Thursday, 29 March 2012

Today's NOTD: China Glaze Riveting take 2: Shiny with a gold shredded glitter tip!

I am absolutely in love with China Glaze Riveting from The Hunger Games collection! I didn't want to take it off when I got home last night, but I did want to switch it up a bit, so I hauled out American Apparel Meteor Shower (a shredded gold glitter) and sponged it over the tips, then topped the whole thing with a coat of Gelous and OPI Rapidry Topcoat to bring the shine back out in Riveting. Here are the results! Two pictures because the colour changes quite a bit depending on the angle of the light.

I absolutely love how the gold glitter complements the gold shimmer in Riveting. It just all glows!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Today's NOTD: China Glaze Riveting with a matte topcoat

A bit of randomness: China Glaze Riveting from the Hunger Games collection, with a matte top coat. I LOVE how this appears to glow from within!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Comparison: China Glaze Stone Cold vs. ManGlaze Fuggen Ugly & Matte is Murder

When I think of matte polishes, the first thing that comes to mind is ManGlaze. So when I saw that the new Hunger Games collection from China Glaze contained a matte grey polish, I knew I had to compare it against my favourite matte grey, ManGlaze Fuggen Ugly!

In the bottle:

ManGlaze wins hands down for creative bottle labelling. I love their cartoon labels - so much fun!

When I saw how dark Stone Cold was, I decided to add Matte is Murder to the mix, applying two coats of each polish to my fingers.

The biggest difference here is in the size of the shimmer. Whereas the ManGlaze polishes have tiny sparkles, Stone Cold is practically a glitter polish. In fact, when I took this off, I was left with a sheer coat of silver glitter for a moment, which shocked me.

Application wise, both ManGlaze polishes applied like butter - smooth, silky, and easy to apply. Stone Cold on the other hand, is much thicker and a bit trickier. While I didn't end up with streaking, I had to be a bit careful to avoid drag lines. As with all matte polishes, these all dried super quickly. Both ManGlaze polishes dried super smooth, while Stone Cold had a rougher texture.

With a topcoat applied, you really see the difference between Stone Cold and Fuggen Ugly - Stone Cold's larger, brighter silver glitter really pops! Fuggen Ugly has a more subtle rainbow shimmer, and is less textured looking.

Stone Cold is definitely not a dupe for Fuggen Ugly! Application wise I much prefer Fuggen Ugly, but both are beautiful polishes in their own right. If you're not a huge fan of grey polishes you really don't need both, but I'm happy to have them!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Giveaway winners!

The two winners of my Revlon Whimsical giveaway are:

Tara Q and Pamela H! I'll send out emails and if I don't hear back within the next 48 hours, I'll select another winner :)

Comparison: Lynnderella Connect the Dots vs. Cover Band Sticks and Stones

There's been a ton of buzz about Cover Band Sticks and Stones ever since opened, and with good reason.

Sticks and Stones is an attempt to create a more easily available version of Lynnderella's very popular Connect the Dots. While it's available occasionally on eBay for an obscene amount, this polish is extremely hard to come by for regular prices.

Onto the comparison!

Here's a shot of the bottles.

I left this full sized, so you can click through and see just what they look like up close. Immediately, you can see that there are differences. The Cover Band version has a clear base, while the Lynnderella version has a cloudier base due to the shimmer. There's also a more even mix of black and white in Sticks and Stones, while Connect the Dots seems heavier on the white.

One coat, natural light:

Two coats, flash:

So how do they stack up?

The shimmer in the Lynnderella polish is very obvious in the second, flash photo. This is a make or break for many people, some favouring the shimmer, some preferring the clean look of Sticks and Stones.

Side note: it has been noted by many that the Lynnderella formula varies greatly from bottle to bottle, and that older bottles do not have the shimmery base, making it MUCH closer to Sticks and Stones than my later bottle.

Glitter wise, it was a lot easier to get the large glitter out in the Sticks and Stones polish, almost too much so as you can see by all the massive hex glitter on my ring finger - I didn't have to fish at all. Lynnderella's Connect the Dots on the other hand didn't produce nearly as many large pieces, and I had to do some fishing for bar glitter.

Are they true dupes of each other? Not at all! While the average person on the street might not notice or care, it's obvious to any polish addict that I'm wearing two completely different glitters on my fingers here. The extra small glitter and shimmer in Connect the Dots makes it completely different from Sticks and Stones.

I prefer the cleaner look of Sticks and Stones, but I know others love the shimmer base of Connect the Dots, so it's really up to personal choice. Do you need both? Highly unlikely. If I wasn't going to do  a comparison post, I don't think I'd have picked up a bottle of Sticks and Stones, as I don't see myself going through two bottles of this style of glitter topcoat. They're close enough that picking up Sticks and Stones is a very reasonable substitute for the much harder to get Connect the Dots.

So if you've really been dying to have Connect the Dots but aren't anywhere near to getting your wishlist fulfilled, skip the $60+ bottles on eBay and pick up Sticks and Stones instead.

Cover Band Sticks and Stones is available on, though it's sold out right now. The last time it was in stock, it lasted for quite a few days so I wouldn't worry too much about missing out. Sign up for the email updates, and get it!

Lynnderella Connect the Dots is pretty much impossible to get right now if you're not on the waiting list. Check for details.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Pick of the Week: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

With all the hype surrounding the opening of the movie, this is pretty much a given for today's POTW.

The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian North America of the future, where all power is held by the Capitol, the city at the center of twelve districts. The story revolves around Katniss, a 16 year old girl who's one of 24 selected to compete in the yearly Hunger Games, a fight to the death.

I'm a sucker for a strong female character, and Katniss delivers this in spades. This is no shrinking violet, waiting for her prince to rescue her; she's her own person, and ready and able to save herself. She has little time or inclination to romance, and there's very little of anything romantic in this book.

Technically this book falls into the young adult category, but the dark plot, gory deaths, and lack of romance put it far from the likes of most teen books with female leads. For all that, it's a quick, engaging read - I finished it in two days, unable to put it down.

This series is available on, and is surprisingly reasonable at $18 for the trilogy.

Polish pick inspired by this POTW: How could it be anything but the very collection that takes its inspiration from this series? The China Glaze Colors from the Capitol collection.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Seche Vite Topcoat Challenge - Day 5

It's day 5, and things are looking dire. This will be my last day with this particular manicure as I don't feel it's fit for wearing in public anymore.

While my left hand is holding up well with just some light thumbnail chipping, my right hand is a mess, with significant tip wear and chipping on several fingers. Overall though, it's less chipping than I experienced with Poshe using this same nail polish.



At this point, Seche Vite is definitely in the lead for longevity in this topcoat challenge. Next up: OPI Rapidry.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Seche Vite Topcoat Challenge - Day 4

On day 4, the chips are even more apparent, especially on the unwrapped nail on my right hand. I'm seeing some signs of tip wear on several nails now, and most of the nails on my right hand have at least some light chipping.



Thursday, 22 March 2012

Seche Vite Topcoat Challenge - Day 3

After day 3, we're finally starting to see some wear on my SV protected nails. My left thumb has a fair chip in it, and my right middle finger is showing serious tip wear due to lack of wrapping. My right index is also showing some small chips.

It's still pretty wearable though, and isn't looking too bad!



Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Seche Vite Topcoat Challenge - Day 2

After traipsing through airports, dealing with luggage, overhead bins, and random security theatre, this is how my nails were holding up after a day with Seche Vite:



Not too bad! I'm amazed I escaped a full day of plane travel with my manicure intact.

Spot the Polish Addict

As anyone who's flown in the past few years knows, we have liquid restrictions in place that only allow you to carry a quart sized bag of small bottles onboard now. I could rant about that for hours, but I'd rather play "You know you're a laquer addict when..."

This was what I had in my carry on bag for a five day trip:

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Seche Vite Topcoat Challenge - Day 1

This week's topcoat is Seche Vite. Though it is by far the most loved topcoat amongst nail polish lovers, there are some who just hate it for its strong smell and tricky application. It also has a reputation for shrinkage.

I have to agree on the smell - it's very strong! I always use thie topcoat in a well-ventilated area. It also requires a bit more work to apply nicely - too little topcoat and it pulls, too much topcoat and it wrinkles. And if you don't get every bit of polish covered with nicely wrapped tips, it will shrink like whoa.

Having said that, there's a reason people love it! It's super shiny, and dries very fast. But how about longevity?

I cleaned and buffed my nails, then applied three thin coats of Hits No Olimpo in Dioniso, the same polish I used for the Poshe Topcoat Challenge. I also kept the same unwrapped finger - the middle finger on my right hand, due to how short it is.

Here it is right after application. Sorry for the lack of holo goodness - the sun in Ottawa is not cooperating today

Left hand:

Right hand:

But how will it fare over the next few days? This will be an extra challenge for Seche Vite as I'm on the road for the next few days, so it'll have to deal with overhead bins and luggage.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Pick of the Week: Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson


For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the "Sliver of Infinity," reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler's most hellish prison. Kelsier "snapped" and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

Kelsier recruited the underworld's elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.

But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel's plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she's a half-Skaa orphan, but she's lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.

Brandon Sanderson is one of my favourite writers - I've loved all his books. This book, the first from the Mistborn trilogy, was my introduction to his writing; since then I've rapidly consumed everything he's put out. His main talent lies in creating entire worlds, complete with magic, religion, and custom that are believable and engaging. This book does have flaws, but Sanderson's writing keeps you reading despite the stilted dialogue and somewhat cliche characters.

This series is available on Note: this is my affiliate link. If you prefer, you can go directly to the item here.

Polish pick inspired by this POTW: For the ash and smoke choked planet of Scadrial, China Glaze Smoke & Ashes from the Hunger Games collection.

Friday, 16 March 2012


Before I was a polish addict, I was a hardcore BPAL addict. While picking out a few bottles of perfume for my trip this week, I came across this in the hidden corner of one of my boxes:

I must have gotten this as a free sample ages ago when they first released them and never looked at it again. I'd honestly forgotten all about it!

As it's never even been cracked, it must be in pretty good shape! I'm going to have to swatch this later when I get done with my Seche Vite topcoat challenge.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Today's NOTD - shimmery white with a holographic glitter gradient

I was lying awake last night in bed just DYING to do this manicure! So of course the first thing I did when I woke up was break out the polish supplies. This manicure made my nails look like something out of a winter fantasy world.

The white base is four coats of Nicole by OPI It's All About the Glam, a semi-sheer glittery white, and one of my favourite base polishes. It's a soft white, easy to apply, and the subtle shimmer keeps it from being too stark. The main issue is that it's quite sheer, and even with four coats I could see my nail line.

To fix that, I added a glitter gradient using Claire's Night Sky, a fine holographic and navy blue glitter that I absolutely love. If you're near a Claire's or Icing shop (it's sold as Epic Winning there I think?), grab this! It's cheap and beautiful.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Today's NOTD - matte black with glitter

Just a quick NOTD post: Deborah Lippmann Edge of Glory Black Creme, Nicole by OPI Rainbow in the S-kylie, and Deborah Lippmann Flat Top matte top coat.

I really like how this turned out! The flat black makes the glitter stand out in a really unique and interesting way, turning it into blotches of colour instead of flashing glitter.  I wish this glitter topcoat had more colour and less silver glitter, but overall it's a fun look and one I'll probably do again with other glitter topcoats!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

How to: Konad/Faux-nad stamping for Beginners Part 2 - Technique

In part one of this how-to, I gave a rundown on plate sets and various special supplies you need for Konad/Faux-nad stamping. Now it's time to play!

I just received the Red Angel plates in the mail, and I am so excited to use them!

Stamping is a messy business - there's no way around it. You'll spend most of your time cleaning up the mess from your nails and supplies than you will actually stamping. It took me a while, but I've finally figured out how to minimize the mess for me, and I hope it helps others!

The supplies:

  • Pure acetone (available at Sally Beauty Supply, or your local hardware store.)
  • A small bowl
  • Stamping plates
  • Stamper and scraper
  • Cotton buds
  • Cotton pads/balls
  • Paper towel
  • Special polish
  • Clean up brush

Gather everything in one place, and make sure you have a lot of space to play with. Pour a generous amount of acetone into your small bowl and keep it close at hand - the acetone will evaporate very quickly, so pour more than you think you'll use!

Choose a plate and place it on top of your paper towel. I picked RA-108, and will be using the squareish pattern in the upper right hand corner.

Cover about half of your chosen image with polish - the scraper will push the polish into the rest of the image.

With your scraper at a 45 degree angle, quickly and firmly scrape the excess polish over your image and off your plate. You want to drag the scraper from the center of the plate towards the outside edge, and onto the paper towel. This is the part that's going to save you a lot of clean up later. Once your scraper hits the paper towel, immediately wipe off the excess polish so that your blade stays clean.

Your plate should look something like this. The smears are normal, and will not affect the finished pattern.

This is my scraper after swiping it across the plate and onto the paper towel. There's very little polish left on the blade - it's all on the paper towel! This is where the bulk of the mess came from before I started doing it this way - the polish would end up all over my fingers from the blade, and it would leave smears on the plate if I didn't clean it properly after each nail.

Using a quick, rocking motion, lightly roll your stamper across the design to pick up the polish. It's important to not press too firmly - doing so will cause the polish to not adhere to the stamper at all. It seems counter-intuitive, but this was what caused me the most trouble the first time I tried to stamp my nails!

Here's my stamper after picking up the pattern:

Working quickly, roll the stamper across your finger. Make sure to press somewhat firmly so the rubber molds to your fingernail.

Here's my stamper after transferring the pattern to my nail.

Dip a cotton bud into your acetone bowl, and wipe off any polish residue from your stamper and plate.

I leave mine a little wet from acetone, and wipe off the residue with a clean cotton pad. Afterwards, my image plate is clean and ready to use again.

Use a cotton bud dipped in acetone to do some initial cleanup around your nail, then finish the job with a swipe of your cleaning brush. The Special Polish is thick and will be a bit messy during clean up.

When you're done with all your stamping, apply a top coat to help it last longer. The most important thing here is to use a very light touch so you don't drag your pattern, and go over each nail just once - the more often you drag the brush across your design, the greater your chances of smearing.

I got a little crazy and stamped a different design on each nail today. I particularly like the swirled tip and the fish scale pattern here!

You can clearly see where some patterns did not transfer as well as others - my pinky and middle finger on this hand both smeared rather badly.

The aftermath:

Because I kept wiping off my scraper on the paper towel, my cleanup was minimal.

Monday, 12 March 2012

How to: Konad/Faux-nad stamping for Beginners Part 1 - Supplies and a rundown of what's out there

So you want to get into stamping, but you don't know where to start. Easy enough to understand - there's a LOT of stuff out there, and it's not easy to get it right your first time out!

The basic rundown on Konad & Faux-nad:

Konad - Only sold online. I've seen it on Amazon and a few other sites.

Konad makes the best quality plates. They're more deeply etched and tend to be easier to transfer for beginners. However, they're much more expensive, running $5 - $7 per plate. I have half a dozen Konad plates, and the quality is definitely high! This is one of the most popular ones.

Konad special polishes are very different from regular nail polish, they're extremely thick. You don't need these for stamping, but they are easier for beginners. Any thick, opaque in one coat polish will work, but it will take some practice. I have both the black & white special polishes, and I really recommend getting these two colours, especially as a beginner.

Konad stamper - I have the double ended one. It's cheap and easy to use! Everyone agrees that quality and performance wise, the Konad double stamper is the best. I don't recommend using the scraper that comes with this set - the metal edge will scratch your plates.

Konad scraper - nice, but not necessary. An old gift card will work just as well, and won't scrape your plates like the metal edged konad one. I bought a separate plastic edged one here.

Bundle Monster - Only sold on Amazon as far as I know.

This is a set of 21 or 25 plates, available cheap on Amazon. A lot of people find them a little tougher to use than the Konads. Note that there are two sets available, make sure you order the newer set! Until recently the full nail patterns were smaller and wouldn't cover even regular nails (much less a thumb), and the plates weren't backed by paper so they were quite sharp, leading to cuts.

The newer sets have wider full finger patterns, the same size as the Konad ones, and also have a paper backing. The designs are a bit hit or miss and the quality is more variable, but the overall opinion is that it's good value for your money.

Red Angel - Only sold on Amazon.

This is the new kid on the block. The images on the plate are very different from the Konad and BM ones. Full size prints are the same size as the Konad and new BM prints. Etching is on par with BM (a bit more variable than Konad), but these lack the paper backing, so the edges are quite sharp. Be careful handling them as you may cut yourself - I managed to do it just removing the plastic covers! This is the set I'll be using in part 2.

Sally Beauty - Available at Sally Beauty online, not sure about stores.

This is a cheap kit you can pick up here that contains a stamper, scraper, holder, and a few plates. 

Reports are that this is OK, but the stamper's kinda crappy and hard to use.

If you're a complete beginner and have no supplies yet, this is what I'd recommend buying:

  • Konad double ended stamper
  • One or two bottles of Konad special polish (white or black, or both if you want to spend more)
  • One or two Konad plates
  • Either the BM or RA plate set. Style wise I'd lean towards the Red Angel set, but if you're worried about safety, get the Bundle Monster set with the paper backing.

Nice to have:
Scraper. May as well pick this up as it's cheap, but people report that an old credit card edge works just as well.

Plate holder. Just more mess to clean up.

You can find Konad starter kits that will contain a stamper, a few plates, and a couple of small bottles of polish fairly cheaply, but it'll only have the single ended stamper. I'd recommend skipping the kits and buying the pieces separately.

The main reason I recommend getting one Konad plate and special polish is because even though it's pricer, it'll help you learn how to use the stamper more easily than trial and error with your own polish. When trying something new for the first time, you want to eliminate as many variables as you can so you can nail down your technique - using the special polish and a Konad plate will eliminate any polish and plate issues right from the start.

Part 2 of Polish stamping coming tomorrow!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Pick of the Week: George RR Martin's A Game of Thrones


The first volume of George R R Martin’s glorious high fantasy tells the tragic story of treachery, greed and war that threatens the unity of the Seven Kingdoms. Martin unfolds with astonishing skill a tale of truly epic dimensions, a story of treachery and ambition, love and magic. Set in a fabulous world scarred by battle and catastrophe over 8000 years of recorded history, it tells of the deeds of men and women locked in the deadliest of conflicts and of the terrible legacy they will leave their children.

In the game of thrones, you win or you die.

Before it was a hit series on HBO, George RR Martin's Game of Thrones was a best-selling novel that captivated many. Rich characters, complicated storylines, and crazy plot twists will keep you turning the pages of this hefty tome. There's a surprising lack of magic in this fantasy book, which relies more on its well-crafted characters and plotlines - it reads more like an alternate middle ages than Dungeons and Dragons.

If you enjoyed the series, you'll LOVE the book!

This book is available on Note: this is my affiliate link. If you prefer, you can go directly to the item here.

Polish pick inspired by this POTW: A nod to the series title, A Song of Ice and Fire - Essie Shine of the Times.

How to: Manicure clean up!

Let's face it, sometimes your manicure just ends up messy. It could be a bad brush, your hands could be shaky from too much coffee, or you're just tired while doing your nails - it happens.

Fortunately, it's very quick and easy to fix!

What you need:

A bottle of pure acetone, a small dense paint brush, and a cotton pad or paper towel to wipe your brush on.

It's important to note that pure acetone is required here - regular nail polish remover just isn't nearly as effective!

This is a close up of the brush I'm currently using:

It's a small, very stiff angled brush that I picked up for a couple of dollars at an art supply store. The acetone will eventually destroy it, so there's no point in spending more than a dollar or two on your brush. You can see how mine's already started to deteriorate after about a month of use.

For this demo, I picked a nightmare of a polish to clean up: OPI's I'm not really a Waitress, a beautiful, deeply pigmented red with a shiny, almost enamel like finish:

Deeply pigmented reds are the hardest to clean up in my opinion, and you'll see why!

Here I've slapped two extra messy coats of polish on my nails. I'm not usually quite this bad :)

With your brush soaked in acetone, gently sweep away the excess polish. You want to brush all along the areas highlighted here:

It's important that your brush isn't too wet, and that you angle your fingers and brush so that any excess acetone drips onto your skin instead of your nails. Use your brush sort of like a broom, slowly pushing any polish off your cuticles and skin, down onto your finger. Wipe your brush off on your cotton pad occasionally to keep the excess pigments from building up.

I have deeply embedded nails, so I tend to pull down the sides with my thumb and then slide the brush along the edges there. Pardon the leftover glitter - it's from my last mani. Luckily this technique will get rid of it!

This is the result of an initial clean up one of my fingers:

You can see that the red pigment has dissolved in the acetone and run all along my finger. This is what drives me crazy about red! Just keep brushing it away from your nail and onto your skin, then take an acetone soaked cotton pad and wipe away any streaks from your fingers.

After just a few minutes, my fingers looked like this:

So much better! No more flooded cuticles or polish on my skin! There's absolutely zero photoshopping in this picture, other than my watermark. Just a couple of minutes with a small brush and some acetone took my nails from a hot mess to a close to perfect manicure.

This does take some practice - the first few times I tried this, I ended up swiping off way too much polish and had to redo my nails entirely. But it really only took a few tries for me to get it down pat, and my manicures were much nicer because of it!