I Love Earth Day

Here’s a look at what I bought from the Zoya Earth Day promo recently. (The Remove was a free gift).

earthdaypolishes

The colors I bought (Not in the same order as the photo) are Rocky, Josie, Robyn, Maya, Neely, Lola, Piaf and Darcy. If I get any requests for it I’ll add some better pictures with the names properly underneath them.

Flash Promos

Did you make your account at Zoya.com yet??

They have started their flash promos for the holidays, and some great deals have been popping up. Some of these coupon codes include free polish, free shipping, discounts and more. Usually these codes are very limited and they are posted randomly throughout the day and night. The deal may apply to the first ten people, the first 25, first 100, or even the first 1,000. To find out about the codes, you can follow Zoya on facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest, or their blog. Some deals will only appear on one site, others may appear on all of them.

So far, using the flash codes I’ve been able to score a code for ‘buy 2 polishes get 2 free (with free shipping)’, and then later I got one for a free Hot Lips gloss with free shipping. These are fantastic deals but they don’t last long at all! Be sure to make your account ahead of time so that you don’t miss out. Good luck!

Another side note, I got one of the Dream boxes (Merry Christmas to me) when they were on sale last week and I wanted to mention something about that. I previously said that the boxes were all velvet – which they were last year, but apparently they aren’t this year. The boxes still come nicely packaged inside of another nice little black cardboard box, and they also still have a magnetic closure. The inside of the box is velvety, but the outside is just a coated.. matte..box.. cardboard.. type material? How’s that for a great explanation? πŸ˜‰ Anyway, I just wanted to clear that up because I didn’t know they had changed. I prefer the all velvet ones, but the new ones are still nice. They are actually a great deal because they are $24 and they ship for free, so you’re getting the box for free also. You can choose from pre selected color sets, or make your own. I chose Ziv, Aurora, and Storm for my box and they look so pretty in person, I’ll post a pic later. The flash promos are just another great reason to love Zoya, I don’t know any other company that goes for days on end randomly posting sales and freebies as a holiday gift to their customers, it’s awesome!

That’s all for now, go make your Zoya account!

Fascination Street by Cirque

My dear friend Cricket, who is an awesome person and an amazingly talented writer, recently showed me her new polish from Cirque. It’s such a beautiful polish that I was able to convince her to do the following guest post for the site so that you guys could check it out too. The price is a little steep for me, but after seeing these pics and review I am seriously tempted. Enjoy! And many thanks to Cricket!!

A couple of weeks ago I happened upon this post at The Swatchaholic of Fascination Street by Cirque. It’s an indigo blue polish with holographic effects that are just mesmerizing in real life.

The Swatchaholic’s pictures are stunning and the polish looked amazing. I was so amazed, in fact, that I just had to show my husband the pictures. (As hard as I tried to capture the true beauty of this polish, I just wasn’t able to grab it with my camera. You really have to experience this polish in person.)Cirque's Fascination Street

He used to paint and airbrush for a living and is a really accomplished artist. When he went loopy over the color and the effect, I knew it wasn’t just me. Once he stopped oohing and aahing with me, he told me, “You need to get that polish.” My husband has never before told me I needed a nail polish.Β 

I will pause and let that sink in for a second.

At $16 a bottle, I hesitated. For about a nanosecond. It’s just so gorgeous, I had to have it. I’ve become a bit of a nail polish snob, thanks to a certain beauty blogger (*cough*), but the reviews were positive and did I mention that it’s gorgeous?

Cirque Fascination StreetI refreshed the tracking on my package daily and I skipped to the mail box the day it arrived. I must add here, the packaging was great. It arrived in a soft, padded envelope. When I tore open carefully peeled open the envelope, I found the nail polish in a black organza drawstring bag with a couple of hard candies. (Nom!) The polish itself was wrapped in bubble wrap. Such a thoughtful step!

The bottle is slightly smaller than average at .45ml. Even in the bottle, you can see the holographic effects as you tilt the bottle in the light. It’s just stunning. (I’ll stop gushing any time now.)

The first coat was pretty gloppy, so I got scared. The second coat was magical, however, and my fear evaporated. I did go ahead and add a third coat, and I’m not sure if it made that much of a difference or not, really, but maybe it did add just a little bit of depth. I will say here, I think a top coat is necessary. The polish itself dried for me a little on the not-shiny side. After a top coat, I saw details more clearly and the shine enhanced the polish. I know some people aren’t into that extra step, but I think it made a difference in how this polish shows.

You might expect that this polish would really come alive only in one sort of lighting, but that isn’t the case. Sometimes you catch an angle in low light that just pops, and sunlight is beyond amazing. In some light, you’ve got just a really pretty blue-purple with pearl sparkles. In others–bam–full-on rainbows.Fascination Street by Cirque

This is my first holographic nail polish ever, so maybe they’re all this fantastic, but I prefer to think Fascination Street is pretty unique.

A word of warning for those who are sensitive to smell, however, this polish is very strong smelling. When I did my nails, it was obvious to every living creature in the house.

The polish has worn fairly well, with only a couple of chips and mild tip wear. The chips I blame entirely on me, as it has been a bad hand week. Such a bad hand week, in fact, that I have two new down-to-the-quick nail breaks that I’m sporting today. Maybe I’ll have to redo my polish to make up for that… πŸ™‚

(I bought this polish with my own money and the thoughts I’ve shared here here are my own; you might agree though, if you tried it, too. Just saying. πŸ™‚ )

How to: Zebra Nails

A few weeks ago I finally got around to using my Sally Hansen zebra nail strips. (You can kind of see them in one of my photos where I’m holding the sample of Twirl perfume, and you can tell I had just put them on because the ends are a bit ragged). Anyway, I had more trouble applying the zebra nail strips than usual, and the removal was even worse. It was more difficult than removing glitter polish and in the end my nails were left looking a bit shabby for a few days. While I still like nail strips, I decided to figure out how to do zebra stripes myself and spare the trouble and expense. Another added bonus is that you can use any colors you want with this method, rather than just black and white.

First of all, you can definitely just use Konad stamping to do zebra stripes, and maybe I’ll do a tutorial on that one of these days because they would come out looking more uniform and professional. This however is for people who don’t have Konad or want to try a more freehand approach.

You’ll need:

  • A nail polish for the base color
  • A different nail polish for the stripes
  • An orange stick, toothpick, or some tiny brush
  • Something to put drops of polish on, like a piece of plastic (palette)
  • Nail polish remover for cleaning up mistakes

As an artist, I appreciate the value of a good reference picture. You can google images of zebra nail decals, or other tutorials, or even a picture of a zebra itself if you like. I just pulled out one of my leftover nail decals so I would have something to look at when I draw my pattern.

Next paint your nails in your base color. I used white (Snow White by Zoya), but you can pick whatever color combinations you’d like. It’s important to make sure that your base coat isn’t streaky, though, so use two coats if needed. If the background is thin and streaky the overall look will seem messy. I decided to just do an accent nail on each hand, so I painted those nails white and did the others in the bright pink (Sally Hansen) I would be using for the stripes.One coat of white polishTwo coats of white polish

Now take your piece of plastic or whatever you’ve chosen to put your polish on. I use the plastic things [that Zoya sends out with orders] that have color samples on them. The middle is flat, so you can put your drops of polish right on it. It doesn’t matter what you use, just make sure it’s something that won’t be ruined by nail polish or absorb it. Take the brush from the bottle of your stripe color and dab two or three drops of polish onto your palette when you’re ready to start. Don’t put out more than a few drops of polish at a time, it will just dry out while you’re working and waste it.

For the striping, you can use a tiny nail brush, a toothpick, the pointed end of an orange stick, a small paintbrush, or whatever. If you use some sort of makeup brush, make sure you write on it “NAILPOLISH ONLY” and never use it for makeup again. I like to use an orange stick because you can make the lines really thin, but you have to be careful that you’re not scraping the polish right back off as you go. You may even have to touch up some spots, but it’s easier to get a thin line than a brush is (unless you have a nail brush specifically for thin lines).

Start at the bottom of your nail and press very lightly, painting a thin stripe about halfway, to 3/4ths of the way across your nail. Don’t make it perfectly straight, and try to vary the width a little without making it too wobbly. To make the classic zebra stripe look, you will want to taper each line at the end. To do this, just lift your brush or toothpick slightly as you get to the end. For your next line, move up a little and start from the other side of your nail, and do the same thing. Look at your reference while you work and alternate your lines, always making sure that they aren’t totally straight or too thick. In some places, do two lines on the same side, or a line that branches in two. Cover the whole nail with lines and don’t worry about touch ups until it’s dry. Repeat this on all of the nails you want to zebra stripe. While you’re working, your polish might start to dry as you’re using it. If you find yourself with little strings at the end of your line, try to press them lightly onto the nail as they will help the ends of the lines look wispy. When you’re finished and the nails have dried, carefully touch up any spots where the polish looks ‘scraped’.

Be careful of using a topcoat with this, as you may end up dragging the line color and making a smeary mess. If you decide you really need a topcoat, make sure the stripes are totally dry, and apply your topcoat in as few swipes as possible. Try to ‘float’ the brush over the nail, touching it to your nail as lightly as you can rather than pressing down. Personally, I would just skip the topcoat if you can, rather than mess up all of your hard work. Once you’re finished, you can clean up any polish mistakes on your skin with remover. And that’s it, zebra nails! Do a full manicure or just an accent nail, you can even stripe your toes. πŸ™‚ If you try this tutorial please leave a comment and link a picture! I’d love to see what you guys come up with.

Painting Your Nails: The Basics

As you may have noticed, I’m a huge fan of nail polish. I’ve been doing my own nails for a long, long time now and actually have never had a professional manicure. Most women have a working knowledge of nail polish, either from trial and error or tips they pick up here and there. I thought I might as well give a little overview on how I do my nails in case anyone finds it helpful. Alot of this will be just common sense but it wouldn’t be much of a guide if I just assumed everyone knew everything!

Step 1: Make sure your polish isn’t old. You may be thinking, “With all those chemicals, how can it possibly go bad?” The answer is… I don’t have a clue. It just does. If your polish is old it will become thick and gunky, making it much harder to get a smooth surface. There’s no set amount of time that a polish will last, you just need something with a formula that is easy to work with. If your favorite polish has become thick or sticky, don’t trash it just yet – there are drops and methods you can use to revive it. Zoya has a product for that and I’m sure alot of other brands do as well. If all else fails, google it and see what you can find out. If it can’t be saved, you might want to hold on to it and find out if Zoya is doing their nail polish exchange this year (I think it’s usually for Earth Day). The point is, start with a smooth polish of a good consistency and you will save yourself some trouble.

Step 2: Start with clean, dry nails. Remove as much of your old polish as possible. A stray fleck of glitter here and there isn’t a huge deal, but you want your nails to be as polish free as possible before a new manicure. Be sure that you save your hand lotion until after your nails are done too, you don’t want oils on your nails. If needed you can just swipe a cotton ball with polish remover over them one more time just to make sure they are nice and clean. I generally wash my hands as soon as I use nail polish remover, but that’s just because I’m a little compulsive about certain things and polish remover isn’t exactly healthy.

Step 3: Cut and file your nails to the shape you like. Be sure not to trim your nails too closely, because not only does that hurt, it’s not very good for your nails. Try to make neat, careful cuts without leaving your nails ragged. If your nail clippers aren’t leaving straight, sharp cuts you might need to get a new pair. I cut my nails straight across because I like the rounded square shape. When you start to file, try to go in one direction instead of a sawing motion. Once a week or so, I use a four sided nail buffer on the surface of my nails. This will make your nails really smooth and even shiny enough to skip polish all together if you wanted to. Start with side 1 (they are usually color coded) and lightly go over each nail, then move to side 2, and so on. Just don’t use the buffer too often, you don’t want to weaken your nails.

Step 4: Base coats aren’t a necessity, but they are nice to use. Once you have the shape of your nails the way you want and the surface ready, apply your base in a thin, even coat. A base coat can help prevent polish from staining your nails, and some of them are formulated to strengthen your nails or to help them grow. I use Qtica Natural Nail Growth Stimulator as my base coat, simply because I got it as a gift with purchase. My nails grow quickly anyway, so I can’t say whether or not it really helps them grow faster, but it is a nice base. You may be thinking that any clear polish will work for both base and top coat, but that’s usually not the case unless it specifies that. Base coats are generally a bit tackier to help the polish stick, and top coats are usually more glossy. It really depends on the brand though, just read the directions.

It’s pretty safe to say at this point that you are probably not a robot or a cyborg (are those the same thing?). Being that you’re human, your hands are probably not 100% steady. Therefore, you are going to need a desk, a table, a book, or some other flat surface. Do not try to paint your nails with one hand out in the air, or even with your hand on your knee or lap. Flat, stable surface, and a lamp is super helpful as well.

Step 5: Once your base coat is dry you can move on to the polish. Do not shake your polish, or hit the bottom of it on the palm of your hand to mix it – that will only cause bubbles. Instead, hold it between your palms and roll the bottle back and forth. When you’re ready to start painting, be careful not to get too much polish on the brush. Start at the cuticle and make careful strokes to the end of your nail, the key here being to cover the nail in as few strokes as possible for a nice finish. (Most sites will tell you to do it in three, one down the center and one for each side, but it always takes me more than that). Paint your nails with a thin coat and don’t worry if it isn’t completely opaque. It’s better to use two, or even three thin coats than one thick one, but you must let the polish dry between coats. Don’t worry too much about making your first coat perfect, just make sure that you get the nail totally covered. Tilt your hand back and forth and make sure you didn’t miss any spots on the sides. Once the first coat is dry, do your second coat and be as neat and careful as possible.

Step 6: When your polish is completely dry, you can choose to apply a topcoat. It’s not absolutely necessary, of course. The purpose of a topcoat is to help protect your nails from chips, make them look glossy, and they can also help smooth out some imperfections in the polish. You can also get topcoats with glitter if you want to spice up some boring colors. I’m currently using Qtica Extending Topcoat. Try not to apply your topcoat too thick, otherwise it might make your polish chip worse. It’s also helpful to try and ‘float’ your topcoat over the nail – basically meaning, don’t press down too hard or you risk wiping off some of the polish you’ve just applied. Now let all of that dry thoroughly before doing any tasks that are hard on your nails. When you think it’s dry, give it a little longer, just to be sure. There are also speed dry topcoats or polish drying drops that can help with that, or you can try dipping your nails in cold water for a minute or two (after it has set a few minutes first).

Since we’ve already established that you’re human, there’s a good chance that you’ve made a few mistakes and got some polish on your skin like my picture above. There are a few different solutions for that. If you are painting your nails at night, you can just leave it and there’s a good chance it will come off in the shower the next morning. Hand lotion or a hand scrub may also help, but again make sure the polish is totally dry first. (If you’re using matte polish, skip the lotion). If you need your nails cleaned up in a hurry you can either use a polish remover pen, or wrap a bit of a cotton ball around a toothpick, dip it in remover and you can clean up the edges very precisely. Another method is to just leave a slight edge when you’re polishing your nails, and not go all the way to the cuticle or sides, but to me that looks like they are growing out, and I don’t like to do it. Lastly, if you’re taking pictures of your manicure to post online, remember that you can always just photoshop your mistakes away and no one will be the wiser! In reality people probably aren’t scrutinizing your nails that carefully, so don’t freak out over a small mistake or two. Have fun!

The Best Thing I Ever Got For A Penny

As you have probably noticed, a penny doesn’t buy very much these days. So obviously, anything you could get for one cent would basically HAVE to be a good deal, right? (Don’t start posting examples like pre-chewed gum, just work with me here. Although, that’s exactly what I would do if I were a reader, so okay, feel free to post things that would be a bad deal even for one cent).

Moving on, I mentioned a few days ago that I had signed up for the Julep Maven program, because it is usually $19.99 per month and they had a sale going where the first month was reduced to $10. Then the sale was reduced again to $5 for the first month, and then finally down to an impressive one cent. I bet you’re curious what my penny bought me, aren’t you?

…I know, right? That is a pretty awesome deal. Inside my Julep Maven box was a little gift bag containing a full sized Glycolic Hand Scrub, two nail polishes, a jar of purple nail glitter, and a small sample packet of the hand scrub. Can I just take a moment to point out that those nail polishes, which I’m fairly certain are also full sized, sell on their site for $14.00 each?Β  The polishes in my box were a classic bright red and a grape-y purple shade. The Facial For Hands Glycolic Hand Scrub is listed as $32. I don’t see the glitter listed individually on the site, but we’ll assume that’s worth at least a dollar, and then a bonus little sample packet. So that adds up to around $61 total. Holy crap. I knew it was an awesome deal, but really, that’s super impressive.

Is there a catch? Well, the truth is I don’t know. The coupon code was for your first box, and you are supposed to be able to cancel at any time. I haven’t tried to cancel it yet, so I’m not sure if that will be difficult. As far as the box itself goes, it was an amazing deal. It would’ve still been a great deal even if you had the regular monthly subscription of $20.

I immediately put on the red polish to try it out. The formula is a little different than the polishes I normally use. It has a thinner texture and is a little less forgiving than Zoya, my standard favorite brand. Thin enough that while I was concentrating on not getting red polish all over my cuticles, a drop of polish fell off the top of the brush and landed on my pants. That was entirely my fault for not sitting at a desk to do my nails, but still something to be careful of. Even though the polish wasn’t as thick as some, one coat covered my nails really nicely. I added a second coat to even it out a little and catch any missed spots, but I could have easily just gone with one. The color is bright and pretty, it looks really nice on and reminds me of Zoya Sookie. The only drawback is that after only one day I already have a small chip and very slight tip wear. This might just be due to my application of it though, so I’m definitely not writing this polish off. And full disclosure – I used neither a base coat nor a top coat, because I rarely do.

The hand scrub was really interesting. It came nicely boxed, and I was happy to see that it was sealed under the flip cap, so that nothing leaked in shipping. I was expecting this to be some sort of lotion consistency, with some kind of exfoliating beads or something in it. I was quite surprised to find that it’s a really watery, liquid consistency. Suddenly the sealed cap made much more sense. I applied it to my damp hands as per the instructions, rubbed my hands together for a bit and rinsed it off. My hands felt soft and smooth. I’m use hand lotion pretty often, so I didn’t notice a huge difference right away, but I think it did help. I’ve only used it once so far, but it was really easy and has great reviews, so I will continue to use it. If it does what it promises, it should be a great item to have in these cold winter months, especially since I tend to wash my hands quite a bit. (Slight germaphobe. Dont judge me).

Overall, this was definitely worth signing up for. I’m anxious to try out the purple polish and I would love to get another Maven box to check out. I think the idea of a beauty subscription for nail polish and manicure/pedicure products is great. I love that the polishes exclude the nasty chemicals, like Zoya does. I also really liked the squared polish bottles because they look pretty, are easy to store, and are easier to hold while painting your nails than some other bottles. I’m not convinced that these polishes are worth $14 each, and I would really be hesitant to pay $20 a month to be a member. If you’re a fan of Julep polishes, it does seem like you would get your moneys worth and more each month.

As with many of the other beauty subscription services, you start off with a quiz to determine your style. This supposedly allows them to tailor your box a little more toward your tastes. My quiz result was “Bombshell” in case you’re interested. They show you the colors before they ship, and you are allowed to request another ‘shelf pull’ if you don’t like the colors chosen. (Great idea). You can also choose to skip a month, or have your box sent to a friend (also great), and they have benefits for referring friends. Julep offered mystery boxes in limited quantities for $20 over the holidays that all seemed to be a pretty good value. Some people got 2 or 3 polishes and a few other items, while other lucky people got about 10 polishes, nail decals, etc. Anyway, they seem like a pretty cool company, and I’ve already seen what the Bombshell box for January looks like, and I’d love to get it, though I’m not sure I will. I’m hoping that if I need to cancel it will be fast and easy. All in all my only two issues are the cost of the monthly box (since I already subscribe to Birchbox), and the fact that the polish chipped so quickly. Next time I wear this color I will definitely try a topcoat.

If you’re interested in trying Julep Maven, I am not sure if the one cent box deal is still running, but the code I used was SHAREON. Here is my referral link if you’d care to use it http://www.julep.com/?r=18201691

Zoya Holiday Sets

Zoya.com has unveiled their new gift box sets, just in time for your holiday shopping. These sets are available in 12 different color themes, most of which include three shades of the same color. There are pinks, reds, grays, and so on; and then a contrast set, and one with some bright sparkly shades more suited for holidays. This set, the “Spectacular Sparkle” would definitely be my pick for Christmas gifts, although all of the collections are pretty nice. They come in glossy black gift boxes with crushed velvet lining (ooh la la). The sets are $24 each and qualify for free expedited shipping. So basically, you are paying the standard $8 per bottle and getting a free gift box and free shipping. Not too shabby. If you don’t care for their color selections, you can buy just the gift box for $9 and pick your own colors to go in it, though obviously that’s a more expensive option. The page for the empty box doesn’t say anything about free or expedited shipping, though I’m sure you can still use the free shipping code that’s valid until January.

In other sale news, this Friday Urban Decay will have the Book of Shadows IV for $20 off. They accidentally sent the email out early, so they are honoring the deal today as well. The code is BLACKFRIDAY11 and makes the $64 set only $44.