Saturday, 30 November 2013

Tag: British Nail Bloggers "Get Rubbed"

Hey y'all!

I need to come out and say this:  I have been seriously rubbing myself lately!  Sometimes it's deliberate, when I am consciously aware of the need to do it and the gratification that comes from the rubbing and touching.  Sometimes I do it as a compulsive reaction to anxiety or stress, and I find myself doing it and counting the number of strokes I make.  Most commonly, however, it's just an absent-minded habit.  I'll be watching television, or reading blogs, and look down and realize I'm doing it right then, just gleefully rubbing away without any thought to who might see or what they might think of me!

I've been living with this horrible secret for some time now, and I'm thankful that someone else brought it up in the British Nail Bloggers forum, because after a rather lengthy thread, we all now realize we're not alone.  We rub ourselves and we're tired of being ashamed of it!  That is to say, we rub up against our painted nails, either against our lips or fingers (or other places?? - I dunno).  So, in a little group therapy session, today we're all going to be showcasing the best polishes on which to rub it out!  I've selected 10 polishes and toppers that I find myself continually touching, but I can't possibly rank them, so I'll just group them into "types".  It's also important to note that these polishes should always be completely dry before anyone goes smearing their fingers against em, or sticking em to their lips or in their mouths.  Nail polish is not intended to be ingested, y'all, so let's use a little common sense when we're rubbing ourselves, shall we?

Without further ado, let's get started:

The Top Coats
 Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat
Seche Vite over OPI DS Pewter
Since this is the most common exterior barrier on my nails, it only makes sense that I would find myself rubbing on it a lot.  All nail bloggers and connoisseurs know, it's a thick, glossy topcoat that dries like glass on top of my nails, and the smooth finish makes it irresistible for my fingers to run over the surface of one another, just *trying* to find a bump or blemish on the surface!
OPI Matte Top Coat
OPI Matte Top Coat over Sinful Colors Dancing Nails
I don't own any matte nail polishes, because with this top coat, I don't feel like I *need* them!  This gorgeously supple top coat mattes out even the shiniest of shinies, and leaves a satiny smooth finish on top of my nails.  The bonus:  It's a fairly quick dry-time, too.  Sometimes I'll finish a bit of nail art or a nail look in general and realize that while it looks nice, something is just *off*.  That's usually when I reach for this mattifying top coat to see if I can't make the look come together.  This is one polish I'm definitely guilty of rubbing against my lips - specifically I find myself rubbing my thumb against my bottom lip, usually while I'm deep in thought or otherwise concentrating.

Shatter/Crackle Toppers
OPI Super Bass Shatter over Models Own Indian Ocean
Almost every brand has at least one version of this type of polish, which is best applied in a thin, single layer, over a contrasting color.  My favorites are the OPI Shatters, though I also have some W7s and one Barry M that I'm not fond of (Croc Effect).  I love the textured feel that results from a good cracking polish, and unless I need to wear the look for longer than a day, I often don't top coat because I like the way the cracked polish feels against my fingertips when I rub across.

The Jellies/Crellies
China Glaze Are You Jelly?
China Glaze Are You Jelly? and Max Factor Fantasy Fire (on middle and ring)
While they're a bit of a pain to work with if you want an opaque nail, jellies (clear but tinted base, can see through) and crellies (sheer base, slightly opaque but thinner than a traditional creme finish) give a great texture to your nail if you're a compulsive rubber.  Pictured above are 3 coats of the crelly Are You Jelly? on all fingers and a single coat of the jelly Fantasy Fire over my ring and middle fingers.  I love the additional flare that Fantasy Fire adds to the gorgeous grape jelly color of Are You Jelly? while not changing the color too much.  In addition, this mani left me with two different but similar textures to play with on my fingers, with the satiny finish of the crelly and the smooth but rubbery feel of the jelly on different fingers.

Effect Polishes

Maybelline Color Show Vintage Leather
Maybelline Tanned & Ready
I only own two of the Vintage Leather collection from the Color Show line, but I found myself quite pleased with the texture of the polishes once they were on the nail.  This isn't the really thick plastic feel of some of the higher-end leather effect polishes, but it is very much like a thin plastic or rubber with some grittiness from the shards in the polish that give it the "distressed" look (though not very successfully, in my opinion).  I did find myself rubbing my middle finger against the top of my index finger pretty frequently, enjoying the very different feel of the polish.

OPI DS Raw Granite
OPI DS Pewter
 The Raw Granite duo which came out this fall is a beautiful pair of polishes, both of which are in my line to swatch and review.  However, this post came up first, so I had to bite the bullet because I'm in LOVE with the texture of these polishes.  Shown above is Pewter, which only slightly edged out Lapis for having a better "lip feel" - because the formula lays down just slightly better and the Lapis was JUST SLIGHTLY more gritty feeling once dried.  They both have an amazing texture that feels like smoothed igneous rock, as though someone took a sanding belt to a piece of granite!  These are both very similar to the Liquid Sand line, see below, but have slightly larger glitter hexes and supposedly contain real diamond dust, for added sparkle.  If you don't believe me on the sparkle, check the very first picture on this post and compare the natural finish here to the extra sparkly finish after adding a clear top coat! 

OPI Liquid Sands
OPI Solitaire, from the Bond Girls collection
I am late on the bandwagon of the Liquid Sand polishes.  My first bottle was Honey Ryder, also from the Bond Girls collection, and I loved it so much I came back and got two more, though I'm sure they won't be the last.  I love the slight grittiness to the finish and find myself rubbing not only my fingers over top, but also my thumb against my bottom lip when I'm wearing any of the Liquid Sands.  

Rimmel Space Dust
Rimmel Moon Walking
Like the crackle/shatter polishes, it seems like everyone will soon be joining in with a version of this type of textured polish, created by adding fine glitter to a thin base so much that it won't lay down smoothly.  Whereas I have a handful of the OPI line, I was very curious when I saw that Rimmel had started their own line, since I have become a fan of the brand since moving to the UK.  There will be a swatch and review post coming on the 4 polishes I got, but like the Raw Granites, that review post got superseded by this one, so there you have it.  These are definitely much rougher in texture than the Liquid Sands, but they have more sparkle and feel a bit like spice drops or Sour Patch Kids against my lower lip. 

The Add-Ons

Technically, these last two aren't "polishes" per se, but they are a firmly established part of the nail art community, and because I absolutely LOVE to feel these on my nails, they merit inclusion in this list.

Microbeads/Fish Eggs/Cavy-arh
elf microbeads in purple and pink from the Ursula Villains nail art kit
The "fish-egg" manicure has been on the scene for a couple of years now, one of the first things besides rhinestones that nail artists found in craft stores and decided to stick on their nails.  Typically made from glass or plastic polymer, these round little beads add a bumpy-smooth surface to nail art and can be applied across a whole nail or strategically (and painstakingly) placed to create unique 3D designs.  For me, they make excellent textural distractions for my fingertips.

Flocking Powder
MUA Fur-Effect Fluffy Bobbin
Nail art enthusiasts, in continuing with the "Oh look at this crafting supply thing I found; I'm gonna stick it on my nails" theme, also quickly added flocking powder to their manicures.  Originally used as a crafting supply by model builders (to create carpet and grass effects) and paper crafters (to create velour effects on cards, gift boxes, and other items), these synthetic fibers are glued onto a surface to give a velvety texture.  In nail art, many creative uses have arisen, from creating snow effects in wintery manicures to making popular puppets come to life on the nail bed (see my first creation).  If I ever want to add a special 3D touch to my nails, specifically knowing that I'll be unable to resist rubbing against them all day long, I'll use flocking powder and enjoy the feel of a soft blanket on the ends of my digits. 

So there we have my 10 picks for the best nail things to rub up against.  Are you a compulsive nail-rubber too?  Sound off in the comments, and let me know what you think of our weird proclivity!

Also, be sure to check out the other "British Nail Bloggers Get Rubbed" entries in the inlinkz below.  Next week I'll have some exciting news to share, and continue on with holiday challenge nail art as well as some great new swatches and reviews of stuff I've found.

Much love,

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Llama Nail Holiday Challenge week 6: Thanksgiving

Hey y'all!

This has been a fairly exciting week for me.  I got a lot of things accomplished, including registering with the doctor, who in turn gets me registered with the NHS, so in essence, I have health care again! Yippee!  Also, I completed construction of my new light box!  Yippee again!  I also managed to do my first actual successful water marble design!  Yippee f'reals!  Also got some shopping done including a few new nail polishes, and I got some nail art done.  All in all, I'd say this week's one to mark in the black.

This week's theme in the LN challenge was Thanksgiving.  This of course is kind of a tough one for me this year, as I won't be home to spent the long weekend with family.  Although, the last few years I've been on obligatory puppy-sitting duty so that Mom could go spend the holiday with the rest of the fam.  This was okay with me, because it meant I could order pizza and watch all the crap television I wanted without guilt.  However, I do of course still struggle with a bit of homesickness here and there, and nothing drives that home like knowing people back home are enjoying a 4-day weekend while Britain carries on.  Because that's what they do:  carry on.

I wanted this mani to incorporate the feel of Thanksgiving in colors and have a touch of "back home" without being cliche or too out-there, so I opted for this:

Saturday, 23 November 2013

It's finally here! Doctor Who 50th Anniversary!

(Fair warning, this post is faffy AND pic heavy.  You've been warned.)

Tonight's the night we geeks have been waiting for - the long-anticipated airing of "Day of the Doctor", the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who.  I knew I had to create some nail art to mark the occasion.

Doctor Who has a pretty special meaning in this house.  When hubby and I first started bonding online, what with him being British and me being an Anglophile, it was only natural that the subject of the good time-traveling doctor would arise.   Hubby's doc is Tom Baker.  Mine is David Tennant.  Although I remember seeing the show on PBS as a kid; it was Colin Baker's era, and I remember looking at his ridiculous costume and the not-good monsters and thinking, "this is a little too weird" - even for a weird kid such as myself.  It just didn't "take" back then.
I mean, seriously?

Friday, 22 November 2013

Do You Know Who?

Hey y'all!

So, tomorrow is a pretty highly-anticipated day in geek culture - it's the 50th anniversary of the longest-running sci-fi show, Doctor Who.  I've got a HUGE post tomorrow with some very special nail art to show you, commemorating the series, but today I wanted to show you what's on my OTHER hand, since I wanted a full mani but time and non-dominant-hand-art-skills prevented me from duplicating the look on both hands.  Call it a cheater's mani, if you will.  I don't care.  I'll be wearing these nails all weekend, and then next week I'll get back into my holiday nail art challenge.

I'm also planning on doing an additional nail art challenge in December, courtesy of Crumpet's Nail Tarts, but more on that later.

This is really just intended to be a quick post without a lot of faffing, so here we go.

I mentioned a few posts back about the MJXII stamping plate I got while we were back in the States, and I've pulled that bad boy out again because it's got some great Doctor Who images on it.  This design is a full nail image, and I've done a double-stamping to give the look some depth.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Llama Nails Holiday Challenge week 5: Native Americans

Hey y'all!

OMG this past week has been super hectic for me!  After all the hoopla with the elf event and getting the giveaway ready, I still had to finish editing a manuscript that I received while we were on vacation!  Now that's turned in, I feel like I can pay attention to some other things, like building a light box, putting together my jewelry organizer, and oh, I dunno, maybe doing some nail art.

I knew I had to do at least two manis this week, one for the LNHC and one for Doctor Who.  The 50th Anniversary is coming up this Saturday with the premiere of Day of the Doctor, so I've stocked the kitchen for a Who-feast:  fish fingers and custard, Jammie Dodgers, and Jelly Babies.  Hubby swears he will not eat fish fingers with custard, so I guess that leaves more custard for me!  The hardest part will be keeping him out of the sweets before Saturday.

Moving on... so this week's LNHC theme is Native Americans.  I struggled for a bit to come up with something that would be appropriate to the theme without being crude or too intricate for my fat fingers to paint.  Ultimately I was looking at my autumn colors and decided that maize (aka: "Indian Corn") might be fun and relatively simple to recreate.  In addition, I did a lot of web searching to find tribal images, and remembered that my mom once told me that I have about a drop of Seminole blood in my veins, which is kind of hard to believe since I'm fair skinned, fair-eyed, and have naturally wavy auburn hair, but if mom says it, it must be true, so off I went in search of Seminole designs, and a mani was born.  Here's my final design.

Monday, 18 November 2013

elf Cosmetics Store - Cardiff: VIP Opening Event recap (GIVEAWAY CLOSED)

Hey y'all!

Are you familiar with elf Cosmetics yet?  If not, you really should be.  This is a brand that started online, offering high-quality cosmetics for less-than-drugstore prices.  I remember my first order with elf - pretty sure I got about $100 worth of makeup for around $20, plus shipping.  I've been a loyal fan ever since, utilizing mostly their online store, but occasionally picking up brushes and eyeshadow palettes in stores like Target.  Last year they launched a flagship retail store in NYC, and last month they launched the first European store in Cardiff.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I got so beside myself because I got this:

Well, despite having a last-minute attack of social anxiety, I buckled down and went, and I'm glad I did.

I wasn't really sure what to expect, having never been to a store opening party before.  Hubby spent a lot of time beforehand talking about how he wanted to meet a celebrity - wanted his picture taken with a Welsh rugby player.  Despite my repeated instructions for him not to get his hopes up, he persisted, even speculating at one point that since John Barrowman lives in Cardiff and might like makeup, maybe he would show up.  Well, we did see one celebrity there - Miss Monmouthshire 2013.  Hubby was not impressed.  Cardiff isn't even in Monmouthshire.

Since I know a few of you will be wondering, here's the mani I wore to the event:

I started with two coats of OPI Vesper, a deep dark purple Liquid Sand from the Bond Girls collection.  Then I created a Ruffian-style second layer using OPI DS Pewter from the Raw Granite series - a very thick polish in a black base, filled to the rim with silver micro and slightly larger round glitters.  The effect is textured and looks a lot like black granite to me!  I topped off the look by adding fuchsia rhinestones over the arch of the Ruffian, et voila!  A mani fit for the overall black, white, and fuchsia look of the Cardiff store.

I also went and got my hair did because I am so not on the ball with hairstyling anymore, so I had the curls piled high and added a rhinestone butterfly to the side.  Unfortunately I didn't think to have hubby take pics of that.  Continuing with the black and fuchsia look, I wore a black cowl-necked top with fuchsia sequins over a black skirt and black leggings with black boots.  Pics didn't happen this time, sorry.

Anyway... a little over an hour after setting off, we arrived in Cardiff and only had to drive around the city for a half hour before finally figuring out how to get to the same parking garage we go to every time we go to Cardiff.  Hubby swears they keep changing the roads around, and I can't argue because lord knows I have no idea where I'm going!

For my American audience, let me describe the Cardiff city centre.  We parked in the huge multi-story parking garage over the mall.  This garage always makes me a bit nauseated because you have to drive in a tight spiral up several floors before you finally get to a floor where there's parking available, and my vertigo kicks in if I'm not careful coming up or going down this spiral.  After riding the elevator (or "lift") down to the ground floor of the shopping center, you basically wind up in the food court.  Now, around the mall are several side-street alleys called arcades, which are covered but open-ended.  Inside there are shops of all different sorts - clothes, food, gifts, you name it.  Luckily, the arcade where the elf shop is located is directly adjacent to the main shopping center, so we only had to walk out the door of the mall and across a cobbled pedestrian street to enter the arcade, and the shop was about 3/4 of the way down the strip.  The arcades were all lit up with white Christmas lighting, which I found quite beautiful.

Although we arrived about 5 minutes after the official opening, the store was already quite packed.  This was, of course, incredibly disconcerting for me, because I do suffer from severe anxiety in tight-packed crowds.
Luckily, there were all sorts of little cocktails available to sooth my nerves, but the music was fairly loud and it was kind of hard for me to move around much at all.  We managed to negotiate our way through the crush and see all the products on display.  All in all, the store looks great.  I think they've laid it out really nicely and of course I'm already in love with the products!
We finally pushed our way to a back corner beside the checkout registers where I could get a little breathing room and try to figure out my next move.  Of course I knew nobody there and my "fabulous" was feeling shy, so I only really connected with a couple of people.  The first of these was Neil Phillips, codirector of Distribeauty UK, who owns the store with his sister Jo Westlake.  I knew of Neil through a FB group called The Beauty Crowd, which was created by Distribeauty to reach out to the beauty blogging community.  I joined shortly before I started this blog, and it's through my membership there that I was able to obtain the invite to this event, so I'd like to send out a huge thank-you to the folks at Distribeauty UK and the Beauty Crowd for that, specifically Amy White, who I've corresponded with via email, but unfortunately I wasn't certain who she was in the mass of people and didn't get to introduce myself in person.

The other person I was able to meet was Chelsey, who is one of the makeup artists in-store.  I gave her my card when she rang up my purchases from the event, so Chelsey if you're reading, "HI!"

So, I spose maybe y'all wanna see what was in my mini-haul?

A breakdown:  Matte Lip Color in Rich Red, Mineral Infused Face Primer in Clear, Nail Polish in Chic Confetti, Copper, Party Purple, and Sea Escape, and Pressed Powder in Porcelain.

Besides the copious amount of booze that was going around there were also deliciously adorable cake pops, both round and shaped like little lipsticks!  We got round ones.
I mean, seriously, how cute can a simple cake pop be?

In addition to my purchases, we got swag bags!  Since hubby has very little use for makeup, even the free kind, that means I've got a spare VIP Gift Bag from the event to giveaway!  Entering is easy, using the Rafflecopter widget below.  I'm going to run the giveaway for 3 weeks, so it ends December 10, 2013, at 6:00AM GMT.

The prize package consists of the elf Studio Baked Eyeshadow Palette in NYC, the elf Powder Brush, and the elf Eyelid Primer in Sheer, all in a cute black "I <3 elf" tote bag!
Retail value £15.25 (about $22).
This giveaway is open internationally.  I will randomly select the winner on December 10 and notify the winner immediately.  The winner will have 48 hours to respond or I will pick a new winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Llama Nails Holiday Challenge week 4: Veterans Day

Hey y'all!

I came to a bit of a conflict with this week's theme.  Being a 'merkin, of course Veterans Day is nothing new to me.  It's a day of remembrance for all those who served in the armed forces, marked on November 11 since 1947, when WWII veteran Raymond Weeks led the first national commemoration of all those who served our country under President Dwight D Eisenhower.  Prior to 1947, November 11 had been reflected as Armistice Day, having been proclaimed in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson.  Armistice Day was, at that time, a day of remembrance of those who died in WWI, celebrated on the anniversary of the end of the first World War, marked by the signing of the Armistice Treaty between the Allied nations and Germany on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.  While Armistice Day is still celebrated in many parts of the world, both it and Veterans Day are also celebrated at the same time as Remembrance Day, or Poppy Day, in Commonwealth countries.  The day has been officially known as Veterans Day in the US since 1954.  Confused yet?  Don't be.  November 11 has come to be known world-round as a day of remembrance for all veterans, both living and dead, who served their countries in times of conflict.

Remembrance Day is traditionally associated with the red poppy flower, which covered the graves of fallen soldiers on the fields of the second battle of Ypres, in the Flanders region of Belgium.  The poem, In Flanders Fields was written by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in honor of his fallen friend and the other soldiers who died on that battleground.  Since its first publication in 1915.

So, what's a trans-Atlantic replant to do on 11/11?  Well I had to incorporate both, didn't I?

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Hey, Swatch It! - ILNP Holographics

Hey y'all!

This will probably be my last post before Wednesday's Challenge nails this week, because of course on Monday night I'll be at the elf Store Cardiff Grand Opening party.  Cannot wait!  So excited.  I'll be sure to take lots of pics and you might even get an outfit and makeup post from me!  My plan is to use as many elf products as possible for the night, which shouldn't be too hard because practically my whole makeup stash is elf!

One of my friends back home went to a Steve Wariner concert this week, and posted some pics and a video, and for the past 2 days I've had "The Weekend" stuck in my head.

"Couple of days isn't a very long time.  
Why can't I just walk away?  I used to be good at goodbye.  
Out on the water, under the stars
I let the moonlight play a trick on my heart.

You had some fun for the weekend
But I'll be in love for the rest of my life.
You took me out to the deep end 
And I fell right over; I didn't think twice.

I finally got something worth keeping
And if I can't have you tonight,
At least I had the weekend."

Friday, 8 November 2013

Hey, Swatch It! - ILNP UltraChromes, pt 2

Hey y'all!

So yesterday we looked at the first half of the ILNP UltraChrome collection.  Today I'd like to look at the other half.  I think I've saved the best for last on this one. 

As I mentioned yesterday, I originally ordered 2 and loved them so much I had to go back and get the other two.  The original order was for Birefringence and My Little Glacier. After wearing each of those colors for like, an hour, I realized I had made a grave mistake not ordering the rest of the set.  I'm hemmed and hawed over it because I knew I'd have to have them shipped to me before we left Texas.  Finally on the Tuesday before we left, I broke down and placed my order in the morning.  I sent an inquiry email to make sure I had selected the proper shipping type to make sure the polishes would get to me on time.  Within an hour, I had a very lovely email back from Barbra saying that I'd managed to catch her just before she went to the post office, and that she would make sure my order went out that day!  I was over the moon on that one.  So often when you order things online, you're never sure how long it's going to take before they process and ship your order (born pretty store, I'm looking at you).  So frustrating!  However, ILNP's customer service is definitely as top rate as everything else that I've learned about this company.  Just cannot say enough how pleased I was with these two orders.

Enough faffing, let's get to the polishes!  Please meet Cygnus Loop and Birefringence.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Hey, Swatch It! - ILNP UltraChromes, pt 1

Hey y'all!

So as part of my MASSIVE haul when we were in Texas, I broke down and decided to order some of the GORGEOUS UltraChromes from Barbra at I Love Nail Polish. ILNP is an indie brand based in Las Vegas, and while it's only a little over a year old, she has truly created a great brand for herself.  First off, all of her polishes are 3-Free, so there's no nasty chemicals to worry about.  Secondly, all of her packaging, including the shipping boxes and even the TISSUE PAPER are branded to match!  Totally made it feel like I was receiving something special.  In fact, I WAS!

So my initial order was for 4 polishes- two UCs and two holos.  I loved the two UCs so much that I had to go back and order the other 2 before we left the States!  In total, that means I have 6 polishes to show you, so I'm going to break this down into 3 posts.

Today, let's take a look at Mutagen and My Little Glacier.

Both of these gorgeous polishes have a kind of rose-gold shift, so I thought they'd be appropriate to swatch together.  Let's start with a bottle shot, side by side.  I should say that none of my bottles looked as nice as the pics on the website, however, the polishes all came out stunning.  I assume temperature may have something to do with it, and also maybe I need to hurry up and finish my light tent for photos.

Mutagen on left, My Little Glacier on right.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Llama Nails Holiday Challenge week 3: Diwali

Hey y'all!

This week the Llama Nails Challenge theme was Diwali.  I had no idea what Diwali was, so I had to turn to the little magic box to provide answers.

Diwali, also called Divali and Deepavali is the Hindu "Festival of Lights" that runs for 5 days, usually between mid-October and mid-November.  From Wikipedia:

"Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil.  These lamps are kept on during the night and one's house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome.  Firecrackers are burst because it is believed that it drives away evil spirits.  During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends."

It is also celebrated by Sihks and Jains, though for different origins.  Over the course of my research, I learned that Diwali's spiritual significance is that it marks the triumph of one's inner light (higher awareness) over ignorance in order to bring about joy and peace.  This resonates with me because I have been on my own path towards this kind of joy and peace for a few years now.  The more I learn about Hinduism, the more it seems that I should learn, because though it is a very complicated religion, it seems more of a philosophy and way of life that closely aligns with some of my own personal beliefs.

One of the most iconic images of Diwali is that of the ghee lamp called a diya.  It was from this image that I derived the inspiration for today's challenge mani.