Friday, December 27, 2013

Essie On A Silver Platter

If you're still figuring out what to do with your nails for New Year's Eve, then boy, do I have a polish for you! Essie On A Silver Platter from the current holiday Encrusted Treasures collection is a mix of small and large hexagon indigo holographic glitter on a pale champagne gold and holographic shimmer base. With all that glitter and gold, it's totally a holiday mani in a bottle!

I went with $2 off coupon in hand to pick up Essie Lapiz of Luxury, since I noticed my collection is missing a periwinkle blue. Bf happened to notice the Encrusted Treasures display, and being enchanted by all things sparkly, he held it out to me for inspection. I'm not usually a fan of super glittery polishes (or more accurately, the removal process involved), but I do occasionally cave in to his picks--I figured why not? At least he didn't pick Belugaria!

As the name Encrusted Treasures would suggest, it has a bit of a textured finish. I never quite got into the textured polish trend and actually wish it would just die off already, but it's kind of nice here and not too much. For lots of sparkle and more texture, use it on its own as seen on my ring finger, which leaves only a slight visible nail line. To amp up the gold shimmer base, I layered one coat of On A Silver Platter on top of a coat of gold foil polish Orly Luxe. For me, one coat has the perfect amount of glitter--not too sparse, not too crowded--and I think it would also be quite nice on top of a white or deep blue polish.

Dreading the prospect of taking off all this glitter, I used the Essence Peel-Off Base Coat so I could skip over the complete destruction of my nail surface. It works perfectly well as long as you apply a very thick coat, but unfortunately it caused the polish to chip off very readily. (Edit January 22: I used this again over a normal base coat and it still chipped easily. I think the slightly raised texture may be to blame.) Then again, this isn't really a problem for a nail polish lover, since it just means I can wear another polish sooner ( `∀´ )

How do you feel about glitter polish? What are you doing for New Year's Eve?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

DAVIDsTEA Red Sweater Nails

As I've mentioned before, Christmas is a relatively minor event for me: no tree, lights, or waking up early to tear open presents, but I do love me some holiday season special collections. One that really caught my eye this year was from DAVIDsTEA--I'm a big fan and always find an excuse to pop into a store. I really loved the winter collection mug designs and instantly thought the clean, modern patterns would translate perfectly onto nail art.

image from DAVIDsTEA Pinterest board
The Red Sweater mug inspired these nails, and isn't this thing just the cutest? I used four of the five patterns featured in this mug on my nails (secret: I usually leave my thumb nail plain). Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be available online at DAVIDsTEA anymore, although the green version is still around.

I find this kind of nail art really challenging myself, because the high contrast between the red and white means line work has to be really clean; mistakes stand out easily. In some places, I had to go back with more red nail polish to clean up the edges of my white lines, but thankfully a thick coat of Seche Vite disguised the presence of extra layers of polish.

For the red, I used e.l.f. Smokin Hot from the Disney Villains collection (an almost dead-on colour dupe for butter London Pillar Box Red, by the way.) For the white, I used a liquid white acrylic paint, except on the little finger where I used Sinful Colors Snow Me White as the base polish.

Tell me all about the Boxing Day deals you've scored today!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

LUSH Snow Fairy

This is probably one of the most last-minute Christmas gift suggestion posts around, but luckily LUSH makes amaaazing gift sets whether you were wise enough to shop well ahead of Christmas week or are scrambling at the mall. One such gift set is the Snow Fairy box, charmingly packaged up in pink wrapping paper (with a gift tag too!) for the sugarplum fairy in your life.

Inside: a mini catalog of LUSH products to help turn the recipient into a devoted LUSHie, if they aren't one already. Other important contents: Snow Fairy shower gel (100 mL), Angels Delight soap (70g), and Shimmy Shimmy sparkle bar (30g).

Snow Fairy shower gel is a holiday favourite with its super-sweet bubblegum candy scent. This isn't the type of fragrance I gravitate towards, but I honestly ended up liking it a lot more than I expected--maybe because the scent doesn't linger too long after my shower for me to get sick of it. I use it with my Dove Men Shower Tool and it lathers up quite nicely; I hardly noticed the biodegradable silver shimmer infused in the gel though.

People who are used to seeing the rainbow-coloured blocks of Angel's Delight in LUSH shops will find the version found in this gift box a little unfamiliar. This version of Angel's Delight, exclusive to Snow Fairy gift box, is in a cute star shape with iridescent star glitter. It has a very, very sweet orange and tangerine scent, like super sugary fruit punch. I prefer it over the shower gel because its relatively high rapeseed oil and coconut oil content make it much better at softening my crocodile skin, although it probably won't last as long as lather-friendly Snow Fairy.

Shimmy Shimmy sparkle bar is a solid body conditioner that adds a bit of shimmer to your skin. The heart-shaped bar is mainly cocoa butter, making it incredibly softening and smoothing: just one stroke over my arm makes a difference. The natural glowiness that the hydrating shea butter imparts to the skin goes nicely with the very slight iridescent glitter trail hiding in the bar. Fans of American Cream conditioner will love this because it has the same vanilla and lavender scent; of the three, this one is my favourite scent because it's more warm and inviting, and less like a sugar rush. I think it would be quite nice to glide this over your arms, shoulders, and legs before heading out to a holiday party for a little extra sparkle.

Some people will find the fragrances in this set a bit over-the-top sweet, but the fact that it's sold out online suggests that a lot of people really like it! I imagine it would be an especially big hit with anyone that loves glitter and body products with shimmer.

If this gift set is just right for someone on your list, you may still be able to pick it up in stores for $22.95 CAD.

Snow Fairy shower gel ingredients: water, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium cocoamphoacetate, lauryl betaine, fragrance, propylene glycol, synthetic musk, lactic acid, titanium dioxide, calcium sodium borosilicate, tin oxide, polyester-3, methyl ionone, benzyl benzoate, D&C Red No. 28, D&C Red No. 21, methylparaben

Angel's Delight soap ingredients: water, propylene glycol, rapeseed oil, coconut oil (Brassica napus; Cocos nucifera), sodium stearate, sodium lauryl sulfate, fragrance, tangerine oil (Citrus reticulata), sweet orange oil (Citrus sinensis), titanium dioxide, gardenia extract (Gardenia jasminoides), glycerine, sodium chloride, EDTA, tetrasodium etidronate, sodium hydroxide, limonene, linalool, FD&C Red No. 4, FD&C Red No. 33, D&C Red 28, D&C Violet No. 2, D&C Orange No. 4, D&C Blue No. 1, silver lustre (potassium silicate, titanium dioxide, iron oxides and iron hydroxides), edible golden agar glitter (agar, mica, titanium dioxide, iron oxide), silver lustre (potassium silicate, titanium dioxide, iron oxides, and iron hydroxide)

Shimmy Shimmy sparkle bar ingredients: cocoa butter (Theobroma cacao), iridescent glitter (polyethylene terephthalate and acrylates copolymer), shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii), fragrance, vanilla absolute (Vanilla planifolia), clary sage oil (Salvia sclarea), lavender oil (Lavandula hybrida), benzoin resinoid (Styrax benzoin), linalool, coumarin

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

China Glaze holiday nail design contest

When I heard that China Glaze was holding a holiday nail art contest, I figured it was a good opportunity for me to try a little freehand nail art again. I wish I had given myself more time to work on this; I wasn't planning to enter at first because I wasn't feeling too good about my odds considering all the super talented nail artists out there, but I decided to try anyway for fun and for the practice.

Here's my entry: a dark blue-light blue gradient with sleigh and reindeer silhouettes and random snowflake branches. The idea was Santa returning home after delivering gifts all night, as dawn is breaking :>

For the gradient, I used China Glaze Kinetic Candy again and sponged on L'Oreal Colour Riche in Jet Set to Paris (I'm not the only one amused by the funny coincidence of this polish name, right?) I initially picked China Glaze Up All Night (again, oddly fitting) for a deeper, darker sky, but it leans a little violet and clashed with Kinetic Candy. On top of the darker blue I layered Layla Pro N.22 (Glitterland), a topper packed with super fine and small circular silver glitter, for stars and a little holiday sparkle. I used Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Black Out for the silhouettes and Sinful Colors Snow Me White for the snowflake. Ordinarily I would use black and white acrylic or liquid acrylic paints for a smoother, more opaque result but didn't want to risk running into trouble for not using nail lacquer.

Originally I had envisioned the silhouettes flying over treetops and houses, but after looking at close-up photos of nails all the time, sometimes I forget that nails are really really small and I just didn't plan enough space for that. Still, I'm happy with the overall look and hope you like it enough to vote for my entry here! You do have to vote for three separate entries and click through a confirmation email but I think this helps create a very fair voting system.

I kinda wish I had dotted a little red glitter nose on one of those reindeer! What would your holiday nail art look like?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Recent indulgences

How's your December going? We had some snow in Vancouver this week; luckily I picked up a pair of new boots just in time, and I found my missing mittens! With my birthday and Christmas coming up, I've had a very spoiled November and December of treating myself to all kinds of longings and lusts (including those new boots). I'm generally very good at denying myself all kinds of shiny things, but I made a few exceptions this time.

The self-spoiling all started when I took up an invitation from Bare Essentials Skin Bar in downtown Vancouver to stop by for one of their cocktail-inspired 30-minute treatments. I got a "skin-mapping" to determine my problem areas and found out that my forehead area was congested (translation: lacking moisture, overproducing oil, dry skin getting trapped), which explained all the sucky blemishes I was getting there. Other areas were simply dehydrated, so I got the moisture-focused Mai Tai treatment. Professional facials are not a routine thing for me, so being able to relax with a cup of tea and have my face massaged was a lovely experience.

ALL the Dermalogica awesomeness
Bare Essentials uses all Dermalogica products in their treatments, so it was a cool introduction to a brand I've heard so many good things about. Their retail boutique carries the complete Dermalogica range, including foundations. I have my eye on the Daily Microfoliant, which felt super gentle on my slightly sensitive skin.

I left my appointment feeling really relaxed and pampered. I think I could have had a more intensely hydrating treatment as my skin started feeling a little dry a few hours later, but this is something that could be adjusted in my next visit since all treatments are customized to the individual.

Considering my congested forehead and dry skin, I decided my skin care routine needed a boost. Naturally, this involved finally buying something I've been wanting for years: a Clarisonic. I went with the Mia 1 during the Sephora F&F sale after deciding I didn't need Mia 2's extra bells and whistles (that LE Aria set with Josie Maran products was awfully tempting though.) I will be writing a full post after more testing, but right now I can say it is pretty awesome and I wish I had gotten it sooner.

Also, this.

Non-beauty indulgence: I tend to buy "the good stuff" (merino wool, cashmere, etc.) when knitting things for other people and then cut back when it comes to materials for my own use. The result: I don't have a single scarf that doesn't feel at least a little bit itchy. For my birthday, I decided to make myself two cowls out of some legit gorgeous yarn. I've started a striped cowl with the two above and wow what have I been doing with my life? I don't think I can go back ever again. Just feeling the yarn between my fingers as I'm knitting, I can tell it's going to be so cozy, squishy, and soft.

Compared to other beauty enthusiasts out there, this "indulgences" post probably seems downright thrifty! Personally, $100+ beauty tools and limited edition compacts are definitely not the norm for me and I'm scaling back now that I've met a good chunk of my wants.

What are you getting yourself for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Autumn Nails

Hello! I've been away for awhile busily knitting/crocheting and playing a few games (if you have a Wii and like RPGs, Pandora's Tower is pretty great.) While going through my backlog of photos to post about, I came across these autumn-themed nails I did back in November and realized I needed to post them right away while there are still a few leaves clinging to the trees!

Every day on the way to work, I walk under a cluster of trees that slowly turned yellow and orange as the weather got a little less warm. The clear blue sky peeking out between the leaves lead to these nails. This is what I love about nail art: looking at something--it really could be anything--and feeling inspired to reinterpret it on my nails. I don't have any other hobbies that make me feel so inspired by everything.

I prefer to paint nail art facing me, so here's a proper angle of what the design looks like. There are a lot of things I'd change when I try this again, but it turned out okay!

China Glaze Kinetic Candy is my favourite blue for skies--not super bright blue and with a touch of grey like a proper autumn sky. (I've also used it previously in my snowflake nails.) I personally don't like wearing brown as a nail colour, so I went with the closest thing in my stash for the branches, Revlon Colorstay Stormy Night, which is a little taupe-y. For the leaves, I sponged on Essie Tart Deco, Layla Ceramic Effect CE84, and Clinique 70° and Sunny.

What autumn/winter sights would you want to see in nail art?
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