A Fresh Start to a New Year

I wouldn’t really say this is a New Year resolution, more like a recurring challenge that I win and lose year after year on a month by month basis. The last few months I have been going through another bout of nail and cuticle picking. If you are not familiar, it is the equivalent to biting your nails without the biting; basically I pick them into oblivion, where my finger tips are so sore I need Tylenol to sleep at night because of the throbbing.

It’s a horrible habit. One I’ve managed to break many times over the years. Most of my success is brought on by forcing myself to wear nail polish regardless of how extremely short my nails are. Whatever works.

The last few weeks I’ve been working on diligently nourishing my cuticles as well as clipping and filing any tags so I would not be tempted to pick at them. I failed a lot. It is still a weird struggle. Things were looking so bleak I just did not want to post. But today I decided my nails and cuticles, although still in rough shape, were presentable enough for a new polish post — and because the reality of life is that we don’t always have perfect nails and cuticles all the time.

If you are sensitive to bad nails/cuticles… leave this page now! I know right? I have to post a disclaimer for bad cuticles because of a few birds who freak out over images of bad cuticles. What’s the world coming to?

This is my first time using Cult Nails lacquer. This deep berry nail polish is called Iconic and has a little sparkle and gold shimmer. This is two coats of Iconic with a base coat and no top coat.

Wearing Cult Nails for the first time in Iconic.

And this is it with a top coat. It is a nice formula that dried fast enough but not too fast that I couldn’t manipulate it.

Iconic by Cult Nails -- a deep berry red with gold shimmer.

The official Cult Nails closed down (according to their Facebook page) but this color and a few other colors are still available from Nail Polish Canada (ships to Canada and U.S.). If you know of someone else carrying leftovers please post in comments.

Topic Links
* Get your Cult Nails polish from Nail Polish Canada

Wizard of Oz Nail Polish

This is kind of a long post because it involves the four nail polish collection from Julep celebrating the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz movie starring Judy Garland — one of my all time favorite movies that I have watched at least once a year since I was a little girl. I even have the soundtrack. That being said it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I purchased the collection as an add-on for $19.99 (but not enough that I would pay the full price of $56) with my April Julep Box and if you follow me on Instagram/Facebook you know I have been playing with them over the last few weeks.

Glinda the Good Witch Frost

I found this pale pink frost nail polish to be thick, hard to control, and streaky. Also for this nail polish to be Glinda I felt there was not a strong enough glitter component. What there is you need a magnifying glass to see.

I'm wearing the Glinda frost nail polish from Julep's Wizard of Oz collection.

Emerald City Creme

This bright emerald nail polish definitely goes on nicer than Glinda. Even one coat gives super coverage! It has a nice shine too. On the downside, even with a base coat it stained my nails. Nothing as bad as some yellows and oranges but there was definitely a green tint left behind.

My nails with Emerald City nail polish from Julep.

Ruby Slippers Glitter

I was expecting Ruby Slippers to be my favorite but on its own it was OK. It applies nicely and I was able to easily manipulate glitter without it getting gooey. This is three coats. The glitter is not super bumpy, maybe a light sand but with a top coat I didn’t notice enough for it to bother me. I want to try it again with a deep navy.

A bright red glitter nail polish from Julep called Ruby Slippers.

Here is the video I posted to Instagram so you can see it in motion:

Tin Man Holographic

This Tin Man nail polish is so awesome both in color and formula. It looks awesome with one coat or two and is my favorite of the Wizard of Oz collection.

My nails wearing the silver nail polish from Julep's Wizard of Oz collection.

Did I mention that this silver is awesome? I have it on right now and it is just the right amount of sparkle and holographic that I’d feel comfortable wearing it anytime.

I am in love with this silver Tin Man nail polish.

This collection should have and could have been so much more than it is. Four colors? Really? What about a Toto Black, Yellow Brick Road, Taupey Lion, or some bright color for the Munchkins? How about A Polish of a Different Color and The Wicked Witch? Seriously, I could go on. I think the collection should have been at a minimum of eight colors.

Playing with the Wizard of Oz

This collection came in a book size case featuring images of Dorothy, the Tin Man, Glinda, and the Emerald City. I think it is nice for gift giving but I’ll probably remove my polishes from it and add them to the rest of my color coordinated collection.

The outside and inside of my boxed set.

Before I even got to applying them on my nails I wanted to test them on my swatch fingers. My plan was to try and get all four colors on in some amazing nail art fashion.

My mini swatches of the Wizard of Oz nail polishes from Julep.

The most obvious and easiest option was to add the Ruby Slippers red glitter to the tips which I thought looked really good with the emerald green and OK with the silver.

Ruby glitter on tips of green and silver.

I decided to use Glinda as my basecoat and applied the Tin Man to the tips — I should have stopped there (Tin Man was excellent for applying to the tips by-the-way). I then decided I would add the red glitter under the tips thickly then thinner going to the cuticle. I definitely should have stopped here!

What I eventually ended up with .

I guess it is not super bad but I definitely didn’t love it.

Same look different lighting and angle.

Then I decided to add my favorite dots along the nail line technique. Well, talk about a helluva mess! This mani did not stay on long and because I didn’t like it is the reason I didn’t start off with it at the beginning of this post. But I wanted to still share it with you anyway. Even though I didn’t like this four color look — the process was fun and painting my nails has a learning curve for what works and what doesn’t. I can’t skip it in the real world so I thought I shouldn’t hide it either.

Silly me thought I should add green dots. Did not like it.

The Wizard of Oz collection is currently on sale for $29.99 but as a Maven member I have seen it as low as $19.99 during the monthly add-ons. The polish were sold separately at one point but I just did a search and that no longer seems to be the case.

Topic Links
* Purchase The Wizard of Oz Collection from Julep

DIY Nail Strips

You know those expensive nail strips that come in a box with different patterns. Well you can make your own… sort of. Last year I saw a video (shocker!) for DIY nail strips with a water marble look to them and it has always been in the back of my mind to try it. I searched high and low for the original video but couldn’t find it — not sure if she removed it or I imagined it. This week I decided to give it a try based on what I remember.

First off, colors. I chose three from my Julep stock: Lena, an iridescent green; Myrtle, a deep red; and Charlie, a bright yellow.

My three color choices for DIY nail strips.

I took a piece of Saran Wrap and tightened it over a white cereal bowl. On it I painted 10 spots with my base coat (I tried a test without base coat and I couldn’t get them off the Saran). On the dried base coat I put a few drops of each color and swirled them around with a toothpick. I put the bowl aside for a few hours and tested, still not dry enough to peel off. I promptly forgot about them.

A few days later I peeled them off — it wasn’t super easy but once I lifted an edge up it peeled right off. I crumpled up the Saran to save for another nail project. I put the strips aside and forgot about them again for a few more days.

When I finally sat down to use them I was afraid they would be too brittle but I lucked out.

I started by laying out the nail strips in order from thumb to pinky. I applied a basecoat to my nails and because my nail strips were not perfectly engineered I decided to paint one coat of Lena to act as a base color for any show through — I worked one nail at a time by the way.

My nails showing the DIY nail strips process: one with a base coat, one with the color coat, and done with the strip in place.

While Lena green was drying I used nail clippers to shape the strip I was working on to give it a straighter edge and alter sides to look more like a strip.

I applied the strip, base coat side down because it is the smoother side to the tacky nail polish and pressed it into place with a finger on the opposite hand. I then used an orange stick to gently press over it with a little more pressure. And clippers to carefully shape the tip to match my nail edge.

I did each nail in this manner then applied my Julep top coat.

My nails strips completed on one hand and laid out ready for the other hand.

It still didn’t fill in the bumps like I wanted it to so I applied two more coats of my Zoya base coat because it is thin and it was what was handy. A day later I did file the tips to make sure I had a smoother edge and gave them another top coat and sealed the tips.

My designs were pretty random and I probably could have assigned more control over what colors showed up the most but I really created them all willynilly this first try. Here’s a close up of one of my favorites.

A close up of one of my favorite designs.

Overall I didn’t mind the process. I love the marbling of three colors and the fact that it is not as messy as the true water marbling process — but there is something that is so perfect about water marbling that still makes me want to do it. That being said I know I will probably attempt this technique again. The DIY nail strips lasted me for my usual four days before I got bored and peeled them off — I just had some touch up cleaning to do with remover. Not sure what is happening with the middle nail of this photo but there definitely isn’t a chunk missing. The strips were all intact when I removed them except for a small chip on the ring finger.


How about you are you game to try or have you already?

I went looking for the original video again because I really like to show where I get ideas from but still couldn’t find it. But I did find three others you might find helpful if what I have said up above wasn’t enough:

Reese Dixon’s Nail Art Stickers

Reese uses parchment paper which is a great idea. I use parchment paper for baking cookies so I’ll have to remember this the next time I try.

DB DIY Nail Decals

This video shows how to make simple nail art on clear polish and put it over a darker color. Kind of like mini decals.

Julie Ventura Large Nail Strip

A completely different method that makes a large nail strip and pastes in reverse.

I’m confident you will come away with great techniques from each video to get you through the process.

A Sleigh Ride in February

I bought OPI’s Sleigh Ride for Two before Christmas but just never had a chance to wear it. Our snowbanks are still a couple feet high so I feel perfectly legit in wearing this deep dark red with a fine shimmer. I actually quite love it.

My nails are ready for the slopes with Mariah's deep red nail polish by OPI.

It is a nice formula. There were a few bare spots with one coat but two coats made it totally opaque. This nail polish is from the Mariah Carey holiday collection (I think there were 12 colors) and is still available on Amazon, Nail Polish Canada.

A few days later I received Cuccio “Remix” in my Top Box order and tried it out as an accent nail. This is only one coat. I have not used this brand before — I wish they had sent a solid shade because you really don’t get a feel for a brand until you’ve tried regular polish. So far so good though.

Adding a little sparkle to the accent nail with Cuccio's remix glitter nail polish.

Do you have a favorite OPI red, or other brand red?

Topic Links
* Get Sleigh Ride for Two from Amazon

Red My Lips

This is the last polish in the trio I received in my Sally Hansen Vox Box for review from Influenster. It is probably my favorite in terms of color and formula. I love classic red nail polish and this formula, although slightly sheer it goes on so smoothly and looks great even with one coat — I could see my nail line but didn’t care so much with this color. This is two coats and no top coat (1 and 2 didn’t look much different in the images):

My nails with two coats of Sally Hansen's Red My Lips nail polish.

I was brave and didn’t use a base coat and did not experience any staining later when I removed it. Like the other polishes I got about four days of wear before I noticed nail wear along the edges. Around day two I ended up putting on a top coat because I started noticing red streaks I was leaving behind if my nails brushed across something hard; like the white plastic on the inside of my fridge. It stopped with the top coat.

Sally Hansen’s line of Complete Salon Manicure is available in 49 nail polish colors from most drug stores at prices ranging from 7.99 to 10.99. This line boasts seven benefits in one bottle: base coat (I used a base coat anyway because it is a dark color and I am paranoid), strengthener, growth treatment, color, top coat, chip resistant, and gel shine finish.

Topic Links
* Check out the colors at Sally Hansen
* Check out my Jaded Nail Polish from my Sally Hansen Vox Box

“I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.”

Santa Baby Nails

I knew when I watched QTplace’s Santa nail art video I had to try it. So much cuteness and it looked so doable. Here is her step by step video:

I was so excited when I sat down with my nail polish to work on this nail art. For polish I used:

* Sally Hansen Insta-Dry 280 Rapid Red
* Julep Zora for skin tone
* L.A. Colors white
* And Julep’s Joelle for the sparkling accent nail.

When I got started I quickly realized how much I loved the Rapid Red and Joelle polishes (they are both new) that I had to make a quick Instagram about them:

The video and even this close up do not show how pretty this holographic polish is. It’s like trying to catch pretty snow on film. It never works.

I have two coats of Julep's sparkly top coat called Joelle.

At this point I thought things were progressing ravishingly. Can I say that? Too late, all ready did it. Anyway. I fiddled with Santa’s cuffs and face and thought it was pretty cute. Before the top coat I thought, “Well maybe I will make the eyes a wee bit bigger. Big mistake! As I was doing that my hand had a spastic reflex and smoosh, black all over the face. I tried too clean it up but just made it worse. I let it dry and tried doctoring over it with more flesh polish and redoing the eyes. I ended up with this, a smooshy lumpy Santa face:

My attempt at Santa nail art.

My Instagram friends were sweet saying it was still “cute” but… I know they were just being nice because I was freaking out. Anyway, this mani lasted for about two hours before I rubbed it off. So the moral of this story when you are doing nail art is, “Don’t fudge with it!” — and practice your design on something else first. Normally I do but for some reason I was overly confident.

A day or so later, I was really yearning for some more of the Sally Hansen Rapid Red (so pretty) that I just did a simple manicure with it. The red is almost completely opaque with one coat but is totally opaque with two coats. This brand has an extra wide brush so I find it easy to polish each nail in two to three strokes. I love the consistency of this one which makes me love the color even more (but it does tend to thicken quickly if open for long periods). It’s super shiny too, no top coat in this photo.

My nails were very happy with Sally Hansen's Rapid Red.

And followed it with the holographic sparkle. How beautiful! Am I right, or am I right? The holographic sparkle is so pretty. By itself in the Santa photos I used two coats, over top of the red I used one. I think they are a perfect holiday combination.

I topped my red nails with the Joelle sparkle.

You’ll notice too that my nails were starting to get a pretty good squared edge in the Santa photo. There were a couple days in between where we removed some cupboards in the kitchen so I had some damage and spliting (I had no polish on to protect them). But I didn’t want to trim them until I had to chance to see this polish combination at this length. I guess I could have buffed them a bit to reduce the chip appearance but I really hate to do that to my nails unless absolutely necessary. I am not going to give up on the square nails yet — I almost had it this time.

Here is my new manicure in motion:

What are you painting on your nails for the holidays?

Topic Links
* Visit QTplace for more nail art inspiration
* Get the holographic Joelle nail polish from Julep

Essie Shearling Darling

Shearling Darling is a reddy brown opaque nail polish from Essie’s Winter Collection which includes five other pretty awesome looking colors. But this was the one I had to have as soon as I saw it in a magazine. I found it in Shopper’s Drug Mart this week and I even paid full price for it ($11.99 — oh my!).

My nails dressed with Essie's reddy brown Shearling Darling.

This is another one of those pseudo colors that looks almost black in low lighting. Right now I am at my computer with an overhead ceiling light at 5:27 p.m. and it looks black or at least a very dark chocolate.

Dark red Essie nail polish under my lamp light

In brighter light and from the bottle I think it looks like the hot color trend, oxblood; which is one of my favorite colors this season for accessories like shoes, handbags, and nail polish.

Comparing my nail color to my long life buddha figurine.

It is a pretty thick polish going on almost opaque with one coat but needed a second coat to get full coverage over a few peek-a-boo spots. The polish is super shiny on its own but I covered it with Julep’s Freedom Polymer for quick dryness and protection.


Topic Links
* Get your Shearling Darling from Essie
* Or get the winter collection from Amazon

A Rendezvous with L’Oreal

Red, red, red, I am totally loving this L’Oreal red Rendezvous (#450). It looks opaque in the bottle but it goes on pretty thin and sheer. I put on three coats plus a top coat and they didn’t feel built up at all.

On my nails is L'Oreal's red Rendezvous.

I absolutely love the tone of this red. Some reds, I find are really striking on my hands — I’ll catch a glimpse and think, “Yikes, that’s a bright red.” That isn’t the case with this one. It’s… more natural. I know, red nails being natural is not possible, but this red just doesn’t scream “Hey! LOOK AT ME!”.

Showing off my red nail polish.

As you can see I am trying to square my nail tips. I usually keep them pretty rounded but wanted to try it. I even bought myself some new flat clippers to get a straighter less curved tip. We’ll see. I had to file down the corners twice because they were catching on everything; including my eye when I rubbed it.

A closer look at L'Oreal's red Rendezvous nail polish.

Update: I was surprised to find this chipped really easily within a day. I touched it up and it chipped again. Going to try it again this weekend with a different topcoat.

Update #2: I tried the polish with the Julep Freedom Polymer top coat and it faired much better than the previous two times I wore it.

Topic Links
* L’Oreal Rendezvous is available at Amazon

Pulsating Pink Nail Polish

This is my first Rimmel London (can be found at Walmart, Target, Shoppers etc) nail polish. For a few bucks I couldn’t resist this Pulsating pink. This is part of their one coat line that dries in 60 seconds but I didn’t like the sheer look so I went for two coats which I think is much better.

My nails with two coats of Rimmel London Pulsating nail polish.

I really love the color which has a fine sparkle to it but doesn’t really stand out. The brush on this tiny bottle of polish is a bit thicker than average but smaller than the large one Sally Hansen has. It’s not bad.

Showing off my "pulsating" pink nails and the tiny bottle of Rimmel London poslish.

Unfortunately by the next morning I needed to do touch ups because there were little chips on the tips. It actually looked better with the third coat of color but was chipping again the next day. But still, I love the color.

My nails with three coats of Rimmel's pink Pulsating nail polish.

Are you a Rimmel London nail polish user? Is this usual?

Topic Links
* Get your Rimmel Pulsating from Amazon
* Learn more about Rimmel London

Patchwork Nail Art

When I first saw SandyDandy’s patchwork nail art video I thought, “I can totally do that”. When I finally tried I realized I couldn’t. I don’t know if my nails were too short (that’s what I think it was) or that I just didn’t have enough patience. Anyway, I ended up doing a patchwork of sorts, with only two colors instead of three but here is her video which offers great direction:

I think my final two-color result turned out great on the second attempt. You can see a little residual black on the cuticles in the first few photos from my first attempt. For colors I used a new red from Avon’s Fall colors Nailwear Pro+ in Racy (477-066). I love the color and it went on great with two coats. Super shiny.

Two coats of Racy red nail polish from Avon's nail pro line..

I followed up with Julep’s Black Latex Cleopatra which is my new favorite black. It went on awesome and really does look like latex when it dries. Love this polish. I have used it a few times for nail art accents.

Julep's black latex cleopatra over Avon's nail pro Racy.

Yes, it is essentially similar to the black and red colorblocking but it is a different look and polish. I like it.

My patchwork black and red nails in daylight.

Have you tried patchwork nails yet?

Topic Links
* Visit SandyDandy’s DandyNails nail art hub on YouTube
* Get the Racy Avon nail polish from Avon
* Get the Cleopatra black Latex from Julep