“Bring it on Home”

Throughout my life I have had many, many manicures. Unlike most women, ¬†I don’t doze off or get lost in my thoughts during this relaxing time. My eyes on glued to the manicurist’s hands, holding mine and using tools, polish and cream to make them beautiful. Although not a certified nail technician, because I spent so much time studying their techniques I have taught myself to recreate the perfect (or at least a really well done) manicure at home. I know all the steps from the prep to finish, with some extras like paraffin wax and oil thrown in occasionally. This is far from my first rodeo. Although I can recreate to the best of my abilities their manicure at home, sometimes it just can’t happen due to lack of resources (ie, I don’t have a gel UV lamp, I don’t know how to do acrylics or have a paraffin wax heater at my disposal). For the first time however, the gel look is becoming more of a reality than a salon-only habit.

Creative Nail Design (who make one of my all-time favorite lotions) is a leader in the gel arena and if you go to your local nail salon (specifically the New England chain Miniluxe) you will find it as one of your only choices for gel. The company also has the same colors offered in a gel-like polish that promises to last one week, without the use of a uv lamp. The line is called Vinylux and won’t cost you any more than your standard manicure at a salon. But here is the best part – now you can buy the polishes on your own! This means two coats of the Vinylux plus their special topcoat and you’re good for a solid week, with the same color as you can find in the gel line. You can’t purchase the line on their site, but you CAN purchase it at Ulta as well as other salons. As of this year, you can also purchase this line on Flash Sale sites like Rue La La for a discount ($7.99 versus Ulta’s $9.99). You will not be able to find all the shades that are available but if you find a color you like, its well worth it to scoop it up at a discount. I just scored Plum Paisley and love it!

If you’re just fine with doing your nails yourself, I strongly suggest checking out this line. For the same price as my beloved Essie and rival OPI, you will get more wear out of the polish and save your dollars for something else – say the pedicure you CAN’T do yourself ūüôā

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Happy Polishing!

 

All I wanted for Christmas is to be beautiful!

December 28, 2014

Good evening and welcome back from the holidays! I admit I have been lacking on the blog posts in the past month or so with the hustle of the holidays but I am back and resolve this year to publish more posts on the regular so stick with me. Besides whipping up some home-made body scrubs for some ladies, here are some beauty treats I gave and received on Christmas.

To my darling mother I gave my most recent mascara purchase which she test drove at Thanksgiving ( I apologize for not blogging about this stuff – its pretty amazing stuff). It is by a cosmetics company called Younique and the product is called Moodstruck. Its almost exactly like Too Faced Better than False Lashes (a step mascara with fibers) except the fibers in Moodstruck are black, not white and the effect is much more “pow”. If you decide to purchase you just have to choose a salesperson (pick anyone at random) to give the commission to.

Moodstruck

For my soon to be mother in law (by the way the six month count down began yesterday!) I was asked to put together a box of cosmetics, which I did very happily!¬†Some items included Too Faced Better than Sex mascara, mascara guide, Garnier BB Cream, ELF Lip colors, brushes as well as the Bare Minerals eye shadow and cheek pallette below. I can’t wait until she uses it!

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Lastly, I was a lucky lady this year and received some Bobbi Brown treats as well as some Essie polishes. Recently I saw Bobbi’s email for red lips and decided to really go for it so I asked Kathy for lip liner, lipstick and gloss all in scarlet and all made their way to my stocking. I also received two surprise Essie nail polishes from my future mother in law on Christmas Eve. I can’t wait to try them all out- see below.

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What beauty treats did you give and receive?

Maureen

My Favorite Brands…Essie nail polish

November 19, 2014

In my third installment of my favorite brands post series I wanted to write about my absolute favorite nail polish brand of all time – Essie! Many of you know in the world of nail polish there are two major brands (among many others) and they would be O.P.I. and Essie. In college I was an O.P.I. devotee. And then something changed – I’m not sure when or why but I switched completely to Essie forever.

As you may remember me saying I was a former marketing major in college, let’s first start with brand’s image and why I love it. The marketing is fantastic – Essie ads are written with a short quote from Essie herself (how cute is the name Essie by the way?) and the ad is always clean and crisp with the focus on the nail color that practically pops off the page. The brand’s ads use white backgrounds featuring white props such as a marshmallow or ice cream with the nail color dripping over it.¬†See below for examples – how great are these?

Summer Ad           Wicked Ad

The packaging is adorable too. If you know me well you know I have a weird love of organized shapes (I love cars with shapes). Something about these little perfectly square bottles with the clear writing and clean white top¬†makes me happy. Its simple and lets the color do the talking. And now let’s talk about my favorites!

Ballet Slippers

Ballet Slippers – this is a staple among the beauty industry as one of the best pastel pinks out there. Not too pinky, not too beige.

Mademoiselle

Mademoiselle – another staple. This is a sheer pink that is one step above having nothing on. It almost is like nail foundation for those with pink nail beds.

Vanity Fairest

Vanity Fairest – similar to Ballet Slippers but has a the teeniest hint of sparkle.

Cocktails and Coconuts

Cocktails and Coconuts Рa great beige matte for toes

Fishnet Stockings

Fishnet Stockings– classic red with a blue color base. Gorgeous on short nails.

Sunday Funday

Sunday Funday – coral with a little sparkle – I love this shade in the summer!

Under the Twilight

Under the Twilight– an inky blue purple – I LOVE this on short nails and always get asked what this is when I wear it.

Merino Cool

Merino Cool Рmy newest favorite from my fabulous friend Emily- a light grey purple

Now that Essie is EVERYWHERE you don’t have to travel very far anymore to get them but if you want to order them for cheaper than their regular retail sign up for the flash sale site Cut and Blow – they are $5, which is completely worth it if you buy more than two. Another place to check out for cheap Essie’s? Off-price stores like Ocean State Job Lot, TJ Maxx and Marshalls.

What’s your favorite Essie?

XOXO

Maureen

The At-Home Mani (on the cheap!)

November 2, 2014

I love a good manicure and pedicure and I love the nail salon near our house in Newton, Massachusetts. It’s always nice to treat yourself to these often not only because ¬†of the stress relief and beauty benefits but because you don’t want things like overgrown cuticles (which keep your nails healthy and prevent infection), callasuses, and in grown nails out of control. That said, time and financial reasons don’t always allow for us to do these regularly but with a little work you can do your own manicure at home. It might take a little practice if you’re just starting out but be patient and take your time. The more you do it, the better you will get-trust me.

Step 1: Soak hands. Soak both hands in a little bit of warm, soapy water for a few minutes. This gets your cuticles ready for grooming.

Step 2: Removing cuticles. Apply a cuticle remover (see link below for options from Sally Hansen) rub in to cuticles for a few seconds. Next, take a push back tool (this will be one of the most expensive items you will purchase in this post) and push back your cuticles. You have two types of cuticles, the ones you want to get rid of (the thin later right on your nail that you can hardly see) and the thicker part that you either leave or trim back in the next step.

Step 3: Trimming cuticles. This is up to you on how much you want to do here as you may not feel comfortable trimming your cuticles and hang nails. If you do feel comfortable, you want to purchase cuticle scissors and I suggest not purchasing cheap ones and go with some by Revlon. You will have these forever and they really make a difference. Cheaper ones are dull which makes it more difficult to snip and get a clean line. Make sure these are clean before you use and gently trim your outer cuticles,¬†hang nails and excess skin. My fiance could tell you this is one of my favorite tools- I’m often snipping away at random hang nails as any excess drives me crazy. Remember to clean your metal and stainless steel tools with soap and really hot water you are done with everything. Repeat Step 2 and 3 on the other side once completed.

Step 4: Oil up. Next rub some nail oil into your nails and cuticles. If you don’t have any at home you can use olive, ¬†coconut or grape seed oil instead. You just need a few drops, so go easy.

Step 5: Filing nails. Your shape is up to you but I usually do something ¬†in the squoval (combination of square and oval) range so they are not super severe either way. You don’t need an expensive or heavy-duty nail file (unless you have artificial nails) so your best bet is to get the cheap, tan cardboard kind that are sold in the drug store. These are gentler on your nails than other files. If you don’t want to use these make sure you pick a file that says its specific for natural nails or else you will file down your nails until there is nothing very easily.

Step 6: Buffing nails. This is your choice as the shinier the nail, the harder it is for nail polish to adhere to the natural nail but I enjoy doing this because it gets ride of ridges and smooths out the nail bed. I use buffers that are four-sided and have numbers on each side so you know which step to do in which order.

Step 6: Exfoliation (optional). This is not necessary but its nice step that adds a little luxury to your standard manicure. Don’t have an¬†exfoliating rub? No problem. Mix 2 tablespoons of either sugar or salt with a little bit of oil (again your choice) and rub over your hands, wrists and lower arms. Rinse under warm water and pat dry.

Step 7: Moisturize. You can use any lotion you like. Make sure you rub into nails and into cuticles. After, take a cotton round and wipe nails off with nail polish remove (preferably acetone free since acetone can dry our your nails and skin).

Step 8: Prep. This is not mandatory but its a nice step and if you are using a dark or bright color you should make sure to include this into your manicure regimen. If not, when you go to remove your color days or a week later your nails will be stained and most likely a dark pink. Choose your base coat by your need: trying to grow your nails? Choose a growth treatment. Weak nail problems? Choose a formula with strength. When all else fails just choose clear since something is better than nothing. Often times this is where my manicure will end since just having groomed nails and cuticles is good enough for me. If I have the extra time and patience I will continue on to the steps below for color.

Step 9: Color. Choose your color. I love dark and bright colors¬†on short nails and soft pinks ¬†on nails with a little length. How many coats is up to you but the standard is two coats. Your application should be as follows: one stroke down the middle of the nail, and then one stock on each side. Nervous? Go lightly on the polish for the first coat since it sets the base for your color. You can always apply more color if needed. ¬†Remove any excess polish that got on your skin with orange sticks from the drugstore (I LOVE these things). If you don’t get it perfect that’s ok. Remember that polish doesn’t stay on the skin for long, so it should come off in your shower or when you wash your hands.

My favorites colors? Essie’s Ballet Slippers, Mademoiselle, Vanity Fairest and Figi. I know, I know. All light pinks – notice a trend?

Step 10: Top coat. Any basic clear does the job but if you want the creme of the crop choose Seche Vite. It dries your nails quickly and deposits a glass-like shine. This is a must-have and really ups your manicure at home. Also, one bottle lasts forever.

Step 11: Wait! After all that work, wait it out at least a good 15 minutes. Watch tv, work on the computer (slowly) or just relax. A trick my mother (a former hairdresser who had to take manicure classes during beauty school) taught me to check if your nails are dry is to take your thumb and lightly rub it against the skin under your nose, above your lip. If the nail is ready and dry, there will be no stickiness and the nail will feel like glass against the skin. If it doesn’t, you need to wait a bit more.

Some of my favorite manicure must have tools:

Revlon Cuticle Nippers

 

Cuticle Pusher

 

Orange Sticks

 

Seche Vite

 

Enjoy!

Maureen

Product Review: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel formula

October 29, 2014

Well my friends, this will be my first unsatisfactory product review. I don’t like doing this and feel bad giving a product an unfavorable report but I want you to trust my opinion and in order for this to happen I must share with you the good and the bad. After all, I don’t want you spending your money on something that I don’t feel is worth it. And so I bring you Sally Hansen Miracle Gel formula. The product is made up of two separate nail polishes, a color and a clear top coat, which can be sold pre-packaged together in only a handful of colors (which in my opinion were awful choices) or separately with an array of 45 colors. The big to-do about this product is that it is the first at home gel nail product that does not involve the use of an LED light. This is huge for those of you who can do your own nails and love the gel formula. There are other gel formulas on the market for at home use, including two other formulas by Sally herself as well as other companies, but all involve the use of an LED lamp, which is an additional cost and can be pricey.

For those of you who are new to gel formula, the benefit of this type of nail polish application is both the staying power and the glossy finish. Oh and as soon as its applied, you can do anything with minimal waiting time. This is ideal for someone going on vacation or someone who used to like acrylic nails for the color staying power. It is important to note that it is not recommended to do gel nail polish applications back to back, especially since removal involves soaking of the nails in acetone polish remover, which is incredibly drying to both nails, skin and cuticles.

I was really excited to try this (actually really excited is QUITE the understatement). How excited was I? I am almost ashamed to tell you the lengths I went to get this but I will tell you because we are all friends here. I went to not one, but TWO local CVS stores to get it. The first surprisingly didn’t have it at all and the second only sold the top coat in the awful color prepackaged duo sets. So what did I do? I picked the color I wanted separately and looked up on my trusty iPhone if my local Target had the clear top coat in stock (side note if you ever want to see if Target has an item in stock before you travel there, their website has this feature- genius!). So I drive the ten extra minutes to Target, which I can’t stand because its constantly busy and never has parking. I talk myself twice into keep making the trek, get in the door, race over to the nail section only to find NO CLEAR TOPCOAT. Nothing. No colors at all! Did I let this stop me, you ask? Nope. I found a sales associate and told her my plight and waited until she came back out to tell me there was a box of 12 left and if I gave her a few minutes she would bring them out for me. You can imagine my giddiness. Finally, with it in my hand, I paid and rushed home to try this.

Maybe it was the build up of all the great reviews I had read about this product that has me disappointed. My trusty go-to source Allure Magazine had written several great web reviews on it and they have never steered me wrong. One review had given the product a fantastic rating, saying that it outlasted a salon gel application and never budged on the side of the nail. I do not agree. I think this nail polish is ok, not horrible, but not up to the hype and certainly not worth all the effort I put into purchasing it (but then maybe no beauty product is). I don’t find it any different than any regular nail polish application and I certainly don’t think its as glossy as a salon gel application. If you are looking to try an at home gel product and haven’t tried anything yet, I would say go ahead and try it since you don’t need an LED lamp but if you are looking to give up your monthly salon gel appointment for this product, don’t. If you are looking for just a new nail polish and top coat, you have nothing to lose as the price is the same as any of Sally’s, Essie’s or OPI’s nail polishes and it can be removed with regular remover. Bottom line: don’t go out of your way for this product- I already did for both of us ūüôā

If you are interested in learning more about the product and where to buy it, click the image below.

Maureen