Sunday, 29 January 2012


I've missed the decorative motifs in the old buildings at home in Athens (Greece) and I wanted to create something quite earthy, ceramic looking, like a decorated tile.I really wanted this to be matte because I prefer the natural matte surface of ceramics to the polished one; they feel more primitive in a nice way. By touching their rough surface you realize that you're touching a piece of moulded soil and it is as beautiful as it is simple. 
Base colour: Etude House - WH708 (greige)
Stamping colour: Olay - Terra
And of course Manglaze - Matte-astrophe to complete the look. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Nubar Duochromes Swatches Galore (picture heavy)

By now it is a well established fact: we all love the Duochrome colours by Nubar. They are beautiful and if anything, describing them as 'duochromes' undermines their beauty as there are more than two colours that they shift to and from. 

What I noticed when I saw them all together was how similar they all looked in their bottles. It was hard to tell them apart which was rather odd given that they look very different on the nail. Upon swatching them I realised why; most of them have the same multi-chrome shimmer in them that shifts from a light green to a bright pink and the only reason they look different on the nail is because they have a different base colour!

That of course is not true of all the duochromes, but of the ones I have the ones that have this green-yellow-pink shimmer are Indigo Illusion, Purple Beach, Moon Eclipse (new name for Moonshadow), Iris Dust and Wildlife. The only one that has a different kind of shimmer is Gold Leaf which has a kind of shimmer that doesn't shift so much but goes from gold to bronze.

I have swatched them on white paper first to make the difference of the base colours more apparent. It also lets the shimmer separate a bit from the base colour and it shows through a bit better that it does on the nail. After the paper swatches I swatched them on my nails. I thought it would be useful to anyone who might want to see them compared all together. It was a bit hard to make all five catch the light in the same way and therefore show a similar colour shift, but I made an honest effort! Also, I haven't included Gold Leaf in most of them since it is quite different. 

And now, the pictures! As always, the pictures are larger if you download them
The colours are:
Nubar - Gold Leaf (GL) 
Nubar - Moon Eclipse (Moon Shadow's new name) (ME) 
Nubar - Indigo Illusion (II) 
Nubar - Purple Beach (PB)
Nubar Iris Dust (ID)
Nubar - Wildlife (W)

The base colours (artificial light)
 (artificial light)
 (artificial light)
 (artificial light)
 (artificial light)
 (artificial light)
 (artificial light)
(artificial light)
For the nail swatches, I did 3 coats of all of them apart from Iris Dust that needed 5 coats. 
 (natural light)
 (natural light) 
 (natural light) 

  (natural light) 
 (natural light) 
 (natural light) 
 (natural light) 
 (natural light) 
 (natural light)

Monday, 23 January 2012

My Perfect Eye Liner: Shu Uemura Painting Liner M Black

Happy New Lunar Year everybody!! It's the year of the black dragon, the dragon of water! How exciting does that sound? I thought that the perfect product to feature on such a day is my beloved gel eye liner, Shu Uemura Painting Liner M Black/ M Noir (for the French speaking population). 

There are not enough words of praise for this little miracle. I've had the same jar for 2 years and 2 months, I use it at least 3 times a week and only now has it started to not glide on as easily as when I had first bought it, but even so it's still great! Here's a picture of my jar and yes, I am that OCD with my gel liners.
It's not a glossy black like liquid liners tend to be, but that is to be expected since it's a gel liner. It is easy to blend if you wish to do so, but it won't move around much once it's set. I've had no problems with transfer on the upper lid, which was a major problem for me with other eye liners. It is very smooth to put on as it literally glides on on its own. It has served me right on many long days without smudging, flaking or melting or otherwise making me look like a disaster at the end of a long day.
That said, I have a complaint with Shu Uemura in general these days. Their products all seem to be marked as "Designed in Japan, Made in Korea"(open the picture in a new tab and you should see it clearly, instead of "Made in Japan" like they used to. I have nothing against Korea or Korean cosmetics, but when I buy luxury Japanese cosmetics I expect them to be Japanese. The eye liners were one of the first products they started manufacturing in Korea and nowadays it seems like everything is made there. People at Shu Uemura you are a luxury brand, why treat us this way? You were the ones that got me into Japanese cosmetics and insisted on how their quality is superior to products from all other countries, so why did you become a Korean brand? I do feel cheated somehow and will always wonder what the eye liners were before they moved their manufacturing centres to Korea.

Now that that is out of the way, one small precaution to people living in countries were it gets extremely hot. In temperatures over 38°C it becomes very melty so I don't suggest using it. You can get away with a little bit, but not a proper feline eye. By the end of the day you'll look like you put it on with your fists, kind of like  Taylor Momsen and that's never a good look.

Just to show you how much you can do with this liner, I loaded my brush up (an artist's kolinsky brush size 0) with as much quantity as I could and drew this black dragon without dipping in for more! And bare in mind that my liner is very very old in liner years!
 I did various other lines with a different brush, a no-brand synthetic angled brush. 
Happy New Black Dragon Year Everyone!! 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Stranger Sweetness

I've mentioned my love of OPI - Stranger Tides before. It's a funny colour, like a cute ghoul; the terms sound contradictory, but it suits it. Anyway, I wanted to do something cute with it and here it is! I'm so glad Bourjois - Beige Glamour worked exactly like I wanted it to with this colour! It was great for stamping!
Base colour: OPI - Stranger Tides
Stamping colours: Bourjois  - 27 Beige Glamour
                            Konad white stamping polish
Plates: Konad m79 (dots), m83(heart balloons),   Bundle Monster BM-202 (zig-zag edged heart)

Comparison: Ciaté Bright Reds

A comparison between Ciaté 038 Snatch and 039 Mistress. They are extremely similar colours and without the labels it takes a while to figure out which is which. The only difference between the two is that Mistress is more of an orange red and than Snatch.
(natural light, shade)
They are beautiful colours in the bottle, but they are not very well pigmented which was a huge disappointment. I needed 4 layers of Mistress and 3 of Snatch to get them to a similar opacity level, but there is still a visible nail line. Instead of these two, I'd suggest getting Bourjois - 25 Rouge Casino. It's an exact dupe of Mistress, only it needs fewer layers. Unfortunately I've left my bottle at my parents' house, but as soon as I get it back I'll swatch and compare them. 
(natural light, sunshine)
(natural light, shade)
(artificial light)

Unfortunately, even with a quick-drying top coat on you are still prone to dents and scratches if you are not careful so I summoned the concealment kitty to help hide the mess. Four layers is a bit too much for me on a busy day!!

Winter tales: Caron Parfum Sacré, the midwinter fire

It's been very cold these days, the temperature is below zero, the winds are strong and frosty, the days are short and dark, a layer of frost is covering everything and as soon as you step out of the front door you want to run back inside and hide under the covers until spring arrives. It's hard not to feel lonely, gloomy in such weather. If you are exposed to it for too long, you forget what it feels like to be warm.

On days like these, right in the heart of winter, I need something to remind me of everything that is pleasant and inviting in this world; it's on these days that I -almost instinctively- reach out for my bottle of Caron's Parfum Sacré. This beautiful oriental perfume is so warm it feels like a small, glowing fire when I wear it. It's one of the few perfumes I spray on my wrists so as to be able to reach for a sniff easily when I need it as it instantly puts a smile back on my face. It's too strong to wear on normal days, definitely more appropriate on formal/evening occasions, but when the the cold is this intense it's the only thing I want to wear. It's woody, it's peppery, it's spicy, it's alive!

My bottle is 100ml EdP (reformulated

Top Notes: coriander, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom and lemon.
Heart Notes: mimose, orange blossom, jasmine, rose and Brazilian rosewood.
Base Notes: amber, musk, civet, vanilla, cedar and myrrh.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Experimenting with Dots and Stripes

I felt a bit inspired and was in the mood to experiment with the striper brush and my dotting tools. The result was neither quite how I imagined it nor perfectly neat, but I'm pleased since it's only a first attempt. The more I was doing, the more ideas I was getting and it ended more messy than I initially planned, but that is the nature of experimentation I suppose!

Also, I know that some people prefer to see pictures post-clean up, but I want to mark my progress in not making a total mess when applying polish so I prefer posting my pre-clean up pictures. Eventually I won't be making a mess of my cuticles and my pictures will look neater! Enough with the rant, here's the manicure 
(artificial light)
The base colours I picked are all shot through with a subtle white pearl which makes the manicure come to life, but this element doesn't translate well in the pictures. What a pity!
Base colours (index to pinky)
Misa - Fribbelicious
Zoya - Pasha
Nina Ultra Pro - In a Tiff
Jessica - 687 Au Natural

CM Nail Art - 4 Brown

Ciate - 030 Gold Digga
Nina Ultra Pro - In a Tiff
Misa - Fribbelicious

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Brown and teal

A pretty brown and teal combination I did a while back. I don't have a lot of brown polishes, I think it's the colour I like the least as a nail polish, but there's nothing a little stamping can't fix!

The base colour is Miss Sporty - 410, a very glossy polish that I had trouble taking a picture of it because it is so glossy. One thing I notice nowadays with these pictures is that I have a steadier hand when applying polish and it was only two months ago that I took this picture. There is still plenty of room for improvement!

 The stamping colour is Bourjois - Cap Vert, a vintage polish but still not as chemical as other polishes from that era. The stamp is Bundle Monster. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

How to: use nail guides for various styles

In my last post I mentioned using nail guides to recreate the 30s-40s half moon manicure.  I don't know if you've seen nail  guides, they are basically stickers you can use to help you with creating the perfect French manicure. I thought it'd be nice to write about them since I don't think they get enough love. They seem a bit unnecessary, but they can be a great help. 

Nail guides come in sheets like this. They are very well separated and are made of a thin plastic which means they don't rip easily, they can however stretch and lose their shape if you are too rough with them. The ones I have are classic oval shaped, but I have seen them in many other shapes, straight, toothed, wavy etc.
Before I place them on my nail, I prefer to put them on my hand to get most of the glue off. If I stick them straight on the nail, chances are they will stick on too well on and I'll ruin the mani when I try to remove them as I'll have to aply more force to take them off. Like this there's enough glue left on to stay in place and they are very easy to take off. 
And here is how you can use them. On the left is what I did to achieve the 30s-40s half moon manicure and on the right is how you could use them for a French manicure (sort of). You paint over them and when they are a little bit dry, you remove them carefully. Knowing when to remove them is important because is you remove them too soon the polish may dent or move and if you remove them too late, when the polish has dried completely, it will break off. I would say that a little over one minute is the right time.

I hope this helped a little! Remember that there's always a learning curve and don't give up!

Happy New Year with a Half-Moon Mani

I know it's a bit late, but I couldn't post the first post of this year without some wishes! I hope you all had a great time during the holidays. I spent most of mine in bed with a flu. Horrible times! 

I wanted to start the year with something absolutely feminine. I needed it after spending so many days looking dreary and I also wanted to try something new along the same feminine theme and here it is! A half-moon manicure with a red-black polish! 

My colour of choice was Barry M - Red Black which I think is the prettiest of all the almost black reds I have because it's the one that leans the least towards burgundy/purple. It just looks like what the name suggests, a red with a lot of black mixed in. Of course I know it's supposed to be a dupe for Chanel - Rouge Noir, but as I have not had the pleasure to try it, I can't attest whether that statement is true. I am sure I will in the future and I'll post an update. It's a comparison I long to make. 

Frankly, I loved it. I didn't think I would like it as much as I did, but it was one of those times that I couldn't stop looking at my nails. I really enjoyed it!

Since it was my first time recreating the Dita Von Teese favourite and I don't have an obvious lunula (the half moon) to paint around it, I decided to use nail guides. You can find a guide on how to do this here. I still had to do some small corrections, but the guides made life easier!

Unfortunately along with the beauty of this colour comes the usual Barry M price that I've mentioned in the past: stained nails. I had told myself I wouldn't keep this mani for more that two days in order to minimise the damage, but it was too pretty to ruin and I kept it on for four days. The results are obvious in the next picture. My nail bed normally is a single pinkish colour with white edges. The base is still the normal colour and the rest, where the polish was, has a yellow disgusting overcast. I need to find a three-free polish like this soon! 

I hope we all have a happy 2012, even if the usual prophets say it will be our last! It won't be the first time they're wrong! 
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