Londontown Looks

Lakur Nail Art 1

Closing out the week, as promised, with a couple of easy nail art looks using three of the polishes I received from Londontown, nude Cheerio, hyacinth Briolette and shimmery grey Opal.  These polishes are all so delicate-looking, I didn’t want to mess about with any design that felt too done.  As such, these manicures are very much not my usual!  But I actually love to sport the less-is-less look every now and then; it makes such a lovely change from my usual “It needs more cowbell” approach to nail art (and, indeed, life.)

Lakur Nail Art 2

Included in my nice little package of polishes and other nail care goodies was, in addition to some intoxicating-smelling cuticle oil, a bottle of Londontown’s kur protective topcoat.  I’m quite picky when it comes to my to my choice of topcoat – it’s pretty well Seche Vite or nothing (literally; I’m not sure I ever would have continued on with my first awful nail art efforts had it not been for Seche’s smoothing and soothing influence.)  But Londontown’s topcoat performed beautifully, drying quickly to a hard, glossy shine that didn’t drag on the delicate designs.  A worthy challenger to Seche for my nail art affections, absolutely, and another great product from Londontown.

Kur Topcoat

Advertisements

Take Me to Londontown

Londontown Collage 2

Here’s a bit of excitement in this nail blogger’s world – I was recently sent this lovely package of polishes and nail care items from Londontown, an American company with a mind for natural, botanical beauty.  Featuring a gorgeous collection of vegan, 5-free polishes (“5-free” meaning the formula is free from the five major toxins you’ll commonly find in nail polish – toluene, formaldehyde, DBF, camphor and formaldehyde resin, in case you were curious) and essential oil-infused nail care products, Londontown’s got the natural, ethically-minded mani for you.

And for me!  Times four, as I tested out a quartet of Londontown’s lakur polishes (including two new shades from their summer 2018 collection) and an assortment of wonderfully-scented nail care items.  Later on in the week I’ll have some nail art for you featuring these lovely polishes, but until then, let’s take a closer look at this unexpected manna from the manicure heavens. 🙂

Every good mani requires a healthy start and a strong finish, and Londontown has seen to that as well with their kur line of vegan, gluten-free and cruelty-free nail care products.  I haven’t had much of a chance to live with the nail hardener & base coat or the protective top coat (those will both see a lot more work when I begin putting these polishes through their nail art paces) but I’ve been using the heck out of the nourishing cuticle oil, because it’s light, non-greasy and it smells fan-freakin-tastic – like an herb garden, heavy on the flowering lavender and thyme, warm from the sun.  Infused with what Londontown calls their Florium Complex, a proprietary blend of extracts and oils and other good-for-your-nails stuff, I’d purchase this great cuticle oil in a heartbeat.

Londontown Main 2

And now, on to the pretty colours!  Up first at bat we have Cheerio, a delicate, pale wash of a hue that provides tons of shine while enhancing your natural nail colour – it’s your nails, only tidier!  She don’t look like much, but these kinds of non-colour colours always prove themselves quite useful, in applications ranging from clean, chic manicures to glittery jelly sandwich nail art.  I used three coats of Cheerio for this manicure, and like all of the swatches shown here, it’s presented au naturel – no topcoat to mess up all that lovely natural gloss.

Cheerio Collage

Next up we have Briolette, one of the summer 2018 additions to the lakur polish line.  Briolette (a briolette is apparently a type of gemstone cut, like an elongated pear) is a beautiful pale lilac creme dusted with purple shimmer.  The purple shimmer is not super apparent on the nail, but it does lend Briolette a lovely sort of corona that makes this polish look like it’s glowing from within.  This is two and a smidge coats (the smidge coat representing one obstinate nail on which I always experience polish drag, and it really is such a drag.) 😉

Briolette Collage

Next we have Opal, the second of the summer 2018 polishes.  True to its name, this pale grey creme shines with ultra fine purple, pink and blue shimmer.  Opal is just a beautiful, beautiful polish, and so flattering.  The shimmer is most apparent out in the sun, but in lower lighting, that added bit of visual interest makes this polish look like stucco or plaster or some other hideously expensive wall treatment.  It also applied really well, in two light coats.

Opal Collage

Sparkle and shine!

Opal 5

Finally, we have my favourite of the four polishes, juicy, popsicle red Guilty Pleasure.  This is the perfect summertime colour – lush, bright and so, so shiny!  I’ve been wearing Guilty Pleasure for three days now – a total rarity for me, but I’m carrying out some renovations to my apartment; little time to switch out my manis when I’m wrist-deep in floor leveler – and even without a base coat or a top coat, it’s holding up admirably well, with just the barest bit of wear.  Very nice.

Guilty Pleasure Collage

As stated off the top, and because we have to do these sorts of things now, lest the Internet police come for all that sweet, sweet bloggin’ money I keep hearing so much about, Londontown very kindly sent me these items, presumably for my review and enjoyment, although they made no requests that I do either (“WE DEMAND THAT YOU LOVE THESE POLISHES!”)  So nobody’s holding a nail file to my kidneys to get me to say that I really liked these polishes, and I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase more.  Looking forward to seeing what this quartet can do in the nail art arena very soon.

Londontown Collage 1

If you’d like more information on Londontown – their business practices, their backstory – or to peruse their large collection of lakur polishes and kur nail care products, click here and tell ’em Finger Candy sent you!

Sunny Days: A Little Haul Post

Sunny's Main Photo

I’ve sung the sweetly scented praises of Sunny’s Body Products before – they’re a favourite indie bath and beauty shop, and their cuticle oils are the only product I use on my nails. Seems we’re both low tech AND brand loyal here at Finger Candy HQ!  Then again, Sunny’s has given me no cause to stray – their products agree nicely with my skin, I’ve never received anything less than stellar customer service, and in combination with their absolutely gigantic scent list (over 650 wide-ranging fragrances) securing a new favourite is practically guaranteed.

But with the exception of a limited edition, Fall-themed box of bath and beauty items I bought some years ago, I’d yet to try any of Sunny’s products that weren’t cuticle oils.  So with a hot little discount code burning a hole through the ones and zeroes of my digital wallet, I marched off to Sunny’s aaaannnnnndddddd…promptly bought a dozen mini rollerball cuticle oils!  What can I tell you, you buy what you know. 😉  Also, eight of these are for friends (hence the unsightly hockey tape still snugly securing some of the lids.)

Sunny's Rollerball Lineup

Staying here with me (where I will give them a very good home) are the four rollerballs in the middle, Balsam & Citrus (astringent fir trees and juicy citrus; I’m really looking forward to using this one at Christmas), Poison Pie (an old favourite that smells like blueberries, cinnamon apples and flaky, buttery pastry), Pumpkin Crunch Cake (another oldie-but-goodie that smells like spiced yellow pudding cake) and Vanilla Snowflake (a take-my-money combination of icy peppermint, coconut flakes and sweet sugar cookies.)

The rollerball applicators themselves are lightweight, but sturdy enough you can stand them on their ends without them all toppling over.  Inside, the light combination of almond, jojoba and avocado oils mingle with just the right amount of fragrance oil, creating a skin-nourishing treat that I frequently press into double agent action as an allover fragrance.  As always, though, the best thing about these rollerballs – all of Sunny’s products, actually – are the labels.  I can’t imagine the work that must go into compiling all of these custom orders and then matching up the graphic design to each individual fragrance, but I do know I really appreciate the effort.  Half the fun of opening up a Sunny’s order is guessing what adorable labels will be wrapped around your items. My favourite from this go-round was Poison Pie, and yes, those are martini glasses and mason jars filled with eyeballs. 🙂

Sunny's Poison Pie Rollerball

But I didn’t just stop at the cuticle oils this time, adding a whipped soap and a donut-shaped bar soap to my order as well.  You know, for quality testing purposes!  It simply won’t do to have a control group of nothing but cuticle oils.  Simply won’t.

Sunny's Order Wrapped Donut

Scented with my all time favourite Sunny’s fragrance, Blueberry Cheesecake, both the whipped soap and the donut soap are sublime.  I’ve actually yet to break into the whipped soap (I have quite a backlog of bars to plow through first) although I like the frosting-like consistency of the glycerin-based blend.  And the scent?  Oof, it’s so delicious, and true to both the cuticle oil and the bar soap – the scent thankfully does not change from product to product.

Sunny's Blueberry Whipped Soap

And what of the adorable little donut-shaped bar soap?  About two days from retirement. Plans to go on a round-the-world trip with its wife once it finishes this one. final. JOB! Oh wait, sorry, think I’m getting my bath and beauty and police procedurals all mixed up.  A-gain.  But the soap *is* nearly finished.

Anyhow, if you can consider yourself to be any such thing, I was actually proud of this little donut – perched at the side of the bathroom sink, it lasted for three weeks, sudsed up nicely, moisturized well, remained scent true (and strong, such a rarity in a cold processed soap) and didn’t disintegrate into a soapy, goopy mess as it neared its final days.  Also, Sunny was kind enough to solicit requests for icing colours, so I went with the rainbow sherbet-like hues I use to decorate our apartment.

Sunny's Soap and Towel

So there we have it, another little Sunny’s order to enjoy alone AND share with friends.  I can’t wait until they get their cuticle oils – I’ve no doubt they’re going to love them, maybe enough to seek out some sweet little donuts of their own.  But no matter the recipient, this was another fantastic order from Sunny’s Body Products, and absolutely not my last.

Fall Fun Series: Hand and Nail Care

fall-nail-care

I’ve mentioned on previous occasions that, quite oddly for a nail blogger or just, you know, a human, I’m not much for beauty stuff on my hands.  Lotions?  Hardly use ’em.  Masks and treatments?  Only every now and then.  Hand creams?  Whazzat?  So when the most recent prompt in the Fall Fun Series called for the participants to highlight a favourite body care item, I was flummoxed – my hands-off approach to nail, skin and body care effectively means I have none!

Then I remembered that I still have a number of seasonally-scented items from a themed box I purchased from Sunny’s Body Products two years ago, and best of all, they’re all in perfect condition – the fragrance oils haven’t gone skunky, the creams bear no discolouration and a patch test raised no red, bumpy alarms.  I’d say these oldies, but goodies, are all cleared for takeoff, to slightly muddle my metaphors.

Fall Box

If you’d like to see what I had to say about the Fall box in its original form, you can find that post here.  Of the remaining items – intensive cuticle oil in Caramel Apple, sugar scrub in Autumn Mums and cuticle balm in Pumpkin Crunch Cake – I’m most excited to press the cuticle balm into action as a super emollient foot cream. And the scent?  Divine. It actually reminds me very much of this white cake my grandmother used to make with hard boiled caramel icing – buttery, pudding-y vanilla.  Oh, yum.  And while I can’t say I loveity love love the scent of the Autumn Mums sugar scrub, it’s pleasant enough and quite tolerable.  And the dabber-topped cuticle oil in Caramel Apple?  A wonderfully-scented version of the only nail product I use with any regularity. A definite keeper.

New-ish this year is a KB Shimmer mani shot in Pumpkin Spice.  Tiny, fizzy bath bombs for your hands, feet and nails, mani shots were a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fad.  I received this little guy as a gift with purchase, which seems about right – I’m not sure I’d lay out money specifically for a mani shot, cute though they may be. But in years past, this is right about the time my hands and nails begin to suffer for my lack of a decent skincare regimen, so I’m willing to give this mani shot a shot, and indeed all of these “lost” Fall items, now on their second lives. 🙂

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.

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