Thursday, December 31, 2009

My 2009 Best of the Best Polishes & Collections

Above: A difficult decision, but these are the top ten picks of my favorite polishes acquired in 2009. In no particular order of preference, the winners are: Top L-R: GOSH Golden Dragon, Lippmann Don't Tell Mama, CND Effects (brilliant invention!), Essie Matte About You (another brilliant idea!), Chanel Gold Fiction. Bottom L-R: China Glaze BFF (or any of the OMG shades that I bought this year!), Essie Huckle Buckle, MAC Toast of the Town, Sephora by OPI Absinthe Makes the Heart (also wins for Best Name of a Polish based on alcohol!), BB Couture Pipe Bender.
Below: 2009 saw some incredible collections filled with beautiful shades, unique textures and creative names. These are my personal choices for the Best All-Around Collections in 3 categories: small, medium and large. This post is long enough as it is, but had I chosen an 'extra-large-jumbo-ginormous' category, that honor would definitely have gone to China Glaze's Glitters, Shimmers & Cremes.
Above: My winner in the 'Small Collection' category is Orly's Metal Chic Metallic Mattes. Coming in with only 3 shades, this collection brought us one of the biggest trends of the year, the matte finish. The colors are metal shades, a favorite of mine, and the application and wear are perfect.
Below: The winner in the 'Medium Collection' category is Color Club's Wild at Heart. This 6 piece collection offered a variety of finishes, including 2 holographic shades and a duo chrome. The colors themselves are truly breathtaking shades.
Below: My choice for the winner in the 'Large Collection' category is Barielle's All Lacquered Up. A wide range of 12 colors and finishes including an olive green, a stunning black-based teal glitter and a deep periwinkle with copper glitter helped make this an easy and obvious winner.
The votes have all been tallied and the results are in. Granted, I was the only one participating in the voting, but that's all right! I thought it might be fun to go through all of my photos from this past year and choose my personal 10 favorite polishes that I've acquired during the year. While I was at it, I also chose the top 3 collections in the large, medium and small category. This has taken me several weeks to go through the photos, but I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting many of these polishes. I'm happy to say that they still bring me as much happiness as the day I got them. Ah, the many powers of a simple bottle of nail polish!

I want to wish each one of you the the happiest of New Year's, and also thank you for your continued support, comments and friendship. When I started writing my blog 10 months ago, little did I know how much enjoyment I would get from it. I remember how excited I was when I had my first couple of followers, and I recall thinking how happy I would be if I could have 50 followers by the end of the year. The fact that you take a little time out of your day to spend it here with me, continues to motivate and inspire me. So cheers to you all as we ring in the New Year. You are truly the Best of the Best!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Vampy Varnish BB Couture Collection: Part II

Above & Below: Redwood Forest, shown in 2 coats. This is a vibrant, deep Kelly green shade with a jelly-type base and aqua glitter. Pardon the mess on my cuticles! This was my last swatch and I was getting tired!
Below: Vampy Varnish, the collection's namesake polish, is actually a very complicated color to explain. It seems to have a charcoal base, but there is definitely green in there as well, although it is difficult to capture with a photo. The glitter is actually Emerald green and quite obvious in real life. When I applied this shade, my first thought was 'this is China Glaze Emerald Sparkle's deep, brooding older brother'. Simply beautiful.
Below: Kelly's Green, shown in 2 coats. Now this is what I call a unique shade, and I adore it. I showed my husband this collection and he chose this one immediately as his favorite. Not that he'd ever wear nail polish, but he does like the color. I would describe this as a pastel olive, if there is such a thing. It has tiny silver, gold, green and black glitter...those are the colors I see anyway. Click here to read Kelly's more detailed color descriptions.
The last 3 shades in this collection are just as beautiful as the first 3 I showed earlier today. I'd have a difficult time choosing my personal favorite, because I honestly love all of them. These shades are all unique to my collection and the finishes, although all glitters, seem to have quite a bit of variance as well. I wish the sun were out, because I just know they'd impress me even more...especially Napa Valley Red and Vampy Varnish. All 6 of these polishes covered perfectly with 2 coats, although I was able to get away with just 1 coat of Union Square in the post below. Scroll down if you missed the first 3 shades in this collection developed by Kelly, of Vampy Varnish fame. These are available at Overall Beauty for $9.00 each.

Vampy Varnish BB Couture Collection: Part I

Above: Napa Valley red, shown in 2 coats. This is a deep violet red or deep burgundy red-toned jelly base with coordinated glitter. No matter how many photos I took, they simply do not do this shade justice. Kim at Overall Beauty believes this is the best-selling one, and I can certainly understand that.
Above & Below: Union Square, shown in just 1 coat! Unbelieveable coverage on this metallic bronze shimmer with what appears to be tiny silvery pink glitter. Below, with a matte top coat.
Below: Mendocino Midnight has a special place in my heart, because I have always been partial to tealish green shades. I used 2 coats on this shade. It looks like a deep evergreen with hints of teal on the nail, and the small glitter reflects an emerald green sparkle in less direct lighting.
As many of you know, the lovely Kelly from Vampy Varnish recently had the opportunity to work with BB Couture in developing her own polish collection. You can read about her experience and see her swatches here. BB Couture polishes have always impressed me with their formula, their color selections, and their range of finishes. Combine that with Kelly's eye for color and style, and I knew these would not disappoint. I purchased mine from Kim at Overall Beauty last week. I happened to be on Twitter when Kim announced one of her fabulous sales...buy one get one free, limit 3 free. I jumped on that opportunity immediately, because it was only available for one day, and ordered the entire collection. This is the perfect trifecta of nail polish...the quality of BB Couture, the unique and beautiful polishes that Kelly designed, and the customer service of Overall Beauty! Congratulations to Kelly for doing such a wonderful job turning the colors in her imagination into such beautiful polishes!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure: Gilty Pleasure

Gilty Pleasure is the last of five in this line I have to show you. You can find Yellow Kitty just below this post, and 3 others I shared a few weeks back here. I always love shades of metals, so I wanted to give this one a try. It looks like it could be a foil-type finish by the appearance in the bottle, so I was pleasantly surprised that it's not, because I sometimes have problems with streaking on those types of finishes. This is a lovely light gold shimmer that covered very nicely in 2 coats. It dried exceptionally fast, which is always a bonus. The brush on this one was cut evenly, and again, the formula was excellent. I'm very pleased with this shade, because of it's simplistic beauty. It's such a light and bright shade of gold, yet it seems to have a very noticeable richness to it.

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure: Yellow Kitty

Above & Below: Yellow Kitty shown indoors with an Ott light, no flash. I used 3 coats and still had some streakiness, so I added a thin fourth coat. Surprisingly, it dried quickly even with that many coats.
Yellow Kitty is from Sally Hansen's newly re-formulated polish line called Complete Salon Manicure. I picked several of these up at Walmart a few weeks back, and although I'm not too impressed with the formula on Yellow Kitty (this is 3-4 coats!), the color range is excellent. I did add a few drops of thinner to this after trying it once and ending up with quite a mess. I'm not entirely happy with this manicure either, but trust me, had you seen my first attempt, you'd think this one looked perfect! I posted a few of the other shades here, and found the formula to be much less problematic on these, than I did with Yellow Kitty. The brush in Yellow Kitty was cut better than the one I previously had issues with, so that was a relief. I do love this shade of yellow, because it's the perfect Butter yellow shade that I've always been attracted to. I have one more to show you later today from this line called Gilty Pleasure. I'm not discouraged with these, but I do find the combination of the handle/brush a bit difficult to work with. And of course the $6.50 price tag seems high, but as I mentioned, many of the shades are quite unique and different.

Monday, December 28, 2009

GOSH Polishes: Golden Dragon & Black Passion

Above & Below: GOSH Golden Dragon shown outdoors with no flash. It's very cold and snowing outside, but try as I might to capture the beauty of this one indoors or outdoors, it's true beauty is not coming through in the photos.
Below: Look at the gold in the bottle!
Below: Indoors, using an Ott light.
Below: Black Passion shown indoors, with and without a flash. This is a very deep charcoal shade with fine silver shimmer. This one has silver veining in the bottle.
Oh. My. GOSH! Andrea, one of my followers from Great Britain, sent me my first GOSH polishes last month in an exchange we had arranged. This allowed us both to get some brands that we can't typically get in our own countries. I am thrilled that she chose these, but what I'm not happy about, is that I now want any and all polishes made by this brand! Golden Dragon is unbelievable. It's a cross between turquoise and teal, with beautiful gold veining in the bottle. On the nail, it has almost a duo chrome effect and fine gold shimmer. I have absolutely nothing even remotely close to this in my collection. Black Passion is another stunning shade, although I do have some similar shades. One can never have too many shades of charcoal grey, so I'm happy to have this one also. What I loved about Black Passion was the extreme high gloss finish it has. It really helps to define the silver shimmer. Both of these were nearly opaque in 1 coat, although I did use 2 coats for good measure. I don't know of anywhere to purchase these in the U.S., and their web site seems a bit off to me, because it doesn't even show the prices. Thank you Andrea for choosing these for me. You are an excellent personal shopper!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Last of the Color Club Japanese Glitters: Fresh Mint

Above & Below: Fresh Mint shown with 3 coats. The above photo is using an Ott light, and the photo below is with a flash.
Below: More of the prettiness that is Fresh Mint!
Below: I used Fresh Mint as a top coat over a mint shimmer, Nicole's Hint of Mint.
Below: I then added not 1, but 2 coats of Essie's Matte About You and the glitter is still gorgeous.
This concludes the swatches of the 8 Color Club Japanese Exclusive Glitters that I recently got from Victoria Nail Supply. If you're interested in the other 7 shades, you'll find a number of posts below about them. Fresh Mint is a medium toned mint green and in my eyes, it's beautiful. I have a weakness for green shades to begin with, so I knew I would love this one. It looked to be slightly turquoise in the bottle, but on the nail it's a mint green. These all seem to have the same multi-colored glitter in them, but depending on the contrast between the polish color and the glitter, it looks a bit differently color-wise, in each one. I used 3 coats on this one, and it definitely has enough color to look nice just like that. I've shown you a number of darker polishes with these glitters as a top coat, so for this one, I wanted to use it with a similarly colored base coat. I chose Nicole's new Hint of Mint, and then I also added a matte top coat. Mint green. Glitter. What's not to love?

If you're thinking about getting any of these, let me tell you my thoughts now that I have actually had a chance to use all of them. If you want them all, then get them all. See how easy that was! Seriously though, if I were to order them knowing what I know now, I'd probably skip some of the 4 pink/peach toned ones. They all work/look about the same when using them as a top coat because the base color is so sheer, that none of them really alter whatever color you use them over. As a stand-alone polish, Twinkle Peach is not a color I would wear alone. It has very little pigment even after 3 coats. I would have to say the same about Calendula for Joy. I Love You is lovely on it's own, as is Sparkling Cassis. Of those 4, if you're looking for something that works well on it's own and as a top coat, I would suggest either of those two. Here's where I'm not helping your wallet much...the other 4 are must-haves for me. You've got a sparkling white (Bishop Weed) that is unique on it's own and works as a top coat, and I personally don't have too many white shades that have this much personality in my collection. I also don't have an orange-yellow shade that's anything at all like Sparkling Orange. Blue Hawaii and Fresh Mint were the first two I wanted when I saw these, and I know that a lot of you, like myself, are attracted to blues and greens. The first offering of these polishes a few months back were all peachy-pink colors, so I can honestly say that I didn't need all 4 of the similar ones offered in this collection. The other 4 are totally different shade-wise from any of the other Color Club Japanese Glitters I already had. They're also different and unique from any shade I have in other brands as well, so I'm extremely happy with them.

Color Club Japanese Exclusive: Blue Hawaii

Above & Below: Blue Hawaii, shown with 2 coats. This shade is less jelly-like than the others. As you can see, it seems to have a somewhat metallic base color.
Below: I used 1 coat of China Glaze Cloud Nine over Blue Hawaii for this look.
Blue Hawaii is quite different from the other shades I've posted about when it comes to the formula. I only used 2 coats and the coverage was decent. This one, as compared to the others, has a more foil or metallic base color, and the texture was less jelly-like. I did add several drops of thinner before I applied the second coat, because it seemed quite thick. This is what I would consider a medium Ice Blue shade. Rather than layer it over another shade, I layered one coat of China Glaze Cloud Nine over Blue Hawaii. The result was that of a speckled Robin's egg. This may work well as a top coat over another shade, however, with the rich, foil-like base, I'm not sure how much the base color of another polish would show through it.

Coming up...I saved the best (in my opinion!) for last...Fresh Mint. I'll also do a little wrap-up on my thoughts of all 8 of these, with regard to which ones are must-haves, and why.

Color Club Japanese Exclusive Glitter: Dazzling Orange

Above & Below: Dazzling Orange shown with just 2 coats. This is much more pigmented than I imagined it would be.
Well, this one surprised me...in a good way! I fully expected not to like Dazzling Orange, thinking it would be extremely sheer, and being yellow...that just didn't sound like a good start. It's a cross between yellow and orange, reminding me of the color of fresh-squeezed orange juice. I only had to use 2 coats to get the look you see in the photos, whereas the others have generally taken 3 coats. I would imagine this would look even better if it were summer and I had a tan. I then put a coat of Black Radiance Risque over it, which is a brown shimmer. The glitter didn't show through at all on this one, unlike the others I've posted down below. Once I put a coat of Dazzling Orange over the top of Risque, I suddenly had the urge to make a pan of brownies topped with Rainbow Sprinkles!

Color Club Japanese Exclusive Glitter: Bishop Weed

Above & Below: Bishop Weed shown with 3 coats. The glitter, although multi-colored in brighter lighting, gives way to a more silver tone in darker lighting.
Below: One quick coat of Sally Hansen's Opulent Cloud over Bishop Weed gives you this look.
Below: This is a coat of Bishop Weed over Opulent Cloud. I love the way this turned out.
I think this one is actually called Bishop's Weed, but my label is singular, reading Bishop Weed. A minor technicality, because I'd love this one no matter what it's called! By itself, using 3 coats, it's a sheer muted white with multi-colored glitter. It builds enough color that I personally like the way this one looks, even though it's not opaque. It reminds me of Misa's Confection Section, only with more of a white background. This is such a simple, clean look, but the contrast of the glitter against the pale white looks like colored sugar on a new snowfall. Not something you often see of course, but that's what comes to mind. This shade, like many of the glitters, works nicely as an under coat and as a top coat, lending itself to many different transformations.