Melon Mania

Watermelon HandChevron patterned nails, the type of manicure I was tasked with creating for a challenge I’m participating in over on Instagram, befuddle me. It’s a super cool effect (very Missoni) and I know you can buy all sorts of fabulous nail vinyls to help you achieve the crispest and most even of chevrons, but it’s never been my favourite look. Unless of course I can find a way of combining those chevrons with something foodie – always my preferred nail art inspiration! And so I did, creating these pastel watermelon nails that use a favourite new base polish, Whimsical Ideas by Pam’s perfectly pink Tutu Sweet. I love how its ultra tiny matte glitter provides a hit of natural visual interest to this fruity manicure that really is too too sweet!Watermelon Bottle

Pick Your Pastel Poison

Pastel PoisonI was feeling a whole lot undecided today when it came time to choose a theme for this manicure. Fruit? Pastries? Random sprinkles and dots? So in lieu of actually have to make a decision, I instead decided to employ the old every-finger-for-itself approach, combining all of my ideas into one super cute, perfectly pastel mani befitting the gorgeous “Has it really stopped snowing?” afternoon we’re all enjoying this fine Spring day. 🙂

Pusheen!

PusheenFor those perhaps not in the know, Pusheen is an Internet meme cat. He’s (he?) a grey cartoon tabby, wide in the front and the back…and the middle. He has teeny weeny little feet and looks like a loaf of bread. Come to think of it, he acts like one, too – a recent post on Pusheen the Cat has the large lad climbing into an undersized bowl and declaring himself a muffin. I think he’s adorable, and not just because his toes look like little pink beans! I think Pusheen (the cartoon cat, yes) would like these nails, particularly as I have him engaging in his favourite activity – no activity!

Bipartisan Nails

Bipartisan HandEarly on in my nail art adventures Mr. Finger Candy floated the nice, but ultimately impractical, suggestion that I concentrate my polish buying power on one single brand. He didn’t know at the time – hey, neither did I – that there are roughly 8,657 different nail polish manufacturers out there, each one trying something just a little bit different from the somethings their neighbours are trying. It’s like a super glittery version of the Wild West, with your wallet acting as the spoils of a victorious high noon shoot-out. A nice idea (and I am nothing if not brand loyal; I’ve used naught but Clean & Clear face wash for the past 20 years), but one manufacturer cannot satisfy all polish needs. Besides, would you really want it to? Life’s not worth living if you don’t have choice (having said all that, too much choice is practically debilitating. Am I the only one who feels like she’s having a panic attack in the yogurt aisle at the grocery store? Why is there so much yogurt? Why is all of it suddenly Greek? Why do half the brands contain Aspartame? What happened to basic old fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt? Wither the yogurt? WITHER THE YOGURT?!?)

Tangents about dairy products aside, this manicure, a well-hidden teal and purple gradient topped with three different brands’ worth of iridescent flakies, really employs that whole “polish for the people” philosophy. Sure, it would have been nice if I could have gotten this effect out of one bottle of polish (which I clearly don’t own, or else I wouldn’t have been cherry-picking), but I like the every-manufacturer-for-themselves approach, too – it’s always satisfying to know I can cobble together a current look from polishes I already own without yet more financial and storage outlay.

For these super flaked out nails, I topped a can’t-see-it-at-all gradient of Nails Inc.’s blackened teal, Kensington, and China Glaze’s dark plum, Urban-Night, with one coat of China Glaze’s orangey-gold flakie, Luxe and Lush, one coat of Revlon’s blue Moon Candy flakie, Eclipse, and one coat of Nails Inc.’s yellowy-green Special Effects flakie, The Wyndham. It would undoubtedly be easier to just purchase a bottle of rainbow flakies – same effect, less work, less polish! – but if you’re on the fence like I am (I’m just not fond of iridescent flakies; they wear terribly, never seem to fully dry and stick up in maddening lumps) you probably already have the components available in your stash to achieve a very similar look, spread around though they may be!Bipartisan Fingers

Cotton Candy Clouds

Cotton Candy CloudsThat’s my term for the warm, orangey-pinky-purple clouds that stand like fluffy sentinels along the horizon at sunset. I’m fortunate enough to live in a location with unobstructed views of a major river and the mountain-dotted province just beyond it, so come this time of year, I’m treated to some truly spectacular sunsets. For reasons I’d have to be much more scientifically inclined than I am to understand (which is to say not at all), the combination of the hilly landscape and the reflective water make for a beautiful, watercolour kind of effect where the setting sun’s lush reds and pinks, purples and blues stain the clouds a beautiful rainbow of pastels.

Heavens, that was poetic! But I really love those fluffy cotton candy clouds, and so I put them on my nails in service of week three’s theme of pastels in April’s N.A.I.L. Challenge!

Unmasked

Masquerade CollageWell, this polish is just completely lovely, isn’t it? This is Masquerade, one of I Love Nail Polish’s (ILNP) incomparable holographic ultra chromes, a megawatt pink-to-purple-to-green colour-shifter sprinkled with just the tiniest touch of holographic dust. I loveity love love these types of polishes; I always feel like I’m getting more bang for my buck when my polish looks like four different colours at once.

And a quick rummage around my stash confirms that I do indeed love these types of polishes, particularly the lush, jungle-hued colour combo of Masquerade. I actually initially thought this was a dupe of (or being duped by) Polish Me Silly’s mega multichrome, Mystery, a green-to-gold-to-pink stunner, although upon closer inspection, Mystery leans far more green than orchid-hued Masquerade. Masquerade is also quite tempered by its dusting of holo shimmer, an odd little effect that makes this polish look almost heathered, and downright subtle in the sun (a total non-entity in the nail polish world; it’s just a fact that sunlight makes everything look bananas…except apparently this polish!) But really, I love the less-is-more look of Masquerade out in the sun, in the shade or any other way it cares to join my life. I ain’t picky!Masquerade Sun No Sun CollageMasquerade Hand

Marathon Mani

Dotted HandI started this simple (glow in the dark!) manicure last night, getting all the way to the topcoat stage before deciding I actually didn’t particularly care for it. The colours I had chosen – neon-y orange, green and turquoise on a baby blue base – were just not gelling. But instead of blighting it from the earth with acetone, as is my usual, frustrated practice, I slept on it, and woke up with crease marks hither and yon. Then I went out to run some errands, and somewhere between coffee and groceries and home again, this manicure really started to grow on me, in no small part because the extra sunny day my city is enjoying is making the glow-in-the-dark base polish I used here, Serum No. 5’s Blue Blazes, FINALLY live up to its name. So I came home, dusted off any accumulated scone crumbs and slapped on a coat of crease-eradicating, high shine Seche Vite, frankly amazed that it had survived as well as it had (through seven hours of sleep and a morning filled with errands, no less) without a protective layer of topcoat. Truly, these are some nails with staying power. Which I suppose is a good thing, as in the end, I think I quite like this mani. And hey, it only took 14 hours from start to finish, which is not ridiculous at all. 😉Blue Blazes Collage

Magical Mystery Polish

MMT CollageHey, would you look at that – it’s Friday evening already. Huh, that kind of crept up on me! So in honour of the weekend that has appeared seemingly out of nowhere, let’s gaze upon this drop dead gorgeous polish I received today in a bit of pre-birthday nail mail, Enchanted Polish’s Magical Mystery Tour. This holographic multichrome stunner from Enchanted’s Beatles-themed collection is a polish I have passed by time and time again come the mythical “Enchanted hour” (those incredibly rare, unicorn sighting-like moments when you actually manage to snag one of these polishes in a restock; Magical Mystery indeed, the mystery being how to get your hands on one.) I’ve always found other uses for my Enchanted mad money (Octopus’s Garden and Across the Universe, two other polishes from the Beatles collection, are two of my favourite and most-used lacquers, so it’s not money ill spent.) But when Magical Mystery Tour recently appeared in a Nail Polish Canada restock, I thought it high time I finally snap up a bottle.

And I am so very glad I did, because it is sublime! What a gorgeous colour (or should I say colours, plural?) The shift in this multichrome is bonkers, bouncing all over the place from dark teal and turquoise to indigo and fuchsia, with the whole stunning rainbow tempered by a dainty dash of holo shimmer. It is so beyond pretty. I hope that’s a useful description for you, by the way – “beyond.” But Magical Mystery Tour really stands head and shoulders above even Octopus’s Garden and Across the Universe; it’s that lovely. So glad I finally added this beauty to my stash. Magical Mystery solved!Side FingersHand

Finger Candy Favourites: Showstoppers (Part I)

All in photoIn today’s continuing nail art adventures, we turn an eye to the real reason we’re all here – hardcore nudity! Okay, so that’s a favourite Simpsons joke I couldn’t leave well enough alone, but really, we’re here for the good stuff. And in Nailese, that means nail polish, straight up. To that end, here is a compilation of some of my preferred brands, a few favoured products and one exceptional international stocklist. If you’d like to see a list of my favourite individual polishes of 2014, you can find that post here. And now on with the show!

CANDY LACQUERCandy Lacquer photo

Indie retailer Candy Lacquer is the first polish maker I ever placed an order with. That was a year and a half ago, and I’ve gone back a few times since, always emerging a much satisfied customer. Dealing primarily in glitter-stuffed toppers of the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink variety, Candy Lacquer’s polishes are hyper colourful and stunningly unique. And not for nothing, but for a product that basically amounts to miniature bits of paper suspended in varnish, their formulations are excellent – stuffed to the brim with more glittery goodness than a rainbow unicorn, but never dry. Compared to a lot of indies, Candy Lacquer’s online presence is downright small, and if you’re used to other makers’ flashier websites, you might be a bit disappointed by their less-is-more approach to e-tail. Don’t let this put you off. Sometimes – like this time – basic is best. My favourite Candy Lacquer polish – indeed, a favourite polish, period – is Candy Cane Fiesta, a winter holiday release I’ve managed to incorporate into about six seasonally diverse manis. If you’re likewise drawn to Candy Lacquer’s fun, beautifully made polishes, you can find them here.

I LOVE NAIL POLISH (ILNP)ILNP photo

ILNP is a fairly new-to-me polish maker that walks a delicate line between indie and commercial – their gonzo approach to polish design (bigger! glossier! shinier!) suggests an indie maker, but their rock solid production and customer service belies a more commercial sensibility. And the packaging! True, it’s a well known fact I’m a lifelong paper product lover, but I was just insanely charmed by the rainbow hearts and logo-printed tissue paper my order came bundled in. This is the part where some of you might be saying, “You were wowed by tissue paper?” To which I reply, um, yeah, I was. What about it? It’s a lovely little touch that speaks volumes about the care ILNP takes with its business. Which is the business of putting out stunningly gorgeous holos and eyeball-searing multichromes, like these three favoured beauties, chromatic flakies Electric Carnival and Supernova and ultra chrome Masquerade. You can find ILNP’s products, a constantly updated selection of gorgeous, on-trend polishes, here.

PURE ICEPure Ice photo

On this predominantly indie-centric list, Pure Ice, a brand available at Walmart, is the lone commercial standout. And for good reason; their polishes, a whatever’s-on-the-shelf assortment of cremes, shimmers and glitters, are of a quality not normally found in $2 polishes ($1.97, actually.) I own probably 15 different Pure Ice polishes, and have yet to encounter one that’s anything less than OPI, China Glaze or Essie-level quality for just a fraction of the price. In fact, I exclusively use Pure Ice products for my black and white nail polish needs. Like most nail artists, I go through reams of those two colours alone, and it simply makes the kind of sense that doesn’t to pay $8 or more a bottle for these always-in-use basics. The one caveat here is you really are limited to whatever polishes remain on the shelf. My local Walmart restocks frequently, but Pure Ice’s super favourable price point means their products move FAST. If there’s anything specific you think you might like multiple bottles of (say, their black and white polishes) grab a few and stock up while you can.

KB SHIMMERKB Shimmer photo

KB Shimmer, another indie, is one of those polish makers that just quietly goes about its (excellent) business, producing consistently beautiful and unique polishes (and some bath products) with no fuss, no muss. For that reason alone – well-made consistency – KB has more than earned its spot as one of my preferred purveyors of polish. KB’s most popular polishes seem to be their glitter-stuffed crellies (ugh) and jellies, and to be sure, one of my favourite lacquers, period, is Belle of the Mall, a Hawaiian Punch-hued jelly brimming with silver holographic glitter. But their other formulations – mattes, holos and cremes – are likewise fantastic. Their shimmer-infused holographic polishes are particularly lovely, throwing gorgeous linear rainbows and applying like a dream. My one nit to pick with KB Shimmer is that their products are not available directly from their website to international customers. American customers can purchase KB’s polishes directly from their site here, but if you’re an international customer, you can get your KB fix from international stocklist Harlow & Co. here. Speaking of which…

HARLOW & CO.

Closing out this list of besties is the company that has enabled nearly all of it, Harlow & Co.! Harlow & Co. is an online stocklist that carries over 50 harder-to-find brands, from A England to Wicked Polish, and all of it blessedly, gloriously available to international customers. Which in this incredibly rare instance I’m actually not, as both Harlow and I are Canadian! That means free shipping and – best of all – lightning fast turnaround times for said shipping. I frequently receive orders within two days of purchase, three at the very outside. And in one truly remarkable instance last year, my order arrived in one day. I had gone out of town for a couple of days and my order got home before I did! Really, really outstanding customer service, which is an increasingly rare quality in a business, and one that carries with it a tremendous value. I’ll sing the high praises of Harlow & Co. any day because of it (to say nothing of the fact that they keep me in sweet, sweet crack nail polish.) Fifty brands of nail polish are at your fingertips – and hopefully soon ON your fingertips – here.

I initially thought these five companies were the only ones that had captured my polish-lovin’ heart (and wallet), but a quick peek into my beauty tackle box has revealed a number of other favourites I’d be remiss in not pointing out. Things to deal with another day – don’t want to swamp you with too much goodness or anything. 😉 So – one more time for the cheap seats in the back! – TO BE CONTINUED…