Apawca-pill #1: Untrieds

(or polishes that used to be untried but are no longer untried because they’ve been tried)

That time of the year has come, when I have so much to do that I can hardly find the time to shower, let alone do nail art or write a detailed blog post. However, I thought I could at least occasionally put together a quick thing to keep myself, and hopefully you, entertained.

That’s what Apawca-pills aim to be: short and sweet posts about this and that. The “short and sweet” part is pretty ambitious for me, because I have a SLIGHT tendency to digress and talk too much…

Without further ado, let’s get this Apawca-pills thingy started! I’m going to show you a couple of untrieds that have finally found their way out of the Swedish Purgatory: the Helmer units.

Colors by Llarowe Berries In The Snow
(Winter 2015 collection)

Colors by Llarowe Berries In The Snow, described as a “blackened berry wine intense linear holo”, has a fantastic formula and a strong rainbow flame. It is gorgeous, but honestly it didn’t steal my heart – just personal preference, there’s nothing wrong with it!

Glam Polish B*tch Please!
(July 2016 Mysteries )

Glam Polish B*tch Please! is a purple base with blueish flakies, holo and, according to my eyes, a golden shimmer. It made me drool like my parents’ dog when he sees cheese, which is a lot, like in “I need a life vest” lot.

Scofflaw Subterranean Homesick Alien
(Spring 2015)
Scofflaw Subterranean Homesick Alien
(Spring 2015)

As I’ve already mentioned in previous occasions, Scofflaw is one of my favourite indie brands. I love their inspiration, I appreciate their unusual combos, but above all I adore their names! I only wish their shades were easier for me to get hold of – I’d buy them in bulks.
This time around, I picked a vivid blue lacquer to wear, because I was craving Smurfs… Kidding! I was just feeling like blue polish. XD
Subterranean Homesick Alien has a very nice formula, I used three coats because I prefer to work in thinner layers (and you would too, if you were as clumsy as I am!), but I think two would have been just as fine. The iridescent microflakes running through Alien are the cherry on top – so pretty!

Scofflaw Subterranean Homesick Alien stamped with Essence City Girls Rule!
and Lesly plate Winter Mood 1

Finally, I did a little stamping over Subterranean…
I used my go-to silver metallic polish from Essence and the beautiful “Winter Mood 1″ plate by Lesly.
I wasn’t sure about the result, as it was a bit… ahem… subtle? But then a friend on Instagram wrote me that it reminded her of hoarfrost and all of a sudden I felt very proud of my job and started telling everybody who was willing and unwilling to listen that it was totally intentional and carefully planned.

Voilà, I’m done. Short and sweet, right? Shorter than “War and Peace”, anyway. XD
See you next time!

Ilaria

DISCLAIMER: all photos are my own, all the polish was purchased by me with my own money. All the errors are mine too: don’t blame Google!! XD

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Yello-ve

I’ve never been a yellow lover. I’m much more drawn to cold, dark colours, which are evocative of those wild, Northern landscapes than I like so much. Black, blue, gray, purple, even brown and oxblood: that’s my jam.
On the other hand, if your complexion is an ectoplasmic nuance of white with a few drops of slime green, and your skin tone places you somewhere between Data from Star Trek and Papa Emeritus of Ghost, bright yellows don’t really suit you, euphemistically speaking.

Last but not the least, yellow polishes are infamous for their awful formula: they’re streaky, patchy, sheer… To summarize, they do nothing to make you love them!
So, for a long time, I only used my most despised shade (after Barbie pink) in nail art. I owned a couple of cheap yellow polishes and I had no desire to add any other to my growing collection.

…Till we found a sea of green / And we lived beneath the waves / In our yellow submarine (*)

But then something happened and I started looking at yellow nails with a different eye. Because of the hype (and because it was reduced to one third of its original price) I decided to buy Opi I Just can’t cope-acabana. I can’t say it was love at first try. Its allegedly good, two-coat application didn’t happen for me: I had pooling and streaking (the polish) and cursing and whining (me). Despite that, a door had been opened… and a stream of polish had begun to flow in through it.
Shall we take a look at some pretties, then?

Essence #118 Little Miss Sunrise, from the old Colour & Go line, is streaky at first, but becomes opaque in three coats. Not groundbreaking, but nice.
Kiko #279 tries its best to look bright and pretty, so that you are inclined to forgive its less than pleasant formulation.
I bought NCLA 2″ Above The Knee because it was highly discounted and I liked the name, plus I had nothing just as bright in my collection. The polish is thick but manageable and it covers in three coats.

Essence #118 Little Miss Sunrise, Kiko #279 Yellow and Ncla 2″ Above The Knee

…Follow the rainbow over the stream / Follow the fellow who follows a dream / Follow, follow, follow, follow / follow the yellow brick road (**)

As I said above, Opi I just can’t… was soon joined by other yellow lacquers in different hues. Its fellow Helmer dwellers ended up being mostly Opi’s, because Opi isn’t as hard to find in stores, here in Narnia, as other brands are (Narnians seem to only be aware of the existence of Pupa and L’Oreal: no Essie, no Zoya, no Orly, no nothing… life sucks! XD )

The selection of polishes available here in Narnia…

For the purpose of this post, I swatched three shades side by side: Opi I just can’t Cope-acabana, Never a Dulles moment and Sun, sea and sand in my pants. All of them cover in three coats, even if, in some lightings, a slight patchiness can be spotted both in photos and in real life.
I just can’t Cope-acabana is the brightest, whereas Never a Dulles moment is dustier and leans more mustard.
My favorite of the bunch, though, is Sun, sea and sand in my pants: that egg-yolk yellow is festive and makes me hungry. But what doesn’t? XD

OPI I just can’t Cope-acabana, Never a Dulles moment, Sun, sea and sand in my pants

…Here far away / One could feel the earth vibrate / Moon changing shape and shade / As we all do under its gaze / Yellow moon on the rise (***)

But as you can probably foresee, now that you know me better, my life wasn’t complete without a sprinkle of sparkle (and a pun): I needed holo, I needed flakes, I needed glow!
That’s when Picture Polish appeared on the scene.
They had the most appealing and mouthwatering shade of yellow in their line, with added holo! Sunflower was a must-have! But I jumped on the bandwagon a bit too late and when I started looking for it, it was out of stock everywhere. I seached for it high and low and eventually I succeded.
In the meantime, other two polishes had been created in the land down under, and they were calling my name like enchanting and dangerous sirens: Cozy (ah, charteuse!) and Pooh. Pooh! Come on, POOH!!
So this happened:

I must say, I love all of them: each has its own peculiar charm!
Sunflower is such a happy shade (and even if I am Wednesday Addams, I still appreciate that!), it’s bright and bold with its beautiful golden shimmer. On my short nails, it reached opacity in three coats.
Pooh is sheer, but the holo particles are so dense and sparkly that make up for that. I’m wearing four coats in the photo below, but I didn’t find the forth really necessary: I just had to fix some application mistakes (like painting 4 km far from the cuticle line, for unknown reasons)
Cozy is cooler toned and unique. For me, it was the most opaque of the three: with a careful job, two coats are enough.

…Blue you sit so pretty / West of the one / Sparkles light with yellow icing / Just a mirror for the sun (****)

Is my thirst for yellow quenched, now? Partially. It would have been, if some creative minds hadn’t come out with polishes in this shade, but with a contrasting shimmer, something in front of which I’m defenseless like Winnie The Pooh in front of honey.

In the photos below, Tonic Polish Lemons & Cream and Vapid Lacquer Pappy Pony Picked a Pluck of Prickly Fluffnuggets.

But that’s another story! Time to go, now: errands need to be run, work needs to be done. See you soon!

Ilaria

(*) lyrics from “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles (Paul McCartney, John Lennon)
(**) lyrics from “We’re Off to See the Wizard”, composed by Harold Arlen and performed by Judy Garland
(***) lyrics from “Yellow Moon” by Pearl Jam (Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament)
(****) lyrics from “Road Trippin” by Red Hot Chili Peppers (John Frusciante, Anthony Kiedis, Flea)

DISCLAIMER:
English is my second language: I apologize for my mistakes!
I purchased all the polishes shown in this post with my own money.
All the photos are my own, except for the ones featuring Data (I cropped the original image by Smallbrainfield), Papa Emeritus of Ghost (I cropped the original image by Scott Penner) and the empty shelves: for all of them links to the original posts are provided below.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/smallbrainfield/38173120
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Papa_Emeritus_II_-Coachella_2013%282%29.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Escasez_en_Venezuela,_Central_Madeirense_8.JPG

Best 18 (which are actually, like, 25) of 2018

The polyamorist of polish

I’ve never done a “best of” before. Why? Easy: because I can’t choose. I wouldn’t have a collection as large as I do if I could!

The fact is, I love aaaallll my babies: the good boys and the bad boys, the new and the old, mainstream and indie, cheap and high end. I’d say that they’re like children to a mother, but I don’t want to be blasphemous. May I define myself as the polyamorist of polish, then?

This year, though, I decided to try and pick a bunch of favourites: hopefully ten, more realistically eighteen… eventually twenty five. But I’m going to cheat and pass seven of them as “honorable mentions”. You’re warned! Shall we start?

The Fabulous Eighteen

Chapter 1: the surprise favourites

Does it ever happen to you that you look at the bottle of polish you’re holding and you wonder what the heck you were thinking when you purchased it? It’s not the color you like, the finish you enjoy…
But then you put it on your nails and boom! you’re in love!
That’s exactly what happend to me with the shades I’m going to show you below.

1) Enchanted Polish Entwined: even though it might seem pink at some angles, it’s much more than that: it’s dark, vampy, mysterious, it shifts and changes and glows. I love it so much that I’m going to wear it when I finally marry Keanu Reeves.
2) A England Katherine of Aragon: those flakies!
3) Masura The pyramid of Cheops: I got it for the name, but I ended up being mesmerized.
4) Femme Fatale Jareth: pink glitter in a bronzy-orangey base? Me? I like orange, but it’s an unrequited love: it looks awful on me! But I fell hard for Jareth anyway.
5) F.U.N Lacquer Chandelier: the epitome of polishes that look like baby poop in the bottle, but are incredibly beautiful on the nails.
6) Emily de Molly Over Drive: is it red? is it orange? don’t tell me it’s pink! It doesn’t matter: it’s spectacular.

Chapter 2: I’m so predictable

Blue and purple are my go-to colours to paint my nails with – and the darker the better! Here are some of the most delightful blues and purples I wore this year:

7) Essie Aruba Blue: photos can’t really show the real texture of this polish: it’s like silk velvet. If you don’t own it, run out and grab it: I’ll wait here, sipping a coffee. With some pastry, of course.
8) Cadillacquer Scintilla: I’m usually more into cool-toned purples, but this one stole my heart. I find it classy but with fire inside!
9) Polish Alcoholic Tempest Shadow: the colour, the flakies, the holo sparkle… gorgeousness.
10) Tonic Polish Angelfish: the most amazing fish you’ll ever sea! Ehehehe…
11) Cirque Tibetan Nights: an oldie but a goodie! And when I say good, I mean good to the point that it almost makes me appreciate bar glitter – ALMOST.

Chapter 3: greedy for green

I’m not the biggest fan of yellow-based green shades (unless it’s chartreuse or olive/camo green), but blue-based, teal-leaning hues are right up my alley: the following are good examples, and they all have a twist!

12) Pretty Serious Khepri’s Amulet: of the few PS polishes I own, this is my second favourite (my number one being Gruesome Groom) and for good reasons, as I hope you can see from the picture!
13) Colors by Llarowe Emeral Illusion: this polish! I still drool over the memory of it in my mind (very poetic image, I know… XD). In the picture you’ll see it layered over my (failed) attempt at almond-ish nails. Filled with horror, I went back to my usual shape shortly after.
14) Anna Gorelova by Dance Legend 14 – Silvan (Wood Goblin): a perfect, velvety matte finish and a purple to green duochrome. Stunning.
15) Different Dimension Helix Nebula: celestial, quite literally!

Chapter 4: holo-la-la!

There was a time when I used to think that holographic varnishes weren’t my cup of tea. How could I be so wrong, as the Backyard Babies sing?
I turned that abomination into dedication.

16) Essence Hello Holo from the Holo Rainbow line: sometimes drugstore polishes can be surprisingly good, and this is definitely the case – the holo is glorious!
17) Foxy Paws Is Your House On Fire?: my phone doesn’t like darker reds and tries to turn them into cherry tomatoes every time (and I’m obviously clueless when it comes to correct the colour with an editing app). Therefore what you see in my photo is NOT what the polish looks like in real life: it’s darker, richer and much more shiny. A real beauty that you need to see with your own eyes.

Honorable mentions

a) Scofflaw Varnish Dingoes Ate My Baby: which is the name of Oz’s band in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”. Scofflaw is one of my favourite indie brands ever and Buffy TVS is one of my favourite shows of all time (because of Spike, the Perfect Vampire): need I say more? And the polish is stunning!
b) Foxy Paws Accidental Boob Graze: which is something Jack Black says to Kate Winslet in “The Holiday”. Holo+teal+Foxy Paws+Jack Black? Yes, please.
c) Zoya Storm: a classic. I loved it more than I thought I would: it’s really, really pretty.
d) Femme Fatale An Abandoned World: look at that flash!!
e) Enchanted Polish Instant Galaxy: yes, it’s a topper, but looks like the stars in the sky (with diamonds). In the pics it’s layered over Zoya Ryan and Opi I Brake For Manicures.
f) Kiko #497 Pearly Indian Violet: what Kiko really means by “pearly” is one of the best kept mysteries in the history of the world, but despite that, #497 is perfection.
g) Renaissance Cosmetics Enamoured: a purple polish that glows. Too gorgeous for words. I’m so sad that Renaissance Cosmetics is no longer on the market! Meghan had such a personal style.

Devotion

I saved the most special polish for last. It’s my “collaboration” shade with Cadillacquer. It’s called Devotion and it’s part of the Fan Collection 2018.
At the end of 2017 Madeleine, the owner and creator of Cadillacquer polish, asked her fans to send her some colour suggestions as well as the inspiration behind them. She eventually picked eight winners and, to my surprise and delight, I was among them! In 2018 my idea came to life thanks to Madeleine. I can’t express how blessed I felt!
My shade is based on the lyrics of “Bittersweet”, a song by one of my most loved bands ever, Apocalyptica. It’s a cool toned purple polish with magenta shimmer and gold holographic glitter. Not crazy unique, I know, but I like it so much!
Once again, I wish I was a better swatcher and a better photographer with better equipment just to be able to show you the real beauty of this varnish!


So these are, in a few words (hahahahah!), my favoutite polishes of 2018.
If you want, I’d be very happy to hear about yours: leave me a comment!
See you next year for more prettiness (the polish) and silliness (me). Happy 2019!

Ilaria

DISCLAIMER: all the photos are my own; all the polishes were purchased by me with my own money except for Devotion, which I received from the maker as a gift.

Big Bang Chit Chat

I wrote before that my stamping plates collection is not extensive, but I still own a few.
A decent (and growing) amount of them come from Beauty BigBang.

BeautyBigBang.com is – in their own words – “a global online retailer for all things beauty, including cosmetics, nails, hair, health care and so on“. Their stamping plates are cute, affordable, user-friendly and therefore very convenient for a beginner (like I consider myself to be).
They offer free worldwide shipping, but the fact that they ship from overseas must be taken into account: your package will definitely need a bit longer than usual to get to you.

Please note: some of my BBB plates were purchased with my own money, but the ones that are featured in this post were sent to me for review by the company. It wasn’t planned – it just happened!
Anyway, here’s a bunch of manicures I created using BBB plates.

Muffa (kind of) approves

Muffa is my cat. He is dignified and judgy and I suspect he doesn’t have a great opinion of me. When I showed him the mani below he didn’t say anything, but the way he was staring at me was clear enough: “Although the juxtaposition of cats and fishbones isn’t but a mere stereotype – which was to be expected, coming from YOU – the outcome of your effort is not to be completely despised. But I’m much prettier and nobler than those guys. Now feed me. No, I’ve changed my mind: I want out. No, feed me. No, out. No, feed me. No, wait. Out. NOW!”.

By the way, my other cat Pelliccia firmly believes that if the sun rises, it’s because of me. As a consequence, he also thinks that when it rains or snows I am the one to blame. He voices out his disapproval with whining meows. Then he wants out. And in. And out. And in. And out.

I used Masura Breathe as my base, Moyra black stamping polish and Beauty BigBang plate BBBXL-008.

Stay pawsitive, my_apawcalypse?

I love this mani! For once, I’m happy with what I did. There’s still hope for me, then?
I used Essie Cocktail Bling as my base, Moyra black stamping polish and Beauty BigBang plate BBBXL-008.

Les petits chiens

I don’t have a dog of my own, but, if I could, I’d adopt a French bulldog.
Or a corgi, maybe. Or a jack russell. Or a really hairy, huge one, like a Newfoundland dog or a Bernese Mountain dog. But I am digressing – more than usual, I mean.
Given my love for frenchies, it’s no surprise that I eventually came up with a Frenchie-themed manicure. I even got a polish specifically for this purpose (like I needed an excuse for buying polish… ). Here’s the result.

I used Opi Frenchie likes to kiss? as my base, Moyra black stamping polish and Beauty BigBang plate BBBXL-008.

Flower power

Despite me being a tomboy, I enjoy flowery patterns on my nails. Mostly because they are very forgiving and nobody (especially me) notices if they are a bit crooked. But they are also pretty!

Photo 1: BBB-10 over a mystery shade by Pahlish; photo 2: BBBXL-038 over Rainbow Honey Ultimate Weapon; photo 3: BBBXL-022 over Maybelline Forever Strong 825; photo 4: BBB-10 over Kiko Denim Nail Lacquer 466.

Of pandas and other creatures

I stamped pandas too! Can you believe it? The plate I used, BBBXL-014, was sent to me by mistake, but I’m not complaining! Even if it’s not exactly my style, I think it’s lovely! If anything, the designs are slightly too big for my short, tiny nails, but that’s nobody’s fault.
Below you will find a unicorn mani as well. I’ve never been a unicorn lover, but they’ve grown on me, those rainbow-farting, multichrome-peeing blokes!

Photo 1: BBBXL-014 over Kiko 321.
Photo 2: BBBXL-007 over Sayuri Mei Long.

The grand finale. Too much? Let’s say the average finale?

Just a couple (ok, three) more photos and I’m done, promise!
I saved the most unusual patterns for last: the first two come from plate BBBXL-039, which is hands down one of my favourites; the third is on BBBXL-038.

Photo 1: BBBXL-039 over Foxy Paws It’s a bit nipply out; the stamping polish is a metallic rose gold from NYC.
Photo 2: BBBXL-039 over Femme Fatale Hook; the stamping polish is Instant Match by Essence.
Photo 3: BBBXL-038 over Masura Sputnik; the stamping polish is a metallic silver by Essence.

Overall…

… I really enjoy my Beauty BigBang stamping plates: they’re good quality for the price and easy to use; the patterns are varied and pretty. I will definitely buy more of them in the (close) future!

Ilaria

Useful links:    
Beauty BigBang site: https://www.beautybigbang.com/
If you want, you can use my discount code LLAE10 for 10% off your purchase!
Plate BBB-10: https://www.beautybigbang.com/products/sun-floral-nail-stamping-plate-rose-flower-pattern-nail-accessory
Plate BBBXL-007: https://www.beautybigbang.com/collections/new-arrival/products/unicorn-rainbow-magic-rectangle-nail-stamping-plate-for-manicure-xl-007
Plate BBBXL-008: https://www.beautybigbang.com/collections/new-arrival/products/dog-paws-rectangle-nail-stamping-plate-cute-cat-theme-for-manicure-xl-008
Plate BBBXL-014: https://www.beautybigbang.com/products/panda-pattern-rectangle-nail-stamping-plate-animal-series-for-manicure-bbbxl-014
Plate BBBXL-022: https://www.beautybigbang.com/collections/new-arrival/products/butterfly-theme-rectangle-nail-stamping-plate-sunflower-design-nail-art-tool-bbbxl-022
Plate BBBXL-38: https://www.beautybigbang.com/products/leaves-flower-theme-rectangle-nail-stamping-plate-peacock-tail-design-nail-art-tool-bbbxl-038
Plate BBBXL-039: https://www.beautybigbang.com/products/whirlpool-flower-theme-rectangle-nail-stamping-plate-rind-design-nail-art-tool-bbbxl-039
My Instagram profile: https://www.instagram.com/my_apawcalypse/

Disclaimer: all photos are my own. As stated, the products featured in this post were sent to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review.
English is my second language, so please excuse my mistakes and bear with me if I sound weird!

Christ-must

I tried to resist. I really did. But eventually the Christmas spirit or, rather, atmosphere sneaked in and I found myself craving for snowflakes and ugly sweaters on my nails. So here’s a couple of wintery/Christmas-y/festive manicures I was able to make in the small amount of spare time I’ve had lately.

Scintillating Scintillant Scintilla

Cadillacquer Scintilla stamped with Yves Rocher Or Scintillant; design from Born Pretty plate BP-L029.

For this mani I used a GORGEOUS polish as a base: Cadillacquer Scintilla, an exclusive shade for Hypnotic Polish (my favourite online store for indies), is described as a “dark purple-leaning burgundy crelly with copper shimmer”. It’s dainty and rich at the same time: I’m so in love with it! 
Let me include a pic with the polish on its own:

Cadillacquer Scintilla

The starry pattern comes from one of my few Christmas-themed plates, Born Pretty’s BP-L029. As a stamping polish I used a metallic gold by Yves Rocher, appropriately named Or Scintillant (see what I did there? XD ). My stamper of choice was, as usual, Essence’s Stamp it! clear stamper.

Fake snowflake

OPI Holidazed Over You stamped with Essence City Girls Rule! and Hit The Bottle Snowed In; pattern from Clear Jelly Stamper CJS-03.

Another mani I did was a classic snowflake design. This time I picked a very dark, pratically black, blue nail polish by OPI: it’s called Holidazed Over You and it’s one of my favourites from last year’s Holiday collection.
For the snowflakes I used my nemesis: a layering stamping plate! Argh! 
The plate itself (Clear Jelly Stamper CJS-03, purchased from Guerrilla Nails) is good and not hard to use, but the hand maneuvering the stamper is a hopeless one, so it was only after several attempts (and quite a bit of nasty talking and swearing) that I managed to put together something acceptable.
Stamping polishes were my go-to silver metallic, Essence’s City Girls Rule!, and Snowed In by Hit The Bottle.

WARNING! 

The following sections include disturbing content: proceed with caution! 
I’m kidding…!!! But if you decide to scroll down, be prepared to see some epic nail fails! XD

The ugliest ugly sweater

The image below shows why I should always steer clear from designs that require to be centered and aligned. I can’t do that. I just can’t, even with a clear stamper. Oh, well. It is supposed to look like an ugly sweater, isn’t it? Nailed it! You can’t go any uglier than this! XD
Anyway, I used a metallic cherry tomato red from the Miracle Gel line by Sally Hansen (the miracle being that it eventually becomes opaque, after three generous coats, and dry, after a few hours). Again the pattern comes from Born Pretty BP-L029 and the white stamping polish is Snowed In by Hit The Bottle.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Jingle Red Rock stamped with Hit The Bottle Snowed In; pattern from Born Pretty BP-L029.
Born Pretty BP-L029

IN CAUDA VENENUM: I’ve saved the scariest – and most ridiculous – for last.
Enter…

Truth be told: it is a dogsled.

A few years ago, I was browsing on YouTube, when I came across a tutorial for a reindeer mani. I can’t remember who the nail artist was, but she made it look so easy and effortless that I decided to give it a try. How naive of me! 
The reind… creature was so unspeakably ugly that I didn’t even bother giving it its antlers. Not that there was any room left anyway…  -_-

The red-nosed creature

I was going to euthanize it with acetone, but its alarmed, incredulous look stopped me. It stayed. 
That’s how Rocky The Red-nosed Doberman was born.

Further research on my side showed that now and then Santa does in fact use a dogsled instead of his traditional reindeer sleigh, and Rocky is the leading pup.
Photographic evidence is provided below.

Ok, guys, I hope you had a good laugh. 
See you soon! Ho Ho Woof!

Ilaria

Useful links
https://www.hypnoticpolish.com/
https://cadillacquer.wordpress.com/
https://www.guerrillanails.com/

Disclaimer
All photos are my own, except for the banners (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/49/AT_YOUR_OWN_RISK.svg/2000px-AT_YOUR_OWN_RISK.svg.png and https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/160000/nahled/skull-hazard-sign.jpg), the dogsled (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/Dog_Sled_Rides_%286982734689%29.jpg), Santa Claus (https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ0TlBcUEWHXdRuJBrEjK2bxKtKM9gCe5cfPu-LpcKHNpselBSa).

Nail art for a start

Let’s put it straight: I’m not good at nail art. I’m clumsy, impatient, unorganized. I don’t have the ability to envision a design, I totally lack visual fantasy. But above all, I’m not talented.

I’ve always been passionate about arts: music, painting, architecture, sculpture, photography… But I’m a beholder, not a maker.  When I try and draw something, the result usually ends up looking like this:

“Thin Man”, soon at MOMA.

So when it comes to nail art, hand painting is out of question, decals and vynils are also a daunting challenge (you know, clumsiness, impatience, fine motor skills deficiency…), striping tape can’t even be mentioned. We are left with dotters, sponges and stamping tools, the latter being my favourite, hands down.

I enjoy stamping! Like, a lot! Simple patterns, of course, nothing layered (I don’t seem to be able to align the images properly) or reverse-stamped (my “decals” are always either too dry or too tacky). Sometimes I make an attempt, but the process is often frustrating and the final products underwhelming.

But other than that, stamping is good, stamping is fun! Over the years, my stamping plates have multiplied (not spontaneously! you can’t just place a male plate together with a female plate in a cozy corner with soothing music on and hope for a litter of puppy plates!).
By now, even if my collection is not large by any means, I have a nice variety of plates to choose from. Here are a few of my favourites (the majority of them I purchased with my own money, a couple of them were sent to me for review by Beauty Bigbang and Guerrilla Nails).

Top row, from the left: Beauty Bigbang BBB-10; a plate I got from Ebay, simply named P; Emily de Molly EDM 19.
Bottom row, from the left: Pueen 61, HeHe 057 and another plate from Ebay, named 08; MoYou London Sailor 03, Scandi 08, Trend Hunter 01 and Tropical 03;
Überchic collections 1 and 4.
Click on a photo to open the gallery!

As far as stampers go, my preference goes to the clear jelly one by Essence: it’s affordable, it’s readily available and it works just fine!

After the longest of preambles, shall we get to the point? 
A few days ago, I stamped. Oh yes, I did!
First of all, I made a gradient with two A England polishes: Katherine of Aragon and Peaseblossom A Fairy. 

A England Katherine of Aragon (gold/neutral) and Peaseblossom A Fairy (magenta)

After that, I stamped a design taken from Überchic plate 4-02. I used a black stamping polish by Moyra, like I always do. 


A England Katherine of Aragon and Peaseblossom A Fairy, Überchic plate 4-02, 
Moyra’s black stamping polish.

May I say that I’m pretty happy with this mani (for once)?

I hope you had fun reading my struggle with nail art! By the way, I’m not a native speaker, so please bear with me if I make mistakes or sound weird!!! Feel free to correct me – I’d appreciate your help!
It’s time to go, now. See you soon!

Ilaria

Indie, indeed

Back in 2013, when I was taking my first steps into the polish word, I came across something unseen (by me) and unheard (also by me) of: glitter mixes. 
Suddenly a choir of angels started singing, accompanied by the sound of heavenly lyres, while unicorns would gallop gracefully around them, shaking their rainbow manes and leaving pink footprints in the clouds.

I became frantic: I had to have one (or two, three, four… #hoarderinthemaking) of them! Specifically, I wanted what now I would call a crelly: a glitter in a coloured, semi-opaque base.
That’s how the whole chase-the-rabbit-down-the-rabbit-hole situation began: from crellies to indies the leap is bound to happen. 

The universe of indipendent nail polish brands (or indies for short) was, for me, fascinating and unattainable: here in Narnia (the little corner of the planet where I live), cosmetics coming from outside the EU are not easy to import, as I had to realize when I tried to get my hands on them. I could only think of one solution to my problem: I needed to find a European indie maker! Easier said than done, but eventually I succeded: first of all I found Crazy Polish Lady from Portugal (whose polish I still own and treasure – but that’s another story) and then Foxy Paws stepped (see what I did there? XD ) into my life. It was love at first sight!

Foxy Paws Dancing in the moonlight

What would you have done in front of this beauty? Yep, me too: I got hooked. Little by little, a growing number of cute Foxes found their new home in my drawers. Five years later, they’re still there.

Foxy  Paws polishs galore

Foxy Paws is the creature of the lovely and talented Charlotte from Denmark: a beautiful woman inside and out! She’s been on maternity leave for the last couple of years, but she’s coming back, and I couldn’t be happier!
While we wait for her new shades, why don’t we take a look at a few of my (many) favourite Foxies?

Top row, from the left: You Saucy Minx and Cake By The Ocean. Middle, from the left: Get Psyched Mix and One More Night. Bottom row, from the left: Time To Be A Unicorn and I’m Blue.

Finally, a proper (well, proper… sort of) swatch: on my nails I have two coats of the gorgeous Accidental Boob Graze (shall we talk about the name? XD ).

Foxy Paws Accidental Boob Graze
Foxy Paws Accidental Boob Graze: my photos don’t do it justice: it’s stunning in real life!

Once again I talked a lot! Time to go… See you soon!

Ilaria

Easy peasy lazy

Sometimes you gotta wanna TRY TO keep it simple. 

When you get back home after 72 (perceived) hours at work and you feel like playing with polish, but at the same time you’re so tired that you just wish that said polish could materialize on your nails without any kind of human intervention, you may want to compromise with your own self and go for something easy peasy… lazy.

That’s what happened to me a few days ago. I decided to go for a creme from H&M, because their formula is usually excellent and they’re often opaque in one to two coats. I picked Witching Hour, because it’s dark, green and badass, and I love the name (which by the way reminds me of an overwhelmingly boring novel by Anne Rice: I never made it after page 50, but I still like the title). I estimated 10, 15 minutes of work. Not more than 20, anyway.

That was the plan. But then (surprise surprise) things went horribly wrong and I smudged, dented, messed, dragged, flooded anything I could and it took me 46 (perceived) hours to complete the simplest manicure. So much for my quick-and-easy painting. 

On top of that, the photos I took turned out pretty cra… not good, so I only have one to show you. Please be aware that my skin is not unicorn-y, strawberry-milkshake-y,  marshmallow-y pink in real life: I’m not an alien – just a bad photographer!

H&M Witching Hour, two coats.

As always when I wear a crème, I got bored with it after ten minutes, so I thought that I could make an additional effort and use a flakie topper over it: first good idea of the evening! The topper, Face of Boe by Colors by Llarowe, applied smoothly and looked great!

Colors by Llarowe Face of Boe over H&M Witching Hour under artificial lighting.
Colors by Llarowe Face of Boe over H&M Witching Hour under natural lighting.

Well, I guess that’s enough chatting for one single post. See you next time!

Ilaria 

An ode to Anna

Specifically, to Anna Gorelova. 

If you’re into nail polish, you definitely know who I am talking about. Anna Gorelova is an iconic Ukrainian nail blogger whose swatches are an example of unattainable (especially for me) perfection. 
A few years ago, she teamed up with the Russian brand Dance Legend to create her own line of nail polish. The day they sealed the deal was a blessed one, because so many beautiful creations have seen the light ever since. 

She had me at her first collection, I was won over by the uniqueness of colours and finishes. And now, four years later, every time she comes out with something new I’m still the first in line! I love her inspiration, her references to the Russian folklore, the fact that her choices are elegant and bold at the same time. I appreciate how she stays true to herself, but is not afraid to dare and experiment. 

A few days ago I decided to paint my nai… nubs with one of her older shades. 
Леший (I’ve seen it translated either as Silvan or Wood Goblin: it’s #14, anyway), from the 2014-2015 Winter collection, is an amazing green to purple duochrome that dries to a satin finish.
It’s G. O. R. G. E. O. U. S. 
My pics don’t do it justice, but I hope you get the idea.

Anna Gorelova by Dance Legend 14 Леший, two coats.
Anna Gorelova by Dance Legend 14 Леший, matte.
The colour shift in Anna Gorelova by Dance Legend 14 Леший.
AGbDL 14 Леший with a glossy top coat.

Now a fun fact. There are actually two versions of AGbDL 14 Леший, the more common one being the green/purple duochrome shown above. The other version is blue and happened by mistake, but ended up being appreciated and coveted by collectors (many thanks to Tanya for telling me the whole story!).

Guess what? I own both versions. Oh yes, ladies and gentleman: I’m a hoarder. Guilty as charged. Shame on me. But that means that I can show you the two shades side by side: isn’t it a life-changing opportunity that I give you? Eh eh eh… Enough silliness: let’s see the polish. I apologize for the poor quality of the photos!


Anna Gorelova by Dance Legend 14 Леший, blue version.

Anna Gorelova by Dance Legend 14 Леший, blue and green version side by side.

Anna Gorelova by Dance Legend 14 Леший, blue and green version.

Which version do I like better? I can’t decide. I guess I need to see the blue one on my nails before  

That’s all for now: see you next time!

Ilaria

The constant princess

It’s not me, don’t get too excited (even though I do think that some day I will be a princess – or Keanu Reeves’ fiancee, with a preference on the latter). The Constant Princess is a novel by Philippa Gregory focused on the figure of Katherine of Aragon, the Spanish princess, daughter of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, who became Henry VIII’s first wife. 

The polish with the same name, a masterpiece by A England, somehow reminds me of the character in the book: soft and subdued, but with an inner flame. By far the most beautiful neutral shade that I own!

The base is a pale gold (should I call it a beige? I really don’t know, I’m the worst with colours and nuances), but there’s a ton of tiny bright gold flakies running through it and the combination is a treat for the eye.

Adina, if you can hear me, you are a polish genius! I’d marry you, if I wasn’t engaged with Keanu.

A England Katherine of Aragon, two coats.
A England Katherine of Aragon.
A England Katherine of Aragon – look at those sparkles! 

That’s all, folks, see you next time!

Ilaria