Archive for category Duochrome

OPI Brights summer 2015 collection {swatches & review}

[This post contains press samples] Happy second day of summer! We’ve been having a lovely June so far, with a ton of sun sprinkled with a few rainy days to keep everything lush and green. As such, I’ve been switching up my mani & pedi shades on the regular, which is also helping me pare down my collection as I go through shade after shade and determine whether it stays or goes. The OPI Brights summer collection for 2015 kept me busy for a while, but I’ve finished all the swatches and have them to show you today! The collection contains 3 existing shades from the core collection, plus 6 brand new shades – all in varying finishes to keep things interesting.

OPI Summer 2015 Brights Collection

I did a few mani/pedi pairings to easier facilitate the swatches, and also added comparison swatches for any shades that seemed to have close relatives in my existing collection. Let’s begin with the core shade Hotter than You Pink and new shade I Sea You Wear OPI:

OPI Hotter Than You Pink and OPI I Sea You Wear OPI swatches

Hotter than You Pink is described as a…’hot pink’, how novel. It’s a bright pink shade with a blue iridescent flash that I’m sure is a favourite for many. These kinds of colors aren’t my bag, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it – and the formula for this one is great, two coats to opacity and it flows easily on the nail with no drag.

I Sea You Wear OPI is yet another shimmering aqua confection from the brand, an iridescent metallic that is a classic come summer. This one is a bit sheer, like some other similar OPI shades, and requires 3 coats – even then, you can still see a bit of my nail line in certain lights (like above). It’s pretty though, and the formula otherwise is good with no patchiness.

Hotter than You Pink reminded me of the shade Hang Ten Toes from China Glaze’s Neon collection from 2012. Both that have blue flash, but CG’s polish is less shimmery and more cool-toned:

OPI Hotter than You Pink vs China Glaze Hang Ten Toes comparison swatchLeft: OPI Hotter Than You Pink; Right: China Glaze Hang Ten Toes

I figured I Sea You Wear OPI would be very similar to either the brand’s This Color’s Making Waves (recently reviewed) or Catch Me In Your Net, but it isn’t at all – it’s much more blue and shimmery (rather than metallic) than the former; and though similar in hue, it’s considerably lighter than CMIYN, with less depth.

OPI I Sea You Wear OPI comparison swatchesLeft to right: OPI This Color’s Making Waves, OPI I Sea You Wear OPI, OPI Catch Me in Your Net

Next, I paired Life Gave Me Lemons with I STOP for Red:

OPI I STOP for Red and OPI Life Gave Me Lemons swatches

Life Gave Me Lemons is a core shade, a ‘citrusy lemon-lime’ creme that is very cheerful-looking. It does have a bit of green in it, which for some might make it more wearable than just a straight yellow, which can be tricky on some skintones. While I don’t love yellow polishes on the whole, I actually didn’t mind this – it’s just so happy-looking! Also, for a yellow, the formula isn’t all that bad – it requires a bit of care when applying, but it wasn’t as fussy as other yellows I’ve come across. This is two coats.

I STOP for Red is a tomato red crelly (creme-jelly hybrid) that has the best squishy texture I’ve seen! Though the shade is nothing new, it’s the texture that really makes it stand out – it’s so juicy and delectable. On shorter nails, two coats will do, but on longer nails or if you prefer no VNL, I’d go with three.

The green tones in Life Gave Me Lemons is much more apparent when compared to other yellows:

OPI Life Gave Me Lemons comparison swatchesLeft to right: American Apparel Neon Yellow, OPI Life Gave Me Lemons, butter London Jasper

It’s much more dull (and more glossy) compared to American Apparel Neon Yellow (my fave yellow EVER and the only one I have kept in my collection), though both have that touch of green. butter London’s Jasper on the other hand, is more *ahem* butter-y, and more of a true yellow color.

OPI I STOP for Red comparison swatchesTop to bottom: Essie Meet Me at Sunset, OPI No Stopping Me Now, OPI I STOP for Red, OPI Aloha from OPI, Essie Come Here!

IT IS FREAKING IMPOSSIBLE TO PHOTOGRAPH REDS!!! Gah. The five shades above look identical, I’m sure, and though they are VERY close, they are not the same. Essie Come Here! is more pink, OPI No Stopping Me Now and Essie Meet Me at Sunset are both more orange, and OPI Aloha from OPI is more coral. Though the latter is closest in tone, it’s a straight creme and doesn’t have that glossy, squishy texture.

The last pairing I did was with My Car Has Navy-gation and Down to the Core-al:

OPI My Car Has Navy-gation and OPI Down to the Core-al

My Car Has Navy-gation is a gorgeous deep indigo blue that sadly is a bit of a disappointment once worn. It’s on the sheer side (this is three coats) and is streaky in it’s application. I think they were trying to achieve that crelly texture with this shade, too, but alas it didn’t translate properly in the final product. Let’s take a closer look:

OPI My Car Has Navy-gation swatch

The last of the core shades, Down to the Core-al is a ‘brilliant coral’ which has a touch of violet flash. This was quite pretty, a bit different than your standard summer coral, and easy to apply (this is two coats). Just the right hint of shimmer.

I own a fair number of blue polishes, but nothing was really like My Car Has Navy-gation:

OPI My Car Has Navy-gation comparison swatchesLeft to right: Deborah Lippmann I Know What Boys Like, OPI My Car Has Navy-gation, YSL Bleu Majorelle

Lippmann’s I Know What Boys Like is more purple and less vivid, and YSL’s Bleu Majorelle is much brighter and without ANY purple tone.

OPI Down to the Core-al swatch comparisonLeft: OPI Down to the Core-al; Right: OPI Go With the Lava Flow

Once again, I thought a shade from the recently released Hawaii-themed collection from the brand would be very similar to Down to the Core-al; Go With the Lava Flow is a coral shimmer polish as well, but it is more shimmery and darker, and with a more murky quality to it (which you can’t really see in the photo above).

Can’t Hear Myself Pink! is described as a ‘shimmering metallic pink’, but there’s more to it than that. Though it’s more obvious in the bottle than on the nail, there is a subtle orange duochrome that elevates this shade and makes it more unique. Alone, this shade is pretty enough, but a touch sheer and requires three coats. On my index finger, I layered Can’t Hear Myself Pink! over Down to the Core-al, and this brought out the duochrome and intensified the shade beautifully. I don’t own anything even close to this shade.

OPI Can't Hear Myself Pink! swatch OPI Can't Hear Myself Pink! swatch

My regular readers know I’m not a fan of glitter polishes, and hot pink glitter On Pinks and Needles is no exception. It’s fine, it’s cute, but not for me – here it is layered over Life Gave Me Lemons (on only one nail because glitter removal is a P.I.T.A.):

IMG_0945

Finally, we have my favorite shade from the collection, The Berry Thought of You, a ‘delectable purple.’ It’s a beautiful purple-based berry that has a touch of that crelly texture and an uber-glossy finish. Two coats and you’re good to go.

OPI The Berry Thought Of You swatch

Dior’s Bloom polish, an LE shade from last spring I believe, is thisclose to The Berry Thought of You but a hint more pink. If it weren’t Dior, I’d get rid of it because I love the OPI shade more; as it is I’m keeping them both…for now. American Apparel’s Neon Violet has the same purple undertones but is more vivid (and matte, as neons tend to be); Nicole by OPI’s In Grape Demand looks straight-up purple in comparison.

OPI The Berry Thought Of You swatch comparisonsLeft to right: American Apparel Neon Violet, Dior Bloom, OPI The Berry Thought of You, Nicole by OPI In Grape Demand

Though I didn’t find many of these truly ‘bright,’ OPI suggests layering them over white to make them truly pop, and while I didn’t try that I suspect I would have gotten a better effect by doing so. Nonetheless, I liked most of these shades and I think it’s a solid summer collection with a variety of color and finishes from which to choose. I actually am keeping a few of these, namely: The Berry Thought of You (naturally), Can’t Hear Myself Pink! (for layering over similar shades), and I STOP for Red (dat texture, tho!). Hooray for summer!

OPI Summer 2015 Brights Collection

Has summer arrived where you are? Will you check out this year’s OPI Brights collection? What kind of shades do you gravitate toward in the summer?

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Swatching ain’t what it used to be: OPI Hawaii Spring 2015 Collection

A day after returning from the hospital with my beautiful baby girl in tow, the new Hawaii-themed spring collection from OPI landed on my doorstep. Equal parts excitement and anxiety flooded me – I mean, HOORAY! for new, fun nail polish to play with; but OHMAGERD how in the EFF am I going to swatch all these with a new babe to look after 24/7?

Basically, you swatch one shade a day until you get through ’em all.

OPI hawaii spring 2015 collection

I must say, once I finished I felt inordinately pleased with myself. NEW MOM, WHAT!?! However, its not perfection – my cuticles and hands are sort of a wreck, leftover from washing my hands 20 times a day in the NICU and then having no time to do damage control once we got home. Meh. Guess I can’t do everything.

Ok, less talky, more showy (time is a luxury, after all!).

OPI do you take lei away swatch

Starting with my favorite from the collection, Do You Take Lei Away? is a ‘creamy nude’ that applies very well for this kind of shade, smooth and even in 2 coats, and is neutral enough (not too warm or cool) that I think it will flatter most skintones.

IMG_0323Left to right: Tom Ford Toasted Sugar, OPI Do You Take Lei Away?, OPI Maintaining My Sand-ity, Essie Jazz

I was unsurprised when I started pulling similar shades to compare against ‘Lei Away’ and discovered the closest match was a much-loved favorite, Essie Jazz. The OPI shade is just a hint more pink and less grey than Jazz and as such it looks a bit better against my skintone. My bottle of Jazz is halfway done (which means its almost finished, in polish terms), so I’m pleased to have a  sort of newer, better version to take it’s place.

OPI that's hula-rious! swatch

‘Pastel mint green’ That’s Hula-rious! is the kind of shade that I love in theory but which doesn’t always compliment my skintone. As is common with pastels, the formula is a bit streaky and needed 3 coats. The swatch above portrays it more vividly than it is – this shade was swatched during a snowstorm (one of many!!) so the natural light is much more dim and I had to overcompensate when taking the photo. The comparison photo below gives a more accurate indication of the shade.

OPI that's hula-rious! swatch comparisonLeft to right: China Glaze Re-fresh Mint, OPI That’s Hula-rious!, butter London Bossy Boots

China Glaze Re-fresh Mint is very similar, but is a smidgen lighter and less green, and the formula for it was atrocious. I far prefer this version.

OPI lost my bikini in molokini swatch

A ‘reef-inspired purple’, Lost My Bikini in Molokini feels like the perfect shade for spring – its vibrant and playful but not too bright. 2 coats were required to achieve opacity; the formula is good but not perfect and needs a tiny bit of attention to avoid streaking. This polish stained my nails a tad when I removed it, so keep that in mind.

OPI lost my bikini in molokinii swatch comparisonLeft: OPI Lost My Bikini in Molokini; Right: Rescue Beauty Lounge Mismas

I thought that RBL’s Mismas would be a close dupe to this color, but in fact it’s a few shades darker. I think I like the lighter tones of the OPI shade actually – I really like wearing colors according to seasons (so sue me) and Mismas doesn’t seem to fit into any of them, in my view.

OPI just lanai-ing around swatch

Described as a dark, creamy mauve, Just Lanai-ing Around is one of those midtone shades that I’m not a fan of – I prefer a strong contrast against my skintone. Personal preferences aside, the formula on this color is excellent and only required 2 easy coats to reach opacity.

OPI just lanai-ing around swatch comparisonLeft to right: OPI No Spain, No Gain, OPI Just Lanai-ing Around, OPI Diva of Geneva

In my mind, ‘Lanai-ing‘ was very similar to OPI No Spain, No Gain (another midtone shade I dislike), but it’s much lighter. OPI Diva of Geneva is a shimmer, of course, and in any case it’s also much darker and richer in tone.

OPI go with the lava flow swatch OPI go with the lava flow swatch

Go With the Lava Flow is a ‘golden red’ that leans coral and has a slight orange flash, which you can see only at the right angle. Normally this type of color isn’t my bag, but looking at these swatches makes me want to give it another go – it’s kind of intriguing, no? It took 3 coats to get the opacity I desired, but the polish applied well with no issues. I don’t have any shades comparable to this.

OPI aloha from opi swatch

Aloha From OPI is a ‘bright creamy coral’ that has just enough pink to keep it from being a true red. It’s been so long since I’ve worn a bright like this, it gets me in the mood for warmer weather! Though its a cream, it applied a touch streaky and I needed 3 coats to even it out to my liking. I don’t find this shade particularly unique, but it’s pretty nonetheless.

OPI hawaii spring 2015 swatch comparisons - Version 2Left: OPI Aloha From OPI; Right: Essie Come Here

A very close dupe for this shade is Essie’s Come Here, a favourite of mine. Essie’s version is ever so slightly more pink, but to me they’re essentially the same. Come Here has it’s own application issues, but I think I’d keep it over Aloha From OPI simply because I like square bottles better ;)

OPI hawaii spring 2015 collection

Halfway through, guys. At this point I was on day 7 and getting better at painting my nails between one feed, and then stealthily putting Elena down long enough to take photos between another. Swatches over showers, oh YEA.

OPI pineapples have peelings too swatch

Pineapples Have Peelings Too is…well, it’s just bizarre, what can I say? A ‘gold shimmer with colorful sparkle,’ when I pulled this shade out for the first time I was like ‘What the…?’  It is NOT pretty, you guys. Whoever thought up this shade was reaching, big time (though the name is perfect, I think). As the gold base is quite sheer, it required 3 coats to build up opacity. Interestingly enough, I actually quite like the base color, and I’m very picky about my golds (if you recall…). But the glitter bits are garish and the base covers over their sparkle to make it all look dull and blah. ME NO LIKEY (does anyone?). Obviously, this is a one-of-a-kind shade.

OPI is mai tai crooked? swatch

Is Mai Tai Crooked?, an ‘orange crème’, is one of those polarizing shades I think. Though it’s base isn’t too yellow, which can go terribly wrong on some people (like myself), it’s still not a flattering color on me. I do love the name though ;) 3 coats are needed to help even out patchiness, though if you were really careful you could probably get away with 2. Patchiness seems to plague most of the cream shades in this collection I find.

OPI is mai tai crooked? swatch comparisonLeft: OPI Is Mai Tai Crooked?; Right: Essie Resort Fling

The comparison above is a perfect example of the small nuances that can make or break a shade on my skintone. Essie Resort Fling is more peach than orange, of course, but the pink-leaning base versus the yellow-leaning one makes all the difference for me.

IMG_0387

Suzy Shops & Island Hops…oh how I love the look of this shade! Described as a ‘light and happy pink,’ I find this color super-flattering on my skintone. But of course, pastel shades often come with issues, and this shade needed 3 coats to even out the patchiness. But I don’t mind TOO much, because PRETTY.

OPI suzi shops & island hops swatch comparison

I must be having a pink moment, because I also love RBL’s Oh Slap!, which is close to ‘Suzy Shops’ though without as much white in the base. I’m tempted to only keep the RBL, but I really love the way the OPI looks so despite it being kind of a PITA to apply, I’ll hang on to it for a while, anyway.

OPI hello hawaii ya? swatch

Hello Hawaii Ya? is a ‘dusky purple’ and the type of color that used to appeal to me, for whatever reason. But though it works with my skintone, it’s kind of drab, and I prefer bright and punchy for spring shades. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly, for this collection), the formula wasn’t great and I needed 3 coats to smooth out patchiness, which still didn’t fully even things out. I think this color would be lovely on a lighter or darker skintone than mine, but it veers into that ‘midtone’ territory and I have too many other polishes in which to devote my time.

OPI hello hawaii ya? swatch comparisonLeft: OPI Hello Hawaii Ya? Right: OPI Parlez Vous OPI?

I think the reason I thought I’d like this shade is because when I first got my hands on OPI Parlez Vous OPI?, I adored the way it looked on me. But my tastes have changed over the years, and now I find it looks dull and muddy. These are clearly not dupes but they’re definitely distant relatives.

OPI this color's making waves swatch

This Color’s Making Waves should look familiar… This ‘shimmery, lagoon blue’ is a pretty marine shade makes me long for summer in a big way! It’s kind of a pain though, as it needed 4 coats to reach this opacity. It’s quite thin and watery, and as it’s not terribly unique I am less than enamoured by it. I have a very close dupe in…

OPI this color's making waves swatch comparison

Chanel’s Azure. Obviously. For the nitpicky among you, they aren’t exactly the same – Azure has more green in it, and OPI’s version has tiny silver flecks of shimmer running through it to set it apart. Both have a duo chrome flash, but Azure’s is more teal-blue-green, whereas ‘Making Waves’ is more teal-blue-purple. Meh. To me they’re damn near identical, and Azure only requires 2 coats (and, um, it’s Chanel), so it’s the winner in my books!

OPI my gecko does tricks swatch IMG_1934

Finalement. My Gecko Does Tricks. A ‘bright and pearly green’ that has a sort-of orange flash in the right light (as seen in the second photo, which I took with my phone and I previewed on Instagram). I’m not a fan of green polishes generally, which I’ve mentioned on several occasions. Though I probably won’t wear this much if at all (except St. Patty’s Day and maybe Christmas), it kind of grew on me a bit – it isn’t too yellowed (blech)/saturated (due to the shimmer)/dark (and therefore murky) to turn me off, I guess. It’s almost…flattering, if you like greens. It did need 3 coats however, so there’s that.

OPI hawaii spring 2015 collection

Overall, the collection was a mixed bag in terms of formula and shades. Many of the polishes were somewhat subpar in terms of performance and some of the shades weren’t to my taste (that’s just my opinion though!). I did have some favorites though, namely Do You Take Lei Away?, Lost My Bikini in Molokini, Go With the Lava Flow, and Suzi Shops & Island Hops (despite the crappy formula).

The Hawaii Collection by OPI is available now in both nail lacquer and GelColor formulas, at professional salons nationwide as well as ULTA and Nail Polish Canada.

*Product samples were provided for my unbiased consideration.

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No Introduction (Or Words) Needed: Chanel Le Vernis in 657 Azure

Chanel Azure (10)

Honestly, what else can I say about Chanel’s Azure that others haven’t already?

Chanel Azure (15) Chanel Azure (14) Chanel Azure (11)

A gorgeous metallic teal-blue that flashes a deeper cerulean in some lights and even has a touch of violet around it’s edges, Azure is a surprise hit for this gal who isn’t normally into metallic finishes in polish!  It’s *sort of* like the aqua version of Peridot, without the same duochrome intensity (which would have probably blown my head off  in awe if it WERE that shapeshifting).

Chanel Azure swatch (5) Chanel Azure swatch (6) Chanel Azure swatch (9) Chanel Azure swatch (7)

It’s quite difficult to capture the color shift as others have noted, but just trust us – it’s there.  It’s not super-strong, but it’s just enough to give the polish some serious interest.  Something about this shade feels so elegant and refined even though it’s not your typical ‘classic’ color, and that’s the quality that really makes it a hit for me.

Chanel Azure swatch (10)

I was really feeling some trepidation about this polish but I took the plunge and I’m so glad I did.  This is gonna get some serious love from me all summer long and likely into the fall as well.  I didn’t really find I had trouble with brush strokes as others had, but I did find that you needed to apply it relatively quickly with minimal strokes or it could pull a bit and get patchy (though it self-leveled quite well).  Final word: AWESOME.

Does Azure float your boat?  Do you like metallic finishes on polishes?

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So, Some Things CAN Still Make This Cold Heart Skip a Beat: Nfu-Oh’s #51 (A Flakie)

Sometimes I feel like nothing fazes me anymore – lately I seem to spend my time equally loving and hating the products I’m coming across.  Particularly in the nail polish world, I’m especially fussy, and haven’t come across too many nail polish that WOW me in the past months.  However, when I heard that Nfu-Oh polish were coming to Nail Polish Canada, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try out one of the famed brand’s polishes.  After much debating, I snagged the Aqua Base – in hopes of making GOSH’s Holographic last longer – and the rich-looking purple-based flakie, #51.ZOMG.

There, my review is finished.  That pretty much sums up how I feel about this polish!  As soon as I painted one nail with it, I was hooked; it was game over.  Even looking over my swatch photos now, I’m completely mesmerized.  I can’t even deal with it, I have this on RIGHT NOW and I just want to stop writing and gaze lovingly at my nails for hours. It is SICK how stunning and gorgeous and captivating and…yea, I could go on – don’t MAKE me look up more words in a Thesaurus!

Ok, gotta slowwww down…First of all, Nfu-Oh bottles are insanely cute!  I didn’t realize that they are actually shaped like a Victorian dress, with a faux bustle and a lace-up back – pretty much the sexiest bottle of nail polish ever.  They’re also larger than average, at 0.6 oz (the norm is 0.5 oz), and you can really notice the difference.I happened to have OPI’s Dutch’Ya Just Love OPI? on earlier in the week, which was a perfect base to use for this with it’s dark grape-y tones.  I haven’t tried it out on a bare nail, but I suspect it is a sheer polish that’s really meant for layering, as I have done here.  One coat is sufficient to get a magnificent depth, but I opted for two because I wanted to ensure maximum flakie-ness. The polish has a deep yet luminous violet base, with orange-red microshimmer and small flakies that turn orange, pink, blue and green depending on the light.  Oh yea.  The formula is of medium thickness but with a great flow to it that makes it supremely easy to use.  Dry time is OK – not super speedy but just average.

I am SO enamoured with this polish.  It reminds me of Milani’s Totally Cool, but even more spectacular, and with a great duochrome effect that I’m helpless against.  I was never a huge fan of flakies, until now!  If this is what I’m in for, sign me up – I’d like a dozen more of these, please!

Stock of Nfu-Oh’s polishes are limited on Nail Polish Canada, so head on over and snag a bottle of your own while you can!  They retail between $9.50-$12.50CAD.

So…what do you think?  Are you hooked now too?

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a-England’s ‘The Legend’ Collection – If You Haven’t Yet…What’s Taking So Long!?

A few weeks ago, after viewing Eugenia from Ommorphia Beauty Bar’s first-look swatches of the new a-England collection, The Legend, I felt compelled to email Adina and thank her for…well, pretty much just being absolutely amazing.  I’ve said this before, but I’m still shocked to say that I seriously got emotional looking at the shades because they just took my breath away.  I’ve also heard nothing but lovely thing about Adina, from her gracious nature to her enlightened spirit, and I was so pleased when she responded to find that she is all that and more.  It’s comforting to know that in this sometimes superficial world, you can still be successful without losing yourself and being something your not.  I found our brief correspondence to be quite inspirational, and it truly made my day.In this same conversation, I expressed my delight at ‘The Legends’ collection, and was able to pre-order a few shades before they were publicly available on her site (as they are NOW!).  I received my order a few weeks ago…I know, this is a travesty that I am only posting these now, but let me tell you – they are worthy of serious time and effort, and I could not for the life of me get the right lighting to showcase these lacquers properly – until now :)   The shades I picked up are Ascalon – a shimmering deep silver with prismatic qualities and a slight lavender duochrome; Princess Tears – a prismatic lilac with gray and green duochrome; and Saint George ~swoon~ – a deep teal with multicolored shimmer.  Once I saw Eugenia’s full-blown swatches of these polishes, I wished fervently that I had also ordered Princess Sabra (Tristam Eyes) – a gorgeous golden olive shimmer.  Alas, I did not, but I am kept quite happy with the shades I did procure, so let’s check them out!

Note that all descriptions below were created by Eugenia as well, which must be such an honor!  Her way with words will win you over every time.

ASCALON
Forged by magic and guided by our hero’s sainted hand, the steely grey of his spire is alive with a swirling heart of lavender fire.

Indoor lighting

With flash

Sunlight

Sunlight – blurred

Sunlight – See the slight purple flash playing at the edges?

PRINCESS TEARS
As the twin lilac trails of tears stream with an incandescent glow down our doomed heroine’s face, they are made even more poignant by luminous grey/ green flashes.

Sunlight

Natural light

Natural light – Notice the duochrome?

Natural light – Taken with a different photo setting, the duochrome is quite apparent

SAINT GEORGE
Bearer of a valiant & courageous heart, this fathomless teal reveals the strength of the brave knight’s convictions with his gleaming, fiery core.

Natural light

Sunlight

Sunlight

I was initially concerned when I got these that Ascalon and Princess Tears would be quite similar, but as you can see they are not.  Ascalon has the lilac tinge of Princess Tears, but is somehow has a warmth to it (you can see the golden tones in some of the swatches) which makes it more wearable on my skintone.  I was quite surprized just how much I liked Princess Tears in person and on my hand; it’s not my typical kind of shade but it’s really beautiful and feminine.  The prismatic effect is most readily apparent in that one, and the duochrome adds such interest.  In the bottle, Saint George has the most obvious multifaceted shimmer, but on the nail, it’s the most illusive – nonetheless, it’s my favorite of the three and probably one of my top 5 favorite nail polishes I own.  I stared and stared at my hand for days while I wore it.  I’m a sucker for teal, and add some intriguing prismatic shimmer and I’m all over it!

The application of these were all good, which is standard for a-England polishes, though I found Ascalon dried a bit quickly so you have to move fast.  They all have a thick but easy-flowing formula, that dry with a nice, smooth finish, but could use a top coat to give it a high-gloss shine (I did not use base or top coat for any of these swatches).  Two coats were required for Ascalon and Saint George (the latter could almost get away with one), but three were required for Princess Tears to get the best opacity.  I’ve only worn Saint George so far as a full mani, and it had good wear while I had it on (though I only wear polish for a maximum of four days!).  The small chip you see on my pinky for the swatches of Saint George were due to me washing a huge load of dishes just before taking photos, and I didn’t notice it until too late – my apologies!

Overall, I’m really pleased with these lacquers and can’t wait to wear them again and again.  I think they’re all seasonless shades and so terribly eye-catching!  They retail for around $14CAD with the exchange rate, and are 4oz.  So, now’s your chance – if you haven’t already, go get ’em!!

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A Sneaky Duochrome (Aren’t They All?): Color Club’s Alias

This is going to be a photo-heavy post, so get comfy!

I bought Color Club’s Alias last month from Nail Polish Canada, but am just getting around to trying it out now (I was in a major holiday nail phase, and this wasn’t part of it).  It’s a stunning violet shade packed with shimmer that looks lovely on it’s own, but has a hiddle duochrome effect that turns it’s edges golden-green.  Duochromes, like some holos or polishes with ‘secret shimmer,’ are notoriously difficult to photograph, as you need just the right light in order for it to appear.  Unlike those polishes though, duochromes actually are better seen in the shade, rather than sunlight.  I tried my best in the shots below, and I think I captured it just about as well as you can see it in real life (which is to say, not a whole lot).

Under both natural and indoor light, straight-on you can’t see the duochrome.  Shown below on my thumb, is four coats (!) of just Alias (it’s quite sheer):At the right angle however, you can see the greenish tinge at the edges of the polish. 

I thought I would play around with the polish a bit, and try to bring out the greenish cast.  Initially I tried Illamasqua’s Baptiste, but it merely made the purple tones more intense.  Then I thought perhaps Zoya’s Edyta – a sparkling deep olive – would pull out the green in Alias, and I was right.  Below, two coats of Alias is painted over one coat of Edyta (with my middle finger painted in just one coat of Edyta):The green is pretty similar, no?

Here are some shots with all nails painted with the Edyta/Alias combo, with the last shots highlighting the duochrome effect:

The shot above was taken under indoor lighting.

In some of the shots, you can really see the duochrome at the edges of the bottle, which is generally the way – visible on the bottle but much more elusive on the nail.

Despite the fact that I find the unique nuances of Alias hard to catch, I still think it’s a beauty of a shade, and the duochrome, however minimal, gives is a depth it would otherwise lack.  The sheerness of the polish is a bit annoying, as I don’t fancy having to apply 3+ coats to get to full opacity, but it dries fairly quickly, and is great for layering.  It is often sold out online, so it must be doing it for some people, anyway!

Are polishes with effects (such as holographic/prismatic, secret shimmer, and duochrome) worth the trouble?  What kind of polish formulations are your favorite?

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A Year’s Worth of Favorite Products: My Top Ten of 2011

I started to write my regular ‘Fave Product of the Month’ post, but realized that 2011 is nearing it’s close, and there are many other products I’d like to write about before the year comes to an end.  Since December is looking like a crazy-busy month for me (and likely most of us!), I figured I’d do the Top Ten post now, rather than later, where it might get put on the backburner and come 2012, I’ll have never done it (case in point – this post has been in the works for three days and I’m just getting it out now!).  And so – in ten separate categories, here are my personal fave products of 2011:

1) Primer:  While I have been impressed by both MUFE’s HD Primer, and the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, my true fave of the bunch is NARS’ Smudgeproof Eyelid Primer.  I have been a faithful devotee to UD’s Primer Potion for a couple years, but found it somewhat drying and could make certain shadow formulations too intense (metallic, in particular).  NARS’ version is colorless, blending seamlessly into the skin, and feels like nothing on.  It doesn’t change the color or intensity of my shadows/liners, but they wear infinitely better and longer with this applied first.  A must-have if you want your eye products to last all day, or for a night of dancing.  Absolutely no negatives on this one!  $29CAD.

2) Foundation/Concealer:  I’ve tried my fair share of concealers this year, and none of them have really lived up to my hopes.  However, my NARS Sheer Glow foundation (reviewed here) surpassed any dreams I had – while I don’t *need* too much coverage, I like a nice wearing foundation that gives my skin a natural, flawless look without too much fuss.  This formula in the shade Syracuse matches my skin to a T.  I worried that this might be too heavy for my oilier skin, but it’s proven not to be the case – rather, it’s improved the look of my skin and kept it hydrated during cold, windy days and nights.  I wouldn’t choose this in the warmer months, as I prefer something very sheer and lightweight, but for Fall and Winter, this is an definite go-to for me. $55CAD.

3) Eyeshadow: This is a toss-up for me, because different shadows do different things.  For a basic, dress up or down shadow, I’d reach for Urban Decay’s Smog in a heart beat.  This bronze-y/brown shadow is close enough to my skintone to be natural looking, but metallic enough to be perfect for a special evening or event.  Not to mention that most of UD’s shadows ($20CAD) feel like absolute butter (this one being no exception) – it’s a smooth, evenly pigmented formula that wears really well.

Following close behind, another versatile shadow I have is Chanel’s Emerveille (reviewed here).  Worn all over the lid, it’s very subtle but the beautiful shimmer in it is far from boring.  It’s makes a truly fabulous highlight for inner eye and brow bone, and is terribly easy to apply with a finger or dense brush.  I’ll never get bored of this shadow!  $37CAD and worth every penny.

4) Eyeliner: Though I really adore MUFE’s Aqua Liners, particularly #14 (a gorgeous, multi-colored shimmer liquid liner with a charcoal base – $26CAD), my heart is forever taken by Illamasqua’s Havoc Precision Ink Liner.  OMG.  Seriously, I gaze at this liner lovingly and sigh.  It’s so unusual and yet so ridiculously amazing and flattering – that combination of pretty yet unique is hard to find, and oh-so-covetable.  And the wear on this baby is outta this world!  C’mon, if I can sleep with this on and wake up without nary a budge or smudge?  Yeah, that’s kind of awesome.  $27CAD.

5) Lippie: I actually thought at first that I didn’t have anything of note in this category, but then I took a look and realized I was forgetting two gems – Buxom’s Big and Healthy Lip Stick in Sydney, and MAC’s Dare You lipstick.  I know….I have two products in this category too – seems I’m not so good at making decisions, eh?  Regardless, both of these should be mentioned anyway, because one came out this year and the other didn’t, so we’ll leave the latter as an honorable mention (since I’m also having difficulties chosing products from the right timeframe!).  Also, both are classics that every gal should have in her lippie wardrobe – maybe not these specific shades, but as a general rule ;)

And so.  My first choice is a nude lippie, which is a great staple color to own, particularly as it pairs very well with the more intense eye makeup looks I tend to wear.  As some of you may know, I was on the hunt for a great nude shade – and I found perfection in Sydney.  Not too pink/peach/beige or otherwise, this just mutes my lips enough so that my eyes take centre stage.  A touch of gloss on top (because it’s fairly matte), and I’m ready to go ($23CAD).Runner-up notable lippie is MAC’s Dare You ($17.50CAD), which you’ll be happy to hear is a permanent shade, and is also one very sexy deep red.  For my complexion, and taking into consideration my fuller lips, this is the perfect shade of red for me as it’s classic, stand-out, yet demure enough that it isn’t aggressively in your face.  As much as I love the bright lips look that’s so popular right now, it just doesn’t work for me, sadly.  Or least I haven’t figured out how, yet.  In the interim, this makes me feel powerful and beautiful, and requires very little else on the face.  I’m completely sold!

6) Nail Polish: I’ve tried and worn a plethora of polishes this year, more so than any other in my (relatively) short 29 years.  It’s extremely hard – nay, impossible –  to narrow it down to only one shade that was above all others, but if it must be done…I’d pick Chanel’s Peridot ($27CAD).  Are you surprized?  I think not :P  It just captivated me so completely over all the other new offerings this year.  To be fair, there were some serious runners up, Essie’s Power Clutch ($11CAD)being among them.  Also, some shades that were not necessarily released this year – Illamasqua’s Baptiste ($22CAD), and butter London’s Snog ($18CAD), could even unsurp Peridot, but in keeping with my faves of 2011 – Peridot takes the prize.  Slam and…DUNK.

7) Face (Skincare) Product: Even though I’ve been singing praises for Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum, and I’m loving the effects on my skin, I have to give this one away to Clinique’s Turnaround Concentrate (or Night Moisturizer, depending on the season – $47 and $51.50CAD, respectively).  This product takes care of it all – clogged pores, acne, flakiness, hyperpigmentation, uneven skin texture – the nature of the exfoliation really handles most problems that can crop up with your skin.  I certainly notice a difference in my skin when I’m “off the blue stuff” (as my Mom would say).  I lied – this also is a repeat product in my stash, though I get this one for free :)  If I had to buy it with my own hard earned cash though, I would.  It’s really the workhorse in my skincare regime.

8) Body Product: My body care routine is terribly boring, unfortunately – wash, moisturize, repeat; that’s about it.  But, due to the simplicity of my regime, I absolutely needed to find products that would be effective.  There are a million and one moisturizers out there, half of which I can’t use because of their fragrance; the others are either not moisturizing enough, or so occlusive that they make my skin sticky and bumping (due to clogged pores).  Aveeno’s Eczema Care Cream ($10.49CAD) is a miracle in a tube – it keeps my skin hydrated all day, but doesn’t make me greasy and leaves my skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom.  I never thought I’d see the day where I was buying a product hand over fist, repeatedly – SO not my style!  But, here it is, I’ve become devoted to a product – call me a convert :)

9) Hair Product: Sadly, my hair care system isn’t much more interesting than my body care – there’s not a whole lot you can do with this curly mop!  However, there is one product that has been my standby for the last year or so (though…also not released this year, dang!) – TIGI’s Foxy Curls Curl Contour Cream ($19CAD).  Smells like skittles (mmmm), and makes my curls soft and springy, but never stiff, crunchy or sticky.  I really love this styling lotion, and it lasts AGES – probably about 8 months start to finish, which is crazy – particularly for my hair as it EATS product.  Sadly…due to my new fear of fragrance, when this is finished, it’s finished – I’m too nervous to keep using it for fear that it’s affecting my skin in some detrimental way.  We had a great run though, and I highly recommend trying it out if you have curly hair or waves that need a little boost!

10) Fragrance: Despite my avoidance of fragranced products, I actually don’t have any issue wearing fragrance itself – I guess because it’s placed in specific spots rather than all over.  Sadly, the product that wins this category for me is not yet something I own (nor was it released in 2011)…but Prada’s Infusion d’Iris perfume is AH-MA-ZING!!  and therefore well worth mentioning, despite the fact that it was launched in 2007 (LOL).  This is SO not my usual choice for fragrance – I’m typically into very gourmand scents, ones that smell like food, like Hanae Mori’s Butterfly, but every so often a scent like this will take hold of me, and won’t let go until I give in and buy a bottle.  I have a sample of this, which I wear for only special occasions and which has lasted for a lot longer than I expected it to – but it’s nearing it’s end, which means I’ll have to bite the bullet and invest the better part of $100 just to have a small bottle of it (which is all I ever buy for fragrance because I never wear the same one twice).  This woody floral boasts notes of mandarin, vetiver, and cedarwood, which compliment the Iris Pallida perfectly.  By the end of 2011, I WILL have my very own bottle…and won’t I be smelling sweet :)

I feel like I’m missing some products that surely deserve major love and attention, but at this very moment I can’t think of what they might be!!  What I am thinking of though, is to add one more additional category – my favorite BLOGS of 2011.  There are some amazingly wonderful reads out there and I think they deserve props for doing what they do so darn well.  Most of these are well-known and likely will come of no surprize, but nonetheless they bring me immense reading pleasure.  So, here are my five absolute must-read-every-day faves:

Beauty Editor – Though I’m not entirely a fan of the shorthand words that are in heavy rotation on the blog (its totes about the prodz!), I am LOVING the in-depth posts that don’t scrimp on information about the latest makeup trends, skincare innovations, or celebrity styles.  I devour each and every post from start to finish, and I always leave with much more knowledge than I started with.  I feel like I am getting insider knowledge every time I visit the page.  A definite must-read if you want to learn as well as look!

Beauty ReductionistaBest.Idea.Ever. for a blog – beauty reduction!  As cosmetic junkies, we all know what it’s like to have just too much and Liz lets us join in on her journey towards reducing her stash and quelling ever-present lemmings that never go away.  Of course, sometimes she indulges, and that just makes her human – there are so many pretty things out there, how do you resist!?  Liz infuses her posts with hilarity and insight, which make for a powerful combination and a terrific read.  She recognizes her weaknesses but never gives up on her quest, and I admire her tenacity every day.  It helps keep ME on the straight and narrow too!

Ommorphia Beauty Bar – OK, I mean, who comes up with an amazing blog name like this in the first place?!?  Sheesh.  From the very first time I stumbled upon this blog I knew it was something special.  Not only are her photos (and nails!) first-rate, but she injects a little something extra into each post – you know she’s not just firing them off without putting in a lot of time and effort into each one.  She oozes kindness and this positive energy that you can feel right through the blogosphere.  Looking for swatches of the latest nail polishes to hit the streets?  Eugenia has got you covered.  Go!  Now!!

Cafe Makeup (and The Beauty Look Book) – I tied these two together because when I think of one, I can’t help but think of the other.  The ladies of these blogs are absolutely some of the classiest I’ve come across – their taste is impeccable and the cosmetics stash they each have is to be seriously revered.  To spend a day at their vanity (or wherever they store their collection) would be akin to Scrooge McDuck swimming in his sea of money – pure bliss.  The infinite number of high-end products they own is something I look up to – quality all the way.  I appreciate their genuine admiration of the very beautiful nature of cosmetics in general – to them, it seems more about the experience of the product itself, and not just the prestige of owning the more luxurious items of the beauty world.

She Cooks, He Eats – This is somewhat off-topic as the nature of this blog is food- rather than beauty-related, but I just can’t help but be continuously drawn to Kat’s delicious pictures of either her own current culinary pursuits or of possible gastronomic adventures to be taken.  I am left drooling at the sight of cake batter pancakes, or five different types of nachoes (yum!!), and I just enjoy the simple, down-to-Earth (yet far from boring) approach she takes to relating her passion to her readers.  As someone who is just beginning to take a real interest in having fun in the kitchen, Kat’s blog appeared on my radar at just the perfect moment.

I’m sure that I appear biased toward these blogs, but truly – each one of them is something I look forward to reading each and every day, and I feel that they all take a truly unique, and fabulous approach to the task which I love.  I measure my own blogging path against these ladies, and only hope that I can provide my readers which half as much awesomeness as they do.  I’ll keep trying! :)

So there are my faves of 2011, whether they were created in 2011 or prior, they’re what have been rocking my world this year.  I’d love to hear what some of your own favorites are – I’m always in the market for new inspiration!

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