Sunday, August 31, 2008

Let's talk more Konad?

Judging by your responses, Konad techniques might be interesting to some of my readers. OK, let's get stamping.

Here comes a short seance of a self-therapy:

My environment is totally Konad-unfriendly. My mom, bless her heart, still tells me that bright or, God forbid, red polish reserved for the fallen creatures only. My beloved husband used to roll his eyes ones hear the words "nail art". "Honey, how old are you, exactly? Thirteen?". Yes, he can pursue a PhD in being sarcastic with his wife. I had been drooling profusely over Sara's beautiful Konad manicures (check the links at the end of her post). Yet, somehow I was sure I would look like a retired ho' with a lot of time on her hands (literally) if I would get myself one of these sinful stamps. I have to admit, pictures on Konad official web site did not exactly prove the opposite. So, buying a Konad was somewhat of a rebellious act. I was working late and out of the blue I though: "Hell, this is my life and I just want to have some fun". Hi, my name is Masa and I'm so proud of myself for finally getting a Konad!

Konad is a trade name of a company that produces kits for "stamping nail art". In theory, you apply a bit of a special nail polish on the design of your choice; scrape polish excess with a miniature scraper; press a rubber stamp on the design and transfer it to your nails. With the greatest of ease. I wish!

After getting my Konad, I did one - one! - design successfully and then it just did not want to work for me anymore. Instead of transferring countless immaculate "highly detailed, sophisticated designs" to my nails, I was almost crying in frustration. Then I remembered that I have a polish fanatic colleagues and sent out a lot of emails.

Carla G was nice enough to share this link. Please, read the section "Stamp not picking up image" carefully.

Konad's nuts and bolts:
1. Before you begin, file the rubber stamp with your regular nail file - just a touch.

2. Do not try to swipe your polish over the design in different directions in attempt to cover all little nukes and crannies. Swipe with one fast, wide motion. If you work with polish for too long (we are talking seconds here, not minutes), it will dry out right on the plate and your stamp will not pick up the design. Big blop of polish is not necessary at all. Thin layer can produce very good results.

3. Clear both the plate and a scraper after each swipe, with acetone-based remover.

4. Use Konad special polish. I hate "special" products; usually it's just a marketing trick, making you to pay more money for a product equal to a regular, not-so-special stuff. Well, "special polish" does yield better and more consistent results.

5. Experiment with the stamp: try to place it on the design straight, head first; or try a gentle rolling motion.

6. Transfer the design to the nail in one rolling motion.

7. Even if you are a perfectionist, please, do not get mad at yourself. Some designs are just more difficult to work with than others. I still cannot master this one:

For some reason it's almost impossible to pick up completely. I've already wasted gallons of polish on it, and was able to pick the design for 95% just once. Oh well.

8. Buy more polish than you think you would use. You will inevitably waste some while learning ropes.

9. Make sure your top coat is fresh and thin; otherwise it will pull your design and ultimately ruin it.
Some tips and tricks:

1. Stamping over your base coat works well. Great way to refresh an old mani.

2. If you work over the base coat and have smudged the design, gently scrape it off the nail and redo. I use plastic nail tips from Sally's for scraping.

3. Some of regular polishes do work with Konad. For instance, Color Club nail art polishes. One of nail boarders also has mentioned that Misa I Will Survive (glossy black) works perfectly. Go, Misa!

Experiment and have fun!

Special thanks to NOTD blog for inspiration and advice; and to Carla G for the great link!


Friday, August 29, 2008

Neon opposite mani

After neon intoxication I wanted to paint my nails into something muted, subtle and sophisticated to the extent of being boring. So I've reached for OPI Parlez-vous OPI? It turned out to be exactly what I wanted, but I could not just stop here. When one just got a Konad stamper, creativity itch is inevitable. I used plate #63 with Konad silver. Love the results (ha - I've been wearing this mani for almost 4 days; usually I change every other day).
And another - shadow - pic to show off the design. I've got couple of smudges, but nobody's perfect, right?

Another attempt - the same design in black, over Sephora OPI Run With It.(You can catch a glimpse of I'm With Brad on a ring finger).

I need more Konad plates.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Neon Pictures are here

As you know, Misa's neon collection is huge - 12 colors all together. 12 colors means a lot of swatching, so with Scrangie The Greatest we have decided to attack you, guys, form both left and right split our efforts. Please refer to her post to see another 6 colors from this collection.

Here comes a disclaimer. I hate neons. The feeling is mutual - neons are not so thrilled about me, either. They look horrid on me. Imagine a very brightly colored shell parakeet pooping on one's nails right after having a big breakfast of neon markers. Now you have an idea of neons on my nails. Plus, neon is very hard to capture accurately. So, please be gentle with me and forgive my not-so-ideal pics.

General observations:

I thought the idea of releasing a neon collection mid-August was rather odd. However, I received these colors on a very dreadful rainy day, and looking at them - bright and smiley as a bunch of over-caffeinated cheerleaders - was very comforting. Not so bad idea after all.

All of the very few neon polishes I have met before were kinda...dense and chalk-like. Misa neon polishes are complete opposite. The consistency is a bit goopy and drippy at the same time; and they dry to a jelly finish. Drying time is fine. Unlike other neons, usually drying to a matte finish, these ones dried semi-gloss.

I had several issues with applications. Consistency does not allow to make three thin layers (which I prefer) accurately. Polish bulged a bit closer to the tips of my nails. The higher the jelly factor, the worse the application (my biggest problems were with Ready, Set, Sunshine and Bikini With a Martini).

Most of them are opaque in three coats.

I wish for the brushes to had more bounce - this would make handling of a heavy polish so much easier.

Enough words, let's move to the pictures.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat is one of my favorites, yet it takes the worst pictures in the whole bunch.
In real life it's a tone or even two lighter and have some hint of orange in it. Think a typical light pink highlighter.

Girl's Night Out is a very, very bright purple; one of the jellyest (is it a word?) in the bunch:
/OK - it shows perfectly on one of my monitors and really meh on another one. Just in case - it's a dark, bright purple/

Ready, Set, Sunshine. Meet your old friend from Driver's Ed - road cone. Or you can think about this color as a carrot which has been consuming way too much energy drinks:
This one has the worst opacity rate: in 3 thick coats you can still see the white part of my nails. My guess, if you flash somebody with nails colored in Ready, Set, the person will go blind anyway and won't mind the sheerness of the color.

Happy Happy is yellow yellow and pretty pretty. I would love to wear it, but it's not my color at all:

Bikini With a Martini is the most wearable, at least for me. Bright magenta in a bottle, it looks surprisingly orange on the nails:

Let's Go Green is a very Honda-Element color, if you know what I mean. Nitrate-fertilized lime with a gold shimmer. Amazing shimmer is exactly the same as in Luminous. Basically, Let's Go Green is a chemical-green version of Luminous (sounds weird, I know). Required 4 coats and still was not completely opaque. Again, I love it, but cannot wear this one:

Please excuse some pink inclusions - I cannot stop playing with my brand-new Konad. I thought neon overload would look cute, but you have to use Konad special polish to get neon-bright results (I used Color Club pink).

OK, ladies, enjoy the colors; and I'm off to polish my nails into something muted, subtle, dark and boring.


Monday, August 25, 2008

It's raining cats, dogs and neon polishes here!

1. Neons have arrived, all 12 of them!
2. I cannot swatch: it's pouring here; and neons + indoor lighting = deceptive pictures.

Here is an uber-ghetto swatch, for your /very questionable/ viewing pleasure:


Sunday, August 24, 2008

First pictures of Neons - Nailphile.

Enjoy! /I definitely did/.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Update on Neons

First, I just got a confirmation that I'll be getting them really soon.

Second - turns out, Misa did this collection three years ago; way before all major players have come up with marker-colored collections! They wanted to test the market first.

Third - most important, probably - this is a part of the core collection now. Certain Canadian gal should be happy, as well as many others neon enthusiasts.

Stay tuned for swatches!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

An excuse to post this picture - I want to show you... well these patches work. An actual reason - I wanted to show off one of my old time favorites. Bitches Brew by Lippmann. It was my very first expensive polish; and the very first "bold" color (I used to be all neutrals, modest pinks and sheers kind of gal). Worth every penny: smooth, nice brush, dries quickly and wears exceptionally well. Who am I kidding here - I would get it just for the name.

Stupid weather did not let me capture a delicate, yet deep shimmer. Deep shimmer - does it make any sense?

Patches, oh yes - patches. There is a little bump on a pinky, but I needed to know if Swiss Silk would survive heavy picking on it. It did; and also has passed non-acetone remover test: did not even budge.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Out of the blue Neon

This Spring/Summer were marked (or, even better, highlighted) with neon collections - from Essie, OPI and Color Club.

Voila - as of today we have Misa Neon as well (scroll down to the Misa link, please - I do not have a better picture yet). Mid-August is a bit odd time to release such a season-oriented collection. Misa representative said that they did not want to jump in the band wagon. According to the same source (boy, it sounds extremely cool!), collection will be available all year round. On Transdesign site, thou, Neon called "Spring/Summer". Puzzling.

Hopefully, I will get Neons next week. Expect swatches galore: it's a 12-shade collection.

Stay tuned for updates!


My affair with Rescue Beauty Lounge - very long and emotional post,

... as cheater's chronicles should be.

It would be stupid to deny that I use other brands than Misa - I sure do. Usually, thou, I do not get emotionally attached /God, I'm such a freak - who else can get attached to a polish?/ Well, it was not the case with RBL. After Scrangie's brilliant pictures I got mad. As those pretties are $18 a pop, I've been swapping, swapping and swapping; I even paid retail for a couple of them - and I'm a known Scrooge.

I guess, I cinically cheated on my beloved Misa, as I admit: RBL is better. Yes, sure, RBL is almost 9 times Misa, but still... They apply absolutely flawlessly and have an outstanding color pay-off. With many of them you can achieve a bottle color and an even coverage with one - one - coat:

/Killa Red; middle finger - one coat/

RBL customer service is a second to none, truly. I admit, I'm a sucker for a good CS, that's right. I grew up in an ex-socialist country, which meant zero attention to customer. Too many companies give me flashbacks from the past. Hello, Nubar, do you really needed two month to answer a simple email question? RBL's representative usually emails back in an hour.

The only fly in the ointment (besides the killer price, of course) is a tip wear I've been getting in 2-3 days despite all my efforts. I tried any base coat/top coat combination possible, I wore gloves almost 24/7 - nothing has worked. I was about to write a really bitter post "$18 polish should jump on your nails and stick to them forever", swap away all my RBL and come back to Lippmann for a luxury fix.
/Killa Red, second day/

And then I sent an email to RBL asking about their upcoming Fall collection (addict is an addict is an addict, no matter what). Got a usual prompt respond, but signed by Ji Baek herself! I could not believe my eyes and said it was too bad it was impossible to get her autograph. In a couple of days she sent me a scanned one. It was a very sweet and personal touch and I really appreciated it, for I'm sure she is busy.

Being as ungrateful pig as I am, I wrote her about my issues with polish durability. Yes, I do type a lot; no, I don't use RBL base/coat; no, it doesn't happen with much cheaper polishes. I expected a polite version of "try our base and shut up, everybody raves about my polish" as an answer. Damn, no! First, she seemed to be truly concerned. Second - nothing about to shell out more money for RBL treatments. Ji nicely suggested to try a tip wrap (when you start painting from the tips). What a smart way to win a customer back. Trick did not help, I got a bad tip wear again. But for her being so genuinely concerned about my problem, I'll try to make it work between me and RBL. (Misa, cover your ears, please, I'll be back anyway!)

I understand that I sound like a 13-year-old Hannah Montana fan, but I do think Ji is amazing. I'm sure she is tough, as she built a successful business; yet she is sweet and, according to Scrangie, hot. I wish I could have a boss like her.

To wrap this emotional bubbling up - I look forward to Rescue Beauty Lounge Fall collection (available mid-October). And I still think that $18 is a ridiculous price for a nail polish, even for the best one.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Broken nail doesn't mean you have to file it up to the quick.

Couple of days ago I broke a nail on my left pinky - while vacuuming, arrgh! The tear was past the quick and pretty wide, almost to the middle of the nail. After kicking my vacuum cleaner for a while, I just let it go. Well, have you ever got a towel thread stuck in a teared nail? It hurts and it doesn't help the tear shrink. I have a choice: either file all the nails up to zero or try Swiss Silk Wraps recommended by my fellow Nail Boarder Ponchy.

Ponchy, thank you so much! You saved the day/nail.

SuperNail Swiss Silk Wrap Self-Adhesive Tabs look like nail-shaped pieces of silk (duh!) sandwiched together with a paper base. You cut a piece of a size you need with scissors; peel off the silk layer and apply it to the teared part of your nail. Patch holds by itself, but to make it completely secure, you will need ibd 5 Second Brush-On Gel Resin:

it looks like a miniature nail polish bottle. Brush up the patch with IBD, let it set for a couple of minutes - and you're done!

I'm pretty sure that there are other similar products on the market, but this one, as I said, was recommended by another nail fanatic, so I've decided not to reinvent the wheel.

Patch will serve you for about a month, withstanding non-acetone polish remover. Acetone will dissolve the gel; you'll have to reapply the patch.

Really, don't wait for a nail emergency, go to Sally's and keep these two products in your medicine cabinet.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quick comparison: OPI Eiffel For This Color vs Lincoln Park at Midnight

I've been weeding out duplicate colors recently (one cannot have infinite amount of polish, you know...). So I'm mad at myself now for getting Eiffel For This Color, for it's a dead-on dupe of OPI famous Lincoln Park At Midnight. There is a difference, but it's so insignificant that might not be enough even for a Nail Boarder.

To the pictures. Left to right: EFTC, LPAM and Rescue Beauty Lounge Film Noir (just because I like it, that is):

As you can see, the only difference is in shimmer, base colors are identical in both polishes. Eiffel has star-like shimmer inclusions, as opposed to all-over, evenly distribited shimmer in LPAD. /Beautiful Film Noir is absolutely flat and gorgeous/.

Another pic I purposefuly took with an exaggerated flash, to show off base colors:

See? LPAM is evenly shimmery, while Eiffel is flat with shimmer inclusions.

If you don't have either Effel or LPAM - take my advice and get the latter; formula is so much better.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Elizabeth Arden: the eulogy

Line of Elizabeth Arden polishes has been discontinued about a year ago, I believe. I have no idea why Arden's big shots made this decision. I'm sure, they had their reasons; but so did the Spanish Inquisition. You think I'm overreacting? Well, see for yourself. Formula as smooth as glass, brush is impeccable, wear is great...

What about colors? Well, colors...

Let's start with Vincenza Raspberry. It's an epitome of "pretty": bright pink with sparkly gold flakes. I'm not a sparkly kind of gal, but this is truly pretty. Besides, it's good to wear something really summer-y before we all jump on a Fall wagon.

Arden can do shimmers like no one out there (damn, could do shimmers). How about that: bright jelly red with rather chunky gold glitter? Sounds garish, doesn't it? Not true. It's Camden Pepperberry:

Excuse my ignorance, I have no idea what pepperberry really is. But for me this polish looks like Christmas morning and mistletoe.

Next one is extremely popular among my Nail Board buddies:
West End Purle Sage. Warm purple, loaded with lots of silver shimmer. One can barely see shimmer on the nails (as opposed to the bottle). Honestly, I don't know why it has caused such a frenzy among polish fanatics. I guess, it's just not my color. I've seen better -

Like Connecticut Ave. Merlot, for instance. Rusty-red, loaded (again!) with a fine gold shimmer.

If you don't know, I'm all cremes, not shimmers; so I left the best one for dessert. Buckingham Blackberry.
Just look at this purple perfection!

I made this picture to show of a hint of shimmer, which as not visible on the nails at all. It probably adds depth to the color, or something like that. But it might as well be an old good fairy dust: BB looks absolutely gorgeous.

What do you think? I hope a marketing CEO (or whoever made the decision to discontinue this line) had a very good reason. Like saving a life of a puppy. Otherwise, I wish her goopy polishes for the rest of her life (if it's a women); or a bad-tempered girlfriend with constant hangnails (if it's a guy).

PS: You still can find Arden polishes in selected Ulta stores (clearance shelves); in some nail supply stores and via on-line stores.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Comparison: Misa Fatal Affair and China Glaze Midnight Ride

I have bad news for a lovely Canadian gal. Michelle, I was wrong: these two are not dupes; I would say - not even sisters; cousins - may be.

Quick and somewhat dirty swatches.

First - taken in a full sunlight (yay, we had a bit of sunlight today!). Starting from index finger: FA, MR, FA, MR.

Difference is obvious: MR is more blackened and its shimmer is dark purple, as opposed to blue-shimmered and purple-based FA. By the way - I discovered that Midnight Ride has a very dark olive-brown base!

Another picture - shadow.
While both Fatal Affair and Midnight Ride are blackened purples, they are so different that you can easily spot it even in such lighting (or lack thereof).

Hands down, I like Misa's color better. Hands down, China Glaze wins formula-wise. I think I overestimated Misa Fall formula. It's actually too thick, not to the point where thickness causes serious problems with application, but...

PS: Midnight Ride was a present from Hill The Sweetest. I wrote about her here; and - voila - she just did another good deed. Hill, thanks again!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Eiffel for this color

This is first and last color I got from OPI France collection.

Color is nice, even thou it's definitely not a unique one. But I got a bottle with a shovel-shaped brush (yep!), and my nails have bubbles all over. As I know, many ladies have the same bubbly problem, so I guess it's a formula. Bubble-bubble-bubble.

All in all, here is a swatch. Ring and pinkey show how Eiffel looks like in a natural light - very, very dark purple, almost black, actually. Middle and finger - to show off a pretty purple shimmer, visible in a bright light.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tools of the trade, or my must-haves – Part 2 /very long post/

OK, last time I told you about my mani software, so to speak; now let’s move to the hardware.

First and foremost – I do not cut my cuticles, ever. I may clip off an occasional hangnail, but that’s it. I used to be addicted to cutting cuticles; and they used to look so much worse than they do now. Now I don’t even own a decent trimmer/scissors – no need for these.

The hardest tool I ever let around my cuticles is an orange wood stick. I use them to push the cuticles back, once a week usually, after applying my cuticle remover. Twice a day, after shower, I gently slide back wet cuticles with a towel. By the way, I just bought a huge pack of sticks – 144, to be precise – for $4.55 in a local beauty supply store. Check out yours for bargain prices; many of these places do not require license to let you shop!

Now to the files. Another big “G” (first one, of course, is Gloves) is Glass. Get yourself a glass file, ASAP. I promise it will decrease nail splitting and breakage dramatically. I hardly had a single breakage since I’ve started using glass files exclusively. (Yes, I’m on an exclusive basis with nail files, that’s true). Brand doesn’t really matter. I have one by Essie, one by Sally Hansen , one from h2t; and the last one by Swissco. The later is the cheapest and happens to be my favorite: it’s really good in filing off a length. Ji Baek, whom I admire, says in her book that glass is good for touch-ups, but not for removing length. With all my due respect, I have to disagree. Swissco, one-sided and thick, does a great job. From all the files I mentioned, Swissco is the thickest one and the one from h2t – the thinnest.

Speaking about one- and two-sided files. I thought that two-sided files are better, for one can file in both directions. I was wrong. First, you are not supposed to file in two directions (I’m nail-naughty and do it anyway). Second, somehow I manage to do it with a one-sided file.

Buffer. I don’t have one. Usually they are used to polish off ridges and stains – too bad, but my ridges are beyond help here. Besides, I discovered that even occasional buffing messes with a polish wear. You see, when the nail is too ykflrbq , it’s difficult for the polish to adhere properly, even with a help of a base coat.

Logically, we are ready to move to the base and top coats. You cannot overestimate a good base coat. It can help to solve your nails’ problems like breakage, stress, yellowness etc – to the certain extent, of course; it primes the nail surface and helps to prolong mani/pedi lifespan. As I mentioned before, I have visible ridges, so my natural choice is a ridge filling base. I tried Nailtek II, Barielle (available in TJMaxx/Marshalls for a much better price) and couple of others. To tell you the truth, they all do a pretty good job; I stick to Nailteck just out of habit.
I used to follow base coat with Orly Bonder, but not anymore. It caused my nails to turn ugly yellow, so I quit. Too bad – Bonder does help the polish to stick better.

Top coat: girl’s best friend and the best thing since sliced bread. Adds shine and depth to the color; prolongs wear; and last but definitely not least – speeds up dreadful drying time. I would not be able to do my nails without Seche Vite (available for much better price from etailers!). It’s like a private time machine: apply SV and – boom – in 15 minutes you can function like a normal human being, without yelling “MY NAILZZZZ!” when your husband wants to hug you. Still, polish is prone to smudges; it will dry completely in 1.5-2 hours. I have tried a bunch of top coats, but for me nothing compares to SV time- and shine-wise. I recall just one total disaster, thou, Essie Good To Go. This one seems to dry for centuries; I ended up redoing mani from scratch.

And before I wrap up this annoyingly long post, I want to mention just one thing – Biotin. It’s a supplement clinically proven to help your nails get stronger. I read a lot of information about Biotin and figured out that optimal dose is between 3000 and 5000 mg daily. I do see a difference in my nails when I take Biotin and I recommend it to all my friends. Please, ask your physician before starting any supplements.

/OK - am I a dork, or what?/


Monday, August 11, 2008

Can a girl change her mind?

Well, I sure can.

My favorite from China Glaze Rodeo Diva collection is actually Wagon Trail.

Scrangie pointed out that it is a black melted with gold. Surprisingly enough, it looks like olive green on the nail.

I want to say something like "wow dude that's awesome" or may be "woot!".

"Holy cow!" seems appropriate as well (no pun intended).


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My humble opinion on Fall collections

OK, now that we've seen almost all collections (except for Color Club - so far, I saw only promo images and teasers), let's discuss them!

This is definitely one of the best nail polish fanatics' falls ever.

My top:
3. Essie. There is my pillow? I'm falling asleep. Not that it's a bad collection - it's a solid one. But predictability and dupability factor is over the scale. See for yourself - Scrangie was nice enough to post comparisons, and almost all colors have twins, or at least close relatives.
2. Zoya. Pretty much the same as Essie. I gave Zoya 2nd place just because of Sloane - for I truly love this color and might even buy it. (Scrangie's wonderful pics are here.)
1. It's a tie between Misa and China Glaze. Or Chine Glaze and Misa, I don't know. Both companies came up with an array of season-related yet original colors.
I think I prefer ChG's formula - Misa was just a tad thick for me - and they have more colors I would wear.
Misa should get a bow, or trophy, or something for an absolutely fantastic Toxic Seduction. I would not wear it - it's 100% not my color - but I appreciate its beauty.

So far, this is my favorite from Rodeo Diva - Side-Saddle:

Misa's beauty - Toxic Sedaction:

As you can see, OPI is not even on my chart. I saw France collection in local Ulta today and, honestly, I think it sucks (forgive me for I don't have more appropriate word). After scrutinizing the display, I found just 2 bottles that seemed to be original - Tickle My France-y and You don't know Jacques! Other looked like a variation of old OPI colors for me. Somebody has to kick Suzi really hard and let her know that she's losing clients over lack of imagination. I might be wrong, but recently all OPI creative efforts go to the names of the polishes. Sad.

I'm still looking forward to see new colors from my credit card's worst enemy - Rescue Beauty Lounge. They should be available by mid-October.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Random: Disposable gloves

I just popped homemade lasagna into an oven. "Homemade" means chopping onion, mincing garlic and grinding carrots.

Ha! No onion smell (hate!) on my hands, no carroty-orange around my precious cuticles.

/kisses gloves good-bye, tosses them into garbage/