These nails are so much fun! Tell me again why don’t I matte all the manicures? Matte topcoats, like Essie’s Matte About You, the topcoat I used for these nails, dry down to a beautiful, chalkboard-like finish that lend even the most basic of manicures a little something special. For these Sunday night specials, I topped a baby pink creme polish with two coats of Polish Me Silly’s Freckles, a neon glitter topper stuffed with razor thin, rainbow-coloured hexes. Freckles is delicate enough that it always looks as though it’s embedded in the base polish, with Matte About You giving the whole works a delicate, eggshell-type softness. As the final finishing touch, I dropped a single pastel stud onto each one of my nails, nestling them against my cuticles. Mmmm, sprinkles!
…how much better these pink and purple puzzle pieces look in a matte finish as opposed to shiny. Shiny is always lovely, but owing to some combination of the topcoat and/or shadows and glare thrown by the light at the time of day I took these photos, bits of the puzzle pieces were simply disappearing, like this:
But a coat of Essie’s Matte About You was quick to the rescue, softening the harsh edges and making this manicure suddenly so much easier to puzzle out. 😉
Are you watching it? You should be watching it. Hell(‘s Kitchen), I should be watching it. Right now! Mr. Finger Candy binge-watched it pretty much the instant Netflix made it available for streaming, and I watched enough here and there to get me interested in settling in for a good old binge of my own. Daredevil’s my kind of superhero – neither super nor a hero, just one righteously pissed off dude on a mission (see also the Punisher, Batman and, to a lesser extent, the Crow – sure, he’s brought back to life through supernatural means, but for one very specific purpose, and the second he goes off script, he suffers. Again. Because the life and death of Eric Draven can’t be anything but endless friggin’ suffering. I mean, have you heard the man’s “music”? Tortured and torturous.)
But to bring it back to Daredevil, the Marvel television show currently airing on Netflix, one of my favourite things about it so far is the show’s opening credits sequence. There’s just some supremely cool graphics work at play, as thick, viscous-looking ropes of dark red fluid stream over top of landmark buildings and locations in the Daredevil Universe, running down off the screen. This show is bloody, so that fluid is most likely actual blood that Daredevil has bludgeoned out of some hapless underworld type, although it could also be rubber, like his super suit. Or it’s what blind lawyer Matt Murdock, Daredevil’s daytime alter ego, sees after losing most of his eyesight as a child in a chemical accident (why is there always some vat of acid just laying around all unattended in the super worlds?) I actually think it might be Daredevil’s sense of ennui come to thick, smothering life – brother’s so beat-down, he makes Batman look like a ray of sunshine in a pink party dress.
These nails, a red-on-red, shiny-on-matte mani, are inspired by Daredevil’s badass credits sequence. Here I topped three coats of Dollish Polish’s You’ve Got Red On You with one coat of Essie’s Matte About You before brushing on the shiny dripping lines with a tiny detail brush dipped in L’Oreal’s dark red Now You See Me. Plus a whole load of aggravating cleanup, because bloody red is just a total jerk to work with, something I think both nail artists and Daredevil can attest to!
There’s something very mod about this matte manicure (I refuse to use the term “dotticure,” except of course within parentheses.) It’s absolutely the dots themselves – polka dots were a mainstay of the Mod movement – but also the vibrant colour combination.
Did you know that my apartment is actually decorated in the somewhat muted version of this exact colour scheme? My bedroom is a pale, icy turquoise blue, while the remainder of the apartment is what some unenlightened types might refer to as PINK!!! I call it a rich, warm raspberry. Mr. Finger Candy merely calls them walls, because he truly don’t give a frig. Also, it’s a gorgeous colour, so arse anyone who says otherwise (there have been naysayers, like the plumber who once came by and acted like immediately afterwards he was going to have to go roll around in a giant puddle of bull shark testosterone to get all the girly off him, but to them I say nay!) To prove my point, here’s a bit of real life realness for you. Behold, one small portion of my diningroom!
See, that’s not so objectionable. I just really love walls with some life to them (although if I had any decorating balls whatsoever and didn’t have to worry about pesky little things like resale attractiveness or horrifying my mother, I’d decorate my entire apartment like the inside of the Haunted Mansion. Just damask and brocade EVERYTHING.)
But getting back to the issue at hand – namely my hands – this mani was a simple dotted affair of no discernible pattern topped with Essie’s Matte About You. There was no plan in mind beyond making the dots look as random and natural as possible, and the colour combination was already a natural winner. Simple and simply striking, and a look I’ll definitely try again.
I knew this manicure, a purple-on-black gradient topped with blue-leaning, iridescent flakies, was going to look cool, but I had no idea the little blue flakies would pull so much light from the dark polish and glow neon blue! It’s such a cool effect – like tiny LED lights for your nails – and one that remains that way no matter the angle of your hand, the quality of the light or, apparently, your choice of matte or shiny topcoat. Neat!
Here I’ve shown a touch-too-dark gradient of OPI’s purple Do You Have This Color in Stock-holm? over Pure Ice’s Black Out, topped with the blue flakies from Revlon’s double-ended Moon Candy polish in Orbit. And going for two different looks from the same mani, I sealed the whole works off first with a coat of ultra shiny Seche Vite before finishing up with a coat of Essie’s satiny Matte About You. Either way, the light from the iridescent flakes blazes through, elevating this simple glitter-on-gradient manicure above the of-the-moment flakie fray.
Oof, I am definitely betraying my true, dinosaur-like age with that reference, Bubble Bobble, of course, being an arcade and Nintendo video game first released in 1986. Heavens, how frightening – contemplating your mortality through video games come and gone (said the woman who has lived a lifetime of Donkey Kong Country games.)
Tangent aside, this manicure actually has nothing to do with Bubble Bobble the game and everything to do with the amazing glitter topper I used in this matte manicure, Polish Me Silly’s pink, blue and white Mr. Bubble. My favourite colour combination is probably something exactly like this, a lush raspberry pink alongside a cool cobalt blue, and when you add in the tiny bits of white glitter for that extra hit of visual interest, it’s pretty well the greatest stuff ever! A really lovely consistency, too, with just the perfect amount of glitter to provide even coverage without swamping your nails in an inch and a half of solvent-resistant matte paper flecks. Lovety love love!
Here I’ve shown two light coats of Mr. Bubble over two coats each of Picture Polish’s scattered pink holo, Electric Dream, and Pure Ice’s deep blue Celestial. And taking a bit of a nod from the matte glitter in Mr. Bubble, I topped the whole thing off with a matte topcoat, Essie’s Matte About You, for the perfect softening touch.
The nail blogging community, myself included, spend a lot of time extolling the virtues of indie nail polishes and polish manufacturers. There’s a lot to like in the indie arena (creativity abounds when a maker isn’t trying to appeal to ALL the polish mavens in the world concurrently), but sometimes it’s nice to take a closer look at some of the easier-to-find – but just as beautiful! – commercial polishes on offer at the local drugstore or big box, fluorescent lit hell hole of your choosing.
Here’s one such polish, Revlon’s glittery, ocean blue (and green and silver) Radiant. Revlon’s one of those venerable brands that’s been beautifying our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters and drag queen uncles since the dawn of time (1931, actually), and I’d wager that there’s very, very few makeup-wearing people in the world who haven’t had some variety of Revlon product cross their lighted vanity at least once. In fact, here’s a fun Revlon tidbit: At launch, the company offered but one product, a new type of opaque nail enamel manufactured using pigments rather than standard dyes. Fast forward nine years and Revlon is a multimillion dollar company with a full complement of beauty products. The fascinating things you learn in a day, right? And undoubtedly a great motivator for all those indies out there. Just keep plugging away, because you never, ever know where these things might lead.
But back to the task at polished hand. This is Radiant, a watery-coloured collection of blue, green and silver hex glitter in a clear base stuffed with blue micro glitter. Here I’ve shown one light coat of Radiant over a pale grey holo, Orly’s Mirrorball. One coat provides a nice dusting of mermaid-hued glitter, but you could absolutely get this one opaque in three – maybe even four – coats. Super pretty stuff. And just because I’m never content leaving well enough alone, I topped the whole works off with a matte topcoat, Essie’s Matte About You, which completely obliterates the holo effect of Mirrorball, but really brings out the tiny flecks of blue-green glitter. I think this manicure looks a bit like frosted sea glass. Or a mermaid tail in desperate need of a quality moisturizer.
A bit of back story. I bought the glitter polish I used in this matte gradient manicure, Cirque’s Lullaby, after lusting after it for the better part of a year. I never purchased it because I questioned how much utility I’d get out of such a pale polish. And as it turns out, my fears were indeed nearly entirely founded, because swatching Lullaby has been something of a satin pastel nightmare.
First I tried it over white. So pretty and delicate in real life, uncaptureable on camera. The problem with standard white as a base (actually, not so standard; for this mani I used one coat of Lullaby over a blue-on-white gradient using a couple of Model’s Own scented polishes, although you’d never know it) is the polish’s little white stars get lost against the background. And with its satin finish glitter, Lullaby tends to almost sink into the base polish, the soft glitter colours blending into one another.
Then, thinking that this was absolutely the last time I was going to be swatching this polish, I tried it over a pale, ethereal lilac. That effort was so positively ugly and useless, I didn’t even bother taking a photo. Finally, as a last ditch effort, I thought that maybe the problem was the polishes I was choosing were too pale and the top coat too shiny, and so I tried one coat of Lullaby over a watery blue-on-violet gradient, topping the whole thing off with a light-dulling top coat, Essie’s Matte About You. The result was my best effort involving Lullaby, with a just dark and smooth enough background to really let the glitter shine. A bit of a laboured effort for one polish that unfortunately didn’t quite live up to the myth I had created for it in my head, as pretty as it looks bubbling along on my nails. 😦
In my favourite Christmas movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Ellen Griswold, family matriarch and the only thing standing between her husband Clark and certain death, wears the most amazing black cashmere sweater printed with little white snowflakes and red hearts. I loved that sweater when I was a kid and I continue to love it now; it certainly feels like something ModCloth might come through for me on!
Here I took the black and white and red theme and turned it a bit on its head, adding some wintery design details to three coats of my favourite new base, OPI’s My Vampire is Buff. I then topped the whole thing off with Essie’s Matte About You, which I regrettably applied a touch too early, resulting in a bit of smudging. Or I *meant* to do that and those are tiny pulls in the “fabric” of the “sweater”…yeah, okay, we’ll go with that. 😉
Or do be; matte is great! Heh, do be. Dooby. Yes, I’m a child. 🙂
Juvenile jokes aside, some designs just cry out for the vintagey look a matte top coat gives. This includes pretty much every floral design ever done, although be warned: Your nails will look like they’ve been hung with the very best in shabby chic wallpaper. Which is perhaps what you were going for, so good on you!
Here, as always, I used Essie’s Matte About You, a really lovely matte top coat that dries to a satin finish and makes your nails look like they belong in an Instagram photo.