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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Nailed the History of Nail Culture and Dzine

I don't think this is a secret, but I love nail polish. I love the colours, the finishes, the amazing creations that fill the numerous nail blogs I stalk daily. So, it was obvious that when I first heard about a book celebrating the history of nail culture, I knew I had to be in line for a copy. That is saying a lot, as while I have quite a large collection of books, and obviously, a bit of a thing for cosmetics and the like, until now had no books on the topic.

Nail art, an extension of the Kustom subculture that is central to Dzine's work, is celebrated in "Nailed" (Standard Press and Damiani Editore), a coffee-table volume conceived by the artist with Claire Darrow, the Standard's creative director. Magazine editors have been just as infatuated with Dzine's nail designs, imploring him to recreate them for their fashion pages.--Ruth La Ferla" The New York Times" (12/09/2011)

"Nailed" is the first of it's kind, and I was truly excited to be schooled on the historical aspects regarding nail polish and how it has come to be a part of our culture. Since this is a coffee table book, it is large and thick (216 pages). I was expecting not only exquisite photography, which it does deliver (more on that later) but also a fair amount of copy.

 An era from the historical timeline of nail adornment section. 

Amount of book dedicated to the historical timeline of nail adornment.

That is the first area in which "Nailed" falls short. The first section, a mere 14 pages, is the 'historical timeline of nail adornment'. The pages in this book are beautiful, thick paper but are not utilized in this section at all. Each page documents one era of time in the timeline, but only consists of one photo and a mere paragraph of text. This is a topic I love, I want to know the details. Obviously. If I wasn't interested I wouldn't have shelled out the $44.97 CAD for it. As a researcher, it pains me to know how much information could have (and should have) been included in this book. While it's true that one would have to work to gather said information I think it would have been worth the effort and made for a more comprehensive work.

I knew going into it that the historical portion was just that, a mere portion of the book, I was still hoping for more.

The second "chapter" if you will is (as labeled in the contents) is 'Global Contemporary Nail Culture.' In other words, nails from the real world. This section consists entirely of photographs. While the photography is gorgeous, I couldn't help but feel a bit let down. I know, I seem hard to please, stay with me. The majority of the photos are of the stereotypical "ghetto" nail look.Think overtly long, airbrushed false nails and the ever so popular airbrushed sunset. While this is a part of nail culture, it is just that a part. The author neglects to include all aspects of the culture. Bloggers have exploded in recent years and have defiantly pushed and made trends. While the overly adorned nail has it's place, where is the real nail art? The painstakingly detailed masterpieces depicting everything from, well you name it and chances are you can find it painted on a nail. I might be a bit biased, as I keep my nails short and I like them that way, but good nail art does not need to be on a four inch nail to be amazing. Editorial creations and the avant-garde can be stunning as well, but this section is meant to be the contemporary. The everyday nail art lover/wearer is not represented here, nor are a large portion of the people who produce the the type of nail art I associate with the contemporary label.

Photo credit.

 Image Information and Bibliography

Other than what was left out of the photos contextually, was the lack of copy. The photographs were only accompanied by the name of the photographer and the city they were from. While there is additional information to be found in the bibliography at the end of the book, there is not a detailed source for each of the nail works. A little more credit to the artists would have been nice, or at least name the salons where the work was done. From the photos it seems like most of the work was created by nail techs and salon artists.

The next portion of the book is ' DZine's inspiration, appropriation, homage' which is forwarded by Kim Hastreiter. While the forward is only one page, it is a full page of text (first, and only in the book). While I haven't read the entire thing ( I am trying to save some of the text, although I want to devour it all now, I know it will be best to space it out.) it is interesting and well written. It chronicles Hastreiter's first introduction to nail culture and how it evolved and grew. The forward ends on the subject of Dzine, the 'author' of "Nailed" and prominent nail artist. Photographs of his work take up the next section. While again, the photography is amazing, the designs profiled are redundant and not accompanied by any text. If this was my book, and my work I would take it as an opportunity to put more out there. Explain your thought process, what your inspiration was, the theme... anything. There is nothing from the author in this book. I honestly think the profiles of his work could have been left out. There are some beautiful images, many do not even prominently feature his work, but still stunning; but without more context they are pointless.

The last section, also the smallest, is the 'Imperial Nails' NYC Exhibition (Sept.2011) While the exhibition seems interesting, there is no explanation of what it was. Surprise, surprise, no copy. The images are gorgeous, but again without context a bit lacking. I will be looking the exhibition up online, as I know nothing about it. To include it in the book without any additional information is a bit absurd.

I have a fair collection of coffee table books, and know that they are often designed to be picked up and glanced at for a few moments and not read front to cover like a novel; but the ones I have and have had the opportunity to see, are designed to interest the viewer and make them want to sit and read more. All of my coffee table books are indeed beautiful, as "Nailed" is, but they also are full of information and copy, text, words!

I need more words from "Nailed". Overall, this book is nice to glance through, but not worth purchasing. Have you seen/read/heard of this book? Thoughts?

Review: Tarte EmphasEYES Inner Rim Brightener

I've been looking for a neutral coloured eyeliner to use for brightening my eyes for a while now. At first, it seemed to be a difficult task. White was easy to come by, but I find that white can look too harsh and unnatural. Nude, skin tones however, look not only natural when worn on the lower water line, but they can brighten the look of tired eyes and even make your eyes look a bit bigger. Definate plus.

Once I found one nude liner, I found a bunch. Doesn’t it usually work out like that? I ended up choosing the Tarte version over the others because it claimed to be both long wearing and natural. Good claims, but would they hold up?

"This multitasking pencil liner gently glides along the lower inner rim and inner corner of eyes for a wide-awake effect. It can also be used to highlight the brow bone to give brows added shape and definition."- Sephora

While I had high hopes for this liner, it just didn't work for me. The texture of the liner is creamy enough that it glides on rather easily, but a bit patchy. A few swipes and an opaque line is easily created. A line that disappeared far too quickly. The pencil itself makes the 'long-wearing' claim, but after an hour or two  I was hard pressed to find any trace of this liner. I should add that the lackluster staying power might have a bit to do with the fact that this liner also did a number on my eyes. In my day I know I have used some questionable products on my waterline, and I've never had any sort of reaction, but this liner left my eyes feeling sore and watery.  This coming from a product that is formulate without parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances or dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs or triclosan. Say that ten times fast.

Aside from the fact that the formula doesn't last on me, or agree with my eyes, I found that it really didn't do too much in terms of brightening my eyes. On the waterline it looked fine, it blended in and didn't look out of place, but when I tried to use it just outside of the waterline (since it did aggravate my eyes a bit) it looked very strange. The pencil itself is retractable, so no sharpening worries here, but the bottom of the pencil does not come with a tip sharpener. The bottom pulls off, giving the illusion of one, but nothing lives in there.

Overall I do wish I had kept my $18 USD/ $23 CAD (from Sephora) and tried one of the other options available as this one just isn't for me.  Have you tried this liner? What did you think of it?

Review: China Glaze Prismatic Collection

Usually when I get a box of nail polish in the mail, I get all giddy and excited. Think five year old with a huge bag of candy happy. When I unwrapped the China Glaze Prismatic Collection, I wasn't quite as thrilled as I usually am. Something just didn't "click".

On the rare occasions that I get polishes early, I try to get them swatched and up as quickly as possible, usually within the same day. I got these last week. Yeah. I had issues with my swatches. Too much reflection (glitters can be a bitch to photograph), too much shadow, poor colour... a polish nightmare. On top of that I can't wrap my head around the names. I usually have a knack for remembering the name to shade connection, but these? I have notes all over the place so I know which photo goes with which polish. All that said, please forgive my awful swatches. This collection just doesn't like me, and to be truthful, I'm not too sure I like it all that much either.

China Glaze Polarized, Ray-Diant, and Optical Illusion

China Glaze Liquid Crystal, Prism, and Full Spectrum

The Prismatic Collection seemed very interesting to me, before I saw it. I was hoping to see more of the eye catching glitter that China Glaze introduced with their Holiday Eye Candy Collection. Particularly the almost 3D effect that Lorelei's Tiara had. These glitters, while pretty, just don't wow me like I had expected. They all have the same quality of  having a main glitter colour base with mutli coloured glitter floating about. The formula was thinner on these, which did make application easier, but required 2-3 coats for full opacity.

Polarized has a silver base colour that is filled with multi coloured glitter mixed about. Unlike many of the other polishes in this collection, the silver base of Polarized does not have any colour shifting.

Ray-Diant has an acid green-gold hued base filled with mutlti coloured glitter scattered about. The green-gold base colour shifts in the light. I found this polish to be very difficult to photograph, as I'm sure you can tell by the lack luster photos. 

Optical Illusion has a teal-blue glitter base that again, is filled with mutli coloured glitter pieces. The teal base shifts to blue making this polish hard to truly decipher from Liquid Crystal in photos when you can't keep anything straight....

Liquid Crystal has a blue glitter base that shifts purple and following the rest of the pack, is filled with mutlti coloured glitter.

Prism has a purple glitter base that has a slight blue shift. The colour shift isn't as dominant in Prism as it is in the others. Of course, this too is packed with the same multi coloured glitter the other have.

Full Spectrum has a pinkish glitter base that shifts to a lavender with a slight hint of taupe. You get a more of a taupe flash in the bottle,but it doesn't translate to the nail as much, which is too bad. It looked like a more unique shade in the bottle than on the nail. Of course, this too has multi coloured glitter throughout.

 China Glaze Polarized, Ray-Diant, Optical Illusion, Liquid Crystal, Prism, and Full Spectrum over MAC Noctournelle

Because of the thinner consistency of these polishes the first coat is rather sheer. I wondered if layering them over black would do anything to make me love them a bit more... I was right! I applied one coat of the Prismatic glitters over two coats of MAC Noctournelle and pop! The base colour really stands out over the black and gives the glitters more depth.

Overall, I can't say that this is a must have collection, or one that you really need every shade. What do you think of the Prismatic Collection?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review: Lush Massage Bars

Toss me in the bad blogger section... aside from being a bit AWOL (life's been crazy!) I got a request to review these some time ago and was happy to take the challenge. The order came, I used, I liked, but I never reviewed. Kind of missed the main point of testing something for review. Today I make good, and finally get to the goods.

Lush has massage bars in just about every scent one could ever want, so picking just one was not going to happen. I ended up with three: Strawberry Feels Forever, Each Peach (and Two's a Pair), and Heavanilli. Each massage bar serves the same function, and I found that each variety worked equally well.

"Massage bars are another LUSH invention and where would the world be without them? Lovely solid bars of moisturizing butters and gorgeous essential oils melt on warm skin instead of messing about with bottles. Plus, they're preservative-free for a conscience and body pleasing mode of relaxation. The hardest part of using them? Trying to convince someone that massage is a much better sport reciprocated."-Lush website

Strawberry Feels Forever is not only cutely shaped like an overgrown strawberry, but it is made with fresh strawberries (among other good things) and you can see bits of pulp and seeds in the bar. I was a bit disappointed with the scent of this. It is not scented like a strawberry milkshake, or white chocolate covered berries as the reviews would lead one to believe. To me this is more floral than sweet. It does not have a bad scent, but strawberry is not that detectable.

Each Peach (and Two's a Pair) Don't get all confused by the name... there is nothing peachy about this (boo! because I love peach scented anything.) Each Peach is a citrusy concoction of lime, orange, grapefruit and lemon. In the end you really get a blast of general citrus scent that is fresh and clean. No floral throw like 99% of Lush products.

Heavanilli is scented with Lush's signature Vanilliary fragrance, which if you are familiar with it, is not as vanilla-y as one would expect. The massage bar does have some vanilla throw, and on first sniff almost smells a touch like a doughnut. Once you sniff a bit more you get the slightly powdery notes of jasmine and then tonka. While this isn't as sweetly vanilla as I'd like ( a statement I throw out to all the vanilla products I've tried from Lush) it is a pleasant scent.

As for the product itself... it is super simple to use: just glide it along as if you were lathering up in the shower. Of course instead of soap, you're getting a moisturizing coat of, well oils. I was expecting these to end up being messy, but they have a slow melt and absorb quicker than expected. I like to use these right after before bed shower to optimize the moisturization capabilities and keep the oils on my pjs. That said, I have had no staining issues on clothing or sheets, because the oils really do absorb quite well. At almost $10 a piece, they might seem a bit pricey, but one bar is going to last you quite a while.

Have you tried Lush Massage Bars? What did you think?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Review: China Glaze Magnetix Collection

I was super excited when I first heard that China Glaze was going to introduce their own magnetic nail polishes. While I love polish, and have a few hundred, I didn't have any magnetic ones. Up until now they have been rather pricey and the colour selection a bit limited. I love that a more accessible brand, like China Glaze, decided to make a fun idea more available to the masses.

 China Glaze Nail Lacquer Magnets

 China Glaze Nail Lacquer Magnets

There are six colours in this collection (which you'll see more of below) and the Magnetix Magnet. The magnet is sold separately from the polish and includes three designs- chevrons, angled stripes, and a starburst. Now, I haven't personally used magnetic polishes before these, but I have read quite a few reviews and picked up some tips along the way. I was happy to know a few when starting out, and picked up a few of my own:
  • Work on one nail at a time. These polishes dry fast, and once dry they WILL NOT magnetize.
  • Use more than one coat if the polish needs it. The instructions say to use one coat, but I had no problem using the magnet on the second coat as long as it was still wet.
  • A second coat works better than one overly thick coat. When you have too much polish on the nail, the magnet makes a mess out of it. Not cute.
  • Don't expect every nail to look the same. It's not going to happen.
  • Apply the lip of the magnet higher on your knuckle, not on your cuticle. This ensures that you get the most out of the design.
  • Hold the magnet on longer than the recommended 5-10 seconds for best results (think 15-20)

 China Glaze Magnetix Cling On, You Move Me, and Pull Me Close

 China Glaze Magnetix Cling On, You Move Me, and Pull Me Close

China Glaze Magnetix Cling On L-R: Chevrons, Starburst, Stripes and Non-magnetized

Cling On is a silvery, kahki hued green that turns a deep brown based green once magnetized. The formula on this shade was the thinnest out of the bunch and required two coats. On my pointer finger, you can kind of see that I applied too thick of layer and the chevrons didn't come out so clear. After multiple swatches I realized it wasn't all to blame on too much polish, the chevrons are kind of a bitch to get right.

China Glaze Magnetix You Move Me L-R: Chevrons, Starburst, Stripes and Non-magnetized

You Move Me is a light metallic brown that turns a deeper red based brown once magnetized. The formula on this was much better than the previous polish. You'll notice a trend that the stripe pattern comes through the strongest on most of the polishes. I think there might be something "off" with my chevrons as they keep coming out wonky near the bottom. I tried multiple angles and different positioning but they are all wavy. While I wouldn't say that I love the colour, it kind of reminds me of tigers eye. 

 China Glaze Magnetix Pull Me Close L-R: Chevrons, Starburst, Stripes and Non-magnetized

Pull Me Close is a medium dusty blue that turns a deep blue when magnetized. I'd have to say that this is my favourite shade out of the collection. Not only is the colour quite striking, and offers a good contrast, it was really easy to get a good pattern to develop.

 China Glaze Magnetix Drawn to You, Instant Chemistry, and Attraction

 China Glaze Magnetix Drawn to You, Instant Chemistry, and Attraction

China Glaze Magnetix Drawn to You L-R: Chevrons, Starburst, Stripes and Non-magnetized

Drawn to You is a medium pink toned purple that turns a deeper purple once magnetized. This is my second favourite of the bunch. You can see how clearly it magnetized and the contrast of the two shades is great. This shade was a bit thinner as well and required two coats. 

China Glaze Magnetix Instant Chemistry L-R: Chevrons, Starburst, Stripes and Non-magnetized

Instant Chemistry is a medium plum shade that turns a to a blackened plum once magnetized. I had a hard time getting the photos to really capture the patterns. They were not as strong as the other polishes, but they do look better in person than my photos show. The starburst is the best representation. The formula was thicker with this shade so one coat was all I needed.

 China Glaze Magnetix Attraction L-R: Chevrons, Starburst, Stripes and Non-magnetized

Attraction is a medium gunmetal  shade that turns to a deep charcoal once magnetized. I liked the contrast that this shade has, but the pattern just wouldn't come out as crisp as other shades. The formula was thicker with this shade and I was able to get by on just one coat. Also, you'll definitely want a top coat on these as they don't dry as shiny as other formulas.

Overall, I still think the magnetized idea is fun and something worth trying. I think the more you use them and get used to how the magnet reacts with each polish, the better the effect you'll get in the end. Have you tried any magnetic polishes yet? Will you be trying these ones?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Don't Be a Sad Ralph...


Because I Choo-Choo Choose You!
Happy Valentine's Day

I had planned on a super cute heart-a-dot (like polka dots) NOTD but I had a major nail break, that, well it just isn't very pretty.  Oh well! Love the ones who make you smile and eat some chocolate :D