Monday, May 25, 2015

NOTDs: Memorial Day Manicures with Incoco's Made In America collection

(Press Sample)

Hello!

There are four days each year where I like to make a special effort to remember all of the brave men and women from our country and around the world that have given the ultimate sacrifice four peace and freedom: Memorial Day, the anniversary of D-Day, Fourth of July, and Veteran's Day.

For me, as silly is it may sound, part of that is a patriotic manicure. I had planned to do mine last night in preparation for today, but after cooking 2.5 lasagnes (one was half-sized) and writing a book review for my other blog, I just didn't have time. These are the days when I love Incoco, because I can throw together a super cute manicure in no time flat, and I was glad to be able to do that today.

Incoco sent me two samples from their Made In America Collection, the namesake Made In America, and Americana. Made In America has four designs in red and blue, over a silver-white shimmery background:



Incoco Made In America

Incoco Made In America


 Americana is red, blue and silver-white holo glitter in stars and stripes:


Incoco Americana

Incoco Americana




I used Made In America for my first mani, and chose patterns to make a flag-like look:


Memorial Day Flag mani

Memorial Day Flag mani


For my second mani, I decided to do a skittle with Americana, using Zoya Arianna and Nori to complement the colors in the appliques; I chose pixies because just like the wraps, you don't have to use a base coat or a topcoat with them:



Memorial Day skittle mani--no topcoat

Memorial Day skittle mani--no topcoat



But of course I ended up throwing top coat over the pixies because that's how I roll--shine, shine, shine:


Memorial Day skittle mani--with topcoat

Memorial Day skittle mani--with topcoat

Memorial Day skittle mani--with topcoat


Both manis took about five minutes to do; the skittle mani took a little bit longer because I put on two coats of the Zoya polishes. Even with the topcoat and dry time, it took less than ten minutes all total. Not shabby at all for beautiful nail art! :) I love both of them, and plan on wearing them again on Fourth of July and Veteran's Day.

I hope you are having a pleasant day off--here's to the people that made it possible.

M.






Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: Stamping polishes by Hit The Bottle Polishes

(Press sample)

Hello!

Today I have a bevy of beauties to show you from Hit The Bottle, a wonderful  new Australian indie that specializes in top-quality stamping polishes.

Wait, don't freak out--if you're not in Australia, that's okay! She sells through several retailers worldwide--I will of course link these sources for you. But first, check out these lovelies!

Michelle has an entire rainbow of colors to choose from, everything your stamping heart could desire; she sent me ten to test, and that's only half of what she currently has to choose from!



Hit The Bottle To Have And To Gold, Tangerine Scream, Copper Haired Girl, and Everyday I'm Truffling

Hit The Bottle Peach Blow, A Rose By Any Other Name, and Purple Reign

Hit The Bottle Absinthe Minded, Pool Party, and Blue-tiful


Rich, saturated colors...lovely to be sure...But do they stamp?! Let's take a look. These first swatches show how well the stamping image quality is with these polishes; the next set will show the colors more closely:





Now let's look at color. I wanted to test the full range of color opacity, so I stamped over white and black base polish. To Have And To Gold is an expensive gold shimmer, we're talking 24K gold, not some cheap 14K stuff; Tangerine Scream is a deep burnished orange shimmer; Peach Blow is a delicious duochrome that shifts from a from a burnt sienna to a blue-lavender shade; Copper Haired Girl is a rusty-red copper; Every Day I'm Truffling is a luscious dark chocolate shimmer; A Rose By Any Other Name is a dusty rose that shifts a little lavender; Purple Reign is a strong royal purple; Pool Party is a bright sky blue; Blue-tiful is a bold cerulean blue; Absinthe Minded is a bright grass green:



Top row left to right: To Have and To Gold; Tangerine Scream; Peach Blow; Copper Haired Girl; Everyday I'm Truffling.
Bottom row left to right: A Rose By Any Other Name; Purple Reign: Pool Party; Blue-tiful; Absinthe Minded.

Peach Blow shows her color shift over both polishes; here's a second shot to help you see it. This one isn't in stock right now, but there are several other duochromes to choose from (Drunken Elf, Stamper Un-Teal You Drop and Be-Cider Self):


:


As you can see, these outperformed even my high expectations: all of them stamped fully opaque over both white and black, no show-through or  faded colors. I felt like a kid in a candy store swatching these--so many beautiful colors to choose from, and all of them bold and beautiful no matter what I stamped them over. And a duochrome? Are you kidding me?? Just gorgeous.

So how do they perform in an actual manicure stamping test? For my test manicure, I wanted to do something that would be a challenge for the polishes, to show their versatility and stamping strength. So I started with a medium avocado polish (I'll do the reveal on that in a separate post), not an easy color to stamp over, and then did some double stamping. I first stamped some branches in Everyday I'm Truffling (with MoYou London Mother Nature 04) to show you how crisply the polishes stamp. Then I stamped cherry blossoms over those using Peach Blow and A Rose By Any Other Name (with Konad m75 and Bundle Monster 713); I chose delicate images because I wanted to show you how the lighter polishes would hold their own despite a fragile, whispy look, even when stamped over dark brown branches:



Cherry Blossoms with Hit The Bottle Polish stamping polishes

Cherry Blossoms with Hit The Bottle stamping polishes

Cherry Blossoms with Hit The Bottle stamping polishes

So, even over a base polish that's a difficult color to stamp over, the polishes show up well, distinct and holding their heads held high. You don't get crisper stamping than those branches are, and when lighter colors show up over darker colors, you know you have quality stamping polish. The result is just gorgeous, plain and simple.

I also chose this base color to show you that even though these polishes all look bright and primary-color-ish in the swatches, they play beautifully with a full range of colors. I wouldn't call this a 'bright' manicure; it's a more subtle, muted palette. So don't be afraid to play around with these in all sorts of ways--they're very versatile. :)

The polishes are also remarkably affordable: the 9ml size is $6.75 AUD. At that price, you can afford to buy the whole spectrum.

You can find Hit The Bottle Polish's Big Cartel site by clicking here; If you're in the US or Canada you can find her polishes at Beautometry, and they're stocked in the UK at Rainbow Connection,  and if you're elsewhere in the world, you can find them at Hypnotic Polish, which ships worldwide.


Happy Polishing!
M.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Before & After: Sand Chandelier

(The products in this post were purchased by me.)
(Contains affiliate links.)

Hello!

Oh yes oh yes, it's time for Throwback Thursday again, where I show you a manicure that I did back in the day, but never showed you for some reason!

For this manicure, I started with a gradient of Jessica Touch It and Dance Legend Amethyst:

Gradient with Jessica Touch It and Dance Legend Amethyst

Gradient with Jessica Touch It and Dance Legend Amethyst

Gradient with Jessica Touch It and Dance Legend Amethyst

Gradient with Jessica Touch It and Dance Legend Amethyst



Then I stamped with Pueen Love Elements plate 26 (you can see my review of this set here), with Konad black. Then I added some teardrop rhinestones for a chandelier effect:


Gradient with Jessica Touch It and Dance Legend Amethyst, stamped with Pueen 26

Gradient with Jessica Touch It and Dance Legend Amethyst, stamped with Pueen 26

Gradient with Jessica Touch It and Dance Legend Amethyst, stamped with Pueen 26


I think this mani originally got overlooked because my cuticles were struggling a bit more than I thought was okay...also, I felt that the black stamping was a bit too harsh. Looking at it now, though, I really like it. What do you think?

Happy stamping,
M.




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: Ellagee Beach Bum Sun-Bleached Neon Cremes, All Summer Long glitters, and Lickity Split Latex Mani Mask!

(Press Sample)

Hello!

Today I have some of the most fun, most summery polishes I've seen: two polishes from Ellagee's Beach Bum Sun-Bleached Neon Cremes collection and two from her All Summer Long glitter collection. Plus, I'm going to test out her Lickity Split Latex Mani Mask and see how that works!


Ellagee Salty Breeze and Seaside Cottage

Ellagee Bubble Up and Flutterby Garden




The Beach Bum Sun-Bleached Neon Cremes collection has seven bright-but-not-too-bright summer shades with a semi-matte finish. As the name implies, these colors aren't your typical summer neons, they have a subtle sophistication to them while still maintaining the traditional neon palette. If you're like me and you're not into the highlighter-intensity neons, this collection is for you: if regular neons are Courtney Love, these polishes are Gwen Stefani.

Let's start with Salty Breeze, a radiant orchid creme:

Ellagee Salty Breeze

Ellagee Salty Breeze

Ellagee Salty Breeze

This is two easy coats with no topcoat, to show off the flawless semi-matte finish. The formula was excellent--applied like butter with no patchiness or other issues. Good coverage, fast dry time.

But let's say you aren't in the mood for a semi-matter finish; here's how Salty Breeze looks with a coat of Seche Vite:


Ellagee Salty Breeze with topcoat

Ellagee Salty Breeze with topcoat

Ellagee Salty Breeze with topcoat


Either way, this polish is perfection. It's English gardens and pretty sundresses. It's afternoon tea and strolls on the beach with your sweetie. It's feminine and universally flattering, and I think the sun-bleached finish is unique and romantic.



The second polish I received from this collection is Seaside Cottage, a lemony-avocado creme:


Ellagee Seaside Cottage

Ellagee Seaside Cottage

Ellagee Seaside Cottage

This is two thick coats; I found the formula to be a little thinner on this one, so I was generous on my second coat. Once I did that, I had full coverage without a problem. Application was amazing again--smooth, no pooling or pulling. Wonderful.

Still not sure why you'd want to cover the awesome finish, but if you just gotta get some shine, here's how it looks with topcoat:


Ellagee Seaside Cottage with topcoat


Ellagee Seaside Cottage with topcoat

Ellagee Seaside Cottage with topcoat


I can't say enough about this color, I'm so glad it's one of the two I received! This is the sort of color that can be over-the-top when done in neon, but the sun-bleached version gives it a softness while still maintaining the edge. It makes me want to throw on my bathing suit and a flowing cover and go lounge by the pool. It makes me want to run down to the beach and learn how to surf. Nah, forget that--I wouldn't want to ruin my nails--I'll watch my honey surf while I use my gorgeous manicure to flip the pages of my magazine.



So, how do you make an awesome polish even better? Duh, add glitter, of course. And Ellagee's All Summer Long collection has ten bright, fun glitters to help you get your summer groove on.


Bubble Up is a blend of pink, purple, green, and blue neon circle glitters that are simply joy in a bottle:

Ellagee Bubble Up over Ellagee Salty Breeze

Ellagee Bubble Up over Ellagee Salty Breeze

Ellagee Bubble Up over Ellagee Salty Breeze


This is one partly-brushed-partly-dabbed coat of Bubble Up over Salty Breeze. Application was good--I didn't get the massive pile-up you get with some circle-glitter blends, although you will want to dab a bit to get the colors and sizes you want where you want them. I didn't find any need to do anything other than give a gentle shake to the bottle to get the bigger circles out; no fishing necessary. Here's the same treatment over Seaside Cottage:


Ellagee Bubble Up over Ellagee Seaside Cottage

Ellagee Bubble Up over Ellagee Seaside Cottage

Ellagee Bubble Up over Ellagee Seaside Cottage


Ellagee Bubble Up over Ellagee Seaside Cottage


I absolutely live for this glitter. It's whimsical, it's happy, it's like my own little bottle of sweet tarts or gumdrops. If this glitter doesn't bring sunshine and smiles into your day when you wear it, something is very wrong with your soul and you should go have that checked. ;-)


The second polish I received from this collection is Flutterby Garden, a mix of circle and flower glitters in orange, pink, yellow, lilac, and green, with black butterflies thrown in to keep you on your toes:


Ellagee Flutterby Garden over Seaside Cottage

Ellagee Flutterby Garden over Seaside Cottage

Ellagee Flutterby Garden over Seaside Cottage


Neons are notoriously shy about having their picture taken, so I took this angled picture to give you a better feel for how truly vibrant they are: 

Ellagee Flutterby Garden over Seaside Cottage


You all know I'm not a flowers-and-butterflies kind of girl, normally. But if the flowers are neon and the butterflies are black, oh heck yeah, sign me up! There are a couple of other glitters in the collection that have butterflies in other colors if you're not into the black butterflies. But I think this gives spice and edge to a typically sweet theme; this is a hot take on garden chic.

This is one application of dabbed polish topped with Seche Vite. I didn't have a problem getting out the flowers; you do have to fish for the butterflies, but you can get around that by turning the bottle upside-down briefly. And I mean briefly--I did it for about 30 seconds and I had plenty of butterflies to choose from.

If you're like me and have very curvy nails, the butterfly glitters may scare you, because the size and the edges will refuse to lie flat. I found that if I put on a second generous coat of Seche Vite (other thick topcoats will probably work, too), that was enough to cover the butterflies so they wouldn't snag on things and pull off. I wore this for three days to test it out and didn't lose a single butterfly.

One of the things I love about this glitter is, it's easy nail art in a bottle. To show you what I mean, I did a little bit of strategic dabbing to create a fast flower scene:


Ellagee Flutterby Garden over Salty Breeze

Ellagee Flutterby Garden over Salty Breeze

That pretty look took me literally two minutes to make--how's that for nail art on the run when you're in a time pinch?


I have one last goodie to show you...Laura included a bottle of her Lickity Split Latex Mani Mask into my package for me to try out. I don't have to tell you nail art is messy, and I'm always looking for the best way to make it easy as possible.


Ellagee Lickity Split Latex Mani Mask



I'm sure you've seen other versions of this that cost quite a lot, and I recently reviewed a very inexpensive version from Amazon. If wish I'd tried out Ellagee's version before I bought the other one, because it has better quality and a very affordable price.

Here's how Lickity Split Latex Mani Mask works:

1) Apply the latex around your nail. Try not to get any onto your nails, because it will act as a mask on your nail as well if you do (note that you can do it on purpose if you want to keep part of your nail untouched!). Don't worry if it gets down in your cuticles (notice I had a little bit do that), it will come right out with a gentle push from a toothpick:



Apply around cuticles

2)Wait for it to dry: 

Wait for it to dry--notice I still have a wet part on the upper right hand part of my ring finger.

Here's where I saw the big difference in quality. While Ellagee's version took a teeny bit little longer to dry (I'm talking 1 minute vs. 30 seconds with the other product), that tiny extra wait was more than worth it, and here's why. With the other version I tried, if the latex on one finger came into contact with the latex on another other finger, it would stick together and start to pull off. That did not happen with the Ellagee version!! This mask is thicker and doesn't instantly bond together when dry. I purposefully let my fingers bump into each other and had no issues, which is sooo much nicer to work with. I'm extremely happy to wait an extra half a second for a product that doesn't stick to itself, so I don't have to constantly worry about my fingers touching each other while I'm doing my nail art, or take forever doing them one-by-one.


3) Do your nail art thang!


Do that nail art thang you do so well


4) Peel the latex back from around the nail, and voila! 

Peel off the latex! 

This is so easy to pull off, I'm literally pulling it off with the same hand I'm using to take the picture. No joke.

You can see I have a little residual polish left, but that's so minor compared to what you're normally left with, especially when you do splatter manis or watermarbles. This solution is paradise; so much better than wrapping your nails in tape or having to use a ton of acetone to clean up.  And Ellagee's version goes for $4.50 a bottle, which is only about a quarter of what you'd pay for a smaller bottle elsewhere.  My summary: reasonable price, doesn't stick to itself, works beautifully, and I don't have to decant it? Sold.

But hey! What if you're allergic to latex?! No worries, she also has a latex-free version you can find here. :)


Ellagee has always been a quality brand, so I'm not surprised that these polishes are outstanding in concept and quality, and I'm very happy to recommend them. Don't wait around before you go grab yours--one of the other sun-bleached neons in the collection is already sold out. And while you're there, check out her accessories section; she has fun bling for your bottles and your keychains, too.

You can find Ellagee's website by clicking here; you can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Happy polishing!
M.