo. Then I had an epiphany. That sparkly thing from the Wet n Wild collection last year. But could you still get it? He looked around on line and found some sellers that were not on evilbay. So this is still out there. And while it's fantastic for Halloween, it's not so Halloweeny that you can't wear it other times if the mood takes you. It's really fun.

I give you Creepy Pumpkin!

Really really orange with a yellow gold sparkle in it. What is not to love? And that pumpkin face is a sticker from Kiss, which I got on sale at Walgreen's. Limited edition! OOO...AHHH!
I enjoyed that sticker a ridiculous amount. I really did.

I'm kind of trying to hide him because one of his eyes came off. Creepier. These were taking in pretty much natural sunlight through the window, incidentally. It glows!

This wore incredibly well. This is the tip wear after about 5 days. Really great. For a really bargain, not meant to be worn for more than a few days polish it's amazing.

The right hand, every bit as good.I just love the sparkle in this, it looks like you could dive into it and be surrounded by it, like an orange starry sky! I know that's cheesy, but look at it! It's really wonderful.

The right hand differently.

One bottle shot. These are the ones that come in little bottles shaped like tombstones. Love it.

I didn't take a real shot of the front because my lid is all cockeyed.

Here are the stickers in their packages. Tons of fun stuff. They just stick on your finished nail and then you top coat over them. Really fun and they can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. I just thought it was really fun for the holiday.

Some other ones. I may put one on what I'm wearing now yet!

Halloween polishes are some of the most fun that come out all year, I think. It's like the polish companies can do whatever they want, be as strange or as bright as they wish and we love it. At least I do. I adore Halloween polishes. I look forward to them!

I hope you like them, too!

Happy Talons!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Deborah Lippmann Porn - Halloween Edition 1 - TrueBlood Forsaken minis

I have a bunch of new Lippmann's swatched, I kind of went on a little spree, which was a stupid thing to do, but I did it so...I get to live with it. Colors are never a waste, is my view.

What I'm showing you today, though, is sort of Halloween related, if you dig the TrueBlood connection.

First up...Lippmann's have traditionally come in really classy boxes. This is not true of these. I don't know if it's because these were initially a HSN exclusive? I bought mine on www.lippmanncollection.com a little later. I did miss out on one color I wanted because she's not offering it, but I guess I can deal. Here is a bad picture of this box:

Pretty enough. These are three minis in one pack. This one is the Bad Things set. I have another really bad picture of the box open:

And that would not add in without distorting. I apologize. Sometimes it just doesn't work.

But as you see, the bottles are nestled in a tray which comes out of a rather flimsy cardboard box. The red interior is a nice touch.

Three colors, very distinct. Let's take a look!

I apologize that label is so blurry. This is Bad Blood, the darkest of the set. This was the one I was really excited about and it is pretty but I was disappointed. It's very sheer, which to me always looks messy. If you read this blog at all, you've probably realized, because I'm not shy about it, that I hate sheers. This is two coats over nothing so maybe with an opaque base like Orly Nail Armor this would be OK. As you can see it's a red plum color. Pretty. Would have been prettier opaque.

Much better picture! Strange Love. A more rose colored but still pretty sheer polish. Meh. It's pretty. Would have liked it better as a straight cream, but it is interesting. I actually wound up liking this better than Bad Blood. Probably because it's more opaque and there is something kind of dirty about it. It has a dirty feel to it, like the color just has a hint of muddiness which keeps it from being a boring rose pink/mauve. Meh.

New Flesh, and boy is it. This is about as nude as I can get, I think. It blends right into my hands. it has a pinky peachy feel and it's...boring. It's kind of classy, but it looks kind of unfinished to me. I don't even know how to explain that. It just does. It's sort of...blah. I had wanted to really love it, but it...well...blah.

Disappointed. I wanted these to be MORE. Maybe I just wanted too much. I will probably really wear these, but none of them screamed TrueBlood to me, they kind of seem like a marketing ploy, which they may well have been. I just really wanted to love them and instead I'm more "shrug".
I think I just wasn't feeling where the inspiration came from with these. They could have been released just as new colors. Nothing screams Ancient Viking Vampire who calls children "teacup humans". Where is the humor? I just didn't find these to be that fun. The names are fun, but I found the colors to be meh. **sigh**

I will show you a really fun Halloween manicure that MDAMO and I schemed together on. No, no real nail art, but I did try something different for me and I enjoyed it!

Happy Scary Talons!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Let's talk about the humble brush

Brushes. You probably don't think a lot about them, but they can make or break your mani. There are a lot of different kinds and they may be affecting the polish you like, love and hate without your really thinking about them

To illustrate my point, I have a very picture heavy post for you. However, it will also let you see a lot of different polishes that I probably haven't really swatched for you before. I randomly chose them from my stash because all brushes are not created equal.

For the most part, I created a swatch on plain white paper with a couple strokes so you can see where the brush marks are, a swatch of just one swipe with the brush so you can see what would cover on your nail and a pic of the brush. I'll make a few comments along the way. Keep in mind, too, that even the best brush won't save a poor formula. Those differences will shine through as well, but I'm not going to talk about them today.

First up the infamous Wet n Wild brush. Undoubtedly one of the most hated brushes in polishdom, it's wide, it's full, it's thick. As you can see, it's also not consistently shaped or cohesive. However...see below and I'll show you what I DO like about it.

It covers. You can see where on the left little sample, those stray bristles have caused a problem. Grrrr. Nothing like being meticulous in your application to have it wrecked by a bad brush. The right sample is one stroke, though. It's even, it's not pooling or flooding. Plus, it's going to cover your whole nail unless you have man hands.
(Wet n Wild - I need a Refresh-mint)

I somehow managed not to take a sample swatch of this one, which probably won't matter much as this will show you what you need to know. This is Sinful. I love Sinful polishes, they're a nice cheap fix with a lot of fun colors. These brushes, however, I think are a nightmare. They drive me bonkers. First up, see how thin it is? Plus it's not even across the ends. And they're long. Meaning difficult to control. I prefer a shorter bristle myself. However, for the BOGO sales getting 2 polishes for $1.50 or whatever ridiculously low price, I will occasionally deal. What this brush is going to get you is pretty uneven coverage and a lot of going back to the bottle. (Cloud 9)

Chanel Delight. OK. VERY expensive polish. if they weren't so gorgeous I'd never bother because I think the price tag is ridic, but we bite because honestly, as I've said many times before, Chanel has the hot colors. These aren't bad brushes, but see what's happening? Some flooding on the one swipe right side there, and some messiness on the multi swipe sample.

Very long bristles, very short throw. So...the short throw is lending you control. the long thin gathering of bristles is picking up lots of polish. So they balance out, basically. It's not a bad brush. I sometimes get mad at the formula but I don't have much trouble with the brush.

OK. Once again I forgot the paper swatch. Why did I post it anyway, you ask? Why not just make a new swatch? Because I threw most of these in a box when I was done and I'm too lazy to make the mess necessary to find them again. Sorry. I'm a lazy blogger.

This is Wet N Wild Fantasy Makers Creepy Pumpkin. Halloween polishes are SO MUCH FUN! I love them. And this brush is truly in the spirit because it's HORRIFIC. Yes. I'm yelling a lot. It's just pretty much all bad. The bristles are uneven, the throw is too short for the kind of cap and that fanning thing that's going on is going to get worse, spreading the bristles out against your nail making for some seriously uneven coverage. Still, for a polish as fun as this, you tolerate a lot. And you clean up a lot because you're getting this all over.

Zoya Rica. Nice brushes. When you even this out you get the layering on the left. One stroke gets you some pooling, as you can see on the right. Zoya is a vegan brand and I find they are always runnier. This could be the result of just a thinner formula. See how crisp the edges are around the outside of both swatches, though? With a little care, this will get you nice neat cuticles.

See how the brush has collected the polish? That's part of where that pooling is coming from but it's a nice brush with a short but full head of bristles and a nice even edge. I approve!

China Glaze Harvest Moon. Ooo. Halloweeny! OK. Fairly sharp and fairly clean. Not a lot of pooling. On several strokes it evens out nicely. Solid choice. Let's see the brush itself.

Nice crisp edge, the brush is picking up a nice amount of polish and it's sitting evenly throughout the bristles. The brush is full but not overwhelming and the strands are not too long. Easy to control. Very nice.

Catherine Arley 806. Which looks NOTHING like this in real life. I thought this was another polish and one I couldn't imagine I had bought, actually. Please don't look at the color!
This is some pretty solid application from a very inexpensive brand. Fairly even coverate, though you can see some pooling in both samples, but overall, crisp edges. I think the edges and cuticles are the hardest to keep clean and I'm not a big fan of the slop it on and clean it up later idea as acetone or polish remover is hard on your skin. Paint them clean up front and you can be kinder to your hands.
This is closer in color! Very short stem, which I prefer, but this is all up to you. You may find something else works better for you. The brush has a nice fan to it, the edges are reasonably even, and the polish is nicely distributed. This will get you a nice clean job. And the price is certainly right, even if you do wait for quite awhile to receive these. 

Rescue Beauty Grunge, the older one. I think they are mainly the same, but just to be clear. I didn't just buy this one on the restock. As expected, very clean, very clear, very little pooling...that's because this is quality all the way. The brush, the formula, it's a dream. 

Interestingly enough, as you may have been realizing, I like a short stem with a short bristle. I find it easy to control. This is a very long bristle, obviously. You can see that easily. Once again, the long bristle is balanced with a short stem making your polish stroke short. Which is what I mean when I say "short throw". This is holding the polish nice and evenly and is very crisp on the end. Excellent.

BB Couture Dragon Breath. Wow. OK, this surprised me because I love love love BB Couture, but this was difficult. Look at everything tha tis happening here. Uneven application, pooling, which will flood your cuticles if you're not careful and a little mess off to the upper right. This is a quality polish but I think you'll be doing evening coats with this.

BB Coutures have a rather tall bottle, if you've ever used one. If you'd like to see, click a link on the sidebar because I've reviewed many. Or some, at least. This is nicely balanced. Longer stem due to the tall bottle, but a nice length on the bristles and nicely even on the end. Dragon Breath might not have been a great choice for this because it's a jelly base, which might explain the pooling. I've never had an application problem so I'm chalking this up to that. This is a great brush.

Deborah Lippmann Lara's Theme. This didn't like the paper. I can tell you that clearly. The paper soaked it right up. The brush is excellent so you can put your mess concerns from the left there to rest. Look at the rest of it. Clean, even coverage, the one stroke sample is extremely clean and I wouldn't expect less from this caliber polish.

Perfection. Nice short stem, perfectly stacked bristles, polish is flawlessly distributed, the edge is very clean. Ideal, in my opinion. This is subjective, keep that in mind, but this is as close to perfection as it gets. (But there is a brush I like better in the fleet!)

butterLONDON Gobsmacked. I love butters. And look at how clean this is. This is a black jelly glitter (It's reviewed here) and I love it. Clean everywhere. Because this is a glitter, it will take a bit of evening out, I probably should have chosen a different polish, but this also shows what a good brush can do for a tough polish. It's reasonably even. And all these larger samples are about what you would apply to your nail in one coat so this is what you could expect to see.

The brush itself is very short in the stem. The bristles are almost half of the brush. This works well with this glitter because it allows you to pick up more polish. There is some fan to it and the edge is very clean. A very good brush. I like butter's brushes a lot.

Illamasqua Stance. Yum. Illamasqua's have a tall bottle as well, so you can expect a taller stem. Do I know it's called a stem? It probably isn't but it seems to fit, so forgive me. Look at clean this is. A little pool where the brush touches the paper but this is a liquid. It's going to pool at some point if the formula is just right. Sharp clean lines, excellent.

REALLY long bristles! But very clean and very tightly packed. This is partly where you get that clean application. Also, you might notice the edge here has a little curve to it. This helps out at the cuticle line because when you apply the brush, it's going to fan in a little slight curve. It's a nice touch and I like it. I hate getting those square brush strokes at the cuticles that you then have to clean up because you were watching Big Bang and not your nails while you were painting. (Bazinga!) That little curve helps alleviate that some.

A-England Perceval. Gorge. This is a super brush. It's my fave in the group. It really is. This is so clean, so even...yes, there is some pooling in the larger sample but that can be evened out. I honestly just sort of slapped these on because the color and formula weren't what I wanted to show you. Look at the other sample. That's gorgeous. Even, clean..and it helps that the formula is excellent.

Perfect. Absolutely perfect. Not a bristle out of placethe color is perfectly even from handle to tip, love the slight curvature to the end, the brush is thick and dense but not ridiculous. It's ideal. This is definitely my favorite to use. I just find them the best.

What an awful picture. I apologize, I don't know why it's so yellow and not accurate to color at all. This is Essence Chic Reloaded. It's a $.99 polish so it's hard to find fault with it, but it's not the most even coverage. You can see it builds up nicely on the left and the right isn't a disaster. It's a bit streaky but again...it's a bargain. I can put up with some of this for a bargain. And the colors wear well. I have one on my toes.

The brush itself is a much higher quality version of the Wet N Wild wide brush. One of the things that's weird about this is that it's such a wide brush and the bottles are so little that it's strange to use. But the bristles are even, nicely packed, very dense and they hold polish like no one's business. Overall, if you're going for a less expensive polish find, these aren't bad to use and I recommend these brushes over the WnW ones. It's easy to see here, it's just a much more nicely made brush. It's a little short, though. I know generally I like that, but a little more stem wouldn't be out of the order. I understand why it's so short, the bottles are minis, but it is sometimes hard to see your nail! I know that sounds odd, but give it a shot. You'll probably see what I mean.

Color Club Sky High. Such a pretty polish but boy did it pool. The brushes aren't bad and this is a thinner formula, but that stroke there on the right, if it's on your nail you're going to have to deal with that. Here's what the brush looks like:

Not terrible, pretty clean, but I think the longer bristles want to fan out too much and they're not holding the polish evenly. Not a train wreck but it could be better. These go for a primo price in retail outlets around here so I want a little better, but it's workable. Not bad.

Orly Buried Alive. What made me buy this? It looks like poo. **shakes head at self** I hope it was on sale.
On to the real topic. Nice application but not really even. If you look at the right side, which is one stroke, it's uneven, thin in some spots, thick in others. You have to handle this when you do your nails so it doesn't look like drunken monkeys did it. As you can see on the more balanced out sample on the left, it does just that beautifully, and it must because "beautiful" isn't a word I would personally apply to this polish.
Don't like it. Don't like it a lot.
The brush though:
Is pretty good. You can see some uneven bristles at the end, a few guys there are wanting to stand out, but it's nothing you can't handle. It's holding the polish well, is longer but easy enough to control and it did even the polish out. Solid choice from a fun brand. I like Orly a lot.

Be fair here. This is a matte so it's not going to apply like a regular polish finish. Period. It's just not. So don't be freaked out by the streaks. It was probably trying to go dry already. This is ManGlaze Fatty's Got More Blood. Application on a matte can be tricky, in my opinion. They dry super fast and in that process, while you're trying to fix uneven application, they can drag. Not a good time. Usually worth it. But challenging.
Fatty did even out nicely on the left. Nothing you can't handle if you're careful on the one stroke.

The brush. Nice and short, bristles on the shorter side, but full. Even..not flawless, but pretty good. It's holding the polish well and it has some fullness. Pretty solid choice. Because the formula on these is so thick a shorter bristled brush lends some much needed muscle. Good stuff.

Well, thus ends my brush lecture for the day. I hope it was informative. Now when you hear us bloggers bitching about brush quality you will know what that means. I am not in any way suggesting you should or should not buy one polish over another strictly on brush. If you love the color and it makes you happy, just be patient if it has a bad brush, and be prepared to do some clean up to get it right. However, if you're just browsing, maybe this will help you choose a better deal for you and what you like. I think the brush is a part of the company's philosophy about their product. It signifies to me if they understand their customers and their polish. It seems a little thing but it can be the deal between a good mani and a great one.

Happy Talons!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Illamasqua - Aorta

When I'm feeling wry and in the mood for something a little edgy and dangerous I open the Illamasqua drawer. You know, Rescue Beautys are for elegant and playful, Lippmann's for in your face bling and butters for fun and sophisticated. Illamasqua is for the sly smile that might mean you're about to get kissed. Or clawed. You shouldn't be sure which.

I was in that mood, I opened that drawer and out came Aorta. Like a puppy at the pound it chose me, it said "Let's go be dangerous" and it pounced out of the drawer.

Aorta is part of the most recent collection of rubberized finishes from Illamasqua, a look I happen to really like. It's not full matte, it has a sheen, but it's not glossy. More on that later.

Here is the first application shot:

It's still wet here, which accounts for the shine. Now...I don't have a rubberized picture for you. Why? Do you ask? Because IT WOULDN'T DRY. I tried everything. I let it sit, I put lacquer dryer on it, two different kinds! Nope. Aorta said "Up Yours. I don't dry for no man. Or woman." I said but but...I have to go to bed! It said "I spit on your bed!" A tired woman has to do what a tired woman has to do.


I had no choice. I had to do it. I had to put a top coat on it so it would dry so I could sleep. I'm not a good sleeper. I have to get it when I can. Wet polish is REALLY not conducive. So I slapped top coat on it, which had some interesting side effects.

The tip wear a few days later. This wore pretty well, really. I was starting to get the "Let's slap some glitter on it" fever before I took it off. One day I really will remember to take notes somehow. A calendar maybe...I don't know. Regardless. This wore really pretty well.

Please don't mind the cuticles. I have been really dehydrated lately because where I work is SO dry. Plus I'm a nervous wreck and when I am nervous I pick, I chew, I bake. Yeah, bake. It wears me out for some weird reason and then I sleep. I don't get it, either.

As you can see, this is red. It's really red. It's BLOOD red. If you're going to be Vampira, or Elvira or some other undead gorgeous seductive creature, this is your beast. It's Cruella De Vil red. This would make a stunning gangster moll flashback half moon mani. Oooo. Why didn't I think of that before?

The right hand. Still nothing major.

Now...MDAMO didn't have a hand in this one and he's not a huge fan of red. However, I think he liked it. I just asked him. In his words "It was OK". He generally likes darker colors. He has his eye on one, and when I can afford it, I'll pick it up. I think it's beautiful, too. He said it's not the prettiest thing he's seen grace my nails but it has a certain something.

There you go. The MDAMO speaks.

The label shot. You can see here something that I want to point out. This has a pink tint to it. It's the oddest thing because this is about as far as you can get from pink without venturing into burgundy territory. But it has a pinkish cast and this picture capture that perfectly in the bottle. You will at times see something closer to what's in this bottle above than what is on my nails, which have an almost orange cast. I don't know how it does that and is a cream. It's not a duochrome, it's not doing anything remarkable at all, really. But it is a chameleon.

OK. Here is the weirdness to be named later. Take a good hard look at the thumbnail. That is the top coat peeling off the rubberized finish. This did this in spots all over my nails. It wasn't bad and if you didn't have it pointed out, would you have really noticed it? Maybe? It wasn't the nail dryer stuff, either, because I managed to wash my hands carefully after that. Nothing will stick to that stuff. I suppose there could have been residue, but...I don't know. Strange.
Please don't mind the finger prints. Tacky. But this came out so much truer than the other bottle shot I had. Had to go with it. Just had to.

And because all my regulars know I'm such a whore for the shock value of a polish or make up name, I must tell you this story. At work one of the girls was trying to get a resident with MRDD to look at my pretty red nails. Then she looked at me and said the color is gorgeous. I smiled sweetly and said "Aorta." She looked at me baldly and said "Aorta. You're serious. You would be. Of course". She's a friend and it was funny. I love that shock. This will get it for you!

This was a Poshe mani. I did:

1 coat Poshe base coat (blue bottle)
1 coat Nailtiques 2 Plus
2 coats Orly Nail Armor
3 coats Aorta, to intensify the color
2 coats lacquer dryer
1 coat Poshe fast dry top coat (which worked. It dried itself fast and then made it hard enough so I could sleep. All I needed it to do. It's my go to top coat these days regardless.)

Aorta. Love it.

Happy Talons!