butterLONDON – Wallis

The lengths to which I have gone to love butterLONDON (hereinafter to be referred to as BL because….come on, ReAlLy??) are even more ridiculous than my China Glaze efforts.  At least my reasons for wanting to love China Glaze are sound: availability, affordability and selection. BL is pretty much the anti-a/a/s.

Availability? You can get it online or you can get it at Ulta.  I think you can sometimes find it in schmancy places like Nordstrom’s but that might only be in the Big Cities and I’m not going to the mall to find out!

Affordability?  $15 for 11 ml/.4 oz.  You heard that right, fifteen scoots for 4ml/.1 oz LESS than other brands.  Except for Julep and they’re just crazy ass.

Selection?  If you go online to their site I think they have a reasonable selection, but whenever I’ve gone to Ulta and wanted something specific, they don’t have it.  Racks and racks of other lacquers, maybe a couple dozen (if that) of BL.

And pretentious?  With all their fancy British references on their lacquer names and the actual name of their company you know where they’re based, right?  Yep, Seattle….

I mean, really, is a cool rectangular bottle that stacks together so nicely worth all that?  Apparently, because they’re still in business and I still keep swinging away whenever I see a B2G1 at Ulta (until last week!  But that’s another story for another time).

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at Wallis.  Yes, the bottle is upside down on purpose.  It’s got a huge, tall cap (that I think is an illusion to make it look like more than it is, because it’s hollow and you have to pull it off to get to the brush) and holding it the other way my fingers cover up the color.

 

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This came out a couple of years ago (might have been for the Queen’s Jubilee (because, again, Seattle….) and I got this and Bluey at the same time.  Now, I ADORE Bluey and, to be fair, a couple of BLs are among my favorites.  But $15 a pop is too much to be doing too many crapshoots.

Where were we?  Oh yeah, Wallis.  To be completely fair to Wallis, I don’t know why I got it.  I don’t even like the color normally.   I think I wanted West End Wonderland and ended up ordering this one.   I now must confess that when I went to their site to get links for those shades I caught  myself looking at some colors and going “oooh!”.  Then I slapped myself and closed it out but quick.  Curse you and your ways, BL!!!

Or I think I might have imagined it would be something like OPI Just Spotted the Lizard aka Chanel Peridot aka Jessica Irisdescent Eye aka China Glaze Rare and Radiant aka Color Club Editorial aka The Most Duped Lacquer on the Planet, a gold/green duochrome that I love so much I have a mini and 2 backups.

What I got was a metallic described as gold/olive green that looks more like cheap brass with a dirty patina.  To be honest, maybe it’s just my skin tone or some of the pictures I saw online while I was deciding on it weren’t based in reality.  I’ve worn this several times, trying to make myself love it and sometimes I get a little flash when the light hits it just right and I glance that way at the right time and I think I might like it.  Then I come back to reality.  It’s a little bit runny and I have to watch out for cuticle flooding and it’s a bit patchy after one and sometimes two coats.  But I won’t castigate it much for that, because that’s been my experience with a lot of metallics.

Poor Wallis, the homely outsider in my polish collection that I just can’t bring myself to dump.  Aptly named, yes?

 

 

 

 

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Zoya – Ivanka

This was my manicure for Saint Patrick’s day.  Even though green is not the color of St. Patrick (it’s a shade known as St. Patrick’s blue), I am merely an American of Irish descent, so when in Rome….

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Ivanka was part of  of Zoya’s Sparkle Collection for the summer of 2010 and is now in the permanent line.  I have another one from that collection (also permanent) called Charla.  But that’s a special one that I save for when I need to feel extra good about myself, so let’s hope I don’t get to that one for a while yet!

Ivanka is a beautiful emerald green.  Not that shade of emeralds that you and I own, but the shade of emeralds that most people couldn’t afford in two lifetimes. My birthstone is emerald, so I have one emerald ring just for form but it’s somewhat small and more of a leaf green.

Zoya classifies this as a metallic, but it’s got so much more going for it!  It’s packed with so much micro glitter that it’s practically a foil, but so smooth that it’s more like a glass fleck.   It’s just like beautiful foiled wrapping paper that has just the slightest touch of a lighter green-gold as you wave your fingers back and forth in an admiring manner.

For so much micro glitter it’s a tremendously easy formula to apply.  The first thin coat gives a nice, sheer look and is even light enough that you could wear it over a lighter color if you went really thin.  A reasonably thick second coat would have given it full opacity, but I went with three thinner ones instead, just because I like to use the third one as a finesse coat rather than a coverage one.

 

A Few Words on … Seche Vite

Well, probably more than a few words… I could talk all day about my darling!

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Ah….where to start?  Well, in French, seche means dry and vite means fast.  And they’re not kidding around!  While some top coats seem to define fast as ‘proceeding genteelly at a leisurely to moderate pace’, Seche Vite is already finished, washed up and lying back smoking a cigarette.  Seriously, by the time you finish with the tenth nail, the first ones are dry.  Well, maybe not completely dry if you just slop it on like a madwoman in a total of about 5 seconds like I do, but if you go at a sane rate of speed, yes.

SV, as it’s affectionately called, is not Big 3 free.  Which is probably why it works so well.  Healthy, schmealthy, I want my nails to shine like the top of the Chrysler Building!  The only drawback (for me, personally) is that once you open a bottle of SV, the toluene (one of the Big 3) will start to evaporate and eventually your sweet SV will become thick sludge.  It depends on how fast you use it and how tight you keep it closed, but this will usually start to happen around the halfway point.  For me it’s usually around the 3/4 to almost empty point, but I change my nail colour a lot so I use more than average.

But, never fear!  Seche has a solution for you!  I present to you, Seche Restore:

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Which is basically water, rubbing alcohol and toluene.  It comes with an eye dropper (a pipette if you’re French or fancy) and you just add it to your old, tired SV until it’s back to life.  Seche cautions you to not use regular thinner, but I’ve heard (and by heard I mean read on the internet) that it will work fine.  I’ve never tried it but since thinner costs like 1.89 for a 20 gallon drum and Seche Restore is 9 or 10 bucks for half an ounce, I’m going to try it some time.  Maybe on a bottle I have that only has a tiny bit of SV left in it, that way I don’t waste half a bottle of SV in my experiment.

For me, that’s really the only downside.  It’s dry to the touch in under a minute, you can eat salty peanuts in 30 minutes and I’ve actually taken a full-fledged, hot as hell shower (including shampoo) a couple hours after doing my nails with not as much as a nick or a smudge.  Not only does it dry fast, but it dries to a beautiful, glassy finish that wears like iron.  After a minute, give your nails the “click test”.  Tap the nails of one hand on the nails of the other.  Rather than a normal tapping sound, you’ll get clicking that sounds like stiletto heels on a marble floor.  Fabulous!

Some people do experience what’s called “shrinkage”.  I haven’t personally, but I don’t know if it’s body chemistry, base coat (I generally use OPI or Seche Clear), operator error or a combination of factors.  Shrinkage is when the polish pulls back from the edge of your nail, leaving a bare little strip.  General wisdom is that it dries so fast that the evaporation can make the polish draw up.  One way to combat that is to ‘wrap your tips’ or ‘wrap your edges’.  This is just a fancy way of saying to swipe a little polish along the edge of your fingernail tip.  Even though I don’t have a problem with it, I try to remember to wrap just because it helps prevent tip wear and it makes the nail look finished.  I succeed in remembering approximately 25-30% of the time….

So what’s the catch, you might say, I bet it costs a fortune.  Au contraire!  Sometimes you do not get what you pay for.  I have an $18 bottle of butterLONDON PDQ Hardwear that’s crap and takes forever to dry (and by forever I mean like 30 minutes).  SV is like 8 or 9 bucks, basically the cost of a drugstore brand.  I’m not sure of the exact cost because I usually get it when Sally has a deal like buy Seche Clear (base coat) get Seche Vite free or when it’s packaged with a nail polish for a promo.  Other than that, I get the Bahama Mama refill size because I’m just crazy like that.

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Yep, you read that right, four full ounces.  Here’s a comparison shot with a regular sized bottle for scale:

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Even without the evaporation factor, SV isn’t as thin as a lot of top coats out there.  For the best results, don’t paint it on your nails as you would normally, get a little dollop on your brush, drop it on your nail and then spread it out like you would spread honey on toast.  Sweet and smooth!

Side note:  For reference, the polish that I’m wearing in the bottle shots is OPI Can’t Find My Czechbook.  I’ve already got the pictures in the can and I’ll be doing a review post on that in the near future.  I think that manicure was almost a week old when I took the Seche pictures, so you can see how well both OPI and Seche Vite wear!

China Glaze – Turned Up Turquoise

Turned Up Turquoise was introduced as part of China Glaze’s Ink Collection from the summer of 2008, but is now part of the permanent line.  The collection was somehow related to tattoos, although any connection to either the colors or the names is beyond me.

I really want to love China Glaze, I’ve tried to convince myself to love it, I’ve kept buying it to try and force myself to love it.  It has a cool name, scads of colors, is priced on the lower end of the salon brands and is readily available at Sally Beauty Supply, which is my favorite beauty store and just down the street from me.

I don’t love China Glaze.  I like it, but I don’t love it.  There are a couple of them that I love, For Audrey and Make a Spectacle, for example.  But the rest of it is kind of take it or leave it.  Now that OPI has finally agreed to let Sally carry their line, my consumption of China Glaze will tail off dramatically.

The only reason I got this one was because it was in an ombre set of four colors called Wait Teal You See that was at a great price.  I think this was some time last summer and, while I wouldn’t have gotten it separately, I like it enough that I’ve worn it maybe two or three times since then.

This is kind of a strange one.  It’s marketed as a neon and, while it’s certainly bright, it doesn’t have that vibrant, knock you out punch that I associate with neons.  However, like most neons, it does dry matte.  It looks so different that I took pictures before and after top coating.

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This photo was taken after three coats of polish.  Mattes tend to dry super fast and this one is no exception.  But then give it a little Seche Vite magic and…

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Voila, it’s now a sleek and glossy sight to behold!  By the way, for those who have been wondering what in the world is this Seche Vite I keep carrying on about and what’s the big deal anyway, I’ll be devoting an entire post to this miracle in a bottle in a few days.

While the color in the pictures is lovely, it’s not accurate at all.  TUT is actually a green turquoise and skews heavily to the green side of green-blue.  This is apparently a common problem with this polish as I’ve looked at other pictures of it on the internet and far better photographers than I get the same blue and comment on it.

There used to be a toothpaste that was a green gel with a bluish tinge, but I can’t remember the name. Gleem, maybe?  The next best comparison I can think of is to take regular Scope and toss in a dash of the Blue Mint Scope and there you are!

The first coat, and maybe even the second were pretty streaky, which is common with neons, but they dried so fast it waa no real hardship.  I remember the third coat being thick and giving me a few globs, but I don’t see them on that first picture, so they might have been on my left hand.  It all got sorted with the top coat, but if you like rocking the matte look, be careful to make sure that last coat isn’t too lumpy.

A Few Words on… Rationalization

Q:  What do you do when you have so many bottles of nail lacquer that you can’t decide which color to use?

A:  Go out and buy more!

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Rationalization:

  •  I got four OPI minis for less than the cost of  one and a half full bottles, and I was considering two or three  of them.
  • The Zoya was on clearance at Ulta.  And I have no pale yellows at all,  much less with a shimmer.  You can’t fight kismet…
  • After my Sally Club discount, a 15% off coupon and a BOGO offer, the FingerPaints were less than $2.00 each!  And the only FingerPaints I’ve ever tried are the stripers, so it qualifies as research.

OPI – Strawberry Margarita

There are usually at least a couple polishes from OPI’s seasonal collections that really make a splash and are added to their open stock.  Strawberry Margarita was first introduced in the Mexico Collection way back in 2006, but then was awarded a spot in the permanent lineup.

A position that is well earned, as this is a really great pink and one of the best summer polishes you’ll find.  I wear this a lot in the summer, but I wore it to Ulta recently so I could compare it to the new Kiss Me I’m Brazilian shade from the spring collection.  Lots of times I see a color and fall in love with it and MUST HAVE IT!, then I get it home and realize I already have one or more colors almost just like it.   Since I already had it on, I decided to go ahead and get the review out of the way.

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The picture shows it as more coral than it really is, in person it’s a dark pink that’s….well that’s pretty much the color of a strawberry margarita!  I’d call it a rose, with no orange and no leaning into red territory.  It’s a bright one, but not a glaring neon.  A shade that can really go anywhere but it shines in the summer sun.  Of which there isn’t any right now…

As OPI usual, the formula is a dream.  Smooth, creamy and excellent coverage in two coats.  I don’t have the bottle in the shot because it’s a mini, and if it had been a full size brush, one coat might have done it.  And topped with some Seche Vite, it’s one of those that look so squishy and juicy that you just want to bite into it (but I wouldn’t recommend doing so!).

In answer to the burning question of this post, Kiss Me I’m Brazilian and Strawberry Margarita aren’t even close.  KMIB is a much lighter pink, more of a bubblegum, but a little softer.  So did I get it?  Oh yeah, but I was good and just got the mini!

ZOYA – Stevie

There’s always some “new and exciting” trend in nail polishes. For the last year or so, it’s been textured polish.  I personally don’t care for them for a few reasons.  First and foremost, I like my nails to be shiny and glossy with a glass-like appearance.  I live for top coating!  Matte, crackle, textured…I just don’t go for the no topcoat required stuff.  But it’s not just the look that gives me trouble.  I’m a picker.  If there’s the least little bump or snag, I’ll pick at it constantly.  Not only is picking at stuff rather unseemly, it does a number on the nail/s doing the picking.

But they say there’s an exception for every rule and this is mine.  Zoya Pixiedust.    I love Zoya polishes, which is the only reason I even paid any attention to them, and the collections they come out with have some really gorgeous colors.  Not only were they gorgeous, they have mad sparkle without having separate bits of glitter added to them!  Pixiedust is aptly named.  They remind me of the coloured sugar that you use to decorate Christmas cookies.

Another plus is that, among all the textured polishes, I think Pixiedust is probably the smoothest.  Not too lumpy or rough, kind of like granulated sugar.  So, no topcoat be damned, I toss on a couple layers of Seche Vite on the top of it and, while not perfectly smooth and glassy, it’s enough so that I’m not tempted to pick.

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I love pretty much any and every shade of purple and this is a wonderful lavender or lilac colour.  Not too light, but not so dark that it borders on a straight purple.  I haven’t tried any other brand’s textured lines, so I have nothing to compare it with, but it goes on like a dream.  Although it’s not as smooth as a normal polish, of course, it just glides right on with no lumps and globs.  I can get a really thin coat on with no problems at all.  It will still be pretty sheer at two coats since it’s a pretty light colour and I think this was four coats, but it dries super fast so it’s no big deal.

I hate that my crap pictures aren’t showing the crazy sparkle on this one.  All of my camera software is on my laptop and my screen went out a few weeks ago.  So I’ve just been making do with my iPad.  With no flash, some pictures come out pretty good and some…not so much.  I’m thinking about making a good light box and hope that does the trick, because it really is so fast and easy to upload them right from the iPad camera app.

OPI – Stranger Tides

Well, my pictures are looking a little ragged and my nails aren’t much better, but if everybody waited for everything to be perfect then not much would get done, now would it?  So, let’s just say to hell with it and light this candle!

OPI does two full collections in the spring and fall with geographic themes (this spring it’s Brazil).  In between those, they do a small collection which is generally tied in with a summer movie (this year it’s Muppets Most Wanted).  In 2011, the summer movie was Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and this polish is from that collection.

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With the exception of a few shades that I love, I’m not much of a green fan (nail polish or otherwise) and never would have gotten this if it hadn’t been part of the mini bottle set.  Which is one reason that I love minis, because so often those polishes that I would never buy separately become favourites.  Such is the case with Stranger Tides.

From the outside of the bottle it looks like sickly pea green.  On the nail, it becomes a soft sage that’s dirtied up to give it some interest.  I really love colors that might otherwise be pastel when they’re muddy and grungy!  This one becomes surprisingly neutral when wearing it, not the same old boring beige and taupe, but also not one that screams GREEN!! at you.

There aren’t many that do a good old fashioned creme like OPI does and Stranger Tides is no exception.  The first coat is a little streaky, but not nearly as much as most light greens and blues are, and it evens out beautifully with the second coat.  Although I could get away with two coats on most polishes, I usually give an extra one for the Corps.  Just because….

Top it off with a coat of my beloved Seche Vite, and there you have it!  I like this one so much that I not only purchased a full size bottle in addition to the mini, but I might have gone overboard (ha!) and purchased several.  I need to do something about this back up compulsion of mine….