Friday, September 28, 2012

Stamping Kit Part II

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you a few images from the super cheap stamping kit my roommate got me. However, I didn't share any images of the kit itself at that time.

This is what you get in the package, along with a small instruction sheet that is not overly helpful:
Dual ended stamper, plate holder, scraper, and five plates. 

Here are some close ups, with a penny for scale. If you are a European reader, our penny is about the size of a .02 euro coin. I'm not sure how it compares to Aussie currency, having never seen any. 
The small end of the stamper.

The large end.

And a couple shots of the plates themselves. Note the size of the "full nail" images: 

Obviously, this is the only plate I haven't stamped from yet.

The kit didn't contain any kind of storage, so for $1.99 I picked up a mini photo album from Michael's:

Right now I'm only doing one plate per pocket, but if my collection expands I might look into mounting them on cardstock or something, so that I can get 2 per pocket. This could also, theoretically, eliminate the need for the plate holder (I know some people don't like them, but I found it somewhat handy). 

The album also is a good place to store the scraper and plate holder. 

I haven't come up with a way to store the stamper, other than maybe knitting a small drawstring bag to hold both the album and the stamper, but I haven't put that much thought into it yet. For now they are living on a corner of my desk, and don't seem too upset about it. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just Glitz

 Just a quick post today before I head to work.  Two coats of Essie "Smooth Sailing" and one of "Set in Stones" on the accent nail.
 With all that glitter, I know this mani will be a pain to take off, but it's so pretty, I don't really care right now. Next time I will remember to do the white glue peel off base coat everyone was talking about a week or two ago. You know, when I actually have white glue in the house.
Happy hump day!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Swatch: Vivid

Last week I pulled a really old polish out of my drawer to use as an accent color, and it reminded me how much I loved the color. I thought I'd do some swatches to show you.
This is Sally Hansen Lacquer Shine in "Vivid." It's a very dark red shimmer--like crushed garnets in some light. It can almost take the appearance of a dark red layered over black, with a red shimmer on top.

I know I've said I'm not a big fan of shimmer polishes, but this is one polish that I make an exception for. Two, in fact, since it is the dreaded Sally Hansen, which I'd pretty much sworn of.
Other than the color, things I like about this polish: It can hold it's own after a single coat (I did two just for good measure, though). I also really like the brush, which is very long and thin. Normally I prefer a wider brush, like the one found in my Wet n Wild polish, but this one is nice, too.

This was the type of color that I wore in high school to annoy my mom. She had this rule about girls my age not wearing dark nail polishes because "They give the wrong impression." Around the age of sixteen, I just started ignoring that rule. After wearing this one once or twice, my mom asked to borrow it. After that, there were no rules about nail polish.
Did you have weird rules regarding polish use growing up?

Friday, September 21, 2012

My new favorite base coat

Where has this week gone? I haven't had any time for nail art, it seems.

I've also kind of been avoiding blogger, since they finally did away with the old dashboard layout. I'm not crazy about the new one, but they seem to have made SOME improvements since I tried it when it first rolled out earlier this year.

But that is neither here nor there, and you're here for the nails, aren't you?

 Doesn't look so interesting, does it?

That right there is Essie "Grow Stronger." Pretty much since I started this blog, I've been talking about how bad my nails are peeling. I've had bouts with peeling nails on and off for years, but this had been, by far, the worst, most stubborn case of it I've ever had, and resulted in me trimming my nails way back.

The above shot shows my let hand (the better of the two) with one coat of Grow Stronger. On the package, it says that you can see results in five days, and you certainly can. I've worn this every day for three weeks, and have seen a vast improvement. Unfortunately, my line of work keeps undoing all of that progress, but I know that it keeps happening, and I know that my nails would be much worse without it.

Here you can see my right hand--the worse off of the two--before the base coat. Let me reitterate: This is what my nails look like after improvement. I did have tears that went at least a quarter of the way down my nails.

Every time I get to that point of almost, almost--I bang my hand or tear a nail or something gets stuck and I have to use my nails to pry something open, and then they get torn up again. But between constant moisturizing and this base, my nails are noticeably stronger (even when completely bare) and growing much more quickly. I think that once the stained bits grow out, I should be back to healthy, strong nails. Anyway, that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Grow Stronger is a pale pink in the bottle, but goes on clear. I did experiment, and after three coats you can kind of see a bit of milky color, but there really isn't enough to show up or affect a polish color.

Even if you don't have a bad case of the peelies, I would recommend this for anyone with weak nails, or who would like to grow them longer. I noticed that my manicures lasted on average 1-2 days longer with minimal damage--which is one reason why I don't have nail art today. I'm loath to take off my polish until it starts to chip (the slightest chip, however, and all bets are off!).

Essie Grow Stronger is $8, and you can find it anywhere Essie is sold. I got mine from Giant Eagle, but I have also seen it at Target and I think at Walmart.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Silver Lining

Here is that manicure I wanted to do last week, before I got distracted by my stamping kit:

Colors used:
Brash "Blue Dream" (light blue)
Wet n Wild "Metallica" (silver)
Pure Ice "Touch Me Here" (black)
Essie "Luxedo" (purple)
Maybelline Color Show "Porcelain Party" (white)

I put on a base of "Blue Dream," then covered it with SV. The other colors are sponged at semi-random on top. If I ever do this one again, I might add a lightning bolt to the thumbs.

Happy hump day--Remember, you can see the silver lining from here!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I have been a lazy, lazy blogger this week, wearing the same chipped manicure for the past three or four days. I've been either too tired, too busy, or some combination for the two to put together a decent mani. I know the design I want to do next, but I also know that there's a bit of time that will have to be invested in it and I just haven't had it to spare. So in the mean time, here is a quick and easy one I did last week that I got a ton of compliments on:

Colors used:
Sally Hansen Insta-Dri "Lightening"
Maybelline Color Show "Porcelain Party"
Claire's Nail Art Pen in black

This was super simple to do. I used tape to mask of the white area after doing the yellow base, and freehanded the rest. It was very attention getting and everyone loved it. I wore it to a car show to the delight of all.

Happy Monday and hopefully on Wednesday I'll be back with something a little newer.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Stamping Spam

Things have been a little rough around here lately. They're getting better, but last week was hard and I was pretty down. To cheer my room, my roommate picked me up a stamping kit that she found at Michaels, of all places.

I've been wanting to try stamping ever since I found out what it was, and I was so excited that I kind of tore apart the kit before taking photos.

The kit is by Salon Express, and includes a double ended stamper, a scraper, a rubber mat to hold the plate, and five plates. One of them has full tail designs, and the other four are decorative images. I think she said it was $10 (US).

I already had a background color on with another post in mind, but I decided to just stamp over it. For this manicure, I have Brash "Blue Dream" as a base, with Wet n'Wild "Metalica" for the ray design (top row, middle). For the flowers, I used Pure Ice "Touch Me Here."

Since this was my first stamping mani, it took a little getting used to the tool, figuring out the right motion to use to get a good stamp on my nail. As you can see on my thumb, the "full nail" images aren't quite wide enough for my nails--in face the only nail they give full coverage to is my pinky. It doesn't really matter which way I turn it--they either aren't wide enough, or aren't long enough, since my nails are naturally long, even when trimmed as short as I can get them.
Kind of disappointing, but I wasn't super thrilled by some of the patterns, anyway. I can do dots, I've done flowers, and I'm not really a big fan of animal print. The stars, however, got to me. That was the first thing I wanted to do, but my polish was the wrong color for what I had in mind. So I faffed around a bit and when I changed manis, I laid out the base for this:

While the star pattern came out fairly clear on the nail, once again you can tell that the pattern isn't large enough to actually cover the nail, and the edges came out kind of rough. I'm sure this had as much to do with my amateur technique as it did with the fact that this is a cheap kit.
One of the individual patterns was a moon and stars. I knew I had to do that one. I used the same colors for all my nails ("Metallica" again, with Revlon's "Mysterious") but obviously the two solid coats on my ring finger are much darker than it came out as a stamp over silver.

And yes, the moon is sideways on purpose. Because I am a geek and just can't do crescent moons the way they are "supposed" to be.
All of these manicures are pretty messy, since I was just playing around with them. Sorry. They were more for practice than aesthetics.

The most recent one I did was this. Here I have Sally Hansen "Vivid" over Finger Paints "Tiffany Imposter" with a little butterfly in "Metallica" (can't tell that's one of my favorite polishes, can you? I also adore the look of shimmery/glittery/metallic polishes stamped on cremes).
It turns out that "Metallica" isn't quite as opaque as I'd hoped. It can handle one color in the background, but not two.
I actually wore this one for a couple of days before I remembered to get photos of it. (Bad blogger! No cookie!) I'm still trying to determine if some of the issues I'm having are my technique, my polish, or the kit itself. Overall the images are printing pretty clear, but not always in their entirety, and sometimes I'll have extra polish around the image, which probably comes down to me not scraping it enough.

This kit has been a lot of fun to play around with, and if anything, it's made me one one of the nicer sets even more. I'll keep messing around with it and posting pictures so that you can see the various images that come in the set.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

From the Vault

I'm playing around with something new this week that I'm not quite ready to share, so I pulled an older mani out of the vault. I did this one back in July for the Good Guys car show here in Columbus, which is the largest car show in the Midwest (and if I remember correctly, the eastern half of the US).

Colors Used:
Pure Ice "Touch Me Here" (black)
Maybelline Color show "Porcelain Party" (white)
Sally Hansen Insta-Dri "Lightening" (yellow)
Claire's Nail Art Pen (for the black details on the street sign)

I love going to car shows. I'm a total classic car nut, even if I know next to nothing about engines. My dream car? A Chevrolet Impala convertible in a blue/black duochrome with blue leather interior. I'm not picky about the year--I'll take anything from 1958-1967. Here is a '58 a friend of my dad's recently acquired:

Please ignore the awful photo of me. In my defense, it was 106 degrees in the shade that day (I heard the race track was 140ยบ F). If it tells you anything, we arrived at 7:30. By eight a.m., both my sunblock and my makeup had given up the ghost and were puddled at my feet. I spent part of the afternoon wrapped in a towel my dad had enough forethought to stick in the cooler before he left the house (that towel is god. I would have built a shrine to it if I'd had the energy at one point). (P.S. Not a great shot, but that's Dad's truck there behind me.)

This isn't even remotely polish related, but I thought it was funny. Spied in the back of a 50's pickup:
Those are old school roller skates, in case you couldn't tell.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tips & Toes

A few weeks ago, I shared a bit of a haul, including this:

Burt's Bees Tips & Toes kit, $12.97, Walmart.

Let's take a closer look:
Left to Right:
Honey and Grapeseed oil hand cream
Coconut Foot cream
Lemon Butter cuticle cream
Almond Milk beeswax hand cream
Hand Salve

Considering a jar of the Lemon butter is $5.99, and the kit was $13, I think this is a pretty good deal, even if everything here is sample sized instead of full size.

I won't talk about the Lemon Butter this time around, since I already waxed poetic about it here, and I didn't use the chapstick. I've tried the Burt's Bees chapstick and lip tints in the past, and I just didn't care for them (I'm picky about my chapstick. I prefer lipgloss).

That leaves us with four products, and all of them smell good enough to eat.

Burt's Bees Thoroughly Theraputic Honey and Grapeseed Oil Hand Cream (20g/.75 oz)
This is a very thick lotion, and a little goes a long way--just a pea-sized dollop or smaller. It smells very nice, but I thought the honey scent was a little strong, especially the first time I used it. After a while, though, I got used to it and it didn't bother me.

It moisturizes very well, but there is a little bit of a residue when first applied. Like the smell, however, it eventually fades and I actually thought it felt better than many lotions I've tried in the past.

When I use it, I like to rub it in first around my cuticles and the tips of my fingers. It helped so much with my dry, peeling skin!

My biggest complaint is actually that the tube seems to be filled with more air than product, which means that I'll squeeze and squeeze and squeeze, getting nothing, and then all of a sudden three times more than I need will glop out at once. So make sure you have a friend handy to share with. :)

Verdict: Will buy again.

Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Cream (20g/.75 oz)

This stuff smells soooo good. I love it.

I've mentioned before how dry and awful my feet are. Sometimes I'm not sure if they're worse in the winter, when it's so dry out, or in the summer, when I'm constantly running around barefoot or in sandals.

The instructions on the tube say to apply it before bed and wear cotton socks, but it's been too hot lately to sleep with socks on. I just rubbed it in and went to bed, tucking my feet under the covers. I've also applied it before work when wearing shoes and socks, and miraculously have come home with feet that feel better than when I left in the morning. With regular use, the rough, nasty patches of skin are almost completely gone. I still have patches of dry skin, but not nearly as bad or as bothersome as before.

The results weren't quite as dramatic as the time I used the Lemon Butter on them. But they were still a lot softer and felt better than they have in a really long time.

This tube had the same problem with extra air that the hand cream did, but because it's a thinner formula, it was easier to control.

Verdict: Will probably repurchase.

Burt's Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Cream (7g/.25 oz)

This is one of the ones I was most looking forward to in the kit. It just sounded luscious, and I love the little glass pot (actually, I love all of the BB packaging. The box was recyclable, the tins are so vintage and cute, and the jar is perfect for storing things like stitch markers, or homemade makeup, or glitter or rhinestones for nail art).

It takes a surprisingly small amount to get a good application, and I got quite a few uses out of the tiny jar. It smells like fresh almond cookies, which is amazing, but makes me want to nom on my hands a little. It hydrates really well. There is a little bit of a greasy film leftover, but like with everything else, it fades rather quickly. I like applying this best right before bed, just after I've done my nails to rehydrate after using the polish remover.

Verdict: will definitely buy again.

Burt's Bees Hand Salve (8.5g/.3 oz)
Between the lotion, the cuticle cream, and the hand cream, I wasn't really sure what the purpose of the hand salve was. Surely you can only apply so much moisture to your skin before it just stops having an effect, right?

While that might be true, my first introduction to this was actually because of an allergic reaction. I had a really itchy spot on my skin that was swollen and not looking so good, so my roommate grabbed her (giant) tin and smeared some on. It didn't have an instant effect, but it did help with the itchiness, swelling, and redness (along with advil and benadryl). I still don't know what caused the reaction in the first place, but I do know that it wasn't Burt's--which makes it a rarity and plants it firmly at the top of my list of favorite brands.

Like many of the Burt's Bees products, this does leave a greasy residue, and in this case, it lasts much longer than any of the others. Honestly, I wouldn't use it on my hands unless I had a problem--really bad dry skin/hang nails, or a scrape or sore spot or something. I'd rather use it on something that is out of the way and unlikely to leave spots all over everything I touch, like my elbows, which are notoriously dry.

Overall, I think that this is a really great kit, and I would both purchase it again as a set, as well as each of the items individually (except probably the chapstick, but my roommate is more than happy to take it off my hands). It's a nice way to get an introduction tot he company and products, and I would highly recommend it as a gift for a beauty lover, anyone with dry skin, or anyone with allergies to conventional products. All of their ingredients are all natural and completely pronounceable, which is nearly impossible to find these days and something that really endears them to me.

Five out of five stars!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Black Rainbow

This is the layering manicure I talked about on Wednesday. I wanted to play around with all of the polishes that I use only for layering, because they don't do well on their own.

To start with, I used put down one coat of Pure Ice "Touch Me Here." From pinky to thumb, I added one coat each of:

Essie "Sequin Sash"
Cover Girl 3-in-1 "Rose Quartz"
Maybelline Color Show "Plum Paradise"
Orly "Mysterious Curse"
Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear "Night Lights"

I really love the way this came out. There isn't much difference between three coats of "Mysterious Curse" and one coat over black, and it's so much easier to get nice coverage. With "Plum Paradise," I couldn't see any of the streaky, uneven application I had when using it on it's own. The color is richer and more vibrant, and the opacity is perfect.
I was really shocked that "Rose Quartz" turned nearly metallic and silver, whcn it's such a pale pink. It was slightly warmer in real life than it showed up in the photos, but there was barely any pink visible at all.

For once, "Night Lights" gave a nice amount of coverage. Normally I would do two coats of that, but this time I could get away with one. Same with "Sequin Sash."

What are your favorite colors to layer? Any unexpected surprises?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Someone posted swatches of Orly "Mysterious Curse" earlier this week, and it made me want to break out my own bottle and play around with it some more. In trying to find something to pair it with, I found an unconventional candidate in S•X•Y's "Dreamy Cocoa". Here we have one coat of "Mysterious Curse" over that light, warm brown. I felt it needed a little something more, however, so I added white dots (Maybelline Color Show "Porcelain Party").

"Mysterious Curse" did so well layered over the brown that it gave me an idea for another layered manicure, which I'll show to you on Friday. I don't think I'm done playing with it yet!

Monday, September 3, 2012


I tried twice, but neither of my attempts at an Ultimate Geek Manicure turned out the way I had them in my head. It turns out that it is harder than expected to replicate fabric in nail polish.

The first time (the manicure that my camera ate) I made my pinky look embroidered, painted quilt blogs on my thumb and ring finger, and attempted to make index and middle fingers appear knitted. It didn't turn out so well. So for the redo, I used a different method of representing the knitting (which just became a blurry mess as soon as I put on my top coat) and thought, "hey, a doticure would be a great way to approximate a colorwork chart!" but it turns out it just looks like a doticure:

So I guess this one falls into the category of "fail."

It's been a lot of fun doing the Geek Challenge with everyone. What do you say we try again next year?