Monday, April 5th, 2010

Zoya Sparkle Collection
Zoya Nail Lacquer: Alegra, Nidhi, Gilda, Ivanka, Charla, Mimi (Natural Light)

Summer Sparkle with Zoya

Zoya Sparkle Collection includes six sparkling shades of lacquer in fun, summery shades. Zoya Polishes are $7 a pop or else you can buy the Sparkle Sampler (includes full sizes of all six) for $36 (save $6!).

After reviewing several of this season’s nail lacquer collections, I might have to say this is my favorite in sum. (I think Chanel’s Nouvelle Vague is my ultimate favorite, but I have a penchant for Tiffany-blue polish, period, so I’d say that was a no-brainer.) I love me some glittering, sparkling polish, and Zoya does not disappoint here.

The glitter used in this feels very fine, more like a micro-glitter, so it has a smoother feel and look–and a huge plus is that it is easier to remove than traditional glitter polish. The polish has a very glassy look once you finish and apply a top coat, and the glitter shimmers across like sparkling water.

I found the formula to be consistent across all six shades, which is mostly a good thing. Despite having a very thin, almost watery feel and consistency, it works well and delivers stunning results. All of the shades required three coats for solid, opaque color, except Nidhi, which only needed two. Nonetheless, I found you could use thinner or thicker coats here–there wasn’t any concerns about application. I could get away with a thinner initial coat and go with medium-thick coats on two and three, or I could do three thin coats. The glitter spreads very evenly, which can sometimes be an issue in glittery lacquers. The drying time seemed faster than usual on these, and even without a top coat, these had quite a bit of gleam.

  • Alegra is a fuchsia-red jelly base with deeper red and fuchsia iridescence. I found I did need three coats in order to get an opaque look, but the glitter applied evenly, so it wasn’t a hassle at all.
  • Nidhi is a darkened squishy fire-orange with gold and red glitter flecks that are most noticeable when light catches them just right. I found this shade to be the most pigmented of the bunch–so pigmented that you only need two thin coats to get a solid color, though I still used three in the swatches.
  • Gilda is a brightened fuchsia-pink with iridescent fuchsia sparkle. I felt like this one almost glowed in the light! This was a three coater for me.
  • Ivanka is a dazzling emerald green with a darker, forest green base and brighter, more emerald-esque shimmer along with gold and green flecks. I thought this one applied and looked the most beautiful out of the six. I felt like you could get away with just two coats here, but I liked three better.
  • Charla is a glassy darkened sky blue with greenish-teal flecks of shimmer in it. Of the six, I found this to be the sheerest, surprisingly. You definitely need three thicker coats on this one. To be honest, though, you can only see a hint of the nail beneath when it’s under very strong light.
  • Mimi is a deep, royal purple with iridescent flecks of purple shimmer. I thought this one was stunning–what I love about it is how fantastic it looks even in low light conditions. It doesn’t turn into a muddy purpled black at all.

These are really some can’t-be-missed polishes for lacquer addicts out there. All six are fantastic in look, feel, and formula. There are absolutely no duds here, and I don’t think you could go wrong with any of them (or all!). Of course, I have my favorites, but they’re more based on my personal taste than anything else. For the curious, my favorites (in order) are: Ivanka, Mimi, Nidhi, and Charla. I liked Alegra and Gilda, but I don’t wear red-based shades so much as brighter shades. But I’m actually going to just wear all of them at once for fun, since I can’t decide! :)

Tell me, are you loving these as much as I am? I hope I’m not the only one swooning!

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you love sparkling nails without the chunkiness of real glitter, Zoya’s Sparkle Collection has your number.

Availability: Zoya

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Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Barielle High Steppin' Collection

Barielle High Steppin’ Collection for Summer 2010

For summer, Barielle is releasing six shades of summery shades in late April/early May. There are quite a few metallic finish shades in this collection, which made me a bit wary, as I cannot seem to minimize brushstrokes enough to feel good about wearing a metallic finish polish. Freestyle has only a slight metallic finish, so I was able to work with that one, but Passion Pirouette and Slow Motion are both distinctly metallic and were less easy for me to work with. Electric Boogie is absolutely divine and if you’re a fan of dark blues, you might just have to get this shade.

  • Passion Pirouette is a reddened fuchsia-purple with a metallic finish with a silver-ish overlay. If you take your time with this shade, I think you can bang out a pretty fun, metallic-look with minimal brush strokes. With metallic finishes, less is definitely more — you don’t want to have to go back over the same area, because you want to minimize the brush strokes as much as possible. It is an opaque shade, though, as it only requires two coats for a good, opaque color.
  • Slow Motion is a gray, lilac-tinged shade with a metallic finish. This shade takes about three coats to go opaque, but I found it was harder to disguise the brushstrokes, because the color itself is on the light side.
  • Belly Dance is a slightly grayed fleshy beige with champagne shimmer. This applied beautifully; it was easy to apply and went on smoothly. I found two coats was about right, though I applied three for good measure.
  • Night Moves is a silver with an almost pewter cast and a very glittery, more foil-like finish than a metallic-finish. Because the glitter is noticeable, it helps to disguise any brush stroke issues. This really did remind me of foil… but way, way more intense. It’s like foil met a disco ball and they had a glitter-tastic baby.
  • Electric Boogie is a rich, deep water blue with night sky sparkle. This is truly the standout shade of the six. This is a seriously lush color that looks kind of sexy on nails. It has sky blue shimmer and larger, more obvious blue-teal flecks of glitter. Beautiful!
  • Freestyle is a pastel mint green with champagne gold micro-glitter. This shade was the sheerest of the bunch and definitely needed three coats to look opaque, but three was good. It has a slightly metallic finish, so some brushstrokes are visible, but much less obvious than with Passion Pirouette and Slow Motion.

LOVE Electric Boogie, LIKE Freestyle and Night Moves, but would SKIP Passion Pirouette.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  It’s not a solid collection, because not all shades are made equal, but there are some nice shades to be found within the collection as well.  If you do like metallic finishes and have no issues working with them, though, then you may enjoy the entire collection!

Availability: May 2010

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Chanel Nouvelle Vague Le Vernis

Chanel Les Pop-Up de Chanel:  Nouvelle Vague

At $23 a pop, Chanel’s Le Vernis Nail Lacquer is a decadent indulgence for your hands. Some love ‘em, some hate ‘em. I’m in the camp of love the product, hate the price (but who loves to pay more? seriously!). I’ve personally haven’t had any issues with formula or wear on the Chanel shades I own. In Les Pop-Up de Chanel (Chanel’s summer collection), Chanel is releasing three new shades of Le Vernis: Mistral (soft pink), Nouvelle Vague (turquoise), and Riviera (intense pink).

I literally just received Nouvelle Vague this afternoon, and I was thinking about holding off to post until tomorrow, but I just can’t resist. Nouvelle Vague is a beautiful shade of aqua-blue. It’s turquoise, but it’s not a brightened turquoise. It’s pastel without being light and sheer. There is the finest dusting of icy, aqua-blue shimmer laced throughout the aqua-blue. It’s a very stunning shade of turquoise. It’s one of my favorite polishes by Chanel, ever.

For those who find Chanel out of their price range (or fear their bank account murdering them in their sleep if they purchased this…), don’t despair, because China Glaze For Audrey is so, so close. Chanel’s Nouvelle Vague is just the slightest bit lighter and it has shimmer, whereas China Glaze’s is a pure cream.  Check out the swatches to see just how similar they are.  Personally?  I would have bought Nouvelle Vague anyway.  In a heartbeat.  I wouldn’t even think twice (barely once!).

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 30/30
  • Value: 6/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: I think for those who love their polish, there may be the need to own both, but for those who are simply lusting after the shade, For Audrey might be a little lighter on the wallet.

Availability: May 2010

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Monday, March 29th, 2010

Urban Decay Summer of Love Nail Kit

Summer of Nails with Urban Decay

Urban Decay Summer of Love Nail Kit ($28.00) includes seven miniature-sized bottles of nail polish in summery shades. Each bottle contains 5ml/0.17 fl. oz. of product in it.

  • Shine On is a brightened bronze with gilded bronze shimmer. You can see a few brush strokes in this one, but they’re not too bad. I found the formula on this one to be a little goop-y but watery. You can’t rush this one — you have to let it dry quite a bit between coats. I found three were necessary for overall smoothness and color.
  • Woodstock is a bright neon pink. Like most neons, it’ll dry on the matte side, but a shiny top coat like Seche Vite will give it a glossy look. This went opaque in two coats, and it was a fuss-free formula.
  • Love Light is a sheer champagne shimmer. Even with three coats, you’ll still see the nail beneath it, but there’s plenty of shimmer here. The formula is sheer but easy to work with.
  • Hashbury is a magenta-fuchsia purple. It has a lot of red in it, and in the light, it looks much lighter than it does in the dark (where it looks more like an eggplant-y purple). Compared to the other two shimmery/metallic shades like Shine On and Aquarius, this one was easy to use and was just a bit on the runny side but not difficult to work with.
  • Magic Bus is a darkened neon orange. It’s like construction cone orange to me. Like Woodstock, it has a very smooth, easy to use formula that applies opaque in two coats.
  • Aquarius is a metallic-y aqua blue with teal sheen/shimmer. This one is both a pain to photograph and apply. It applies sheerly, so you need at least three coats for an opaque look. The problem with the formula is that it’s both goop-y and watery — it’s difficult to get enough for a thin coat, because if you do a medium-thick or thick coat, you’ll end up with goop-y looking nails (see my index finger in the swatch) that looks terrible. This was the problem child of the bunch for sure. Like Shine On, make sure you give each coat time to dry.
  • Psychedelic Sister is a neon coral-red. Again, like the other two neons (Woodstock and Magic Bus) in this kit, Psychedelic Sister applies smoothly and evenly without any work.

Three of the seven shades have an excellent formula–Woodstock, Magic Bus, and Psychedelic Sister–while three aren’t so hot–Shine On, Hashbury, and Aquarius. Love Light was neither excellent nor problematic; it just was, you know? Shine On and Hashbury weren’t too bad, but the formulas had a bit of a goop-y yet watery feel to them. Aquarius had this issue, but it also showed brush strokes the most and required nearly four coats to look right. With my larger hands, I found the tiny bottles harder to work with (I felt like I had meathooks!), but I was able to get used to that pretty quickly so it wasn’t a huge issue.

I like that it comes in a cute little bag that you can reuse later on for whatever makeup essentials you might want to put in it. It’ll fit your 24/7 Eyeliners, a few eyeshadows, glosses, and a blush. It’s not huge, but it has enough space for an overnight adventure.

If it was just the neons, these would be an A! Unfortunately, the metallic shades are harder to work with, and between Shine On and Aquarius, they have more of a low-B/mid-C formula, respectively, to me.  The kit, in total, is thus somewhere in between–just to clarify how everything came together.  I didn’t feel that comfortable rating it as a whole, just because some were great, some weren’t so great!

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you love trying lots of shades at once, this nail kit is a great way to grab some metallics and neons without breaking the bank. If you don’t mind a little patience, the metallics are workable, while the neons apply like a dream.

Availability: UrbanDecay.com on March 30th

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Monday, March 29th, 2010

Essie Spring Collection
Top row: Red Nouveau, Tart Deco, Van D’Go
Bottom row: Pop Art Pink, Neo Whimsical, Lilacism

Spring for Pastels for Your Nails

Essie’s The Art of Spring Collection is a pretty-in-pastel six shade launch.  They’re a nice bunch of colors that give you some color on your nails without being too bold, so they may work nicely for those who need to have more office-appropriate nails.

  • Red Nouveau is a brightened red cream. It’s pretty, but it’s a shade we’ve seen before. It applies beautifully, though — very smooth, even, and nearly opaque in just one coat.
  • Tart Deco is a peached coral cream. The formula was easy to work with, surprisingly. Though I’m wearing three coats in the swatch, you really only needed two for an opaque finish. The shade itself isn’t too thick, but it is on the thicker side, and I didn’t have any issues with streakiness.
  • Van D’go is a lightened, milky pink with a peach cream finish. It took two coats to get an opaque look, but I went with three for swatching purposes. Like Tart Deco, the polish was thick but not overly so, and I didn’t encounter any streakiness with this shade either.
  • Pop Art Pink is a milky, jelly baby pink. Even though I don’t do sheers often, this shade is exceptional because you can layer it with three coats for a near opaque finish. One coat will get you that softly pink-tinted look that’s cute and feminine without being bold.
  • Neo Whimsical is a light lavender cream with a pink tint. I found this shade to be on the runny side, but three coats get you opaque color.
  • Lilacism is a cool-toned lilac cream with blue undertones. This gave fairly opaque color with two coats, but I swatched it with three just to be sure. Like Neo Whimsical, Lilacism is a little on the more watery side, but it’s not a big deal, because it dries about average and still gives solid results.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you love pastel creams, you may want to take a look at Essie’s spring collection. If, on the other hand, you’re not so into pastels or creamy finishes, this is not the collection for you. It’s an almost romantic collection with the color palette, which makes it very fitting for spring.

Availability: Essie

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Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Milani Holographic Nail Lacquer
Milani Holographic Nail Lacquers: Hi-Tech, digital, Cyberspace;
HD, 3D, Hi-Res

Milani Holographic Nail Lacquers for Spring

Milani Holographic Nail Lacquer ($4.99 each) really caught my eye after I reviewed Hi-Tech. Here are all of the new shades for Spring swatched and photographed–and still loving them! The formula on these is thin, but it’s not runny–it works quite well and it’s very easy to apply. I did three coats for all the shades, which was just what was needed (except 3D, where two would have been fine). These are just fun, sparkling shades! :)

  • Hi-Tech is spring-y, yellow-green with different flecks of, predominantly, gold and green shimmer.
  • Digital is a sparkling medium pink with multi-colored shimmer. Pink and purplish shimmer dominate, but then there are flecks of gold and green, too.
  • Cyberspace is a sky blue base with green blue shimmer that’s most noticeable, and then the reflective multi-colored shimmer is subtler.
  • HD is a silver-ish polish with a semi-sheer silver color base and lots of bright silver and multi-reflective shimmer. I found this was the sheerest shade of the bunch; pictured is three coats, and you can still see a bit of the nail through it.
  • 3D is a yellow-gold that goes opaque in two coats, though I swatched it with three, just for good measure. It has brightened golden yellow shimmer along with the multi-coloured shimmer found in holographic shades.
  • Hi-Res is a shimmering medium red-based purple base, almost feels like a jelly base, with icy purple and pops of gold shimmer dominate, but then there is also red, blue, and green shimmer underneath.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: Love glittery, holographic polish? Check out the new shades by Milani!

Availability: Local drugstores, Milani

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