Nail polishes that rock: Essie Shine of the Times

I’ve developed a fondness lately for mind-blowing, color-changing nail polishes. Not exactly the best fondness to develop at a point in my life at which I’m trying to look like a grown-up, but what can I say?

I first saw Essie’s Shine of the Times topcoat on my nail blogger friend several months ago, and I’ve been meaning to buy a bottle of my own since. I finally managed to snag one on a trip to Walgreens with my mom last week (thanks, Mom!), and let me tell you, it’s so worth the wait.

Shine of the Times doesn’t look like anything special in the bottle, but when you paint it on (I used two coats!), the flakes all clump together to form something that I can only describe as a foil-like coat. Like the Forever 21 polish I wrote about a few weeks ago, this topcoat is impossible to adequately describe with words or capture with a photo. Depending on how the light hits it, it’s red, copper, gold or green. Layer it over an indigo solid like I did and you’ve got a complete rainbow. Amazing, right?

I’ve been wearing this polish for a week now, and I’m still impressed by it, as is everyone who notices it. So cool. If you like distractingly shiny polishes as much as I do you, Shine of the Times is definitely the way to go!

I couldn’t find a good link to buy Shine of the Times online, but it’s available at some Walgreens and Walmart stores for about $8. I wore it over an old Forever 21 Indigo polish, just to get every color involved, but I’ve also seen it recommended over a dark red. If you try it out, let me know what you think looks best!

My favorite things: San Francisco Soap Company Sugared Citrus lotion

Admit it. When you stay in hotels and find tiny bottles of lotion in the bathrooms, you take them with you when you leave. More often than not, they’re watery and useless and don’t smell like anything, but they’re at least something to throw into your purse for emergencies.

A year ago, I stayed in a hotel somewhere in Iowa for a band trip. I don’t remember anything about the hotel but this: The complimentary lotion was the best I’ve ever smelled. Not only did I grab my bottle on the way out, but I asked a friend in another room to snag me his, too. I’d never heard of the brand, San Francisco Soap Company. The scent is called Sugared Citrus, but I don’t know how to describe what it actually smells like; “citrus” always means “orange” in my brain, but it doesn’t smell like an orange. It’s strong, but too good to get tired of it. I kept one bottle in my purse for a year, one in my backpack, and they were well loved.

When Christmas rolled around this year and my family started asking me what I wanted, I remembered this lotion and thought it was time for an upgrade. I didn’t know where you could find the lotion in a store, but it wasn’t hard to find the San Francisco Soap Company website on Google, and on Christmas morning I had a nice box of Sugared Citrus under the tree.

I haven’t used the body butter or the shower gel yet — don’t want to use everything at once! — but the lotion is great. It’s a lot thicker than the version I got from the hotel sample, perfect for super-dry winter skin, but the scent is just the same, just as wonderful. If you’re looking for a great new scented lotion but don’t want to wear the same Bath and Body Works scent as everyone else, I highly recommend Sugared Citrus. Cheers.

Genius tip: How to remove glitter nail polish

You guys remember the crazy glitter nails I did for New Year’s Eve, right?

They were a pain and a half to paint on, but fun to wear, and I loved them. But, when they finally chipped enough that it was time to take the polish off, I learned an annoying truth: Nail polish that is a pain and a half to put on will more often than not be a pain and a half to take off. Glitter is stubborn! I spent about 20 minutes and 5 cotton balls on one hand, and this was still the best I could do.

The photo doesn’t do it justice; there was shredded cotton everywhere, my skin was dried out from the polish remover and my nails were scratched where I tried, unsuccessfully, to scrape the polish off. That last bit of glitter wasn’t going anywhere. Desperate and out of cotton balls, I tweeted, “Things that are impossible: removing glitter nail polish. Any tips?” Before long, I had a reply from my follower Stephanie (@Sn0wf1ake123): “Douse cotton ball in acetone remover, secure to nail with wrapped tin foil, wait 3-5 minutes, then twist/pull off everything!”

I was skeptical. I had read about this trick before, some sites suggesting variations including felt or straight acetone, but I was hesitant to try it. Just sounded ridiculous! But I trust my Twitter community, so I gave it a try.

I dug felt out of my old craft bin, got nail polish remover all over my sink and sat on my couch watching CSI with my hands looking like this:

Try explaining this one to your dad.

And, you know what? It worked! I didn’t leave them wrapped for long — just the time between CSI commercial breaks — and they turned out like this:

All gone! So, thanks, Stephanie. Next time I wear glitter polish, I’ll definitely do this before I run out of cotton balls. Cheers.

Investigating mystery-color nail polishes: Forever 21 Blue/Green

For the most part, nail polish is pretty straightforward. For example, it’s easy to go to the store and look at a bottle and say, “That’s a red.” You might not know how deep the red will be on your nail, how clear or opaque it is, how much it will glitter in the sunlight or other details, but you know, for sure, that it’s red.

One in a while, though, you stumble across a color like this one:

I spotted this polish sitting next to the register at Forever 21, and it just intrigued me. It’s labeled “Blue/Green,” but what color is it, really? Is it blue? Green? Purple? My camera added the gold shade to the photo, but otherwise, all of those colors are in there. I wondered how it would look on nails, and I figured that for $2.80 I could take it home and find out.

The result? Just as interesting as it is in the bottle.

This photo hardly captures the color. In regular indoor light, it’s a teal, a blue-green, true to its name. In dim light, or reflected in a computer screen, the purple shines through. I can’t stop looking at my nails, because they’re different every time I look at them! Call me easily impressed, but, well, I am.

There’s no “Blue/Green” available on F21’s site, but judging by the photos, the site’s “Jade” looks like the right polish. However, there have also been different shades sold with the “Jade” name, so be careful. Your best bet would probably be to go try to find it in the store. Who knows? You could stumble upon some other mystery shade. Let me know how it goes. Cheers.

For New Year’s Eve: Party glitter nails!

What are you doing to ring in the new year? My friends and I are keeping things low-key, probably just baking and watching movies, but I couldn’t help painting my nails for the occasion! My nail blogger friend has been on a glitter topcoat kick lately, so I bought a fun, colorful one with New Year’s in mind. Application was tricky, but I’m happy with the result!

Two similar-but-different pics, one for color, one for shine:

This was a $2 Wet n Wild polish, with a variety of glitter pieces: big silver ones, medium blue and magenta ones, tiny red and green ones. I had dreams of wearing the glitter coat on its own, just layering my nails with glitter, but it didn’t work out so well — the glitter wasn’t packed densely enough, so I ended up with a lot of clear polish and only a few glitter pieces on each stroke.

For this look, I used two coats of silver as a base, then followed with two coats of glitter. The best way to do it is to drop a huge glob of the glitter coat on each nail, then push it around with the brush for sort-of-even coverage (don’t use actual brushstrokes, that’ll lift the glitter off). Finish with two coats of clear polish. And make sure you allow drying time between coats, or it’ll all get messed up! I couldn’t believe that this look took about an hour and 6 coats of polish to produce, but the end result was super worth it. Cheers.

Silver: Wet n Wild Wild Shine in Metallica. Glitter: Wet n Wild Fast Dry in Party of Five Glitters. Clear: Wet n Wild Wild Shine Nail Protector Clear.

Christmas nails!

I don’t paint my nails often, but one of my favorite things to do is to paint my nails for the holidays. Fourth of July? I’m probably sporting red and blue. Halloween? Look for me with the orange and black nails.

I have to say, my “nail polish sophistication” (probably the most ridiculous phrase I’ve ever invented) has gone up this year, since I’ve befriended someone who blogs about nail polish professionally. Can you tell from this year’s Christmas nails?

I have a thumb, I promise. I just couldn't figure out how to take a not-weird nail photo.

I usually alternate red and green for the holiday anyway, but my blogger friend tells me the trendy thing to do is to paint just your ring finger a different color, so that’s what I went with. I discovered (and fell in love with!) Sally Hansen Crackle overcoat in black back in September, and last week I finally caved and bought it in silver, too. Thought it added to the festive feel.

My favorite part of the whole thing? I joked to my mom that she should let me paint her nails to match for our family Christmas celebration, and she went for it. We were definitely the coolest people in the room. Cheers.

Red: Forever 21 L.A. Girl Flare in Red (Similar here). Green: Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear in Emerald City (Similar here). Silver: Sally Hansen Crackle Overcoat in Fractured Foil.

New favorite beauty item: Sally Hansen Crackle nail polish

I’ll be honest with you: I’m not really a nail polish person. I like having my nails done, but I’m not good at it myself. In grade school, I thought it was cool to paint each nail a different color; in high school, the no-nail-polish rule of competitive marching band got me out of the habit of painting my nails. I still mostly don’t bother because I chip them all the time, anyway. On the rare occasion I do paint my nails, they come out sloppy.

When OPI debuted its “Shatter” nail polish, I was confused. “You paint it on… and then it splits apart? How does that even work?” I was also intrigued by the possibility of a polish that worked to look cool all on its own, no skilled application required. I’ve been on the hunt for months for “Shatter” or one of the many similar polishes it inspired, and I finally managed to get one Friday: Sally Hanson’s “Crackle” in “Ink Splatter,” the basic black ($7 at Walgreens).

Okay, fine, the main reason I wanted this polish was that my school colors are black and gold, and I wanted to have black and gold nails. I’m a huge school spirit nerd. What better opportunity to give this stuff a try than during a football weekend? I grabbed my Crackle and my gold nail polish (Sinful Colors “This Is It,” $2 at Walgreens) and went to work.

After consulting with an old College Fashion article, I applied two coats of gold, waited long enough for them to dry completely, and carefully painted the Crackle on top. The result? Awesome!

Like I said, I had no idea how this stuff actually worked, and it blew my mind. You paint on a layer of Crackle, covering the whole nail, and it just pulls together and cracks up before your eyes! I loved that it doesn’t matter how sloppily you apply it, because it’s going to shrivel up anyway. If you think you have a “bald patch” somewhere, you can just dab on some more. If you think one area didn’t crack as much as it should, you can wipe the polish off with a tissue and try again. Even after painting all of my nails and redoing one finger three times, the whole process only took about 15 minutes. So perfect.

I was grateful for two tips College Fashion gave: use a very, very thin coat of Crackle, and finish with a top coat. Using less polish allowed it to crack more, and the top coat made the Crackle, which was pretty dull on its own, shine (I took the photo before I added the top coat; the final result was much prettier. Sorry!).

I had balked a little bit at spending $7 on polish, but I’m so glad I did! For now, I have perfect game day nails, but I’m already dreaming up more possibilities — Crackle comes in several other colors. Black and orange for Halloween! Red and blue for the Fourth of July! Red and green for Christmas! What happens if you combine two different shades of Crackle? I can’t wait to find out. Cheers!

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