Where the Sand Meets the Sky

MayJune 2017 Collage

With this duo of angry thunderhead and sparkling sand-hued lacquers, Enchanted Polish seems to be going back to nature with its mystery releases for May and June 2017. Thankfully, the au natural look suits them well; much as I love my not-of-a-colour-found-in-nature glitter bombs, there’s something soothingly refined about less artificially-hued shades.  I also can’t overstate the importance of finding a beautiful, unique polish you can wear to work, cocktail night and your grandparents’ anniversary dinner.

I’ve complained a bit in the past about how Enchanted’s mystery polishes don’t always correlate to the months in which they’re released.  Sure, you’ve got the requisite fir-green polish for December and red for February. But you’ve also got a shade best described as “holographic dishwater” for July and an inexplicable – if pretty! – primary blue for May. Back in 2015, the inspiration for these polishes seemed to be all over the place.

But this year’s crop of mystery polishes has so far been an absolute delight.  Inspired by some of Enchanted’s retro best-sellers, the polishes have also corresponded nicely to their month of release, particularly these two stunners, stormy May and sandy June. Let’s take a closer look at both, shall we?

May 2017 Collage

May 2017 reads a tad more blue in these photos than it does in real life, where it’s the same dark and dusky hue as loaded thunderhead clouds above a sandy beach.  The holo in this polish is not hugely pronounced, but no mind, this is one of those ones I actually prefer in the shade – lower lighting brings out its fine silver shimmer. These photos show two coats, and as always, it applied like a dream about smooth, streak-free things.  Never doubt Enchanted’s formulation – it’s across-the-board rock solid.

June 2017 Collage

At the halfway mark of the year we have June 2017, a beautiful sandy holo shot through with fine red shimmer. I think this polish looks like that sand I talked about beneath the thunderheads of May 2017, although it also looks like tanned skin after a day spent out in the sun – bronzed and slightly flushed.  This is another polish that is lovely in the sun, but positively gorgeous in the shade, where you can really see that shimmery pink glow.  An immensely flattering three-coater that’s workplace (and churchplace) appropriate.  A surprise favourite that will undoubtedly see a lot of nail art action.

Holo Package Shot

And because Enchanted’s stunning holographic boxes make my paper product-loving heart sing, or at least begin spouting impromptu slam poetry, I’ve included a shot of one of those, too.  I particularly like the way it appears as though the blue/green haze of the holo rainbow is climbing up the side of the castle in this photograph – let’s give it up for some decent iPhone photography, yes? 😉  Total fluke, I assure you!

Bummer time: Short of finding these mystery releases on, say, Ebay or via some other re-seller, May and June 2017 are one-and-done polishes.  But there’s still six months left in the year, so six more opportunities to nab fantastic polishes like these.  So if you’re interested, sign up for Enchanted’s newsletter here to stay up to date on all new releases.

Summer Solstice Scents

Summer Solstice Main

While the rest of North America swelters under a record-breaking heatwave (no climate change to see here, nosiree!) here in Ontario it’s pretty much summer business as usual. That means it rains a lot, especially on important milestone holidays (can’t wait to see the hurricane that will accompany Canada’s upcoming 150th) alternating with periods of crap heat and brutal humidity.  It’s absolutely nothing compared to the conditions that Phoenix is experiencing today, but then again, what is?

So I feel quite fortunate that the heat and humidity in my neck of the global woods is not so oppressive that I can’t enjoy this recently-acquired quartet of Solstice Scents fragrances – and on the Summer Solstice, no less. 😉  No finer time to delightfully delve into a handful of beautiful bakeries, fine florals and one apple-jacked pick for Fall.

As it was with my first Solstice order, I had zero issues with this purchase – it was remarkable only in its unremarkableness.  Oh!  Except that Solstice quite generously refunded nearly $9.00 in shipping overages, a lovely little treat I discovered only after noticing that a refund had gone through my account; I had had no idea one was coming to me in the first place.  It would have been pretty easy for Solstice to not inform me of a potential refund or to simply not issue one at all.  But they did, and in the most low-key, efficient and friendliest manner possible.  Customer for life with that kind of service, really.

Also?  This is a nice little personalized thank-you, and beside it, a thoughtful compendium of perfume-sampling tips (such as the important reminder to let your perfume sit a bit before passing final judgement; like a great stew or a fantastic soup, perfumes need a bit of time to settle and develop after bottling and shipping.)

Summer Solstice Cards

I picked up four 5 ml perfume oils this time around, with each blue cobalt rollerball retailing for $15.00 US.

Summer Solstice Main Up Close

And while my heart truly belongs to that most cherished of peppermint-vanillas, Snowmint Mallow, I think I can find a little room in there for these lovely and light summer scents, and that one autumnal outlier.

Summer Solstice Collage

Starting with the Fall favourite, Corvin’s Apple Fest is a scent I chose so I could layer it with another Solstice fragrance I own, Vanilla Pipe Tobacco.  By itself, Vanilla Pipe Tobacco is a sweet and sticky herbal fragrance – heady, like steamy night air rising from a sun-warmed cornfield.  I bought it because my grandfather smoked a pipe, and he always smelled a bit like the pouches of pipe tobacco he kept rolled up in the pockets of his Arnold Palmers.  Being a farmer, he also often smelled like sweet corn.

But my grandfather smoked highly aromatic cherry tobacco, and what Vanilla Pipe Tobacco was missing was the tart and tangy element only a touch of fruit could provide. So I picked up Corvin’s Apple Fest with the hopes that it would be lovely both on its own and as a blender, and indeed, it’s both of those things.  This is a really beautiful apple fragrance – fresh and sweet and juicy, with the barest hint of something tarty, cobbler-y or crisp-y.  A great season-jumping addition to my fragrance collection.

Corvin's Apple Fest

An unexpected favourite was Lemon Ginger Creams, a tart and tangy hit of lightly-spiced citrus.  This smells exactly like a lemon-glazed gingersnap, if there is such a thing, and if there isn’t, there should be one now! Like, right here with me right now, on a plate, waiting to be eaten.

Lemon Ginger Creams

A more traditional pick for my scent palette was Chantilly Cream, a sumptuous blend of fuzzy peaches, juicy mandarins, lightly-spiced vanilla and whipped cream.  This is a gorgeous gourmand fragrance that effortlessly tows the line between lip-smacking dessert and sweet scent, a lovely choice for those not spun by anything with “cake” in its title.  Ooh, I love this fragrance – soft and mild and sweet, perfect for those sultry summer evenings.

Chantilly Cream

And finally – as according to the tenants of Beauty Retail Law, there must be at least one per order – we come to the fragrance I am the least jazzed about, Blossom Jam Tea Cakes.  Oh, how I wanted to love this scent!  It was the first one into my basket, and I also seriously debated picking up a burnishing glace in the same fragrance.  But as always, I’m glad I ultimately held off, as there’s just a little something here in this lilac-tinged, lemon tea-and-cake blend that, to my nose, errs awfully close to something approaching powdery baby wipes.

Oddly, though, I don’t dislike this scent.  In fact, I find myself returning to my wrists to sniff it time and time again, marveling with each pull at the ever-changing kaleidoscope of fruity, floral and barely bakery notes.  It’s kind of delicious, and in hindsight, I might sort of love it.  I clearly have some conflicted feelings on the subject of this perfume.

But given that I’m so deeply undecided on Blossom Jam Tea Cakes, I’m going to take Solstice’s fragrance-testing advice and tuck it away for a bit, see how its scent develops in a few months’ time.  Provided I don’t, you know, drain the bottle this summer taking undecided whiffs off my wrists (reminder to self: don’t do this in public, it’s weird!)

Blossom Jam Tea Cakes

Once again, just a beautiful, beautiful order from Solstice Scents.  It wasn’t my first and it shan’t be my last. Shan’t!  I’m just so impressed with their scent offerings and presentation, and their customer service is second to none.  A very happy – and deliciously-scented – camper, indeed.

Kat Von D Alchemist Holographic Palette

Alchemy Palette Collage

For those days when you just feel like twinkling like an opalescent unicorn.

Regular readers may recall that I purchased this stunning makeup palette – the Alchemist Holographic Palette from Kat Von D – whilst under the influence of, in hindsight, an ill-advised quantity of cold medication. Apparently going batcrap loopy on cold meds turned me into some sort of mega magpie, because this twinkly palette went into my shopping cart with great haste, along with a number of its sparkly friends.  I mean, I think it was with great haste, as I actually don’t remember sitting down at the computer and placing this order at all.  Seriously, cold-med responsibly, friends!  It could be so much worse than just an overabundance of unicorn makeup!

But however it came to me, I’m delighted to now own this beautiful, fun and playful little makeup palette. What a charming delight!  First, the palette case itself.  It’s GORGEOUS – an iridescent, opalescent, rainbow-tossing wonder.  I love the packaging, and I’m smitten with the soft opal hues of both the triangular palette AND the box it came in.  There’s a bit on the Sephora website about how Kat Von D herself spent the last X-unreasonable number of months fine-tuning this creation.  And while I certainly can’t speak to her schedule, I’d say it was worth it; this makeup palette features some truly stunning and eye-catching design work.

Alchemist Palette Packaging.png

Palette Opalescent

But one ought not judge a book solely by its attractive, iridescent cover, so let’s take a closer look at the makeup housed within.  There’s four shades contained in the Alchemist Holographic Palette, which looks a bit like a pointy mirrored weapon when it’s fully deployed, green Emerald, ultra-violet Amethyst, pink Opal and blue Saphyre.

Open Palette

Being of very pale Celtic descent, the shades – softly pressed powders flecked with holographic shimmer – all but disappear as against my freckled hide.  For this next photo, I ramped up the contrast whilst editing so you could actually see the colours and not just wonder to yourself, “Huh, I had NO idea a skin tone could be classified as “ultra-violet.”

Alchemist Palette Bare Skin

Next, I ran a test on the opposite end of the spectrum, layering the four shades over a shimmery black creme lipstick, Hard Candy’s Black Diamond.  It was a pretty terrible lipstick (it stained, badly) but the effects created by combining the two were undeniably dope.  I’m looking forward to trying out some fun lipstick stenciling work, and these powders will make nifty cool highlighters.

Alchemist Palette Black Lipstick

The Alchemist Holographic Palette, when it’s in stock (it’s frequently out of stock) is sold through Sephora (online and in-store) and retails for $44 Canadian.  Perfect for all your unicorn cosplay needs or just, you know, ’cause it’s a Tuesday.  Twinkle on, fabulous friends. 🙂

Hello Cuteness!

Hello Cuteness

Classic Hello Kitty nails, featuring a couple of the Kitty-themed gifts I received from my husband this Christmas (there’s delightfully always a few!) – a much-coveted nail art tutorial book to provide the inspiration, and actual Hello Kitty polishes to colour in Kitty’s world.  Tangential, but for reals, my husband is the master of Hello Kitty Christmas gifts; I even have some not-a-joke HK jewelry that completely rocks my polka dotted socks.

The book, one of those hard-to-get-your-hands-on items by Masako Kojima, is chock full of fun and very doable Hello Kitty (and Friends) designs.

HK Book

The detailed and easy-to-follow tutorials that accompany every manicure are clear and well laid out; I’d say based on the results of this manicure, the first I encountered in the book, its approach to instruction is very successful.  But I would, because these are my nails, I did this manicure and I think it turned out so well!  So not super unbiased or anything. 😉  This cute little book also includes a sheet of over 125 nail stickers tucked inside the front cover, for all your Kitty and My Melody and Chococat needs.  Love that saucy black cat.

HK Book Pages

And then just to kill it with the over, I did this manicure using four of the five mini polishes included in the Hello Kitty (by OPI) nail polish set I also received this Christmas. Oh, AND, I painted these nails using the double-ended detail brush/dotting tool that came with the polish set!  So basically a total Hello Kitty overload. Just the way Sanrio and nature intended!

OPI Kitty Collage

I See Your True (Water)colours

Brilliant Blaze Collage

These Incoco nail strips in Brilliant Burst, a “Hey, I didn’t know I had these!” find, look just like a delicate, pastel watercolour.  It’s a very pretty look for what’s shaping up to be a warm Victoria Day long weekend.

But nail strips are a funny animal – a product I was really super into when I first started dabbling about in this nail art business.  Incoco’s nail appliques were a particular favourite – criminally easy to apply, made from real nail polish and available in an absolute ton of fun shades and finishes.  But as I started getting handier with a detail brush, I began phasing out the nail strips.  Why buy that which I can probably create better myself?

But for newbies, hesitant amateurs or anyone else who just doesn’t want to spend two hours on a single nail art design?  You can’t beat ’em.  Nail strips are available from all sorts of companies, but I really like Incoco’s – the quality is excellent (they adhere to your nails very well without pulling up too much at the edges) and the design choices are thoughtful and current without being needlessly trendy.  If you’re interested in a truly no-fuss, set-it-and-forget-it mani, I’d try Incoco’s fun offerings – and you can find them here. 🙂

Brilliant Blaze Angled

Chick ‘N’ Mix: A Mini Lush Review

Chick 'N' Mix Collage

Everybody sing it with me now: “Chicken, chicken, you can’t cluck too much for me…chicken, chicken, why don’t you come down off of that tree?”  No, not familiar with that one?  I suppose that’s not too surprising – I didn’t know about the Chicken song either, a children’s ditty by a singer named Nancy Cassidy, until it was featured in one of Orange is the New Black’s first season episodes, “The Chickening” (that’s the one where the residents of the Litch, starved for decent food, exercise and mental stimulation, embark on a crazed poultry hunt for a wee chicken that appears in the yard one day.)

This chicken, a Chick ‘N’ Mix bath bomb from Lush’s Easter collection, is a little less revered than OITNB’s prized poultry, although I’ve no doubt some of those ladies would shank their own grandmother for an unsupervised bubble bath.  Separated into three parts – chick, shell and adorable little concealed bunny bomb – this gigantic bath ballistic cost a whopping $10.95 Canadian and is really intended for multiple uses, although I just threw total caution to the wind and chucked the whole thing in my tub en masse.

Like just about every other bath bomb I’ve purchased and used this year, the Chick ‘N’ Mix fizzed out in just a little under 30 seconds.  I didn’t have time to fire off a single photo of the bath art either, because there was none – both halves sunk straight to the bottom of the tub and dissolved quite neatly.  Dejected, I tossed the little orange bunny bomb into the mix and thought about how that’s $11.00 I’m never getting back.

This is the part where I try to justify another dud of a Lush purchase by noting that the Chick ‘N’ Mix bath bomb did provide me with some Easter weekend nail art inspiration. But I’m growing tired of limited use items that don’t behave as promised, don’t smell as described, AND put a neat dent in my pocketbook in the process.  That’s not the kind of inspiration I need!  I mean, it’s inspiring me not to want to purchase any more Lush bath bombs, but I’m fairly certain that’s not the inspiration Lush needs now, is it?

Also, this bath bomb was pure nightmare fuel.  Ahhhh, KILL IT!  KILL IT WITH FIRE! Beware the rabid chicken bath bomb, friends, as you really ought not to share your tubby time with critters frothing green gunge at the mouth.  Sage life advice, from me to you. 😉

Chick 'N' Mix Kill it With Fire Pic

Over and Over: A Mini Lush Review

Over and Over Collage 3

So I dropped this Over and Over bath bomb into my tub the other day, and immediately began composing mildly snarky puns in my head about how over and over, Lush has been disappointing me with the longevity – or lack thereof – of their bath bombs.  Of the four or five I’ve tried so far this year, all have been ultra fast fizzers, petering away to nothing in well under a minute.  This bath bomb initially seemed to suffer from the completely opposite problem – after dropping it into my tub, it just kind of floated there, occasionally emitting a weak stream of pale yellow honeycomb bubbles.  For the next two minutes.  I seriously thought the thing was broken.  Or maybe that was just my back as I crouched over the tub with my camera (like a beauty blogging moron, guys!)

Then the orange shell covering the top half of the bath bomb melted away, and the Over and Over ballistic erupted into a cheery, frothy mess of hot pink and sunshine yellow bubbles.  For the next two minutes. Seriously, this bath bomb just kept going and going and going…it was the Energizer Bunny of bath products! Definitely enough to get me to eat my words on the subject of lasting power.  Don’t discount your bath bomb before it’s fizzed, and all that jazz.  It also made for some very, very pretty bath art.

Over and Over Collage 2

Ah, but the smell…it was terrible!  Lush says lime and fennel, I say that closet at your grandparents’ house that smells like expired medicine, old Sears catalogs and unidentifiable cleaning products.  It was pretty nasty.  I actually climbed out of the tub and stepped straight beneath the shower in an attempt to wash off the ick. And given that the Over and Over bath bomb also stained the ever living crap out of the sides of my tub, necessitating a post-soak scrub-down of all ceramic surfaces – and all for the low, low price of $8.95 Canadian – I can’t imagine that this is a bath product I’ll be reaching for again, pretty though it was.

Over and Over Collage 1

Plum Rain: A Mini Lush Review

Plum Rain Collage

With a matchy matchy mani.  But first the suds!  Which would be Lush’s delicious new shower gel, Plum Rain.

I’ve griped on this blog multiple times about the discord I think there is between Lush’s scent descriptions and the actual fragrances themselves.  Nine times out of 10 everything comes out smelling like powdery orange “drink.”  Or a musty floral I uncharitably describe as “granny’s unmentionables drawer.”

Plum Rain blessedly succumbs to neither issue, smelling precisely like its blend of vibrantly-scented ingredients – tart, juicy plums and a zesty, lime-leaning mandarin. Fans of Lush’s Layer Cake soap – I very much was one – will love Plum Rain; they smell quite similar, like cold, clear, freshly-squeezed glasses of juice.

Being a clear shower gel as opposed to one of Lush’s more colour-saturated shower creams, Plum Rain also doesn’t fall prey to the very real problem of staining the crap out of your tub and/or shower and/or skin, despite its deep and dark indigo hue.  It also made my hide feel a little more scrubbed-down than when I use a shower cream, a sensation I actually prefer – all evidence to the contrary, I’m not much of a product person, and I dislike the feeling of slippery, overly-moisturized skin.

Plum Rain Bottle

Ah, but that colour!  Great enough to mimic in this manicure featuring one of Enchanted Polish’s mystery lacquers from January 2015, which is the exact shade of Plum Rain (glittery bits excepted – none of those in here, you glitterphobes.)

039

Plum Rain is available online and in Lush shops right now.  This 100 ml bottle, which will last me the better part of the year (told you I’m not much of a product person!) retails for $10.95 Canadian.

The Dark Side and the Light Side

Main Enchanted Mystery Photo

Yesterday I was banging on about a bath bomb that looked like the Death Star and today I’m equating my nail polish shades with the moral relativism of a Jedi – looks like somebody’s got Star Wars on the brain.  Which is sort of interesting, as I’ve actually never done a Star Wars manicure.  Can’t be that big a fan, I suppose (I’m not; I pretty much like The Force Awakens and that’s it!)

But I always like nail polish, and I really like these two Enchanted Polish lacquers, picks both from Enchanted’s collection of 2017 mystery polishes.  Longtime readers may remember that I purchased all of 2015’s mystery polishes, although they may also recall that I wasn’t terrifically impressed with any of the choices.  As such, I sat out 2016.  But when Enchanted announced that 2017’s run of mystery polishes was going to harken back to their earliest best sellers, polishes that I initially missed out on because nail art wasn’t yet a thing in my life, I thought I’d jump back into the fray and hope for the best.

The first two polishes of the year, January and February, already give me great hope that this collection will be filled with unique offerings.  I have my fingers crossed about five times over for a polish inspired by Shrimp Cocktail, a shimmery, coral-hued jelly that is MY holy grail of nail polishes, but I’ll be satisfied if they’re all as lovely as January and February.  Let’s take a closer look at both. 🙂

January 2017 Collage

Representing the Dark Side (or just, you know, the dark side) is January 2017, a black scattered holo brimming with indigo, purple and lime green shimmer.  January 2017 is one of those polishes that regrettably photographs quite poorly.  Glittery black polishes tend to do that, their riot of rainbow colours getting somewhat lost in the gloom.  January ’17 is no exception, particularly in the shade.  But out in the sun or beneath any other direct light source, this polish is an absolute stunner, tossing off mad rainbows with every flick of your fingertips.  Gorgeous in two easy coats.

January 2017 Bottle Shot

February 2017 Collage

Then looking on the lighter side of life, we have the very ethereal-looking February 2017. This polish is a bit of an odd duck – I initially thought it was a very sheer topper.  But February 2017 is actually a full coverage polish, beautifully opaque in two coats, and reminiscent of standing in a cloudy haze.  By which I mean an actual cloudy haze, not a drug-induced one – like when I quite triumphantly stood on a mountaintop in Stowe, Vermont as a teenager, the clouds gently curling my hair into damp tendrils, and looked down on the majesty of creation and thought…”WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING UP HERE?! IT’S A FRIGGIN’ THREE HOUR HIKE BACK DOWN THIS OVERGROWN HILL!”  Never been much for nature, this one.

But this polish is so lovely, this time a silver linear holo infused with a rich streak of greeny-purple shimmer. It’s a sort of queasy-looking colour combination, and one I like very much, particularly in the shade.

February 2017 Collage Shade

These two polishes are unfortunately no longer available.  For the mystery polishes, Enchanted operates on a pre-order basis, and I purchased both of these (at a cost of $16 US a bottle) earlier in January.  But the rest of the year is still up on deck, and if these two beauties are any indication, we’re all in for some lovely treats.  You can get yours by signing up for Enchanted’s newsletter, which will fill you in on any upcoming pre-orders and releases.

Metamorphosis: A Mini Lush Review

Metamorphosis Collage

This bath bomb totally looks like the Death Star, right?  Actually, wait, before any big time Star Wars fans start nerding at me about the placement of the exhaust port amidst all of those little concave notches, I’ll amend my statement to say this bath bomb totally looks like Spaceship Earth, right?!  For those who don’t speak Disney-ese, that’s the name of the attraction that resides within the giant geodesic dome at the front gates of Epcot. The ride is basically a journey through the history of human communications – a very, very slow journey.  It also features some of the most disturbingly lifelike – and just plain disturbing – animatronics in any Disney park (and there really are so very many to choose from.)  But it’s essentially 20 minutes of darkened, seated, gently moving air conditioning, which means there will always be a place for it in Florida.

Anyhow, with its little speckled dimples, I think this Metamorphosis bath bomb from Lush looks like Spaceship Earth.  The ride is sometimes affectionately referred to as The Big Ball of Boring, which is also apt when describing this bath bomb – cool outward appearances aside, this one didn’t have much zing.  Again. This is kind of becoming a trend with my bath bombs, and a highly regrettable one at that – I don’t like it when the insides don’t match up with the super cool outsides.

Metamorphosis Pic

While I didn’t love the scent of Metamorphosis, fans of the Lord of Misrule line (a black pepper, vanilla and patchouli fragrance) will find its spicy scent quite pleasant.  And while I also didn’t love that this bath bomb puttered out in a little under a minute – again – I did appreciate the deeply unusual colour combination, an odd assortment of charcoal grey, mustard yellow, baby pink and, right at the very end, a tiny puff of grass green.

At the moment the Metamorphosis bath bomb is an online-only purchase.  It retails for $8.95 Canadian.