Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Great Aussie Polish Challenge Day 2: ulta3 Black Plum (Aus and PRC comparison)

In honour of the amazing new piCture pOlish shades and the awesome Blog Fest yesterday, a group of Aussie nail bloggers have decided to feature great little Aussie polish brands all week! Today is ulta3 Tuesday, because who doesn't love ulta3? Surprisingly good quality polish for about the price of a Frosty Fruit, available when you buy the snags for that arvo's barbie, and dries fast enough that you won't wreck it on the Hills Hoist. Bloody good, mate!

There's been a bit of a shake-up with the ulta3 formulas lately, with production moving to China - two versions of many shades can be found at the moment, although the Australian-made ones are becoming rarer and rarer. A few old favourites (Water Lily, Pacific Fever) no longer look much like the originals, and some HTFs (Earl Grey) are coming back to play. A lot of cremes are now one-coaters, and perfect for stamping!

One of my favourites has always been Black Plum, a gorgeous reddish purple shimmer. Luckily, it seems to be one of the few successful dupes! Here's a few comparison swatches:

The PRC version is a tad lighter and redder than the Australian one, but if they weren't right next to each other I wouldn't be able to tell you which was which. Even the shimmer in them are virtually identical. The PRC version seems to give slightly better coverage though.

These are the lovely Aussie ladies who are also participating in The Great Aussie Polish Challenge... we organised this in record time! :) Tomorrow I'll be taking a break for Artsy Wednesday, but I'll be back Thursday with another awesome Aussie brand! ;)

Monday, 30 July 2012

piCture pOlish Blog Fest 2012!

It's time for piCture pOlish Blog Fest 2012, wahoo!

What this is (as you may have gathered, from the increasing flood of piCture pOlish swatches on the blogosphere) is an event organised by Aussie brand piCture pOlish where a whole bunch of bloggers (80+!) inundate your feeds with the exciting new shades that have just been launched.

I have two pretties for you today. I was originally going to post just a couple of pictures of each, but the ladies at piCture pOlish sent me such multifaceted shades that it wouldn't do them justice. So apologies for the picspam!

First up is Mirage, an iridescent milky blue/purple duochrome shimmer over grey - you all know I'm a duo/multichrome addict! Mirage comes from the new "Collaboration Collection", which features polishes created in conjunction with various bloggers. Sara Hassan is the lady responsible for this beauty! It was inspired by a bird with beautiful plumage.

This is 2 coats swatched over a black creme. In the shade it's a very pretty soft duochrome, with light blue with a teal tinge in the middle and pale purple lurking at the edges:

At an angle, it goes a soft lavender purple, before turning into a plum purple at an extreme angle. I don't have pictures of the plum flash, because at that angle my nail was barely a sliver, but here's the lavender:

Friday, 27 July 2012

Is it ok to add nail polish remover to your nail polish?

I'm sure many of us polishaholics have often come across a gluggy old bottle of polish and wanted to pour a whole bottle of remover in. But does it ruin your polish?

Unfortunately, there's no easy yes or no - the incredibly unsatisfying answer is: it depends. It depends on 2 things: the type of nail polish remover and the composition of your polish.

Polish goes gluggy over time because the solvent (wet stuff) slowly evaporates. Adding thinner replenishes the lost liquid, usually ethyl acetate or butyl acetate, two very similar non-polar solvents. Adding the first name on the ingredients list is the best bet for restoring the original consistency. But cheap thinners are hard to find.

There are thousands of different removers on the market. They are usually water and either acetone or ethyl acetate, sometimes with small amounts of colour or moisturiser added. So it makes sense that if your remover is pure ethyl acetate (rare, but possible) or the vast majority is ethyl acetate (hard to know if %s aren't listed), there will be no problem using that as a thinner.

However, if your polish remover has lots of water (very common, since water is cheap, and they can claim it's gentle since there will be less solvent to strip oil from your skin), the problem is that water doesn't mix very well with ethyl/butyl acetate. This means that for most polishes, the finish will end up less smooth once water has been added, and depending on how much you add, the incompatible solvents can result in a streaky look. This might not be a concern when it comes to bumpy glitters, or if you plan to use a topcoat, or if the polish had a dodgy formula to begin with.

Adding pure acetone is less likely to lead to incompatible mixtures since it mixes well with ethyl/butyl acetate, but it can still affect the composition of the polish and give a bumpy or dull finish. An additional concern with acetone is that it dissolves more things than ethyl/butyl acetate, so some glitters and shimmers which are solvent stable in the original polish might start leaching after acetone is added.

So there are a lot of factors to consider before you add remover to your polish! The best thing to do is to dump a small amount of goop onto a piece of foil, add a drop or two of remover, stir, and see how it dries.

The bottom line: Adding nail polish remover will generally change the finish of your polish, unless you're using pure ethyl acetate. This might not be a concern if you always use topcoat. The safest thing to do is to test a small amount first, or use a thinner that contains the top few solvents in your polish's ingredients list (usually ethyl acetate or butyl acetate).

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Inspired by Music

Hurray, another Artsy Wednesday! I have so much fun designing and painting my nails for AW every Wednesday, and seeing what everyone else came up with :)

This week the theme is inspired by music. My nails are inspired by Die Antwoord, a South African "rap-rave" group who are an incredible mix of hilarity, sex and politics. They're a bit offensive and not for everyone. Here are my nails:

And here is the video that inspired them:

For my nails, I started off with a base of ulta3 Lily White and sealed it off with topcoat. Then I drew all over my nails with marker and finished with more topcoat. No smudges, win! :)

I also performed a ninja-inspired dance to this song at a recent amateur night held by my dance studio. I'll be posting my makeup look and a video when the professional photographer there on the night uploads his photos :)

Wonder what the other girls did...

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Sukin Certified 100% Organic Rose Hip Oil

Sukin is an Australian cosmetics company who pride themselves on delivering effective natural skincare products to women at budget-friendly prices. I think this is a very worthy cause, since so many companies seem to assume that using "natural" in their marketing automatically justifies jacking up their prices! Additionally - and this is the clincher for me - Sukin are 100% certified carbon neutral company. They're also vegan and certified by Choose Cruelty Free.

Like so many other natural skincare brands, Sukin have a pure rosehip oil in their product line. It comes in a 25 mL amber glass bottle with a rubber-teated dropper, and is certified organic, coming from Rosa eglanteria seeds. Rosehip oil also makes an appearance in some of their other products, but to keep costs down it's not certified organic and comes from the close relative Rosa canina. A Sukin rep assured me that the nutritional quality is just as high.

In colour and texture, it's most comparable to the A'kin Rose Hip Oil I reviewed earlier. All Sukin rose hip oil is extracted by solvent-free cold pressing methods, which means most of the nutritional content is preserved. It boasts over 80% essential fatty acids (linoleic, linolenic, oleic) and a smattering of vitamin E, beta carotene (vitamin A) and lycopene (antioxidant).

L to R: Kosmea, Sukin, A'kin. Kosmea rose hip oil, reviewed earlier, is much darker than the other two, and smells more pungent, which may mean that it's denser in vitamins, but might also mean that it's more likely to bring out reactions in sensitive people. A'kin rose hip oil looks darker than the Sukin oil in this picture, but the droplet is actually just a little bit thicker - in reality, they're almost indistinguishable.

In my opinion, this is the best value-for-money rosehip oil that's easily found in Australia. They don't seem to have skimped on quality despite the lower price compared to other widely available rose hip oils, and conveniently, Sukin products can be found in Priceline stores all over the country. I've heard a lot of good things about their other skincare products, and I'm eager to see if they live up to the hype!

(Sukin Rose Hip Oil retails for AUD 19.95/25 mL and can be found in pharmacies and food stores in Australia. Stockists can also be found in New Zealand, UK, Canada, Ireland, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore - for more information see hereProduct provided for honest review - for more details, refer to disclosure policy.)

Sunday, 22 July 2012

NOTD: Models Own Indian Ocean, plus stamping and matte

I've been on a Low Buy July - I was going to do a No Buy July, but failed spectacularly when I bumped into Revlon Grape Fizz on sale at Myer on July 1st. Glass flecked grape scented nails? Sign me up please!

Other than that, I've been doing quite well. So far I've only bought 6 bottles of polish... but the amount of polish I've received in the mail has been STAGGERING. I don't think I've ever received so much stuff before. The most awesome nail mail (so far... *crosses fingers*) was a swap package from my fellow Polish or Perisher ilexica, who sent me a pack of nommy sweets and even nommier English polishes!

I've been lemming Models Own Indian Ocean for a while (you know, like every other polish nerd on the planet), and happily it was one of the polishes ilexica picked! *squee* It's a pink-gold duochrome shimmer in a blue jelly base. Here it is, 2 coats over ulta3 Spring Shower:

A day later, I got bored and stamped over them with Mash 39 in ulta3 Gold Rush Fever, then added Rimmel Lycra Pro Mattifying Topcoat. The effect was so ethereally pretty!

Annoyingly, my bottle has a smattering of blue and pink glitter in it. Just enough for there to be one or two glitter bits on each nail (you can see them on my middle finger), so I assume they're not meant to be in there - probably too little to be noticed by anyone but me. Kind of like someone in the shop was playing around with it, and put the wrong brush back in, or perhaps it's a manufacturing error. I got lazy and gave up trying to get rid of them from my nails since I did them late at night, but next time I'll make an effort.

Check out my growing box of untrieds... holy guacamole! Low Buy July was necessary.

Bonus game: See if you can spot the 7 UK polishes ilexica sent me!
Super bonus polishnerd award: See how many brands you can name, just from the bottle caps...

Friday, 20 July 2012

Does skin need to breathe?

In short, for humans who are not premature babies, the answer is "no". Not in the traditional sense of taking in oxygen for the rest of your body, anyway.

Your skin's essential function is to prevent things from the environment from entering your body, and things you need (e.g. water) from leaving the body. It's very good at its job! Skin is also necessary for secreting sweat to cool the body down. However, these are the only two really essential functions of skin. Other functions are pretty useful though, such as touch and making vitamin D from sunlight!

The idea that skin has a role in breathing, and that you can suffocate if your pores are covered for too long, probably comes from the James Bond film Goldfinger, in which the villain kills his victim by covering her in a thin layer of gold. People at the time (1964) believed this, but we know now that it isn't true!

However, the very top layer of your skin (0.25-0.40 mm) does get almost all its oxygen from the air - not through the pores, but through direct diffusion (imagine that the oxygen is soaking through into the cells, like water through a piece of cloth). However, your skin doesn't need to be in direct contact with air for oxygen to diffuse in - oxygen dissolves in oily substances like makeup and moisturiser, so it can diffuse through the whole lot and get to the skin, even if you manage to cover it 100% (which is quite difficult).

Still, it's a good idea to remove your makeup every night before you go to sleep - pores clogging with the day's dirt and oxidising makeup won't suffocate you, but it can lead to acne and blackheads.

Interestingly, some animals, such as frogs, do get most of their oxygen needs through their skin. So don't go dipping your pet frog in gold!


M Stücker, A Struk, P Altmeyer, M Herde, H Baumgärtl and D W Lübbers. The cutaneous uptake of atmospheric oxygen contributes significantly to the oxygen supply of human dermis and epidermis. J Physiol 2002, 538, 985.

D F Roe, B L Gibbins and D A Ladizinsky. Topical Dissolved Oxygen Penetrates Skin: Model and Method. J Surg Res 2010, 159, e29.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Dotting tools only

This week's challenge was hard! Dotting tools only... what can you do with just dots? Plus, I'm a little challenged when it comes to making evenly round dots... but after this mani I think I've improved a lot, and I might actually use my dotting tools a lot more in the future:

Base is ulta3 Mermaid Green, dots are OPI Skull and Glossbones, and ulta3 Black Satin and Lily White.

The panda was done with a range of different-sized dotting tools - I didn't quite have enough white loaded on the tool for the face so I had to spread it out a bit, but I think it ended up looking ok, if a little bit uneven...

What's your favourite dotty design?

More dotting:

Foot pamper pack giveaway winners!

The winners of the Pedisox, Glow and Glamour LUS foot exfoliation packs and franken powder are Mary and Kierra. Congratulations! I've emailed them and am waiting for their replies :)

Glow and Glamour are also currently having a Facebook giveaway here - three winners, and the prize packs are worth over US$80 each!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Multichrome swatch porn: Ozotic 505

The old Ozotic lines are being discontinued, so I grabbed a massive bunch from Picture Polish I've been lemming for a while as a birthday present to myself, and wore Ozotic 505 as my birthday mani. I know it sounds a bit boring for a birthday mani, but it's fuss-free and like wearing 5 amazing polishes at once, so I think it was win!

OK, less talk more picspam... enjoy!

Multichrome goodness in the shade (2 coats Ozotic 505 over black creme):

Multichrome goodness in the sun:

Full range of colour:

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Review: Davroe Moisture Senses Argan Oil

Davroe Moisture Senses Argan Oil was included as part of the Lust Have It! Ozsale introductory pack, which contained some of the most popular items from previous packs. It contains argan oil, which comes from argan trees which are native to Morocco, and it's the "moroccan oil" component of cult hair fave Moroccanoil.

It comes in a handy little pump bottle which can dispense a few drops at a time. The product itself is a slightly goopy clear colourless gel, which smells very rich and floral, and distinctly like a hair product (the bottle calls it "jasmin musk"). The goopiness evaporates quickly though, and it doesn't leave any sticky residue on your hands after you use it.

The main ingredients are silicones (top 3: cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, dimethiconol - argan oil comes in 4th). My Asian hair is thick and coarse with usually crunchy ends - it goes down to the small of my back, and I've dyed it a few times, so it's not the happiest of hair - and it LOVES silicones. Put silicones near it and it goes glossy and swishy and completely tangle-free. So no surprise, after rubbing in a smaller-than-pea-sized amount of this product and combing it through (either damp or dry hair is ok - it spreads a bit better on damp hair though), it's all happy and shampoo-ad-ish! Swish swish! :)

This might not work as well for girls with thinner hair, but since cyclopentasiloxane is a particularly lightweight silicone, it shouldn't weigh it down too much. Most of the super slippery effect comes from the 'cones I'm guessing, based on the low-ish placement of argan oil in the ingredients list, but this product does also make my hair a tad softer, which is probably the oil's contribution.

I'd recommend this product, but the sticking point is the price - $23.95 for a 50 mL bottle. I'm sure it'll last me a while since a little goes a long way, but at the same time, I don't like spending so much on such a tiny-looking bottle. The effect isn't that far off slathering my hair in olive oil and following up with a cone-rich conditioner (like my beloved Dove Intensive Repair conditioner - I'll have to review this soon!), but it's just so handy having a bottle next to the bed for the morning, when I've forgotten to use olive oil, or when my hair just won't behave! And it takes all of 20 seconds, whereas washing the oil out takes considerably longer. Plus it smells better. So I guess I'll see how long this bottle lasts me, and if it still keeps doing its magic thing, before thinking about rebuying...

What are your favourite hair products?

(This product was included as part of an personally purchased sample subscription service. For more details see blog disclosure policy. Davroe Moisture Senses Argan Oil can be purchased online through the Davroe website, or at selected salons.)

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Ruffian

The theme this week was ruffian nails. These are mine:

I was wearing China Glaze Glittering Garland at the time and I wasn't quite sick of it yet, so I stamped a BM design on top in ulta3 Gold Rush Fever (PRC). I then used an eyeliner brush to paint on a bit more gold to make the stamping a bit bolder at the bottom edge, and painted more Glittering Garland on top to make the ruffian shape. Finally I stuck on some little nail gem studs. I got a lot of compliments on this one!

I really like ruffians - they're a lot easier to shape than half moons since you can just use the bottle brush. I always have trouble getting half moons to look right - I like then to be proportional to the nail size, so I freehand them and it takes forever to get them even!

More ruffians from talented ladies:

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Sun protection basics

You northern hemisphere girls are heading towards midsummer, and us southern hemisphere girls are missing summer, so I thought I'd remind everyone of the most important thing to remember when going into the sun... sunscreen! During my research I came across this brilliant infographic which presents all the research in a much more interesting and clearer format than I could, so I thought I'd just give it to you guys as is... enjoy and stay sun-safe!

Friday, 6 July 2012

BYS Colour Change - Blue

Oh boy! I'm a massive fan of special effects in my polish, and this is pretty much the most fun I've had with my nails in a while... BYS Colour Change in Blue. When warm, it's a pretty jade/turquoise, but when cold, it turns a medium blue. The best thing is that it's always changing - the combinations are pretty endless. So far I've seen:

Jade nail, blue French tips (taking my warm hands out into a cold room)
Blue nail, jade French tips (blowing my freezing cold hands with a hairdryer for not-long-enough)
Gradient with jade at the base and blue at the tips (the most common - e.g. warm hands, cool draught)
Blue nails jade spots (resting my nails on a warm mug of tea on a cold night)
Jade nails blue spots (resting nails on a beer glass in a warm pub, splashing cold water on my nails)

Also, your fingers can all be completely different, and you can get a whole hand of blue and the other hand will be green!

More fun swatches:

French tip blue:

Completely jade:

I spent a good four days looking down whenever I felt warm or cold to see if my nails had changed colour, and touching anything warm or cold I could get my hands on! :)

What's the funnest mani you've ever worn?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Independence Day

(No new manis posted since last Artsy Wednesday, whaaattttttt.)

Happy July the 4th! To me, July the 4th just means the day after my birthday (I'll post my birthday nails later in the week), but for you US folk it means holiday, so at AW we had a very loose "related to Independence Day" theme. So what does that mean to me? Aliens!

Instead of the weird praying mantises in the film, I chose to do some standard cartoon aliens. The base is BYS Colour Change Blue, which is jade green when warm and medium blue when cold (I wore it alone for a few days before this, some of the most fun I've ever had with a mani - swatches to come!). I painted ulta3 Black Satin on top. I took the photo in my freezing cold house, and warmed up two fingers with a hairdrier right before shooting.

More Independence Day manis:

Monday, 2 July 2012

Review: Lush Angels on Bare Skin

I'm undecided about Lush. On one hand, you can follow a trail of lovely scent through your shopping centre to the store. On the other hand, walking in is like being clobbered over the head with a bucket of stenchy random perfumes. Their products are fresh and natural... but they're also breeding grounds for bacteria and tend to go off. Everything smells lovely, but overly scented products tend to irritate skin. And some of their products just sound weird - solid toothpaste? Shampoo bars? Shower jellies? I've heard good things, but I'm still not convinced enough to invest in the more outré offerings.

I first tried Angels on Bare Skin on a friend's recommendation - it was different from all the other scrubs I'd used in the past. Far lighter, less harsh... it didn't even feel like I was cleaning my face properly. It leaves a thin film of oil on your face, and is full of glycerin which makes my skin super soft and plump. I use it about three times a week, depending on how my skin's feeling that day. I tend to use it as a follow-up to a stronger, foaming cleanser, to give my skin a little moisture boost before the nightly BHA + rose hip oil routine. I sometimes add a bit of ground oatmeal to it, to give it a bit more scrubbing and softening oomph (read about surprising powers of oatmeal here).

- Heaps of glycerin - plumping, emollient/humectant goodness (more about what that means here)
- Very gentle scrub, difficult to over-exfoliate
- A little goes a long way - I go against instructions about paste-making and whatnot - I take less than a pea-sized amount and rub it over my face, letting it dissolve onto the skin. This translates to about half a tablespoon each month... I think my 100 g tub will last me about 6 months
- Kaolin is awesome - soothing, smoothing, oil soaking (more about clays here)

- Not great hygiene/bacteria-wise - that roll of cleanser just sits on the Lush counter all day long collecting dust, and customers poke it with their dirty fingers. Unless it's a display-only cowpat of AoBS (is it? Does anyone know?). Comes in a big, wide-mouthed tub. No proper preservatives
- Container is huge, and for some reason the store I went to don't sell smaller quantities. I've chopped it up into fortnight-sized globs and stuck them in the freezer, since the recommended use by date is only 3 months
- Potential irritants - in particular, essential oils (lavender oil can be quite irritating even in tiny quantities, and is unstable to air)
- Not much of a cleanser - won't get makeup off, you'll need a pre-clean!

I think I could give this up if I could find some pure glycerin to add to my DIY clay mask... so far I haven't had any luck with the pharmacies I've tried.

The Lush store in Sydney's Queen Victoria Building recently renovated and had an opening event last Saturday morning. I talked to a guy dressed as a banana and poured blue scented water between two jugs with a lovely SA with fruit piled on her head. They gave out free canvas bags to the first 100 customers with samples inside (yay!) - I got a Friends With Benefits massage bar and some Happy Hippy shower gel - can't wait to try them out! I'm still relatively new to Lush, but I'm slowly building up a list of things to buy...

What's your favourite Lush product?

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