Five Below Haul

I went into a Five Below store.  That’s a rarity, because well, I’m a solid 20 years older than their target demographic.   I had been in a Five Below a year or so ago, and I had a vague recollection of seeing nail polish there, so when my path crossed a Five Below a few weeks ago, I figured that it might be worth checking out. Was it ever!

Five Below is a chain of stores that specialize in trendy gadgets and accessories and whatnot  that appeal to the teen and tween crowd, so not surprisingly, the nail polish they carry is all very young and trendy.  They carry two lines of nail polish: Funky Fingers and Fresh Paint.  They were all $2 each or 3 for $5, which you could mix and match between the two lines.  I ended up with 6 polishes.  My little sis was kind enough to let me use her nails for swatching.  Here they are:

Fresh Paint: Guava

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This is a beautiful neon peach.  Although the middle and pinky fingers have a white base underneath, you don’t need it for it to be amazingly bright.  The formula is really great and it’s also a dupe for China Glaze Flip Flop Fantasy!  I had been itching for Flip Flop Fantasy for a few months, but I didn’t want to spend $7.  I actually went into a Sally Beauty Supply right after I picked this up and did a little comparison, and yep, they’re identical.

Fresh Paint: Sugar Crush

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This is an iridescent topper that pulls primarily orange, but also green, blue and yellow. It’s not really a glitter, but little flakes.  We tried it over Guava, white and black.  It looked great over Guava!  It sort of took Guava from just neon to classy neon.  It was not that amazing over white, but it was really fun over black!  I’m definitely going to be wearing it over black in the cooler months.

Funky Fingers: Glowstick

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This is a neon yellow that leans a little toward the green side of things with a subtle iridescent sheen.  Again, the middle and pinky fingers have a white base, which did make this polish a little brighter.

Funky Fingers: Pep Rally

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This is a really fun neon glitter with matte blue and pink hexes in different sizes, big green iridescent hexes, small metallic purple hexes, and small orange and purple bar glitter.  We swatched this glitter over Glowstick, white and black.  It really looked cool over all of those colors!  There are a few drawbacks with this polish.  The clear base is really thick and a little hard to work with.  I think I will end up using the makeup sponge method to apply this glitter.  Also, the glitters themselves were pretty thick, so it may take 2 or three layers of a thick top coat like Seche Vite to make the nails smooth.

Funky Fingers: Unicorn Farts

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This polish is all medium size metallic hex glitters in pretty much every color.  The glitter gives off light is a linear sort of way that gives the glitter the appearance of being curved, but it actually does lay flat on the nail.  The clear base is similar to that of Pep Rally, so I think I’m going to end up using the makeup sponge method with this one as well.  We tested it over white, black, nude, and green.  Actually, with the green I attempted a jelly sandwich, but it got a little thick and goopy   because of the thick clear base. This polish is just really fun and shiny and versatile, so I know I’ll get a lot of use out of it.

Funky Fingers: Sand & Stilettos

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This polish should be called The Most Sparkly Polish In The World.  these pictures just aren’t doing it justice.  This is a light purple -almost gray- holographic micro glitter.  In the picture, I believe we have 3 coats on bare nail on the first, two coats over white on the middle finger, and two coats over black on the ring finger.  The glitter is so dense, that it’s opaque in 3 coats, which is pretty amazing.  There are two kinds of holographic glitters: scattered and linear.  Scattered reflect all different colors all over the place.  Linear reflects a more defined rainbow so that you can actually see bands of color.  I really feel this polish is both scattered and linear.  You definitely get different colored sparkles all over the nail, but when sunlight hits the bottle of polish, I can see a rainbow, too.  I have this color on my toes now and I just feel like my toenails are covered in tiny diamonds.   Seriously, it’s the kind of polish that you just can’t stop staring at.

The polishes from this haul are so fun and I feel like they go together really well!  I think I could do a ton of different looks only using these 6 polishes.  If you follow me in instagram, you may have seen my current doticure using Guava and Sand & Stilettos.  They’re so fun together!

Thus concludeth my Five Below haul.  I highly recommend that you check out the polishes at Five Below, and if you do, please let me know what you think and what polishes you get!

 

 

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White Nails Are A Thing

Did you know that white nails are a thing?  Well, they are.  I think they started showing up on the runway about 3 summers ago, so the time is about right for them to make their way here to Smalltown, USA.

White polish looks great with tan summer skin and it’s also makes a perfect blank canvas for all kinds of nail art.  It’s also can help your sheer neon polishes look extra bright.  White polish can be tricky, though.  Light polishes can sometimes be sheer, and light colors seem less forgiving than darker ones when it’s not quite perfect on the nail.  That’s why it’s important for every nail polish fan to own a good white polish.

I decided to do a little comparison between 6 different brands of nail polish, most of which have a pretty low price point.  Here are the polishes I tested:

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From left to right:

Wet n Wild – French White Creme, $1.00

Broadway Nails -Snow White, $1.00

NYC – French White Tip $1.00

Sinful Colors – Snow Me White, $2.00

Sally Hansen – White On, $2.50 – $3.00

Essie – Blanc, $7.00 – $9.00

For years I used the Wet n Wild white because well, it was cheap and easy to find in just about any store.  I felt like the formula was okay, but not great.  Then one day I found Essie Blanc on a good sale!  I really thought it was going to be this amazingly wonderful stuff because it was regularly 8 times more expensive than my normal Wet n Wild.  Sadly, that was not the case, but it did motivate me to go on a hunt to find a really good white polish.

Okay, less rambling and onto the results.  For each of these polishes, my first finger has 1 coat, my middle finger has 2 coats, and my ring finger has 3 coats.  Here we go:

Wet n Wild:  With 2 coats, you can see that it’s still a little shear, but with 3 coats it’s pretty much opaque.

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Broadway Nails: Pretty similar to Wet n Wild, but maybe a bit more sheer.

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NYC:  I think with two careful coats, this would be opaque.  You can see on my middle finger near the cuticle that I had a little trouble with the polish pulling up and leaving a bald spot.  Generally, that’s caused by going over the polish with the brush too many times, which causes the polish that is partially dry to pull up from the nail.  I think if you are able to apply a coat of polish in 3 strokes, this polish will look good with only 2 coats.

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Sinful Colors:  This polish looked great in 2 coats!  I did a third coat on my ring finger for consistency’s sake, but it really didn’t need it.

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Sally Hansen:  This one is my favorite!  It was perfect in 2 coats, and a third coat actually made it a little too thick.  Really, this is a smooth, perfect white polish.

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Essie Blanc:  This one really preforms about the same as the Broadway Nails polish.  It’s really not that great and a rip-off for the price.   And do you see the teeth marks on the cap?  Yeah, I had a little trouble getting it opened this one time.  Anyway, I disliked this polish enough that I used it to do a little Frankenpolishing.

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So, in the end I really feel like the Sally Hansen polish is the bet polish of this lot, and at $3 or less, it won’t break the bank.  If you can’t find the Sally Hansen or you want to save a buck, I don’t think you’ll be disappointing with the Sinful Colors polish.  The other 4 polishes are just okay.  They will work in a pinch, but they don’t really rock my world.

Have you tried any of these polishes?  What’s your favorite? Have you tried any whites that aren’t on my list?

 

Battle of the Base Coats

I have long been under the impression that Revlon makes one of the best base coats out there.  I’m talking specifically about the Quick Dry Base Coat.   This stuff is sort of elusive.  It’s not always available at every Revlon nail polish display.  (The one place that consistently has it in stock at the best price is Christmas Tree Shoppes. )

It looks like this:

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I used this stuff for several years as my regular base coat, and was always really happy with the results.

Then Seche Vite (pronouced “SESH VEET”, according to French people) came onto my radar.  It pretty much seemed like everyone praised their top coat as being the best thing ever.  Well, I can now say from experience that they do make an awesome top coat, so I assumed that they made an awesome base coat as well.

That’s what prompted me to buy Seche Clear:

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The formula for these two base coats couldn’t be more different.  Revlon is thick and pretty much looks exactly like Elmer’s Rubber Cement.  It fills in any nail ridges and self-levels really well.  When it dries, your nails feel rubbery, almost sticky.  Seche Clear is crystal clear and super thin.  It feels like you are just painting a really thin clear polish on your nails.  When it dries, it is slightly shiny a bit tacky.

I have never put these two base coats to a head-to-head test, so I figured it was time to do so.  I painted alternating fingers with the two base coats and followed them with 2 coats of white polish, a cute neon glitter polish, and Seche Vite top coat.  Specifically, Revlon is on my first and ring finger on my left hand, and my thumb, middle finger and pinky of my right hand. Seche Clear is on my thumb, middle finger and pinky of my left hand, and first and ring finger of my right hand.

Let’s see what happens…

Day One:

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Both base coats trucked along beautifully for 3 days. On the 4th day, I started to notice a few little chips.

Day 4:

Seche Clear nails.  There’s definitely some tip wear, and a visible  chip on the pinky of my left hand, and the first finger of my right hand.

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Revlon nails.  There’s some tip wear and a little chip on the middle finger of my right hand.

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By day 5, I was getting really tired of looking at the same polish every day.  Under normal circumstances, I would have repainted my nails.  Since I wanted to hold out a little longer on this head-to-head challenge, I satisfied myself by adding some different colored glitter to my nails.

At the end of day 6, I got a HUGE chip on one of my nails.  The chip was huge enough for me to declare day 6 as the last day of this little challenge.  Here they are..

 

Day 6

Seche Clear nails.  The left hand doesn’t look too much different than day 4, but look at my first finger on my right hand!  I lost almost half of the polish!  It chipped off some time while I was at Hersheypark, but I didn’t actually notice when it happened.

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Revlon nails.  Still only that little chip on the middle finger of my right hand.

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I also compared the tip wear of each finger on my right hand with its counterpart on my left hand and found that…

Thumbs:  Revlon wins (on my right hand)

First fingers: Revlon wins by a landslide (on my left hand)

Middle fingers: Seche Clear wins (on my left hand)

Ring fingers: Revlon wins (on my left hand)

Pinky: Revlon wins (on my right hand)

This little experiment has pretty much confirmed my hunch that the Revlon Quick Dry Base Coat will help your mani look better longer than Seche Clear.  Revlon will continue to be my go-to base coat for the foreseeable  future.

What has been your experience with base coats?  What base coat do you love?

Tools of the Trade

I’m about to reveal something that may blow your mind…  Here it is: Nail art is not really that hard.  Anyone can make their own nails look really awesome if they know a few tricks, and have the right tools.  Now, before I go any further, there are people out there doing nail art that actually have real artistic ability (do a search for Robin Moses Nail Art some time), and those people are in an awesome class of their own, but I’m not talking about those people right now.   I’m talking about regular people with very average drawing and painting skills.  I’m one of those regular people.

You will have a whole new, wonderful world of nail art open up in front of you if you can acquire just a few inexpensive tools.  Here’s my collection of tools:

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On the left are my dotting tools.  “What the heck is a dotting tool” you ask?  It’s pretty much a handle with a little round metal nub at the end that you can dip into polish or paint and then make perfectly round dots on your nails.  And don’t underestimate the versatility of dots.  You can do a ton of designs with just dots.  Five dots arranged in a circle with a different colored dot in the center is a flower.  Seriously Dots are great.

The first dotting tools I ever got were the three in the middle with the wooden handles.  I got them at Michael’s.  I’m pretty sure you could find something similar at just about any craft store.  After that I got the 5 pretty dotting tools with the plastic colored handles.  I’ve seen that set in beauty stores for over $10, but you can get them on Amazon for under $3.  That’s right, the whole set of 5 tools for under $3.  Just go to Amazon and search for “nail art dotting tools” and you’ll find a bunch of them listed.

Just to the right of my dotting tools is a little multi-functional little guy.  It’s got a dotting tool on one end, and an angled handle with a little brush on the other end.  I got that at Sally Beauty Supply for around $4.  I really like it and used it a lot when I first got it.  Ultimately, I wanted a brush that was just a little smaller so that I could be a little more detailed in my designs.  That first led me to the purple handled brush on the far right

 

Nails of the Day

So, here are my nails of the day… My NOTD, as they say. 

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Whoa, I just learned how to add a boarder to my pictures.  I’m pretty stoked about that.

I was pretty happy to find this L.A. Colors Flash Pop in my local Dollar General / Family Dollar.  I’ve never seen these sets anywhere else, so my guess is that they may be exclusive to those stores.  It’s weird that there are polishes that are exclusive to Dollar General / Family Dollar, but there totally are.  More about that at a later time.

They thing that prompted me to buy this was the neon pink glitter.  Outside of the indie polish scene, neon glitter is pretty darn hard to find.  At $2.50, I couldn’t pass it up.

The pink glitter is mixed with some shredded black and silver glitter along with some silver micro glitter and tiny silver bar glitter.  The pink glitters are pretty thin transparent, so unfortunately, I don’t think they would show up well over a dark color, but I’ll have to test that out later to be sure.  Since the glitters are thin, they do lay nice and flat on the nail. The clear base is a bit gunky, so you sort of have to have a little patience to get it to apply how you want it, but it all smoothed out nicely after applying my Seche Vite top coat. 

I haven’t tried the purple shade that came on the other end, so I can’t give my 2 cents about that polish.  (It looks sort of blue in the picture, but it really is dark purple.)

This particular manicure is part of an experiment to compare 2 different base coats, so you’ll see these nails again later after the results are in. 

 

 

All About The Neon

So we’re smack in the middle of summer.  Summer is great for many reasons, not the least of which is wearing neon nail polish!  Actually, summer is pretty much the only season in which you can wear neon polish without looking…  What’s a nice way to say “trashy”?  (You are entitled to disagree with me, but that’s how I feel.)  Anyway, since we are in the season of neon, I figured it was a good time to talk about how we can all sport the most eye-searingly neon nails as possible.

Have you ever purchased a beautifully bright bottle of neon polish that you just couldn’t wait to put on your fingers?  You didn’t want much, just for your nails to be as bright as the bottle of polish.  Then once you got it on your nails, it was disappointingly drab.  It was streaky and see-through, and matte and just didn’t look like anything in the bottle.  It was a sad day.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you CAN have nails that are just as brilliantly bright as the polish appears in the bottle, and for the most-part, there’s just one really important step that you need to take before you slather on the neon polish…(Drum roll, please.)… You need to paint your nails white first.  A lot of neon polish has a pretty shear formula.  Those “highlighter yellow” polishes almost always have a really transparent jelly formula.  Because of that, the only way to get the true color to show up is to make sure it’s on a white background.

And you need to take your time and paint your nails really nicely with the white polish.  Since the neon polish is tends to be shear, any streaks or missed spots in the white polish are going to show through the neon layer, too.  Generally, two good coats of white will make a great base for your neon polish.

There are other bloggers out there (many of whom I like a lot) that claim that painting your nails white first should not have to be a requirement, and the nail polish companies need to step up their game and make true neon polish that doesn’t require a white base.  I say that those sentiments are all well and good, but the truth is, your neon nails will generally be a heck of a lot brighter if you just take the extra 5 minutes to put down a nice white base.

So, let’s get to some examples.  Here are the polishes that I tested:

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I arranged them nicely in rainbow order and took this picture in natural light to try to show the colors as accurately as possible. Starting with the upper left, the colors are:

  • Sally Girl #812157
  • Sally Girl #812158
  • China Glaze – Thistle Do Nicely
  • LA Colors – Hottie
  • Sally Girl – Crazy
  • Spoiled – Did I Dye It Too Blonde?
  • Broadway – Sour Apple
  • China Glaze – Turned Up Turquoise
  • Nina – Blue Blaze
  • Sinful Colors – Dream On

One each hand I painted my:

  • First finger: 2 coats of neon polish on bare nail
  • Middle finger: 3 coats of neon polish on bare nail
  • Ring finger: 4 coats of neon polish on bare nail
  • Pinky: 1 coat of white polish followed by 2 coats of neon polish
  • Thumb: 2 coats of white polish followed by 2 coats of neon polish

I did all of these swatches while watching The Bachelorette.  In retrospect, I should have done them during the day so that I could have photographed them in natural light.   It’s really hard to capture neon colors on camera as it is, and I think artificial light makes it even worse.   I should also point out that I am fully aware that my paint job on some of my fingers is pretty crappy.  I was mostly concerned with getting them all done before Andi gave out her final rose.

Here we go…

Sally Girl #812157:

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This picture is really deceptive.  The color is a crazy bright pink, and with this particular color, it is SO much more vibrant over white.

Sally Girl #812158:

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This is a neon bubblegum pink.  This one is actually just fine without a white base, as long as you do at least 3 coats.

China Glaze – Thistle Do Nicely:

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A hot pinky-coral.  China Glaze makes some really great neon formulas, and this is one of them.  Three coats without a white base looks great.

LA Colors – Hottie:

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This  is actually a bright coral.  This may not be a true neon, because the formula dries glossy instead of matte.  Three coats of this looks good without white underneath.

Sally Girl – Crazy:

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Traffic cone orange.  This picture is a little deceptive.  Without white underneath, it remains a dingy orange.  A white base makes the color blinding!

Spoiled – Did I Dye It Too Blonde?:

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This highlighter yellow is the color that most obviously benefits from a white base underneath.  On the pinky, you can see that the streaks from the thin coat of white show through.  I love how this looks on the thumb!  You definitely need two coats of white under this and then 2 coats of yellow, but the trouble is SO worth it!  You can stop traffic with these nails!

Broadway – Sour Apple:

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This color sure looks neon to me, so I was surprised that it dried glossy.  An amazing formula for a polish that costs $1!  Three coats without white and you are good to go.

China Glaze – Turned Up Turquoise:

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I LOVE this color!  This formula is great, so you don’t need a white base.  This is not a typical neon color, but it is part of China Glaze’s neon collection.  This looks really cool with it’s matte finish, but there is a greenish shimmer in this polish that really shows up when you put a shiny top coat over it.  This color, along with the last two, are actually colors that you can get away with wearing year-round.  Did I mention that I love this color?

Nina – Blue Blaze:

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Again the color in this picture is really deceptive.  I decided to include this color, because like most neons, it dries matte and it really is a bright electric blue in person!  It’s sort of irritating, but this color applies much more smoothly when it is not over white, but the color is much brighter when it is over white.  I think I’ll have to play with this one a little more to get it just right.

Sinful Colors – Dream On:

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This neon purple looks okay if you do 4 coats on it’s own, but a white coat underneath just makes it pop.

And here’s my little trash can by the end of The Bachelorette:

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You can see some of my husband’s peanut shells underneath.  He feels that it is important to shell and eat peanuts while he watches baseball on TV.   So, as long has he doesn’t complain about the nail polish bottles that are strewn all over our house, I won’t complain about the peanut skins that land on the carpet.  The things you do for love.

What are your thoughts on applying a white base under neons?  And what are your favorite neon polishes?

 

Sally Hansen Electric Summer Collection

Today in Kmart, I spotted the new limited edition summer collection from Sally Hansen: Electric Summer.  Apparently, this collection has been around for several weeks, but I somehow have managed not to see it until today.  Anyway, here’s what the display looks like:

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Sorry for the quick, crappy picture.  While I was in Kmart, a massive thunderstorm was moving toward my house and I had wash on the line, so I was sort of hustling to get out of there.

My first thought (besides how wet my clothes on the line were going to get) was that they are very pretty colors, and it’s a nice change from the neon collections that pretty much every other brand puts out in the summer.  My second thought was that some of the colors looked really similar to the colors in the regular Xtreme Wear line.  So, I marched my self over to the regular line of polish and did a little comparison.

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That’s Kelp Yourself from Electric Summer on the left, and Mint Sorbet on the Right.  Mint Sorbet might be a little more yellow, than Kelp Yourself, but I say these are REALLY close.

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That’s Wet Suit from Electric summer on the left and Breezy Blue on the right.  Wet suit is a little bit darker, but again, these are really close.

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That’s Water Orchid from Electric summer on the left and Lacey Lilac on the right.  These two aren’t as close of a match as the other two, but they’re not so different either.   I just notices something:  the Xtream Wear logo is a little different on the Lacey Lilac label than on the other bottles.  Must be an old bottle.

Really, Sally Hansen.  I think you can be a little more creative next time.  If your limited edition collections are going to feature colors that are so similar to colors in your regular line, at least put some shimmer in them, or make them a jelly formula or something.

Ultimately, I didn’t buy any of the Electric summer collection, because I didn’t feel like any of the colors was really new or exciting or unique.  If I would have bought any of them, it would have totally been Floaties, the pretty peach color that is second from the right in the display… But I didn’t buy it, so I guess I didn’t love it that much.

Anyway, what do you think of this collection?  Have you tried any of the colors?