Monday, September 22, 2014

Halloween Nails 2014

Just a note before getting to the good stuff: this is the first post I am making from the blogger app. I apologize if anything is goofy as a result.

I know it might be a tad early to post Halloween nails, but it is officially fall now so that makes it ok right? I actually did this a couple of weeks ago but did not get a chance to post till now and I thought perhaps before it was too early to post.

These nails are inspired by my favorite Halloween movie: Hocus Pocus. My sister and I have a long standing tradition of watching this movie together at least once every year (even if "together" means we are on the phone talking or texting each other if we can't physically hang out) and we both tend to watch several times on our own through October.

I had planned to do some airbrushing on this but once I got started I just got into it and didn't feel like getting the aribrush out so I just went with free handing instead.

The index finger is based on Winnie's dress, which is primarily green with some purple and gold accents. The middle finger is based on Mary's dress, which consists of reds and a red/brown plaid skirt. The striping on this is not too noticeable in the picture because the shades of red uses were so similar (as are the shades of Mary's dress) but in person it was easy to see the different shades of red used. The ring finger is based on Sarah's dress which has lots of lacy purple and pinkish purple. The bodice of her dress actually has a floral design on it but I wanted to keep this mani simple so I skipped adding any floral accents.

The pinky is based on the black flame candle - the key element to the Hocus Pocus story that makes all the magic happen. I put the black flame candle design on a bright green background, which was done with two shades of green and had some wet brush texturizing to give it a smoky look (again much more easily seen in person than in the picture) to represent Winnie's bubbling green potion. (Max's bike was also a bright lime green.) And on the thumb is a design based on Winnie's spell book. Because a witch can't do her thing without her spell book!

Are y'all fans of Hocus Pocus? What other Halloween movies do you enjoy? Have you done a mani inspired by your favorite Halloween movies?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Art of "No Makeup" Makeup

I want to start this post off by saying that any methods and/or products I mention in this post suit my personal preferences. Your style might vary and obviously if you have a different skin tone than me (which you most likely do!) then you will need to find products that are the appropriate shades for your skin tone. I am not saying these products will work for you the way they do for me, I am only saying they work for me and if you have similar coloring they might work for you as well. Just because I do things a certain way does not mean that is how you have to do it as well.

I also want to note before going any further that I am by no means against more bold, creative, colorful makeup looks! I DO wear more bold looks myself, but my usual preference is for soft, subtle, natural looking makeup. I'm not saying that other looks are “wrong” - they aren't. If you are not a fan of “no makeup” makeup, that's totally fine. Makeup is all about self expression and creativity, so rock the looks you love no matter what someone else's preferences might be!

Y'all know that I am a fan of “no makeup” makeup. Especially in summer when it's hot and humid and makeup tends to melt/sweat right off within an hour or two anyway. If you also love very subtle makeup, you probably know that it can be quite a challenge to find just the right products and colors to give you that look. I am not ashamed to say that it has taken me YEARS to find my favorite “no makeup” products, and honestly I am always on the hunt for more – you never know when a new favorite will be discovered, afterall. If you've been searching for a long time for your ideal “no makeup” items, don't worry – it does indeed take a lot of trial and error, and there are going to be more “Darn, this isn't what I was expecting/hoping for” products than “Yes, this is it!” products during your search for just the right products to give you the natural look you're after.

In “real life” - aka face to face, in person rather than on the internet – I never get compliments on my makeup when I do one of my “no makeup” makeup looks. What I do get instead is compliments on how nice my skin looks, and how great I look. The compliments I get are geared toward ME, not my makeup. Usually, people are surprised to find out that I am even wearing makeup. “Oh. Well it doesn't look like you have makeup on.” is a phrase I hear very frequently. It's what I am going for when I wear my “no makeup” makeup looks – the whole idea of these looks, for me, is to use makeup in a way that in merely enhances my natural colors and features without it being blatant that I have makeup on.

Here is a little run-down of some of my current (as of the time this was posted) favorite products that I use when I do a “no makeup” makeup look. I'll also share some thoughts in general on “no makeup” makeup, but remember that I am not a professional and this is just my personal opinion. You might feel differently than I do.


Mascara: Forget the crazy doll-eye, super dramatic, fiber-extension mascaras and opt for a basic volumizing or lengthening mascara. If you have naturally dark lashes, a “no makeup” mascara will be a cinch to find, because color is not a consideration for you, as all the standard shades of black and brownish black will suit you. If you have light lashes, however, like me, you will have to work a little harder to find something that works for you. I am a huge fan of Just For Redheads brand mascaras. They come in a couple varying shades of red based browns to look more natural on redheads with light lashes. A couple of these shades do come off as more brown than red, and will also work well for non-redheads with fair lashes who are looking for very soft, natural looking lashes. My favorites are the Mascara Voyage and Mascara Naturelle formulas (both water resistant, not waterproof) in the shades Ginger Auburn and Ginger Cocoa. Both of these shades give my strawberry blond lashes a natural looking boost, without screaming to the world “I have mascara on!” like standard drugstore blacks and browns do. These mascaras are a little pricey and can only be purchased online directly from JFR, but if you are a redhead (or have very fair lashes) and you want natural looking mascara, it's absolutely worth every penny! I honestly do not know of any other brands that offer these sort of colors of mascara. (If you know of another brand with redhead-friendly mascaras, please let me know!) If you aren't up for trying JFR, you can always try clear mascaras, which are available from many other brands such as Rimmel and Maybelline. Typically clear mascaras are used as a brow gel. When used on your lashes, no, it won't do much of anything in the way of adding length or volume. But despite being clear it will add some very subtle definition to your lashes. And as a bonus, if you cry, sweat, or get caught in the rain, you don't have to worry about your mascara running! A final note on natural looking mascara application: ONE coat on the upper lashes. Skip the bottom lashes or use a very, very light hand when applying one coat to the lower lashes. When I do my lower lashes I like to apply the mascara lightly, then immediately gently rub my finger or a q-tip over my lashes a couple times to help remove excess mascara and keep application as soft and minimal as possible.

Liner: Honestly? I skip it. If you do want to add some extra definition to your eyes with liner while maintaining a “no makeup” look, I'd suggest choosing something close to your natural eyelash color (or a very light brown if you have fair/red lashes) and use the tight lining method on the upper lash line only to achieve soft, subtle definition.

Shadow: For natural looking eye shadows, look for shades that are as close to your skin tone as possible, or within about 1-2 shades LIGHTER than your skin tone. I like to go lighter because it adds a little brightness to the eyes without being too obvious it's from makeup. You can also try going a shade or two darker than your skin tone – it's not something I do but you might find you prefer it over going lighter. I like to choose shades with either a matte or a very subtle pearl finish for the most natural look. Sometimes I'll go for something with soft shimmer, but I always skip intense shimmer and glitter when going for a natural look. Some of my favorite “no makeup” eye shadows are L'Oreal Infallible in the shades Iced Latte and Endless Pearl, Hard Candy Single & Loving It in the shade Infatuation, and the lightest shade in the Physician's Formula Matte Collection “Canyon Classics” quad.


Foundation: Depending on how well my skin is behaving, I'll choose to skip foundation entirely for “no makeup” makeup. Sometimes I need some coverage, though. Obviously, the usual rules for selecting your shade apply – find what matches your skin tone as closely as possible. This is probably the most difficult makeup item to match correctly, and it's made more difficult because the shade we need tends to change over the course of the year. If you can, get professionally color-matched both in summer when you have a tan and in winter when your skin is at it's fairest, so you'll have a better idea of what shade you need no matter what time of year it is. You might need to mix shades to get a good match and during those “in between” months of the year. If you can't get professionally color matched for whatever reason, have a friend you know is going to be honest with you help you find your ideal shade(s). Some friends won't tell you when your foundation is off – choose your most brutally honest friend for this job. If you only need sheer coverage, BB or CC creams might be a good option in lieu of traditional foundation, or for the sheerest of coverage consider a tinted moisturizer. You can DIY a tinted moisturizer by mixing a small amount of your foundation with your usual daily moisturizer if you don't want to have to buy an additional product or if you simply can't find a TM that you like or that is the right shade. My favorite foundation – and the only drugdtore brand foundation I have found that works for me almost year round – is L'Oreal True Match in the shade W1/Porcelain. Rimmel Stay Matte in the shade Light Porcelain is also a good match when I have a tan; it is a bit darker and more pink based than the L'Oreal True Match.

Blush: Choose a shade of blush that mimics your natural blush. Yeah, this means you need to keep a mirror handy and take a peek the next time someone or something makes you blush. Or you can put on your workout clothes and have a good workout session – the flush you get from working out will also tell you what kind of shade of blush to look for. When selecting a blush, remember to not be intimidated by shades that look very bright in the packaging – most formulas can (and should) be applied in very light layers to build up the color to the level of intensity that you're after, so even something that looks bright in the pan can typically be applied with a light hand to get a soft, natural flush of color. When you apply your blush, use a small amount and blend blend blend. As for blush placement, when you're checking out your natural flushed hue in the mirror to get an idea of what shade to look for, make note of where your cheeks are flushed. That's where you'll want to apply your blush.  Or you can go with the old stand-by rule of “smile, apply to the fullest part of your cheeks”. Just remember to keep it very soft, and blend it out well. It should be a barely there kiss of color when you're done. Again, opt for shades with a matte or soft pearl finish, and skip intense shimmer or glitter. A couple of my favorite blushes for a natural look are Ulta Cheek Color in the shade Girlie and Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush in the shade Pink Plum.

Bronzer, Highlight, Contour: SKIP 'EM ALL! I know what you're thinking but one of the most important things about “no makeup” makeup is it truly uses very little product. Don't get all full-face crazy and use every product you have in your stash – you don't need it!

Concealer/Color Correctors: Use these sparingly only when and where needed: for instance a peach corrector to cover under-eye darkness or a touch of green corrector for redness etc. Remember to use light layers and blend blend blend!


Liner: Again, skip! The exception is a colorless liner, like Too Faced Borderline Lip Pencil. These kinds of lip liners are great because they work the same way a standard colored lip liner does to help lock your lip color in place and prevent feathering, but because they glide on clear, they will match every lippie in your arsenal and they are absolutely perfect for subtle makeup looks!

Color: This has been the hardest product for me to find just the right shades, even harder than finding suitable foundation shades. And I am still looking! While I have yet to find the one perfect shade I'm after, I've managed to find several that are close enough to make me happy. When looking for your “my lips but better” (MLBB) shade, you're going for something that will resemble the color your lips are after some serious smooching with your honey. If you're too young for that method to be a good comparison (or if you currently don't have someone to smooch), here's an alternate way to see the natural hue you want to replicate as closely as possible: exfoliate your lips! Exfoliating stimulates bloodflow and will leave your lips with a (temporary, of course) flushed appearance. You can exfoliate with a store-bought lip scrub or a homemade sugar scrub, or alternately just rub with a wet wash cloth or scrub with a soft toothbrush. Whatever method you choose remember to be gentle, your lips are more delicate than you might realize and if you over-exfoliate you'll leave them raw and sore, not soft and smooth. Alternately, for a more subtle look opt for a shade similar to your natural lip color sans smooching/exfoliating, but maybe a shade or two lighter or darker depending on your skin tone and preferences. Some of my favorite “almost MLBB” lip colors are Revlon Just Bitten Balm Stain in the shade Honey, Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in the shades Sultry and Elusive, and Milani lipstick in the shade Dulce Caramelo. Note that for some of my (almost) MLBB lip colors I apply them with a light hand to achieve the look I want, and if applied more heavily they are much bolder colors.

Gloss: Skip the ultra-glossy, sparkle-laden glosses. In fact, skip gloss completely; I opt for colorless lip balm instead. But if you really want a little gloss, try to find a lightweight formula that lends just a hint of shine. Apply it lightly, then blot a couple times if necessary to remove some of the gloss so it leaves just a slight shine on the lips rather than a very wet glossy look.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Color & Top Coat Review

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up one bottle of the new Sally Hansen Miracle Gel color & top coat. The premise is that it's more of a hybrid of gel and regular polish – the high shine staying power of gel, with the easy application (no uv/led lamp required) and removal of a regular polish.

The color I chose was the "Get Mod", a standard white creme.

First things first: Instructions. Or the total lack thereof. I don't know if you purchase one of the starter duos if there is more instruction provided or not, but I didn't take that route simply because the starter duos did not come in the color I wanted, and they were only about a dollar cheaper than buying the color and top coat separately anyway. So I got the color I wanted. And the only instructions provided – the same on both bottles – are to “apply 2 coats of color, apply top coat to activate curing.” That is it. There is no instruction on if/how long to wait between coats of color or between color and top coat. Not a word about how long it takes the top coat to cure/set.

So I had to experiment a little. On my first application, I didn't give any wait time between coats of color or color and top coat. The results? Not pretty. The top coat pulled the color big time, and it took 30 minutes to feel remotely cured, and even then I wasn't really too confident in going about my day. It took a full hour before I felt like it was ok to do anything without worrying about my nails.

On the next application, I waited between coats of color. Longer than I intended. I applied a coat of color then sat down to read for a few minutes. As tends to happen for me, “a few minutes” of reading turned into almost an hour before I knew it. And you know what happened in that time? The nail color – which they claim will not set and will remain wet/tacky until you apply top coat – had totally dried. As in 100%, could press on them, bump them against stuff, wash dishes, cook etc. dry. I put on a second coat, and paid more attention this time to how long it took to dry. Within about 6-8 minutes, the second coat was 100% dry as well. Encouraged to expand my experimenting, I put the gel top coat on half my nails, and a standard top coat (Seche Vite) on the rest. The Miracle Gel top coat once again pulled the color badly when applying it. How this happened when the color was absolutely dry I have no idea, but it did. The Seche Vite did NOT pull the color when I applied it to the remaining nails. The nails with the Seche were set faster than those with the Miracle Gel, but all were set to where I was comfortable going about my day within about 15 minutes.

Two coats of color + top coat. Pictured outdoors in natural overcast light without flash. Can you tell which nails have Miracle Gel top coat and which have Seche Vite top coat?
The color was streaky to apply, and required two coats to even it out. But then the top coat pulling the color leaves it streaky again anyway.

As for staying power? Meh. On that first application, where I did not allow any wait time between coats of color or before applying top coat, it had chipped before the end of the day and thus did not even last 24 hours. (It didn't even make it 12 hours.) I was not particularly hard on my nails during that time either – no typing, one small load of dishes (hand washed) and some minimal/light everyday type cleaning. (Wiping off tables and counters and such – no heavy cleaning like mopping.) On the second application, the tips did start to show some wear within 24 hours, despite having capped the free edge in application. The wear was minimal, at least. But by the end of day 3, there was significant chipping and it was time to remove it. A far cry from the “up to 14 days” of wear this promises. Remember that the second application I had only applied the gel top coat to half my nails, and Seche Vite on the rest. They held up equally for me – both beginning to show wear and chip in about the same time frame, with neither lasting significantly better than the other.

I also tried the Miracle Gel top coat (in comparison to Seche Vite) over other colors from my stash – Dr.'s Remedy and Milani colors – and had the same experience. The Miracle Gel top coat pulled the color, even though it was totally dry before applying top coat. And it held up for roughly 3 days, about on par with the Seche Vite.

The top picture above is my right hand after three days and the bottom picture is my left hand after three days. Being right handed my right hand tends to show more wear/ show wear sooner. Both pictures were taken outdoors in natural shaded light without flash. Again, can you tell which nails have the Miracle Gel top coat and which have Seche Vite top coat? I will reveal the answer at the end of this post.

It does remove easily with standard polish remover, including non-acetone.

This is basically the Sally Hansen version of Julep Freedom Polymer Topcoat, though I did have slightly better results from this than the Julep, which if y'all have read long enough you know that no matter what I did with that one it never managed to survive a full 24 hours for me.

Overall I have to say that based on my experience, the colors from the Miracle Gel line are nothing more than standard polish. I suppose it's possible I got a funky bottle, but I have read several other reviews that claimed the same results and conclusion about the colors so I am inclined to believe my assessment is correct, since others have had the same experience. If you're curious about this line, I'd suggest only trying the top coat as that is the only product from the line that is truly any different, in my opinion. Even then, I'd recommend going into it aware that you have to be very careful in applying it to try to minimize pulling the color, and know that it may only last a couple of days. If your nail polish lasts only a day or so with a standard top coat, you might be pleased enough with an extra day or two of wear to be happy with this. I have read some folks claim they do get a full week – 2 weeks out of this, so maybe you'll be among those this works well for. It just did not work out well for me, and I can't say I feel it's worth the price based on the results I personally got from it, when it works about as well as Seche Vite, which is cheaper.

Final note for this post: I applied the Miracle Gel to my index and middle fingers and Seche Vite to ring and pinky fingers for all of the pictures in this post that show the color on my nails. Were you able to correctly tell the difference?


Tuesday, August 12, 2014


FYI - I welcome your comments on my blog and social media,  even if you don't agree with what I have to say.  Provided you can voice your opinion in a mature,  polite,  respectful manner.  I am considering un-liking a page I follow (on fb) because any time anyone comments with anything other than a "this is so awesome!" type comment,  the page owner takes it personally and gets defensive,  and other people then get snippy and rude with the folks who had politely simply expressed a different opinion. I understand as a content author,  it can be hard to not take "negative" comments personally.  However, it is something you need to learn to deal with. Notice the quotation marks around the word negative. I am having a dense moment and can't think of the word I really want to use.  I am using negative here in reference to comments like "I don't see the need for this product because... " or "I think if you try xyz you might get better results" etc.  I am not referring to rude,  hateful comments that are meant as personal attacks or that offer no real value.  ("Eww this is nasty!" or "You're so ugly" type comments.) Not everyone is going to love everything you post,  for one reason or another.  And that is ok!  Just because they don't like some stuff does not mean they don't like your site/blog/work as a whole, it does not mean they don't understand what you are saying or what your page is about, it does not make them rude or "a hater" - it just means they don't happen to like or agree with *everything* you post.  And again,  that is ok!  We all have different preferences,  likes,  and needs.  As long as everyone can be polite and agree to disagree while allowing those with differing opinions to voice those opinions without feeling like a villian for it,  there is nothing wrong with comments disagreeing with a post.