Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nail Art Challenge #16 - Supermoon

A softly marbled, glow-in -the-dark(!), cling-wrap manicure inspired by the face of the full moon.

It took me a while to figure out what to do for this fortnight's challenge. My original plan had been to do a half-moon manicure but obviously I just did one. I didn't want to go too white because the next challenge is Labor Day/white themed.

I ended up Googling pics of the Moon and realized how beautifully marbled it looked, so I thought that may be something to work with. I'd never done a marbled manicure before so I wasn't sure how to approach it. I knew I'd seen what I was looking for, but all I could think of was sponging, which would be too even. 

img source http://www.oocities.org/~cphilg/astro.html
A bit of nail blog searching later and I stumbled over saran wrap or cling film manicures (link is to a Google image search) and I knew I had it!

I've linked to a tutorial here but basically you do a base layer of one colour which you let dry. In my case this was a dark taupe. I wish I had something a bit cooler grey but you got what you got. Once that layer is really dry you apply a coat of the second colour (white, here) and while it is still wet dab at it with a piece of crumpled plastic wrap until you achieve the desired effect. I ended up going back in a few times with the white as it is very sheer and I wanted a really diffuse uneven effect.

Some people just topcoat it there, but you can also put a coat of something sheer over the top for added depth. I used a yellowy glow-in-the-dark polish to smooth out and soften the design... and also because glow-in-the-dark makes everything better! I couldn't get a pic of the glowing that made any sense, but here is a brief video from my instagram.

I'm beyond psyched at how this came out. I think it is probably the closest I've gotten in any of these challenges to nailing PRECISELY what I had pictured at the outset. This technique was quite easy and also works spectacularly well to make lapis, turquoise, and tarnished copper effects so I will DEFINITELY be revisiting in the future.

I hope you all had a fantastic view of the Supermoon on Sunday, I ended up going out for a late run with my Fiancée and while we usually don't like getting caught out after dusk it was absolutely worth it to watch the moon rise. We even got to catch a small group of bats on the wing.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Review: L'Oréal Mousse Absolue permanent haircolor in 300 - Pure Darkest Brown

About a year ago I decided I wanted dark hair for my wedding and started growing my hair out a bit to open up my style options. I'm used to my hair being extremely dark espresso brown with almost purpley undertones. Not the sexiest colour, but it set of my skin tone fairly well.

I've noticed my hair colour getting lighter and more mousy over the last several years, but now that I'm not growing it long I rarely keep my natural hair colour for more than a few months so I was never terribly fussed. Now that I'm keeping it dark the amount of change in my hair colour has become REALLY OBVIOUS. Suddenly it's kind of... blah with blah undertones?

May 20 2014 - my hair completely virgin with fairly minimal product
This is the day that convinced me it was well past time to tweak the colour
I thought most people get darker hair as they get older (aside from the grey thing) but perhaps I'm just weird like that? Oddly my Fiancee's hair has also gotten lighter as he ages. Though I am sure part of it is due to the hair on the crown of my head being darker than the hair on the edges (the different cuts show off different hair), part of it is very likely due to heat damage, and I even wonder if a bit of it is due to using a tea tree shampoo (lately I go back and forth between Giovanni and a Trader Joe's clone of the same).

I had a really hard time finding a non-permanent hair dye in a colour I liked so I finally bit the bullet and picked up a permanent colour in early July... at which point I promptly banged my head on a shelf hard enough to split my scalp (no stitches or anything, but still no fun), delaying the hair dying for a good week and a half while that healed.

While I do look great in all shades of black hair - from cherry, to soft neutral, to blue black - these shades can look a bit stark on me. They really amp the olive in my skin tone and make me look extra exotic and I always feel sort of "Gypsy-ish" with black hair. I wanted to keep things a bit softer so I opted for a neutral-to-cool toned dark brown - L'Oréal Mousse Absolue permanent haircolor in 300 - Pure Darkest Brown.

Colour aside I chose this brand primarily because it is reusable! With the (notable lack of) length and thickness of my hair, mixing a huge bottle of dye at once is a massive waste. I was really excited to find something I could literally rinse off and put back on the shelf until I was ready to use it again. The reviews weren't particularly awesome, but I'm not worried about covering grey and a bit of damage actually makes my hair more manageable.

There are A LOT of detailed descriptions of the packaging out there so I'll leave that bit to everyone else, except to say that I think it worked out really well for me and look to see more products like this in the future. It comes out in a mousse texture which was very easy to work with and didn't drip in the slightest. It was also a comfortable size for my hands and the dispensing button was easy to use through gloves and with long nails. The packaging was easy both to setup and to breakdown for cleaning and storage.

I've used it twice now and probably have enough left in the bottle for a third application, so I definitely got my money's worth. The colour is EXACTLY the "just this side of burned" roasted coffee bean colour I had wanted and my hair feels noticeably thicker. It seemed to fade a bit fast but I wasn't doing anything in particular to preserve the colour and also spent a lot of time in the sun this last month. I'd rather have something that faded fast then something that left a fakey regrowth line.

Day after dying - blow dried with only a Carol's Daughter heat protecting leave-in applied

Caveat: this is the weirdest smelling hair dye I've ever used.

I always wonder why hair dyes are so perfumey and now I know. This literally smelled like something that liquified in the bottom of a vegetable crisper. While I personally can tolerate that better than the massive perfume aisle stink bomb I'm used to with hair dye your mileage may vary. No one else has mentioned this in reviews so maybe I got a weird bottle?

The provided conditioner did a good job of neutralizing this dye smell without (again) the usual massive perfume aisle stink bomb effect. I think I would call the scent fairly similar to lilac but not at all overpowering.

cheap - about $11.00 at Target
multiple applications in one bottle with shorter hair or root touch-ups
multiple sets of (nicer than usual black nitrile) gloves provided
no annoying mad science mixing and shaking with your finger over that hole in the end of the bottle
no wasted mixing bottle packaging
I liked the resultant colour
easy to use mousse texture
faded naturally (no fakey line of regrowth)
no horrible flower smell (however: see cons)
thickened my hair up a bit
nice shine
plenty of provided conditioner
did not piss off my sensitive scalp

Smells like hot garbage: literally
seemed to fade fast (with the caveat that I did NOTHING to prevent this)
slightly long developing time
I imagine the mousse texture would make it harder to pinpoint greys for root touch ups if you were doing it without assistance

Disclosure: I purchased this product and all other mentioned products with my own money and this review was not sought or compensated for by L'Oréal Paris or any other entity.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Nail Art Challenge #15 - Creature Feature

An ultra vampy and completely freehand retro half moon gel manicure in shades of glittering starlet gold and sugar-sweet fake blood.

I went to an outdoor festival from Thursday of last week to Tuesday, and I knew it was going to involve a lot of stress on my nails. I've done this trip every year for about fourteen years and I usually I chop my nails off beforehand for simplicity's sake, but they were sooooooo long this time I just couldn't bear to. I opted instead to do a home gel manicure and hope for the best.

I had not yet used the gold glitter so I knew I wanted to do something with that, and when I saw the cherry color next to it I thought immediately of those ultra vampy 60s & 70s Dracula's Bride types, walking the line between menacing and seducing the protagonist with their long almond shaped nails practically dripping with blood.

The Iconic Vampira
The length is somewhat annoying (especially with my touchscreen smartphone) but they held up like champs despite a lot of wet and mud and physical labor. In fact I'm STILL trying to decide whether to trim them down! I love having the Red Carpet Manicure home set for exactly this sort of situation, but be forewarned, doing home gels takes a LOT of time, patience, and fussy attention to detail.

It probably wouldn't have taken something like two hours if I hadn't opted to do it completely freehand, but I'm never happy with the moon shape I achieve using stickers to mask it off. This method does have the very large advantage of having every layer completely cured before you move on to the next, so its easier to fix mistakes without messing up the base colour. The wine colour is VERY translucent though, so it took many layers to build up the depth of colour to my liking which caused a bump I'm not terribly fond of at the edge of the moon shapes.