Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cozy plaid blankie

purchased by me

Although it's been unseasonably warm around here, the season still calls for cozy blankies in red and green plaids, just like the Pendleton blanket my mom had in her car when I was growing up.  I used some old Sally Hansen polish strips in a red & black plaid, added a black border with my Migi nail art pen, and then topped it off with Ulta's satin matte top coat.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Incoco Sleigh Ride

purchased by me

What's black & silver & festive all over?  My nails, of course!

Sleigh Ride is available at Incoco for $8.99 + shipping, and it's worth every penny!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Testing Day: Hallowe'enies II!

purchased and reviewed by ThoraSTooth

Dead Leaves Bourbon Vanilla and Myrrh (Pile of Leaves, Hallowe'enies 2015):  no further description given

Dead Leaves Red Musk and Neroli (Pile of Leaves, Hallowe'enies 2015):  no further description given

The Magic Circle (Hecate's Inheritance, Pickman Gallery, Hallowe'enies 2015): Vanilla-infused frankincense and clary sage with 7-year aged patchouli, jasmine sambac, honey myrtle, and oudh.

The Witches' Rout (the Carcass) (Hecate's Inheritance, Pickman Gallery, Hallowe'enies 2015):  White sandalwood, opoponax, shriveled black plum, and vetiver.


Dead Leaves Bourbon Vanilla and Myrrh is all leaves on first sniff, with maybe just a touch of vanilla.  Wet on my skin I get the leaf note, neither dry nor juicy, with more of a fixative beneath it than usual; there's almost no vanilla impression.  On drydown there's more myrrh here than leaf or vanilla.  It's not sweet like the Sunbird myrrh note, but it's not dry or sharp or dark.  It's more like the myrrhs used in the churchy scents like Midnight Mass and Penitence.  At maturity it's a full, rich myrrh note with some dry leaf on the side.  As a myrrh lover, I think this is fantastic, but leaf scent lovers might want to look elsewhere for a more true leaf scent.

Dead Leaves Red Musk and Neroli is juicy leaves on first sniff, with a touch of tart nonspecific citrus.  Wet on my skin the neroli note develops first and the red musk wakes up.  Red musk tends to take a while to develop fully, but by the time it's dried down this one is definitely a red musk scent.  Fully mature, it's restrained red musk with just a touch of floral and some dead leaves.  It's light, good-tempered, and happy; I liked it enough to get a bottle of it.

The Magic Circle smells like vanilla and jasmine sambac over a resin-patchouli base, until I put it on.  Wet on my skin it went slightly foody, as if tonka were involved.  On drydown it was light and slightly foody, a vanilla frankincense scent with a touch of jasmine sambac.  After a couple of hours, though, the oudh had stepped in and turned tannic on me.  The light vanilla and jasmine were still there, but the herb and wood components took over the scent and pushed it in directions that didn't work for my chemistry.  Someone who's good with oudh might like it, though; the vanilla jasmine was tasteful, never too girly or strident.

The Witches' Rout (the Carcass) smelled great in the vial, all sweet-dark caramelized vetiver and opoponax with just a touch of fruitiness.  Wet on my skin, it was quite dark; the opoponax (which I think is the darkest of all the resins) and caramelized vetiver seemed to intensify one another's darknesses.  Mature, it was never smoky nor quite as dark as Haitian Vetiver SN, and it's got a slightly fermented vibe about it the way opoponax often does.  It's way darker than Minotaur or Schwarzer Mond.  Even the slight fruity impression was very, very dark, like the concentration of a dried fruit.  The poor white sandalwood must have been hiding under a rock, though, because I never got a bit of it.  For a vetiver or opoponax lover, this is really a standout scent, but it is not for the delicate.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Zoya Winter/Holiday 2015: Matte Velvet

purchased by me

Sorry it took so long, but finally, here are my swatches of the Zoya Winter/Holiday Matte Velvet polishes for 2015.

All six had the same flawless formula, opaque in two easy coats, flowed perfectly and dried quickly.  Pics after the jump!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Testing Day: Hallowe'enies I!

purchased and reviewed by ThoraSTooth

Satan Starting from the Touch of Ithuriel's Spear (Sympathy for the Devil, Pickman Gallery, Hallowe'enies 2015):  Golden amber, carnation, blackcurrant, aged black patchouli, red musk, and vetiver.

Second Spring (Hallowe'enies 2015):  An accolade: drifting leaves tinted in the bold reds of pomegranate and currant, the golds of amber and honey, russet myrrh, a touch of cypress-green, and crisp patchouli-brown.

Sweet William's Ghost  (Hallowe'enies 2015):  A scent of unendurable grief and longing: pale orris root and honeyed white lily chilled by wild carrot and cognac, pulled into a winding sheet of white jasmine, tobacco flower, tuberose, and patchouli.

Witches' Kitchen (Hecate's Inheritance, Pickman Gallery, Hallowe'enies 2015): Belladonna accord, sprigs of rue, crushed hyssop, white sage, beeswax, mandrake leaf, bay rum, black honey, hemp, and myrrh.

Satan Starting from the Touch of Ithuriel's Spear is splendid spicy carnation at first sniff, over a well-blended patchouli background. As it dries, the patchouli, musk, and vetiver come up to give a wicked impression without smouldering.  On full drydown it is still a carnation scent (which means smoky on my skin, but others will have better luck); the blackcurrant and red musk work together to give this a a full, dark-fruit feel over a chewy patchouli-resin base.  This scent is old school BPAL blended with more experienced nuance.  If I were even a smidgen better with carnation notes I would hoard the hell out of this one.  And I'm still tempted despite the tendency of the carnation to go to smoke on me.

Second Spring smells like it's going to be a great autumnal take on the fruity-patchouli blend.  It's tart-sweet and patchouli in the bottle; wet, the resin and dried leaf notes appear.  But something weird happened on drydown:  the scent suddenly went very woody, like one of my least good wood notes (probably oak) amping on me.  It's pretty hard to kill a fruity-patchouli scent on my skin, so I'm baffled by this.  But the wood note (could it be the patchouli?) took over the scent and clung to me for many hours.  I was so sure this was going to be my favorite 'Weenie, but alas!  Not to be.

Sweet William's Ghost is very funereal in the bottle; it reads shimmering white and floral without being a lily scent.  Wet on my skin, the tobacco note spikes as expected, but it's a light note so it doesn't overwhelm the scent.  The cognac is the secondary note, and then the unspecified florals.  It dries down very well blended indeed; I can make out patchouli and orris (usually uncooperative, but beautiful in this instance), but everything else is a mystery.  It is dry, white, and mournful.  After a few hours it becomes a very gorgeous soft orris note, buttery rather than powdery, and without that hurty blue-white aura that orris often has for me.  I will definitely be getting a bottle of this.

Witches' Kitchen smells of beeswax, bay rum, and hemp.  On my skin it's suddenly a basket full of greenery, some of it bitter.  A menthol-ish note holds it together over a warm sweet beeswax/bay rum prickliness beneath.  As it dries down it comes even closer to being the scent I dreamed it would be; although I never really get any more of that round hemp note I was expecting, and the myrrh is so mellow as to be unnoticeable.  At maturity, the combination of honey and herbal notes manages to be full and sweet without ever being powdery or foody.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Zoya Cyber Monday

press release

If you love surprises, the MYSTERY BOX deal is for you - you'll get a box filled with some of our favorite products ($72 value) for just 
$20 plus free shipping! Surprise yourself or someone else with a great deal AND great products!

Wondering if it’s worth the gamble? Last year the Mystery Box was a huge hit – make sure not to miss out on this one day only offer. We promise, it won’t be the same as last year, it will be better!

Here a few blog reviews from last year…nouveau cheapmodel citypolished with pizzazz. As you can see the box was loaded with Zoya and Qtica goodies!

MYSTERY BOX available exclusively on 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Seche Lumiere

purchased by me

Seche Lumiere, or as I like to call it, PUMPKIN SPICE ALL THE THINGS INCLUDING MY NAILS! is a slightly pink-toned orange with lots of shimmer and a frost finish.  Thankfully, it doesn't show a ton of brush strokes, and really, this color sums autumn up for me.

Lumiere is part of the Seche polish core line, and you can buy it and others at Head 2 Toe Beauty for $4.00 + shipping.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Zenobia

purchased and reviewed by ThoraSTooth

Scent of the Day:  Zenobia (Warrior Queens Inquisition 2009) --  Orris, clove, costus storax, patchouli, hyssop, frankincense, balsam, and saffron.

The first sniff of this is light clovey wood.  There's a touch of menthol, probably from the patchouli.  It smells a little dusty to me too, which I think is the costus although it might be the orris.

Wet on my skin, it's immediately richer and more resinous.  Although orris doesn't like me, it's cooperative in this scent.  As it dries down Zenobia becomes mostly cloves and frankincense over a base of patchouli.  It matures away from the cloves and patchouli, becoming more a frankincense and balsam scent, although it retains a touch of spiciness.

This is a comforting, close to the skin scent.  I was craving frankincense and cloves, and this scent filled the bill nicely.  Sometimes I like to wear this one to bed on cold nights because it makes me feel so warm and cosy.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Color Club What's Your Sign

purchased by me

Color Club added six new holos to the Halo Hues collection.  I only got this one, but it's gorgeous and I love it.  What's Your Sign is a soft grey base with pink shimmer and a really strong linear holographic effect.

In the sun:

Indoors with flash:

What's Your Sign and the rest of the Halo Hues collection are available at Head 2 Toe Beauty for $8.00/bottle plus shipping.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Samhain 2010

purchased and reviewed by ThoraSTooth

Scent of the Day:  Samhain (Hallowe'enies 2010) -- Truly the scent of autumn itself -- damp woods, fir needle, and black patchouli with the gentlest touches of warm pumpkin, clove, nutmeg, allspice, sweet red apple and mullein.

I stayed away from the annual Hallowe'enies offering of Samhain for years because of the pumpkin.  Once I finally took a chance and tried it, this signature BPAL scent became one of my darlings.

At first sniff it's evergreens, a dry grass, patchouli, and a bit of apple.  Wet on my skin the evergreen spikes but then subsides to blend with the patchouli.  It does smell a bit damp, but not mouldy nor ever quite aquatic or earthy.  There's a powdery note that might be all I ever get of pumpkin. 

It matures into warm, slightly sugary, spicy dark green magnificence.  The patchouli and the fir work really well together on my skin.  I think the sugary impression comes from the evergreen, because I've noticed it in Hemlock and some of the other intensely evergreen scents.  The curl of hot mulled cider running through it never turns the scent toward foody.

Something about this scent always makes me feel warm, nostalgic, and happy.

NB: Sadly, the 2010 version of Samhain is gone, but you can order the 2015 version here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pür Minerals Starry Eyed palette

purchased by me

I grabbed a few things from Pür Minerals in autumn colors, and I really love this little palette.  It comes with five shadows and a mini Volume Vixen mascara, which I have set aside for a friend.

Zodiac is a pinkish burgundy shimmer
Virtue is a light, warm pink shimmer
Icon is a warm white matte
Mystic is a cool-toned brown shimmer
Eternal is a reddish-brown matte

Two swipes of each color:

I have worn this about a zillion times since I got it.  Okay, not a zillion, but lots.  The shadows are soft and kick up some powder, but the intensity is good and the wear time is almost 8 hours.  On its own it's a good buy, but for $15 + shipping, it's a great buy and you can get it at the Pür Minerals website.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Butter London's Invite Only set

purchased by me

With 6 set-exclusive colors, I couldn't resist the Invite Only collection!  Swatches after the jump.

Monday, November 9, 2015

My Ulta haul

purchased by me

I had one day to use a 20% off coupon, so I just grabbed all the prestige products I wanted:

The Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue sample kit, Too Faced Le Grand Chateau, Too Faced La Petite Maison, Butter London Invite Only and IT Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Romantics.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Last-minute Halloween nails

purchased by me

Incoco has six one-manicure sets available at Walgreens.  I got the cute little ghosts which glow in the dark!

If you're interested in finding a set, you can check the store locator on the Incoco website.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bonita Nail-O-Ween 2015

purchased by me

I am such a sucker for packaging!  I saw this cute set at Rite Aid for $4.99 + tax and I couldn't resist!  The nail stickers are tiny, but there is tiny green shimmer over the black stickers, and I love little touches like that.  There are two glow in the dark polishes among the four.

The green glows in the dark and it's pretty thin.  I used three coats for my swatch, but could have used a fourth:

The purple is also a glow-in-the dark and also needs four coats (shown with three):

The white was fine with three coats:

The black was perfect in two coats:

If your expectations aren't too high, this is a cute set for $5, and would be wonderful for doing your nails with a small someone special!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Iulia, L’Artiste du Diable

purchased and reviewed by ThoraSTooth
artwork by Julie Dillon for Black Phoenix

Scent of the Day:  Iulia, l'Artiste du Diable (Carnaval Diabolique 2015) --White tea, sugar cane, orange blossom, rockrose, lemon balm, white mint, and honey.

I fell for this new scent at the Bay Area Lunacy event at the end of August.  It's re-engineered from the previous Artiste du Diable scent ("Gennivre") which was named for a previous CD label illustrator.  (The current version is named for Julie Dillon.)  I've never tried Gennivre, so I don't know how this compares to the previous version.

On first sniff it's tea, honey, mint, and a beautiful floral.  Normally I don't like orange blossom, but if that's what this is, then I may have to change my mind.  Wet on my skin, it's everything I love about Embalming Fluid -- the tea, the herbal lemon, the perkiness - plus a really beautiful floral.  If the Lab description didn't say otherwise, I'd think this was white ginger lily instead of orange blossom.

As it matures I get more floral and honey.  But the lemon gets deeper and a bit more sugary, more like preserved lemon peel.  It keeps the floral from collapsing in an excess of indoles.  The result is a happy, sweet, but not too pungent floral with lemony-mint underpinnings.  This is probably the best orange blossom has ever smelled on my skin chemistry.

It's hard to reproduce the original testing ground for this scent -- a warm crowded shop, humid with many bodies -- but the scent still loves me in the relatively cool, dry, airy environs of my house.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pi nails!

purchased by me

I treated myself to a gorgeous and geeky Pi Infinity scarf from Think Geek.  Then when I was planning to wear it with a blue and white tweed jacket, white shirt and blue slacks, I decided I would do my nails to match.  I started with a base of Zoya Dream, then added a coat of Nubar White Polka Dot and free-handed the Pi symbold in Serum No5 Guiding Light.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Essie Rock at the Top

purchased by me

Rock at the Top is a clear base with multiple sizes of gold glitter.  It has good viscosity, a nice spread and a good ratio of glitter to base.  One coat over Cocktail Bling:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Essie Cocktail Bling

purchased by me

Cocktail Bling is a soft blue-toned grey crème.  It was well-behaved with a nice viscosity and bottle color in two coats.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Essie A-list

purchased by me

A-list is a nice classic red crème, opaque and shiny in two coats.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Essie Mind Your Mittens?

purchased by me

I found a set of four mini Essie polishes at Duane Reade in NYC when I was there, and although the packaging clearly says this pretty little green-leaning dusty blue is "Mind Your Mittens" the original polish with that name was a dark teal and this is probably actually "Parka Perfect"!  Oh well, it's still a pretty color that's opaque in two coats and very wintry-feeling.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Orly Infamous collection: Scandal

purchased by me

Scandal is a basic deep red crème, that is nevertheless quite pretty.  The formula is well-behaved, opaque in two coats and shiny even before top coat.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Orly Infamous collection: Frenemy

purchased by me

Frenemy is a black jelly with holographic glitter.  It's easy to use and pretty, but Zoya did it three years ago with Storm.

Two coats with no top coat:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

ZOYA Spooky Glam Trio for Halloween

press release

Get three Spooky Glam ZOYA NAIL POLISH shades for FREE.
·         Storm (Black Metallic Glam Sparkle Nail Polish)
·         Mimi (Purple Metallic Glam Sparkle Nail Polish)
·         Amy (Orange Metallic Glam Sparkle Nail Polish)

With any purchase of $25 or more, exclusively on!
Now thru Halloween (10/31/15)

# # #
Erin GiddingsMedia Relations & Design
Art of Beauty Inc.
 (makers of Zoya, Qtica & Smart Spa) 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Orly Infamous collection: Gossip Girl

purchased by me

Gossip Girl is a barely pink-tinted base stuffed with gold and pink and holographic glitter.  It's a wonderful top coat, not too thick and drying quickly.  It does need a thick top coat so it doesn't feel textured.  I layered one coat over Front Page and loved the result.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Orly Infamous collection: Makeup to Breakup

purchased by me

Makeup to Breakup is a gorgeous teal crème with a perfect one-coat formula that dries quickly and very shiny.  Those with longer nails may need two coats.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Orly Infamous collection: 15 Minutes of Fame

purchased by me

15 Minutes of Fame is a pinky-red jelly filled with holographic and pinky-red glitter.  I've shown one coat over Front Page and two coats on its own.  It looks beautiful either way, and the formula is easy to work with and quick-drying.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Orly Infamous collection: Front Page

purchased by me

Front Page is a slightly frosty gold shimmer, saved from being a disaster by how very shiny it is.  It's opaque in two coats and dried quickly.  It is a bit brush-strokey, but it's a solid holiday polish.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Zoya's new MatteVelvets for Winter/Holiday 2015

press release


Six new MATTEVELVET Nail Colors to slip into this WINTER/HOLIDAY season.

The best-selling, MATTEVELVET finish returns this holiday season with six new shades. Each nail polish perfectly opaque, matte color with that extra special ZOYA MATTEVELVET fleck finish everyone loves.
·         Aspen (ZP814) - a sparkling artic white with a micronized diamond pearl fleck.
·         Sue (ZP815) - a soft champagne gold with a multi-hued oyster shell pearl fleck.
·         Amal (ZP816) – a classic crimson red with a ruby red pearl fleck.
·         Iris (ZP817) - a deep amethyst with a fuchsia pearl fleck.
·         Yves (ZP818) - a deep sapphire that's midway in between indigo and royal blue with a blue pearl fleck.
·         Honor (ZP819) - a true emerald green with a tone on tone emerald pearl fleck.

NOTE: MATTEVELVET nail color by Zoya is not intended to be worn with a base coat, glossy top coat or speed dryer. Due to the unique matte formulation, color is not as long-wearing as traditional nail color. A completely clean, dry surface yields the best results for matte nail color wear. To extend wear, apply one coat of the Zoya Matte Velvet Topcoat over your favorite matte shades after polish is completely dry.
MATTEVELVET Color Sampler, 6 – 0.5 oz. bottles -  $60 (US)
Available in top salons, spas and on
* **BIG5FREE, TOXIN FREE: Zoya Nail Polish Formula contains no formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, dibutyl phthalate, toluene or camphor.
_ _ _
Watch LIVE as Zoya Nail Polish on Periscope.
Follow Zoya on Periscope: @ZoyaNailPolish

Monday, October 5, 2015

31 Day Nail Art Challenge: Day 31, Inspired by nails you love

purchased by me

 Not only are my mermaid nails inspired by a look I love from The Crumpet, they were made possible by vinyls from a company I love, KB Shimmer!

I learned a lot about how to use the vinyl guides properly (by doing it wrong, lol) but overall I was pleased with this manicure and got a ton of compliments.  I used a base of Color Club Cherubic, Dandy Nails Queen of the Night, Literary Lacquer Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster and I Love Nail Polish A Fresh Evergreen.

Friday, October 2, 2015

31 Day Nail Art Challenge: Day 30, Inspired by a tutorial

purchased by me

Over the years, I have seen lots of precise and helpful tutorials on dotticures.  Sadly, I'm still not very good.  Here's my most recent effort, with Zoya Peyton dots over Milani Dolci.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

31 Day Nail Art Challenge: Day 29, Inspired by the supernatural

purchased by me

I went a little bit sideways on my supernatural manicure*.  I couldn't decide between ghosts and seances and werewolves and vampires, so I did one thing they all have in common.  I used Zoya Storm and Serum No5 Guiding Light to depict the phases of the moon.

*I originally typed manitou--there's some supernatural for you, lol.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

31 Day Nail Art Challenge: Day 28, Inspired by a flag

purchased by me

Of course I had to go with the Ohio flag!  We have the only non-rectangular flag in the US--too bad I made it look like eyeballs. :P

I used a base of Zoya Purity, Nubar Night Sparkle and Formula X for Sephora in Pyrotechnic.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

31 Day Nail Art Challenge: Day 27, Inspired by artwork

purchased by me

Mom and I both read and liked the book The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O'Connor.  We're going to NYC in two weeks and we'll be seeing the painting in person, so of course I had to use it for this challenge!

Here's the painting:

And here's the section I knew I could do justice to:

And here are my nails, done with Formula X for Sephora Hypnotic, Color Club Colette and nail vinyls from KB Shimmer:

I wish I could have worn this for more than a day!