Seven out-of-the-box drugstore nail picks

Friday, June 13, 2014

I haven’t covered a lot of nail-related beauty recently, so here’s a bit of catch-up: seven drugstore nail picks that all fall beyond the regular scope of “nail polish”.

Skip below the graphic to read more about these unique-but-accessible finds!

June nail feature

Nail HQ Base Coat ($7.99 CAD)

Base coats are base coats, but this newly launched one by Nail HQ describes itself as a “unique rubberized base coat” with a “sticky cushioned finish” to prep the nail for polish. Does it work? I’ll be testing it out this summer to find out!

Nail HQ Ridge Filler ($9.99 CAD)

Like the brand’s base coat, this ridge filler is available at Pharmasave, select drugstores, and farleyco.ca. It’s designed for weak, damaged nails, and is made to cover up & conceal ridges while conditioning the nail. It’s not a nail strengthener or hardener, though — Nail HQ also makes those, but they’re separate treatments.

Sally Hansen Instagel Strips in Sss-Snakeyes ($15.95 CAD)

Sally Hansen, available at most drug and grocery stores across Canada, makes two different kind of nail strips: these, and the ones below. A little more expensive than the non-gel version, the Instagel Strips are UV-cured, last up to two weeks, and come with a gel coat in the box. (Mini LED lamp must be purchased separately.) Think of them as an at-home gel manicure for the unsteady-handed.

Sally Hansen Fuzzy Coat Nail Polish

Sally Hansen Fuzzy Coat Textured Nail Colour in Wool Lite, Fuzzy Fantasy, Tight Knit, and Peach Fuzz

Sally Hansen Fuzzy Coat Textured Nail Colour in Wool Lite and Fuzzy Fantasy ($7.95 CAD)

Okay, I’ll fess up: I’m extra super not a fan of these Fuzzy Coat polishes. Like crackle-finish and “caviar” manicures, I think they look weird, and left exposed, they catch and pull on everything.

That said, they’re also pretty darn unique, and they’re formulated well — the small strips of “fuzz” haven’t curved or warped at all in the year that I’ve been sitting on these.

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips in Whoopsy Daisy ($9.95 CAD)

If you don’t have a nail lamp at home (I don’t!), Sally Hansen’s Salon Effects polish strips will probably be a better buy for you. They launched last year in eight different prints (and have since added more shades), with a simple peel-and-stick application. no drying time, and no DBP, toluene, or formaldehyde.

Maybelline Polka Dots swatch review Clearly Spotted

Maybelline Colour Show Polka Dots Nail Lacquer swatches: Drops of Jade, Clearly Spotted, Pretty In Polka, Blue Marks the Spot

Maybelline Colour Show Polka Dots Nail Lacquer in Clearly Spotted ($3.99 CAD)

Launched alongside a set of metallic duochrome nail lacquers last year, the Maybelline Colour Show Polka Dots range includes five “spotted’ shades in a translucent base. The brand describes it as “high-fashion meets high-art,” but I see it more as indie-meets-drugstore — a spinoff of the e-tailer trend of duochromes & textural overlays, made accessible to more than just nail fanatics and bloggers.

imPRESS Press-On Manicure by Broadway Nails in Night Fever and Vamp It Up ($10.99 CAD)

These are new to the market this month (find them at Walmart, London Drugs, and Pharmasave), and offer a peel-and-press false nail that lasts up to one week. I wasn’t a fan of most of the designs, but Vamp It Up is pretty cute — a far cry from the classic French manicure falsies, it’s a pop-art, comic-book design done in neons.

Lise Watier Jardin de Givre photos, swatches – Winter 2013 | Over the break

Monday, April 28, 2014

Lise Watier Jardin de Givre Illuminating Powder

Lise Watier Jardin de Givre Illuminating Powder

As some of you may already know, I took a “partial hiatus” starting last November, and ending May of this year. Over the break, I wasn’t accepting new product samples, and focused on slowly (very slowly) reviewing what I already had on hand. Here’s some of what you missed while I was away.

Up today: highlights from Lise Watier’s Jardin de Givre Winter 2013 collection! (I love that, on the Lise site, they say “succumb” instead of “see more” or “buy.” It’s — weird.)

Lise Watier Jardin de Givre Winter 2013

Lise Watier Jardin de Givre limited edition packaging

This is just some of the Jardin de Givre collection, but let’s start with the two limited edition pieces. I don’t think they’re available any longer–sorry!–but, should you come across them, here’s your reasoning for snapping them up!

The Lise Watier Palette Jardin de Givre Eyeshadows and Eyeliner ($45 CAD) features seven sparking eyeshadows and one black cream eyeliner in a large palette, and the first two shadows are what I refer to as Clarins glitters” — flakey and beautiful, suspended in a clear or sheer base. With one warm shade and one cool one, these two will be the perfect addition to any eye look — just pop a bit onto the centre of the lid with your finger as a finishing step.

Lise Watier Jardin de Givre palette

Lise Watier Palette Jardin de Givre Eyeshadows and Eyeliner

Lise Watier Jardin de Givre palette swatches

Lise Watier Jardin de Givre eyeshadow and eyeliner swatches

I’m not a fan of eyeliners in palettes (with my lids, I’ve yet to find a single one that works for me), but the other five shadows are lovely. They’re smooth and pigmented, all in a shimmer finish with good pigment and opacity.

The pewter and chocolate brown in the top row (third and fourth eyeshadows in the swatches) caught my eye in particular — shade-wise, they’re wonderfully complex, and the chocolate brown preformed with the butteriness and pigmentation typical of high-end eyeshadows.

Lise Watier illuminating powder swatches - Jardin de Givre

Lise Watier Jardin de Givre Illuminating Powder swatch (first swatch)

Keep reading! »

Essie Master Plan swatches, review, photos | Grey nails for grey days

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Essie Master Plan review swatches

The product: Essie Nail Polish in 779 Master Plan 

You guys, I am so bad with Essie polishes. This is my — fourth? fifth? and I keep going back to the brand, because they have the most divine colour range, and everyone speaks so highly of them, and I just–

Good lord, I cannot apply them to save my life.

Essie Master Plan swatches review - grey creme polish

Essie Master Plan swatches — two (thick) coats, no topcoat

The formula and application: Maybe I’m just lacking in skill, but I can never make an Essie polish go flat on my nails. Their smelly but 3-free formula is always too thick, too lumpy, and ends up sort of mottled and streaked.

The only two brands I’ve ever had this problem with are Essie and Clinique, both of which are loved by so many others whose opinions I trust, and I just don’t get it. I think it may actually be a brush problem, not a formula one (I much prefer thin, wide brushes), but either way — I’d prefer almost any ‘ol brand, even a drugstore brand, for a flawless, even nail.

(Sorry, Essie lovers. Want to share your tips & tricks with me?)

Essie Master Plan swatches review

The colour: Described by the brand as a mischievous soft greythere isn’t really anything, uh, mischievous about Master Plan. That said, it is certainly a soft grey (darker and less of a yellow-beige than stock photos would have you believe), and it’s rather understated. It features a cream finish, and there’s something a little bit utilitarian about it — it’s more cement-grey than putty grey, and has just the right balance of blue and green.

Master Plan reminds me of those art erasers that all of the art students had back in high school — the mouldable ones. It grabbed me far less than I had expected it to, but for those who can really pull off greys, this is a wonderfully basic one. It’s hard to create a shade that’s just-so, but Essie do it beautifully with Master Planit’s grey; no more, no less. 

Essie review Master Plan

Essie Master Plan swatched on awkward, dry, stubby fingers

The verdict?

Master Plan was a dud for me, as you can (maybe?) see in these swatches, but I think it could be really great if you know how to work an Essie polish. It’s as basic a grey as you can get — not too warm, not too cool, and not marred by any shimmer.

For those who pull off industrial-chic really well, this one is definitely worth a look. And do me a favour, if that’s you, my dear Essie fan, please hit me up in the comments thread with your tips & tricks for getting their polishes to apply smoothly!

Availability: The Essie range is available at drugstores, beauty supply stores, and online. In Canada, I know for sure that you can find them at Shopper’s Drug Mart, though I believe the selection is often seasonal.

This bottle was submitted for review by Beauty Stop Online, who have been incredibly understanding about how long it’s taken me to get this post up. Master Plan is available on their site here for $5.99.

Keep reading! »

L’Oreal Collection Privée by Colour Riche review, swatches, photos | Nudes fit for the TIFF red carpet

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

L'Oreal Collection Privée TIFF review

Made-to-measure “perfect nudes”

For those of you who haven’t heard yet, L’Oreal Paris had the honour this year of releasing the official TIFF Festival Collection, a limited edition colour collection currently available in most drugstores throughout Canada.

The collection contains nudes created to suit four different skintones: that of Doutzen Kroes (Barely Pink), Eva Longoria (Barely Golden), Freida Pinto (Barely Parma), and Jennifer Lopez (Barely Greige). They’re not your normal nudes, either. Rather than flesh tones and too-milky pinks, the Collection Privée by Colour Riche encompasses everything from a cement grey to a dark brown-red — perhaps more “naturals” than nudes, if even that.

Either way, they’re gorgeous.

L'Oreal Collection Privée by Colour Riche Nail Polish review

The Colour Riche Nail Colours ($3.99 CAD)

If you ask me, the real stunners in this collection–er, aside from the incredibly gorgeous spokesmodels–are the four Colour Riche Nail Colours. The wide, thin applicator is fantastic for distributing colour evenly, and the formulas settle into opaque, streak-free finishes in only 2-3 coats.

When it comes to getting the perfect nail, the brush is just as important as the formula and shades, and the Colour Riche polishes nail it in every category (pun intended).

L'Oreal Collection Privée by Colour Riche swatches review nails

Swatched L-R: L’Oreal Collection Privée by Colour Riche Nail Polishes in Freida, Eva, Doutzen, and J Lo (indirect sunlight)

Keep reading! »

YSL Vert d’Orient swatches & review, La Laque Couture Summer 2013 | Another strange, beautiful YSL green

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

YSL S13 nail polish swatch review

The products: Yves Saint Laurent La Laque Couture in No. 36 Vert d’Orient

The collection: Prefaces for limited edition products are usually easy, because I can just link to the collection teaser. This time, however, I’m going to have to take a moment — I was so enamoured with Vert d’Orient when I swatched it that I haven’t even found time to do the collection overview yet (but I have to share the polish with you anyways)!

The two limited edition YSL Summer Look 2013 nail varnishes (the other is No. 37 Taupe Mauresque, which you may recognize from this YSL Tie & Dye Top Coat review) are made to compliment No. 14 Violine Surrealiste, a cult favourite from the La Laque Couture range. They’re calling it a “colour extravaganza,” and, well — they’re not wrong.

YSL Vert d'Orient swatch

YSL Vert d'Orient review

The shade: Described simply as a “deep, radiant green,” Vert d’Orient (just like all the other La Laque Coutures I’ve ever tried) completely exceeded my expectations. The gorgeous, cream-finish polish toes this fantastic blue/green balance — in most rooms, it reads as a deep, rich, slightly-smoky green turquoise; with tungsten lights, however, it looks more like an emerald with a soft yellow undercurrent.

Vert d’Orient feels like the middle of summer, sweltering and humid. It’s amazingly complex and deep, despite its theoretically very basic finish and formula: rather than relying on texture and shimmer to add interest, YSL does it all with just a handful of [amazingly well-blended] pigments.

YSL nail polish review swatch - Vert d'Orient

YSL Vert d'Orient La Laque Couture swatch

The formula: Again, just as with all the other YSL La Laque Couture polishes I’ve tested before, Vert d’Orient applies absolutely beautifully. With a fairly wide, thin brush and a cream-finish formula, it’s practically foolproof: even a shade as bold as this is a cinch to get smooth and even.

Though YSL’s polishes aren’t marketed as being fast-drying, their perfect viscosity almost makes them seem as such — by the time I’ve gotten to my pinkie finger, my thumb is just about ready for another coat. For a shade like this, I’d recommend three thin coats of polish for optimal ease & opacity, but two thicker ones will work as well.

YSL Summer Look 2013 La Laque Couture reviews

The verdict?

Like last season’s Jade Impérial, YSL La Laque Couture in No. 36 Vert d’Orient is a green that both green-lovers and… well, I don’t want to say “green-haters,” but that green-not-so-lovers will love. With a fantastic formula and stunning, complex green hue, it’s well worth a look if you’re on the hunt for a striking, slightly unusual statement nail. 

Availability: $25 USD/$27 CAD, permanent as of May 2013. Find them at Holt Renfrew & select The Bay, Murale, and Sephora stores.

Keep reading! »

essie x Ralph Lauren Big Pony: The Sensual Set (#2 Pink) | When fragrance & nails collide

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

!Ralph Lauren x Essie pink

Out this spring from Ralph Lauren is a bit of an interesting collaboration: for each of their four Big Pony Women’s fragrances, Ralph Lauren has teamed up with Essie Weingarten herself to create a matching Essie nail varnish.

On top of that–if, perhaps, you’re looking for a little nail inspiration!–Essie Canada had Rita Remark, lead national nail artist, to create a custom nail look for each fragrance.

Essie x Rita Remark x Ralph Lauren

The product: Ralph Lauren x essie SENSUAL (Ralph Lauren Big Pony Woman & essie in Pink #2)

Big Pony Woman Pink #2 isn’t exactly my kind of fragrance. With notes of of cranberry and tonka mousse (and only those two), this fruity floriental is just one in a vast number of sticky-sweet perfumes today.

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh–okay, I’m definitely being a bit harsh–but for someone who wears men’s colognes almost exclusively… great marketing and cute collaboration aside, this post should have been a pass for me.

!Ralph Lauren Big Pony body spray

!Ralph Lauren #2 fragrance

Essie review - pink Ralph Lauren polish

The Big Pony sets’ saving grace, however, are the bright, vibrant Essie nail varnishes. I’m not always swayed by their polishes (I find the dense narrow brush difficult to work with), but #2 Pink is one of the few Essies I’ve easily managed to get smooth, glossy nails out of in just two coats.

I’m not nearly nail-savvy enough to manage Rita Remark’s criss-cross nail art, I’m afraid, but I loved the specific hue of this creamy blue-pink nonetheless. It may not be the most unique shade, but it’s a great pick for a pink untouched by this season’s fluorescent polish trend!

Essie nail swatch - Ralph Lauren pink #2 polish

Try it if…

There’s a Ralph Lauren Big Pony scent that you already know you love, but otherwise, pass. These sets would make great gifts, however — while I wasn’t a fan of the saccharine #2, it wouldn’t be a stretch for me to imagine an Aquolina-Pink-Sugar-loving teenage girl adoring this cotton-wrapped confection.

Also in the range are #1 Blue (grapefruit & blue lotus), #3 Yellow (pear & mimosa), and #4 Purple (wild cherry & purple amber).

Keep reading! »

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