Manicure Monday: Inky Opal

Hello! I feel like today’s mani is a special occasion because I’m using Essie’s Shine of the Times. Remember when this was the polish every nail addict needed but couldn’t find? I remember checking every drugstore in town when I heard it existed, and then I had to resort to buying one on Amazon. About a year after that, I did find two in the wild, hidden away in a Walgreens sale bin. It was the greatest day. For this look, I used Shine of the Times over Julep’s Char.

Char is the best undies for shine of the Times. It’s dark enough for the fiery flakies to look their best, but has just a hint of color. I love Shine of the Times over black, but it’s kind of basic. I love substituting a dark gray, blue, green, or plum for black. It feels a little more sophisticated. Plus, when it’s over dark blue, it kind of looks like unicorn pee.

I don’t think there’s a polish that Shine of the Times couldn’t make better, though. Honestly, I chose Char at random. I was totally prepared to layer it over any creme I plucked from the drawer, but now I can’t imagine a better combination.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any sunlight shots of this thanks to the impending winter storm, or for those of us in Florida, rain. I think I captured the shift pretty well, though, and my flakies came out sharp. I never get studio photos this good.

Shine of the Times, as you may know, was discontinued by Essie. Char may also be discontinued; it’s out of stock on julep.com.

I bought these polishes myself.

Empties Roundup: February 2017

Hey reader! Welcome to the Empties Roundup for February 2017! Somehow, the shortest month of the year has been the most epic month for empties. Keep reading to see what I used up!

Toni & Guy Matt Texture Dry Shampoo

This is my second Toni & Guy dry shampoo, but I think I preferred the Cleanse dry-sham to the Matt Texture. Either way, I’m still scoping out a replacement; I tried the brunette Bumble and bumble dry-sham when I was at Sephora last, and I might give that one a go.

Curology Protective Lip Balm SPF 30

This was a leftover from when I was a Curology subscriber. The balm was really smooth and creamy and lasted a pretty long time, even overnight if I applied it just before bed. I forgot to photograph the inside of the tube to show its emptiness, but believe me, I dug out every last bit of it. I replaced it with Sun Bum’s banana lip balm. It’s not as good, even if it does smell like banana Laffy Taffy.

NYX Matte Finish Setting Spray

This stuff wasn’t bad, I guess. I didn’t notice any added makeup longevity when I used it, but it didn’t make things worse, so there’s that. I did buy a bottle of Urban Decay’s All Nighter to replace it, but I’m not entirely convinced I need a setting spray at all. Maybe in the summer.

Valentia Night Revive Retinol Serum

I’m a little sad to see this stuff go. It was a pretty gentle serum and I did see some softening of fine lines and a brighter complexion when I used it regularly. For now though, I want to try some other retinol serums and see if this is one I’ll come back to; I really want to try one from The Ordinary.

CeraVe PM Moisturizing Lotion

I feel like I had this thing forever. I probably will buy this again, but not for a while yet, since I’ve got so many other ones I want to work through first. Currently I’m working with Skinfood’s Cucumber and Lettuce Watery Emulsion, Shiseido’s Benefiance Nutriperfect Night Cream, and Valentia’s Pure Glow lotion. I think the latter breaks me out, but I’m trying it again to make sure it wasn’t hormonally-related.

Boots Botanics All Bright Radiance Concentrate Serum

I liked this stuff, too. My Target recently stopped selling Boots Botanics — Soap and Glory is in its old shelf space — so I don’t know if I’ll ever get another chance with this stuff, but I did enjoy it.

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum

This particular bottle was from a GWP set, but I have a full-size bottle of it waiting for me after I finish up some other samples. I’m working on a sample bottle of Lancôme ‘s Advanced Genifique serum, and Philosophy’s When Hope is Not Enough after that.

LUSH Aqua Marina cleanser sample

Confession: this sample was like two years old. I got it when I was visiting Philadelphia. Should I have thrown it out? Absolutely. I didn’t notice any ill effects after using it up at least. I might consider a repurchase of this, or at least another sample. Clay cleansers are nice sometimes.

A’Pieu NonCo Tea Tree Spot Patches

I didn’t know what to expect from these, but I liked them. I wore them to bed whenever I noticed a pimple coming up, and in the morning, they’d be dried up. Amazing! I just wish they put more than twelve or so in the pack. Occasionally I had some fall off, but that happens.

TonyMoly Whitening Capsule Essence

I liked this. It was a clear gel that absorbed quickly and moisturized. I only had ten packets, so I probably didn’t see the intended results in the time I had with it, but I’d like to give a full-size product a shot.

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Hand Soap, Geranium

I know hand soaps aren’t beauty products in the traditional sense, but I’ve found it difficult to get a good hand soap that doesn’t irritate my hands. This is important, regardless of whether or not you’re a nail blogger. I’ll never buy another hand soap.

Proclaim Coconut and Macadamia Nut Oil Hand Lotion

This stuff was pretty nice, and the tube was only a dollar from Sally Beauty Supply. It was moisturizing and the effects lasted a good long time, but I did find myself reapplying pretty often.

Dream Polish Gem Glam scented top coat

I won this in a giveaway! Thanks again to Kristi from BeginNails, because I loved this stuff and I hope to purchase my own full-size bottle eventually. The scent was fantastic and long-lasting, even after dish washing. I know it doesn’t look empty, but I cannot get that last bit out, so I’m calling it.

Seche Base ridge-filling top coat

This I didn’t love so much. I bought it by accident; I totally thought it was clear, since it was in a box with a white background. It was pretty white, streaky, and often interfered with jellies and other sheer polishes. I liked Seche Clear so I’ll probably go back to that, but right now I’m using Dream Polish’s Smooth Gem, another giveaway win from Kristi!

L’Occitane en Provence Extra-Gentle Milk Soap

So I got this from a thrift store. It’s pretty lovely stuff. I swore my loyalty to Mrs. Meyer’s a few photos ago, but I kind of lied, because I’d totally buy this soap again. I did have another bar so I was able to replace it quickly, but I may have to pay retail for one when the time comes.

Noni Papaya Pineapple Body Wash

This is from a hotel in Hawaii! You’ll notice I didn’t cut it open; it’s clear and I can see there isn’t much left in it anyway. It was nice stuff, but I’ve got other hotel minis to work though, lots of which are also from Hawaii.

Lancôme Nutrix Royal Body Creme

Another GWP product! This stuff was perfect for winter skin; it was rich and thick and lovely. I’ll definitely keep it in mind for when winter rolls around next year.

NSPA by Nirvana Spa Exotically Cream Coconut Shower Scrub

This wasn’t half-bad. It’s not the kind of scrub I usually buy; I go for the oily sugar ones. This one was very well scented, foamed easily, and wasn’t too harsh or abrasive.

The Indigenous Soap Company Tea Tree Patchouli soap bar

This was some good soap and I’m a little sad it’s gone. The fragrance was strong and earthy and the bar had poppy seeds in it for gentle exfoliation. It was very nice. Even my boyfriend liked it, and he doesn’t like anything.

Miscellaneous

Who loves samples? I do! Here are some quick notes. The Skinfood apple mask was very hydrating. The Missha BB cream was too dark for me, but I liked the coverage. The Kate Somerville sensitive skin cream was amazing; I had a cold and lost the skin between my lip and nose for a while, and had to limit myself to products that wouldn’t irritate the raw skin. That one was gentle and didn’t burn at all. I loved it. The Julep Rock Star cream was actually an empty from last month that I forgot; it’s still a winner. The Koh Gen Do gommage gel was pretty nice; I’d never used a gommage gel and I was really impressed with the results. I’d like to try it again. The COSRX BHA liquid was amazing and I’m totally getting a full-size bottle. The Origins masks were also lovely; I bought a full-size of Drink Up Intensive the last time I was at Sephora.

Sheet Masks

My favorite of these was the Snail mask. It dried up some acne that was coming up, and that was really impressive. The Creme Shop mask was really wet and I was patting the essence in for like an hour after; I see this as a plus. The Skinfood mask felt really nice and I did see some brightness after I took it off. The Welcos Jeju mask didn’t leave me feeling oily in the morning like some masks do.

And finally, there you have it, the February 2017 empties roundup. If you’ve read this far down, thank you so much for reading all this. Did you finish up anything good? Have you tried any of these products? Let me know!

I bought these products myself.
Except for the one I won in a giveaway.
And except for the Valentia serum, that was previously a press sample.

Manicure Monday: Accidental Mid-Mod

Hey, reader! Happy Monday! Today’s mani reminds me a lot of an older one, where some glitter on just a couple nails was a fashion statement. Man, accent nails seem so quaint now. For this look, I used Julep’s Dianna and Lynnderella‘s Seven Swans Swimming.

It’s been a long time since I’ve worn a creme unfettered like this, and I have to admit, I really like it. Cremes are so underrated. I used to pass over them so often, but when you really think about it, they’re the perfect finish; they’re color and shine and nothing else. This shade in particular, Dianna, has been a ton of fun to wear so far; it’s that perfect midcentury modern robin egg blue. Like I said, underrated.

I chose Seven Swans Swimming for my accent because the shimmery blue base it’s in was about the same color as Dianna, and some of the glitters are, too. The glitter mix is fantastic in this polish; pink and white are the perfect companions to robin egg blue, and the shapes add a lot of variety. I know the snowflake doesn’t quite belong there — tomorrow’s high temperature is 83 degrees F — but it’s cute. It’s kind of mid-mod, too, now that I look at it. It could be a classic winter in Florida mani as well — winter motifs in summer colors — that’s mid-mod too, isn’t it?

The following photos were taken in direct sunlight. The fine shimmer in Seven Swans Swimming gets washed out, but you can see the glitter in greater detail. You can also see the shine of Dianna in all its glory.

Seven Swans Swimming is available from Lynnderella.com. Julep is sold in stores.

I bought these polishes myself.

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: Jennine

It’s Monday!! This Monday means a manicure featuring Julep’s Jennine! This is my first time using one of Julep’s Stardust Finish polishes, and I’m always excited to wear a textured polish in general. For this look, I used three coats of Jennine without top coat.

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I know textured polishes aren’t the trend they used to be, but I still love them so much. They just have such a distinctive glitter look, something that microglitters alone can’t quite pull off. Jennine is a mermaidy crust of glitter on the nail, something cool and tranquil but also sparkly and fun.

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The texture of Jennine is finer than that of other textured polishes I’ve used in the past. I thought that since there were no chunky glitters, it wouldn’t achieve a texture as well, but once I had it on, it looked the way it was supposed to. There is some texture, but it’s not gritty or snaggly. It’s really nice to touch.

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As you might have guessed, Jennine is gorgeous in the sun. I love the allover sparkle and dimension. I look down at them every chance I get!

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Jennine is out of stock, but other Julep polishes are available at julep.com. My bow charm is from Daily Charme.

I bought this polish myself.

Manicure Monday: Ombre Hearts

Happy Monday, reader! A lot of polishes found their way into this week’s Manicure Monday post! For this first-time ombre, I used Essie’s Go Ginza and Devil’s Advocate (thumb and pinky, respectively), Ciaté’s Pillow Fight (index), Julep’s Charlotte (middle), Chanel’s Provocation (ring), and Revlon’s Hearts of Gold FX. I also used Seche Vite and Essie’s Matte About You matte top coat.

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So after last week’s break, I actually broke the same nail again and just gave up and cut them all down. I forgot how hard it is to have short nails! I mean, obviously it’s not like having long nails, but there’s a challenge in there. I can’t scratch my back as easily, for example. It’s also harder to paint them, because the edge is so near the fingertip, I can’t wrap the edges as well. They’re already worn on some nails. It’s sad; this mani is going to be chipped to hell by tomorrow.

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At first, I was just going to use Charlotte as the base on all five nails, but I decided that was boring. I’d never done an ombre like this before and dug around in the bins for purple cremes. You would not believe the time I spent looking for four more purple cremes. Turns out, these are like the only five I had! How is it possible that I can have 1,400+ bottles of polish but practically no purple cremes? I actually did have a few more but most of them were similar shades and didn’t make a difference. I don’t like how some of the purples are warm and some are cool, but the glitter looks good over all of them at least.

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Hearts of Gold FX is such a fun topper. I love glitter toppers and I love shaped glitters. I love finding mainstream polishes with shaped glitters. I’ve worn it on the blog before, so this time I used the matte top coat to make it extra different. I love the way it looks mattefied! The glitter looks different over every nail, but I think I might like it best over the lighter shades, where the glitter blends in a bit more. In the sunlight, even though it’s mattefied, it’s still blinding.

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Essie and Revlon are sold in stores nationwide; mine likely came from Walgreens. My Chanel is from Nordstrom. Julep polishes are sold on their website and other stores. Ciaté is sold at Sephora.

I bought these polishes myself.

Swatch Sunday: Nails Inc.’s Cornwall

Welcome to Swatch Sunday! Today’s polish is Cornwall from Nails Inc. I’m wearing one coat over China Glaze’s Pelican Gray, Essie’s Good Morning Hope, and Julep’s Bess. All nails are topped with one coat of Seche Vite top coat.

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Cornwall is a clear-based glitter topper with matte blue and white short bar glitters. Application was easy enough; the glitters stick to the brush well, and the base consistency is such that the polish doesn’t drip off the brush or pool on the nail. However, this means it also doesn’t spread evenly, which makes the glitter drag and clump on itself. This can result in a heavy application in some cases. The bar glitters are short, so they don’t lean off the edge of the nail like the longer ones do. The polish dries quickly and with a textured finish. I used top coat for smoothness and shine.

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I have to admit, I have a hard time calling this a glitter polish. I think that’s what made the feathered topper trend so successful, albeit short-lived. Even though there was nothing new about either glitter toppers or bar glitters, this was still a pretty unique look that anyone could achieve. I still think it’s a cool look. It’s a shame these polishes didn’t really make it past 2013.

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The sun’s been good to me; I’ve been able to get direct sun pictures for the past few posts. These photos were taken outdoors in the late afternoon. I’m grateful; it’s helping me improve my macro game.

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The shimmer you see here is from Pelican Gray, not Cornwall.

Cornwall and the other Feathers polishes seem to be discontinued by Nails Inc. Other Nails Inc. polishes are available at Sephora, which is where I got this one.

I bought this polish myself.

Manicure Monday: Confetti Dreams

Happy Monday, reader! This week has all the hallmarks of being a holiday mani without actually being one, and might just be the closest I get to one all year. For this look, I used Julep’s Alexandra as the base color, Octopus Party‘s Universal Loner as the tip color, and LA Colors’s Confetti as the glitter topper, all with one coat of Seche Vite. Here we go!

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I think that, until this mani, I forgot drugstore glitter toppers were a thing. I mean, how could I; after all, they were my gateway to glitter addiction. Even now, I have tubs of them. It’s just that every glitter topper I’ve worn for the past year or so (at least) has been an indie polish, and I’ve gotten used to that sort of polish. Indie glitters just have so much going on: big glitters, small glitters, shimmer, flakies, crazy shapes. This one, though it was a pretty cool polish when I bought it, I’m having a hard time finding a word other than quaint to describe it. I’m not trying to say it’s bad, I’m really not, it’s just that glitter polish has come a long way since this one. This is two coats of glitter, by the way.

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I chose Alexandra for the base because it was neutral, and I needed a color that wouldn’t interfere with any of the glitter colors. I ended up adding the red tips as an afterthought, hoping to tie everything together. That, and I already had it out to put on my toes. Both of these polishes performed very well; Alexandria had a bit of streakiness left after two coats, but the glitter hides it well. Universal Loner went on really easily; I didn’t have to deal with any coverage problems. It’s my first OPNL, too, yay.

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I think it all came together really nicely. Like I said, red and glitter usually means a holiday mani. I actually plan my manicure combinations out way in advance, so it’s lucky it landed on a day so as to be seasonal as well as pretty.

LA Colors is sold nationwide, as is Julep. Octopus Party Nail Lacquers are sold from their etsy store.

I bought these polishes myself.

Manicure Monday: Fun With Neons

Welcome to another Manicure Monday! Today’s manicure accurately sums up my weekend; it was full of bright colors and summer fun! To celebrate the first day of summer, or the fact that a mani I planned ages ago is actually relevant, I’m wearing Julep’s Abbie over white polish with Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer‘s Watch the Walls, as well as Seche Vite top coat.

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Abbie is the perfect summer yellow; it’s bright and gorgeous. It’s so bright my hands got a bit of a tan. It’s a chameleon, though; in some lighting it’s flourescent highlighter yellow, but in others it’s closer to lemon. Either way, it’s cheerful and a ton of fun to wear. My only complaint is that it never seemed to reach full opacity, even at three coats, so I put on one coat over two coats of white polish. This way, I got boost in opacity and in color.

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When I picked Abbie out of the Helmer, I knew Watch the Walls would compliment her perfectly. Watch the Walls is the perfect mix of neon pink glitters, along with some other fun colors and shapes and the perfect amount of blue-to-purple shifting shimmers. It’s a glitter topper with color, depth, and fun. It absolutely breaks my heart that it’s been discontinued and is now out of stock.

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I don’t know if I’ve told you guys, but I probably have, because I’ve only been writing on this blog for two years, but summer is my favorite part of the year. I seem to handle it better than most people, too; I love to sit out on the porch — better yet, the pool — with a drink and a book and just spend the entire day out there. I’ll take sweat and sunburn over shivering and itchy sweaters any day.

Neither Abbie nor watch the Walls are currently in stock on their makers’ websites. Julep is available from Sephora and julep.com; Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer is sold from their BigCartel shop.

I bought these polishes myself.

Swatch Sunday: Julep’s America

Happy Sunday! My swatch today is a patrotic offering from Julep, simply called America. There’s a part of me weirded out by shows of patrotism like this, especially between holidays, but it’s so glittery and flashy that I almost don’t care. For the post today, I’m wearing three coats of America; the first six photos are taken without top coat. All photos were taken in direct sunlight outdoors.

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America is a clear-based glitter topper that consists mostly of fine red metallic glitter, but also contains larger blue and silver glitters and silver stars. Application wasn’t bad; the product consistency was pretty thick, edging on goopy; three coats of goopy polish isn’t fun for anybody. After it dried, which was about five minutes after each coat, it left a finely-textured crust of glitter. I did add two coats of Rica‘s Glossy Glam to smooth it out, which looked fantastic, but added yet another thick layer of stuff to my nails. The tips shrank up right away.

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Patriotic or not, this is a gorgeous polish. The red glitters shine like ruby slippers, and the blues and silver stars are bonus. In fact, it’s entirely possible I bought this just because it has star glitter in it. With or without top coat, this polish is very shiny, especially in sunlight. It’s just a ton of fun to wear. The following photos were taken with top coat.

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America may be discontinued by Julep, as it’s out of stock on their website.

I bought this polish myself.