A Look Back at 2016

Hello reader! Now that 2016 is behind us, I wanted to look back on some of my blog highlights and share my favorite nail art looks, and maybe share some of my 2017 blogging goals with you. I guess I could have waited to do this on my blog-versary in March, but it feels more appropriate to do it now.

January: Elevated Gradient

February: Neon Satisfaction

You’ll notice these photos are tiny. Why? Because in March, The Great wacie.com Server Crash of 2016 happened! My webhost had a hardware failure, and for whatever reason, several months of posts were lost and had to be pieced back together with images and text cached by Google. It was an extremely frustrating and embarrassing time for me.

March: Spring Hibiscus

I miss these long nails.

This is probably my favorite look of the year.

Third Anniversary Do-Over

I mentioned earlier that my blog’s anniversary is in March. For last year’s anniversary, I recreated the first-ever mani I posted on my blog. I don’t know yet what I’ll do for my fourth year, but it’ll probably be awesome.

April: Dusty Watermarble

May: Neon Splatter

I went to Hawaii in May. As a result, this is my least active month on the blog for the year.

June: Orange Jello Sandwich

My first Empties Roundup post was also in June.

July: Beyond

August: Ombre Hearts

September: Popples

October: Stripey Blue Frosting

This was a look I did to celebrate my birthday.

November: Ruby Opal

December: White Snow Blue Lava

So there’s my year! This was probably the busiest year for the blog, since I broadened my sujects quite a lot. I did tons of swatches and nail art, but I also ventured into product reviews and makeup talk. I don’t think this will ever become a full lifestyle or beauty blog, but I’m definitely having fun with it in this format. I’m kind of excited to see what it’ll evolve into in 2017. Here are a few beauty goals I have in mind, though.

1. Write more
I wrote 175 posts in 2016, averaging about 14 per month. It doesn’t sound like much to me, like I did way more work than that, especially when it started to feel stressful. That said, I’d like to do at least one more post every week.

1b. Write on my other blog more
I have a second blog that I want to start posting to more. It’s been so long since I’ve bothered with it that I don’t even remember the login credentials. I still want a place to talk about myself and my life, a place to seem like I have a life away from my nails.

2. Build a real skincare routine
I still feel insecure about my skin. I’m frustrated that I’m 31 and I still get acne. I want to take every preventative measure I can against wrinkles and anti-aging. I also want to try a 10-step Asian beauty routine. If you’re over 30 with oily skin and hormonal acne, I want your recommendations.

3. Stop competing
I know one of the big rules of blogging is not to compare your success with others’, but I feel so competitive about it. At the risk of sounding whiny, I always look at other bloggers who’ve been working on their blogs for about as long as I have, and watching their blogs grow faster than mine is kind of frustrating. I don’t want to feel like that anymore.

4. Do more real nail art
I love glitter toppers and I think I use at least one every week, but sometimes it feels lazy. I want to go back to the basics: watermarbling, gradients, dotting. I love my glitters, but it’s starting to feel like a cop-out.

I think that’s it! Anyway, I think 2017 is going to be an exciting year, and I’m looking forward to the good times, the challenges, and the time we spend together. Thanks for reading!

Manicure Monday: White Snow Blue Lava

Happy Monday, reader! Today’s manicure is accidentally wintry. Some rain finally brought some chilliness to Florida, but it’ll be warming up again by Christmas (I hope). By chilliness, I mean it’s 59 degrees right now. Anyway, onto the look; I used OPI’s White Shatter over American Apparel’s Neptune, as well as Seche Vite and Essie’s Matte About You matte top coat.

Crackle polish is so over, even Boyfriend knows it’s over. I showed him my nails today and he said “Come on Wacie, crackle polish is so 2011.” I know it is, but I’m still going to keep using it if I have it around. I get tons of compliments on crackle polish whenever I do wear it, and since it’s almost certainly going to be in fashion again in the future, why should I toss it? Not that I plan to hoard it for another ten years, but as I already have plenty of ten year old bottles, it’s not unlikely I won’t still have them.

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Something I like about topper polishes — not just crackles, but glitters and shifters, too — is that I can get creative with what I use as my base. Sometimes I’ll use it as an excuse to use a high-end or indie creme, a thermal, just something that I wouldn’t normally use. I’ll even try to use a color that makes a contrasting or unlikely combo. I used the glow-in-the-dark Neptune for this because I loved the idea of the glow coming through the cracks. It mostly just glows through the white, but you can still see the difference. Neptune also isn’t completely opaque, and it changes color a bit based on whatever part of my nail it’s on. It’s a bit brighter when it’s on the white free edge of my nail, and makes a mini gradient.

Of course, old crackle polish can be unpredictable. It didn’t crack on a few nails and I had to redo them. The pinky nail you see here had to be redone twice. It wasted a lot of time and polish. I love the matte finish, though. Usually I’m not a fan of the matte finish, but I feel like it was the way to go today.

White Shatter is discontinued, but other OPI polishes are available in stores nationwide. Neptune and other American Apparel polishes have also been discontinued.

I bought these polishes myself.

HPB Presents Glitter Forever

Hello, reader! Welcome to the Hobby Polish Bloggers Link-Up for September! Each month, this Facebook group chooses a theme, and participants can do whatever mani they want, so long as it fits the theme. This month’s theme is glitter toppers! For this look, I used American Apparel’s Galaxy and Nicole by OPI’s Confetti Fun over LA Colors’s Whipped, as well as Seche Vite and a bow from Daily Charme.

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I usually try to use one untried polish in every HPB mani, and the untried in this one is Confetti Fun. It’s the finer of the two glitter mixes; I paired it with Galaxy to fill the empty spaces. Galaxy is nothing but the really chunky glitters, and wearing them both together gives them both what they need for a complete look.

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It’s kind of a cop-out to use nude as a base for glitter, but I like it. It’s coverage without color; it’s the best way to let all the colors show without being obvious. Black and white get too dramatic; nude is just right. I regret not using an untried nude, because I do have so many. It does the job.

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I love metallic glitter in the sun! It’s absolutely blinding. All of the colors are brighter and better. I don’t know why I didn’t just take all the photos in the sun. Look at the flare on the macro!

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Galaxy and other American Apparel polishes have been discontinued. Confetti Fun and Whipped may be discontinued by Nicole by OPI and LA Colors, respectively; other NOPI and LA Colors polishes are sold in stores nationwide. My infinity bow is from Daily Charme.

I bought these products myself.

 

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Manicure Monday: Orange Jello Sandwich

It’s Manicure Monday again! Today’s look is a jelly sandwich, which is probably my favorite nail art technique. It always comes out so well! For this look, I used L’Oreal’s Mango Mamma over American Apparel’s Light Year, as well as Seche Vite top coat.

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Mango Mamma is the perfect jelly. The color is bold but the coverage always stays sheer. It has the appearance of orange gelatin. I badly wish I had an orange-scented top coat, but I feel like this polish also deserves to smell like orange gelatin. As it’s the perfect jelly, the jelly sandwich was basically the only thing I could do with it. I can’t believe something like this came from a mainstream brand.

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Light Year was maybe not the best glitter for this look, even though it turned out looking pretty cool. I knew brushing it on wasn’t the best application method because it’s liquidy, so I sponged it on. Even then, I got some holes in coverage, even though it didn’t look like it at the time. I guess it doesn’t matter, because what is on there sparkles wonderfully under Mango Mamma. Overall, the look feels flashy, stylish, and bold.

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For this look, outdoors in direct sunlight is where it’s at. The orange looks a little washed out, but the glitter comes alive and looks its best. It almost looks kind of autumnal, with the orange jelly and the warm shades coming through in the holographic glitter. It’s like Thanksgiving in June!

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Mango Mamma might be discontinued by L’Oreal; other L’Oreal polishes are sold in stores nationwide. American Apparel polishes have been discontinued as well.

I bought these polishes myself.

HPB Presents Neon Splatter!

Hello, reader! Today’s post is a special Hobby Polish Bloggers linkup! Every month, the bloggers from the HPB Facebook group get together and do a themed mani; the mani can be as simple or elaborate as we want, so long as it adheres to the theme. The theme for May is neons and neutrals. For this look, I used Zoya’s Chantal and American Apparel’s Moon as the nude base, and American Apparel’s Neon Pink, Neon Coral, Neon Yellow, Neon Green, and Essie’s I’m Addicted as the colors. I actually did this post two weeks ago before I went on vacation, I’m excited to finally show it to you!

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I really love this month’s theme, and I had a lot of ideas on how to work with it. My first thought was a watermarble, but I did that for last month’s theme, so I skipped it. I also considered the dry brush technique, but ultimately chose the splatter, because I saw an excellent one on Casual Contrast that totally made me want to try it, and also because I’d never done it before. I put my base colors down, got the straws out, and commenced to splattering. I had so much fun with this mani. It reminded me of when we were bored in middle school and we’d dismantle pens to blow the ink out all over stuff. I gotta say though, the cleanup was way worse than I expected. Totally not for the faint of heart.

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For these HPB manis, and really every challenge mani, I try to use untried polishes, but this is the first one where all the polishes have been used multiple times. When it comes to neons, the American Apparel neons are my go-tos; they’re vivid without having to use a white base, and the product consistency makes them very easy to work with. However, there’s no blue, so that’s where the Essie comes in; I had it sitting out from a previous swatch, and it was just the right blue to work with my other neon shades. I love that the theme calls for nudes, because as cool as this would be with a white base, it means you can’t use just any neons, you’ve got to use some that are worth a crap.

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Remember I mentioned Moon used as a base? This is why: super secret glow-in-the-dark action! I put a coat over Chantal, just before adding the splatters. I wasn’t totally satisfied with just nudes and neons, I needed one more element to make this look really special. Between the glow and the neons, this mani is like the ’90s threw up on my nails. These photos were taken in compelete darkness.

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And these photos were taken in direct sunlight! Really harsh sunlight tends to wash neons out, so they’re not as bright out here as they could be.

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Chantal and other Zoya polishes are available from Ulta. Essie polishes are sold at Walgreens and other stores nationwide. American Apparel polishes have been discontinued.

I bought these polishes myself.
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Manicure Monday: Glitter Secret

Happy Monday! This week I did some time-intensive nail art — by my standards at least — and I love it. For this look, I used Butter London’s West End Wonderland with American Apparel’s Moon. I wish I did nail art like this every week!

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The idea for this mani was to have a negative-space mani with a secret glow-in-the-dark effect. I loved the idea of just having a fun polish paired with “naked” nails, and then having the “negative” parts of the design glow. Obviously, if you look closely, you can tell they’re not totally naked, because Moon has this grainy look in it, but that’s only if you look up close. From a perfectly reasonable distance you wouldn’t be able to tell at all.

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This is one of the more intricate designs I’ve ever done, because I rarely do anything with more than two steps. First, I put down a coat of Moon. Next, I did a gradient with Moon and West End Wonderland. I left my thumb and pinky with just the initial gradient. When that was dry, I put strips of striping tape over the gradient in a criss-cross pattern, then sponged West End Wonderland over the entire nail. I finished with Seche Vite top coat. On the accent nail, the one with the studs, I used two coats of Moon and skipped right to the all-over sponging of West End Wonderland. I think it turned out pretty well!

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The only thing I would do differently — I do plan to do this again — is to use a polish with greater contast. It’s a little hard to see the negative space because it’s so similar to the glitter polish. I may also consider just using striping tape for greater contrast in the dark, because I did fail to take that into account. You can see in the glow photos where the lines are, but I think it would be cooler if the contrast was higher.

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Moon has an amazingly strong glow. If you look closely, you can see the titles of the books on my bookshelf.

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Moon has been discontinued by American Apparel. West End Wonderland and other Butter London polishes are available at sephora and Ulta. I got mine in a swap, lucky me! I don’t know where the studs came from.

One of these polishes were purchased by myself. The other was received in a trade.

Manicure Monday: Neon Satisfaction

Manicure Monday is here again! I kind of can’t believe how fun my manicure is today. It’s adorable and obnoxious, but I think it’s a great combo, if I may say so. For this look, I used American Apparel’s Neon Violet with Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer‘s Self-Satisfied, along with Seche Vite top coat and Ciaté’s Mattenificent matte top coat.

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So I’ve swatched a bunch of American Apparel neon polishes, and I have to say, they’re some of the best I’ve ever used. They have great coverage and they don’t require a white base for their neon-ness. The only downside is that they’re not always 3-free; this one contains formaldehyde. It’s a great polish, though. I love the color, brightness, and product formula. When I picked this for Manicure Monday, I knew I needed something equally as fun and bright to balance it out.

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Self-Satisfied is one of my most-used glitter toppers. I’ve used it in three different manicures now and it’s about half-empty. It looks fantastic over everything, though I love it best over bright colors, especially orange. I love to pair complementary colors, so I knew this would be best for the Neon Violet. Not all of the colors in the glitter work well over the base; it’s hard to see the red hearts and dark pink hexes, but I still like the match. I really love the way this turned out.

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The only real downer to this manicure is the matte top coat. I’ve used Ciaté’s Mattenificent matte coat a couple times now, and I don’t know if it’s user error or not, but it kind of sucks. I mean, it does a great job being matte; look at how velvety the color is. What’s not cool, though, is how it splits. It makes these lines like crackle polish. Also, for some unknown reason, it created these white marks on my nails. Look at my pinky nail. Where did those come from? There was no white polish used in this manicure, so why there are there white spots? I actually had white brush strokes on my thumb. Here’s the kicker: the super glue I used to secure the studs left a bit of shine, so I put down another coat of Mattenificent; the white spots and lines went away. Seriously? They didn’t all go away, obviously, but the unsightly white brush strokes on my thumb are gone, as well as some other marks on other fingers. I am just so confused. At least the mani looks fine, that’s what counts! Here are some outdoor photos, taken in direct sunlight:

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American Apparel doesn’t seem to sell nail polish anymore, at least not on their website, because I couldn’t find it there. Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer has discontinued Self-Satisfied; other BEGL polishes are available in their shop. Ciaté is available at Sephora. My bow charm is from Claire’s, and I forget where my studs are from. Sorry.

I bought these polishes myself.

Manicure Monday Night/Tuesday Morning: Orange Sherbet Birthday Warm-Up

Happy Monday, reader! Happy Tuesday as well, if applicable. My look today is one I’ve been looking to try for a while: matte glitter sandwich with glow in the dark polish! It doesn’t translate well to photos, and looks a bit weird. I really regret that, but it looks cool in person, so I’ll need you to trust me on that. Also, this is probably the last manicure of my twenties. Yeah. I turn 30 on Saturday, and I’ll do a birthday mani then. Until then, this will carry me through the rest of the week. The last week of my twenties. I already feel as though the sun is setting.

Anyway, the sandwich I have here is made with Formula X for Sephora’s Firecracker and American Apparel’s Jupiter, topped with one coat of Seche Vite top coat.

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The first thing you’ll notice about this manicure is that’s really orange. The color comes mostly from the glitter. Jupiter has some color of its own, but it’s sheer and not immediately visible. What Jupiter does here, though, is assimilate each individual speck of glitter into one orange entity. Only the large glitters still have definition; the finer glitters look like grit or bubbles in the color, at least in photos. It’s not that bad without the bright studio lights bearing down on it.

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You may also notice the polish looks quite thick. That’s very accurate. In all, I have seven coats of stuff on my nails. Apart from base coat and top coat, I have two layers of Jupiter, the glitter, which is about as thick as two coats, and two more coats of Jupiter. Firecracker is a pretty chunky glitter, so Jupiter acts as a smoother here as well as a color; my nails are totally smooth to the touch. They are, however, one step away from being gumballs, and I acknowledge that.

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One last thing: I tried a real macro shot! I got a new phone with a pretty nice camera, and thought it was worth a shot. If you’re reading this, you’ve scrolled past it, but there it is. You can really see what I mean about the glitter losing its definition. It looks like it’s out of focus because the lines of the glitters are blurry, but it’s really just the sandwich blending it in.

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Firecracker is from Sephora. Jupiter is from American Apparel.

I bought these polishes myself.

2014 Birthday Nails!

It’s my birthday! I’m not going to do a proper write-up of all the polishes today, I’m just going to show this off because I am way too proud of it.

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Here are the polishes I used:
Thumb: Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer‘s Dawn Breaks
Index: Indigo Banana‘s Moonlight (Clair de Lune)
Cupcakes: P2’s French Kiss, American Apparel’s Neon Pink, Essie’s Fiji, Ciate’s Candy Floss
Pinky: Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer’s If You’re a Seascape

I also want to take a moment to thank everyone who’s participating in the giveaway! If you haven’t entered yet, you have, of this writing, eight hours left to enter to win two Ciate polishes. The winner will be announced tomorrow! I’m so excited, this is my first giveaway and it is going gloriously well. I can’t wait to do this again.

Swatch Saturday: American Apparel’s Andromeda

It’s Swatch Saturday, and I’m wearing the last American Apparel polish I bought on vacation. It’s the only one of them that isn’t a neon. This is Andromeda, and I’m wearing three coats of it with one coat of Seche Vite.

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Andromeda is a pretty unique polish; it’s a thin lavender jelly laden with metallic turquoise and iridescent purple glitter shreds. It’s like a purple counterpart to Sinful Colors’s Green Ocean. I decided to wear this polish alone because I wanted to see how opaque the jelly base would get. It’s still quite sheer, and my nail line is still visible, but the glitter covers the nail well.

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Unfortunately, application with Andromeda is not easy. The lacquer consistency is very thick and takes quite a while to dry, even with quick-dry top coat. The glitters tend to stick together and clump on the nail, leaving thick bulges in the polish. Also, it doesn’t always sit flat on the nail, so even with top coat, there’s still glitter that sticks up and keeps the polish from being smooth to the touch. It’s beautiful, so I think it’s worth putting up with.

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Outdoors, sunset

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There you have it: I’m done with American Apparel polishes for a while, and I’m going to start up my weekly Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer swatches. I’ve missed them.