Thursday, 22 September 2016

How I did my nails in high school

I saw this “How I did my make up in school” challenge that’s been making the rounds on youtube and really wanted to do a similar thing for nails, though I’m going to stretch the time-frame a bit. I even tried to do it using the same tools and methods I used back in the day (late 90s-early 00s) and it proved to be so much fun. I can tell it’s going to be a chattier entry than usual so I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane with me.

First of all I was a really late bloomer with regards to make up and polish. In fact I used to hate both and if you knew me then, you wouldn't believe my love for them now. Though I always had long nails, usually square or squoval as that was the fashion back then, I never wore any polish and avoided beauty shops like the plague. Pearly polishes, pinks and corals were just not my thing and vampy colours were too scary for young me. 

That all changed in my last year of high school when iridescent polish became very popular. Anything iridescent catches my eye and the allure of iridescent nails was too strong. I went to a beauty store to find iridescent polish and *boom* that was it. I fell in love with all the new unusual colours that were out back then and while I started with what we’d now call an iridescent top coat I soon moved on to the sparkly dark blues, the purples, the blacks and glitters. I think I ended up having more than 25 polishes at a time when it was unusual to have more than 5. It was true love and I wish I hadn’t thrown away those bottles years ago. I’m going to talk about each style individually, though the order is not chronological. I think Hole's Violet is an appropriate song to listen to whilst reading since I loved it in HS, it's sufficiently angsty and both Courtney Love and Melissa Auf Der Maur are two of the many uber cool, wonderful and complicated artists of that time.

Thumb: The Distressed nail (A-England Camelot & OPI Kyoto Pearl)
I really didn't like pearly polish, but my godmother had bought me two. I had to find a way to use them and the distressed nail was born. I wiped off as much polish as I could and then brushed it over. I haven’t done this in years and with the wide OPI brush I couldn’t do the half-butterfly shapes I could with the much thinner brush. Plus, the OPI polish is too smooth, the ones I had had a more obvious pearl in. Yes, I am complaining that a polish is too smooth.

Index Finger: Kitty Cats (an ancient Revlon & A-England Camelot)
I love cats, so putting kitty paws and cat shapes on my nails was a very logical step. I used to do a cat on one nail and kitty paw trails on the others. It was done with toothpicks or old pens, I didn't even know things like dotting tools existed as there were no tutorials back in the Pleistocene. The base colour is similar to one of my favourite nail colours ever, Bourjois Bleu/Or, a colour I talked about on my very first post on this blog. This Revlon is a similar colour, but has none of the iridescence & none of the magic unfortunately. 

Middle Finger: Scotch Tape (OPI Moon Over Mumbai & a disappointing Shu Uemura one)
Scotch tape was my favourite thing to use. I did all sorts of shapes with it. The base colour has the blue iridescence that I liked. The dark purple has a little bit of glitter in, but the ones I had and loved had loads more. They were like Essie’s vintage Starry Starry Night in different dark colours and I loved them so! I also had a glitter polish with star shaped particles and would place a couple here and there. I have nothing like that now, so I drew a star instead.

Ring Finger: Using glitter gel pens (Korres Spring Lilac)
This was a bit after high school, but I could not exclude it. My flatmate from uni that knew my love for stationary gave me a set of glitter gel pens as a birthday present and we soon discovered that you could use them to draw on your nails and the ink kept its shape, it didn't pool in seconds and it didn't spread when you put a top coat on it. We went squiggle crazy for the rest of the year. It was our ‘thing’ and it was fun! I couldn’t find any pens now that I could do that with so I used a cd-marker and nail polish.

Pinky: Pure Black (A-England Camelot)
I was intimidated by plain black for the longest of times. I would wear sparkly black, and dark purple, but not black. And then I randomly bought a black polish, wore it and could not look away. There was nothing to disguise the absoluteness of this colour. It even looked cool when it chipped. I wore black non-stop for years after that and it coincided with the time I stopped doing nail art up till the time I discovered nail stamps many years later, but that’s a different story.

I wore this ring all the time during the last year of HS
Remembering and reminiscing about all this was fun, I don't get nostalgic very often. However, I can't believe I haven't used some of these techniques in so many years. I need to incorporate bits of all of them to my current routine!


Friday, 16 September 2016

Black opal & Flaky polish

I've been meaning to repeat my opalescence mani for a while now, this time with a darker base to look more like a black opal. This time I had a second flaky top coat to add a bit of blue. Flaky top coates are by far mt favourite type of shiny top coat. I tried my best to capture its beauty, but it is even better in real life.

Base- Sixteen 864 darkest slate grey
Flaky topcoat 1 - Seventeen 104 the blue-purple flaky
Flaky topcoat 2 -Nubar 2010 the green-gold-red flaky

I also tried it with a matte top coat, but I found it underwhelming. I didn't much like the white cast the top coat left so they went back to shiny after I took the pictures.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Essence 31 Electriiic & so much glitter

We're nearing the end of the summer and the song I'm starting today's post with has that end-of-the-holidays feel for me. I am not a summer person, but this end-of-season melancholy is almost palpable.

It ‘s been quite some time since I did a mani that was more full on and I really feel I went to town with this one: stamping, glitter placement, making straight lines with striping tape. The base on most nails is Essence 31 Electriiic , a beautiful blue crelly polish, stamping and the pinky were done with Models Own - Chrome Rose Gold and the glitter polish I used is 105 from the Innisfree star collection and it has so many different kinds of glitter particles in: medium, tiny,square, hexagonal, rectangular, gold, rose gold and white. Picking particles from it to do the thumb and pinky designs was not easy. The stamping plate I used on my pointer finger is Bundle Monster 201.


Friday, 26 August 2016

Soft, brittle nails? Nail Hardeners are here to help

The reason my nails became brittle. I regret nothing
Sometimes nails can become really soft, brittle, flaking and a hardening base coat just isn't enough. That’s what happened to my nails after I came back from my holidays. I had not taken care of them enough and swimming for hours every day took a toll on them. I needed a boost in my care regime so I did my research and –as ever- am happy to share the findings. 

Disclaimer: At this point I need to mention that if your nails aren't naturally soft and they changed for no apparent reason, I would suggest ringing up your doctor. A change in the condition of your nails can be an indicator of an underlying health problem. It could also be related to dietary changes you might have implemented in your life lately where you are not receiving enough nutrition. I will refrain from discussing this further as I am not qualified, but any change in the state of your nails is not a random event and should be investigated further.

What are nail hardeners?
So what can you do to help your nails become stronger? Despair? Of course not! Why despair when there are nail hardeners to help! Nail hardeners are different from hardening base coats. Hardeners are treatments for the nail, have a stronger effect and are not supposed to be used every time you have a manicure. All of them have a more intense treatment period and a maintenance period. Additionally some are only meant to be used under a base coat while others can be used as a base coat or over your nail polish. Each hardener comes with its own set of instructions as to when and how you are supposed to use them so make sure you read the instructions even if you are a person that hates reading instructions.
The beaches of the Peloponnese are magic!
Possible issues & how to use hardeners
One needs to be careful with nail hardeners though: all of them contain Formaldehyde! Formaldehyde is a highly toxic substance and has been removed from the majority of nail polishes. When you read about 3-free, or however many -free polishes(Korres for example is 7-free) you can bet that one of these ingredients is formaldehyde. [You can read more about it here, here and here].Whilst I do suggest caution and I wouldn't use a nail polish that contains formaldehyde, hardeners are a different thing. Formaldehyde in cosmetics is a big issue, so make an informed judgement on what is good for you. 

Nail hardeners should contain less than what is considered a safe amount of formaldehyde (5%) and are only used for limited periods of time. Nevertheless, I put nail hardener only to the top half of my nails, which is where breakage usually happens and never allow it anywhere near my cuticles, or the underside of the nail. If it comes in contact with my skin I wipe it off immediately cause hardeners tend to harden the skin as well.

It goes without saying that it's a product that can also be used by those that don't use nail polish. 

My experience
My nails are normally hard, but this summer they suffered cause I put them through nail hell. I went on a holiday and decided to take no make up and no nail care products; I needed a break from everything. All I had with me was sunscreen and a tinted lip balm. I swam up to six hours a day and whilst I enjoyed it, my nails did not. 

When I got back they were in a pretty bad shape, worse than I had ever seen them before which is what led me to explore the world of nail hardeners. The one I used is the Mavala Nail Hardener and I used it for less than the recommended amount(once every two weeks instead of 1-2 per week). After 3 uses my nails are back in shape and I am really happy about it. The Impala was given to me by a friend when I mentioned my problems, but I haven’t used it yet. I don’t think I’ll continue using a hardener now that my nails are back in shape, but I am glad I did. 

*Read the instructions on how often and for how long you need to use it.
*Use on the top half of the nail (not the side where the cuticle is).
*Don’t let it go to your cuticles or touch your skin. Wipe off immediately if it does.

That’s it for now, I hope it was informative enough. I always struggle not to put too much information in my advice posts and scare readers off with a wall of text and scientific jargon! 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Eye shadows Assemble: Putting together my own palettes

And how did I manage it without them taking up too much space? I had them in palette! 
Ever since I started using Japanese cosmetics I got hooked on de-potting them and making my own eye shadow and blusher palettes. You see all Japanese cosmetics have a tiny pinhole at the back (sometimes under the ingredients list sticker) that makes de-potting and placing them in palettes super easy. Keeping them all together like that I get to use all of them more often without forgetting I have any of them. Plus I also get to have a personalised palette that suits my needs and preferences.
my blusher palette (Shu Uemura &RMK)
A while ago I reviewed the Elixir - All in One Face-book palette and as I didn’t like the packaging, I decided to de-pot it. I ordered a couple of non-magnetised empty palettes from ebay. I have been using a palette like this for years for my blushers so I know they are actually pretty sturdy.
This is how the palettes arrived, each in an individual plastic pack. They come with a few empty pans in a spongy case. The pans are easy to remove since they are not glued on. These particular ones are the size of MAC blushers, but they do have them in eyeshadow size as well. The spongy separator was glued to the palette. I soaked it really well with some rubbing alcohol, set it aside for a while, and after a couple of hours it came off with minimal effort. In the picture you can see the marks left from the alcohol, but they are not permanent. As soon as I washed it it was fine.

As for the Allin One Face-book palette, it was easy to separate the two cardboard parts, but then the eye shadow pans had to be removed carefully cause they were glued on. The only one I cracked a little was my favourite teal, just my luck! I used some more rubbing alcohol to remove any traces of glue from the back of the pans and then I started placing them in the palette to see how I would fit them all in. 

As you can see, I could fit in all of the eye shadows, the eye brow creams and powders and then some more. In the end though I decided to put the blues separately in a different palette since I don’t really like wearing blue and instead I put some Japanese eye shadows and a few from a Wet and Wild palette I had gotten, but never really liked enough to review. When I finished the placement, I took them all out again, put some double sided sticky tape in the palette, placed them in the order I had chosen and now they are much easier to store and take with me.

Assembling an eye shadow palette may seem a bit consuming, but I find it much more practical for everyday purposes.


Friday, 19 August 2016

Mermaids and the joy of sheer stamping

Sometimes shopping your stash is a great idea cause you discover hidden gems which you hadn’t fully appreciated the first time round. This ancient Rimmel 819 –Green with Envy polish is one such case. I re-discovered it this spring and I’ve since worn it 5 or 6 times wondering why I hadn’t previously worn it more often. It’s a super shiny teal with a blue-green duochrome pearl in. My camera really can’t capture it’s shine and beauty, it looks almost chrome or molten metal.

I usually wear it on its own, but this time I decided to go up a scale in the mermaid-o-meter and do some scaly stamping. I used Models Own - Chrome Gold, a cool gold that wouldn’t contrast the teal, and stamped it first with A-England - Proserpine. The stamp had thicker lines than I wanted, but I still liked the idea of adding a bit more texture to the design so I stamped it using Green with Envy on same plate, which was sheer enough to make things more interesting without swamping it. 

I will go on pretending I am a mermaid now!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Catch some pastel stars

It had been quite some time since I had done nail art of any sort, but the other day I met up with some friends, had a totally girlie day of pampering and playing with beauty products. By the time I got back I felt really inspired to do something playful and here it is, a stamping design that owes a lot to Sanrio’s Little Twin Stars.

My nails are shorter than usual at the moment which meant I could use a design from the Bundle Monster BM20 plate. The pastel yellow base is Korres’ 34 – Pastel Lemon and for stamping I used various mixes of: 
China Glaze – Secret Peri-wink-le
China Glaze – For Audrey
China Glaze – Flyin’High
Orly – Cashmere Cardigan
Essence – 117 Happy End
Speaking of stars, tomorrow and the day after (11&12/08) the  Perseids Meteor Shower will be at its peak. Do you plan on staying up and watching the falling stars? Here’s a link to read more about it if you like.

Monday, 8 August 2016

La Roche-Posay ANTHELIOS XL SPF 50+ Dry touch gel-cream Anti-shine

Summer under the super warm sun of the Mediterranean is really difficult for me as I get sunburnt easily. It seems my Mediterranean genes have betrayed me and that wonderful bronze colour that most Greeks get  in the summer is but a distant dream. Since I don’t want to get sunburnt I use a high SPF all the time. I’ve read up quite a lot on the matter and usually prefer a mineral sunblock or mixed types of sunscreen, but this year I decided to try a chemical sunscreen. 

La Roche-Posay’s ANTHELIOS XL SPF 50+ Dry touch gel-cream Anti-shine(non-affiliated link) is my current favourite and I’m already on my second tube. It does everything I needed it to do and a bit more. Lets bullet-point the positives to keep things short

  • Protection from both UV-A and UV-B (high SPF),
  • Water-resistant, which means it’s not going to slip away when you sweat(something inevitable when it’s 35+C outside) and it’s not going to wash away when you’re sea bathing.
  • My skin feels velvety soft afterwards and it doesn't shine,
  • It can be used as a primer if you choose to wear a BB cream or foundation on top since it has silicone in. In fact I find it to be better at that job than actual primers which simply don’t cut it in such a warm climate,
  • It keeps my skin from getting dehydrated and it’s moisturising for the dry areas of my face,
  • No white cast,
  • No irritation. There is also a non-perfumed version for those who do not like perfume in their products. I would prefer this one, but it doesn't seem to be available in Greece at the moment.

My skin feels a lot better since I started using it and though I was sceptical when I started using it, it’s definitely won me over.
Here’s the ingredients list :


I hope you’re having a nice summer so far! Have you been on a holiday yet?
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