Friday, September 30, 2011

BPAL 101

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is an independent perfume house, located in Los Angeles, California, and owned and run by Elizabeth Constantine Barrial and her brother, Brian Barrial. I've been a huge fan of BPAL, as it is known to its customers and reviewers, for almost five years now.

The best place to start is at the Lab's welcome page. There you can get an idea of the history and purpose of the company, after which you can follow one of the links in the left-hand sidebar to find the scent of your dreams!

The first link in the sidebar is "Shiny and New," which will give you the latest updates to the available collections. You can't buy from the "Shiny and New" page, to buy you need to travel to the "Limited Edition" page or one of the collections pages like "Alchemist's Local 93". Once a month, there will be a very limited edition perfume (usually available for about three days) commemorating the full moon.

Other annual LE collections include Lupercalia, the celebration of love that typically comes out in January, Halloweenies, which are typically available starting in August and ending on October 31st, and Yules, which are typically available starting in November and ending on December 31st.

For news and other fun stuff, you should check out the Black Phoenix Gazette, the Lab's blog. For reviews and sales and swaps, you should definitely check out the officially unofficial Black Phoenix forum, The forum is a great place to read reviews and the Swaps and Sales sections are great places to get imps, or imp's ears (the Lab's sample-size vials) for great prices. Some sellers even have special introductory packs containing a sampler of the most popular scents.

If you happen to be in the L.A., Seattle, Roswell GA or South Burlington, VT, during the full moon, you can have the fun of attending a Will Call at one of BPAL's retail partners. Otherwise, you'll need to buy your perfume online, which is another reason to join and read reviews!

I hope this post has been helpful, and I plan to follow up with more info on Black Phoenix and other etailers.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beetlejuice Collection from Models Own!

More reasons for my wallet to hide:

The BEETLEJUICE Collection consists of five new multi-tonal shades:

-GOLDEN GREEN, a fresh energetic acid.
- PINKY BROWN, a warm rusty pink.
- PURPLE BLUE, a vibrant punch of fuchsia indigo.
- AQUA VIOLET, a true sky shimmer.
- EMERALD BLACK, a bold-blackened midnight peacock.

These will be available on the Models Own website in November. The first two look similar to Mean & Green and Bad Fairy from the Mac Venomous Villains collection, the third one looks like Orly Space Cadet/Hard Candy Mr. Wrong, but the fourth and fifth ones look very new and different to me, and I am really lusting for both of those!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A week without polish

Apparently, this was my weekend to beat up my paws. In addition to the break in my left ring finger nail, I managed to cut my right index finger opening the dishwasher detergent (who does that?) and woke up Sunday morning with a bruise the size of a quarter on the palm of my right hand. Plus, I still have freaking flakies from Buddha-ful everywhere, despite repeated attempts to remove them. So I'm taking a week off from polish, and concentrating on just being gentle with my hands and with paying attention to some of my other beauty obsessions. With any luck, my followers will stick around. ;)

Friday, September 23, 2011

CND Just Red + CND Copper Shimmer

As pretty as Just Red is on its own, I got bored and added one coat of CND Copper Shimmer. It turned the lovely red into a beautiful autumn rust!

In very weak sunlight:

In the shade:

Indoors, with flash:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

CND Just Red review and swatches

After last night's Battle of the Glitter, I said I was going to go with a simple crème. However, I certainly wasn't interested in going with a neutral!

CND Just Red is half of their Valentine's Day 2011 duo, Red Hot. The other half, Red Sparkle, is a clear base with red glitter, which I am not wearing today. I might swatch it at a later date. For today, I just put on three coats of Just Red, which is thin but quite pigmented and insanely shiny. These pictures are before cleanup and before top coat as well:

Without flash:

With flash:

I don't recall there being a big fuss over this duo last February, and it's certainly not trail-breaking or fashion-forward, but it's a beautiful red, and I'm glad to have it in my stash.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Barielle Buddha-ful review and swatches

I have to say that my first Barielle polish was not a wild success. The flakies are very pretty--they go from gold to green to blue depending on how the light hits them. Unfortunately, the polish was very sheer, and removal was an absolute nightmare. I'm talking the foil method didn't get all the glitter off nightmare. I think I'll put the rest of the Barielles on hold and wear a few nice creams for a while...

Three coats, with flash:

Three coats, no flash:

Sorry for the lack of sunshine pictures, but that's been in short supply here in NE Ohio the last few days!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Trying something new

Over on my sidebar, I now have links to my nail polish and BPAL spreadsheets. If you see something you'd like to read more about, please leave a comment and let me know what you'd like me to swatch or sniff!

Also please leave a comment if you can't open the documents--this is a brand-new thing for me. :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Quick haul post

My nails are currently bare, eek! On Saturday I did that thing where you catch your hand wrong and flip the nail backwards. Of course it was the ring finger nail on my left hand, which is my best nail, and of course the break was well under the smile line and into the nail bed, so I've been trying various things to keep it attached until it grows out enough that I won't bleed like a stuck pig when I clip it.

Wow, that was a long sentence! o.O Anyway, here are my weekend hauls:

From Discount Drug Mart, two different Sally Hansen Nail Strips, in Ghoulie Girl and Spun for You:

Discount Drug Mart is a NE Ohio chain of drugstores, and they always seem to carry Sally Hansen products at a dollar or more lower than CVS and Walgreens, so between their regular price of $7.99 plus the $1 off coupon from All for You, I got these for $6.99 each instead of $9.99 each.

Barielle haul, polishes in Falling Star, Jess' Champagne Toast, Buddha-ful and Elle's Spell:

Barielle was having a buy one, get one half off, plus they gave me a 50% off my order for signing up for e-mails, so I got all four polishes for $14.47. It's also worth noting that I ordered last Tuesday and the polishes arrived on Saturday!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Nubar Prize over China Glaze China Rouge

As disappointing as Nubar Prize was on its own, it does wonders as a top coat. This is one coat of Prize over two coats of China Glaze China Rouge, in the sunlight:

No words needed!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sarah, this one's for you--China Glaze Flying Dragon

My wonderful friend Sarah turns into a fancy flying Chinese dragon when she takes her migraine meds, so this one will always make me think of her! Flying Dragon is now part of China Glaze's core line (at least it's got a permanent spot in the rack at my local Sally Beauty). It was a typical neon, drying matte and requiring a quick hand to keep it even and three coats to reach bottle color. Instead of topping it with a plain top coat for shine, I added a coat of L.A. Colors Color Craze in Jewel Tone, which has blue and fuchsia glitter in a clear base.

In shade:

In sunlight:

Absolutely lovely and definitely a keeper!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Looking for Mr. Right White: Sally Hansen Insta-Dry Whirlwind White

Sorry for the lack of cleanup in the pictures--I pretty much knew this was a failure and that it wasn't going to stay on long enough for me to bother tidying up. The brush is horrendous, a flat plastic popsicle stick with a flat, splayed-out and shedding brush. Plus the polish was basically matte, and while I like matte polishes, I like to know what they are in advance so I can compensate for things like drag and polish that dries on my nails before I've even finished each nail. This is going in my failure box for sure. :(

With flash:

Without flash:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Revlon Facets of Fuschia review and swatches

First of all, I have to say THANK YOU to Nouveau Cheap, without whom I would not have had a $1.00 off coupon for this lovely $3.89 polish at Target. Since I only own two Deborah Lippman polishes, both of which were gifts, Bad Romance was never going to be in my polish stash. I'm okay with that, now more than ever, because I have this beauty!

Like most black jelly polishes with glitter, it looked pretty uneven until the third coat was on, and it drank an awful lot of topcoat, but it's still worth the time and effort (and what I assume will be difficult cleanup!)

Indoors with flash:



Friday, September 9, 2011

GOSH Ocean

A lovely friend from the UK sent me a bottle of GOSH Ocean. Rachel knows me well, because I love both turqoise and metallics. Ocean went on smoothly, didn't show too many of my horrible nail ridges, and matched the bottle color in three coats with no bald spots. This one is worth getting if you can!

Indoors with flash:

Indoors but in sunlight:

After a day with Ocean and China Glaze Ginger on my ring fingers for accent nails, I decided to do a quick copper crackle comparison. Apologies in advance for the blurry pre-cleanup picture--this was taken when my computer was out of commission, so I didn't know I needed better pictures until long after this manicure was history!

Anyway, the ring finger is China Glaze Ginger with Pure Ice Strike a Pose on top, the middle finger is Ocean with Cherimoya Sinner and the thumb, pinkie and index are Ocean with China Glaze Cracked Medallion on top.

The China Glaze and the Cherimoya have near-identical formulas, so I kept the Cherimoya because it is more coppery than the China Glaze.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Looking for Mr. Right White: Revlon Powder Puff

I really wanted this to be the one--a soft white satin-finish shimmer with hints of pink. The color is so beautiful! Unfortunately, it took four coats to become opaque, and didn't dry very quickly, so I had sheet marks and dents despite doing my nails two hours before I went to bed. :(

In sunlight:

Indoors, with flash:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lucky haul

I stopped at my local Sally on August 29th to use up my 15% off coupon which was expiring on the 31st, and they had the new Orly Mineral FX collection. I'd also wanted another Orly from looking at nail blogs, plus I had a few China Glaze polishes on my wishlist. Then I swung by the drugstore on the way home and grabbed a Sally Hansen white for my Looking for Mr. Right White search.

Because I was yakking away with the sales associate, I didn't even notice the cost of the polishes, just handed her my coupon and my Sally card and continued to gush about Orly. I got Rock-It from Mineral FX, plus Close Your Eyes and China Glaze Flying Dragon.

I nearly died the next day when I was looking at the receipt. Before the coupon was applied, Flying Dragon rang up at $4.99, Close Your Eyes at $5.49 and Rock-It rang up at $0.25.

No, that is not a typo, I got a brand-new bottle of Orly Rock-It for twenty-five cents! I called the store to make sure it wasn't an error in their system, and the manager told me the error was on them and I was welcome to keep the polish.

Wow, just wow.

Monday, September 5, 2011


My first time sponging and my first effort at a gradient. On top of my Glitter Gal Light as a Feather, I sponged Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Wet Cement, then China Glaze Awaken, and topped the whole thing with Orly Winter Wonderland. Awaken was probably too dark for this, but I had fun and will definitely do it again.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Looking for Mr. Right White: Glitter Gal Light as a Feather

I can't say enough good things about the linear holo effect in this polish! It's perfect and beautiful, and I couldn't stop staring at my nails. It's certainly one of the most beautiful whites I've tried.

There were only three problems. One, it was not opaque in three coats and two, because it's holographic, the more coats I applied, the more the grey tinge of the holo pigment showed up. So if I applied enough layers to make it opaque, it showed as a definite light grey rather than white. Third, it's very pricy--$14 for 0.3 oz.

Light as a Feather is definitely worth the price, and the customer service at Llarowe is phenomenal! I'm going to keep looking, and hope I can find an opaque white to put underneath this lovely so I don't waste any!

Here is three coats of Light as a Feather in shade:

Here it is in the sunlight:

Here it is in the sunshine with Confetti Ice, Ice Baby on top:

Looking for Mr. Right White

A one-coat white nail polish is like a narwhal--I've heard of them, but my chances of ever seeing one, let alone getting my hands on one, are non-existent. Instead, I am looking for a decent two-coat white nail polish, and will be chronicling my attempts to find one.