What I’ve Been Making, September 2016

I’m a huge fan of Halloween (even got married on that day!) so I’ve been dreaming of spooky nail designs pretty much since summer.

This will be my first “real” autumn in many years, as I was living in a tropical, seasonless area. I’m excited for crispy days and changing leaves, though I am not looking forward to the upcoming winter.

I’ve been playing with the trendy chrome powders/liquids, but I find it’s not terribly durable. Fun for a party look, but it doesn’t wear all that well. I’ve played around with a few different topcoats, but I haven’t gotten great results.

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Other stuff: Day of The Dead (always a fave here at NTMG!), some kimono-inspired nails on the top right, followed by groovy 3D bow and floral nails (probably because I’ve been watching the 70s Hulk TV show), purple spiderweb nails with chains and 3D spiders, some kawaii bomb nails with lots of lace, florals and bows, some jack o’lanterns, 3d Happy Birthday nails, some custom fall wedding sunflower nails (lower left), unicorns with star dangles, and some autumn leaves.

So jumbling around in my mind,  apparently I’ve got chromey knives with blood drips, kimono, groovy florals, unicorns, fall leaves, and Dia De Los Muertos. Sounds pretty accurate.

There will be more Halloween goodies upcoming, of course, and perhaps some weird sci-fi since I’ve been reading a lot of Phillip K. Dick. Perhaps some electric sheep nails?

This year, the Tokyo Nail Festa is on October 30 and 31 rather than the third week of November as it has been for the last 20 years, so I’ll be in Japan for Halloween this year. It should make for some fun nail art, but the timing is actually not ideal. Please note that this means ALL Halloween nails will need to be purchased by the evening of 23 October, since my shop will be on vacation from the 25th as I fly out to Tokyo very early in the morning of the 25th. Please order early!

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Confessions of A Glitter Hoarder

I have a confession to make. I’m a glitter hoarder. This won’t be a surprise to anyone who’s been reading along for awhile. I say it sort of tongue in cheek, but now that I’m back from living overseas, I’ve seen how much pigment, polish, glitter and supplies I have…and it’s waaay more than I imagined. Part of it was the result of all the moves I made. It was much easier just to buy a duplicate than to hunt around for something in storage, provided I was even in the same country as my storage unit. But now that I’m getting everything assembled, it’s kind of a wake up call.

Yep, glitter hoarder. I confess. So now I’m trying to figure out what to do with it. I tried eBay, and I’m embarrassed to say I actually *lost* money. I’m not talking about not getting what I paid back for the items. It’s a given that won’t happen and I wasn’t expecting that. I mean I actually *lost money* because most of my items went for such a low price, I was out of pocket when Ebay and Paypal took their fees. So it actually cost me money to sell my items online. To borrow a Singaporean word, “Aiyoh!”

Oh, and I had buyer demand money back on Ebay after claiming an item was used when I had sent it off in new condition. That put me out of pocket for the item plus the shipping. Not only does the buyer get refunded in full, they get to keep the item. No more Ebay. I’d rather give it away than reward people with free items. It would also be cheaper to give it away, as I wouldn’t have to pay to deliver my stuff to their door. A wretched hive of scum and villainy, Ebay is!

It’s a bummer, but I just have Too.Much.Stuff. Now that I’m living in a pretty small apartment and all my junk is consolidated, it’s time to pare it down. I’m not sure how it will happen, as Ebay has been a bust, women’s shelters only want unopened goods, and I don’t know anyone in NYC who likes to franken. Maybe a blog giveaway?😉 I’m open to ideas!

But just tossing all my things has proven to be a bit hard. I’m not to Hoarders-level ready jumping on the dumpster, but it is hard to acknowledge I have way too much stuff, spent too much money, and have waaay overpurchased considering how few nails I actually sell.

But before I chuck everything, I’m going to at least do some swatches.

Today, we’ve got Pure Luxe Pigments. I believe these guys went out of business a while back, but I don’t know any details. They actually had a nice range of affordable, good quality pigments that were intended for cosmetic use (eyeshadow, etc). Of course, I used them to make nail polish!

I used my trusty silicone mixing cup and regular old clear nail polish to swatch these. If you need some details on the basics, check out my Pigment Tutorial here.

Here’s the swatches. Though Pure Luxe is no longer kickin around, lots of other companies have similar pigments. I see the same colors duplicated from brand to brand, as many companies just re-package existing pigments.

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Copper Aura was very easy to work with and not too streaky, but That’s A Beachin’ Color was a problem child. It looks totally different mixed into the polish vs the jar color. Baldy spots and streaky city. Disco was also a mess. Disco is always a mess. It had a lot of baldy patches and took 4 lumpy coats for opacity. It was kind of a sparse microglitter with very little binder, so that might explain why.

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Oranges and tans fared a bit better than the pinks. Tangerine yielded a nice autumn color that I don’t have too many dupes of. Peach Champagne was a bit frosty for my personal taste, but had great opacity. Asp was a bit so so and was a bit streaky, but workable. Beach Party gave me a sort of creepy Yoo-Hoo purple-tingled milk chocolate brown. What’s in Yoo-Hoo, anyway? And why does it taste good and bad at the same time? Mysteries of the universe…

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Chocolate Grapes yielded a grandma-mauve, but had good opacity. Chocomint is a pigment I’ve seen tons of times before from MAC, Fyrinnae, TKB Trading and others. It’s a brown with green flash and would probably make a lovely eyeshadow for folks with green eyes. As nail polish, it gives me a kinda creepy baby-poo vibe. Maybe for Halloween? Boy Toy was a sea-monster teal frost which needed 3 coats for opacity. Sour Apple was really opaque but gave me ’80s flashbacks.

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Blueberry was a nice electric blue with a smooth finish. Grape was similar, but had a very fine grind so it took a lot more pigment to get opacity. The Liner Voodoo was meant to be eyeliner, so it was very opaque but chunky. I think the Liner blends were meant to be mixed in with some sort of blending agent and are definitely a different formulation from the other pigments. Jazzy was a gorgeous cornflower blue with purple flash that I’m keeping in my personal stash.🙂 Razor was a pretty standard silver with good workability and a smooth finish.

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Tiger’s Eye was really different swatched than in the jar. It made a neutral bronzey gold that seemed like it would go really well with giraffe spots, for some reason.  Beauty Queen was a pretty copper with silvery flecks that would probably make a really nice eyeshadow. Glass Slipper was a whitish silver pearl with a really smooth finish.

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And some random close ups:

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So, what do you guys do with your leftover cosmetics? Is there a secret stock exchange or a worthy cause to donate to? I’m open to suggestions!

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Hitting The Rails + What I’ve Been Making, August 2016

Hello all! I hope everyone is having a great start to August. I went to Montreal via Amtrak with the Mr. for a few days. It was a loooong ride from NYC to Montreal. The train was so crowded we couldn’t sit next to each other, which was a bummer. If you’re taking that ride, be sure to check in more than an hour early since the line gets crazy!

Notre Dame Basilica was definitely a highlight for me.

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The old town was really stunning, very European.

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We stayed near University of Quebec, which was a bit sketchy. Apparently there is a serious drug problem in Montreal, which was too bad. No one bothered us, though. At least the streets looked cheery with their pink balls.

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And there was a random festival with lots of dancing. It seems like the Canadians really make the most of their warm weather with lots of festivals and street events.

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So that was pretty fun. I miss the ease of international travel, compared to Singapore. I could be on a boat/bus/plane and be in a different country within the hour. At least living in NYC offers a lot of chances to experience international culture. One major oversight: the ethnic food here is not spicy! I had “authentic” Indian and it was way short in the spice department. After Singapore, I’m ready to get my spice on and the food tastes sad and lonely without it. Usually the restaurants will throw a couple chili peppers your way if you comment on the lack of spice, but that’s not really the same.

OK, onto the nails- that’s what everyone came for, right?😉

I’ve been having lots of fun with some UV color change (the ice cream nails, center top row) and thermal pigments (the sunset beach nails on the upper right/ghostly rider nails on the bottom right.) Thermal pigments change color when they are exposed to heat/cold, whereas UV change color in sunlight.

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My recent personal favorite are the ghostly rider nails- check out that tiny menacing skull! The fact that the nails change into flamey colors is just and added bonus. I also got my boho hippie chic on with some sun/mandala nails, some just-for-fun Kawaii Hello Kitty action, and some outrageous nautical nails. Someone commented that they looked like they looked like something a Playboy model would wear, but hey. Maybe it was the tassels. I don’t discriminate.😉 You can have fabulous nails whether you’re a pinup model or a librarian.

I’m looking forward to fall. I’ve lead a seasonless life for the past 5 years, so I’m excited to get my autumn on for the first time in a long time. It’s my favorite season. I do miss the Tokyo fall, which is waay longer and better weather-wise than the northern Atlantic US fall, but there’s apple cider here, so it’s kind of a toss up. But for now, I’ll squeeze the last few drops of summer while it’s here. Fruit salad all around!

 

 

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Deviantly Daring + Spectraflair Holo Close Up

I had a couple folks ask me for more close up views of my holo frankens from last post. Just a quick show of one of the 18 shades I made.🙂

Here’s one of my favorites, made with China Glaze Deviantly Daring and Spectraflair 14. I used 2/3 DD and 1/3 Spectraflair. The photos on this overcast day don’t really do it justice, but here they are. I think I’d call this mix “Deviantly Spectraflaring.” And it is kind of deviant, since Spectraflair is technically an automotive pigment.

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Yes, seamonster teal holo! Yes! DD is pretty on its own, but it’s a bit frosty and sheer for my taste. But with some holo in it, it becomes a gorgeous sparkly seamonster/mermaid-y type green. Wouldn’t this be nice for a mermaid nail?

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Just for comparison’s sake, here is the original DD and the franken side by side. We are experiencing clousy (cloudy +lousy) weather here, so the photos are not really up to par, but I hope y’all can get the general idea.

Oh, and speaking of mermaids, this color inspired me to get on it:

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Obviously, I am missing the ocean! I think it’s time to zip away and do some scuba diving…just not in the Atlantic, which is both the nearest ocean and my least favorite ever. It’s cold and gray. I’m all about warm and aqua blue, but any day in the water is pretty much a good day for me.

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Holo All The Things!

I love mixing custom polishes, but sometimes there are just polishes that can’t be duplicated without special pigments. One of these is Spectraflair.

A little Spectraflair background: It’s an automotive pigment made by a Japanese chemical company. It’s basically holo pigment in its most concentrated form. On its own, it has a silvery base that shifts color in the light and shows a fine or coarse rainbow reflection. It is graded by particle size, with a smaller number yielding a smoother finish and a higher number yielding more rainbowy flash with a scattered finish.

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I tried to get this stuff forever. It’s made in Japan by a Japanese company, and I used my mad Japanese skills and natural charm to try and get them to hand over a sample/sell me buckets of the stuff. No dice. It was like trying to buy cocaine. (I’m just imagining here, I have never actually attempted to buy cocaine. Ahem.) All very furtive. I managed to snag some, and it was pretty dodgy. I emerged several thousand yen lighter but with all my body parts intact. I felt like the James Bond of the glitter trade.

Still, the rewards were great and sparkly. I mixed all of these with half Spectraflair and half regular nail polish:

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And macarons. Just because they’re a kawaii Japanese favorite, along to go with my hard-won Japanese Spectraflair.

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Here’s Spectraflair Size 14 mixed into clear nail polish. Yes, I was having fun pretending to be a nail stylist.😉 You can buy similar colors, like Color Club Halo Hues/ ILNP Mega, etc. without the cloak and dagger drama of having to buy Spectraflair in a dark alley in Tokyo, but this comes with more of a backstory.

Or…you can just buy it online now in 2016. I placed an order there quite a while back, and got some good liquified Spectraflair after exhausting my pigment supply. You will be hard pressed to get your hands on the powder pigment- in fact, it’s near impossible. Most sellers offer it pre-disbursed in a liquid base, which you can just add to nail polish. Some sellers claim to offer Spectraflair in pigment form, but this is likely to be a knockoff Chinese version of it, which is not really up to par. Much like Beverly Hills Poolo Club or Kelvin Klein items one can buy in China, bogus Spectraflair is nowhere near as good as the real thing. And yes, I have actually seen “Poolo Club” items. Other polo-related favorites are U.S. Polo Club, USA Polo Club, Larph Lauren Polo and America Polo. Who knew polo was so beloved in Asia?

Anyway, back to the polish. A little Spectraflair goes a long way, but due to the intensity of the silver in the base, it will lighten up any polish color you mix it with. Deep reds will yield a fuschia or orangey pink, depending on what is in the base color. That’s why you generally see so many holo pastels vs really dark, deep colors. Most very dark nail polishes look similar on, but many of them actually have different undertones which will be revealed when mixed with a powerful lighter color pigment.

Although it’s awesome, DO NOT USE IT ON YOUR SKIN. I personally never apply Spectraflair mixes to my natural nails- it goes on press on nails only so there’s a barrier between my actual skin and the polish. It’s an automotive pigment, folks, so it’s definitely not approved for any kind of cosmetic use. At all.

So while my glitter spy skills were pretty lacking, now you don’t need to speak Japanese and meet people in shady back alleys to get some Spectraflair. If all this is too much trouble, but you still want holographic polish, just grab a bottle of holo silver and tint it with your favorite polish. There’s lots of ways to shine!😉

 

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Del Sol Swatches Part 2

Earlier this month, I reviewed some Del Sol color changing polishes and I’ve got more coming at you today. These polishes are activated by UV light. Moderate sunlight will be enough to make most of the shades change.They will change back and forth many times, but over time the pigment in the polish seems to degrade and leaves them one color. This is an issue I’ve experienced with all kinds of color-changing polishes, not just Del Sol.

Let’s take a look at the pretty colors:

Better Slate Than Never

Better Slate Than Never started off as a…slate gray and had an outstanding change to a dusty mid-tone purple. It did require 3 solid coats, but was worth if for the vastly different color you get. I did have a brush with a few stray hairs that stuck out in random directions, hence the really messy cuticles. I actually couldn’t see the Slate on my skin when it was in its shady incarnation. It only became super visible when it was purple.

No Anemones Here

No Anemones Here. Hmm, this one wasn’t really my cup of tea but I could see others liking it. It’s a sparse purple and silver microglitter in a clear base. I kept getting baldy spots with no glitter. This is three coats. The base turns to a deeper reddish grape purple. It needs a base coat- I used a grayish leftover franken (non-changing) polish because I thought my universe might explode if I layered two Del Sols over each other. Hmm, I wonder what happens if you mix them? I have yet to find out, but it could be a good rainy day experiment. Or not, since sun is required to see the results.

Del Sol Rose To The Ocassion

Rose To The Occasion is a coral pink that goes to deeper pink. Not a whole lot to say about this one, but it’s great if you can’t get enough pink. Formula was very nice- this is two coats with no topcoat.

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Fields Of Marigold…YASS! This is what I’m talking about. Fall is my favorite season, though, so I’m all about oranges and deep foliage shades. This one turns from a muted pumpkin shade to a Japanese maple leaf reddish brown. Fall all the way!  The formula on this was very good- solid in 2 coats. Wouldn’t it be fun to paint an autumn leaf nail and have the leaves change color? I think I just found my newest fall manicure idea.

Lazy Daisy

Lasy Daizy is a bubblegum pink that changes to a medium tone purple. The formula was pretty good on this one. I used two solid coats and it was opaque, but not very shiny. You can get the gloss with topcoat- even UV blocking topcoat doesn’t seem to stop the color change, but I’d prefer the shades to be glossy without it. What this shade lacks in gloss, it makes up for in dramatic color change.😉

Naughty or Nice

Naughty or Nice. Hmm, why not both? The formula on this one was a bit glunky and I didn’t get even glitter coverage. I recommend layering this one over a silver. It’s a purple and light green large glitter in a clear base that changes to a magenta. This one sort of reminds me of Thanksgiving. The formula is a bit tricky but not unmanageable. I recommend sort of dabbing the glitter on vs vigorous brushing.

VIP. This one pops! It’s a silver holo micro glitter in a clear base that turns to a deep pinky red. I think this must be a standard pigment, since we’ve seen it in a few incarnations, but this one is really dramatic. I did 2 coats over a standard silver base. This is a good one to wow your friends with, since the change is instant and dramatic.

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I really enjoyed the Del Sol polishes. I purchased all these, but some were a replacement for shades I had that stopped changing color. The Del Sol folks do stand behind their products, so they were kind enough to offer replacements. Unfortunately, I still have a bunch of dud Ruby Wing polishes, which is Color Club’s take on the color-changing polishes. Advice: use your color-changing polish within a year or so of purchase.  Even if your polishes do stop changing, they are still fine to use. They just won’t be as exciting.

I’m a fall junkie, so Fields of Marigold was my favorite. Naughty or Nice and No Anemones Here were a bit harder to work with due to chunky and sparse glitter respectively, but there were no real bombs in the collection, as far as I tested them.

I do have some Ruby Wings that are newer to show you, if you’re interested in still more color changing polish. Though these types of polishes are more oriented to teens and tweens, I still get a kick out of them. Then again, I enjoyed Hypercolor t-shirts too.😉

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Color Challenge- Pantone 345

Today’s color is a midtone seafoam green with a hint of blue. It’s a bit like a robin’s egg, but a wee bit more green. It’s greener than photographed here. These pastel greens are always problematic for most cameras to capture.

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Here’s the colors I used for #345:

Susie NY is actually a Japanese brand, despite the name. Color Club Je Ne Sais Quoi has a bit of a grayed-out, dusty quality to it that will keep the final shade from being too bright. #345 is a muted tone, rather than a vivid one, so at least one of the franken colors will have to be muted. The Susie NY and Color Club mix was too dark, so it needed some white, which is where the Alpine Snow came in.  *Note: Although I used OPI for this franken, OPI is no longer cruelty-free as they sold the brand to Coty (tests on animals) several years back. I have lots of pre-Coty OPI, that I am planning to use up, but the brand is no longer cruelty-free.*

I mixed about 2/3 Susie NY with 1/3 Color Club and then added white drop by drop until I got the right shade. It took about 15 drops. Here’s what it looks like all mixed up:

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Not too bad, I think. Now that it’s on my nails, it kind of reminds me of vintage Fire King dishware. Like many of these pastel greens, it makes my skin tone look more red. It’s more pronounced in photographs than in real life, though.

This shade was crying out for some art, though. A simple stamp with a geometric design, a quick white tip with pearl, and I was ready to go!

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The key to getting this color right was not to use a yellow that was too vibrant. It needed to have a bit of a grayed out quality to it to yield a dusty color. If I had used a brilliant yellow, I would have gotten a leaf green. Cute, but not a good dupe. If you don’t have any of the grayed-out shades, then you can simply add a tiny bit of gray to the color to dull down the vividness of the tones. It will bring it away from the brighter quality and add that vintage feel. If you’re feeling very adventurous, you can go opposite on the color wheel of whatever color you’re mixing, but tread lightly with that as things can get muddy quick!

 

 

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