Monday, August 31, 2015

31 Day Nail Art Challenge: Day 6, Violet Nails

purchased by me

It was hard for me to choose a violet nail polish for today!  In the end, I went with Easy as Pie by Cadillacquer, largely because of the tiny magenta glitters.  Two coats of Easy as Pie:

I bought Easy as Pie via Etsy, but apparently that store is closed.  There's a referral link to, but it goes straight to a blog.  So if you're interested in ordering, it looks as if Hypnotic Polish is your best bet, but I haven't ordered from them.

Friday, August 28, 2015

31 Day Nail Art Challenge: Day 5, Blue nails

purchased by me

It shouldn't be a surprise that my blue nails are a cornflower blue textured polish!  This is Ariel by 2B Colours:

Ariel and other 2B Colours polishes are available at Ulta.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

31 Day Nail Art Challenge: Day 4, Green Nails

purchased by me

For Day 4, I went with Illamasqua Nomad, a lovely yellow-toned green crème.

You can get Nomad at Illamasqua.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

31 Day Nail Art Challenge: Day 3, Yellow Nails

frankened by me

My yellow nails are a scary franken I created to serve as the centers for some textured daisies.  It's a combo of Zoya Creamy and Formula X for Sephora Sci-Fi.  If you're feeling brave, check it out after the jump.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

31 Day Nail Art Challenge: Day 2, Orange Nails

purchased by me

My orange nails painted with Sinful Colors Ring in the Bellini, a vivid orange jelly with orange and gold flakies.

Ring in the Bellini was a limited edition color, but you might still find it lurking on the shelves at major drugstores!

Monday, August 24, 2015

31 Day Nail Art Challenge: Day 1, Red Nails

purchased by me

Fortunately for me, this nail art challenge starts off with some easy one-color looks.  First up is red, and I pulled Illamasqua Boudicca out of my untrieds.

Boudicca is no longer available, but there are lots of pretty nail colors on the Illamasqua site!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Eisheth Zenunim

purchased and reviewed by ThoraSTooth

BPAL Scent of the Day:  Eisheth Zenunim (Carnaval Diabolique IV, Ladies of the Grindhouse) -- Honey, ambergris, neroli, white peach, patchouli, and cocoa absolute.

Sometimes I wake up smelling the perfume I want to wear that day.  Today is such a day.  It's time for my favorite "I can't believe these notes work together on me!" perfume, Eisheth Zenunim.

In the bottle this one is salty, aquatic, and floral.  The neroli is deep and rich, not high and sharp like some of those orange blossom notes.  I can tell this has aged since I bought it in 2008, because the bottle used to smell more like peach and chocolate.

Wet on my skin the peach shows up to pair with the floral.  The salty aquatic note is still there; that'd be the ambergris.  The honey is very restrained, hard to make out apart from the neroli.  The dark chocolate is just a whisper of its former self; when the bottle was new the chocolate was a lot stronger.  It used to be a lot like a salty peach bonbon!  However, even though the balance has changed I still love this one.

As it matures there's this period when it suddenly goes very light, and I always worry that my bottle's gone off.  But then the full scent develops, and wow!  Is it worth the wait!

This is a fruity-patchouli scent, that much is certain  The white peach, which sometimes has a tendency to be sugary, is not so in this iteration.  The honey is sweet, but it's also restrained and clean, not foody or powdery or floral.  The neroli fine-tunes the peach and honey into something really beautiful, with a goldy-orange feel against the background of herbal (not rooty) patchouli.  The little fillips of cocoa and ambergris shape the scent, keeping it in check with their surprising presence.

The Lab's scents from the Carnaval Diabolique period represent some of the finest patchouli-oriented work in the entire catalogue.  This quirky, WTF scent (peach ambergris?  honey patchouli?  chocolate neroli?) is a one of a kind, and I adore it.  I look forward to Eisheth Zenunim's re-release as the Carnaval Diabolique returns from the dead.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The 31 Day Nail Art Challenge...

I'm finally doing it!  Dog knows I could use the practice on all of my nail art skills, and there will probably definitely be manicures bad enough to make a cat laugh, but I've sat on the sidelines for far too long!

Chart created by the super-talented Sarah of Chalkboard Nails.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Zoya Autumn 2015: Flair collection

press sample

The Flair collection is just as beautiful as the Focus collection!  Composed of six phenomenal shimmers in glowing colors, this is a collection to make you say "Gotta have 'em all!"  The formula was smooth and well-behaved, opaque in two coats and just a bit brush stroke-y, but that doesn't bother me as much when the colors are so gorgeous.

Aggie is a gold-to-green duochrome, nothing particularly ground-breaking, but lovely all the same.
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Cinnamon is a gorgeous chocolate brown and probably my favorite (but don't tell the other colors!)
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Ember is a bright, orange-leaning red which lives up to its name!
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Estelle is a high-voltage cobalt. 
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Giada is a truly royal purple.
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The Flair collection is available at Zoya,  The polishes are $9 each, $54 for a set of six or $30 for a set of six minis. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Delphi

purchased and reviewed by ThoraSTooth

BPAL Scent of the Day:  Delphi (Wanderlust, discontinued 2014) -- The smoke of Sacred Incense of Apollo twined through laurel branches, bay, and honey wine.

I've been watching movies about ancient Greek mythology lately, which made me want to wear this one again.  In the bottle Delphi is sharp and a little boozy, like very un-sweet mead and an indefinite herbal note.

Wet on my skin, there's an immediate spike of fruit and floral.  The fruit seems bitter-tart, like bayberries.  The floral is nectareous, possibly a very floral honey.  There's also that woody-smoky note that often indicates bay rum.  As it ages, the fruity note turns more leaflike, still bitter green and tart but much more dry.  There's quite a lot of sillage.

It takes a while to mature completely.  The sillage reduces, the honey note takes over and turns a little musky.  After a while the smoke and green notes diminish and it's all light musky honey.  I suspect there's some ambrette seed in this.

I had the bad (or good, depending on how you look at it) luck to fall in love with this just after it was discontinued.  I wrote the Lab desperately and asked if they had any bottles of it left that they could sell me.  Fortunately for me the answer was "yes."  Another moment of love for the Lab's customer service!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Zoya Autumn 2015: Focus collection

press sample

To be honest, when I got the promo materials for Focus and Flair, I was more excited about the shimmers, but then I got the actual polishes and there's no way I can play favorites now.  The F collection consists of 6 crèmes, and all but one are one-coaters.  Yup, beautiful, shiny, quick-drying, self-leveling polishes that only need one coat, or in one case, one and a half.

Charli is an olive drab which looks more green, grey or brown depending on the light.

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Desiree is a milk chocolate brown.
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Hannah is a bright tomato red.
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Janel is a slightly darker red with a bit more blue in it.
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Lidia is a vibrant eggplant purple.  It was the only color to require a coat and a half.
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Sia is a vivid cobalt blue.  The press release warned that this one stains, so I doubled up on base coat.
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If any of these colors appeal, you can't do better than a one-coater for $9!  Plus, you can buy a set for $54 or a set of minis for $30.  You can find all of the gorgeousness at Zoya.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: The Phantom Calliope (Carnaval Diabolique, Act I)

purchased and reviewed by ThoraSTooth

BPAL Scent of the Day: The Phantom Calliope (Carnaval Diabolique, Act I): Ghostly, glowing, sweet and dark: black cherry, patchouli, cassis, cardamom and verbena.

This bottle is very well aged; I think it dates to 2008.  In the bottle it smells of cherry-almond with a little cardamom.

Wet on my skin it's all dark cherry and cassis, a more woody and less foody version of cinnamon.  The almond impression goes away almost immediately.  The bright candyish sweetness of the fruit subsides as it matures, making room for the delicate herbal lemon and cardamom notes.  At first the lemon verbena goes metallic on me, as it often does, but then it calms down into a soft, slightly tart backup note.  Overall it becomes a cherry and spice scent with herbal overtones.

After about an hour, the patchouli comes out; it is the high menthol type rather than the earthy woody type, and it is very restrained.  The patchouli and black cherry blend down into a scent only very slightly dominated by the fruit.  The cinnamon and cardamom can still be made out individually, but taken together it's like some exotic dark chutney.  In this form it's very stable on me and lasts for many hours.

I had forgotten how much I love the fruity-patchouli vibe of this one.  I'm so glad the Carnaval is back in town!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Formula X for Sephora: The Six

purchased by me

In addition to The Two, I also got The Six in my birthday order from Sephora.  It's a decent collection with a variety of finishes and colors, and at $15.00, the price was definitely right!

Super Charged is a black and silver glitter, opaque in two coats.  It dries quickly and slightly gritty, so I've shown it here with one coat of Seche Vite.

Blast Off is a clear base with black hexagons, black bars and black mini glitter.

Boom is a clear base with blue hexagons, blue bars and blue mini glitter.

Hocus Pocus is a lavender shimmer with a weak linear holo.  Shown with two coats.

Intergalactic is a pink and silver micro-glitter that I absolutely adore.  The formula was the same as Super Charged, so this is two coats with one coat of SV.

Surreal is a light turquoise shimmer with a bare hint of holo.  Two coats.

The Six is available at Sephora for $15.00 + tax and shipping, but I'm not sure for how much longer, given the low price.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Mme. Moriarty, Misfortune Teller (Carnival Diabolique, Act II)

purchased and reviewed by ThoraSTooth

BPAL Scent of the Day:   Mme. Moriarty, Misfortune Teller (Carnival Diabolique, Act II):  Red musk, vanilla bean, pomegranate, patchouli leaf and wild plum.

Judging from the number of reviews left for it at, this is presumably the most popular scent in the Carnaval Diabolique line.  I certainly know a lot of people who are really passionate about it -- and I'm one of them.

In the bottle La Madame smells like tart fruit and very light patchouli.  On my skin it turns smoky-pungent right away.  There is definitely some overlap in ingredients between this and Snake Oil, presumably in the strong vanilla-musk axis around which the rest of the scent is built.  But there's concentrated dark fruit as well, and just enough patchouli to let you know it's there.  This is a very rich, enticing scent.

As it matures the concentrated dark fruit notes continue to entice; they're smoky-syrupy without being sugary.  The vanilla-musk continues to develop much like Snake Oil, while the patchouli slowly becomes more noticeable.

The resurrected version of La Madame that's currently live at the Lab website lists "black currant" as an ingredient.  I wouldn't be surprised to discover that it's exactly the same scent as the original version; rich black currant could easily be part of what I'm noticing in the dark fruit notes.  But it's not the jammy dark currant of, say, Crumpet Rebellion or The Knave of Hearts.  It's closer to the black currant note in Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse or Lunar Eclipse 2013, more like a dried fruit or a concentrated juice syrup than something with sugar in it.

At any rate, this is an arresting scent that always makes me feel mysterious and special when I wear it.  The two times I bought it from the Lab, the Tarot cards that came with it proved to be highly relevant to my life, which just makes the scent that much more fun.  I look forward to my forthcoming bottle of La Madame Resurrected and the Tarot card that comes with it, to see what the future holds for this beloved scent.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Formula X for Sephora: The Two

purchased by me

On my birthday, feeling very sorry for myself because I'd walked into a doorframe the night before, I placed a rather extravagant Sephora order which included 8 Formula X polishes.  I have two of them today, sold as a set imaginatively titled "The Two".  The set was on sale for $5.00, so with tax I wound up paying less than $3 apiece.

I got what I paid for.  Sephora describes the polishes as holographic, but truly, the holo is so weak they come off as chromes with an almost satin matte finish. The colors are serviceable and the formula was a nice viscosity and opaque in two coats.

Voodoo is a blue-toned pink.

Juju is a medium light blue.

The Two is sold out at Sephora in this color combo, but there are still quite a few Formula X polishes available on the Sephora sale page.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Blauer Mond

purchased and reviewed by ThoraSTooth

BPAL Scent of the Day:  Blauer Mond (Brian's Interpretation 2012):  sea buckthorn berry, terebinth pine, frankincense, hyssop, white sage, Neptune's night-blooming jasmine, cucumber, lavender, ambergris accord, and violet leaf.

Every blue moon, the Lab releases a scent to celebrate the occasion.  Of all the Blue Moons they've put out, this one is my favorite.  In the bottle it's gently aquatic, a touch salty, with some bitter herbal overtones.  It smells cool and insubstantial.

Wet on my skin, the night-blooming jasmine and lavender are most noticeable.  Night-blooming jasmine has an earthier impression than regular jasmine, with fewer indolic overtones.  There's some evergreen in the background, cucumber in the middle, and the white sage and frankincense bond into a smooth, slightly tingly base.  With its aquatic and jasmine overtones, this scent reminds me of walking by moonlight in Berkeley.

It dries down quickly into a soft aquatic-tinged resin scent.  The jasmine has lightened considerably and the herbs have blended with the terebinth evergreen note into a mysterious bitter green ensemble.  Supported by cucumber and ambergris over a frankincense base, it's shadowy yet verdant.

Because of the frankincense, this one hangs around on my skin for a while longer than I'd expect from an herb-based scent.  As it matures, the floral lightens into inconsequence.  This is like nothing else in the catalogue that I've tried, save perhaps Velvet Cthulhu.  It's definitely a once in a blue moon kind of scent.

Monday, August 10, 2015

2B Colours Sugar Nails: Sleeping Beauty

purchased by me

2B Colours is a European cosmetics company, and when I saw the Sugar Nails, well, I never could resist a textured polish!

The first one I got was Sleeping Beauty, a blue-toned lavender.  There are tiny gold glitters visible in the bottle but not on the nail, which was a bit disappointing.  The formula was nice, well-behaved and opaque in two coats, although it was slightly slow to dry.

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If you're interested in a pretty, pastel purple textured polish, you really can't go wrong with Sleeping Beauty.  It's available for $3.99 + tax and shipping at Ulta.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Ded Moroz

purchased and reviewed by ThoraSTooth

BPAL Scent of the Day:   Ded Moroz (Yules 2009):  Light, darkness, kindness, and malice: golden amber, white amber, redwood, teak, bois du rose, sage, tree moss, and snow.

It's going to be a really hot day today, so I reached for one of my very best hot-weather scents.  Awe and mystique surrounded Ded Moroz six or seven years ago.  For a lot of years, there had been only one known bottle of prototype, which was resold on eBay for around $800.  But happily it finally came out as a Limited Edition so we could all partake of the mystique.

In the bottle, my now well-aged Ded Moroz smells like leaves -- not the sappy green leaves of a Hallowe'enies scent, but more mature and with a decided wood note along with the leaves.

Fresh on my skin there's almost a fennel note to this, a greenish licorice-type note.  Overall it is light and almost minty, definitely evergreen but not thick or pitchy.  There's some light balsamic wood and a breath of sage too.  Strangely, the golden amber is not to be noticed, but the white amber is.  White amber is also cool and greenish in impression, so it really works well with the herbal and evergreen notes here.

As it dries down there's some of the snow note.  Usually I don't do well with the snow note, but there's just enough of it here to make itself known, like a dusting atop a hemlock tree, barely weighting the branches.  I still don't get any golden amber, but the white amber provides some lovely resinous top notes to what may be the best evergreen scent in the catalogue.  It is complex, balsamy, restrained, refreshing, and very cool.

As it ages the greener, more herbal overtones of Ded Moroz fade down into the general balsam-amber base, without ever quite relinquishing their cool qualities.  I never get any hint of the heavy teak note, but the redwood one smells a lot like Muir Forest to me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sinful Colors Class Act Chalkboard Diaries Collection: Truth or Lavendare

purchased by me

As I said on Monday, Sinful Colors polishes are 99¢ at Walgreens this week, so this is the time to buy!

Truth or Lavendare is a soft, blue-toned lavender.  It applied easily and was opaque in ONE coat.  It dries to a satin matte, or as Sinful calls it, "Demi Matte" finish.  This is my preferred family of purples, so Truth or Lavendare will fit right in with all of its cousins. :-)

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Truth or Lavendare and the rest of the Chalkboard Diaries collection are limited edition, so please don't wait if you like them!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


press release

From Runway to Real Life! 


Two exciting new Zoya Nail Polish collections arrive for FALL 2015

FOCUS (creams)
The Zoya Focus Collection features six strong, solid shades that anchor a look for fall as stand-alone shades. The densely pigmented cream formula features a unique, micro-grind pigment that allows for extra-smooth, streak-free application.
·          Charli (ZP807) - a dusty taupe cream with a hint of green, a perfect neutral.
·          Desiree (ZP806) - a classic sable brown cream that has just enough gray to keep it cool in tone.
·          Hannah (ZP805) – a clear, classic red cream with a balanced (neutral) undertone.
·          Janel (ZP804) - a deep red cream with a rich warm undertone.
·          Lidia (ZP803) - a rich eggplant cream with a blackened purple base and just a hint of red resulting in a color that is wearable for most skin tones.
·         Sia (ZP802) - a true, royal blue cream. NOTE: This is a highly pigmented shade - make sure to apply a base coat to prevent staining.

FLAIR (metallics)
Six, jewel toned liquid metal shades. The unique, micro-grind metallic pigment of the Zoya Flair Collection is fully blended into a vibrant base, creating the effect of brilliant colored melted metal!
·          Tris (ZP813) - a blackened, brushed nickel liquid metal.
·          Cinnamon (ZP812) - a classic bronze liquid metal, originally designed for Zang Toi NYFW F/W15.
·          Aggie (ZP811) - a gold holo-flip, liquid metal with bronze micro glitter. Sheer enough for layering with one coat or fully opaque in three coats!
·          Ember (ZP810) - a deep, fiery red liquid metal with enough blue to be wearable for all skin tones.
·          Giada (ZP809) - a purple liquid metal with a hint of fuchsia pearl.
·         Estelle (ZP808) - a blue on blue liquid metal with a blackened base.

ZOYA IS THE HEALTHY COLOR OF FASHION!$(US), Available in top salons, spas and on

* **BIG
5FREE, TOXIN FREE: Zoya Nail Polish Formula contains no formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, dibutyl phthalate, toluene or camphor.