Friday, July 31, 2015

Zoya Week Friday: Meet Caitlin and Daisy

The first time I saw Caitlin I knew I needed to have the unusual color.  In the bottle, it appears to be a muted lavender, but on the nail and from a distance it appears to be almost a soft gray. It glides on smoothly, although the first coat goes on a bit streaky. The second coat creates a streakless creamy, opaque finish.   This color is versatile. As a subdued and sophisticated neutral it works well in a conservative environment, but a splash of color or a top coat of a shimmer, glitter or holographic polish, will liven it up.  For this manicure I used a reverse stamping technique that allowed me to add color to an otherwise simple stamp.  I chose a masquerade theme because of the mysterious aura that Caitlin exudes.


Daisy is as sunny. light and happy as the name implies.  This is a mellow lemon shimmer that requires three coats to be completely opaque.  It has green and blue micro glitter that gives it an iridescent quality in the light.  I think that the micro glitter makes it much more interesting and unique than your average yellow polish  I think it's impossible to be sad while wearing this perky color. So, if you're having a down day, throw on a couple coats of Daisy to brighten your mood.

Caitlins masquerade theme put me in a celebratory frame of mind and the colors I used in the masks reminded me of Mardi Gras.  Using some of those same colors I stamped Mardi Gras colored flowers and Daisy provided the perfect backdrop.

Tomorrow will be a no-plans Saturday.  I can only promise that the polishes will still be by Zoya.  Ciao for now.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Zoya Week Thursday: Meet Tanzy and Faye

Yesterday my Mundo De Unas stamping polishes arrived in addition to a few new Bundle Monster stamping plates. So you can bet that next week I'll have a couple of demos for you.  I played around with the polishes a bit and nearly passed out from the fumes.  Boy, that's some toxic smelling stuff.  They recommend that you use them in a well ventilated area and I see why.  They should probably recommend a gas mask as well. Anyway, that's for next week.  Today we're at the midpoint for Zoya week and I promise you more dazzling colors, the ones I have today, though, are more neutral.


This is Tanzy.  She's a beautiful orange shimmering polish that leans torwards gold. This polish is a bit sheer and requires three coats to be opaque.  I chose to go with an Egyptian theme for this polish because it's earthy, but regal.  It reminded me of golden desert sand and pyramids.


Faye doesn't quite qualify as a duo-chrome, but it does reflect a hint of purple at certain angles.  It's a bronzy color with purple undertones.  If worn over a white base, the purple is more visible, but without the base it wasn't strong enough to show in the photos.

Since my birthday was last week I couldn't get by without fitting in one birthday manicure.  I did one about a week ago when my son played a mean trick on his brother, but that was a precursor to this one.  I used pink, green and neutral polishes to stamp multiple layers on my index finger, pinky and thumb, and simple celebratory designs for my ring and middle fingers.

I hope you enjoyed these lovely ladies.  I haven't decided what's in store for you tomorrow because my Ulta just restocked their polishes.  Of course I stocked up as well.  So tomorrow, it's anybody's guess.  Ciao for now.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Zoya Week Wednesday: Meet Rue and Jolie

You know that I love Zoya polishes, but I haven't told you why. Well, there are a few reasons.  I have strong brand loyalty, so once I latch on to a brand, it's full steam ahead.  And when I'm consistently impressed with a brand, my loyalty grows.  Zoya has never let me down yet.  If I find one I'm unimpressed by, I'll let you know.  Little things build my brand loyalty.  The shape of the bottle, type of brush, the name of the company and the names of the colors.  The more creative the polish names, the more I'm inclined to be drawn to a brand.  I admit that I have purchased a polish just because of the name.  A little obsessive, I know, but for me, it makes my polish experience all the more pleasant.  Zoya polishes usually have female names.  Or names that you could choose for your daughter. I love the simplicity and the added feminine touch the names bring to the brand.  There are other reasons why I like Zoya polishes. They are 5-free, meaning that they are free of 5 not-so-healthy chemical ingredients that are often found in nail polish.  Those are Tolulene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde resin, DBP and Camphor.  Most likely, wearing these chemicals in small quantities on your nails won't harm you, but many companies are jumping on the 3-free and 5-free bandwagon so that they can advertise the natural and healthy qualities of their polishes.  Go green. Now, you understand why I love Zoya polishes.

I have two great polishes for you.  No glitter or sparkles today.  Instead, I have two soft neutrals that are versatile and appropriate for all occasions.  One is a cream, the other is a sheer pearlescent.


The first polish I want to show you today is one that I bought just because of the name. It's a beautiful soft blush cream called Rue.  Usually the color draws you to a polish, followed by other attributes, but I never considered the color of this polish until I got to the counter and really looked at it.  I thought, "Hmm, this might be cute". And it is.  The name attracted me because of the Hunger Games character, Rue.  I'm a Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Divergent fan (Yes, I admit to enjoying a few YA books) and anything that relates to my favorite book/movie series is a definite no-brainer for me.

For this design I used Born Pretty stamping plate BP-13 and Your Touch by China Glaze.


Jolie is a sheer pearlescent ivory polish.  I used three or four coats to achieve this look and you can still see a hint of a smile line peeking through.  To avoid having a visible smile line, you can use a white base coat.  However, it works perfectly as a sheer top coat to tone down an otherwise overpowering polish.    I used a gold stamping polish (probably Konad Gold) for the design. Tomorrow we'll look at a couple more neutrals. Ciao for now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Zoya Week Tuesday: Meet Hazel and Chyna

Welcome back.  Today I have another blue and red sparkling duo to show you.  Let's take a look.


Hazel is a crisp wintery blue polish with fine silver mica that makes the blue icy and bright.  Like most Zoya polishes, it's a two-coat polish and it applies smoothly, without streaking. In my opinion, it qualifies as a foil polish.  It makes me think of Cinderella's ballgown and in my mind, I conjure up glass slippers and a pumpkin carriage.  I recently watched the 2015 version of Cinderella with Lily James and Cate Blanchett so It's kinda stuck in my mind.  Nice movie, btw.
For this manicure I chose three colors.  A complimentary orange, a white neutral and teal.  I used an advanced stamping technique using an old XL stamping plate I had in my stash.  If anyone want's to know how it's done, comment below and I'll do a simple tutorial.  I chose three designs from the plate and used Snow Me White, a white polish by SinfulColors.  I was surprised that the polish stamped as well as it did.  Many of my made-for-stamping polishes don't stamp as well as this one.  Finding out which polishes stamp well and which don't is mostly trial and error.  You can't assume that since a polish is specifically made for stamping that it will stamp well.  You just have to try them out.  I've had success with several Sally Hanson's from their Insta-Dri line, and several of the China Glaze polishes stamp well too.  I'm still waiting for my Mundo De Unas order to arrive.  Online, they appear to be consistently densely pigmented stamping polishes and I can't wait to try them out.

Be careful with Hazel.  Her sparks will fly right off your nails.


Chyna is from Zoya's Pixie Dust collection that came out in 2013.  Pixie Dust is a textured polish with finely milled glitter that leaves a matte sparkle finish.  If you don't have any polishes from this collection, I urge you to give them a try.  I believe there might be as many as 18 in the collection, but they might be a challenge to find.  Since this is a matte polish, it's meant to be worn without a top coat.  But adding a clear top coat brings pretty to another level.

The hot red color of this polish made me think of romance and lingerie.  So, I stamped a black bustier on all but one finger where I stamped a fashionably dressed woman in a hat. The design didn't stand out so much over the matte texture so I used a top coat to show the stamping more boldly.

That's it for today.  Tomorrow I'll share with you why I find Zoya polishes so appealing. Ciao for now.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Welcome to Zoya Week: Meet Anaka and Charla

Hi guys, I hope you had a fantastic weekend.  Mine was...intersting.  Having no oven, dishwasher or funtioning kitchen plumbing makes for an interesting weekend.  The plus side is that I'm not able to cook a meal (no hardship there).  At least the washer and dryer still work so we'll have clean clothes.

Last week I promised you an entire week of Zoya.  As promised, here it is.

Welcome to Zoya week

The moment I tried out my first Zoya polish I fell in love.  Now Zoya polishes are the most coveted polishes in my collection.  Today, I have two beauties to show you.

This first one is Anaka, a shimmery berry fuschia polish.  The photos did not capture the mica particles that sparkle in the light, but trust me, it's there.  I put this color together with a yellow polish by Sally Hansen and another Zoya polish called Arizona.  I can't wait to show you that one later this week.

The second polish is Charla, a deep mermaid blue/green with shimmery gold mica.  It also shines and shimmers in the light.  I went with a planetary theme for this manicure because the sparkly deep blue made me think of outer space.  I purchased this polish because a YouTube polish guru (sorry, I don't remember who it was) insisted that it was one of her favorites and an essential for any polish collection.  When I wore it the first time I agreed that it is a great addition to my collection. I have a few Sally Hansens that are similar, but not as deep and vibrant as Charla.  

If you know of a Zoya that you want me to review, leave it in comments.  See you tomorrow.  Ciao for now.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dear diary July 25: Oh no I broke a nail!

Dear diary,

I know it's no big deal.  It's just a nail.  It's not like my auto insurance went up.  Still, I refuse to let this take me down.  No, I'm going to...I'm going to

Ok, so it wasn't so much a break as a crack or a split.  Nonetheless, repairwork is necessary unless I want to <choke> cut it off and file it down.

First,  glue the split nail back together and wait for it to dry.

After the glue dries,  smooth the surface with a bit of light buffing.

Time to cut a piece of silk wrap and glue it to the area.

Now, carefully apply a thin coat of clear gel, cure and remove the sticky residue with alcohol

Repeat the process to make a stronger bond and harder nail.
Then buff the nail to smooth the surface and file.

Shiny and good as new. 

How about a splash of polish

Nail rescued, problem solved.  I feel much better now.
Ciao for now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Little Oldie So You Won't Miss Me

Hi guys,  I didn't want to stay away too long, but I'm still dealing with the aftermath of a kitchen fire.  Not to worry, however, I'm still thinking of you. I shuffled through my old photo file and came up with this little cutie.

It's an old one so I can't share any names of the polishes or plates I used.  But I remember that I used a few jelly polishes that I mixed myself.  And, because I probably couldn't help myself, I added that special touch of glitter.  Hope you like it. Do you keep photos of your old designs or is it just me?   Ciao for now.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Zoya Week Postponed

Greetings!  I planned a short series of Zoya polish reviews for you this week, but alas, my plans were waylaid.  Life interrupted by a kitchen fire.  Not my kitchen, but a neighbors kitchen.  Now, thanks to an endless sprinkler and some flooding, our water has been shut off from the main line.  Do you know how long it takes before not having running water becomes a problem?  Not very long.  So, I couldn't prepare my posts for you guys, and frankly, I'm not so sure I'll have one ready for tomorrow, but still, check back.  Hopefully by tomorrow things will be back to normal (or as normal as possible) and my kids are home where they should be rather than sitting right next to me in my office.  Good thing I can bring my kids to work.  Ciao for now.

Monday, July 20, 2015

O.P.I. Polish Review: Kermit Vs. Spidey

Two O.P.I. polishes from older throwback collections caught my attention because of their duochrome affects. They are Kermit me to Speak from the Muppets Most Wanted Collection (2011) and Just Spotted the Lizard from The Amazing Spiderman Collection (2012).

I fell in love with both of these polishes right away.  I've seen polishes with stronger duochrome affects, but these have just enough to make them intriguing.  Just Spotted the Lizard leans more towards gold with green highlights and Kermit Me to Speak has a rosier hue with soft purple highlights. Both are fantastic and I honestly can't pick one over the other.  Can you?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Bowling....Not a Great Idea For Nails

"Aww, Come on, really!?"  This is what I said over an over again yesterday when we went bowling.  I was so upset about all the repair work I would have to do to my nails that I was distracted from the game....right...that was the reason for my low scores. Not because I'm a poor bowler.  

This was my diary entry for today.

Dear Diary,

Clearly, bowling isn't my forte'.  I'll never be a professional bowler, nor will anybody invite me to be in their league.  Nope, not gonna happen.

I took the kids and parents bowling yesterday.  I figured that my teen would beat us all, then I would come in second followed by my 11 year old and then my parents.  I was sooo sure I would come in second, at least third, but I was sooo wrong.  I didn't beat anybody.  I had the lowest score through two games.  I didn't even redeem myself in the second game.  No, my bowling got worse and worse as nail after nail chipped cracked peeled and broke.  I did a lot of repair work when I got home and then got an inspiration for this manicure.

Do you bowl, or do you avoid it like I'm going to do?  How do you keep your nails healthy when you bowl?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

O.P.I. Paints review

It seems that everyone is jumping on the blendable nail polish band wagon. First, O.P.I. came out with their Color Paints collection, then Sephora with Formula X Infinite Ombre limited edition set.  Now, Morgan Taylor has Laquer Chrome Collection. What's next, China Glaze Silver Chromatic Backdrop Collection?

What's similar about these sets?  They're all two-step processes that start with a silver color base coat followed by one or more sheer polishes.

I purchased a mini set of O.P.I. Color Paints because I'm not so excited about the polishes.  I didn't want to commit to full size bottles.  The concept is nice, but I didn't look forward to testing them out.  But, test them I did, because I wanted to give you guys, my wonderful readers, a bit of information about them.  The O.P.I. Color Paints set has a silver base color called Silver Canvas Undercoat.  Then there are 5 color polishes-- Primarily Yellow, Chromatic Orange, Pen & Pink, Purple Perspective and Turquoise Aesthetic (what, no Green Screen?).

It started off simple enough.  The silver applied smoothly, and looked nice enough to wear on its own. Then I continued to make two failed attempts at creating colorful designs before I was satisfied with a wearable manicure.  I would like to show you the, I really don't want to show the fails. As a matter of fact, I didn't bother to take a picture of the second one.  But I can reveal my final attempt.  I was satisfied only after I stamped over the polishes with Konad Blue Pearl (I think that's the name).

I plan to continue to use the polishes, but probably as a single color over chrome and a simple stripe or two.  Then I'll throw a bunch of glitter over the whole thing and you won't see any of it anyway.  Glitter covers a multitude of ...errors

Unfortunately, I'll have to work with the multi-colored paint over chrome design concept one more time.  I accidentally purchased the Sephora Formula X Infinite Ombre set.  I placed a ridiculously low bid on EBay assuming that I wouldn't win, and by fluke, I won the bid.  So to be fair, I have to review it as well.  However, after Formula X I'm done with the base chrome concept and Morgan Taylors Chrome Collection won't be crossing my threshold.  Sorry Morgan.

Friday, July 17, 2015

My New LED gel Lamp

A few days ago I wrote about gel polish and whether or not it's a good idea to use it. After my research I concluded that it was safe enough to use (with care).   The only change I'm making to my routine is to replace my UV lamp with an LED one.  So, I ordered an LED lamp and thanks to Amazon, it arrived in two days.

Right away, I scanned the instructions, plugged in my lamp and painted a clear coat of gel polish on my nails.  I was all set to go.  I put my hand inside the lamp, turned it on and in 30 seconds my nails were perfectly cured.  Initially, when I turned it on, the lamp got a little hot for a second or two, but then it was fine.  I'm sold.  I'm loving my LED!

Ok, so let me give you a little information about the lamp.  It's a Professional LED Manicure Lamp by Ivation.  It has time presets for 30/60/90 seconds and for 30 minutes.  30 minutes?  What the heck?!  It uses 12 watts and has 60 tiny little LED bulbs that never have to be replaced (thank goodness for that!).  It also has a few other little features like a heat exhaust and rubberized stability feet.  If I recall you have the option of choosing teal (which I did), red or black.  The price was $39.95 with free shipping.

I give this lamp two thumb nails up!

Results -- Tada!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Happy Birthday...not

Yesterday my teen played a mean joke on his brother.  He told little bro that it was my birthday.  My birthday is actually this month, so he had no reason to dispute his brother.  I felt terrible telling him that it wasn't my birthday.  In hindsight maybe I should have gone along with it.  He walked, by himself, to CVS and bought his mommy a card and gift.  How special is that!  He insisted that I open my gift right away even though it wasn't my birthday, and I swear he's the sweetest, most thoughtful son on the planet.  He spent his allowance on a bottle of pink nail polish. Go ahead, say it.  Awwwwwww.

Of course I had to show my appreciation, so I laboriously removed my fresh, (just painted to perfection), manicure to come up with something using my brand new bottle of polish. 

The polish is 'Fuschia in Show Biz' by Pop-arazzi.  I used stamping polish by Konad and BMC.   My manicure wouldn't be complete without a top coat of Revlon's 'Holographic Pearl' and a touch of L.A. Colors glitter polish.
How do you like my baloons?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Seaweed and Jellyfish

I still have my trip to the aquarium on my mind.  In my last Dear Diary post I mentioned jellyfish.  I fit a few multi colored "jellyfish" into this seaweed mani.

I stamped the seaweed image directly onto my clear base coat with a blend of blue and green stamping polish ('Konad Green' and 'Wavelength' by BMC).  Then I used a few watered down pearl and metallic acrylic paints for the jellyfish.


Blue Jelly polish
The stamping plate I used was an old plate I found on EBay a few years ago.  It was plate "M" if that helps any.  After stamping on the seaweed and painting on the "jellyfish", I coated my nails with a light wash of blue jelly polish that I blended myself.

I didn't use the Milani quick dry top coat in the top picture.  I needed this manicure to shine and with the exception of clear gel polish, Seche Vite is the shiniest fast drying top coat on the market, imo.  Obviously, Seche Vite is my all-time favorite top coat.

There you have it.  A seaweed and jellyfish manicure.  Ok, that's it for the aquarium inspired manicures.  I'm moving on now.

Monday, July 13, 2015

All About the Gel: Gel Manicures, the Pros and Cons

Today's post is a little long, but informative.  If you're interested in or curious about gel manicures read on.
I was watching one of my favorite YouTubers MissHollyBerries, and the subject of gel polish came up.  Madam Glam was kind enough to send her their gel manicure nail kit containing 2 gel polishes and a LED lamp.  I believe this was a special set because the beginners’ kit sold on their website ( contains a “Magical Pocket led lamp”, one top coat, one base coat and one color coat of your choice.  According to their website, the kit is worth $107.84 but can be purchased for $73.40.  That’s a little pricey, I don’t think I’ll be ordering one in the near (or far) future.  But hers was free so I hope that she gives it a try.  I’d love to see a demonstration.
Recently, I’ve gotten in the habit of using a single coat of clear gel polish as a base coat under my manicures to harden my nails and keep them from breaking and chipping.  I like that I can apply and remove many swatches without a lot of wear and tear on my nails.  But is gel polish really a good choice?  I did a little research to find out some of the pros and cons of using gel polish and I came up with a little information that will change how I use gel polish. 
What is gel nail polish?  Gel nail polish, often called soak off gel, comes in a bottle like regular nail polish.  Usually, the bottles are dark in color so that the gel polish does not come into contact with light.  Gel polish applies like regular nail polish, but must be cured in a UV or LED lamp.  Curing time for a UV lamp is about 2 minutes where curing with an LED lamp is about 30 seconds.  One point for the LED lamp.  Removing gel nail polish requires a 10 to 15 minute soak in acetone. 

Let’s get to the pros and cons. 

The pros.  A manicure using gel polish lasts longer than one using regular nail polish.  I’ve read different claims about how long gel polish lasts, but the consensus seems to be two weeks or longer.  It creates a hard coating over your nails so that they are less likely to break and chip.  They have a glossier shine than regular nail polish and they get you out the door super fast fast. 
Sounds great so far, but we haven’t gotten to the cons, and there are plenty. 

First, gel polishes set by exposure to UV, or ultraviolet light, hence the special lamps.  This is the same damaging light used in tanning beds that we all know have been known to cause cancer and premature aging of the skin.  Although these lamps produce low levels of UV light, it’s not clear whether or not it’s enough to cause significant damage or cancer.  Then there's the problem of nasty chemicals.  One called Butylated hydroxyanisol (try saying that one three times really fast) is commonly used to make gel polishes, and it’s a known cancer-causing agent.  Again, it’s not known how much exposure to the chemical will cause cancer, but it’s wise to check to see if it’s an ingredient in your gel polish.  Another chemical called methyl acrylate (that one I can pronounce) is also found in gel polishes.  It’s not quite as nasty as that other one I can't pronounce, but it can cause an allergic reaction (dermatitis) when it comes into contact with your skin.  Also, using gel nail polish can weaken and thin your nails.  It’s best to buff your nails first to remove the smooth top layer.  Yes, over time I guess that would make your nails weaker.  Last, you have to use acetone to remove the gel.  Acetone is very drying and may cause your nails to become brittle and peel after repeated use.
Still want to use gel nails?  Well, there are a few things you can do to make the process safer. 

First, instead of using the UV lamp, you can use an LED lamp that emits almost no UV light.  It’s safer, and faster than using the UV lamp.  I’m going home tonight and trashing my UV lamp.  LED lamps will run you anywhere from $10 to over $100 on Amazon, but be careful.  Some of the lamps that are advertised as UV/LED are really UV.  So check the bulb before you buy.  I ordered mine from Amazon for $39.95.  If you still want to use the UV lamp, you can use sunscreen after your manicures and wear gloves that have the fingers cut out.  I saw some on Amazon that were specially made to wear when using UV lamps.
To solve the chemicals problem, just check the ingredients and make sure the gel doesn’t come into contact with your skin.

As for buffing my nails, I don’t.  I leave that little step out.  My nails are already thin enough.  Maybe my gel manicure would last a little longer if I buffed, but I’m satisfied with the results. 

Last, When I wear regular polish I use acetone almost daily on my nails.  Changing my manicure is time consuming and anything to make the job quicker is helpful.  So, I use non-acetone polish remover when I have a gel manicure and 100% acetone when I'm using regular polish.  I use plenty of cuticle creams and oils and have no issues with acetone.

So how about you, will you wear gel polish?  Or will you use caution and avoid it?  I’d like to hear your opinion, so comment below.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Dear Diary -- July 10: A trip to the aquarium

Dear Diary,
Mom and Dad were in town for the holiday weekend and we took the boys to the National Aquarium at the Baltimore Harbor.  We had a great time.  I wanted to take lots of pictures, but soon after we arrived my phone died.  I had forgotten my camera and I didn't have a charger so I had to rely on my resident teen photographer.  I think he did a great job.  I didn't have to edit a thing.

His superb photography work inspired me to do a seaside manicure.  I used a few China Glaze polishes for my gradient, and a Sally Hansen Triple Shine glitter polish for a little sparkle.
For Audrey and DJ Blue My Mind by China Glaze
Broadway Boogie by Loreal

I couldn't resist a mermaid, sail boat and palm trees.

Now I have Jelly fish on the brain.  Hmmmm.....