swatch: zoya ciara

i actually have this on my toes at the moment, but a picture of my feet will go up on the internet over my dead body. so, a quick swatch!

as i've mentioned before, zoya is my go-to brand for pedis, for a couple of reasons. first, while i normally love the opi pro-wide, trying to maneuver it around my wee nubbin toenails makes for a huge mess. i find the small brush of zoya polishes less than ideal for manis, but absolutely perfect for mess-free pedicures. in addition, while i'll rock even the most out-there colors on my fingernails (teal jelly holo glitter? i'm there!), for my pedis i'm super-traditional: vampy, red, berry, or pink cremes only, no exceptions. and zoya does these more conservative colors so well!

i'm quite happy with ciara - it's very pretty, and while most people would consider it a "safe" color, sometimes that's exactly what i want. plus its application was smooth, and it was opaque in two coats. i do my pedis while standing in front of my desk, putting my feet up on the writing surface one at a time (basically like a flamingo, haha), so i'm always glad to find a polish that minimizes how much time i'll have to spend in that odd position.

by the way, ciara is quite a bit darker in indoor lighting... definitely more of a berry than a pink.

bf says: "excellent application!" that's a big compliment coming from him, since the last time i did swatches, he told me my "gap" was too big, ha!


comparison swatches: avon golden twilight, china glaze wagon trail, and opi ds mystery

a friend on the nb was planning an avon order and was curious how golden twilight compared to some similar polishes from other brands, so i took the opportunity to do these swatches:

from left to right:

china glaze wagon trail (on my index finger) is a black base color packed with fine gold shimmer, giving the polish an overall olive appearance. it's a well-done polish, but the shimmer is too fine to really appeal to my taste these days.

avon golden twilight (on my middle finger) actually has a very deep blue-purple base (captured well by steph's closet), but it looks pretty much black on my nails. the gold shimmer in golden twilight is chunkier than the shimmer in wagon trail yet doesn't shine through the base color well, giving this polish a muddy appearance. i wish i'd passed on this one!

opi ds mystery (on my ring finger) is my favorite of the bunch. while it's not the deep purple holo i had imagined when i first heard that a purple ds polish was in the works, i still love it. this polish has a base color that's much more strongly purple than golden twilight's (although to be fair, it's still quite close to black) as well as very chunky gold shimmer that stands out nicely. i'll definitely be doing a full notd with this one soon.


swatch: lippmann superstar

i hope you all had a nice day yesterday, whether it was thanksgiving for you or not! here's a pic of my holiday mani:

this espresso jelly with copper glitter struck me as the perfect thanksgiving polish, and i got lots of compliments on it yesterday (even from normally polish-oblivious boys). the coverage superstar offers is quite good, which i always appreciate from a jelly/glitter - the above photograph is of three coats, although i think two would generally be fine for most people. i think i might make this my go-to thanksgiving mani, just like i plan to wear china glaze fortune teller on halloween every year from here on out.


swatch: orly enchanted forest and zoya "green friday" promotion

happy thanksgiving!! as this post goes up, i'm currently on a train to the berkshires to spend the holiday with a good friend and his family. i unfortunately didn't have enough light to take pictures of my thanksgiving notd (lippmann superstar) before i left, but i'll be sure to post photos tomorrow. for now, here's a pic of orly enchanted forest, since i neglected to include it in my recent green comparison:

by the way, if you like green polish, zoya is running a great promotion through 11:59 p.m. est this friday (11/27). with the code "greenfriday," any purchase of $20 or more will receive six full-size green zoya polishes (envy, irene, midori, suvi, tangy, and veruschka) absolutely free! for swatches of these colors, check nailgal.com (always an excellent resource!), and for more details on the promotion, visit the zoya blog.

i personally love zoya - to the point that i have close to 50 of their polishes. not only do i appreciate that they offer great discount codes to make their polishes affordable for their customers, but they're also my go-to brand for pedis because of their small brush (clean-up-free pedicures? sign me up!). to see swatches of all the brand's polishes i've posted on my blog so far, check the zoya label - while i don't have pics of all of them up here yet, my personal top five are ali, astra, dita, pinta, and roxy. and now i have to stop typing because i've written the word "zoya" about nine million times in this post, and it's starting to look weird. i hope those of you who celebrate thanksgiving have a great holiday!


comparison swatches: bb couture, illamasqua, rescue beauty lounge, and zoya greens

i haven't yet decided on today's notd (currently leaning towards nails inc. curzon street, but we'll see), so in the meantime here are some green comparison swatches i did this past weekend.

from thumb to pinky: bb couture green goblin, rescue beauty lounge orbis non sufficit, rescue beauty lounge recycle, zoya envy, and illamasqua rampage. orbis non sufficit is the dustiest of the bunch and has the best formula, envy is (clearly) the darkest, and rampage is the only one of these polishes with a jelly finish.

i wasn't thinking and didn't include orly enchanted forest in this comp, so i'll try to take pics with it included in the near future. i also have a dark green from l.a. girl's flare line that might be interesting to compare as well.

as you can see from the above pic, green goblin and recycle are quite similar, so i did a second comp featuring just those two polishes:

bb couture green goblin on index and ring finger, rescue beauty lounge recycle on middle finger.

recycle is more of a "clear"/true green, whereas green goblin is more yellow/brown (which i personally prefer). also, green goblin's formula is superior to recycle's - while green goblin was perfect in two coats, recycle was more watery and needed three coats for complete evenness.

scrangie has a comp of recycle and green goblin here that makes the two polishes look much more different from each other, but i can honestly say that they didn't look nearly that different on me, even under a bright desk lamp. the pic i posted above is literally the *most* different they ever look on me, and in most/dimmer lighting, the two polishes are practically indistinguishable.


swatch: nails inc. berkeley square

sorry to have slacked off on the notd posting... all the swatching i was doing for the nb top 20 totally killed my desire to take even more nail photos. but i'm back!

asoifhdsohfihwhas obsessed!!! i love how dark this cool-toned gray is, and it has that famous nails inc. application - wonderfully creamy, richly pigmented, and absolutely perfect in two coats.

the nails inc. formula is right up there with rbl's and illamasqua's; in my experience, nails inc. and rbl polishes are a bit more "flowy" than illamasqua lacquers (which, in contrast, generally go exactly where you put them), but their pigmentation is richer and more consistent. that said, all three brands are excellent, and the differences between them that i'm mentioning are quite subtle.

bf says: "WHOA i like that color a LOT. it kind of has blue tones."


top 20!

it's top 20 day, and i couldn't be more excited - this is one of my favorite nb events! my list this time around consists of:

barielle beaches & dreams
bb couture laguna lagoon
bb couture night ops
illamasqua boosh
illamasqua muse
nails inc. berkeley square
nails inc. the serpentine
opi cajun shrimp
opi monsooner or later
opi we'll always have paris
rescue beauty lounge mismas
rescue beauty lounge orbis non sufficit
rescue beauty lounge teal
sephora by opi dark room
sephora by opi what's a tire jack? matte
zoya ali
zoya astra
zoya dita
zoya pinta
zoya roxy

as i post notds with more of these polishes, i'll update this post with links to the entries.


swatch: misa on the edge

a gorgeous, smooth, creamy medium-dark blue with wonderful pigmentation. this photo is of two coats:

i tried to do a comp of this with nails inc. the serpentine, but the pics didn't come out well (on the edge wound up looking practically neon, wtf?), so a description will have to do. the two polishes have equally wonderful formulas/application and are both opaque in two effortless coats. on the edge, however, is a purer blue, while the serpentine is dustier, like it's had a bit of dark gray or dark purple added to it. i prefer the serpentine (i find dusty colors more interesting than pure ones), but only slightly so.

bf says: "that looks like a liquid still, like it hasn't dried yet." (and people say poshe isn't shiny! ;))

in other news, just submitted my list for the nb top 20... can't wait for saturday!


swatch: rescue beauty lounge recycle

i don't love this one nearly as much as i used to... it was on my top 20 list last june, but now i'm thinking about swapping it away. how our tastes change! recycle is a true medium-green creme (that is of course quite a bit darker in indoor lighting), whereas these days i prefer my greens dusty or super-vampy. some of my current green loves are rbl orbis non sufficit, illamasqua rampage, sopi dark room, and zoya envy.

recycle isn't quite as richly pigmented as the other rbl cremes i own, but it should still be fine in two careful coats (i opted to do three less-than-careful coats, haha).

bf says: "your fingers look like a white person's in that photo. you are not white and are in fact quite brown." hahaha

btw, as soon as i can get the swatches done i'll post comparison pics of recycle with orbis non sufficit and bb couture green goblin... stay tuned!


swatch: illamasqua lament

another old one...

while i like this color, i was at the same time disappointed by it. from the photos that influenced my purchase, i was expecting lament to be lighter and more muted, and instead it turned out to be a super-bright pink. i like super-bright pinks... but i also have about 2348209384 of them already.

also, the application of this polish wasn't as smooth/great as that of the other illamasquas i own. the polish itself was easy to control (that is, it went where i put it), but the result was chalky and uneven. the above picture is three coats plus touch-ups.


swatch: zoya nova

another beautiful ultra glitter from zoya!

formula-wise, this is very similar to zoya astra (pics): sheer at first, but easily built up to opacity in three coats. the texture of both of these ultra glitters is thin and smooth, for which i'm grateful... thick jelly glitters that glob off the nail are such a huge pain to work with. and for those of you worried about grittiness, nova was smooth enough with one coat of t/c, although for total glassy perfection i'd go with two.

while i like nova a lot, i do think it's better suited to paler, cooler skin tones than my own (check out how gorgeous it looks on tobywoo here). for tan, warm girls like myself, astra is the better pick.

bf says: "that's too glittery for me, i think."


swatch: sally hansen nail prisms turquoise opal

please excuse how unbelievable crappy these photos are. not only was it gray and rainy all day, but my camera has also started refusing to go into macro mode. argh!!! hopefully once we have a bit more sunlight here these problems will resolve themselves.

(can you believe that last pic is of the same polish?!)

this is one coat of turquoise opal over one coat of wet 'n' wild black creme. bc is such a pain to use, thanks to its horribly floppy and imprecise brush, but i've been using it for layering 'cause i'm hesitant to overuse my booooooooosh lest i run out. i should've bought nine million boosh backups during sephora f&f!

i hate to tag turquoise opal as a duochrome when it actually flashes teal, red-purple, lilac, blue, and on very rare occasions (like for half a second under my desk lamp last night), amber-gold... a very unique polish. it's a little frosty for my taste at times, but once it starts flashing all these amazing (and seemingly unrelated) colors, its frostiness becomes a non-issue in my mind.

bf says: "that's the t-1000 of nail polishes... it's ever-shifting!"


swatch: rescue beauty lounge scrangie

this color is absolutely beautiful in the sun; the duochrome comes alive and the individual shimmer particles can be seen distinctly. however, i'm not in the sun that often (especially not in new york in november), and in the shade i like this polish much less. in the absence of sunlight, scrangie's shimmer appears frosty rather than particulate, and the duochrome effect becomes so subtle as to just make the base purple color look dull and muddy. both of these issues are completely understandable and couldn't have been avoided in the creation of this polish (or for that matter, any duochrome shimmer), but they're still issues that make me eager to change my mani and remind me why i don't normally do duochromes.

application on this was great, just like i'd expect of an rbl - three thin, easy coats to perfection. i know some girls on the nb reported that their bottles were streaky and chunky, resulting in bald spots and the need for "impossibly thick" coats, but i had none of those issues.

by the way, for those of you wondering how this compares to brucci typhoon lagoon, i did a comparison here.

bf says: "holy moly i like that np." (yes, he's also started shortening "nail polish" to "np." ha!)


swatch: sephora by opi what's a tire jack? matte

never thought i'd love a matte the way i love this one... another candidate for my top 20:

normally i don't care for matte polish, and i've been annoyed with the number of late-to-the-trend companies that have been putting out collections of mattes in the past few months (when they could have been putting out unique cremes - my true love - instead!). but i've come to realize that while i dislike the vast, vast majority of mattes, a totally flat matte black polish is *so* me.

the gold standard for matte black polish is ko knock out cosmetics' "flatte black," but i was uninterested in paying $19 for a polish i wasn't sure i'd love - especially one with such an unwieldy brush stem. someone on the nb described totally flat black mattes like this one and the ko as being like black holes, sucking in all light, and i completely agree with that description. i think that effect is best appreciated, however, not in close-up nail shots like this one but rather in the larger context of a full outfit, so that the polish is part of an interplay of textures. right now, for example, i'm wearing leather, lamé, cotton, and a chunky wool knit (all in various shades of gray and black), and the flat black polish on my tips adds one more interesting texture to the mix.

what's a tire jack? matte flows like a normal, non-matte polish when it's being applied; however, this can be a bit misleading, as it doesn't even out the way non-matte polishes do... so take care to do an even first coat. also, it does go a bit "satiny" after some wear, but a good matte topcoat can fix that easily.

bf says: "that is a matte finish."


swatch: illamasqua rampage

i did three coats with the specific intention of getting it as dark as it could go... i like my jellies vampy.

here it is in the sun:

and here's a photo of it in the shade:

in standard indoor lighting it goes even darker (to the very darkest a green can be before it goes black) and that's when i love it the most. it's like the smoothest, shiniest, deepest green glass you've ever seen... incredible.


swatch: nails inc. the southbank

a lovely light gray creme... not so hot with my skin tone, but i do like it in the abstract. still on the hunt for an even lighter gray creme (shimmer-free, please), which i'm hoping will provide the contrast i'm looking for.

the above photo is of two coats - normally i think the southbank would be perfectly even and streak-free at that point, but unfortunately i was applying it in a mad rush. don't blame the polish!

edit: for really great pics of this polish, check out tobywoo's post here... very helpful comp swatches, too!


swatch: streetwear fx flash

amazing chameleon-like glitter that, depending on the lighting and angle, flashes vivid medium green, spring green/gold, copper, and on rare occasions, blue. here is just one coat of fx flash over one coat of wet 'n' wild black creme.

excuse the jacked-up condition of my nails and mani; this is after three days of wear and neglect!


swatch: zoya demi

i'm currently wearing (and loving) streetwear fx flash over wet 'n' wild black creme, but unfortunately i won't be able to get a good pic until tomorrow when i have some sunlight. so here's an notd from a few weeks ago...

demi is a lovely red-toned purple creme; however, it's hard to capture accurately. its red tones (which imo are the most interesting thing about it) come out only in the sunlight; in the shade and in indoor lighting, it's substantially deeper in hue, and the reddish undertones aren't as visible. application on this one was good - the above picture is two coats (plus a few touchups) in moderate sunlight.


swatch: rescue beauty lounge orbis non sufficit

1. it's very difficult to accurately capture just how grayed-out this polish is - i needed to mess with this one in photoshop quite a bit
2. rbl bottles are a major pain to hold for photos; i finally had to settle on this slightly odd pose
3. rbls tend to be chippy on me unless i wrap my tips, and this one was no exception... i had noticeable tipwear and a number of small chips after just 8 hours.

loooove how dusty this is - the muted/grayed quality of this polish really sets it apart from the rest of the green pack. and application on this was awesome - had i been paying more attention, i could probably have gotten away with just one coat (the above picture is of two).

(p.s. tt students, i seeee yoooou! hahahaha. feel free to call me out on any grammatical errors i make!)

swatch: nails inc. st. john's wood

in the middle of organizing my stash (i have a second helmer now, yay!), but here's today's notd, another lovely nails inc. creme:

the application on this was really smooth (as i've come to expect from nails inc. polishes!), and i love the color. most light purples don't stand out well on my skin tone, but this one is unusually vivid. btw, st. john's wood is darker and dustier in indoor light, and the above picture is two coats.


swatch: maybelline juicy tomato

from the archives, since i kept astra on for a second day...

as a polish newbie, i fell in love with maybelline juicy tomato only to be disappointed when i learned it was discontinued and htf. however, a sweet nb friend sent it my way recently, making my orangey-red-loving self very happy. it's much more of a jelly than i expected - normally i prefer cremes for maximum opacity, but on juicy tomato i don't mind the jelly factor as it makes the polish soo impossibly glossy. the above picture is three coats.


swatch: zoya astra

it's my birthday today, and i figured the occasion deserved a little celebratory glitter!

i love vivid pinks and i love jellies with glitter, so it's no surprise that i love astra, a vibrant pink jelly with both dark pink and light pink glitter. application was really great, especially for a glitter - the above pic is three coats, with a couple of additional touchups.

with topcoat, astra is very smooth; however, this smoothness doesn't always come across in photos because it's a jelly (which makes it easier to see the individual glitter pieces, which in turn gives the impression of grittiness). but check out the glassy shine on this pic... hopefully this helps to demonstrate astra's glossy evenness:

swatch: zoya lael

sooo sleepy... but a quick post. i'm currently wearing and loving zoya lael, a super smooth dark purple creme:

lael does look darker indoors, but it's still visibly purple in all but the dimmest lighting. and application on this one is easy: the photo above shows even coverage in two coats.

ps. i think this would look great with a gold shimmer layered atop... maybe the new cnd effects jade sparkle?


swatch: streetwear silver lining

i was obsessed with streetwears when i was in middle school... so bummed that they've been discontinued (and that i didn't know about thinner when i was younger!). this line of polishes was easily the best thing revlon's ever done!

silver lining is a silver chrome with great opacity (this is two coats). it applies really nicely and has the added benefit of not showing brush strokes too much, as long as you're careful.
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