FrankenShortcake

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So it would seem that when you combine a predominately red, green and white, Christmas-themed glitter topper with delicate, pastel-hued base polishes, the resulting look is very nearly always Strawberry Shortcake. As in the doll. With snowflake glitter. Which really isn’t a problem for me, as I’ve been on the hunt for a Strawberry Shortcake-type polish for a while now, and I quite like the overall look. I had actually forgotten how much red Strawberry Shortcake has in her costume (had – today’s Strawberry Shortcake is all about the hot pink.)

I think the thing I like the most about these nails, though, is that I was able to create the look without having to buy another polish. And it’s not even necessarily that I dislike the financial outlay (although who likes parting with their money?), it’s more that I’m finding that the redundancy in my polish collection is becoming a bit of an issue. I’ve never felt the need to own 13 nearly identical turquoise polishes because this one is a shimmer and that one is a holo, but that’s precisely what’s happening, just with my favourite type of lacquer, chunky glitters. And as any nail polish aficionado will tell you, while they may be fun and beautiful, mega glitters have a somewhat limited application – it’s hard to make them look like anything other than glitter bombs (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

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So when I can find a way to combine some of my existing pretties into a gorgeous Frankenstein of a manicure, I’ll take it, which is precisely what happened with this mani, in which I layered one coat of my very favourite polish, Candy Lacquer’s Candy Cane Fiesta, over, on alternating fingers, Bonita’s pale pink Sweet Ever After and China Glaze’s pale green Re-Fresh Mint.

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Star Opal

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I was swatching the base polish I used for these nails, Picture Polish’s shimmer-flecked nude, Cherish, when I thought lovely and delicate though Cherish is, it’s really kind of boring. So then I added a couple of coats of Revlon’s Moon Candy iridescent flakies in Eclipse, which I thought would give the nude base a shimmering, opalescent look. Which they did, very much so, although, parenthetically, FRUSTRATION, THY NAME IS FLAKIE! The darn things NEVER want to lie flat on the nail, even after multiple layers of a high gloss top coat, and nearly all of them have issues hardening up, another problem that trumps a quality topcoat. But pretty? SO pretty, and worth their inherent frustration, at least in the short term.

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As the final, finishing touch, I dropped a gold-toned, “gemstone” encrusted star charm from Daily Charme onto my ring finger, its opalescent stones perfectly mimicking the delicate, colour-shifting flakies (which themselves occasionally flash gold, depending on the quality of the light.)

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Summerween

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Although there are a number of students already back at school, the usual signifier of the end of summer, it is still very much leisure time around my neck of the global woods, where the kids won’t start classes for another week and a half. Fall is still a ways off, and if today’s humidity is any indication, Winter Isn’t Coming either, at least for another couple of months. Still, you’d never know it, based on the Halloween displays that have already appeared at various retail establishments, and the flood of “I’m the Queen of Halloween!” posts that have popped up all over Instagram (as if owning 350 Halloween-themed hand soaps from Bath and Body Works makes you the queen of anything except hoarding.)

I’m generally not a fan of out-of-season “holiday creep,” which makes this mani featuring two Halloween-themed China Glaze polishes that much more exceptional. But I recognize that bloggers and lacqueristas need to plan ahead, particularly during those times of the year when there’s a run on holiday-themed items, and so I thought I’d showcase at least two of this year’s Halloween polishes, a smidge on the early side.

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For these fun, splattered nails, I used a trio of China Glaze polishes. I started with a base of Re-Fresh Mint, a celery-hued creme, topped with one coat of Ghoulish Glow, a glow-in-the-dark topper sold every Halloween. Before I go on, a quick word about Ghoulish Glow: It behaves very oddly. I purchased my bottle two years ago and have used it maybe five times. People who paint their nails all the time know you can hold on to a bottle for 10 years or more if you don’t use it all that often – it’s the opening and closing and contact with oils and dirt on your nails that ultimately does a polish in. Absent that interaction, a lacquer can last just about forever. Which should have been the case with Ghoulish Glow. Yet somehow, over two years of non-use, sitting upright in a dark, cool storage box, my bottle of Ghoulish Glow has depleted by about 75 percent. It has also nearly entirely lost its glow effect, which was not that strong to begin with, and if you use a topcoat, like I did with this manicure, it won’t glow at all. But I’m always hopeful that my polish mis-steps will have somehow magically righted themselves from the last botched attempt, and so I thought I’d give Ghoulish Glow another shot. It will not be a repeat purchase.

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I then topped those two polishes with one coat of Ghostess with the Mostess, a purple, green, orange and black glitter topper from this year’s Ghouls’ Night Out Collection. Ghostess is pretty awesome, a not-too-vibrant collection of differently sized matte hexes in Halloween’s most popular colours. Spooky…here at the end of the summer. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Leadlighting Hello Kitty

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Or at least Kitty’s iconic bow and glasses. Wait, does Kitty even wear glasses? No, I’ve seen her wear glasses. So does her boyfriend, Daniel. And I *may* have just spent a bit too long contemplating the eye wear choices of two cartoon cats!

Leadlighting is the new-to-me nail art technique I tried with these nails. Leadlighting, a relative of stamping, is meant to look like stained glass windows – vibrant, slightly diffuse colours trapped within a decorative “lead” frame. Sheer jelly polishes really prove their worth in leadlighting, too, enhancing and brightening up an overall design without obscuring the stamping work. For these nails, I stamped a bows-and-glasses design from my Hello Kitty image plate (Fab Ur Nails FUN number 9) over top of a basic white creme. After giving that plenty of time to dry (I’ve found that unless you give your stamped design ample dry time, it will smudge and smear, destroying the effect AND your mani) I then filled in the bows with a detail brush dipped in an assortment of rainbow-hued jellies. If you’re at all familiar with cookie flooding or, more simply, colouring in a colouring book, leadlighting works exactly the same way – you create a border of sorts out of the stamped design and then fill it in with your coloured polishes. Really super easy, and very cool.

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Rainbow Sprinkle Pick-Me-Up

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I’ve recently taken on a more advanced role in my ailing grandmother’s care – lots of visits, boeuf bourguignon-on-demand, sitting in on medical appointments and the like. Save for her gracious thanks, it’s rather thankless work, and so I look for anything to brighten up our visits. And seeing as my grandmother loves nail polish – said as much today as I was removing her periwinkle blue lacquer – sometimes that brightening takes the form of a fun manicure I can share with her, usually as she cringes in mock horror at the thought of going out in public sporting, like, free-handed donkeys on her nails or whatever other nail lunacy I get up to on a regular basis. Today I thought I was going to shock the heck out of her with these ultra sparkly glitter bomb nails, but she barely batted an eye. In fact, I think she rather liked them. Which just proves that being a nail polish magpie really is genetic! And that maybe the next time I see her, I’ll have to give her the serious Fairyland treatment (although it does take some of the fun out of it knowing that she also thinks it’s a pretty nice pick-me-up polish.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Mumu Memories

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If I may toot my own horn, this is a super pretty tropical floral print filled with…hibiscuses? Hibiscusi? Lots of hibiscus blossoms, in any event. I realized about halfway through these nails that I was actually recreating the print of my favourite childhood pyjamas, a turquoise, hibiscus-printed mumu my aunt brought back for me from a trip to Hawaii when I was maybe eight or nine. When she gave it to me, this giant sack of floral-printed cotton with tiny cap sleeves, it grazed the floor. By the time it said its last goodnight, I was 22, it was threadbare and it hung just a couple of inches below my knees. And it really did look exactly like this manicure, which I think is a lovely little bit of unintentional nostalgia. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Surf Kitties

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I love the idea of surfing, but unfortunately, as we all know, I’m a real weenie about getting in the water with sea life that wants to eat me. But surfing looks glorious, doesn’t it? I love everything about it – the culture that surrounds it, the people it attracts, the athleticism, the spirituality, the breathtaking locales. I love it so much, Blue Crush is one of my favourite movies, and that’s not something a lot of people would admit! So it’s something I love the idea of, but I’m also fully aware that it’s something I’ll never, ever do, because I am so scared of being munched on by sharks, and I’m also not that jazzed at the thought of dashing my brains out on a wall of coral. So once again, this will have to be one of those admire-from-afar things, which is cool when what you’re admiring are these fun, super summery nails instead.

For this beach kitten mani, I used some glittery kitty nail stickers from Daily Charme. A note on using a topcoat over the stickers: Don’t. They will pretty well melt on contact. That’s a lesson the cat that was on my middle finger learned the hard way.

Gone Mental: A Few Words on Mentality Nail Polish

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If you were messing around any nail polish-related blogs or vlogs this past weekend, you may have seen the indie polish brand Mentality Nail Polish mentioned once or twice or 20,000 times. Customers have reported that after using Mentality polishes sold between April and June of this year, particularly those of the neon variety, they’ve experienced symptoms ranging from the relatively benign (general sensitivity, burning, itching, discolouration) to the absolutely horrific (nails lifting off the nail bed. It seriously looks like something out of one of the Saw movies.)

For a comprehensive rundown of what is quickly becoming a rather sordid affair, I’d direct you to The Mercurial Magpie‘s accounting of the reported issues and Mentality’s interesting (?) response. But as I understand it, the Cliffs Notes go a little something like this: A few months back, some Mentality polish users began experiencing negative side effects after using certain polishes. Mentality acknowledged that some customers were experiencing “sensitivity” to the polishes, and offered to send out replacements for the faulty products. A handful of bloggers and Instagrammers then took to their respective social media platforms to visually show the nail polish community the extent of the damage to their nails (see above, re: Saw.) A number of swatchers, many of whom worked with Mentality for years and years, then publicly distanced themselves from the company, and people like me, who own quite a few Mentality polishes (none produced during the time in question, and none of the neons either) began looking at them with a lot of distrust. The nail polish community as a whole began demanding answers, and then refunds.

That’s when one of the owners of Mentality, a man by the name of Danny Dannels, entered the fray, adding fuel to the Instagram fire (the platform on which it burns the brightest) by denying those refunds on the grounds of “haters be hatin’.” He alleges that this entire affair is the making of a group of vengeful bloggers who are bullying his company into the ground, and as far as he’s concerned, the status is quo. ย In an odd sort of screed, he also noted that he’s an artist, a fighter, a scholar and an athlete, and the world needs his nail polish. ย Rant-of-the-day thus issued, Mentality then put the affected polishes on sale for 50% off. Which is…so ballsy! Also idiotic, self-serving, disrespectful and, most importantly, dangerous.

So this is where I get off the Mentality train, a colourful caboose I have to date most enjoyed riding, on the grounds that I am simply too old for this shit. This issue is serious and has far-reaching repercussions beyond its negative impact on the indie nail polish community. There are major health and safety concerns at play here, and it’s worrying to see them treated as an afterthought in the midst of all the social media squabbling. To that end, Mentality’s response has been petulant, juvenile and – again – DANGEROUS. And of all the shit I’m too old for, Petulant Amateur Danger Hour is riiiiggghhhht up there.

So although my Mentality polishes have not turned my nails into something out of a horror movie (I have 10 glazes and four Jellychromes I purchased right after Christmas, and they are 14 of my very favourite polishes) AND I will continue using them until the bottles run dry, I won’t be replacing them and I won’t be talking up Mentality on this blog any more either. Life is an endless series of problems and obstacles, but it’s how we deal with those problems and obstacles that define us. And if I’m judging Mentality on how they’re dealing with this particular problem, they’re failing miserably, and I’m really past the point in my life where I’m interested in supporting miserable failures. End of my screed. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Set in Stone

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I think this polish, Sally Hansen’s Gem Crush in Glitz Gal, looks like granite. Feels a bit like granite, too. The Gem Crush polishes aren’t designated as textured polishes per se, but the diamond dust-type micro glitter that makes up its base does have a feel, particularly once you get into multiple layers like the three I’ve shown here. A coat or two of Seche Vite will smooth that out in a jiffy, and enhance Glitz Gal’s silver holographic glitter at the same time. That’s when it really looks like stonework, or the way the pavement glitters after a summer storm. And then, as the final finishing touch, I added a tough-looking silver spiked charm from Daily Charme to my ring finger for a mani that really rocks. Or just looks like rocks.

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Build-A-Polish Workshop

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I love nail polish. I love buying nail polish. I probably love buying nail polish a bit too much. However, two years and 300 plus bottles of lacquer later, I’m growing tired of shelling out my money for a tiny bottle of glittery, toxic paint that I will use perhaps twice. I’m not talking here, of course, about the cremes and holos and glitters that I use every day in various types of nail art, more the niche polishes that have one very specific purpose and season in which to shine (I’m thinking here of the glitter I own that looks like a blended Christmas tree – it never looks like anything but a blended Christmas tree. Pretty, but useless outside of the holiday season.)

So when I recently became enamoured with a shimmery, nude flakie polish from Digital Nails called The Dude Abides, I decided to forgo the PayPal transaction and see if I could create my own version using polishes already in my collection. And you know what? I could. And so I did! The Dude Abides (named after The Big Lebowski, a movie I actually LOATHE) is a nude crelly shot through with chromatic rainbow flakies. The PolishAholic has a great swatch of it here.

To get a similar look, I sandwiched one layer of Polish Me Silly’s Party Hearty, a multichrome flakie topper, between two coats of KB Shimmer’s pale nude holo, In Bare Form. In Bare Form is actually quite opaque and covered up a bit more of the flakies than I liked, and so I brushed on one final, light coat of Party Hearty, which added beautiful shimmer and great overall depth. My DIY version of The Dude Abides is a bit glitzier than the original, on account of the extra layer of vibrant, colour-shifting flakies, but I think it’s a better-than-serviceable imposter.

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So the next time you’re eyeing up that beautiful, but impractical, polish, take a moment to root through your lacquer collection first to see how close you might be to cobbling together the exact same look from polishes you already own. Your bank account (and inevitable lack of storage; no one has enough storage) will thank you for it!

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