Thursday, March 20, 2014

First Day of Spring Mani!

Happy first day of spring!  It's been a loooong time coming... this has been quite a winter!  I'm still up in Buffalo, New York, and there's still plenty of snow on the ground.  From what I hear, there is more on the way!

That said, signs of spring have begun to show up, even here.  The Canada geese are coming back, and we've had a couple of days above 40 degrees (F).  I'm still reaching for my boots to go outside, but I'm looking forward to sandal weather.

I have a special mani to show you today; I wanted to do something super springy, so I decided to do a handpainted floral design, inspired by this picture from the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Entomology and Plant Pathology program:
This gorgeous bloom is from one of my favorite plants, the dogwood tree.  This, specifically, is a Cornus florida 'Cherokee Brave,' and it's part of the university's dogwood breeding program.  The UT Institute of Agriculture is located in Knoxville, the city I am excited to say that I will soon call home!  Each April since 1961, a festival has taken place in Knoxville celebrating the culture, arts, and natural beauty of the area.  The festival is held during the blooming period of the dogwood tree, which has become a symbol of the festival and of the beautification of the city.

Dogwood trees are pretty few and far between where I'm from because it's just too cold, but on the few occasions I've seen them in bloom, they're breathtaking.  Interestingly (from a scientific perspective!), dogwood flowers are actually the tiny, yellow-green nubs in the center of the bloom; the large, white to pink "petals" are actually bracts.  Fascinating!  The blooms are quite large, about the size of the palm of your hand, and the petals (er... bracts) are very stiff and tough, like leaves.

Anyhoo, I adore dogwood trees, and since it is the first day of spring and I will soon be moving to Knoxville, I thought there was no better ode to new beginnings than a dogwood manicure:

For this manicure, I did a gradient of China Glaze Budding Romance (perfect name, eh?) over Sally Hansen Hard as Wraps and two coats of Sinful Colors Adventure Island.  I used a teeny paintbrush to paint on branches with Julep Rooney, and painted on the flower petals using L'Oreal French Tip White.  Using the same small paintbrush that I used to paint the branches, I painted pink streaks on the petals with Ulta Fuchsiamania.  I added some other details in with the small brush using Adventure Island and Rooney, and then I did a little dot in the center of each bloom using Sally Hansen SALON Lacquer in Forsythia.  I topped it off with Salon Perfect top coat.

Over all, this mani took probably about two and a half hours, and I was pretty happy with the result.  I had a little trouble with my right hand (obviously), so it looks a bit like it was painted during a moderate-strength earthquake.  Honestly, though?  I'm fine with it.  Perfectionism isn't my bag.

Here's a closeup:

And heeeere's righty:

And a closeup of the right hand:
This was a really fun manicure to do, and I think I'll be doing more hand-painted manis in the future.  I hope that you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed preparing it!  Enjoy your first day of spring!

What is your favorite hand-painted mani theme (e.g. florals, abstract, etc.)?  Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Julep Glam Roc and Goldie Review

I wanted to submit a belated review of two polishes from Julep's February 2014 "It Girl" subscription box:

I've been an on-again, off-again Julep subscriber for around six months.  In general, I skip their boxes because I don't have two nickels to rub together, but occasionally I will splurge and pick up some pretty, shiny polishes to cheer myself up (as my mom says, "I needed a new hat.")

Their subscription model is pretty straightforward:  You take a quiz, and are matched with one of three "style profiles."  Each style is a bit different.  Classic with a Twist generally has pretty conservative polish colors, and comes with two polishes and some sort of makeup product.  It Girl generally contains pretty funky shades, and you get three polishes and no makeup products.  At least one is a glitter almost every time.  I'd describe Boho Glam, which comes with two polishes and a makeup product, as "ugly pretty."  You get your mustard yellow, olive drab, shimmer turquoise kinds of colors here.  I'm a fan of that aesthetic, so that's the one I usually spring for.  Each month on the 20th, they send out an email to subscribers laying out the content of each box.  You have until the 24th to make any changes to your box (such as skip the month, switch to a different style profile, or pick up some box add-ons).  They ship the boxes on the 27th, at which point you're charged $19.99.  At this price point, the volume of product you're getting becomes a bit more reasonable.  The caveat here is that as of a few months ago, new subscribers can only skip boxes every six months, which is a HUGE  bummer if you're broke like me.  That said, if you don't mind (or can afford to) drop $20 a month on nail polish and makeup, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I find that Julep's polishes, while ridiculously expensive ounce-per-ounce, particularly if you're not a subscriber (at $14 for only a quarter of an ounce), are of excellent quality.  I picked up the February "It Girl" box plus a few extras because I was feeling spendy that day, evidently.  After I ordered it, I panicked a bit because I had spent about $35 that I totally shouldn't have, but I really loved all of the polishes I got.  I promptly did a manicure using Glam Roc, which is a blackened purple "stardust finish" textured polish with holographic shimmer.  It is gorgeous and I love it so, so much.  I smushed the tips before they were dry (as I am wont to do) so I hid the damage with the add-on I picked up, Goldie... which took the mani to a whole other level.  I'm pretty sure this is my favorite combination:

Goldie is a yellow-gold microshimmer in a clear base.  It actually goes on pretty sheer (so not a good stamping polish, which was disappointing), but it's easily buildable.  It seriously looks like liquid gold.  It is SO PRETTY.  It dried down and didn't change the gritty texture of the Glam Roc underneath either, which I liked.  Here's another shot in natural light:

I'm not generally one to repeat a manicure more than once, but I did this manicure again a few weeks later.  I'm planning to do a review of some of the other polishes from this box soon; they're too beautiful not to wear again.  If I have somehow inspired you to subscribe to Julep, you are welcome to use my referral link here.  You can get your first box free with the code FREEBOX (you just have to pay for shipping).

I purchased this product with my own money.  Any and all opinions expressed on "The Knoxville Paintbox" are my own.