Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Get A Grip!

I am working on recovering the tutorials I shot from my camera – apparently it is not compatible with Windows 7, even after drivers run in compatibility mode are installed… grrr.  So, in the meantime I thought it might be nice to discuss our favorite and least favorite brushes and handles.  What do you think?
2012-04-07_22-40-18_33In this post I am only going to review six different brands’ brushes and handles:  butter LONDON, China Glaze, Essie, OPI, Orly, and Zoya.  I have more brands in my collection, but they are still in my untrieds and I didn’t have time to try them before this post (I’m supposed to be doing schoolwork, shhh, don’t tell my fiancĂ©, lol). 
butter London’s brush seems on the narrow side at first glance, but it is wonderfully supple and fairly thick.  As you can see from the bottom picture the brush spreads out nicely and this is with very little pressure.  I enjoy the brush while painting my nails most definitely.  Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the handle.  It is very short and stubby.  Though not unmanageable, it is definitely not the most easily maneuvered.  To it’s credit, the ridges do help.  Of the six being reviewed, I would say that the brush is my second favorite, but the overall combo ranks number four on my list.
The China Glaze brush has a nice width and the handle is tied for the longest, making it much easier to maneuver.  The brush spreads, but not as extensively as the butter LONDON.  It is fairly soft, as well, allowing for nice contouring around the nail.  Even though the brush isn’t as supple as the butter LONDON the handle is longer and overall the combo make the polish easy to apply.  So, China Glaze rates number three.
The impression that the Essie brush is thin is, unfortunately, quite correct.  Thank goodness that Essie typically has great formula, because their brush and handle both leave something to be desired.  The brush is nicely springy, but just doesn’t have enough bristles to spread out over the nail.  This leads to me too often having to make more dips and swipes than I would like to cover a nail.  The handle is also stubby.  Not as stubby as butter LONDON’s, but it is smooth which makes it harder to hold on to.  Though this is one of my favorite brands of polish overall ever (the brand that started this all), the brush/handle ties for last place in this line up.

OPI has one of my favorite brushes of all time.  Truly.  It is wide, thick, springy, and supple - everything I look for in a brush.  This type of brush is a true joy for me.  I recognize that some may not like this brush's width, though.  I have wide nail beds, so I appreciate it.  If you have more narrow nails, you might try using the narrow side of the brush, or strategically placing your swipe so that you only need one ;)  The handle is among the longest so it is easy to maneuver.  I wish it had some texture or something, like butter LONDON or Orly (coming up next).  I would love that with all of the smooth brushes, honestly.  This is my overall favorite brush/handle combination (I wish it wore better for me! :( I know most people have great luck with OPI, but it just really struggles on my nails).Orly2
Orly has my favorite handle overall.  It may not be as long as the OPI and China Glaze handles, but it has a contoured and rubberized grip that makes it quite comfortable to hold and apply the polish.  The brush is on par with the China Glaze brush.  It is very similar in thickness, springiness, and suppleness.  But since the handle is so wonderful, Orly's combo ranks number two on my list overall.
Zoya's brush is on the thinner side and is abnormally short in my opinion.  It does spread out more so than the Essie, but is a little stiffer and SO short.  The handle is not much longer than the butter LONDON handle, but still shorter than the Essie handle.  Thankfully the shape provides an easily maneuverable.  It's about equally frustrating to me as Essie so it falls in the same spot.  Last.

I know that this long, but I hope that it is helpful for some of you.  As usual, feel free to leave comments and questions :)

Thanks & Gig 'em!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Essie Wedding 2012 Collection Review & Swatches

essie wedding 2012 edit
For anyone that doesn’t know me, I LOVE Essie.  Essie the brand that started this wonderful addiction.  I actually have more than seventy bottles of Essie nail polish, by far the majority of my collection.  So for today I have a review and some swatches of Essie’s Wedding 2012 Collection.  I wasn’t super excited about this collection at first, but then I saw them in person and had to have them immediately.  Plus, they are the perfect Easter/spring colors!
essie wedding 2012 swatch edit

First up, Like to be Bad.  I adore the sweet color.  It has a shimmer in the bottle that doesn’t quite translate to the nail as much as I would like seeing as I really have to look for it, even in direct sunlight  (obviously you can’t see it at all in the picture), but the color is still a great pastel pink to have in the collection.  Formula-wise it applied easily, but was a little thin, so I did three thin coats to get it even.
Second, Instant Hot.  This is the color that surprised me the most.  I wasn’t going to get it at first, but decided that I should get the whole collection.  It is a slightly blushed white with a shimmer.  Again, the shimmer doesn’t translate well to the nail compared to the bottle (again imperceptible in the picture).  But, I will definitely use this color as a background for some nail art that I don’t want a super stark white for.  This one was also a little thin, so I did three thin coats here to get it even.  I definitely recommend a ridge filler if you have any notable ridges.  You can see mine peeking through a little near my cuticle because I just used a regular basecoat.

Next, Who’s the Boss?.  This might be my favorite of the collection (it’s a VERY close race between this one and Love & Acceptance).  Who’s the Boss?  is a pastel blue green that looks more blue or green depending on the light.  I did three thin coats here, but I think I will just do two regular coats next time I do a mani with it.

Finally, Love & Acceptance.  As I said above, this color is battling for my favorite of the collection.  It is definitely my favorite formula-wise.  This took just two coats, slightly thin.  (please excuse the line in the center of the nail in the picture, I had to patch it after I dinged it and didn’t realize that it showed so badly in the picture until it was too late to take another :( )
Another great collection from Essie overall.  I must say the formula isn’t as nice as it usually is on a couple of them, but nothing too frustrating or not worth dealing with.  My only real complaint is not with the polishes themselves, but the brush and handle of all Essie polishes.  I did not know how much they bothered me until I started trying other polishes and was like, “Wow!  That brush is awesome!”  The Essie brush is definitely not unmanageable or annoying enough that I stop using it, obviously since I have more than seventy bottles lol, but it is not my favorite.

I liked the skittles (well, more like Easter M&Ms swatch so much that I decided to add a fifth color and wear it as a mani.  I ended up adding Orly Spark as my thumb color.  For the record, I got Spark to do a rubber ducky mani and am not in love with it as a base color.  I ended up with four very thin coats and it was still uneven and had bald spots.  On the upside, I love Orly’s brush and handle :).

essie wedding plus orly spark skittles 2

I was planning on doing some stamping over this on day two, but when my fiancĂ© got home he noticed my nails almost immediately (pretty uncommon, also for the record) and wasn’t a big fan.  So I changed it lol  That made four manicures in four days!

Thanks & Gig ‘em!

Monday, April 2, 2012

They're Different, Not Broken - Autism Awareness


I know in today’s society many feel that people that don’t function “normally” must have something wrong with them.  There must be a cure or solution.  A pill or treatment to fix the problem.  Well I’m sorry if I offend anyone or lose any of my few readers, but… Autistic child/people are NOT broken!  They do not need a cure or solution.  They need to be understood.  I’m not saying that research shouldn’t be conducted to find a cause (if we even can, human biology is extremely complicated and sometimes things just seem to happen.  I know, I know… another foreign concept in our society that we, including myself, really struggle with if someone says it) or attempt to find ways to improve the quality of life that many with autism are thrown into.  But, I am saying that we should not put autistic people in a box with a pill and ignore them or treat them as incompetent.  Many, if not most or all, are HIGHLY intelligent people.  The general public fails to discover, let alone understand, this because they don’t take the time to learn a new communication style!  In my experience, autism really boils down to a communication disorder, not a disease that must be contained and cured immediately.  Much like someone that has lost their ability to speak coherently after a stroke, autistic people usually know what they want to say but have difficulties getting it out.  Yes, they tend to have what seems to be certain quirks that throw some people off, like generally preferring not to be touched and structured schedules.  But, heck, my sister hates to be touched and she is far from autistic.  These are also preferences that change with culture!  In some cultures there is nearly zero physical contact generally speaking; and, some cultures value a rigorous schedule closely adhered to, while others adhere to a very loose schedule.  I find that people believe autistic people incapable of emotion.  This is LUDACRIS!  All the autistic people that I have met and/or spent time with are highly sensitive to both your emotions and how they feel and are treated.  They just express these emotions differently.

My point is I think instead of the general public focusing on what’s “broken,” they should be educated on, or by in many cases, what autism really is and what those special people we call autistic really deal with.  In my experience, they are often some of the sweetest, most sensitive, most loving, most caring, highly intelligent, curious, creative people you will ever have the honor of meeting and spending time with.  Learn their “language,” spare a minute to be blessed…

AutismAwareness Puzzle Accent3Ok, so now I will get off my soapbox and show you my nails for Worldwide Autism Awareness Day today.  If you missed out on fun and educating today, don’t worry this month this Autism Awareness Month so you can participate as much or as little as you like :)

I started with Orly Snowcone as my base because I felt it to be the closest AutismAwarenss Thumbmatch to the Light Up Blue Campaign Logo I’ve been seeing.  I then used a dotting tool and Essie Blanc to create a puzzle piece on my ring fingers (I will try to persuade my camera to work properly and make a tutorial for my version of a puzzle piece soon).  And since like I said I feel like many autistic people are misunderstood and are actually very loving I stamped a heart from Konad plate m18 with Konad White Special Polish on my thumbs.  I layered “A”s going all different directions from Konad plate m17 over this with Konad Blue Special Polish.


Thanks & Gig ‘em!


Sunday, April 1, 2012

ASPIRE to Reach the Stars

So I am Executive Chair (President) of an organization ASPIRE (Aggie Scholars Promoting Incentives, Resources, and Encouragement) at my university and we had our Annual Awards Banquet and Parents’ Luncheon today.  Normally I would have done a blue mani with gold or yellow stars to match our logo, but I ended up with a new blue shirt to wear instead.  Sooooooo, I decided to be bold and wear bright red shoes with my blue shirt and black pencil skirt and of course I had to complete the outfit with a stunning manicure… luscious red with gold stars.



CG Ruby Pumps Inside

I used China Glaze Ruby Pumps as my base color.  Then I stamped the ring finger with Orly Luxe and Konad plate m42.  (Please ignore the date stamp on the photos.  My camera decided to change it’s settings… :/)  For any that have never seen or used Ruby Pumps, let me just give you a little advice… RUN, don’t walk to your nearest beauty supply and get it NOW!  This is an AMAZING, INDESPENSABLE color.  I love the formula, too.  The more layers you add the deeper and richer the color gets.  The top two pictures were taken in direct sunlight, but inside (the last photo) the color is a bit darker and the glitter flashes and dances in and out of sight.  I find myself staring at my nails anytime I wear Ruby Pumps – walking to class, sitting on the couch, knitting, driving (not such a good idea), everywhere.  And, I get tons of compliments.  It’s very eye catching :)

Sadly, I will be changing it tonight.  But!  It is for a great cause – Autism Awareness.  Tomorrow is World Autism Awareness Day.  Therefore I will be sporting blue nails and with any luck a white puzzle piece.  I’m hoping to get the regular blog post up tomorrow and then make this manicure  my first tutorial, hopefully, and have it up shortly :)

Keep an eye out!

Thanks & Gig ‘em!