Thursday, January 31, 2013

Zoya Color Your World Swatches

There's nothing I love more than opening up a new bottle of nail polish. I just got my order in that I placed during Zoya's Color Your World promo earlier this month and I was doubly excited to swatch my first Zoya polishes.
First up is Zoya Aurora, a bright fuschia-hued purple with micro-fine glitter. For this swatch, I used two coats, as I usually do. Zoya's website promised full coverage, and although I was skeptical at first, I can definitely say that this polish offers full opacity. This was my favorite shade of the three I ordered -- I love the holographic sparkle and the depth to the glitter.
So I live in Southern California, but unfortunately my little corner of the world doesn't get much sun. And by my corner of the world, I mean my bottom floor apartment that's in the shade 95 percent of the day. I snapped a quick photo of last night's swatches on my way to work today, so on a rare appearance, check out my nails in the sun:
Next up is Zoya Frida. This is a sorbet polish with a sheer finish, so I would definitely recommend using it if you're doing a jelly sandwich manicure. For this swatch I used five coats and as you can see, it's still quite sheer. Zoya rates Frida as a 2 on their color intensity scale, and I think I would agree. The formula is on the thinner side of the sheer polishes I've used in the past, so when you're applying make sure that you don't have too much on your brush or you'll have a lot of clean-up to do. Though the formula isn't my favorite, I do love the color ... I've had a hard time finding teal-blue shades that I like, so I may use this on a jelly sandwich mani soon!

Finally, for my last polish I picked Zoya Kelly. When I ordered Kelly, I thought it would actually be lighter and more purple than gray based on the website photo. In the bottle it's definitely true to its photograph, but after two coats as I used below, it  turned out to be a dark gray with purple undertones. I loved the formula as this polish; it's a great, smooth creme that applies very evenly. I probably could have stopped with just one coat and achieved full coverage, but since I usually swatch two coats I decided to keep going.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pink Diagonal Shimmer

When I started this mani, I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do. I started out with several coats of OPI Pedal Faster Suzi, applying about four coats to achieve full opacity. After that had dried, I pulled out OPI Meep Meep Meep since the colors looked really good together. Each is a bright, shimmery pink-hued polish, though Pedal Faster Suzi is definitely softer and more feminine while Meep Meep Meep is bold and vampy. The color didn't translate so well to photos, but it's a dark pink maroon. After the polish was totally dry, I drew a thick diagonal line in black and added some flower detailing. It's a little messy, but you can just barely make out the flower petals in the corner of my nail -- I guess I was inspired by the pedal/petal wordplay!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Blue and Lavender Squares

I tried a new technique today, and I wasn't too thrilled with the result. I saw a great video where the blogger used striping tape to create a really cute geometric mani. In the past, I've typically just freehanded it, but the tape created such crisp lines that I had to try it at least once.

The end result was a little sloppy, probably because the top coat took off the metallic sheen from the tape. I'm not crazy about this one and think it would actually be a lot cuter using a striping brush.
For the base color, I used two coats of Essie Borrowed and Blue. The smaller squares are China Glaze Light as Air, which is a really soft, pale lavender.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Star Wars Nails

"Big Bang Theory" has really put me in a comic book/superhero/sci-fi funk lately (in a good way?). My husband and I are huge Star Wars fans -- yes, I'm totally revealing my inner geek here -- and even have Yoda and Darth Vader Christmas stockings. So of course, the logical progression from comic book nails is to rock some awesome Star Wars-inspired nail art.

These took me FOREVER. Plus, when I was getting ready to photograph them, my thumb mysteriously got smudged and I had to start the painstaking process all over again (thanks, hubby -- didn't want to sleep or anything last night).

I've tried Stormtrooper nails before, but adding some of the other characters and logos was tricky ... and so worth it.

Check out the nail designs, clockwise from top left: Stormtrooper, R2-D2, Rebel Alliance logo, a poorly-drawn Darth Vader and the  Wars Logo.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Comic Book Nails

I'm a huge "Big Bang Theory" fan. Huge. After watching the latest episode, "The Bakersfield Expedition," where the guys head out to the middle of nowhere for a comic book convention, I was inspired to put together my own comic-inspired nails.
From left to right: Don't Mess With OPI, OPI Big Apple Red, OPI Dating a Royal, Sinful Colors Firefly, Sally Hansen Black Out. White color is OPI Alpine Snow.
I just had to do it: a comic book-style sketch of my nails.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Black and White Puzzle Piece

Who doesn't love a good puzzle? I don't have the patience for the real thing, but this mani was so easy that I couldn't help but try it. The basic design is a pretty simple colorblocking pattern. Some people may use tape, but I chose to freehand using a striping brush to draw my initial squares.

After filling in the squares with color, I used various size dotting tools to create the notches, and voila -- a puzzle piece mani in less than 45 minutes!
The base color is OPI Alpine Snow; the black is Sally Hansen XTreme Wear in onyx.
I'm heading to Hawaii tomorrow for a work trip, so I'll be working on a Hawaiian-inspired manicure later tonight (in between laundry, packing, an anniversary dinner with the hubby and picking up last-minute necessities).

Monday, January 14, 2013

Don't Mess With OPI Glitter Mani

I'm a fan of OPI Don't Mess With OPI, but I needed to dress it up with something extra. I picked up some of the polishes from the China Glaze Cirque du Soleil Whirled Away collection, but hadn't had a chance to swatch the glitters yet.
China Glaze Whirled Away is a black and white bar and hex glitter. The base color is clear and I found it to be really runny, which is unusual for the glitters I've been using recently. Like other bloggers, I found that the formula was difficult to work with. I ended up having to place all of the glitter pieces on my nails very carefully. What's more is that when I took this glitter off, I found that it stained my nails pretty badly! It's definitely an interesting look, but very difficult to work with. I would recommend using this with a LOT of patience, as it takes a bit of time to get the glitter where you want it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Winter Skincare Products

Not gonna lie, my hands and cuticles are a mess right now. Between daily polishing and crazy cold evening weather, my skin is cracking, chapped, dry and just generally unpleasant to look at.

Starting today, I'm getting back on a regular skincare regimen, but wanted to share a few of my must-have products for winter.

I've tried to save my bottle of Hands Beauty Formula Beauty by Clinica Ivo Pitanguy for only when my hands get really bad -- its $100 price tag is enough reason to be stingy with the lotion. I love the feminine floral scent, but most of all I love how smooth it leaves my hands.

Sometimes, even expensive hand lotion isn't enough to fix my dry, cracking skin. For heavy-duty moisturizing, I squeeze a quarter-sized dollop of Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream onto my hands before I go to sleep. This isn't the kind of cream that rubs in easily, so typically I'll throw on a pair of thin cotton gloves to moisturize my skin overnight. After a few nights, the cream works like a charm and my hands are back to their normal state.

I've tried a few different cuticle creams and oils, but my favorite so far is Burt's Bee's lemon butter cuticle creme. It has a subtle lemon scent and best of all, the cream goes on incredibly light so my fingers don't feel oily after rubbing it in.

I'd love to hear about your favorite skincare products for winter, as I'm always looking for ways to fix my dry cuticles! Drop me a line at allison [at]

Neutrogena hand cream and Burt's Bees are my own. Beauty by Clinica hands beauty formula provided by a PR company, but all opinions are my own.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

#PureIceMyCity: Huntington Beach, CA

Pure Ice is hosting a #pureicemycity 1,000-bottle nail contest! To rep my hometown and favorite city in the world, I'm sporting two surf-inspired manicures (I love my town so much I couldn't do just one!).

I'm lucky enough to live in a city where the skies are sunny nearly every day of the year. Huntington Beach, Calif., also known as Surf City, USA, is home to the annual U.S. Open of Surfing and a super lively downtown scene. In my first manicure, I'm featuring one my favorite spots in the city: the Huntington Beach pier and the iconic Ruby's Diner. I once went up in a small plane with my husband while he was taking a flight class and one of the only landmarks I could pick out was the brick red roof of the Ruby's on the pier.

Entry info:
Name: Allison H. - Glitter and Gloss
City: Huntington Beach, CA
Why You Love It: With sunny skies nearly every day of the year, downtown Huntington Beach is the perfect place to spend the day. The pier is at the center of our downtown area and offers the perfect vantage point to watch surfers catch a wave in Surf City, USA.

If you're interested in entering, check out the link here.
The iconic HB Ruby's Diner, located at the end of the Huntington Beach pier with 365-degee views of the beach, downtown and the Pacific Ocean
Huntington Beach: Surf City, USA

Friday, January 11, 2013

Black and Pink Tribal Print Mani

I found this one back in my archives, so I wanted to post before I forgot about it. This mani is actually featured on one of my Sunday Swatches.

It's a pretty simple tribal print, but I really love the colors. For the base, I used two coats of China Glaze Smoke & Ashes.  I used a pink metallic striping brush that I picked up on the clearance rack at Ulta (it was actually in the children's make-up section, but works really well) for the design. Check out the swatches below:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

OPI My Private Jet Glitter Mani

I was feeling a little lazy last night, but decided to paint my nails since I was already filing, buffing and smoothing my nails. Also, I finally fixed my beloved lightbox, meaning better I can properly display my nails at any time of the day (my new kitten, Sami, decided to throw herself through the tissue paper so I had a cat-shaped hole through two sides).

The base of this mani was two coats of OPI My Private Jet, topped with a bit of China Glaze Glitter Goblin near the base. The effect actually reminded me a bit of my Girl on Fire mani back in February. I'm not overly thrilled with the color pairing, as I thought Glitter Goblin had a more pinkish hue rather than reddish-orange (apparently, I'm a little color-blind). You can check out the swatches below. At the very least, My Private Jet is an awesome, inky brown with a rich metallic shimmer.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blue Drip Newsprint Mani

I did a newsprint mani a while back, so when the three of us (Annie, Wendy and myself) had our first nail polish night of 2013, I decided to revisit the technique and add a new one that I'd learned over the last couple of months.

Voila—a drip newsprint mani in shades of blue.
The base color is two coats of Essie Borrowed and Blue, one of my favorite creme shades that has a great application and soft, pastel-y color. As usual, I used my mini bottle of Absolut Vodka to help transfer the newsprint to my nails.

For the dark blue shimmer drip, I dipped the large end of my biggest dotting tool into OPI Swimsuit ... Nailed It while holding my hand vertical and let the polish run down my nail for a bit before laying it flat.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Purple Zebra Print Mani

My first nail art of the new year! I actually did this mani away while spending the day at my mom's, so I had to improvise with what I had since I didn't have any of my regular tools with me.

I started with two coats of Sally Hansen XTreme Wear Lacey Lilac, a soft lavender creme that has a great smooth application. That was the only color I had with me, so I borrowed a bottle of my mom's polish, OPI Tomorrow Never Dies from the James Bond Skyfall Collection. At first glance, it almost looked like a royal blue when in the bottle, but applied as a saturated deep purple shimmer.

I (sloppily) freehanded a line sectioning off a third of the nail and painted a thick stripe of the OPI purple -- it looks a bit messy because I was working from my lap. Using an old paint brush with thin bristles, I drew the zebra stripes by dipping it into the open polish bottle.
The overall effect didn't turn out too badly, for having done this manicure on a whim. With the proper tools and better lighting, this could be a really cool piece of nail art.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

China Glaze Circue du Soleil Worlds Away Swatches

China Glaze has a penchant for coming up with polishes based on the latest movies in theaters (Capitol Colours based on the Hunger Games, for example), and the newest collection, which came out in winter 2012, doesn't disappoint.

I've only seen one Cirque du Soleil show, Viva Elvis at the Aria in Las Vegas, but I was really impressed by the production quality. I loved all of the colors in this Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away collection, based on the film that's in theaters now. There are 12 shades total, six creme colors and six glitters. I purchased six total (not in my budget to buy all 12 this time, unfortunately), but haven't had time yet to swatch the polishes with hex glitters.

Check out four swatches below -- three creme polishes and one glitter. All polishes pictured are two coats.
Hanging in the Balance: A bright, cerulean blue creme polish. One thing I love about the cremes in this collection is how smooth they are upon application -- it creates a nice, clean finish, even before using any top coat.
Creative Fantasy: A rich, grape-hued purple. While I love the color here, the formula is somewhat runny and didn't achieve full opacity after two coats. As you can see, there are thin patches of polish where the color is lighter. With another coat, this may be a good color.
Surreal Appeal: A soft neon coral pink creme. This was my favorite shade out of the collection -- it made my nails pop and applied very evenly and fully with just two coats. This color makes me wish summer was right around the corner...
Water You Waiting For: A vibrant blue polish packed with glitter. This one wasn't one of my favorites, but that may be in part because I always dread the clean-up that follows a glitter polish, even with the foil glitter removal technique. It was pretty opaque for a glitter and definitely reminds me of water, but I just felt that there's too much going on here with the varying shades and textures. The depth may be nice for some people, but I'm just not that into it.