Friday, September 30, 2011

Orly Space Cadet

Last week, Sasha from Nihrida showed us a Stargazer polish she had just bought, and thought it might be a dupe for Orly Space Cadet from the Cosmic Effect collection, one of the super-hit polishes of 2010. It made me want to wear Space Cadet again. I had forgotten what a nightmare this polish is!! First, it's very sheer, you can't hope to get away with less than three coats, and then it's uber slooooooooooooow to dry. Even with Seche Vite, I ended with dents more than two hours after applying it. But well, I have to admit that it's so beautiful, it's almost worth it, or at least once in a while!! I took all sorts of pictures with all sorts of lights and settings to try and show you the many faces of Space Cadet.

I find this shot impressive in the difference between what you see in the bottle and what you see on the nails

Friends' Friday - Teddy, the edgy French...

On this special Friday, I'm going to talk about a monument of the French blogosphere, the lady's man men's man about beauty town, the one and only Teddy!! Yes, you've read me right, a guy who is a beauty blogger. So of course, it cannot be a "usual" beauty blog, one in which make-up products are being tested, and that is what makes Teddy's blog so priceless!! 
As a successful press agent in cosmetics, Teddy is always in the know about soon-to-be-released products but, and that's the big difference, not in a "it's a trend so it's good" way. Teddy's pen is very sharp and his reviews are always well argumented, in the good and in the bad, they really help in "buying smart". If the promises of a product seem way too good to be true, Teddy will analyse it thoroughly to see if there's any ground to them or if it's just good marketing!! Add to this a fantastic sense of humour and you will understand why I'm such a fan!! Sadly for you international readers, Teddy's blog is only in French...
It wasn't easy to find a manucure to adorn this article, but Teddy helped me this week on presenting the upcoming Yves Saint Laurent collection. This winter, black is back and YSL proposes his now signature "edgy French manicure" in a combo matte and shiny black polish. This isn't a new idea (just like the bicolore French manicure wasn't new) and I remember my friend Nono doing it six months ago. But it foesn't stop it from being super pretty and very classy.
I had a veeeeery hard time doing this manucure, mostly because my matte top-coat bottle is almost empty and now suffers from a common problem with old matte top-coats: it's filled with dry particles that end up white on the nail. Here's my poor attempt of the day, but I know I'll do it again when I can renew my matte top-coat. The how-to is quite easy, I first applied one coat of OPI Lady in Black (after basecoat of course), then I mattified the whole nail, and free-handed the french with my usual Seche Vite Top-coat.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A England Lady of the Lake + purple holo comparison

Get ready to meet one of the most fascinating ladies in the Arthurian legends, Vivian, the Lady of the Lake. Forster mother for Lancelot, lover for Merlin, caretaker of Excalibur that she gives to Arthur as long as he's deemed worthy of being king, she is, just like Morgana, a very complex character who, depending on texts and tradition will appear good or evil. I've decided to dedicate some of my Wyrd Wednesday sections to Celtic culture and more especially Celtic women so I won't dwell on that much longer, but I have to share one of best movie lines ever, which happen to mention the Lady of the Lake: 
King Arthur: I am your king.
Woman: Well I didn't vote for you.
King Arthur: You don't vote for kings.
Woman: Well how'd you become king then?
[Angelic music plays... ]
King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.
Dennis: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
From Monty Python's Holy Grail.

So, now that I'm done with my nonsense, let's talk about polish. Lady of the Lake is one of the two holographic polishes of a-england's Mythical collection. It's a purple scattered holo, which is a rare enough to combo to make it special and worth having. The holo effect is quite subtle, but even when it doesn't pop out, the shimmer in the polish is beautiful. This is two coats without top-coat. Just look at this glossy finish! and as usual, application is heaven!

Of course, as a purple and holo lover, I have polishes to compare Lady of the Lake with, though I knew beforehand that they would be different. Pointer is China Glaze LOL, middle is Lady of the Lake and ring-finger is Color Club Wild at Heart.

It's no secret that purple polishes are bluer on pictures, so here Lady of the Lake appears blue, but I can guarantee it's purple. As you can see, in indirect light, the shimmer in LofL is more present than in Wild at Heart.

With flash you can see that LOL is a linear holo, Wild at Heart a scattered holo and Lady of the Lake has holo shimmer.
I'm sooo in love with my a-england polishes, I can't wait to grab some more: be it holo, cream or shimmer, the three of them were a pleasure to apply, with very good opacity, super glossy finish and very good wear. It's a total win!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wyrd Wednesday - Footloose

Today I'm dealing with a touchy subject (no, not talking about fetichism here, you sickos!! :p), because I know most people hate to see feet pics on a blog and to make things worse, I'm gonna talk about sick feet.
I've mentionned a couple of times that I'm suffering from eczema, and while beauty blogs usually make you believe that the biggest skin problems you can have is dilated pores, I've decided to talk about it. I remember how bad I felt when I read a blogger comment her FB page "lol, I received a partnership offer from an association of psoriasis sufferers, hello glamour, you can forget me!!", and how good I felt when Helen from Just Nice Things mentionned her heavy skin problems on her blog, and I guess I'm not the only one to feel that way. It's also easier for me to talk about it now since the worse is behind and it seems I've finally found a long-lasting cure!
Sooo, let's get back to the beginning. In 2002, I started to develop skin problems of two very distinct varieties: rash and eczema. I won't talk about the rash mostly because it was treated with medication and is almost non-existant now (I might have an itchy spot during my period or when I have tight clothes, but it's not really a bother anymore). The eczema was another story. 
I suffer from a very particular form of eczema called Dyshidrosis, and I must have seen ten doctors, none of which had any clue about it, let alone know how to treat it. In the end, it was my Minnie who found out what it was, and she also found the best remedy. 
The big problem with dyshidrosis is that the skin is at once very damaged, which needs deep moisturizing, and blistering, which needs to dry and heal. So if you moisturize, your skin will be healthier and thicker, but the itching will be unbearable because the blisters can't heal. And if you don't moisturize, the blisters will heal but your skin will be ultra-dry and cracking. Usually, dermatologists prescribe corticosteroids creams, but it was a catastrophy for me, and the only thing that worked was a mix of Vaseline (for moisturizing) and aspirin (for treating the blisters). It wasn't the most practical thing (have you every tried to walk with Vaseline on your feet??), but it did make the blisters disappear. Of course, all my skin problems had a psychological and stress origin, so the biggest treatment was finishing PhD and moving on with my life. But that wasn't enough. My eczema is mostly located on my pinkies (the biggest bother being that it deforms my nails) and on my feet, and there it remained a problem until a while ago. My soles were still very dry, crackling often and the apparition of horned layer was multiplied by ten. I spent the last winter applying pure shea butter on my soles every night with socks on, and it didn't do a thing. So I was ready to spent yet another summer hiding my feet, both because they were ugly and because walking around with open shoes could provoke cracks in less than an hour.
But then a miracle happened, and thanks to Yoko, I heard about the cream OPI Soften : AHA calluse skin softener, with green tea extracts, and non-abrasive alpha hydroxy acids, it's supposed to melt dead skin. I gave it a try and was astonished at the result. First thing is that it penetrates quickly: ten minutes after you've rubbed it on your feet, you can walk away. The smell is quite discreet, it smells of ... cream!!, which is quite a change from many footcreams that smell of peppermint (it's fine for the feet, but the smell stays on the hands, yuck!!). And it does work wonders: my feet healed completely in a couple of weeks. Then, stupid me thought "OK, things are better now, I can stop playing the luxury girl that orders her cream from the US, let's go back to a more accessible product". That was a big mistake and it really proved that this cream is what I need. So now I've learned my lesson and I now have 500g of cream waiting in my stash!!
And yes, last summer, for the first time in ten years, I bought flip-flops and showed my feet! So as a conclusion, I would say that skin problems are not a fatality, keep trying products, one might work in an unexpected way!
I've kept the worst for the end, so that if you want to skip the pics, you can leave now!!

The nightmare in 2009 : my feet at the worse, a combo of super dry skin and irritation.
2010: things are better, but still, my skin was peeling and irritated

And that was this morning. As you can see, my soles are now almost completely healed: I still see some defects, but I'm the only one to see them, and a couple of months more using that cream will finish the job!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A England Guinevere

Today we meet royalty in the character of Guinevere, the legendary queen of Camelot. I find it quite interesting how the character of Guinevere changed over centuries from a fierce warrior-woman who married Arthur only after he proved worthy of her to the daughter of King Leodagan who's given in marriage to Arthur as a political alliance and ends up betraying her husband with Lancelot. For us Frenchies, the face of Guinevere is now this one from the mini-series Kaamelott: 

Kaamelott is a comical take on the Arthurian legends so Guinevere is depicted as a naive and a bit dumb woman, but I actually find her very touching and sweet, while in most adaptations of the legends, Guinevere is not exactly a positive character, so that's why I chose this picture as an illustration.
In a-england's world, Guinevere is a dusty mauve creme, the kind of polish that you think you've seen many times and yet, it is different and quite unique. I don't know if it's the fantastic formula, the glorious shine or the very particular dusty quality of this shade that sets it apart, but as a mauve lover, I can really say it's a mauve I've been looking for without finding it. It killed my lemming for Zoya Jana, because I'm far happier to have a Guinevere in my stash than a Jana :p. You see it in two coats without top-coat.

I took out my mauves to compare them to Guinevere, knowing that OPI Steady as She Rose and China Glaze Light as Air couldn't compete, but I was curious to see how OPI Done Out in Deco differed.

(this picture is an old one, which explains both the length of my nails and the poor state of my cuticles)
I'm not sure it really shows on the pic (you might want to click to see it bigger), but DOiD is more mauve than Guinevere, it's less dusty and that might be why I like it less. DOiD is kind of "undecided": not dusty enough to be edgy, and not mauve enough to be a pastel.
See you tomorrow to meet The Lady of the Lake as the last beauty of a-england I have (for the moment, but if you want to offer some other numbers of the Mythical Collection, feel free!!).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Minnie's Beauty Minute - YSL Touche Eclat

Hi! Lélie kidnapped me out of my books to have me write a review of one of my favourite products, this time a classic in the beauty world, Touche Eclat from Yves Saint Laurent. I'm not one to buy in luxury brands, but in the summer sales, Sephora was discounting a YSL pack with Touche Eclat and a mini-mascara (super handy to keep in my nightwatch bag), so I gave it a try.

I have quite a nice skin and I never had to put anything on in it in terms of foundation or powder. I would never have thought of applying blush if I hadn't had one on my Too Faced palette. I also think that I had gotten used to my tired eyes, they were part of the mandatory "doctor look". But I have to admit that now, I wouldn't be able to do without my magical pen to have a fresh face!!

Touche Eclat is like the fairy godmother of tired eyes and dull face in the morning... I cannot tell you what it's made of, but this little pen really works miracles in the mirror (mirror, mirror on the wall) of the bathroom! Circles, uneven tone, any imperfection is erased with a light touch of this non-greasy product that blends in easily and gives a fantastic glow to your face! It can also work as a very good base or be used alone with a touch of blush for a beautiful nude look that's perfect for a non-foundation girl like me! The pen format is super handy and you can slide it in your bag to keep your magic wand close by and always look like a princess!!

Busy Sunday - Chanel Velvet comparison

I didn't see the week-end pass by, that's why I'm late both for my own post and for Minnie's section. I'll work on that today, I swear. On Saturday afternoon, I went in town, and decided to test one of the it-product of this fall, Chanel top-coat Velvet, and to compare it with the mattifying top-coat I have, China Glaze Matte Magic. I applied it on my OPI Play the Peonies, and while it was a 'spur-of-the-moment' idea, it turned out to be the perfect testing base, because it's a shimmery polish. 
I do like matte polishes, but not "pure mattes", as in "cremes with a matte finish", they look like paint. But when you have a shimmery polish with a matte finish, I find the end result really beautiful. And that's why I really don't like Chanel Velvet: as you will see below, it completely erased the shimmer in Play the Peonies and turned it into pale pink paint. On the pics below, I have Chanel Velvet on the left (my middle finger) and China Glaze Matte Magic on the right (my ring finger).

Of course I never had any intentions of buying Chanel Velvet, there are enough mattifying tc out there that are way cheaper than 20 or so euros (the most well-known beside CG Matte Magic is Essie's Matte About You), but besides that, I'm very disappointed in that product, because it doesn't allow any versatility: no matter what polish you apply it on, be it a creme or a shimmer, the result will always be the same. I'll stick to my matte magic and see if I try Essie's when that one is finished!!

As a conclusion to this post, I can't resist showing you what kept me busy on Sunday: cooking!! I tried a new recipe for cupcakes, and most especially for the topping: instead of the usual butter and sugar, I tried with mascarpone, and I have to say it's way more manageable, and it makes the colors pop out a lot more!! So here's my neon yellow cupcake :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A England Avalon + comparison OPI Grape Set Match

Oh, Avalon
For you I quest each day
The resting place of Arthur
And the Old Code of his way
And when I find those holy stones
I’ll pray, I’ll pray, I’ll pray
Oh, Avalon, bright Avalon,
Think me not a fool
My quest is not for vanity
My quest is spiritual... spiritual

With these words does Brother Gilbert (played by Pete Postlethwaite - in Dragonheart -, one of my favourite actors ever, RIP) speak of the legendary isle of Avalon, the Land of Apples, realm of Morgana where King Arthur was taken to heal after being mortally wounded by his son Mordred in the battle of Camlann. The mere name Avalon is evocative of all the magic and wonders that surrounds Arthurian legends. That's to say a polish named Avalon raises a lot of expectations and Adina, the creator of a-england, proved worthy of the challenge. Avalon is a truly mesmerizing multichrome with a purple base that flashes blue and pink. It applies like a dream, is opaque in two coats and is crazily glossy.

In indirect light, you see the purple base and the blue shimmer, with some hint of the pink.

In full light, the pink shows

In the shade, the mysterious depth of Avalon is captivating.

The colour reminded me of another favorite of mine from last summer, OPI Grape Set Match from the Glam Slam Collection, so I took it out to compare the two.

The bottles show the similarities in base colour and multichrome

The main difference between the two polishes is the foil finish of GSM and it makes the base colour darker

But in full light, you can see that the colours and multichrome are really similar
All in all, the foil finish makes the multichrom harder to get on GSM, but both polish are magical in their own right
This is no secret that I'm attracted to any reference to Celtic myths and legends, but it doesn't turn me into a blind customer, so when my favourite cultural references are associated with truly fantastic products, it's even better. A-england is a small starting brand, available only online and each polish is 9£. This might seem a bit pricey, but the quality fully justifies the price-tag. I have other pretties from this brand to show you, so stay tuned!

The light at the end of the tunnel...

... turned out to be train! I'm speaking of my optimism a few days back at finally having nails with an acceptable length: I had no less than three breaks in two hours yesterday. Buuuut, and that is quite something, after having file down my nails short again, I have to admit that I like the result! I still want to try and gain some mm (and most importantly, to keep them), but since all my ridges have grown out, I have to say that for the first time, I feel like my nailcare work is paying off. My cuticles are neat and healthy, my nails are regular and I can think and say "I have pretty hands"!! Those who have heard me complain at length about them will know what a milestone it represents!! 
I had done a few swatches before the breaks yesterday, so i'll soon be showing you some new things, but in the meantime, behold my pretty hands and short nails painted with OPI Play the Peonies.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friends' Fridays - Meet the (Nutcracker) Sweet Mary

New Friday, new Friend! Today I want to present you Mary, from Body & Soul. What I like about her blog is the seriousness of the reviews, on polishes but also plenty of other beauty products. There's also a very friendly atmosphere in  her writing, I'm not sure I can explain it properly but I always take a lot of pleasure in reading it. I'm also always amazed at Mary's generosity, she's always throwing contests and giving prizes!! 
Once again, I can't really do a nail-art to present Mary's blog because she's not a nail-art blogger, but I owe her one of my treasures and that's what I'm showing you today. One day, her husband picked up a polish for her to wear, and it turned out to be Nutcracker Sweet, from the Victorian Collection. I had a complete crush on this "nude with a twist polish". It reminds me of ginger, the base colour being the colour of candied ginger and the shimmer is ginger as you find it in sushi restaurant. So when I put it on, I think of Christmas and gingerbread!! You see it here in three coats (OPI old formula + pale colour = opacity nightmare!!)

VNL is much less visible in real life

There you see the pale gold base colour 
You see here a hint of pink and even some green on the side

and with a flash, the pink shimmer just bursts out!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Orly Birds of a Feather - Part 2 and comparisons

Back with Orly Birds of a Feather collection for the last three colours. I could say "my favourite colors", but that would be excluding Sweet Peacock and I really love it. But the three polishes I'm showing you today are "sure hits" with me, one violet, one grey and one beige.
First is Fowl Play, the one I had been eagerly waiting for ever since it was first talked of, because it was said to be a dupe of OPI Merry Midnight, a beautiful but hard to find polish from 2009 (last time I checked, it was at 24$ on Ebay). As you can read here, it seems the two are not exact dupes but they are close enough for me to be happy. Fowl Play is a dark purple jelly packed with orange, blue and red flakies. You see it here in two coats with base and top-coat.

This polish is just fireworks in a bottle: looking at my nails, I feel like I'm watching the sky on July 14th! In spite of my big stash of purple polishes, it's really unique and I have nothing to compare it too (at some point I thought Nfu Oh 51 was close, but both the base colour and the flakies make a completely different result).
Now we're entering the world of comparable polishes, with the grey Seagurl. Grey, metallic, applying like a dream, crazily glossy. Do I love it? Yessum! This is two coats, no top-coat.

I really thought I would have a close cousin for Seagurl, but it turns out I don't. I took out China Glaze Awaken and LM Cosmetic Ombre (my Chanel Black Pearl dupe) to show you the differences. Awaken is a blue-leaning dark grey, Ombre is a green-leaning dark grey, and I would say Seagurl is more black leaning, maybe with a bit of yellow. Seagurl is on my pointer, Awaken on my middle and Ombre on my ring finger.

Last but not least, this is Nite Owl. This is the other polish I wanted to grab from the start, be it only for the name (a reference to my famous Finnish twin brother!!), and because I love beiges. This one is light and without any trace of pink, it's not at all taupey, and it's packed with silver shimmer. As usual, two coats, and no top-coat either on the pics.

You see it compared to Sephora Killer Trendsetter (on the pointer) and Sinful Colors Twilight (on the ring finger). As you see, it's right in between both for the base colour, so no dupe there and I feel perfecly entitled in owning the three of them!!


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