Friday, September 30, 2011

FRIDAY FAVORITES -- Facial Masks!


Hello, everyone! Happy Friday! This week's 'Friday Favorite' is.. you guessed it! Facial Masks! I'm a sucker for any exfoliating scrub (which can also be left on longer and used as a mask!) or mask that purifies and smooths skin. I can't help it. I'm addicted to how amazing they make my skin feel!

I probably use masks or exfoliating scrubs at least 4-5 times a week. It's one of the easiest ways to pamper myself and I have several favorites that I like to pick from.

Unfortunately, this post is going to be super short because A) I'm exhausted from work and B) I need to go to bed so I can get up early and get my haircut fixed before I... go to work. However, if you're interested in finding out what my favorite scrubs and masks are, please leave a comment letting me know and I'll be sure to do a post on it sometime next week for you. :)

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Also.. don't forget: You have until 11:59 PM EST TONIGHT to enter my 6 month giveaway! ♥


Thursday, September 29, 2011

GUEST POST -- My Red Lip Gloss' Fall 2011 Beauty Trends



This is the first time I’ve been asked to write a guest post and I was soooo completely tickled for a couple of reasons: One, beauty products are without a doubt my passion so anytime I get the chance to talk about them, I’m a happy girl (check out my blog Red Lip Gloss) and two, Mandy is the author of one of my favourite blogs.  Her blog is loaded with style, insightful posts and heaps of fun!  She has become a fantastic friend of mine in a short time and I always look to her blog for nail-related expertise….Honestly, she’s a gem!

Needless to say, when she asked me to share my knowledge and inspiration pertaining to fall trends, I jumped at the chance.   Fall is, by far, my favourite time of year PLUS, this year in particular, there are some wild beauty trends that can’t be missed:


Fake a Tan: Bronzer
Bronzer will never be a passé thing and when paired with a bright bubblegum pink lip, you are golden for sure.  Since I am a paste-y pale girl, bronzer is my go-to product in the morning.  I always gravitate towards shimmer bronzers as they seem to add something special to your cheeks.  My faves are Victoria’s Secret Beach Sexy Sunkissed Bronze Instant Self Tan Lotion with Tint (for body) and Gosh Cosmetics Giant Sun Powder (for face).  I use both of these products every day and highly recommend them to everyone.

Neon Nails
Sigh, neon and I have a very special bond.  See, being born in the early 80’s means that neon was THE thing to wear at that time.  Whether it was slouchy neon socks or neon pink fanny packs, you were certainly a trendsetter if you chose bright colors.  Needless to say, I am STOKED that neon is back with a punch for both nails and eye shadow/liners.  This fall choose yellows, bright blues, oranges, bright purples and bubblegum pinks.  Either choice is a good one, as you’ll definitely stand out in a crowd! OH, I should probably mention that nudes are still popular so, if you’re like me and favour a lighter nail, choose mocha shades.  My favourite line currently is OPI’s Touring America.  I am soooo loving all the browns, taupes and bright pink shades!


Talk of the Town: The Bold Lip
Bright lips are, quite possibly, my favourite beauty trend on earth.  Nothing says “hey, look at me” like a gorgeous bright fuchsia pink or red pucker.  Plus, I’m happy to report that both of these shades are still very popular plus other colors like bubblegum pink (perfect for almost all skin tones), burnt orange (cross between a red and orange) and scarlet red (almost a blood-like color).  Let’s just say that you won’t go wrong with a bright pink or bright red.  REMEMBER: when picking a red color, you must choose one that’s perfect for your skin tone.  Fair = blue based, olive/yellow = warm based.  Since I’m fair, I’m always on the hunt for the perfect red color for me and it’s MAC’s Lady Danger.  I know I don’t talk about MAC too much as I don’t really like all their products but this lipstick is a must for me.  I am also focused on fuchsia colors too and adore JOE Fresh Lipstick in Fuchsia. 
Shimmery Eyes: Metallics
Ha, I’ve been wearing metallic colors on my eyes for years so I’m super stoked they’re popular again.  Shimmery eyes are the perfect way to add color to a color blocked outfit AND for a night out on the town.  The neat thing about metallic eyes is you can have a base of any color and add the shimmer on top to create many different looks.  With this fall trend though, stick with metallic greys, blues, greens and even oranges to create the perfect look.  (NOTE: Oranges are very tough to wear on fair skin tones.  Trust me, I’ve tried.  If you want to dabble in it, try mixing it with a bronze shadow color OR using the orange as an eyeliner instead.) Some of my faves are Wet N’ Wild’s new trio colors or their Nutty single eye shadow shade, LORAC’s Starry-Eyed Baked Eye Shadow Trios (these are phenomenal!!!) and Sleek Cosmetics’ Molten Metal Eye Shadow Duo.


Cool as a Tangerine?: Orange Blush
Thank you, oh fashion and beauty trendsetters, for allowing us to continue with the orange/coral blush theme.  I just started using these two shades at the beginning of spring and I’ve been using them ever since then.  (I have no idea why it took me so long to try them out BUT thankfully I did.)  I adore using a bright blush while wearing a minimal eye with some coral shade of lipstick as I feel so completely glamorous.  It’s quick, easy and you look so put together.  Some of my faves are NARS’ Taj Mahal (which I totally picked up by mistake and adore) and Illamasqua’s Rude Cream Blush.  Sigh, gorgeous.

Remember, the cool thing about trends is that they’re guidelines only so feel free to wear the colors and styles that you love.  But, if you’re going to follow the pack, why not try something fun like one of these bad boys…..XO Christina (aka Red Lip Gloss)

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Many thanks to Christina for taking time out of her busy schedule (and wedding planning!!!) to write a post for MandysSecrets! I'm so glad she did her favorite current beauty trends because these are all really hot trends for fall, but not ones that I would have focused on. That's what I love about blogging.. everyone's voice and insight is so unique!

If you have time, please be sure to check out Christina's blog! I promise you'll love it! :)

Lastly, don't forget... You have until 11:59 PM EST TOMORROW to enter my 6 Month Blogiversary Giveaway!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

MUSINGS: Should You Cut Your Cuticles?


Hello, everyone! Today I'm going to talk about my thoughts on cuticle trimming. Since I took my acrylics off, I've been paying a lot of attention to my cuticles, as they had been severely neglected. I started off by getting a cuticle remover gel and simply pushing my cuticles back, but then wondered if I should try clipping them instead.

I went out and got a cuticle trimmer.. just a generic one from WalMart, nothing fancy. I applied my cuticle remover gel like normal and went to town "trimming" my cuticles. The result? Pain. And blood. No joke. I only did one hand because every cuticle was literally hacked up and bleeding. Gross, right?!

I decided to do some research and see exactly what the cuticle is and how trimming it can impact your nails. This is what I've learned:

Diagram of the nail. I'm not going to discuss every area listed... only the parts pertaining to this post.
Matrix -- The matrix isn't visible, it's under the skin of your finger.. but it is the "root" of your nail. This is the area where the body produces the keratin cells that make up your nail plate and if it becomes damaged, your nail will either grow deformed or no longer grow at all.

Cuticle -- The cuticle is actually made up of two separate parts: the eponychium and the pterygium. The eponychium is the thin layer of skin at the base of your nail that protects bacteria and germs from entering your body where your nail and skin on your finger meet. The pterygium is what's considered to be the "true" cuticle and the part that gets removed or pushed back. It is the dead skin that attaches to the nail plate and becomes visible as the nail grows out. As I stated, this skin needs to be cared for regularly to prevent unsightly build up.

Lunula -- The lunula is the visible half-moon that extends from your cuticle. It connects the matrix to the nail bed and is composed of keratin cells that have yet to fully harden. Thus, it is imperative to exercise great care when working around this area of your nail (like when caring for your cuticles) to prevent damaging your nail.

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Now that we've learned about the anatomy of our cuticles, let's discuss whether or not to cut them. As I described above, the cuticle protects bacteria from entering your body where your nail and skin meet. So, to me, it doesn't seem smart to engage in any activity that could result in tearing or cutting the skin.

By cutting or trimming your cuticles, or by generally mistreating them (biting/picking at them, etc), you increase the chance of inflammation and infection that can cause the overall condition of both your fingers and hands to deteriorate. It is possible to develop either acute or chronic infections from having bacteria entering opened cuticles that can require medical attention. Repeated open sores in the cuticles that lead to chronic infections can eventually cause permanently warped or ridged fingernails resulting from irreparable damage done to the nail's matrix.

Lastly, if the warning of infections isn't enough to stop you from trimming your cuticles.. consider both the pain of having cut up cuticles (Seriously, is there anything more painful?!) and the less-than attractive appearance it will give your nails. There's nothing more frustrating than spending time on caring for your nails and painting them only to have unsightly red and bleeding cuticles. Trust me, I speak from experience!

Instead of cutting or trimming them, I suggest regularly pushing them back with an orange stick. If you have stubborn cuticles, try using a cuticle dissolving gel which will still remove the excess buildup but save you from having to do any trimming.

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Do you trim your cuticles? Or just push them back? If you do trim them, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

For the record, I'm not trying to pass judgement on any method.. and I'm in NO way a certified or licensed manicurist or nail technician. I'm just sharing my thoughts and research on the subject, in hopes that you can make your own informed decision on what is best for your nails and body.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My First Guest Post... EVER!


Hey everyone! Today I'm super excited to share my first guest post with you! My very dear friend Christina over at Red Lip Gloss recently asked me if I would be interested in doing a guest post for her blog and I immediately said yes!

I know I've talked to y'all about her so many times, and I'm so honored that she invited me to be a part of her blog! Seriously. It's fabulous.. you should totally check her out!

Anyways, Christina asked me if I would do something nail related, and I figured there was no better way to pay tribute to her than to do some nail art inspired by her blog layout. Here's the look I came up with:

Excuse the Andy hair in my middle finger. He wanted pets & I didn't notice the hair until it was too late. :(
I also did a step-by-step PHOTO tutorial for this look, which is something I'm going to try to start implementing from now on.. So I'd really appreciate it if you'd check it out!

Hope everyone is having a happy Monday!

PS - Remember.. only 4 days left to enter my giveaway! (Link in the R sidebar!)

Friday, September 23, 2011

FRIDAY FAVORITES -- Bows & Curtseys!


Hey everyone! Happy Friday! Sorry I've been MIA this week.. we had some issues with our Cable/ISP and were without TV and internet since Tuesday because the first appointment they had was today. Thankfully, they were able to fix whatever the problem was (I made Chris deal with them so I have no clue what was wrong, haha) and we're back in working order!

Today's Friday Favorite is a fun one.. it's another blog! I've never featured another blog as a Friday Favorite before, but I am so obsessed with Ronnie from Bows & Curtseys that it was such an obvious decision. I usually check her blog multiple times a day to see if she's posted anything new and when she does, I rush to recreate her gorgeous looks on myself!

Ronnie's super sweet and encouraging.. and she's been getting a lot of well-deserved recognition lately! I'm super excited for her because she totally deserves every bit of it and more. Check out some of her other designs..

I could literally qualify every look she's posted as a favorite, but I really applied myself and paired it down to my top three. All pictures are property of Ronnie and will link back to the original post for the look. :D

Inspired by her old blog layout. I'm wearing this look in my profile pic!
High Voltage Violet Eyes. Look at the detail of blue extending out from the bottom water line!
Radiant Rainbow Liner. The blending on this is so amazing!
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And that's it for this week! Emma is trying to shove all 40 lbs of her furriness into my lap while I'm typing. I guess blogging doesn't compete with snuggle time in her mind. Haha, it's all good though. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Lastly.. if you haven't entered my Six Month Blogiversary Giveaway yet.. you still have 1 week to do it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Smashbox's 'Photo Finish Primer' Revisited


A while back, I compared Smashbox's Photo Finish Primer to Hard Candy's Skin Perfecting Primer and gave the edge to Hard Candy. (You can read the full review here.) However, as of late.. Hard Candy just hasn't been working out for me as well as it did in the beginning and that prompted me to rethink my initial review.

I feel like my skin goes through cycles. As a woman, I definitely have the "monthly breakout" caused by hormones, but it's more complicated than that. I've always had oily skin but I feel like every 3-4 months, my skin goes from being moderately oily to excessively oily. The same goes for my hair. I'm not sure if it's diet related.. although my diet never changes, but it is certainly frustrating.

Right now, I'm not only having my monthly breakout, but I'm in the middle of an "extremely oily" phase.. where no matter what I do, my face turns into a hopelessly shiny oil-slick within an hour. When I use Hard Candy's primer, I have to take both blotting papers and powder with me wherever I go... and I'd gotten used to not having to carry either one. 

Then I remembered that I received a sample of Smashbox's Photo Finish Primer in my August Birchbox and I thought it was worth giving it another try before I head out in search of another primer...

While both primers are very similar (dimethicone-based), the Smashbox primer is clear compared to the Hard Candy primer, which is translucent and a little cloudy. Here's a picture of my tube and how much I use on my face each day...


As you can see, my tube is very small (.25 oz) but I use such an insignificant amount that it will last me forever. If the thought of buying a full size 1 oz tube for $32 pains you, you can always get a half .5 oz tube for half the price ($16). For anyone who's bad at math.. that's double the size of the tube I have pictured above.

The good news is I can say that my face seems to get considerably less oily after using Smashbox and the product itself seems to spread more smoothly on my face and absorb into my skin better. I'm still on the fence as to whether I want to continue to use a dimethicone primer or experiment with other options, but I know that I will most likely not be re-purchasing Hard Candy's Sheer Envy Skin Perfecting Primer.

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I know no one ever enjoys admitting that they may have been wrong about something, but I thought it was important to let you know how my feelings on both products have changed. Like I said, I'm not entirely sure that I'm in love with Smashbox's primer just yet, but it is working better than I originally gave it credit for and it's definitely something I'm going to continue to test and see how it works for me long term. If I end up purchasing it or deciding to try another brand entirely, I'll be sure to let you know!


Monday, September 19, 2011

BIRCHBOX -- SEPTEMBER 2011


Hey everyone! It's that time again.. my September BirchBox has arrived and it's their one year birthday box! This month has lots of goodies inside, so take a look to see what I got:




Saturday, September 17, 2011

My First Braves Game: 'Star Wars Night' at Turner Field


Hey everyone! Sorry I didn't have a 'Friday Favorites' post yesterday.. My day totally didn't go anywhere near like I'd planned.

I woke up over 2 and a half hours later than I wanted to, had errands to run and then fought with the post office for over an hour trying to pick up a certified letter that ended up not even being for us (they had tried to deliver it to the wrong address) and then Chris and I rushed to clean the house before our friend came over. I have this compulsion that I have to clean before we have guests over... it's so inconvenient sometimes.

But like I said, our dear friend Kent came over and we went to the Braves game. It was so embarrassing and painful that we left during the 7th inning. The score was 11-2 in favor of the Mets at that point, we figured the best thing we could do was try to beat the traffic heading home. It was Star Wars night at Turner field, so there was some cool stuff. I got to hug Chewbacca and he made the Wookie noise! And he was like over 7 feet tall! It was so amazing. I'm not even gonna lie.

I'm kinda bummed that was how my first Braves game (ever!) ended up, but we still had fun. And I guess the good news is the next game we go to will HAVE to be better.. right?! We've all agreed to make it to at least one Falcons game this season. I'm so excited for that! I'm not the biggest baseball fan, but I love football! And one of the girls I grew up dancing with is a Falcons cheerleader, so I'd love to go support her. ♥

Hooray for forced smiles! Hard to be happy when the Mets open the game with 4 runs. :(
On our way home, we stopped and had a greasy late night snack at Waffle House and then came back to our house to watch an episode of 'Deadliest Warrior.' All three of us love that show. We had wanted to watch the most recent episode that pitted vampires against zombies, but it wasn't "On Demand" so we watched another one instead. It was still awesome.

I'm working long shifts today and tomorrow, so I don't know if I'll be posting.. but I'll definitely be back in gear by Monday.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

FAVORITES -- Best Fragrances for Fall


Hey everyone! Today I'll be continuing on with my "Fall Favorites series, and I'm so excited to share my favorite fragrances for the fall season! Once the seasons start to change, I love wearing heavier (and sexier!) scents. The ones I'm going to show you are usually the scents that last me through fall and winter so I'm going to challenge myself to experiment and discover a new set of favorite fragrances specifically for winter this year. Wish me luck!

VICTORIA'S SECRET -- LOVE ROCKS

'Love Rocks' reminds me and Chris of a girl's version of Axe. It's definitely a statement fragrance that's not for the faint of heart.. but that's exactly why I love it. If you like sandalwood, vanilla, jasmine and musk.. you'll love this perfume. And the bottle is SO cute! I picked up a 2.75 oz bottle of the scented mist during the last Semi-Annual sale for around $3. I kind of wish I'd gotten another one.

I can't wait to wear this during fun nights out on the town.. concerts, going out with friends.. it's got that kind of "party" spirit to it!

RALPH LAUREN -- GLAMOUROUS

'Glamourous' is the lightest scent in my list for fall. Composed of rose, white lily, tuberose and ginger blossom, it's delicate and feminine, but not overly floral or sweet.. it's just a very clean scent. There's also a very fine gold shimmer in it that is simply gorgeous when the bottle is shaken. It swirls and floats.. and when you add in the "diamond" accent in the lid, it definitely becomes luxurious and glamorous!

Unfortunately, the scent has been discontinued but it is still easily available online with a starting price averaging around $50 for a 3.4 oz bottle, which is actually quite a decent price.

VICTORIA'S SECRET -- SUPERMODEL

I got a free deluxe sample of 'SuperModel' years ago inside a purse I bought from VS. It contains Chinese berries, peach blossom and sandalwood. I love the depth that the sandalwood gives it. This is such a great sexy scent that's not too overpowering or musky. 

While it's a pretty "linear" fragrance and not the most unique, what I appreciate about it is that it's such a great all-around scent. It can be worn day or night all year long, and it's very well-balanced: not to sweet/spicy/floral/fruity... it just is. And sometimes I feel like we can get so caught up in having a perfume that is so specific or that hits 7 different notes throughout the day that it's nice to simply have a great staple fragrance.

I've heard rumors that this one has been discontinued too, but I can't confirm or deny it. I feel like I saw it the last time I went into VS (within a month), but I can't be positive because I wasn't actively looking for it.

BATH & BODY WORKS -- BLACK AMETHYST
'Black Amethyst' is easily one of my undisputed all-time favorite scents. It is the definitive sensual musk.. but it's so much more than that. Citrus, floral, spicy musk.. 'Black Amethyst' has it all. It's such a complex fragrance, containing everything from mandarin and bergamot to magnolia and gardenia and closing with sandalwood, patchouli and vanilla.

Bath & Body Works launched 'Black Amethyst' as one of their "Signature Scents" and fully prepare for me to throw an absolute fit if.. I can't even bring myself to say it for fear of jinxing myself.. :sigh:

If I had to eliminate all other fragrances on this list and just pick one, it would be this one. No question. If you've never smelled it, I strongly suggest you give it a try. I promise you won't be disappointed!

HILARY DUFF -- WITH LOVE

Okay, so I've officially loved Hilary Duff since she was "Lizzie McGuire" on the Disney Channel. Lizzie was awesome and I'm glad to see Hilary has grown up to be successful and adorable. Because I adore her, I knew I had to have her scent. Thankfully, it's one that I love. I remember going with my mom to pick it up at Ulta the day it came out years ago.. it was during the holiday season and I got one of their awesome free gifts. It was a fabulous extra-long blue, khaki and white super-thick knitted scarf that I love. I still have it and use it all the time during winter. ..But I digress.

'With Love' is a muskier version of VS's 'SuperModel' and if I had to pick one over the other, I'd pick this one.. but they're both different enough to have earned a spot in my favorites. While I feel like 'With Love' is a more "mature" fragrance, I still think it suits Hilary because she's always seemed more mature and wise beyond her years. 

The notable components of 'With Love' are mango, spices, amber and musk. It's a very warm and comforting fragrance that has a wonderful combination of sweetness and spice. This is usually my everyday go-to scent during fall. The last thing I love about this one is the bottle: it's is sophisticated, unique and classy.

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Have you tried or smelled any of these fragrances? If so, did I include some of your favorites? Let me know!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FAVORITES -- Best Polishes for Fall


Hey everyone! I apologize for the double polish/nail posts, but I just haven't had time to sit down and swatch or record videos like I'd anticipated. I thought I would get a chance to do that yesterday, but then my personal email account got hacked. I woke up from a brief nap to over 40 emails and 16 text messages from people asking me what was going on and why they were getting strange links from me. Needless to say, I spent the majority of the afternoon sorting that whole mess out. Ugh.

Anyways, I can't believe it's already time to share my favorite fall polishes, with you.. but.. here we are! I feel like I picked less colors this time around, but each one is particularly gorgeous and spectacular. 

Fall immediately makes me want to slap every dark color I can find on my nails. I think it's got something to do with the temperatures getting cooler and the days getting shorter. And if you remember, I even posted back at the beginning of August how ready I am for vampy lacquers to reappear.

So, without further adieu, I give you my favorite polishes for fall!

CHINA GLAZE -- IT'S ALIVE


Oh my goodness. Y'all. I can't even TELL you how in love with this color I am. It's one of China Glaze's new Halloween polishes. I picked mine up at Ulta over the weekend. 'It's Alive' is a glorious army green jelly packed with green micro-glitter and bigger flecks of glitter for some added interest. 3 coats and it's completely opaque and gorgeous.

When I first put it on, Chris wasn't a fan of it. He said it looked "like snot" and it is definitely different from anything I've ever worn before.. however, after a day or so he admitted that the color had grown on him and now he really likes it!

I can't wait to swatch this for y'all soon because it truly IS a fantastic color and so incredibly perfect for fall. Plus, I'm a huge nerd and I loved walking around the house wiggling my fingers at Chris and saying "IT'S ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!!!" Haha!

PURE ICE -- SCANDAL


'Scandal' easily falls right into the "vampy" polish label. It's a deep eggplant creme that isn't quite dark enough to ever appear black. Like most Pure Ice polishes, it's a little sheer but it easily becomes opaque after 3-4 coats. This polish has been a staple in my collection for almost 5 years now. I especially love it on short nails. It looks so sleek and chic! And for $1.99, you really can't go wrong!

ESSENCE -- IRREPLACEABLE


Okay, so besides the fact that every time I think of this polish, I want to start singing 'Irreplaceable' by Beyonce, I love this color for fall! I knew I definitely wanted to include a nude polish in this post, and this was the clear winner. 'Irreplaceable' is a lovely tan-nude polish with gold micro-shimmer. It can either be worn sheer (1 coat) or be built up to full opacity (3 coats). Personally, I prefer it with only 1 coat. The only problem is that my nails still have stained ridges from the combination of my acrylics and dark polishes, so I need to wait for those to grow out before I can wear sheer polishes again.

But mark my words.. this will be on my nails as soon as I get the chance! Essence comes in mini bottles and is sold at Ulta for only 99 cents! Every time I see 'Irreplaceable', I pick a bottle up. I learned a valuable lesson after my beloved Essence 'Pool Party' was discontinued. :(

ZOYA -- CYNTHIA
'Cynthia' is another great vampy shade, but this one clearly leans a little more black. I think it's because this polish has a teal undertone, which is kind of closer to black. Did that even make sense? Anyways, I picked this up during Zoya's "Buy 1, Get 2 Free" promo.. or something like that? I can't remember. All their promos are amazing and they have so many of them!

This fabulous creme can be a 1-coater if you're careful (!!!) but it's usually best to use 2 just in case. I also love how it still clearly shows the teal undertones instead of being just your standard deep blue.

OPI -- JADE IS THE NEW BLACK


In case you're looking for something a little brighter than an "almost-black" color.. Look no further! 'Jade is the New Black' is a glorious jade creme. It isn't in-your-face bright, but it's definitely anything but subtle. It will look fantastic will fall's color palette and anything in your wardrobe that you pair it with!

I've really been loving rich-looking colors and blues/greens lately and this definitely fills both requirements! I've been looking at this polish forever and always skipped over it or neglected to pick it up, but I know this is one polish I'm definitely going to grab ASAP!

ZOYA -- ROXY


Yet another fabulous Zoya polish, 'Roxy' is a reddish-purple jelly packed with purple glitter. The base isn't quite maroon, and it's not quite burgundy. If I had to classify it, I'd call it a "berry" color. It's a great "Look at me!" color that's perfect for a party or just a time when you want some extra attention on your nails. If you're not so crazy about having glittery polish, you could even subdue it by adding a matte topcoat.

Another easy polish to build up, opacity can be reached in 2-3 coats. The bright purple glitter in this polish really does a great job of catching the light and creating a stunning effect. I have a feeling this might also be one of my favorite winter polishes as well because it'd be perfect for holiday parties!

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Did I include any of your favorite fall polishes? Or do you have a fave that I omitted? Let me know!

Monday, September 12, 2011

FAVORITES -- My Manicure Must-Haves



Hey everyone! Today I'm going to share my favorite at-home manicure products with you! I know nail products can sometimes be a very personal choice, and what may work great for me doesn't work for you at all.. but I've really rediscovered the joys of doing my own nails since I removed my acrylics last month.

Not included are my product spotlight are nail clippers and a nail file... I don't use any special brands, so I didn't see a need to focus on them. However, it seemed weird to me to not mention them at all, haha!

SALLY HANSEN -- INSTANT CUTICLE REMOVER


First up in my product spotlight is Sally Hansen's Instant Cuticle Remover. My cuticles were severely neglected while I was wearing acrylics, so now I'm focused on making them a priority. I think I snagged this at Ulta for around $7. Every time I do my nails, I apply a thin layer of this gel to my cuticles (one hand at a time) and let it soak in for about 30 seconds. Then I use an orange stick to push my cuticles back and to remove the excess cuticle that the gel has dissolved. After having used this twice a week for almost a month, I'm pleased to say that my cuticles now look great and healthy!

I also really like how this product dissolves the cuticle rather than having to clip them. I've always heard horror stories about how bad clipping your cuticles is! Another bonus: this gel also works to dissolve tough calluses on your feet and heels.

SINFUL COLORS -- NAIL HARDENER


I picked up my Sinful Colors' Nail Hardener at Walgreens for $3.99. I bought this shortly after I removed my acrylics, as my nails were very brittle and started peeling not long after I removed them. I was tempted to try OPI's Nail Envy or any of the NailTek products because I've heard great things about them, but I didn't want to have to make an extra trip somewhere else. My justification was the Sinful Colors Hardener was cheap and I wouldn't feel bad chalking it up to a loss if it didn't work.

Thankfully, it does work! My nails are already regaining some strength and have almost completely stopped peeling (and healed themselves). Not only that, it makes a great base coat for polish. I can get 4-5 days of wear out of my manis... usually without even a chip! I typically end up changing my polish before I chip what I'm wearing.

I'll probably still end up trying NailTek or OPI's Nail Envy, but only to see if it's better than Sinful Colors' Nail Hardener. I'll be sure to keep you updated!

4-WAY BUFFING BLOCK


I got this exact buffing block at WalMart ages ago and couldn't tell you how much I paid for it, but I'm sure it probably wasn't more than a couple of bucks. Any buffing block will do, but I always use the 1st and 2nd side to even out and smooth the surface of my nails. Even when I had acrylics I used the buffing block and it always helped with my polish application and overall appearance of my nails.

NYC -- 'GRAND CENTRAL STATION' QUICK DRY TOPCOAT
For a drugstore topcoat, this is definitely the best one I've found. At under 2 bucks, it truly does dry in a minute or less and has a great shine. Plus, as I said.. my manicures usually last around 5 days. I attribute the longevity to the combination of the Sinful Colors Nail Hardener and NYC Quick Dry Topcoat. At some point, I'd like to try the famed Seche Vite and see how the two compare. ..I have so many interesting nail comparisons I want to make now that I'm back to having natural nails! It's exciting! :D

ACETONE & BRUSH

                             

I first shared my love for acetone and a small cleanup brush in this DIY post and it's seriously become my biggest secret. I use acetone to remove my old polish and also to clean up any rough edges when I'm done re-painting my nails. I'm so thankful to the bloggers who have shared this tip. It's so simple, but something I never would have thought of.

Any brand of acetone will work, as well as any makeup or paint brush that you're comfortable using. The specific products I use are Onyx acetone which can be purchased at WalMart for under $3 and the Studio Tools Eyeliner Brush from Target which is around the same price point.

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Do you have any special tips or tricks for prolonging your manicure? Or any products or rituals that you really love? I'd love to hear about them!