Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Zoya "Awaken" Collection and "Monet" Special Edition Topper - Swatches & Reviews

Monet at the MOMA

Products in this post were provided for review. Read my full disclosure policy here.

"Open your mind to the beauty of color discovery; the new, the unexplored, the excitement! Awaken by Zoya - Six new, full-coverage, dew-drenched creams and gold-kissed metallic nail polish colors for Spring 2014. Full of pure pigment, intense color and modern complexity that will take you far beyond the hazy, barely there hues of seasons past into a new world of chromatic joy." [from the press release]

The flowers are opening up and the buds on the cherry trees are quite literally bursting open here in NYC! Spring is here at last! How about checking out some super springy polishes to celebrate? The six polishes in Zoya's new Awaken collection perfectly embody spring and the "special edition topper" Monet complements each color nicely. Let's take a look!


Dot is a subdued "grown-up" pink cream. The warmth of this hue keeps it out of bubble gum pink territory (which, btw, there is nothing wrong with). Fun fact... Dot made her debut at Zang Toi's spring 2014 runway presentation under the name Ballet Babe and was inspired by the colors used in his collection. The polish wasn't worn on the runway but was included in the gift bags for show attendees (take a look here). Dot's formula is semi-sheer (but not as sheer as Zoya's jellies) and dries to a super glossy finish. I'm wearing three coats. Dot is one classy polish - I am really crazy about this pink!


Cole is a pastel sherbet-y peach... or is it apricot?... cream originally released under the name Stella for designer Peter Som's SS14 collection. Like Dot, the formula is sheer but not quite that of a true jelly. I'm wearing three coats. IRL, it's not so white-based and is a little duller. You probably know by now if this kind of color works for you or not ;)


Brooklyn is a frosty pale yellow gold chrome. It's quite reflective so I had to adjust the exposure for this swatch. The formula is streaky and unforgiving (see the dust and bumps?) and for me, this color emphasizes the redness in the skin around my nails. Because of the weird frosty chrome streaking (yes, I know, an issue inherent to this kind of finish that some have overcome by dabbing it on with a sponge), I really can't recommend this polish. If you're looking for a gold polish, take a look at Zoya Ziv. Sorry, Brooklyn. You're a fine borough but as a polish, no thanks.


Dillon is a shimmery pearly/metallic pastel wintergreen with traces of pale golden shimmer. The formula is thick and patchy yet the coverage is sheer... it's kind of weird and not ideal. Two coats looked OK, but under my bright lights, I needed three. But the color - I LOVE this color! It's like a watercolor color.


Rebel is a shimmery pearly/metallic sky blue. Like Dillon, the coverage is sheer but I only needed two coats of Rebel. This is another great watercolor color polish :)


Hudson is a shimmery pearly/metallic orchid purple with a touch of pale golden shimmer. The formula was like Dillon and Rebel - not perfect, but I ended up needing only two coats. In case you were wondering, Hudson is more intense in both shimmer and color than last year's shimmery purple Julie


"Create a nail color masterpiece. The multi-colored, holographic flakes of Zoya Monet lend an impressionistic color change option to existing color palettes. Never boring, this artistic topper can be applied as an accent or used as an overall color changer." [from the press release]

Monet is the bonus polish for Zoya's spring 2014 line up composed of medium sized hexagonal iridescent (sorry, not really holographic) glitter pieces in a very pale pink base. The effect is lovely & subtle - I love how colorful the iridescent bits are! The formula is thick and the glitter pieces aren't abundant - you'll want to blob on this polish and push it around the nail to evenly distribute the pieces. Because it's thick, allow for extra drying time. Shown below I'm wearing one coat over Dot.

The shimmery metallic/pearly polishes Dillon, Rebel, and Hudson are the standouts of the Awaken collection. These polishes are perfect if you're looking to wear pastel on your nails this spring but feeling like something other than a cream color. Monet is a lovely & wearable iridescent top coat.

What do you think of Zoya's spring 2014 creations?

Zoya nail polishes are BIG5FREE (free of formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, dibutyl phthalate, toluene and camphor). The Awaken polishes retail for $9 and Monet retails for $10. Zoya polishes are available online: www.zoya.com. In New York City, Zoya can be purchased at several locations including Gideon's Drugs (1385 Broadway, corner of 38th St) and Ulta in the Rego Park Center. See the full list of retailers here.

Products in this post were provided for review. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cirque Colors: The Heritage Collection Swatches & Reviews

Product(s) in this post were provided for review. Read my disclosure policy here.

From the Aztecs to the Inuits, Cirque Colors drew inspiration from the native cultures of the Americas to create a collection called -- Heritage. This collection consists of 7 vibrant holographic lacquers that celebrate the richly spirited traditions and arts of these indigenous groups. Sky Woman, a shimmering periwinkle, was inspired by the fabled creation story about the woman who fell from the sky. While the bright pink hue of Powwow embodies the dynamic music and performances honoring their heritage. [from the press release]

Each time hints of a new Cirque Colors collection start popping up around the interwebs, I get excited thinking about what creator Annie Pham could possibly have in store for us. Would there be glitters ala Queen Majesty and Ica Valley? Magical top coats like XX and Galinda? Holos like Fascination Street and Bejeweled? I always (not so secretly) root for the holos, so it was wonderful to learn that not just one or two but all seven polishes in the newest collection are holographic! Ah it is a great time to be a lover of holo nail polish :)

I've got lots to show you, so let's jump right in. For each polish, the first picture was taken in the light box and the second was lit with the flash to capture the holo (because the sun was being "shady" hahaha). Then I wanted to show you the polish in the bottle - for these pics, the picture on the left was taken in indirect sunlight and the right was taken with flash. I adjusted the colors for accuracy. Let's take a look!


Powwow is a fuchsia pink holographic polish with a bonus surprise of blue shimmer (look for it in the bottle pic on the left). It's such a lovely shade of borderline neon pink and the blue shimmer makes it even more electric. The formula was fantastic and I used just two coats. Fun fact - this is the "pinkest" Cirque polish so far!

Luminous Owl

Luminous Owl is an Earthy tan (like clay, not dirt) holographic polish. It's not as orange as I thought it was going to be. While it clashes a bit with my skin tone, the formula is great - I'm wearing two coats. Luminous Owl is an homage to iconic printmaker, Kenojuak Ashevak.


Panacea is a holographic yellowish slime green polish. This color is so strange and so... Cirque! There are some metallic green flecks happening in Panacea that you'll see in indoor lighting - look for it in the bottle picture on the left below. I'm wearing two coats.

See the rest of the Heritage collection after the break...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Weekend Shopping: NYC's Newest Sephora, Burberry Nail Polish, Revlon's "Haute Rocks", and more!

Some very radiant orchids inside the Sephora + Pantone Universe Pop-Up Greenhouse

Happy weekend! What have you been up to? I've been working on a few spring polish reviews and am *still* waiting for some sunlight to photograph Cirque's Heritage collection - ugh I can't wait to show them to you! I've also been spring cleaning my inbox and unsubscribing to all those emails I delete without reading (you know the kind I'm talking about!) Anyway... here's a short list of what to shop for this weekend.

There's a new Sephora at the Queens Center Mall

Speaking of Sephora... what are you Beauty Insiders going to get with your 15% off passes?

Burberry's doing nail polish now (maybe this is old news, but I don't think I ever heard of it!)

And Revlon's doing textures - aka "Haute Rocks"!

Rescue Beauty is offering free shipping (worldwide & no minimum) the entire month of April. Details here.

nails inc. is now making polish with a "latex" finish (okaaaaay...)

New from Maybelline - Bleached Neons


I'm also loving...

Lizzie Velasquez

The random mani generator has gone international - this blogger's boyfriend made a Brazilian version!

Racked's interview with Suzi Weiss-Fischmann

This brand's goodbye to Facebook

Check out the top selling Sally Hansen polishes from around the world

Dermablend's "camo confessions" videos

The hologram trend!

This Lego keyboard

What are you shopping for this weekend?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Weekend Shopping: Win Cirque's Heritage Collection, RBL Fan 3.0, Glam Polish's The Hangover Trio, and more!

Happy weekend! What are you up to? I'm looking forward to swatching the new Cirque Heritage collection, but think it's going to rain here so I may have to find another way to show you the holo. But, at least the temperature won't be in the twenties.

Here's what to shop for this weekend:

Pre-order Serum No 5's new SS14 Part One glitters and glow in the dark creams here

Loving Cirque's new Heritage collection? You can enter to win the whole thing - details on Instagram

Kiehl's is joining the nail polish game with a new polish that is... all black.

NYC-based salon tenoverten's line of polish is now available at Sephora

Divergent: It's a book. It's a movie. It's a... nail polish set.

Put on your nail polish thinking cap and enter to be part of Rescue Beauty Lounge's Fan 3.0 collection

I can't stop thinking about Glam Polish's The Hangover Trio

Zoya's Peter Som SS14 trio is back in stock

Design your own indie polish with newly launched company Nayll

Two Deborah Lippmann exclusive colors for Nordstrom: Cosmic Love and Scream and Shout

Tie-dye Converse

Tickets are available now for The Makeup Show NYC

I'm also loving...

In NYC this weekend? Visit the Sephora + Pantone Pop-Up Greenhouse through March 29th (29th St between 6th & 7th Ave)

There's a Kiko store in Paramus, NJ (and coming soon to NYC)!!!

Sarah/Chalkboard Nails' peachy textured gradient

Subway water decals

And, not "loving", but it's news: goodbye, Daily Candy

What are you shopping for this weekend?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Serum No 5: Burning Orchid and Sunset Flare ("Glowmeleons"!)

Serum No 5 Burning Orchid and Sunset Flare
Product(s) in this post were provided for review. Read my disclosure policy here.

I have a few more glowing Serum No. 5 pretties to share with you! Creator Victoria calls these polishes "glowmeleons" - chameleon nail polishes that glow in the dark. When I received them, I actually had no idea that they were glow in the dark polishes until I saw a picture on Instagram. What a lovely surprise! Let's take a look at Burning Orchid and Sunset Flare.

Burning Orchid

Burning Orchid is a milky white nail polish with pink shimmer. The pink shimmer reminds me of Gap Bright Pool (aka the RBL Aqua Lily dupe). This one dries a little gritty so you might want to use a thick top coat.

I'm wearing one coat of Burning Orchid over OPI Diva of Geneva (a deep, shimmery garnet). I wasn't excepting the milky white base to show up so well and thought it would be more of a sheer top coat. I think I'd like wearing Burning Orchid better next time over a pastel or white polish. But that wouldn't have photographed as well for you to see :)

Serum No 5 Burning Orchid

Serum No 5 Burning Orchid 2

Burning Orchid glows blue. The glow was very dim in the bottle and hardly showed up on my nails. If I wore two coats it would be a little more visible. This kinda looks like those pictures of the beaches where the little bioluminescent critters light up in the sand.

Serum No 5 Burning Orchid glow

Serum No 5 Burning Orchid bottle

Sunset Flare

Sunset Flare is a shimmering pinky melon duochrome that shifts to an orangy melon. The super duochrome effect was a big surprise, because in the bottle, it isn't as apparent. Another nice surprise was that the coverage was much more pigmented than I expected. Shown here, I'm wearing two coats over black.

Serum No 5 Sunset Flare

Serum No 5 Sunset Flare 2

Sunset Flare glows green. The glow in the dark effect is pretty strong and super speckly.

Serum No 5 Sunset Flare glow

Serum No 5 Sunset Flare bottle

What do you think of these two "glowmeleons"?

BTW - Serum No 5 has a brand new collection of pretties available for pre-order this Friday! I'm totally loving Blue Blazes and Glowin' Of Eden.

Serum No 5 nail polishes can be purchased at serumno5.com. Full sized bottles (16.7mL) retail for $13. Sunset Flare is currently out of stock but you can sign up to be notified when it becomes available. Or if you simply can't wait, it's available in "Glowmeleon Set" of five polishes. Keep up with the latest from Serum No 5 on Facebook.

Here's what Serum No 5's creator Victoria has to say: "Serum No. 5 began with a love of nail art and because of this we take the extra time to make each polish unique and special by hand mixing each in small batches, meaning that there may be some separation and slight variances between batches. This makes every lacquer unique and special. Each Love Lacquer is made with high quality pigments, micas, glitters, and of course are free of formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate, making them 3-free. Every month, a charitable donation is made in an amount equal to 20% of the profits of all lacquers sold." [source]

Product(s) in this post were provided for review. Read my disclosure policy here.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Ridiculously Thorough Review of OPI's New "Glitter Off Peelable Base Coat"

OPI Glitter Off
Product(s) in this post were provided for review. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Glitter Off by OPI is a new, peel-able base coat that allows for the quick and easy removal of nail lacquer when applied beneath any glitter or dark nail color. Glitter Off provides a base for quick one-step removal and protects natural nails, while simultaneously making nail colors brighter. Glitter Off is designed to leave nails polish-free and stain-free in seconds, revealing a clean nail surface without the use of lacquer remover. [from the press release]

One of the most exciting new releases in nail polish for spring 2014 isn't an elusive color, a crazy new effect, or a linear holo. It's a base coat. Seriously!

OPI's new Glitter Off Peelable Base Coat claims to ease the pain that notoriously comes with glitter nail polish removal. The idea is that by using Glitter Off under your glitter polish (as the base coat), you will be able to remove your glitter manicure by gently pushing and peeling if off when you're ready without nail polish remover.

First, a short history (as I know it) lesson on peel off base coats. Back in the summer of 2012, Essence released the Peel Off Base Coat as an LE product in the Ready For Boarding collection. While Essence is a brand you can typically find at Ulta, unfortunately their Peel Off Base Coat wasn't available in the US. But some super sluethy gals like Lab Muffin realized the main ingredient PVC, or polyvinyl acetate emulsion, is also the main ingredient in white school glue (Elmer's Glue) and gave us the DIY version. I gave it a try and it worked! It was a little messy because I didn't have a good brush and I found that my nail polish popped off and didn't last very long. But the idea is great, which is why I was so excited to try out OPI's new Glitter Off Peelable Base Coat. The idea is the same - apply the "magical" base coat, apply your polish, and simply peel off your manicure when you're done with it. But is this miracle product too good to be true? Let's take a look!

OPI's Glitter Off applies easily and smells like nothing. It will look white-ish at first and then dry to a clear semi-matte finish. You'll know it's dry when it's clear, just like with white school glue! Makes sense, as the main ingredient of Glitter Off after water is... PVA!

OPI Glitter Off 1
Just applied!

OPI Glitter Off 2
Basically dry - I put a little too much on my middle finger!

For my first test, I chose a serious glitter: Cirque Queen Majesty. I wanted to really put Glitter Off to the test with an opaque all glitter mani :) The polish applied no differently over a base coat of Glitter Off. I ended up using three coats of Queen Majesty, one coat of Gelous to smooth out the glitter, and one coat of Seche Vite Dry Fast. So far, so good!

The next day (I applied my polish at night), I couldn't help but pick at the stray Glitter Off that was hanging over my cuticles. I picked off all the polish on my thumb nail just for fun - it came off so easily! The next nail to go was from my pointer finger a few hours later. It came off in one big nail shaped piece. By the end of the day, three more nails came off, also in one piece. Had picking at the polish hanging over my cuticles compromised my mani? I had too many nails missing to continue, so I took the rest off. While OPI suggests using a cuticle pusher or orange stick to remove your polish, I found that I could lift them off easily with my nail (well, at least for the ones that didn't leap off my nails on their own).

OPI Glitter Off Cirque Queen Majesty
Test one remnants, minus a few that got lost along the way

After my first test, I came up with a few theories:

  • I had too much polish on (Glitter Off + 3 coats of Queen Majesty + Gelous + Seche)
  • I allowed too much Glitter Off to hang over the edges of my nails, which created an edge to lift off the polish
  • I touched my nails too much
  • I had applied too much Glitter Off

For test two, I decided to do a mani with fewer layers of polish, try to apply a thinner coat of Glitter Off, and keep it "inside the lines" (= not hang over my cuticle).

I found that it was a little tricky to apply a thin coat of Glitter Off but made an effort to do so. The test two mani was made up of a thin coat of Glitter Off, one coat of Wet & Wild Black Creme, one coat of Cirque XX, and Seche Vite Dry Fast.

Unfortunately, this mani didn't make it to the end of the day either. While I didn't touch my nails as much, entire nail shaped pieces of nail polish still popped off. At first it was kind of amusing, but as I was eating lunch, I noticed that another nail was completely naked that just a moment ago had polish on it. I looked around and when I didn't immediately see it, it occurred to me that the nail might very well have fallen into my lunch. Not cool. So, this mani didn't last a day either and I took off the rest. Again I was able to pick the polish off easily with my nails, but this time some of the nails came off in pieces (instead of coming off in one piece). I think this was a result of using less layers of polish.

OPI Glitter Off Cirque XX
Test two remnants

I think that using less polish put me on the right track. This mani also showed that Glitter Off can be worn under a solid color polish. But... the polish still popped off at random times and didn't even last a day.

Alright, let's try again. For test three, I started by wiping my nails off with Zoya Remove Plus - hey, maybe I had some oils on my nails and that's why they kept popping off! I applied Glitter Off even thinner, which ended up being hardly any at all. Test three was made up of a very thin coat of Glitter Off, two coats of Cirque Hellebore, and Seche Vite Dry Fast. This attempt seemed very promising, and I thought for sure it would last longer.

Sadly, nails started popping off the next afternoon again in whole pieces. At the end of the day, I only had six nails with polish on them, and a six fingered mani really is no good so I picked off the rest. Once again, the polish came off easily just by picking at it with my nails.

OPI Glitter Off Cirque Hellebore
Test three remnants

While test three was another failure, what you can see above is that the polish (that is, the pieces that remained on my nails that didn't fall off in one whole piece) came off in even smaller pieces. There are about four whole nail pieces out there somewhere in the world.

In case you are wondering what my nails looked like after, here's what was left after removing picking off the test two mani. There are a few pieces of black polish where I must not have had Glitter Off underneath.

OPI Glitter Off 3

So... I think it's safe to say that Glitter Off and PVA base coats in general don't work for me (I also had the polish popping off problem with the DIY Elmer's base coat)*. Sure it works as advertised and removal is painless, but I want the glitter to come off on my terms. However, I think it's important to note that I've read reviews of gals having very different experiences than mine (All Lacquered Up being one - read her review here). I've also read a few that have had pretty much the same experience (read The Polishaholic's review here). I'm not sure why for some people the polish pops off and others it doesn't!

That being said... I actually think I will continue to use Glitter Off. I have so many beautiful glitters that I honestly don't wear because removing glitter with nail polish remover is just so awful. Glitter Off will get me to wear them now, even if it is only for a day. I wouldn't trust using it for a big event or anytime I need to make sure I have polish on all ten fingers! Oh, and also definitely not when cooking :)

While it's a lot like the DIY Elmer's base coat, Glitter Off is easier to apply and I don't have to worry about mixing proportions or anything like that (you're supposed to add water to the Elmer's glue... yep I didn't do that). Not that it would be terribly hard to get an empty nail polish bottle or anything.

If anyone has tips to make Glitter Off last longer, please let me know :)

OPI Glitter Off Peelable Base Coat retails for $9.00 ($10.95 CAN) and is available now at Professional Salons, including Beauty Brands, Beauty First, Chatters, Dillard’s, jcp Salons, Pure Beauty, Regis, Trade Secret, ULTA and ulta.com. In New York City, my favorite places to shop for OPI products include Ricky's (various locations), Gideon's Drugs (1385 Broadway, corner of 38th St), Beauty 35 (505 8th Ave corner of 35th St and 8th Ave), and Duane Reade (various locations).

PS - glitter texture Photoshop tutorial found here!

*I didn't do anything during these test that I would consider rigorous. Just stuff like hand washing, typing, and tying shoes. I do my nails at night after taking a shower, so these manis didn't even make it to shower time the next night :(

Product(s) in this post were provided for review. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Weekend Shopping: Single-Use Nail Polish, OPI x Ford & MLB, Cirque's Heritage Collection, and More

Happy first spring weekend! What are you up to? Do you have anything fun planned? I've been playing with glitter textures (I made the image above based on this tutorial) - you may be seeing something like this again soon!

Here's what I'm shopping for this weekend:

The Illamasqua Glamour polishes

There are even more really crazy awesome nail polishes available now from ILNP

KBShimmer's Spring 2014 collection (I'm loving Make My Gray and Full Bloom Ahead)

Single use nail polish? No way, Sephora. I'll do the math for you - you're paying $39 for 0.72 Fl Oz of nail polish. 0.72 Fl Oz isn't even twice the size of a regular sized polish... the price is way too high. Sephora should be giving these away in the stores to stop people from standing around the nail polish display making a big stinky mess.

Yesss Pretty Jelly has a new collection (re: holos!)

Even more yesss coming soon from Cirque Colors - the Heritage collection

OPI's latest collaborations - yes, there's more! - are with Ford and MLB.

Pre-order Cult Nails Casual Elegance collection here.

Chelsea of The Nail Network has a book coming out!

Urban Outfitters has the cutest Zodiac necklaces

This keyboard

I'm also loving...

Enter Bundle Monster's next "create your own" stamping design contest - details here.

Julep is producing a new nail polish tool called the Plié Wand, which is designed to make applying nail polish easier.

Honest product reviews.

These houseplant cupcakes.

Celebrities as Disney characters.

Mimi's galaxy lips.

What are you shopping for this weekend?