28 June 2012

Hidden Treasure in the Bargain Bin

A little while ago, in my post on where to find nail polish in Hong Kong, I mentioned the bargain bins at some of the beauty supply stores around town. They can be a little hit-or-miss and aren't stocked with many familiar name brands, but every now and then you come across something surprisingly awesome. Case in point, this tiny, little bottle of Marcia Shiny Nail Colour.

Marcia 8 swatch

This little polish cost all of about sixty cents (US) at Sasa. In the bottle, it looked like it might be a decent duochrome. At two for just over a buck, I was hardly going to be crushed if it didn't turn out to have a very good shift, but boy, was I pleasantly surprised!

Marcia Shiny Nail Colour swatch

The colour variation on this puppy is incredible! It goes from a rosy bronze to a grass green with very little movement or change in the light. Seriously, I just sat there gawking at my nails, amazed that this cheap little bottle of polish was showing off the most dramatic duochrome shift I've ever seen.

24 June 2012

Zoya Gradient and Versatile Blogging

After Tracie, I decided my next new Zoya to swatch would be Rory, from the Surf collection. The formula had a great consistency, and it covered very well in just 2 coats. But despite all the pretty, flecked swatches I've seen on others' blogs, on me, Rory was a brushstroke-y, heavily frosted trip to the 1970's. I didn't even want to take pictures. Disappointed, I was about to grab a makeup sponge to see if applying another coat with it would improve matters when I decided that if I was going to be sponging anyway, I might as well try a gradient with Zoya Kimber, the much warmer, brighter pink from the same collection.

Gradient manicure with Zoya Rory and Kimber

They're similar enough that they blended into each other nicely, but at the same time they kind of accentuated each other's differences, showing Rory's cool, nearly purple tones against the warmer fuschia of Kimber. Interesting result!

In very other news, I'd like to thank Janine of TheAmazingWorldOfJ for the Versatile Blogger Award!

21 June 2012

M&M Nail Art

Now that my polish obsession has been simmering for a while, I'm starting to see nail art ideas all over the place. A lot of those ideas are more complicated than I can manage yet, and they get sketched in Photoshop and saved for later. But sometimes if I pick the right polishes and cross my fingers (though not while I'm actually painting them because that would be messy and awkward), a nice, simple idea can turn into something pretty cute.

When Husband gave me a bag of M&M's, my first thought wasn't about chocolatey deliciousness; my first thought was, "I have to put these on my nails!"

M&M nails
I love how Red's all, "Check 'em out, baby!"

19 June 2012

Swatch & Review: Zoya Tracie

I picked up several of the new Zoya Beach and Surf collection polishes a little while ago, and since then I've mostly just been staring at how pretty they all look together in the bottles. It's nice to see collections this cohesive, whose colours look this good together, as opposed to being a random batch of "We have these colours ready to go, so we're going to pretend there's a theme to it." But I didn't buy these guys just to admire them in the bottles (not that I can't see myself doing that--I just didn't do it here ;p), so I decided to start with Tracie.

Zoya Tracie swatch

Zoya Tracie is sort of the odd-girl-out in this collection. She's the only one of the Beach polishes that's not a straight creme, but she doesn't have anywhere near the amount of shimmer that the Surf side has. Tracie is an avocado or pistachio green, refreshingly cool but still warmed by its yellow, with a pretty, silvery micro-shimmer.

17 June 2012

Dandelion Nail Art

The past couple of days I wanted something a little soft and sweet on my nails, so I finally tried this dandelion nail art design. Wish I was sure how to credit it properly; it's all over YouTube and other sites, but I specifically remember seeing it at MaD Manis and filing it under, "Ooh, ooh, try this one!!"

dandelion nail art

Like Amanda, I also used China Glaze Sea Spray for my dandelion nails; I think it makes a lovely background colour for this design. Of course, it's already a gorgeous colour all by itself...I haven't seen another polish yet that manages to duplicate its soft, subtle richness. The touch of grey adds so much complexity to the blue, making it a deeper, more mature colour than the "powder" or "baby" blue it might be otherwise, and the tiniest bit of shimmer gives it an intriguing shine, almost like a hint of pearl. And I don't even care that it tends to lobster my fingertips; it's just so pretty! But enough waxing lyrical about the Sea Spray... (^_-)

The dandelions were done with Orly stripers (Jet Black and Crisp White). I just painted a quick swipe of black for the stems, then did a sort of bowl on top. Then I did the tufts of white seeds in a couple of layers, varying the lengths a little to help it look sort of bushy. A few dashes of white on the other fingers show the seeds blowing in the wind, and that's the long and short of how to paint dandelion nails!

dandelion nail art

If you don't have stripers, you could also do these with small brushes or dotting tools. Or you can use the end of a bobby pin for the stems and a toothpick for the white (just collect a bit of polish on the end and don't press too hard while dragging your colour). I definitely think the Sea Spray adds a lot to the overall effect, but it should look nice with just about any soft, paler shade (Lemon Fizz or Re-fresh Mint come to mind), so long as it doesn't overpower the design.

On my other hand I did the flowers (okay, so they're really weeds, but...details ;p) on my index and pinky fingers, but I'm not deft enough to switch camera hands without shaking--I probably need to get a mini-tripod if I want to try that again. Still, staggering them like that gave the whole manicure a nice "random yet balanced" look. Honestly, I'm just so happy with how these came out. My poor husband...I kept shoving my hands in his face and shouting, "Aren't they pretty?!"

He's such a good sport.

13 June 2012

Swatch & Review: Chanel Graphite

I live on top of a shopping mall. Directly downstairs from my apartment is a department store with an entire array of Chanel polishes, and I am not made of stone. Therefore, it was only a matter of time before I bowed to the inevitable and brought Chanel Graphite home with me.

Chanel Graphite swatch

This polish is just perfect for its name. When the molecules of carbon line up one way, you get graphite. When they line up another way, you get diamond. Graphite is also that stuff used for pencil lead. And like pencil lead, this polish is a densely speckled grey in some lights but then beautifully reflective in others, almost like silver...or diamond!

Chanel Graphite swatch

I usually use top coat in my pictures, mostly to help even out my still-improving paint skills, but I didn't use any for these swatches. Not only did I not have any trouble getting Graphite to glide and cover beautifully, but I wanted to show off its rich texture and shine all by themselves.

10 June 2012

China Glaze Agro: Standard, Sponged & Sparkling

This morning I played around with China Glaze Agro, a beautiful, golden green polish from the Hunger Games Collection, representing District 11 (agriculture).

China Glaze Agro swatch

I love this colour, all mossy-olive and gold, and the formula was outstanding. It's deeply pigmented and was essentially opaque in just one coat. The gold isn't shy about showing itself either, giving the whole polish a near-metallic shine.

China Glaze Agro swatch

It's a little bit brushstroke-prone, but a second coat knocks most of that out. The finish does start to verge on frosted--but again, not obtrusively so. The rich colour is so radiant and luscious that it's easily the star of the show! Still, I decided to try a couple of different looks with Agro...partly to see if I could knock down that frosty finish a little bit, but mostly just to have some fun.

09 June 2012

Swatch & Review: Zoya Mitzi

Zoya Mitzi, my new, beloved problem child. Its incredible colour makes it easily is one of my favourite polishes I've ever tried. Unfortunately its formula makes it one of the biggest pains I've ever had to wrestle onto my nails.

Zoya Mitzi swatch

The colour is just gorgeous, much more so than my camera was able to comprehend. Zoya Mitzi is a bright chartreuse lime green with a matte finish. When I heard about that combination, I knew it had to be mine!

There's a lot of yellow in Mitzi, but it also seems to have just a little hint of something...maybe grey?...that keeps the colour from going full highlighter neon. And the matte finish is just all kind of dreamy satin. Drying time is incredibly fast, too. Too fast, in fact, for its own good. And that's where the problems started.

08 June 2012

Swatch & Review: Orly Oui

Given the problems I've been having with formulas and uncoordinated hands this week, I decided to go with an Orly polish because I've never once had a single problem with them. The colours and coverage have always been solidly strong for me too, so tonight I swatched Orly Oui, a purple/gold, metallic, flecked duochrome.

Orly Oui

That's a lot going on in just one polish! As such, the formula was obviously different from the Orlys I've used before, but "different" didn't necessarily mean "problem." I think I've gotten a little stingy with my first coats because it seemed surprisingly thin at first, especially for what's actually a thicker polish than most. Once I got a bit more generous it smoothed on like warm butter, covering easily and very well. Oui was totally opaque in 2 coats, no VNL remaining, but since I could still see a little bit of sunlight through some of my tips when I held them up to the light, I gave a couple of them a third pass (doesn't make a bit of difference to look at them, though). The result is a densely gorgeous, deep purple/gold that shifts beautifully in different lighting without losing either colour in the process.

07 June 2012

For Audrey with Tiffany Accent Nail

I have a "nail ideas" folder on my desktop full of random pictures I've taken and sketches I've done in Photoshop, and this Tiffany-inspired manicure idea has been sitting in there for ages--pretty much since China Glaze For Audrey first came home with me. Since I've been sitting on the couch all week, basically spending my days sniffling and groaning and waiting for this crud-tacular cold, flu, or whatever it is to get bored with me and move on, I've had a lot of time to paint my nails, so I finally decided to give it a try. The final result isn't quite as "Tiffany" as I originally hoped, but I still think it's pretty cute.

For Audrey with Tiffany accent nail

Of course the main colour is For Audrey, China Glaze's version of Tiffany's trademarked blue. The silver "chain" is Orly Dazzle, and the "pearls" are basic OPI Alpine White. There's some OPI Don't Touch My Tutu in there as well on my accent nail. Not having that step in there kept this idea from working the first time I tried it, but it made a huge difference this time around.

Unfortunately I had some problems with my For Audrey, as well as several of the other polishes I've tried using this week. Between the local heat and humidity and some of my favourite polishes (including this one) getting down to around 1/3 to 1/2 empty, I've had to do a lot of doctoring with polish thinner. I actually had to paint that middle nail about 6 times before I could lay down an even enough second coat, and it's still not as smooth as it should be. Between tired flu hands and gloopy polish, I had a horrible time getting any of the manicures I've tried the past few days to turn out well, but I think this one finally turned out okay. Enough of my whinging, though--back to the mani!

03 June 2012

Saran Wrap Manicure: Silverstone

I've lost count of the number of times I've painted my nails since my last post. Over the past 36 hours some mutant strain of hyperflu has knocked me on my butt, and any ounce of manual dexterity I might have possessed has utterly and completely deserted me. But KawaiiKagura at Nailpocalypse posted a super cute saran wrap manicure that reminded me I'd had this technique on my To Do list forever, and as intricate as results make it look, it's surprisingly easy to do!

If you're not familiar with how to do a saran wrap manicure, it's similar to using a sponge. Once you've applied your base coat and background colour, put either some tape or Vaseline around your nail to keep the imminent mess from getting all over your skin. Then, put a little of your next colour on something like a paper plate. Crumple up some cling wrap, dab it into your polish, and stipple it onto your nail. Repeat with another colour or two, do your clean up, add top coat, and you're done.

The result often looks like marble or stone; I think my greys and silvers look a little like the lunar surface. And this style looks good with a matte top coat too!

02 June 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

I was so surprised when I looked at my comments and saw that Melissa at PassionForPolish had given me a Versatile Blogger Award! I literally giggled with happiness. There might have been some dancing. Sincerely, Melissa, thank you so very much.

The rules for this award are as follows:
    1. Nominate 15 fellow bloggers who are relatively new to blogging.
    2. Let them know you have nominated them.
    3. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
    4. Thank the blogger[s] who nominated you.
    5. Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your post.

So, here are 7 random facts about me...

I am a huge and unrepentant fangirl. DC Comics, Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all that stuff.

I've started practicing writing the alphabet with my left hand to improve my nail painting/art skills. No idea yet if it's actually working. ;)

I never had a Big Wheel as a child, but I always wanted one. I could probably have had one if I'd just asked my parents, but I didn't want to seem greedy by asking for toys. Boy, was I stupid.

I have recurring nightmares about people cutting off my hair while I'm sleeping.

After five years in Hong Kong, my Cantonese is nowhere near the level I want it to be. I can say "Yes, please, no, thank you, HELP ME!," and so on, but I need to keep working on it.

I love sun dried tomatoes. I love fried green tomatoes. I love tomato sauce and ketchup. But for some reason, regular ol' tomatoes make me shudder with revulsion.

I have a huge dent of a scar on my left ankle (broke my leg big-time when I was 12). My husband checks for it from time to time to make sure I haven't been replaced by some sort of robot clone. He's kidding, though. I hope.

I hope I'll be forgiven for not sending this on to a full fifteen "relatively new" bloggers. Most of the blogs I visit are long established and have already received this award (several times over, even!), but I'd very much like to recognize and award the following four:

Fanning the Fumes
Lace & Lacquers
Mixed Mama
The Nail Polish Rehab Candidate

I tried to check that you guys hadn't already received this award, and I hope I'm not sending out repeats. Either way, thanks for all the hard work you put in on your blogs, big thanks to everyone who's stopped by Did My Nails, and a huge thank you again to PassionForPolish!
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