Sprinkles and Studs

Stud Hand

Keeping things simply sparkly and neon for the first few days of 2016 with this manicure that combines Polish Me Silly’s Freckles glitter topper with Orly’s silver holo, Mirrorball.  I love the way the paper thin glitter of Freckles looks as though it’s part of Mirrorball, without taking on that unfortunate pitted look so many neon glitters can impart.  I then topped the whole works off with some diamond-shaped neon studs from Daily Charme.  Simple, sparkly, colourful and cute.

Stud Fingers

Disco Ball

Disco Ball Hand

Oh, hear that, folks? That’s the sound of the disco whistle! Looks like it’s time to strap on your boogie shoes and hit the light-up dance floor for some super awkward dance moves and, somehow, the worst fashion of the last 100 years. But never mind all that, because you’ll be sporting these beautiful disco ball nails that throw more sparkles than the mirrorball twinkling prettily above you.

Disco Ball Fingers

For these simple disco-on-disco nails, I topped two coats of Orly’s so-appropriately named silver holo, Mirrorball, with two light coats of Finger Paints’ silver holo glitter topper, Colorful Collage. These kind of manicures are the thing we nail bloggers rage about all the time, because they never look 1/100th as beautiful in static photos as they do in real life, and indeed, this silver sparkler is no exception. These nails are just bananas in person, tossing off linear holos and eye-searing rainbows with every little shift of my hand, although I’ll concede they don’t look quite so awesome in photos. Although this manicure DOES look super awesome when magnified 15 times with a macro photo lens, comme ca:

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The A-Team

Without getting too nihilistic on you, friends who come here to see nail art but instead get lured into 1,200-word diatribes on my cats and/or The Lost Boys, 2014 was a bad, bad year. To be sure, there were some lovely, wonderful moments – new babies! an unexpectedly fun road trip! the discovery of Misfits! – but for my family at least, and a distressingly large number of my friends and acquaintances, 2014 was a year defined by loss, grief and hardships great and small. I won’t be sorry to see it go.

Okay, so 2014 sucked. But do you know what didn’t? These nail polishes! Which seems like the ultimate in ridiculous non sequiturs, but really, in a year that’s been as unpleasant as the past one, why shouldn’t we take a moment to appreciate the things that gave us a bit of joy, even those as immaterially material as silly old nail polish? No good reason that I can think of! And so I present to you this photo gallery of the polishes that rocked my world this year, a motley assortment of holos and flakies and industrially chunky glitters that prove that good things – and sometimes good, don’t-hate-the-world feelings – truly do come in small packages. 😉

Sitting atop the heap and not included in this gallery is my pick for polish of the year, Candy Lacquer’s everything-and-the-kitchen-sink glitter, Candy Cane Fiesta. I’ve expounded on its loveliness – some may say at length! – so I’ll say no more before it develops a swelled head.Blue and Green Christmas

The following nine are presented in no particular order or ranking – they’re across-the-board beautiful and so well made, I’ve found uses for them in multiple manis this year, and will continue to well into the new year. Here’s to the little lacquered things!

1. Polish Me Silly’s pink, white and blue glitter topper, Mr. Bubble.Mr. Bubble

2. Smitten Polish’s red shimmer-infused purple jelly, You Saucy Minx.You Saucy Minx

3. KB Shimmer’s Hawaiian Punch-in-a-bottle, Belle of the Mall.Sparkling Strawberry

4. KB Shimmer’s grass green glitter jelly, Get Clover It.Get Clover It

5. Orly’s silver holo of the year, Mirrorball.Mirrorball

6. Dance Legend’s cobalt blue jelly flakie, Sun Still Sleeps.Sun Still Sleeps

7. Candy Lacquer’s super fruity matte glitter, Citrus Smoothie.Citrus Smoothie

8. KB Shimmer’s Frozen-in-a-bottle, Snow Much Fun.Snow Much Fun

9. Polish Me Silly’s pink-to-gold-to-green chrome flakie, Stop Flaking on Me.Stop Flaking on Me

Polish Me Silly’s polishes are available through their Etsy shop. You can find KB Shimmer’s wares through their own site if you’re an American customer, or through Harlow & Co.’s site if you’re an international customer. Smitten Polish’s goods are available through their Big Cartel site, as are Candy Lacquer‘s. Orly polishes are available at brick and mortar Sally Beauty Supply shops, as well as their website. Finally, Dance Legend polishes are best and most reliably acquired through international stocklist Llarowe’s website.

Tangled: A Then and Now Post

TangledI did an identical design to this lit-up and tangled-up manicure last year and liked it so much, I thought I’d try it again this year now that I’m older (absolutely) and wiser (debatable.) I prefer the base polish I used this year, Orly’s Mirrorball, although I think the hopelessly knotted tangle of lights is pretty great in both. You can see last year’s effort down below after the story of The Year Sandra Lost Her Mind Over the Tree.

The first Christmas after my husband and I bought our condo, I went all out on the decorating – lights in every window, running along both of our balconies and woven throughout the headboard of the second bedroom daybed. There were stockings dangling from every handle, wreaths hung on nearly every window and, as the centerpiece to it all, our glorious Christmas tree, a perfectly proportioned artificial work of art that has graced our livingroom for the past 11 years.

That particular year I had clearly gotten it into my head that when it came to the Christmas decorating, MORE WAS MORE, and that definitely applied to the tree. And so when I found myself some 16 hours later, mired in a tangle of tiny twinkling Christmas lights, sobbing because I had decided that I’d weave the strands around every single point of every single branch, which led to me running out of lights nearly immediately, which in itself necessitated an additional FOUR trips to the store to get more lights, I had no one to blame but myself. The whole thing topped out at 2,100 individual twinkle lights, about 10 hours of actual “installation” and who knows what portion of my sanity, and I kept the tree up until March because I couldn’t bear the thought of untangling 21 strands of lights, but it really did look so beautiful. I, of course, have since learned that 700 lights plus one two-hour viewing of background Elf equals pretty much the same effect, which is equal parts infuriating and a massive relief. I call it my Clark Griswold moment, and it’s pretty legendary around these parts: The Year Sandra Lost Her Mind Over the Tree.Light 'Em Up

Silver and Gold

Silver and Gold CollageWhen it comes to nail polish, I am not one for metallics. Pale to the point of near see-throughedness, metallics just don’t show against my skin tone very well, particularly those of the sallowing bronze and golden variety. By the by, that’s got to be a new record for me in terms of made-up words. Two in one sentence? You’d never know I have a university degree in journalism. I blame the television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Simpsons for allowing me to think that proper English involves putting the suffix “-ey” on the end of things (“Woah, looks like somebody hit the tanning bed HARD; you’re so orangey!”) or that there can be no pop culture stone left unturned. It’s a disease, truly (actually, it’s so not; the etymology of language is fascinating, particularly that derived from popular culture, although I absolutely put my foot down at the thought that whale-fart-donut emojis are a step forward in the history of human communications. Some day archaeologists are going to dig up all our iDevices and have a bloody field day with the stupidity of our reconstructed SnapChats and re-Grams and Tweets.)

Having established that metallics are not my favourite, however, I still went out and bought these two fantastic polishes from Orly’s holiday Sparkle Collection, twinkly gold Bling and holo silver Mirrorball, because they are pure, holidayey (!) perfection. The way the light plays off the sparkles embedded in both reminds me of my mom’s Christmas dinner tables (I suppose they’d be called “tablescapes” now) when she’d set out tons of candles and turn the lights straight off, and we’d dine in an intimate little bubble lit with gently flickering candlelight.

Getting down to brass tacks on these gold and silver polishes, both were easy to apply with great opacity and tons of sparkly shimmer. I’ve seen a few reviews of Bling, a clear polish stuffed with gold holographic microglitter, where the bloggers suggested it’s too sheer to work as anything but a glitter topper, but I had zero problems getting it to full opacity in three light coats. Formula-wise, the eensy weensy glitter in Bling is super dense and dries to an ever so slightly textured finish, but you can always fix that with a coat of Seche Vite (which you should anyways, because it deepens the holo effect and draws out all those pretty golden rainbows.) Here’s Bling throwing sparkles all over the place outdoors in indirect light (pretty impressive given that the day was overcast) and under the shimmer-inducing pot lights in my kitchen.Bling Collage

And while I may have talked up Mirrorball the other day in this post, it bears repeating: It’s a stunning polish and the standout in Orly’s holiday collection, while still remaining appropriate for year-round use. Also, do you know how hard it is to find a great holo in an actual brick and mortar store like Sally Beauty Supply, where I picked up these beauties? Pretty darn hard! So get on that! Meanwhile, let’s take another twirl beneath the Mirrorball.Mirrorball Collage 2

All Matted Up

Radiant BottleThe 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.Radiant Hand

Beneath the Mirrorball

Mirrorball CollageSwatches of this gorgeous holographic polish, Orly’s Mirrorball from their holiday Sparkle Collection, have been making the rounds over on Instagram for the past couple of weeks, and I’ve only just barely been able to hold myself back from buying it now, now, NOW! But yesterday I was messing around Sally Beauty Supply with my mom when a lone bottle of Mirrorball caught my eye, and when she offered to act as my polished fairy godmother, at least for the day, well, how was I to say no? So I didn’t, and now it’s mine, ALL MINE (insert maniacal laugh here as I press my fingers together like Mr. Burns.) I was so excited, I pretty much had to hold myself back from spiking a nearby loofah into the ground and engaging in an elaborate touchdown dance through the aisles. Strange reaction to a bottle of nail polish? Okay, sure, I’ll give you that, but who among us hasn’t busted out some highly dubious boogie moves right in the store when they’ve actually got that item we just had to have? No one, I’m guessing, and that includes my husband, who shops at Sally more than I do (there are no sweeter words in the world than, “I popped into Sally Beauty Supply on the way home and look at all the fun stuff I bought you!” Sorry, girls (and guys), he’s not available for lease or sale, because you don’t throw back the fish that buys you nail polish and fixes your computer. You just don’t!) Long story short, I seem to have a good number of people lining up to buy me gorgeous nail goodies, and that is absolutely something worth dancing for. Beneath the Mirrorball even. 😉Mirrorball Bottle Sun