Manicure Monday: Marshmallow Sandwich

Happy Monday! Today’s look is an experiment with opacity and color. It’s also a lesson in making the best of an unusual polish. For this look, I used China Glaze’s Create a Spark between layers of L’Oreal’s Satin Starlet, topped with Seche Vite top coat.



So I started this mani wondering why a polish like Satin Starlet exists in the first place. It’s this sheer, milky white that doesn’t seem like it’s good for much. It might be okay as the sheer shade in a French manicure, but even then, there are colors much better suited for that purpose than white. It would take a staggering amount of polish to get it opaque, so it’s out as a tip color, too. It’s hard to apply without streaks and bald spots. Even after having this manicure on a while, I still have no idea what I would use this polish for if I didn’t do nail art. I don’t think a person who wears one polish at a time would find this polish useful. I got this polish in a big L’Oreal set from an outlet store; it’s not something I would have purchased alone.

I used one coat of Satin Starlet as a base, sponged the glitter on with an eyeshadow applicator, and finished with two heavy-handed coats of Satin Starlet and top coat.

I used one coat of Satin Starlet as a base, sponged the glitter on with an eyeshadow applicator, and finished with two heavy-handed coats of Satin Starlet and top coat.



Create a Spark is a clear-based glitter topper with holographic pink and black and blue metallic glitters. This one was a little hard to use, but seems pretty typical of the mainstream chunky glitter topper; there’s so much lacquer in the bottle that the glitter drops right off the brush, and if you try to brush it on, you get like two pieces of glitter and a whole lot of clear polish, which is not ideal. To prevent this, I sponged it on with an eyeshadow applicator; it soaks up all that excess lacquer and helps you position the glitter where you need it. This is my favorite way to get a lot of glitter without having super-thick coats of polish.



I chose Create a Spark because I thought big glitter and bright colors were best suited to offset the sheer white. Though they pair well, Create a Spark was done no favors in this mani. You can see the shine in some of the edge glitters; the black glitters are dark and shiny, and the pink ones have a really intense holo finish. Satin Starlet kind of sucks the life out of it. Here are some sunlight photos, and this look doesn’t really look much different from in the studio. It just looks like Funfetti. Also, despite everything I said about Satin Starlet, I love the shine it kept. It has a really glossy original finish, and Seche Vite keeps it smooth and shiny. Sometimes it goes on glossy and then dulls, I’m glad that didn’t happen today.





Satin Starlet is discontinued by L’Oreal; other L’Oreal polishes are sold nationwide. I got mine from an outlet store. Create a Spark may be discontinued by China Glaze; other China Glaze polishes are sold in stores. I got mine from Sally Beauty Supply.

I bought these polishes myself.

HPB Presents: Spring Hibiscus

Hello hello, reader! Today’s a special Hobby Polish Bloggers link-up post. Every month we get together and do a themed mani, and the theme for March is spring. The mani can be as simple or elaborate as we like as long as it fits the theme; as a personal challenge, I try to use polishes I haven’t used before. For this look, I used Elevation Polish‘s The Merchant’s Son, Ellagee‘s Breena, Essie’s Tart Deco and Sunday Funday, L’Oreal’s New Money and Hyde Park, and Revlon’s Sunlit Grass and African Tea Rose, all topped with one coat of Seche Vite top coat.

Of course, flowers are the harbingers of spring, and as beautiful as they are, I didn’t want to do a floral mani for spring because I knew everyone else would be doing it. I did it anyway. Boyfriend and I are very into tropical plants, and we wanted to make our backyard space even more tropical, so we got a few new hibiscus plants. I snapped a photo of this beautiful peach hibiscus, and I knew I had to make a mani out of it. Boyfriend is also quite the connoisseur of Hawaiian shirts, and this look is inspired by those as well.


I started this look out with two coats of The Merchant’s Son, three on some nails where it was still a bit translucent. The Merchant’s Son is a thermal, but you can’t really tell under all the flowers. I didn’t even bother to show the thermal effect in action because it would be impossible to see. I picked a thermal because my original idea was to use a gradient. I also used a thin coat of Breena — that’s where the flakie holo comes from — just to add a bit of sparkle. When you can see the thermal effect of The Merchant’s Son, it shows right through Breena. The addition of Breena was probably unnecessary, but I needed one more polish to make an even eight.



I did the leaves before I did the flowers, but I did them exactly the same way; instead of brushing the polish on, I stippled it on with a dotting tool. I don’t know what it is, but I’m much more comfortable with the dotting tool as a method. Brushing never works for me. I have small nail beds, and often the brush feels too large or unwieldy, even when my nails are quite long. For this reason, there’s not a lot of intricate detail in the foliage and flowers; I took a cruder colorblock approach to this. I stippled the leaves on — two colors for variety — and then the flower petals, and then the pistils and stamens. For reference, I used Nailstorming’s hibiscus nail art tutorial video. I actually picked my colors before I sought out the video, and I love that we both chose pretty similar colors.



This was my first attempt at this kind of nail art, and I’m happy with how it came out. It’s rough, sure, but I didn’t screw it up or anything, you can tell what it’s supposed to be. It’s super in your face. Boyfriend accused them of being stick-on nails and that was kind of satisfying. I got to use a whole eight unused polishes, that’s pretty nice too.



The truth is, spring came long ago to Florida. I know other parts of the country are still thawing out, but we’ve been enjoying it for some time now. That’s kind of the reason I didn’t want to do a spring flower mani, I was just so over spring flowers that I just wanted something summery and fun, something that really reflects Florida in March. Speaking of which, here’s some sunlight photos! The holo, or what you can see of it, looks amazing out here. I’m not sure if the Elevation or the Ellagee is my favorite of this look, but they look so beautiful together I couldn’t possibly choose.




Here’s a product roundup, just for reference. I rarely do this, but I rarely use so many polishes for one mani.


Elevation Polish has discontinued The Merchant’s Son, but you can find their other polishes in their shop. Breena also appears to be discontinued by Ellagee; other polishes are sold in their shop. Revlon, L’Oreal, and Essie are sold in stores nationwide.

I bought these polishes myself.
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Manicure Monday: Orange Crush

Happy Monday! Orange is the word of the day here. This mani is all about big color and flakies. For this look, I used Sally Hansen’s Heat Flash, Digital Nails‘s Crush Leaves Not Dreams, and Seche Vite top coat.



Heat Flash is a fantastic polish, though mine is aged and had to be thinned quite a lot prior to today’s use. Despite that, the opacity and color intensity are still as great as ever. This is a bottle I’ve been enjoying for many years now; it’s one of the best oranges I have in my collection. My only gripe is with the double-wide brush; I’ve never been able to use it without making a mess of my fingers.




I didn’t want to cover such a bold and fun color, only accentuate it, so I wanted to go with a flakie topper. It took a long time to find the right one, and I’m not sure if Crush Leaves Not Dreams was the right choice, but I kind of like how it came out anyway. Crush Leaves Not Dreams is a slightly-shimmered clear-based topper with these magical rose-to-gold-to-green flakies. I don’t know how else to describe them — other than voodoo — because they’re unlike any flakie I’ve ever encountered. They’re chunky and more substantial than the iridescent flakies we love, but not to the same degree UCC flakies are. These are just so unique and magnificent. The shift occurs easily and looks great over this orange base. I added studs for extra accents, just because I can’t stand it when all the nails look exactly the same.






Here are some sunlight photos! Crush Leaves Not Dreams looks amazing outdoors. Usually my camera freaks out over orange polishes in the sun, but I think these turned out well. The blue/purple shimmer gets overwhelmed, but the flakies look great.







Sally Hansen seem to have discontinued Heat Flash and the Insta-Dri line; other Sally Hansen products are sold in stores nationwide. Crush Leaves Not Dreams was a small-batch polish and is sold out; other Digital Nails polishes are available in their etsy shop.

I bought these polishes myself.

Swatch Sunday: Philly Loves Lacquer’s The Best Day of the Year

Welcome back, reader! I’m excited to share today’s swatch; it’s my first-ever Philly Loves Lacquer! This polish is a box exclusive from a previous Beauty Quartet Box (now called the Magic 8 box), and you may have some trouble getting your hands on it. This is The Best Day of the Year; I’m wearing three coats with one coat of Seche Vite top coat.





The Best Day of the Year is a magenta jelly with holographic pink and silver glitters in various shapes and sizes. There are large dots, some medium sized shapes like stars and diamonds, and then lots of fine hexes and shimmers. Application was very easy with this polish; it has a great consistency, and it’s not hard to get a good mix of glitters on each coat. The large dot glitters are common; I got at least one on each nail. Also, as this is a jelly polish, it will take all three coats to achieve this opacity. The polish dries quickly with a shiny and mostly smooth finish; I say mostly because the dots don’t always lie flat on the nail. I added top coat for extra shine and protection.



My favorite thing about this polish is the jelly; it’s a rich, lovely shade. The jelly consistency, too, is just right; it’s perfectly squishy, building opacity but never disguising the glitters. The glitter mix is just the right combination for the jelly, too; everything shines beautifully together. This polish is very well done.




Unfortunately, it rained on the day I took these photos, so there are no sunlight shots, which I really regret, but I know this polish would be a stunner in the sunshine.

The Best Day of the Year was a box exclusive from 2015 and is no longer available. Other Philly Loves Lacquer and the Magic 8 box are available from their website.

I bought this polish myself.

Swatch Saturday: Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer’s Siren Noir

Welcome back to Swatch Saturday! The polish I’m showing you today is absolutely stunning. This is Siren Noir from Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer; I’m wearing three coats with one coat of Seche Vite top coat.





Siren Noir is a black polish packed with multicolored shimmers. Application was easy; while BEGL polishes are meant to be somewhat thick, I feel like this one could have used thinning, though I will say the thickness may be due to age, as this polish is already a few years old. In any case, it wasn’t thick enough to impede application, but it did feel a little off. The shimmers are suspended well in the polish, ensuring you get a ton of them when you apply. The polish dries quickly with a slightly grainy finish and a satin finish. I used top coat for extra shine and to help establish the shimmers.



So this is probably the most shimmery BEGL I’ve used yet. There are so many colors; an iridescent blue seems to dominate, but as you can see, there are reds, greens, pinks, and purples as well. Some of the particles are very fine while others are coarse, which gives it a cool look as well. The amount of dimension and color in this polish — while being a black polish, no less — is just astounding. I never cease to be amazed by what BEGL continue to do with their shimmer polishes.



The following photos show Siren Noir in direct sunlight. The black base is a little overwhelmed by the sun’s effect on the shimmers. In person, this was absolutely glorious.






Siren Noir was a limited edition polish from 2013 and is no longer for sale in the BEGL shop. See the BEGL shop for other polishes.

I bought this polish myself.

Update: The Great Server Crash of 2016

I have to talk about something difficult today, and I’m not really sure how to do it, so here goes. suffered a catastrophic loss of data this weekend, resulting in the past fourteen months of posts being lost. The web host I use had a hardware failure and lost all the backups, and I didn’t keep any of my own backups, so all that work really is basically gone. Google caches the pages without the photos, but recovering photos in their original quality is going to be a bigger, more difficult task. Please bear with me while I work through this. I hope to be able to restore a majority of the posts in the future. I apologize for any confusion or inconvenience.

I’m just really disappointed about the whole thing. is a big part of my life, something I spend a great deal of time on each day, and I’m so sad and so frustrated to have a year’s work suddenly be lost forever. Moving forward, I’ll do as much as I can while maintaining the regular posting schedule. I’ll redo any swatches I can’t recover. I want to continue to be a resource for indie nail polish info, so that’s why I won’t be giving up on it. I just wanted to apologize and get back to work.

March 19th Update: The blog is mostly restored now. I scraped what I could from Google’s cached pages; I got all the text back, and I got mostly-complete sets of thumbnails of images. If you’re a maker and need better-quality photos of swatches, please contact me. Otherwise, I hope the restored entries, though compromised, are still helpful and relevant. Thanks for understanding.

Review: Bite Beauty’s Amuse Bouche Lipsticks

Today’s post is a huge departure from the usual fare. I’ve never written about makeup on this blog, and I’ve never posted my face here, though I’m sure by now you know what I look like. I’m both excited and nervous to share it with you. Please do note that these are press samples, I received them for free from Bite Beauty and Influenster, and I wasn’t compensated for this post. All opinions contained herein are my own and were not influenced in any way.

A little while ago, I was notified by Influenster that I would be receiving an Amuse Bouche Voxbox from Bite Beauty. Of course, I was ecstatic, because who doesn’t love lipstick? I am a huge fan of lip products, and though I own upwards of a hundred lipsticks, I don’t own any from Bite. I’ve heard great things from the makeup community, of course; I’ve had Sephora employees tell me about the great list of natural ingredients they use, and I’ve read about the custom lipstick creation process at the Bite Beauty Lip Lab, so I’m finally excited to try them out for myself.

These lipsticks made a great first impression on me, and I’m not exaggerating (much) when I say it was love at first swipe. The product just glides on effortlessly with tons of color and creamy, dewy shine. It has a very lightweight feel, so light I even forgot I was wearing it. The one concern I did have at first was the appearance of the lipstick bullet; in the photos below, you’ll see they have a bumpy and/or greasy look to them. They didn’t smell off — the scent was actually a pleasant citrus — so I just figured it was just sweaty from being in a mailbox in Florida. The product itself didn’t seem altered by it in any way.

The photo below shows each shade at one swipe, as well as an attempt at removal with makeup remover — Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover, in this case — and as you can see, it left quite a lot of color behind. This may be remedied with a lip color primer underneath the color.

From top to bottom: Pepper, Gazpacho, Beetroot

From top to bottom: Pepper, Gazpacho, Beetroot

This first shade is called Pepper. This is probably the most universally flattering shade of the three I received, as well as the most suited for everyday wear. I also think it’s the most flattering one for my skintone. Sephora’s website calls Pepper a dusty rose; for me, it’s a neutral my-lips-but-better shade.







Next is Beetroot, which is a deep, bold berry. I feel like this one is a bit harsh on me, but I like how it looks anyway. I think I’d like it better paired with a dramatic smoky eye.






I saved my favorite for last! I write about how much I love red on the blog all the time; it’s my favorite color for lips as well as nails. It makes my eyes look their greenest. Gazpacho is a true blue-red, and it’s probably the one of the three I’ll be reaching for the most.







I have to say, I love these lipsticks. The color payoff and product formula are just unbeatable. If you’re someone looking for an all-natural lipstick made with natural and organic ingredients that has excellent color and wear, Amuse Bouche is going to be your new best friend. This lipstick really is the whole package, but with one caveat: the price. Amuse Bouche retails for $26 each at Sephora, and I’m a bit conflicted. I love the product formula, but color is the biggest factor in whether I buy a lipstick, and I don’t feel like these colors are unique enough to warrant a $26 purchase; I’m more likely to get similar colors and finishes from MAC.

As I mentioned, Amuse Bouche and other Bite Beauty products are available at Sephora.

These products were press samples and were sent by Influenster on behalf of Bite Beauty. I wasn’t compensated for this post. All opinions contained herein are my own and were not influenced in any way.

Manicure Monday: Shine Overload

Happy Monday! I got crazy with the shiny nails today, just because I could! For this look, I used Ciaté’s Monte Carlo over Orly’s Shine with one coat of Seche Vite top coat. Also there’s a huge rhinestone bow.



When I started this mani, I knew it wouldn’t photograph well at all. I’m okay with it, really. It’s so shiny in real life. Shine is this great shimmery metallic silver that reflects a lot of light, and Monte Carlo is filled with metallic and holographic glitters that makes it worse. It’s not really that over-the-top, I guess, it’s a pretty basic polish with glitter, but photography really was a challenge.




Monte Carlo is actually a pretty cool mix of glitter. It’s kind of a mess; the glitters — blue, pink, and holographic silver bars — don’t really go together, but the overall look is chaotic and fun. It’s neither fine nor chunky, but adds a pop of color and the shine of glitter to any under-color.



I feel like Shine maybe detracts from it a bit. I thought it would be a good under-color for Monte Carlo; since Monte Carlo already had a lot going on, I thought it needed a strong color under it, something that could hold the figurative weight of the glitter. In general, I do like the way it looks, but I think the silver shine, when the light hits it, overwhelms the subtleties of the glitter. Shine is one of the most aptly-named polishes ever. The following set of photos were taken outdoors in direct sunlight. I think the sunlight photos came out better because the light is better diffused, but I still had a little bit of a problem with the glare. The silver holo bars show up best here.





So let’s talk about the bow charm. It’s awesome, right? It’s ridiculous. They’re wider than my whole finger and it’s only a matter of time before they pop off somewhere and get lost forever. I couldn’t resist it, though. I really wanted to make this look even more obnoxious than it already was.



Shine is available wherever Orly is sold; mine is from Sally Beauty Supply. Ciaté is sold at Sephora. The gigantic bow is from Born Pretty Store.

I bought these items myself.

Swatch Sunday: Peita’s Polish’s Serenity

Welcome back, reader! I meant to have this post up hours ago, but due to some unforseen events regarding my web host, it’s going up now. The polish I have for this Sunday’s swatch is a fun one: it’s from a new-to-me brand, it’s from Australia, and it’s a charity polish! Serenity from Peita’s Polish is a polish exclusive to the Lighthouse of Hope box that benefits I Need a Lighthouse, a depression and suicide prevention awareness network. I’m wearing three coats of Serenity with one coat of Seche Vite top coat.





Serenity is a sky blue crelly with turquoise holographic glitters in various sizes and a slight green shimmer. Application was very easy; the product consistency is very smooth, even with all the glitter in it. The glitter and polish spread evenly over the nail, leaving no streaks, spots, or excess polish in the cuticle. It dries quickly and with a semi-glossy finish. It also dries with a smooth texture, which surprised me a bit, since there’s a bit of glitter in it. I added top coat anyway for extra shine and smoothness.



The Lighthouse of Hope product listing states Serenity was based on the cool sparkling waters of Australian beaches, as the ocean can be a relaxing, serene place for people. I think they did pretty well with that imagery. The crelly here is the polish, and not merely the vehicle for the glitter; it’s very sheer, and subdues the glitter from previous coats without completely covering it. The glitter twinkles in the same way the sun glints off the water. It’s very pretty.



The following photos were taken in direct sunlight outdoors. The blue crelly seems cooler, and you can see the under-glitters better.





So let’s talk about the Lighthouse of Hope box. Available from Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer, this box contains eight exclusive polishes from eight different indie makers. I’ve already swatched another polish from this collection, Grows Hope from Alter Ego. The box costs $80, but $60 of that goes to I Need a Lighthouse, a favorite charity of Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer. It’s easy to balk at the cost, but in this case, it’s actually a very worthy splurge. See the BEGL store listing for box details, the I Need a Lighthouse website for information about the organization, and the BEGL maker’s blog to learn why the box exists in the first place. The box is still available in limited quantities.

I bought this polish myself.

Swatch Saturday: Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer Prototype BBD1.0

Happy Saturday! It feels so good to be past our third anniversary. I still can’t believe we’ve passed such an important milestone, it’s crazy! For this week’s Saturday swatch, I’m wearing Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer Prototype BBD1.0 over Nails Inc.’s Eaton Terrace, China Glaze’s Pelican Gray, and LA Girl’s Black, as well as Seche Vite top coat.






Prototype BBD1.0 is a clear-based fine glitter topper; the glitter mix is predominantly purple holo glitters, but also contains holo reds and blues and matte lime green glitters. Application was easy; the glitter brushed on without any problems, and the product consistency was very workable. It dried quickly and with a smooth finish. I added top coat for extra shine and protection.




This a really fun polish to wear. I used neutrals for this look because I wasn’t sure how the glitter would look over other colors, but the glitter is so fine and so varied in color that it would probably look good over anything. I’m actually impressed by how it looks over black; you get the flashes of color without the speckled effect the lighter colors get. I thought it would be boring over black, but I think it’s my favorite of all of them. The lime green satin glitters feel a bit out of place, but I don’t dislike them; I think it breaks up an otherwise monotonous (but still quite pretty) glitter mix.



Here are some sun shots. The glitter looks amazing outside; you can really see the variety of colors in the glitters here. The following photos were taken in direct sunlight.






Prototype BBD1.0 is a one-off prototype, and I have the only bottle. Other Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer polishes can be purchased from their online shop.

I bought these polishes myself.