FrankenShortcake

ShortcakeHand

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!)

ShortcakeFingers

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.

ShortcakeBottle

Rainbow Sprinkle Pick-Me-Up

Fairyland Fingers

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.) 😉

Fairyland Bottle

End of Summer Carnival

EndofSummerHand

When I was a kid, there was no more bittersweet joy than welcoming the Exhibition to town, a Canada-wide touring carnival whose presence in my city for the final few weeks of August always signaled the end of summer and the start of another school year. The Exhibition was kind of a big deal for my friends and I – lots of attractions to ride, lots of mini donuts to consume, and then when we got a bit older, lots of concerts to attend, lots of boys to flirt with. I have so many great memories of mucking about the Ex with my parents, childhood friends, boyfriends, baby-sitting charges, besties and random strangers alike – it was all-inclusive fun, so long as your idea of fun is having your best friend yak her chocolate custard cone all over your knapsack two seconds after stepping off the Pirate Ship (true story!)

All this carnival talk springs from the polish I chose to accent these simple, summery racing stripe nails, Candy Lacquer’s pastel matte glitter topper, Carnival Games. Carnival Games is one of my favourite polishes, and despite looking like it’s just a bit too much of absolutely everything, it’s actually THE perfect mix of pastel and mid-toned matte glitter in triangles, circles, hexes, stars, rings and micro dots. Here I’ve paired it with another favourite, OPI’s No Room for the Blues, my go-to shade of cerulean and a fantastic polish in its own right – I use it as the background for so much of my nail art because it flows onto the nail beautifully and self-levels like a champ. No fuss, no muss, which is exactly the frame of mind you should be in come carnival time.

EndofSummerBottle

Sweet Nails, Dude

SweetShoppeBottle

Looks like Santa’s lighting a fire under the candy-making elves’ butts a whole lot early this year with this polish, Candy Lacquer’s green-and-red-and-everything-else glitter topper, Santa’s Sweet Shoppe. Lame, twee “ppe” suffix aside, Santa’s Sweet Shoppe is the jam, a crazy, yet somehow still cohesive, assortment of holo and satin matte circles, hexes, squares, bars, diamonds and stars in a mix of red, green, white and pastel shades. Here I’ve shown two coats of Santa’s Sweet Shoppe over Enchanted Polish’s Desert Sunset, a pumpkin-hued holo that nicely offsets the paler glitter in this fun, candy-coated mani. Sweet!

SweetShoppeHand

Anniversary Mani! (OMD3)

Anniversary Mani

Like sands through the hourglass, Facebook was kind enough to remind me that today marks my second nail artiversary! Indeed, two years ago, fresh off falling into an hours-long K hole of nutso nail art on Tumblr, I went off to my local beauty supply and purchased all the supplies I might need to create a watermelon manicure, and then I came home and did precisely that. After that, I did a strawberry manicure on my left hand, back when I believed in right hand/left hand equality. And then over the next two years I did about 800 more. But for anyone discouraged by their perceived shortcomings in the world of nail art, I invite you to check out my initial attempts. The rather unlovely truth is that we all have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is often not very pretty straight out of the gates. At best, it’s not particularly well lit.

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I toyed around with returning to the fruit well for these anniversary nails before deciding to take a more zen approach to the occasion. No need to bust out all the nail art whoseits and whatsits when I can create an awesome, festive mani using the first indie polish I ever purchased, Candy Lacquer’s Licorice Allsorts, over the pink polish I bought two years ago for my watermelons and strawberries, China Glaze’s Rich & Famous. For me, this is the manicure equivalent of putting my brain on autopilot – just a fun, calming, peaceful activity, which is in large part why I have stuck with it for so long. It feels quite fitting (besides, I have done approximately 8,657 strawberry and watermelon manis; time for a bit of a break.)

And so in honour of the simple (but too-fleeting) peace I feel when it’s just me at one with my polish, an activity I have most enjoyed these past two years, I also thought I’d submit these nails as my entry towards day 26’s theme of peace in the Oh Mon Dieu Nail Art Challenge. Celebration time, with a side of Om.

Anniversary Mani Bottle

Vitamin C

Vitamin C HandYou’ll run zero chance of contracting scurvy sporting this citrusy mani. Just in case that was a worry.

The glitter topper is Candy Lacquer’s Citrus Smoothie, a clear base loaded with green, yellow, orange, white and cherry pink matte glitters. Here I’ve paired it with Different Dimension’s hot pink You’ve Gotta Be Squidding Me for a super fresh and juicy, right-on-the-cusp-of-summer manicure.Vitamin C Collage

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…

Clover Candy

Clover Candy HandI’m coming at you with multiple posts today (bandaged such as they are) because as it turns out, while I may not be down for a big, rowdy evening of debautched Irishing, I *am* rather fond of St. Patrick’s Day-themed nail art. That combined with the fact that I own approximately 20 green polishes (a rather surprising discovery; I’d never call green my favourite anything) means I’m more than equipped to handle multiple manis in honour of, and inspired by, St. Paddy’s Day.

For this manicure, I went with a Lucky Charms-type look by pairing Cirque’s clover-hued holo, Panacea, with Candy Lacquer’s pastel matte glitter bomb, Carnival Games. I’ve often referred to one of Carnival Games’ sisters, Fairyland, as “Lucky Charms in a bottle,” but with its super summery mix of matte glitters in every shape, size and colour (no hearts and clovers, but there are stars and circles, donuts and triangles) Carnival Games is pure, crusty marshmallow goodness in a bottle. 🙂Clover Candy Collage

And just look at this combination in gigantic, macro-sized close-up! Beautiful (plus I’m finally getting the hang of the macro lenses my husband gave me for Christmas, huzzah!)Clover Candy Macro

Fairy Fire

089So I just looked up exactly what Fairy Fire is, and quite contrary to my belief that it’s just a cutesy name for the sparkly chemtrails flying fairies leave in their wake (as well as the inspiration for these glittery nails, which use Candy Lacquer’s holographic Fairyland glitter topper), it’s actually a type of bioluminescence emitted by certain species of fungi found in decaying wood. Sexy! Which I think we can all agree is significantly less attractive (and inspiring) than twinkling Tink dust! Still, there must be a touch of fairy dust in the air for a creation technically named after off-gassing mushrooms to be so beautiful. 🙂

Here I layered one dabbed-on coat of Fairyland over two coats of Mentality’s Barbie pink Bash.Tinkered With Tink

Snap Out of It!

Carnival GamesI woke up this morning and found myself in a mood. I slept poorly and was woken by the not-so-dulcet tones of my grumpy, bellowing cat. My arm quite mysteriously ached and the driving conditions were terrible. I walked out of the drugstore empty-handed after waiting in line for five minutes while the one cashier on duty did…other stuff. Back at home I rode the elevator with one of my elderly neighbours, who was returning from his morning swim and wearing naught but an insufficiently small towel to cover his girth, which based on my close proximity to his naked gut, I could clearly make out was covered in a fine pelt of snow white hair. And I’ve just been listening to far too many moody, melancholy songs given the already bleak time of year (Joy Division? Massive Attack? Instrumental scores from favourite television shows where everyone eventually dies?) TL;DR? It hasn’t been the best start to the week.

But things are looking up (I think there’s nail mail waiting for me in the mail room! So what the heck am I still doing here, right?), and not just because these nails, a pastel-on-pastel gradient topped with a bright, multi-coloured glitter, are super cheerful and just looking at them makes me a little happier (although it certainly helps!)

For this peppy, bubble gum ice cream-ish mani, I sponged on a perhaps too-similarly-hued gradient (Nails Inc.’s turquoise Royal Botanical Gardens over Pure Ice’s mint green Home Run) before finishing it off with a super colourful and cheery glitter topper (Candy Lacquer’s Carnival Games.) See, better mood already. 🙂Carnival Games Bottle