February 25, 2015

Creative Cuticles Nail Polish: Autumn Nights

This is another polish that I've had sitting around for quite some time, but have been procrastinating my blogging for about a month and a half.  I won a giveaway around Christmas time, and one of the prizes was one polish of my choice from Creative Cuticles Nail Polish.  I actually got the email about winning the giveaway about ten minutes after I placed my order of CCNP Christmas polishes, so I was super excited to be able to pick out a fourth color that I liked!

Autumn Nights is a beautiful shade of blue.  I've been trying to branch out from blues for a while, but I really don't own another shade like this!  Most of my blue cremes are very bright sky/electric, or deeper navy.  But I would describe this polish as a sort of denim-sky blue.  Kayla, the creator of CCNP, created this with an evening autumn sky in mind, and I think she hit the nail on the head!

It applies like a dream.  If you're careful, this can be a mythical One-Coat Wonder!  As usual with possible OCWs that I've found, the only reason I had to use two coats on most nails with this one was to clean up the line around my cuticle and to fill in spots that I missed.

This would be a really great background for many kinds of nail art!  If you like blues, cremes, and/or one-coat wonders, you definitely need this one in your collection.

February 20, 2015

Zoya's Color Lock System Review + Zuza

Some time ago, Zoya put a mini size of their Color Lock System on sale.  I don't even remember when or what the sale was exactly - though I think it might have been on Black Friday.  Anyway, it doesn't really matter exactly when and for how much I bought it, it just matters that I bought it and I'm here to review it for you!

The bottle of Remove+ that came with the mini system was actually 1 oz, but I'd used that up by the time I took this group shot.  
This 2 oz bottle was a sample sent with a large polish order. :)

For those who aren't familiar, the Color Lock consists of four parts: Remove+ nail polish remover and nail prep, Anchor base coat, Armor top coat, and Fast Drops quick-dry drops.  I decided to test out the system with one of Zoya's older colors that I recently acquired and have been dying to try, Zuza.

This post is going to be pretty wordy, so bear with me!


Oh my gosh.  I love this stuff.  I love it so much that I spent $25 on an 8 oz bottle of it, when I usually spend about $6 on a 16 oz bottle of pure acetone.  So what's so great about this that it's worth the almost absurd price increase?  Well, the biggest thing is that it doesn't dry the crap out of my cuticles.  Since acetone evaporates so quickly, it dries out cuticle skin to the point that my nice, princess cuticles look like I just spent a week digging in rocky soil with my bare hands (minus the dirt).  A few drops of oil rehydrates them just fine and the extra step was never a big deal until I tried Remove+.  Somehow, whatever it is in the remover that hydrates my nails and cuticles doesn't prevent it from removing polish quickly and easily.  Also, it smells like lavender, which is much better than the chemical smell of pure acetone.

This is called Remove+ because it is also used to clean and prep your nails before a new manicure.  My normal process is acetone to remove old polish, oil for my cuticles, wash my hands, lotion for my hands, and then rubbing alcohol or acetone to clean off my nails.  With Remove+ I can pretty much skip straight from removing my old polish to lotion for my hands (especially since it's winter, ergo dry skin season) to Remove+ on my nails again.  Pretty neat.


It's kind of hard to judge a new base coat AND a new top coat at the same time.  It's hard to tell whether a polish chip comes from a base coat that didn't bond well enough or from a top coat that didn't seal well enough, you know?  But I can definitely say that it applies very smoothly.  My usual base coat, ORLY Bonder, feels almost sticky while I'm applying it, even when the bottle is brand new.  This one is very smooth and thin enough to dry quickly but not so thin that it floods the cuticles.

I wrote the bulk of this post after removing the original test manicure.  In the days that passed when I didn't bother to edit in the photos, I spent a day on the town with just two coats of Anchor on my nails.  It held up fine, didn't end up feeling grimy, and didn't chip or peel or scratch.  So I'd say that this is a great base coat!

Zoya Zuza

Zuza is a beautiful mermaid's-tail aqua with a turquoise-gold shimmer.  Absolutely stunning.

Application is very smooth, as usual with Zoya.  It did feel a tiny bit on the thick side, but not so thick that it was hard to work with or avoided drying.  (It's worth noting that my polish collection lives right under a very drafty window, and it's winter - so the cold could be thickening all of my polishes a little.)  And it's very close to a one-coat wonder; I used two to be safe and to cover up spots that I'd missed on the first coat, but a more steady hand just might be able to get away with only one coat.

Since this is such a long post, I won't say as much as I normally would about this color and move on...


I'll give the same disclaimer here as I did in my matte top coats post: my life is very, very easy on my hands.  I don't have kids, I don't have a job or go to school, and I don't tinker around with any kind of mechanics.  The tasks that are hardest on my hands in my life right now are showering and cooking.

So, with that in mind, this top coat is on point.  I had on two coats of Armor for at least a week.  I didn't add any extra coats as the days wore on.  And I had minimal - and I mean minimal - edge shrinkage on day seven.  (Of course, I wrapped my tips with the color and with the top coat when I originally painted my nails.)  No visible cracks.  No chips.  No dents once it finished drying.  (More details on that in the next section.)  Zoya, I tip my hat to you on this one.  Good freakin' job.

For the record, I showered every day for seven days and cooked three times in the week that I tested this top coat.  Boom.

Fast Dry Drops

Application of the drops was fairly simple.  I angled my fingers downward and dripped one drop of the liquid onto my nail at the cuticle.  It's thin enough that one drop was enough to spread over my whole nail.

As for the success of the product... I'm not impressed.  I waited about five minutes after application and poked at my nail with an orangewood stick, and the polish was still very susceptible to puncture marks.  But what's neat is that the poke marks sort of shrunk out, like a memory foam pillow after you press on it.  I've never had that happen with a puncture mark in my polish before!

Anyway, one would think that after more than ten minutes, fast-dry drops would make polish dry as a bone, but it just didn't work for me.  Even hours after finishing this manicure, I was still able to poke a few dents into the polish - only these dents didn't shrink away.  Looks like I'll be keeping this step out of my regular manicure process.

(Side note: I'm totally bummed that I didn't avoid using the drops on a few nails per hand.  The best way to test the top coat's dry time would be to use it on its own, right?  Oh well.  I'll be sure to use the top coat again some time and throw in a note about its dry time.)

So, all in all, I highly recommend Zoya's Color Lock System!  Each item of the system is available for individual purchase, or you can buy the whole set.  It looks like the mini set is no longer available, and the full-sized set comes with two additional steps: a ridge-filling base coat and renewing drops meant to revive old, gloopy polishes.  Perhaps some day I will be able to review those for you as well! ;)

PS - be sure to enter my giveaway, which ends tonight (Friday 2/20) at midnight!

February 13, 2015

Black Dahlia Lacquer: Strawberry Fields

Highschooler Me would be freaking out right now.  When I was in high school, I got really, really in to The Beatles (not that I ever didn't love them).  I was also sort of obsessed with strawberries.  My friends occasionally referred to me as Strawberry ShortKate, I had a pink shirt with a large strawberry printed on to it, and one of my friends gave me a giant, blinged-out strawberry necklace for my birthday one year.  My strawberry obsession was one of those things that made total sense at the time, because duh strawberries are yummy and sexy and awesome, but makes me feel kinda silly writing about it as a 23 year old because strawberries are just a fruit.

Here I am, in all my glory on my (how'd you guess?!) 16th birthday.  The scarf and necklace 
were a present that year; there's a picture of me hug-tackling my friend who gave them to me. :)

Anyway, the Beatles song Strawberry Fields Forever basically became my theme song.  When I doodled on my notes, I drew melting strawberries a la the movie Across the Universe (which came out in the middle of my intense Beatles obsession).

Sooo, a few weeks ago when checking out Black Dahlia Lacquer's shop for the first time, I came across this polish, and I knew that I absolutely had to have it!

Strawberry Fields is that really great shade of strawberry reddish-pink.  Real strawberries are much more red, but at the height of my strawberry obsession I often drew and doodled strawberries in a pinkish tone.  So I approve of the pinkness of this polish. :)

There is a very fabulous yet subtle pinkish-gold shimmer in this polish.  Part of what makes it so fabulous is how subtle it is!  At certain angles in certain lighting (ie, the dimness that is my basement bedroom) you can't see it at all, but let the light hit it properly and it sparkles beautifully!


Strawberry Fields' formula is very nice.  Very smooth, even coverage, and two coats yielded perfect coverage.

My camera captured this much more neon and pink than it is in person.  I did my best to desaturate it and tone down the redness to make it look more accurate, and I think this photo is the closest.  And you can see the shimmer the best right underneath the word "Dahlia"!  (The photos on BDL's website are very accurate.)

I'm definitely impressed with this polish and adding Black Dahlia to my list of favorite indie brands!  I did purchase another polish from them, but I decided not to put them in the same post.  So look forward to another Black Dahlia swatch+review in the next few weeks!  I also absolutely love their super unique bottle shape.  It just barely fits upright in my Helmer - if it was about half a centimeter taller, I'd probably have to lay it flat in the drawer!

What were your odd youthful obsessions?  Have any of them ever re-appeared in your adult life like mine did?  Let me know in the comments!

February 5, 2015

New Year, New Hue Giveaway!

A few weeks ago, Zoya had an incredible sale called "New Year, New Hue."  You picked out any 3 polishes and got a set of 3 mystery polishes for free plus $15 shipping - or, if you spent at least $25 on other products, shipping was free.  These mystery polishes were promised to be shades that have never been, and will never be, available for purchase.

Upon seeing this announcement, I immediately picked out three colors and paid $15.  Then, when I realized that the 32-oz bottle of Remove+ is exactly $25, I was like well shit, it would be a phenomenal waste NOT to order one of those right now and get 3 more polishes plus another mystery set for free!

So now I'm sitting here with two of these mystery polish sets.  I could keep them for myself and go from "collector" to "hoarder," or I could give them to friends or family... Or I could give them away to one lucky follower!  So that's what I'm going to do, because I love you guys and two and a half months without a giveaway is just too long!!

Since Zoya didn't reveal the colors or the names of the mystery polishes before they shipped out, I'm not going to reveal them before the giveaway, either.  If any of you are completely averse to certain colors, textures, or finishes, well, tough noogies!  Either take the risk that you'll end up with a free color that you don't like or don't take the risk and miss out.  I will tell you that none of these are really colors I would probably ever buy - so if you've seen enough of my posts, you can probably figure out what kinds colors these are NOT.

Giveaway rules:

1. USA addresses only, please.  Sorry to international ladies - I just don't know how to mail nail polish outside the US since it's considered a hazardous chemical.

2. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.  The only mandatory entries are your e-mail and city/state; all following/sharing entries are optional, but will give you way more chances to win!  (Note that I will not save, sell, or give away your e-mail addresses, and that only the winner will be contacted.)

3. If you choose to follow me via any platform for the giveaway, please don't unfollow the moment it ends!  Unfollowers will be noted and banned from all future giveaways.  Again, you don't NEED to follow me for a chance to win, so if you don't want to follow, don't follow.

4. Giveaway closes on 2/21/15 at 12:00 am EST, and I will draw a winner by 2/22/15 at 11:59 am.  Once the winner is drawn, s/he has 36 hours to get back to me and claim the prize; if I don't get a response by 2/23/15 at 11:59 pm, I will draw another winner.

All right, that's it!  Good luck! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

February 4, 2015

Creative Cuticles Nail Polish: Christmas polishes

Have you ever felt that sometimes, the best gifts are ones that you've picked out?  Plenty of times the surprise of something unexpected is awesome, but there are also times when you want three specific nail polishes and really nothing else.

That's how my Christmas went this year.  I even went so far as to order the polishes myself, because I wanted to choose the gift wrapping that Creative Cuticles Nail Polish was offering around Christmas.  (For the record, Derek was super happy with this.  He insists that he's bad at choosing out gifts and reminded me of the one time he did, how badly wrapped it was.  So I took the guesswork and the manual labor out for him!)

The names of these polishes may be out of season, but I think the colors are just dandy for any time of year!

One quick note before I get to the swatches: I recently got a new phone, and discovered that the camera in it is pretty much as good as my bulky old camera.  All of the pictures in this post were taken on my phone.  I want your advice!  Do you think the picture quality here is any better or worse than my previous photos?  Do you like them better with or without flash?  Please let me know in the comments!

Who Wants Eggnog?

Let me just say how hard it was to not drink this nail polish.  That's how much this looks like eggnog!  It's so convincing that I even swore I could smell eggnog for a few seconds.

Who Wants Eggnog is a cream-colored creme polish leaning slightly towards crelly, with some brassy beige-toned glitters representing flakes of nutmeg.  Two coats yields solid coverage, and I actually stayed with two this time!  I felt that three coats would have too much glitter to look as perfectly like eggnog - or at least the way I drink it.  If you like tons of nutmeg in your nog, then three coats might look better to you! :)

Application was perfectly wonderful.  The formula is really easy to work with, not too thick or thin, and the glitters apply easily.  I had to dab just a tiny bit because I was being picky about the placement of the glitters, but they won't wipe completely off the nail if you swipe it on.


Please Have Snow and Mistletoe

Please Have Snow and Mistletoe is a super fun glitter topper.  It's festive, but I don't think it's super Christmasy; I'd totally wear this any time I'm celebrating, no matter the occasion or time of year!

From pointer to pinkie, I have one to four coats over bare nails.  I think I would like this best using two coats over a fun creme or metallic polish, but it does still look great loaded onto bare nails!  The base is ever-so-slightly green tinted, but you can't really see it until you build up to three or more coats.  (My nails are embarrassingly yellowed at the tips.  Please excuse this atrocity and don't confuse my discoloration for an odd base color in the polish!)

Application of Snow and Mistletoe was pretty standard for a glitter topper: a bit of dabbing was required, but since the glitters are all relatively the same size, it wasn't too frustrating.  I generally have to do a lot more dabbing when there are glitters of many sizes, especially for the bigger glitters.

Macro at three coats.

Ugly Christmas Jumper

This one caught my eye because it's inspired by Molly Weasley's Christmas sweaters that she always knits in the Harry Potter series.  How could I not want this polish?

Ugly Christmas Jumper is pretty festive, but again, I don't think it's 100% Christmasy!  The base is slightly tinted yellow, but you can't really tell until you build up to three or more coats.  (This time, I have one to four coats from my pinky to pointer.)  Again, my nails are super yellow starting about halfway up, so the polish looks way more yellow than it actually is.  Does anybody know how to prevent yellowing nails from constant polish use? :(

Application on this one was a little bit tricky.  Since most of the glitters are so big, I had to do a lot of dabbing.  And, while there are plenty of the red hearts in the bottle, I just could not get them onto the brush, let alone onto my nails!  It took me a few minutes just to fish out the one that I got on my pointer finger.  Like Snow and Mistletoe, I would personally like this best with two coats over a creme or metallic.

Macro at three coats.

Which one of these is your favorite?  And do you think the new camera quality stands up to my old one?  Please let me know in the comments!

P.S. I just have to say how much I adore CCNP's label.  Penguins are my favorite animal and these little guys are so precious!!