Tools of the Trade

Rainbow Tools All

When it comes to my nails, I’m really not much of a gearhead. Here at Finger Candy HQ, we take a remarkably low key approach to the “stuff beyond the polish” – one pair of nippers, tweezers, a cuticle pusher and a single glass nail file compromise the entirety of my toolkit. More than that, though, what is there is not of the greatest quality – bits and pieces I cobbled together from cheapy gifted sets.

So when KB Shimmer recently released a gorgeous set of chromatic rainbow tools – nippers, two types of tweezers and a cuticle pusher – I jumped at the chance to round out my kit with some quality nail care implements that just so happen to be eight shades – literally! – of colour-shifting, chromatic goodness. Let’s take a closer look at some of these pretties, shall we?

Rainbow Nippers

A quality set of nippers – an implement that’s sort of a cross between pliers and scissors, meant to nip away hangnails and ragged cuticles – is, to my mind, the most important tool in any nail artist’s arsenal. This set has a solid, taut spring, excellent heft and a cutting edge so sharp, it could carry out open heart surgery on a gnat. Also, when I hold it just so, it looks like one of the terrifying underground cannibal critters from the seminal Vin Diesel film, Pitch Black (hush now, that movie is AWESOME.)

Rainbow Tweezers

KB also released two sets of tweezers, slanted tip and needle nose. I don’t have much use for needle nose tweezers, as I don’t do a lot of charm and other placement work, but given the size of my eyebrows, there will ALWAYS be work for slanted tip tweezers around my house. I also find slanted tips to be a little more sturdy than their needle nose counterparts. These rainbow tweezers are particularly nice, with a good, strong edge for picking up the tiniest of things.

Rainbow Cuticle Pusher

Finally, we have the implement my husband has been referring to as my “fancy new rainbow-plated murder weapon.” Like, for real – LOOK at this thing. It’s damn scary! And it doesn’t help matters when I hold it comme ca:

Rainbow Murder Weapon

This double-ended AND double-edged tool is a cuticle pusher on one end and a freakin’ ice pick on the other (I think it’s actually just a general cleaner-upper, but I can’t shake the feeling I just bought the REAL Mr. Pointy.) Fun to note: Despite these tools shipping from Canada to Canada (within the same province, actually), my package was opened, this item in particular, and inspected by the fine folks at Canada Post. I really hope they tried out the cuticle pusher, because it is a great one – it looks like it would be all sharp edges, but the rainbow-coated metal is nicely rounded and smooth.

You can find these three nail care tools and their absentee, needle nose friend on KB Shimmer’s site here, as well as through Harlow & Co. here.

Sunny Side Up: A Sniff Test

SunnysLineUp

A couple of weeks ago I received a lovely, small haul of roll-on cuticle oils from Sunny’s Body Products, an indie manufacturer and retailer I’ve mentioned numerous times before on this blog. Sunny’s gets all my nail care love (her cuticle oils are the only product I actually use; we are the next best thing to hand care Luddites here at Finger Candy HQ) first and foremost because her oil blends are soothing, smoothing and nourishing, secondly because her roll-on applicators (my preferred method of oil distribution) are well-made and blessedly leak-free, but mostly because she offers very nearly all of her products in over 500 different scents, 20 or so of which I’ve tried and find absolutely delightful.

So given that I’ve said just about all the good things I can on the subject of the base products, I thought it would be a fun little exercise to do a sniff test on some of the scents themselves that I think take Sunny’s products from great, to absolute must-haves.

SunnysMiniLineup

First up on the docket is Blueberry Cheesecake, which I purchased as part of a trio of sampler roll-on cuticle oils. On Sunny’s list of scent descriptions (an extensive, fun-to-peruse document) Blueberry Cheesecake is described as “Fresh from the dessert menu, creamy cheesecake with plump sweet blueberries in sauce, spilling over.” This one is Mr. Finger Candy’s favourite, and it’s heavenly (it’s not a totally uncommon occurrence around here to see me sniffing my fingers, Mary Katherine Gallagher-style.) I love blueberry scents, and this one is extra lovely, with an almost tea-type note amidst all that berry goodness. And while cheesecake scents can often err on the side of sour, this one is sweet and unobtrusive – just a sweet little something to round off the juiciness of the berries.

Next up is Donut Shop, a scent I used as the inspiration for a manicure during the recent Oh Mon Dieu Nail Art Challenge. Sunny describes the scent on her site as “The scent of fresh baked donuts when you walk into your favorite donut shop.” I mentioned then – and the scent-iment remains – that Donut Shop smells nothing like any donut shop I’ve ever been in (which to me always smell like yeast, frosting, coffee and a vague hint of middle-of-the-night, fluorescent-lit loneliness.) To me, it smells like the perfume my best friend wore in high school, Parfum d’Été by Kenzo, offset by a hint of something sweet and rich and delicious. Donut Shop is actually quite complex, and one of those scents that will smell different on every person it touches (clearly, if I think it smells like my friend’s fresh floral perfume crossed with a muffin.) Confusion over nomenclature aside, Donut Shop is a gorgeous, unique scent that will please bakery lovers and scent traditionalists alike.

The third scent, which closes out my trio of mini samplers, is Blackberry Scone, a relatively recent addition to Sunny’s scented line-up. In the description document Blackberry Scone is described as “Notes of freshly picked blackberries are complemented by hints of boysenberries & raspberries and nuances of buttery, warm crust.” This is another one of those scents that maybe should have been given a second pass through the name generator, because the scone element is totally missing. I will concede that taste in scents is a highly subjective and personal thing, but this isn’t a matter of preference – I actually quite like the scent of Blackberry Scone. It just smells nothing like a baked good. Instead, Blackberry Scone smells fresh and green and crisp – like a summer salad sprinkled with blackberries. That I like it very much has turned out to be a big surprise – I’m typically not one for fresh-type smells, and Blackberry Scone definitely errs on the side of veggie. Still, a lovely scent that marries well with its more bakery-minded order mates.

SunnysPoisonPie

The final scent I chose was Poison Pie, which I purchased in a full size roll-on after burning through my mini bottle earlier this year. Poison Pie, a seasonal scent from last year’s Halloween-themed beauty box, is described as “The aroma of freshly picked blueberries, fresh cut granny smith apples, smothered in butter, cream, and cinnamon, with a background of fresh baked crust.” Sounds delicious, smells even better – exactly like my mom’s kitchen after she’s tossed apples, sugar, flour and cinnamon together for pies. It’s quite uncanny how that memory (not much of a memory, actually, as she makes me pies every couple of weeks) comes to mind when I smell Poison Pie. It’s so delicious and I love it. And look at that adorable little label!

In the final analysis, though, scent is a highly subjective sense, and what smells amazing to me may cause your nostrils to turn tail and run, and vice versa. My advice is to get out there and play the field – order a mixed bag of scents, ones both in and a little bit out of your wheelhouse, and see what strikes your fancy. As always, you can purchase Sunny’s products through her website here.

Eau de Donut? (OMD3)

Donut Shop Collage

I’m not much of a perfume wearer (I should clarify that to add “at the moment”; I have in the past and I will again most likely in the future) and so when the final day’s theme in the Oh Mon Dieu Nail Art Challenge called for a mani inspired by the hashtag #mynailsandmyperfume, I was sort of befuddled. Then I remembered that though I may not spritz on a cologne every day, I *do* wear scents in other ways, like my never-far-from-reach scented cuticle oil from Sunny’s Body Products. Sunny’s roll-on cuticle oils are the only hand care products I use, primarily because their blend of good-for-your-skin oils has completely turned around my hand care routine (as in I had none before, and boy, did it show!) but also because she offers her oils – just about all her products, actually – in any one of over 500 different scents. Sunny’s also offers a number of generously sized sampler packs, so you can really go wild and choose a smaller quantity of many different scents.

That’s how I came to discover Donut Shop, a scent I’ve been meaning to try for ages now, but for the fact that I’m quite pestily uptight about making sure I’ve completely run out of a product before moving on to its replacement. It also seemed like a good fit for its two sampler mates, Blueberry Cheesecake and Blackberry Scone.

And while I can’t say that it smells like any donut shop I’ve ever frequented (which always smell like yeast, frosting and coffee) I do think it smells DELICIOUS, like a perfume my best friend wore in high school called Parfum d’Été by Kenzo. There is the very barest hint of bakery in Donut Shop right when you roll it onto your nails, but then it dries down into a lovely, light version of my friend’s perfume that I loved on her so very much (I loved borrowing her clothes, too, because they always smelled fantastic, and so very different from my all-vanilla – sometimes actual vanilla – approach to fragrance.) On its own, though, Donut Shop is a really lovely scent – sweet without being cloying, a touch floral without being musty, fresh without smelling like the chemical version of a mountain breeze. So nice.

The little donut charm I used here is from Daily Charme, and it wore very nicely. And as always, I highly recommend Sunny’s Body Products. I’ve placed maybe four or five orders with her now, and I’ve never had anything but great, super efficient customer service, speedy shipping and really well-made nail and skincare goodies. You can find Sunny’s cuticle oils (and body washes, and hand lotions, and sugar scrubs, and…) on her website here.

Donut Shop Hand

Finger Candy Favourites: Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes MainI’m always somewhat hesitant to recommend a specific product, company or retailer because I have found that everything that’s said about one person’s trash being another person’s treasure holds absolutely true, particularly in the world of beauty-based retail. On the balance of probabilities, purely from a numbers standpoint, one or two people are going to have a negative experience with a company or a product that I can’t say enough good things about, and vice versa. It’s an inevitability, and excepting cases where the quality of a product or a company’s services are indisputably – by anyone’s standards – garbage, it’s really something of a personal preference crapshoot. We all march to the beat of a different drummer (Travis Barker is my life’s drummer, in case you were curious), or, to cycle back up to the top of this paragraph, trash/treasure.

But over the course of my rather short nail art “career” I have run across a number of excellent, can’t-live-without-em products and retailers, and I would be remiss – REMISS! – in not sharing the love, with the hope that you find them just as great as I do. And in the interest of not swamping you with 8,657 rhapsodizing words on the subject of nail art and nail art-related products, I am going to split this post into a few different sub-posts, starting with some of the behind-the-scenes goodies of the nail art world.

Sunny's PhotoHAND AND NAIL CARE

For someone who sops her hands in noxious chemicals nearly every single day, I have a remarkably casual approach to nail care. As in up until about a year ago, I just didn’t. I’ve never been a huge fan of hand cream (to mangle a joke from the Big Bang Theory, why do you want your hands to feel like veal?) and at first I thought that my cuticles were just fine, thank you very much (they weren’t.) But I quickly came to realize that a consistent approach to hand and nail care keeps the raggedy bits at bay, and I now make sure to treat my mitts to multiple daily doses of soothing, delicious-smelling hydration.

To that end, I pretty well exclusively use a range of items from Sunny’s Body Products, an indie retailer I have sung the praises of before. Sunny’s offers a number of products, from lip balms and bath whips to sugar scrubs and lotions, although I’m partial to their cuticle oils and balms, rich, emollient concoctions of nourishing oils in your choice of (as of the writing of this post) over 400 unique scents. I particularly like that Sunny’s offers nearly all of their products in generously-sized sample packs, so you can try out all sorts of wild and wooly scent combinations without a massive financial outlay. My Sunny’s stash, as it’s known around Instagrammy parts, is downright small – a few oils, a couple of creams, a lush lip balm – but I do have a favourite product and scent in Sunny’s Cuticle Oil in Autumn Harvest, a rollerball-topped applicator filled with all sorts of good-for-you oils in a sweet and spicy, gorgeously gourmand scent. If all of that sounds delicious to you, you can purchase Sunny’s products through their site here.

Seche Vite Bottle PhotoTOPCOAT

For my money (and for anyone who buys it, you already know it’s one of the more expensive topcoats on the market) you can’t beat Seche Vite. It is the king of high shine, lightning fast topcoats, drying to a rock hard, ultra glossy finish in seconds. Some folks aren’t fans, citing Seche’s rather elevated price tag and tendency towards mid-way bottle glop, but I very much am, in no small part owing to the fact that without Seche Vite, I NEVER would have ventured beyond my first hesitant attempts at nail art (raggedy little watermelons and streaky strawberries.) I remember finishing my designs and then sitting back, thinking, “Is this it? These look…all right, I guess?” But then I remembered the bottle of Seche Vite the saleswoman added to my order as the gift-with-purchase, an item I had totally overlooked, having never used a topcoat before, and decided it wouldn’t hurt to give it a whirl. And not only did it not hurt, it was – befitting its name – the perfect finishing touch, smoothing out all the fruity lumps and bumps while adding some much-needed depth and shine. You’ll never convince me there’s a better topcoat, so you might as well save your breath! But just in case I’ve managed to convince YOU, you can find Seche Vite at Sally Beauty Supply, Nail Polish Canada and certain well-stocked drugstores (Rexall here in Canada, for instance.)

Acetone and Brush PhotoCLEAN-UP

You should do it. Always. It takes seconds (unless you’re tidying up after a water marble) and displays a level of care for your work (and anyone else staring at your hands) that’s just plain old nice to see. I clean up all of my manis by dipping a small, flat-headed brush into pure acetone before running it around the edges of my nails. It’s a great, simple technique for tidying up the occasional blip and blob (and believe me, even two years in there are still PLENTY of blips and blobs), but it’s also quite drying, so you’ll want to dab on a bit of oil to soothe the savage cuticle beasts (one of Sunny’s magic potions, perhaps?) My small brush (actually not small enough, but it’s due for a tinier replacement pretty soon) comes from Michael’s, and the acetone I use, Beauty Secret’s pure acetone, is another product available at Sally Beauty Supply.

That’s all the wisdom I have to drop on you today, but as all the great TV shows say, to be continued!

Take Care: A Sunny’s Body Products Review

Fall Box

Hand care, that is. If you spend any time scrolling through the offerings on Instagram or perusing other beauty and nail blogs, you may have run across mention of Sunny’s Body Products. Run by one super hard-working lady, Sunny’s is an indie beauty product manufacturer offering a wide range of body and nail care products in just about every delicious scent under the sun (because as nice and legion as Sally Hansen’s apricot cuticle cream is, wouldn’t you like to bathe your fingers in the scent of, say, gingerbread cheesecake every once in a while? I know I do.) Sunny’s offers all manner of good-for-your-hide products at super reasonable prices, from cuticle balms and oils to buttery hand creams and body balms, all customized to the scent of your choosing (and if you think choosing yogurt is difficult – I just about have a panic attack every time I buy yogurt; there’s just too much stupid choice – try whittling down your list of “must trys” from Sunny’s spreadsheet of nearly 350 scents.) And because Sunny’s offers its products in a number of generously-sized sampler packs, you can try out all sorts of scents and see what truly strikes your fancy.

Beginning this past summer, Sunny’s began offering cute little limited edition boxes of its products themed to the most current festive season. Selling for between $22 and $24 US, each box contains a full sized sugar scrub and Miracle Balm, as well as a full sized dabber of Sunny’s Intensive Cuticle Therapy and a roll-on bottle of cuticle oil. Rounding out the fun is a half sized pot of luxurious hand cream (now called hand butter), a full size tube of lip balm and, depending on the season, a handful of delicious candy! Sunny’s also recently added another product to the box, an all-over body balm, and in keeping with the boxes’ limited edition caché, all of the products are offered in special, one-time-only scents (on the subject, I have found Sunny’s scent descriptions to be nearly universally accurate. I’ve bought a range of products in about 20 different scents, and only one, Sex on the Beach, was a dud.)

I passed on the first summer and Halloween boxes, being already quite flush with hand care products of a Sunny’s nature, but I couldn’t say no to the Fall box, what with its perfectly prejudiced preference for pumpkin and my overwhelming weakness in the face of spicy/bakery-type scents. I was also very nearly out of the aforementioned apricot cuticle cream (funny story – apricot is just about one of the only scents Sunny’s doesn’t offer.) This particular box is no longer available and the recently released Christmas box is currently sold out (although I believe Sunny’s has a second release planned), such is the rabidness, shall we say, of Sunny’s fans. But in a good way, because her products are really quite terrific and effective, in addition to smelling simply divine.

Here in Canada there’s no disputing that winter isn’t just coming, it’s very much here, but my fellow nail art aficionados in the United States are still Thanksgiving-deep in the Fall, and so the breakdown of this fall box isn’t coming entirely out of left field (I don’t know what that means. Is that good? I so don’t know my sports metaphors.)

First up we have a one ounce pot of Sunny’s Hand Cream in pumpkin apple butter. Recently re-jigged as hand butter, this super smoothing, semi-solid cream (“butter” really is the appropriate term) saved my uncomfortably cracked feet when no other product could achieve the same – ha – feat. I just made slathering a coat of this cream on my tootsies a daily event, and in next to no time I had trotters I wasn’t ashamed of, uh, trotting out in public. This cream smells delicious, too – a slightly fruity, slightly spicy combination of the season’s most delicious, warm scents.

Hand Cream Collage

Next up is Sunny’s Hand Sugar Scrub, a simple, super moisturizing exfoliating scrub in autumn mums. The scrub itself is nice and not too scratchy (although be careful when you use these types of oil-intensive products in the tub or shower – they can leave a very dangerous film of oil on the bottom of your tub) although I’m not the hugest fan of the scent – florals just ain’t my jam. This one’s getting re-gifted to my grandmother, who does enjoy floral scents.

Sugar Scrub Collage

Third and fourth on the docket are Sunny’s Intensive Cuticle Therapy, a dabber-based, super nourishing cuticle oil, and Sunny’s Cuticle Oil, the OG cuticle care product in a handy and portable roll-on bottle in caramel apple and autumn harvest, respectively. I use these two all the time at the very end of my manicures to hydrate-up the acetone-ravaged skin around my nails, and they both smell bloody fantastic (particularly caramel apple, which is tart and sugary and not the least bit cloying – a lovely surprise. Autumn harvest smells like Fall, candied, if that makes any sense.)

Cuticle Oils

In fifth place, and without its own solo shot, we have Sunny’s Lip Saver in pumpkin pecan. When I was in high school and university I was crazy for lip balm. In fact, a mutually obsessed friend and I were recently joking that we’d find random lip balms in pockets and bags and purses long after we thought we had lost them – it was like they were breeding (life finds a way?) But in recent years I’ve lost the lip balm bug (I think it was the advent of those super glossy, ultra gloppy, mega plumping lip glosses that dominated the beauty scene in the early 2000s – looking like the victim of a Tijuana back alley plastic surgeon is NO ONE’s best look) although this lip balm could convince me to start carrying again. Colourless and satiny, Sunny’s Lip Saver is that perfect blend of hydration and texture – as in it has absolutely none and makes your lips feel fantastic. Saved, even. The pumpkin pecan scent is really lovely, too – slightly peppery and a little bit nutty, with just a hint of vanilla. A nicely complex scent for a lip balm.

Finally, saving the best for last, we have a full sized pot of Sunny’s Miracle Balm in pumpkin crunch cake. This not-too-greasy cuticle balm is fantastic no matter the scent, but I’m delighted to have a big ol’ container of the stuff in pumpkin crunch cake, as it reminds me of this tooth-rottingly delicious white cake with boiled caramel icing my grandmother used to make for any old day ending in Y. Love it. Love all of it!

Miracle Balm Collage