Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gel Polish

Aaaand I'm back after a good recovery from surgery.  I had my gallbladder out on January 15, stayed in bed for about a week on doctor's orders, and finally got back to work.  Being laid up for even two days is NOT my cup of tea, but I had to let my body rest and recuperate.

I wanted to dedicate a post to gel polishes.  I've talked to people who have some serious horror stories from having bad gel polish manicures, which has led me to want to research how gel polish systems are different, or even not so different, from each other.  Please bear with me, because this is going to be LONG.

CND Shellac versus OPI GelColor, Gelish, and SensatioNail
I’ve seen that as Shellac gained popularity with clients, other companies came out with a gel polish that is available directly to consumers.  I would actually caution against the use of gel polishes, especially after comparing the application and removal processes to that of Shellac.  I don’t doubt that there are polish enthusiasts who know the structure of the nail and take every precaution to ensure the health of their nails, but for every five of them, there are countless consumers who over-buff their nails, resulting in a weakened nail plate.  Gelish offers VitaGel, which is a “protective layer” and “offers flexibility” for the nail.  The issue here is the “protective layer”; it’s applied to the nail and cures under the UV light.  Why is this an issue?  Like most nail products, VitaGel is NOT designed to penetrate the natural nail plate.  It’s putting a bandage over a wound that needs care.  The best thing to do for over-buffed and weakened nails is to use a good cuticle oil (I HIGHLY recommend Bliss Kiss by Simple Nail Art Tips) that contains jojoba oil.  Jojoba oil molecules are small enough to penetrate into the nail plate, hydrating the nail, increasing flexibility, and even repairing damage.

I have seen the damage done by nail techs who have incorrectly removed gel polish on clients; damage that had taken a year or more to repair.  Not only that, but it seems that ALL gel polishes are being called “Shellac”.  This is incorrect; Shellac was created exclusively by Creative Nail Designs, who has the patent on this gel polish formula. 
In my experience, the use of Shellac is very easy in application and removal.  With OPI GelColor and SensatioNail gel polishes, the application process is the same as with Shellac.  The nail is shaped, buffed to remove shine, and a nail plate cleanser is used to remove oil and debris.  This is necessary in two ways: oil and debris can prevent the product from fully adhering to the nail plate, and any debris (such as lint) can get onto the polish brush and then into the polish itself, effectively ruining the product.

With Gelish, there’s an added step: the application of a pH primer.  Beware of primers; these are used primarily for acrylic and gel nail enhancements.  These primers are acidic and will burn the skin if not used properly.  This has me questioning the ability of Gelish polish to adhere to the nail plate on its own without the assistance of the primer.

The removal processes for GelColor, Gelish, and SensatioNail differ greatly from Shellac.  With Shellac, foil wraps with a lint-free cotton pad are used.  The pad is soaked with acetone, placed over the nail, and the foil is wrapped tightly around the finger.  Soaking for 7-8 minutes, Shellac can be lightly taken off with the edges of the foil wraps, then LIGHTLY buffed off without causing damage to the nail plate.  SensatioNail sells what looks like a very large metal cuticle pusher that is used to remove the remainder of the gel polish.  All three of the above-mentioned gel systems require that a buffer be used to break the seal of the top coat, then the nails be soaked in acetone (in the case of Gelish, it's their Artificial Nail Remover) for 10-15 minutes, depending on the gel polish system used.  That’s a full three to seven minutes longer than the average Shellac soak-off!  I’m certain that we are all well-acquainted with the oil-sapping ways of acetone, but it can begin to burn if in contact with skin for longer than 10 minutes.  After soaking, these polishes are removed with a cuticle stick.   

Can you see the difference already?  Not just that, but there’s the risk of over-buffing to remove any of the gel polish or base that is left, which as I mentioned before, leads to weakening of the natural nail plate.  Gelish recommends the use of their nail plate cleanser, which is very similar to CND's Scrub Fresh.  I'm not quite sure how that would effectively remove the remnants of gel polish left over on the nail if the polish has to be removed with acetone.

I admit that I’m biased towards Shellac because it’s easy to apply and just as easy to remove.  I’ve done quite a few Shellac manicures and removals.  It takes about an hour for a manicure to be done that includes the removal of the former Shellac polish and the application of a new color, and about 45 minutes for a Shellac manicure without the removal of a former Shellac polish. 

I wrote this because of a meeting in Sally Beauty Supply where I saw a lady looking at the Gelish VitaGel.  I asked about her nails (because it’s become a habit to observe the nails on everyone I meet; it’s what I look at first), and she told me that she had been using Gelish and her nails were over-buffed.  I told her what I have written in the first paragraph; that VitaGel will not help restore her nails, due to it being only a protective layer.  Products like that may protect the nail, but they don’t repair it.  What is needed, even when using Shellac, is a break from using gel polishes so that the nails can rest; the same goes for gel and acrylic nail enhancements.  The nails need to recover and repair from any damage done, and as I wrote before, a good cuticle oil regimen will do this.

I encourage you to research this for yourselves.  If you do enjoy getting a manicure done, it’s best to go to a spa.  The corner nail shops, to be honest, are not good for your nails.  Why is this?  Here in Virginia, there are nail techs in what we call chop-shops that were not educated in nail structure, care, diseases and disorders.  They are trained by the shop owners and will use methods and implements that are harmful to the nails and skin, (some implements have been deemed illegal for nail techs to use because of the risk of infection they pose).  This is not true for all the nail techs working out here, but it is for the majority of them.  Do your research and be sure that you are going to a nail tech who will handle your digits with care and will be willing to answer any questions you have, who will ensure your physical comfort during your manicure, and who will ensure you get the best service she or he has to offer.

I hope you found this post helpful!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cosmos Lacquer review

Good evening again!  I had the hopes of reviewing like a mad woman, but unfortunately the flu and my gallbladder had different plans for me.  Now that I'm recovering from the bug to end all bugs, I wanted to share with you this lovely polish by Cosmos Lacquer.

A few months ago I won a nail art contest.  The prize?  A custom polish!  I love the Virginia Tech Hokies, so I went with their colors for my polish.  White base, maroon and orange glitter, with some black bar glitter thrown in. 

Here is the result!

The label was blank so that I could write the name of my polish down. 

This polish is an absolute dream in regard to application.  It doesn't have the streaking issues that some white polishes have, and two coats easily become opaque.  It's loaded with glitter, requiring a good shakeup before application.  As always, whenever I do shake up a glitter polish, I wait 30 minutes before applying to reduce the risk of bubbling.

I knew exactly what nail art I would do with this polish.  I went out and chose a maroon-ish polish, then went to work on my fan manicure.

Note:  I'm absolutely horrid when using my left hand to polish or do art of any kind, so this was the best I could do.  I admit I was too excited to do any proper cleanup.

All in all, I was so very pleased with this polish.  Cosmos Lacquer is an indie brand worth checking out.  My thanks to Tia and to Diane for sponsoring the contest!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Literary Lacquer review: Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster

Good evening ladies and gents!  I'm so excited to bring you the first of two reviews of Literary Lacquers nail polish.

Amy Milder is the genius behind Literary Lacquers.  I first discovered this indie polish a few months ago and immediately fell in love.  Nail polishes named after books/characters in books?  YES PLEASE!  Books and nail polish, two of my favorite things in the world.

When Literary Lacquers released the Literary Liquors collection, I went nuts over Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.  I absolutely love the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "trilogy" (it's really five books) and still wonder just what this sci-fi drink would really taste like.  I've been quite tempted to try to make a recipe for it, to be honest.

So when I saw a review photo of this polish, I knew I absolutely HAD to have it.  My favorite colors are blue and green, and PGGB is an amazing blue holo with scattered holo glitter.  I lusted after it until, about two weeks ago, I caved in and bought two LL polishes.  There was a special going on, and I ended up with a mini bottle of the limited edition of A Thousand Christmas Trees, which I may do a review on.  It's a stunning pine green holo polish that is truly worthy of its name.

On to the review.  I'm so pleasantly surprised by how sparkly this polish is.  It's a linear holo that goes on sheer for the first coat, but is opaque in two.  Here I have three coats on, because I needed to see more of that gorgeous blue.

This is an absolutely easy polish to work with.  The formula is excellent, almost comparable to OPI polishes.  Carefully applied, there is little to no streaking on the first coat.  This would make an excellent topper to any blue polish if you want to conserve what's in your bottle.

There's a little bit of visible nail line here, but it's brought on by the flash of the camera.  Since it's going to be warm tomorrow (80 degrees!), and sunny, I plan on taking more photos of this in full sunlight.

I placed my hand right under two lightbulbs in an attempt to get a photo that would mimic sunlight.  I have yet to build a lightbox for better photos, so this will have to do for now.

All in all, I absolutely love Literary Lacquers.  This indie polish maker is now a favorite, and I'll be sure to order more in the future.  Amy, thank you for making such high quality polishes, and indulging both our inner bookworm and polish addict.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Candy Canes and Rudolph and Snowflakes, OH MY!

Thursday night I went with my best friend to see Desolation of Smaug in MIDNIGHT.  It was so much better than I had expected, and was worth the three and a half hours of sleep I had.  The next afternoon I went to a friend's house to do her nails for her birthday and for Christmas.  I had a blast doing these designs!

On her thumbs I used a Limited Edition polish from Literary Lacquers, A Thousand Christmas Trees.  It's a GORGEOUS pine green linear holo.  I did a gradient of blues and white on her index nails and added China Glaze Fairy Dust over for an effect of snow in the background for the snowman.  For the candy canes on her pinky fingers, I did two coats of China Glaze White on White, let it dry, placed striping tape down to pattern the candy cane stripes, and went over it with Zoya Delilah (two coats).  For Rudolph, I used black, white, and brown acrylic paint, using the white for his nose, and went over that with OPI Animal-Istic.  I used a blue Orly polish for the background for snowflakes, and used a striper, detail brush, and white acrylic paint.  For the thumbs, I used Sally Hansen Celeb City and dotted on the "tinsel", used a dotter and white acrylic paing for the base of the ornaments, and different polishes to go over the white.  The snowman's scarf was placed using a detail brush and drier red polish that was a bit stringy, making it easier to place it where I wanted for the scarf.

All in all, it took about two to two and a half hours, including drying time, for this nail art.

I hope you enjoyed this!  As I type this, it's ten days until Christmas.  For those of you who celebrate it, have a wonderful holiday!  I'll be back soon with reviews of three Literary Lacquer soon as the sun decides to come out.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Snowman and a TARDIS

Recently I've gotten into Doctor Who.  I admit that, when I first heard about the show, I was skeptical and poked fun at friends who were into it.  Now that I've watched a couple seasons, I can see what the fuss is about!  It's a delightful show that has made me laugh and cry, and I just love it.  I've been slowly but surely getting through it, mostly because other shows have taken up my time (looking at YOU, Supernatural!). 

A few days ago I decided to try my hand at a Christmas-y Doctor Who manicure.  I used China Glaze White on White as a background for four nails, and Literary Lacquers' Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, a GLORIOUS blue linear holo polish with scattered holo glitter in it.  A swatch and review post on that and two others will be coming soon. 

Here's the photo of the manicure (taken with phone's camera, since my digital camera is down):

I used black acrylic paint and a striping brush to paint the wires for the lights, then used a detail brush and polish to paint the lights.  Black, gray, and white acrylic paints were used for the TARDIS and the snowman (isn't he adorably evil?).  I let it all dry, then topped it off with Orly's PoliShield. 

I hope my fellow Whovians have enjoyed this.  More coming soon!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Joe Boxer nail art

I'm sure you've all seen the hilarious K-Mart commercial for the Joe Boxer holiday print boxers, right?  If not, here's the link:

I entered another Facebook nail art competition hosted by Nailshine Journey and Polish Yer Hooves.  The theme is "Favorite Christmas Songs" and can only be done using nail polish.  Jingle Bells is my favorite of all Christmas songs; it's easy to remember, plus there's the Batman parody of it.  I looked up photos of all the Joe Boxer prints used in the commercial and recreated them on my nails.  I took a bit of artistic license and didn't do the "ugly sweater" print.  Choosing only five of six prints was hard, but the following won out.  It's all polish using detail brushes and a dotting tool, and took about two hours. 

Hope you liked them!  I've got a couple more manicures queued up to show you, so stay tuned!*

*I've been busy with my advanced nail classes and work.  I'll be trying to update as often as I can since my classes are all finished.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Nightmare Before Christmas

Hi again!  I had to schedule this post since I'll be working in the morning.  I'm excited to have landed a job at a gorgeous spa, getting to pamper women and do what I love.  I started last week, and everyone there has been very nice so far.  I joke that the only drawback is that I have to wear color (black is what I wear 99% of the time). 

I did these nails for a Halloween nail art contest on Facebook.  If you'll recall, a few months ago I did Jack Skellington nails for a challenge I was in, for "Inspired by a tuturial".  This time, however, I chose to go with two more characters and a jack o' lantern. 

I mixed different polishes to come up with the colors for Sally's patchwork dress, used China Glaze In The Limelight for Oogie Boogie, and Sally Hansen Sun Kissed for the jack o' lantern, as well as China Glaze Liquid Leather for the thumbnail, and China Glaze White on White for Jack Skellington's face.  I put a coat of Pure Ice Free Spirit (a beautiful glow-in-the-dark light green polish with blue shimmer) over In The Limelight, used China Glaze Celtic Sun for the jack o' lantern's eyes, nose, and teeth as well as on the moon behind Jack, and then used China Glaze Ghoulish Glow over Celtic Sun.  The entire manicure took me three hours and some change, mostly to wait for the polish to completely dry before painting on it.  I'm actually a bit pleased with how this came out, so on with the photo!

I had to angle the camera a bit to make sure Zero was included (he's on the thumb).  I used a detail brush that I had flattened, and used the tip to create Jack's outline.  Orly Skinny Dip was used over white acrylic paint for the sides of the hill, and then a dotting tool plus Sun Kissed created the pumpkins on the hill.

I hope you enjoyed this!  It was fun to create and time flew by as I was doing it.  I'll begin posting my manicures for the weekly Rainbow Challenge soon, and will be keeping a spooky theme since it's October.  Have a great day!