A Few Words on … Beauty Steals

So just last week I was thinking here it is almost the middle of March and I haven’t seen anything on Ulta’s semi-annual Beauty Steals promotion.  And then this weekend I get the newest circular with the BS (ha!) calendar!  I was so excited that I stood in the driveway and checked it out…

As an aside, what ever happened to the excitement that getting the new phone book generated each January?  Damn you, internet and your infernal immediacy!  That used to be a really big deal and I probably haven’t even opened a phone book in the last couple years.  I get two or three different ones every year and, when I finally toss them to be recycled, the spines aren’t even cracked.  Kind of sad, isn’t it?

But back to the matter at hand…

Generally, the only nail lacquer represented is butterLONDON, but I’m always hoping for a Zoya or OPI one.  Or even a CND Vinylux, since I really like a couple of shades in their spring collection, Garden Muse.  Hell, I might even check out some Orly or Essie on a BS!  But it’s still a BL-only world, so I’ll have to save my coupons for the others that I want.

So, BL fans, start your engines and circle March 19 on your calendars!  It’s so exciting!  Well, actually not.  Instead of the usual BOGO, it’s a flat $9.00.  Now that might actually be a better deal for some.  You don’t have to buy in pairs and it also covers nail treatments.  Those are usually $19 a pop, so that’s even better than 50% off!  However, I’m not even feeling a tiny bit of want on this one.  It could be because I still have tons of untrieds from my BL sprees last fall.  I even got a really good deal on cuticle remover/oil sets or I might go for some of the treatments.

For those wondering about the various treatments, I really can’t give much of a review.  The treatment products I have are the Melt Away Cuticle Eliminator, Handbag Holiday Cuticle Oil, Nail Foundation Flawless Base Coat and Hardwear PDQuick Top Coat.  Of those, I haven’t tried the cuticle oil or the base coat.  Once I run out of my current oil and base I’ll start using those, so a future review might be in the offing.  I’ve been using the Melt Away for a while now and, while I can’t say it’s appreciably better than any of the Sally Hansen ones I’ve used, I like it well enough.  But at 9 bucks, it’s only a few dollars more than the drugstore varieties and the BL treatments are in bigger bottles than the lacquers, so it might work out to the same or less per ml/oz than the ones in glass bottles with a brush.  Probably not the gel kind in a squeeze bottle, but I prefer the brush types so it’s worth it to me.  I will say I like it a lot better than Blue Cross remover, which is so thin it’s like water and just comes in a big ol’ plastic bottle with no applicator.  I have scads of the Blue Cross since it’s actually cheaper than water, so I started using it in the foot bath and went for better stuff on my nails.

I kind of banged on the PDQ top coat during my Seche Vite review, but I’ll backtrack a little on that.  All of my in use bottles of SV need some Restore and since I’m too damned lazy to do it when I’m thinking about it, I forget until my nails are wet and I pick up the bottle.  So I’ve been using the PDQ for my last couple manicures.  Is it as good as Seche Vite?  No way!  It’s not as glossy and it’s not as hard so you don’t get that satisfying click-click.  It also doesn’t dry as fast, but it does do a lot better than I previously thought.  I’ve been using it when I don’t have anything to do afterward except play on the computer with no typing involved.  If I needed to get up and go somewhere or have some activity right after, I’d still definitely go for the SV.

The only reason I have the base coat is that it came in a set, so it’s not that I’m dissatisfied with my regular OPI base or Seche Clear.  My OPI is really getting low, so I’ll probably switch to the BL after that’s gone and wait for a sale instead of replacing the OPI right away.  The cuticle oil was also in sets at a huge discount so I still had plenty of my other oils left.  I have a big bottle of Super Cheap Super Nail that I use when I want need a big oil drenching (like after my nails have been through an acetone soaking), but I’ve been using some Sally Hansen and Gelish as my daily oils.  Once one of those runs out, I’ll start on the BL.

Since I don’t have any pictures for this post, I’ll just give a random sneak peek at an upcoming BL polish:

All Hail the Queen with West End Wonderland accent

As well as a bottle shot of one of the cuticle oils that I’m currently using up before I start with the Handbag Holiday:

Polish is OPI I'm Not Really a Waitress

Polish is OPI I’m Not Really a Waitress

Nail Art – Easter Watercolor with OPI Sheer Tints

When I got the mini pack of the Sheer Tints, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do with them.  Did that stop me from wanting them?  Ha!  I wasn’t really looking for anything at the time, but I was reading some reviews on them and saw some ideas at Phoenix Beauty Lounge.

I must say that I think I got more comments on this mani that I’ve ever had before.  Of course, I routinely get comments from women, especially at places like Sally or Ulta because people there are more likely to be into that kind of stuff.  But when the guy at Lowe’s notices them while cutting your PVC pipe, now that’s something!

I wasn’t completely happy with this one, but that was due to the crap job I did on the white polish (OPI Alpine Snow).  I loved how the Sheer Tint effects turned out, so I’m going to do it again some time, but use a different lacquer for my undies.  I’m thinking that one of my white jellies might be really nice and add even more delicacy to the look.  I pretty much just used the Alpine Snow so I could get it out of the way and check it off  of the review list.

It was really yucky, but I’m not laying all the blame on Alpine Snow’s doorstep.  Opaque creme whites are probably one of the toughest colors there is as far as getting a good formula.  If it’s not streaky, it’s globby, if it’s not runny, chalky.  This pretty  much had the consistency of Liquid Paper.  But I’m willing to cut it a little slack, because it’s a mini bottle that I’ve had a long time so that could have a great deal to do with it being gunky, as well as using the tiny brush.  And I’ll concede that it’s possible that there was some operator error involved as well.  I’ve used it before and, while I’ve never been really thrilled with it, I don’t recall it being this bad.

Here’s the tremendously bad picture I took for posterity:

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Now to the good stuff!

I described the whole idea behind the Sheer Tints in my previous post, but I’ll put in the picture again just for a reference point on the colors.

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From left to right –  I’m Never Amberrassed,  Be Magentale With Me, Don’t Violet Me Down and I Can Teal You Like Me.  Yeah, I know.  They  must stay awake at night thinking up this stuff…..

This was really easy and looks so much more impressive that it actually should.  The most frequent comment was “Did you do that yourself?” Followed closely by “Are those your real nails?”.  To which both of my answers are the same.  “If I was paying someone to do this, I would have made them redo the white base and if I was paying for fake nails they’d at least all be the same length!”  Well, that was the answer in my head.  My out loud answer was a very witty “Yes.”

I started with the white undies, which is basically like primering your walls so you have an even color when you paint them a different color.  Then, one by one, I just painted on streaks and strokes of each color, overlapping them to create even more colors.  I should have taken a photo before the top coat because, while it looked okay, it was when I put on the Seche Vite that the magic occurred.  Besides making them shine like crazy, it also blended the colors without muddying them, which was how I got the Monet effect.  Please ignore the raggedy edges, I did manage to smooth them out a little the next day before I inflicted them on an unsuspecting public….

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The next picture is the bottle shot.  Yes, all of those different shades were created with just those four colors!

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My verdict on the Sheer Tints is resoundingly positive!  Once my nails grow back (more on that later), I want to really play around with some different techniques and some monochromatic stuff.  At some point I’ll probably add an additional review showing how all of the colors look by themselves rather than blended.  I should have done that before, but didn’t think of it  until now and, honestly, I wouldn’t really have had the time lately anyway.

A Few Words on … Abandonment (and something new!)

So for the last month and a half, life has been a bitch and three quarters.  Some things had to give and, unfortunately, blogging the Quest was one of them.  Even more unfortunately, my nails were also one of those things.  It’s a mixed bag, half of them still look decent, half of them are stumps and my cuticles look like they’ve been through the Boer War (and back).

One hand is still relatively camera ready, but I haven’t had the time to do more than slap on some polish and go.  Luckily, I still have some past manicure pictures in the can!  I wasn’t sure about doing some of them because I don’t think the pictures turned out very well but, if I don’t have some new ones before I run out of the backlog, I might post them anyway.

My next post will be nail art that I did for Easter.  It’s a watercolor effect using the new OPI Sheer Tint topcoats:

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I love these things!  They’re basically just a tiny bit of pigment added to the clear base.  But somehow they have an amazing depth of color for how sheer they are (even more so than jellies).  Even though they are meant to be topcoats to change the color of your existing polish, all I can think about are the endless nail art opportunities!  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any full sizes, except the amber one on Ulta’s website.  When the new Ulta opens down the street, I’ll have to check it out since they should have all new stock.  They haven’t been on Sally’s website or in the store, so I think they are just getting in the new collections.

But let’s be real, I’ll probably never completely use up the minis, since I’m not planning on using them as full manis.  Although the possibility of creating something similar to a jelly sandwich just occurred to me…

 

 

 

 

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!