Sep 252013
 

Dior Spring 2013 Nail composite

Although I love the convenience of a two-week UV gel cured manicure, I’ve been looking for ways to prolong nail polish wear that doesn’t involve the difficult acetone removal process that UV manicures appear to require. Toward that end, I’ve been playing with some of the “new generation” gel topcoats.  In early April 2013, I gave a preliminary report on Dior’s Gel Coat (reviewed here).

Dior Spring 2013 Nail Polish30

I got amazing longevity using Dior’s gel topcoat. My nails grew, protected by the tough topcoat. I got beautiful, glossy results that lasted for days longer than my usual topcoats. This gives a deep, glossy gel-like coat which dries hard but retains flexibility. In late June, I began to notice that I had used quite a bit of the Dior up, and that it was getting considerably thicker and goopier as the contents of the bottle went down.

Gel Topcoats 21

Around the end of June, I threw my Dior Gel Coat into a drawer and headed for Paris. While in the City of Light, I picked up Guerlain’s Le Topcoat Gel.  I found the Guerlain worked equally as well as Dior–given that the companies are owned by the same parent, they may be the same formula for all I know.  The key is, if you can’t find one, you can get the other and be assured of good results.  The benefit to the Guerlain is that it is $1 less, and has the ball bearings inside to keep the contents stirred.

Gel Topcoats 23

The Guerlain works beautifully, by the way. Although my bottle isn’t old yet, the hardening/goopiness doesn’t seem to be quite as bad with this one (however, I do shake those ball bearings up quite a bit).  To be honest, both of these formulas have given me unprecedented longevity for my nail polish–literally, days longer than normal and very little tipwear.  Still I would, occasionally, get chips with unusually heavy nail wear.

Gel Topcoats 15

Now for the secret sauce. Still not being satisfied with these superb results, I had heard that Revlon’s Colorstay Gel-Smooth Base Coat. The only place that I’ve found this so far is Target (accept no substitute). Using the Revlon Base Coat under my nail polish really eliminated the chipping, giving me near-perfect nails up to 3-5 days. Okay, so far so good with the Revlon Base Coat–but what about the Revlon Gel-Shine Top Coat (also pictured above)?  It is a thinner formula than Dior’s or Guerlian’s. It does does prolong my nail wear somewhat. However, the Revlon does not give me the lush gel-like glossy look of the Dior or Guerlain Gel topcoats. Also, the Revlon Top Coat does not give me quite the longevity and protection of the Dior/Guerlain (even when using two coats of the Revlon top coat).

Gel Topcoats 11

What of that bottle of Dior that was tossed into a drawer prior to Paris?  Regrettably, the contents became a gummy solid in the bottom of the bottle. I thought I’d try to revive it with Seche Restore— for more information about this miracle product, see Scrangie’s post here.

seche restore

I pulled out the old lab notebook like a high school science experiment.

Gel Topcoats 12

Sadly, the Dior was too far gone for this method to work. I basically ended up with a glacial-like substance with bits of liquid Seche Restore creating a little ice floe. My thesis proved incorrect, but that Dior was really far gone when I tried this. Perhaps I’ll try again with a bottle that has more life and get better results?

In summary, I found that using nail polish over Revlon Colorstay Gel Smooth Base Coat really adds wear time to my manicure. Then, adding either the Dior or Guerlain Gel topcoats gave me the closest thing to gorgeous, glossy and protected nails that I’ll obtain outside of a UV cured gel manicure. Using these products, I get 3-5 days of wear (which never happens), and a beautifully glossy, gel-like texture. For me, this wear time is highly unusual. I’ve heard of people getting longer wear but I’ve rarely gone this long. These all remove easily with a standard nail polish remover (no acetone needed). I love it. Of course, the downside is that one wants to use up the bottle that’s been opened (given my experience with the drying out of the Dior Gel). I’m concerned about storage for bottles once they’ve been opened.

Do you have any polish pointers?  Please share them… remember, sharing is caring!

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Sep 202013
 

I’m continuing to play with various parts of the Marc Jacobs Beauty line. Here, I’m looking at two of the Marc Jacobs Beauty Hi-Shine Nail Lacquers in Sally and Blue Velvet ($18 each), two stunning deep shimmery jewel toned shades.

Marc Jacobs sparkle nail polish1

As the name suggests, Marc Jacobs Blue Velvet is a sparkling deep blue.

Marc Jacobs sparkle nail polish3

The formula is really nice. Blue Velvet goes on very smoothly, it’s sort of the perfect consistency. This is opaque in one coat, but here I’ve used two. On the nails:

Marc Jacobs Nails01

I had a little bit of a tough time removing Marc Jacobs Blue Velvet–I had a little bit of staining that required me to do another round of remover to get all of the color off. Another:

Marc Jacobs Nails06 copy

Marc Jacobs Sally is an emerald green that is so deep that is is a near-black.

Marc Jacobs sparkle nail polish2

Like Blue Velvet, this formula is good–very smooth and easy to apply. Sally required two coats to reach opacity. On nails:

Marc Jacobs Nails07

Here is a comparison with both Marc Jacobs Blue Velvet and Sally, together with China Glaze Emerald Fitzgerald, OPI Live and Let Die, Chanel Nuit de Russie, Chanel Blue Satin, and Butter London Big Smoke:

Marc Jacobs Nail Blue Green1

I liked both Marc Jacobs Blue Velvet and Smoke. Both are unusual deep tones that are quite pretty for fall and winter. Definitely worth a look. Both are available exclusively at Sephora.

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Sep 042013
 

Dior Fall Nail03

I’m a little late to the party with Dior Fall Nail Colors Galaxie and Destin ($24 each), but given that my favorite of the two (Galaxie) is still in stock I thought these were worth a quick look.

Dior Fall Nail06a

Dior Galaxie is a stunning complex cool burgundy with plenty of flash and saturated color. Really, this one’s stunning.

Dior Fall Nail07a

There are multicolor shimmers in the mix, which translate in bright sunlight (indoors, there is a nice dimensionality):

Dior Fall Nail203

I’m still loving the large brush on these. For me application is quite easy. This is two coats.

Dior Fall Nail02

I had high hopes for Dior Destin in the bottle. Doesn’t it look like a gorgeous mauve satin, almost like a ball gown fabric?

Dior Fall Nail210

I also liked the color on the nail, but the texture seemed to frost up a bit and look thick. Also, this might work better on a cooler skin color (mine is warm).  So, for me Dior Galaxie was a clear “must have” winner. Sadly, Destin was not destined to be my favorite Fall shade.

Dior Fall Nail03

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Aug 282013
 

Marc Jacobs Desire Nail Polish1

I’ve been playing with a few items from Marc Jacobs Beauty new line, including Marc Jacobs Beauty Enamored Hi-Shine Nail Lacquer in Desire ($18. / 0.43 oz.). I picked this color up during a sweep through a rather crowded Sephora on the first day of the release.

Marc Desire Lacquer box1

The back of the box has a little window to show the color as you search through the back stock. Also note that the box has a tape-shut so that you can tell if you are getting a brand new bottle (smart!).

Marc Desire Lacquer box2

Although not everyone will love the packaging style, I think the bottle shape is sort of fun and consistent with the Marc Jacobs aesthetic. The large black cap (which would be  unwieldy to hold for polish application) pulls of to reveal the smaller, more manageable top.

Marc Jacobs Desire Nail Polish2

The brush is the standard narrow style which takes me about 3-5 sweeps to cover a nail.

Marc Jacobs Desire Nail Polish3

Marc Jacobs Beauty in Desire has a high shimmer finish. The formula was interesting. It applies smoothly and is opaque in two coats. At two coats, the color looked okay and the finish dried down to a satin. This was a little confusing, given that the name of the polish is “Hi-Shine.” So I kept going and added a third coat. When I did so, the color dried to a more shiny texture and the color was much more lush and rich. All of these images are with three coats (and no added topcoat or basecoat).

Marc Jacobs Desire Nail Polish21

As you can see, in sunlight the shine and color saturates the image so that it is almost hard to capture. One more:

Marc Jacobs Desire Nail Polish23

Overall, I like Marc Jacobs Lacquer in Desire. I wonder if I should have bought a more unique color. Desire is a relatively duplicable shade compared to Marc Jacob Beauty’s Petra reviewed by Sabrina on The Beauty Look Book.  Nonetheless, in my crazy beauty blogger’s mind, I deliberately chose a standard red shimmer shade because I wanted to see how the Marc Jacobs Beauty formula compares with a standard (less expensive) OPI or the like, and a luxury brand like Chanel. Here’s a comparison with Marc Jacobs Beauty Desire, Chanel Malice, OPI Dankeshiny Red, and Zoya Blair.

Marc Desire comparisons1

After working with Desire, I’m pretty close to concluding that it preforms in a similar way to OPI and Zoya (and China Glaze Ruby Pumps, which is also in this shimmer red category). Chanel Malice is a pretty delicious shade no matter how you slice it, so let’s not even go there. Bottom line:  Unless I learn anything new, in the future I’m more likely to go with non-duplicatable, unusual shades in the Marc line as the formula seems on par with the mid-priced nail polish companies out there (like OPI, Essie, Butter London, Zoya, and the like). So there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to go with the $18 Marc Beauty shades when an OPI or the like (at $10ish) will do. Just this one crazy beauty blogger’s opinion.

Marc Jacobs Beauty is sold exclusively at Sephora.

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Aug 252013
 

Nars Fall 2013 Nails05

Nars Fall 2013 introduces two new nail polish colors–the deep purple cream Fury and the dove-gray cream Galathee ($19 each).
Nars Fury Nail Polish

I liked Nars Fury more than I thought that I would. This formula feels like it has more volume, so it applies a little more plushy that the typical Nars polishes we’ve seen over the last year. So, this lays down with a more luxurious feel and look. There’s a touch of red to the purple which gives the color a nice vibrancy. I can see this color going well with so many Fall colors. Below, I’ve added Guerlain’s Gel Top Coat for extra brilliance and wear. By the way, I’ve been wearing this Guerlain Gel Top Coat for weeks and I love it. It adds a good 2-3 days of wear to my manicure and doesn’t seem to dry out or thicken in the bottle.

Nars Fall 2013 Nails07

Nars Galathee is a pretty dove gray cream. The formula is thinner than Fury, it was near-opaque in two coats (below). The color gives a flat, modern look.

Nars Fall Nails1

Here, I played with Galathee as a base color, adding a Sephora Formula X Topcoat in Chaotic. This topcoat, which includes bits and bars that give a paint-splatter effect, will be part of a breathtakingly large 200-lacquer release due out in September. It looks exciting–there are lots of interesting textures and colors in this new line (most shades will be in the $10.50-14.00 range).

Nars Fall Nails3

Overall, I like both Nars Fury and Galathee, although Fury seems to be more unusual and I prefer its formula. Overall, both are welcome additions to the Nars Fall line.

Nars Fury and Galathee, and Sephora Formula X in Chaotic were sent to Cafe Makeup without charge  for consideration for review. This post contains affiliate links (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup).

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Jul 012013
 
  • NARS Fall 2013 Color Collection group shot - hi res

For Fall 2013, NARS introduces a collection with rich color in signature NARS shades, focusing on the eye and playing with matte textures. Created by Founder & Creative Director François Nar s, the collection heralds fall’s arrival with shades ready to make a sultry statement.

NARS Fall 2013 Color Collection campaign image - lo res

This collection includes four new eyeshadow singles ($24 each)–seriously, I cannot be more excited. They are:

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Jun 152013
 

I’ve had a few requests to compare Chanel Mysterious nail polish (reviewed here) with Chanel Vertigo.  As you can see, they are quite close.  Mysterious has a touch more olive/yellow in the mix and is a whisper lighter in tone.

Mysterious and Alchimie comparison swatches3

I’ve also had requests to swatch Chanel Alchimie (reviewed here) against Chanel Peridot and Diwali. I’ve thrown Chanel Graphite into the mix as well. As you can see, the color and texture of these is quite different.

Mysterious and Alchimie comparison swatches1

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Jun 142013
 

Chanel Elixer Mysterious Alchemie02

For Fall 2013, there are three nail polishes for Chanel–Mysterious, Elixir and Alchimie ($27 each). Not that I can necessarily play favorites, but for me the most unusual must-have is Chanel Alchimie. This is a shimmery mossy-olive color that has a pretty reflectivity even without a topcoat.

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