Thursday, October 6, 2011

5FF: Medium Browns

Hello Lab Partners!

Welcome to another Five Finger Friday (5FF). Today, we'll be taking a look at five medium-dark browns. I don't often wear brown polish, but autumn is the one time of year I like to put them on, either on their own or as a base color for fall-themed nail art. Here's the five I chose to look at:

From left to right: Sinful Colors Nirvana, OPI A-Taupe the Space Needle, Bettina 185, Sonia Kashuk Chocoholic, and Barielle Make it a Latte

And here's how those same colors looked when applied (we'll look at the color on the thumb a little later):

From top to bottom: Sonia Kashuk Chocoholic, Bettina 185, OPI A-Taupe the Space Needle

Starting with the pinkie, I applied Sinful Colors Nirvana, which applied smoothly and free of streaks. It's a nice, neutral medium brown. I reached opacity with two coats. I've said it before, but please allow me to say it again: I love Sinful Colors!

On the ring finger, we see OPI A-Taupe the Space Needle from the Touring America collection. This polish was nearly opaque in one streak-free coat, and completely opaque in two.  A-Taupe has is a slightly greenish brown, which I like because it fits in nicely with the olives and khakis that are popular this fall.

On the middle finger, I applied Bettina 185, a slightly warm brown with strong red undertones. It, too, applied smoothly and streak-free. It was nearly opaque in one coat, and completely opaque in two coats.

On the pointer finger, you'll find Sonia Kashuk Chocoholic. I'd never purchased a Sonia Kashuk polish before I bought this one along with two of its siblings from the fall collection. There's a story behind why I felt the need to console myself with a new polish purchase that particular day (as if I need an excuse), but we'll save that tale for another day. I had my doubts about how well it would apply, and to a small extent, those doubts were warrented: I had to apply three coats to get even coverage. Still, three coats isn't awful, so I can't say I'm displeased with this polish. It applied much darker than I had expected, leaning almost toward an espresso brown.

Now, let's take a look at Barielle Make it a Latte, applied on the thumb:

Barielle Make it a Latte. Inside, artificial light, no flash.

Make it a Latte, like Sonia Kashuk Chocoholic, also went on a little darker than I had expected. But the similarities don't stop there: like Chocoholic, Make it a Latte also required three coats for even coverage. In the bottle, the polish appears to have quite a bit of shimmer, yet when I applied it, I saw little shimmer until I applied a top coat. The shimmer really comes out when this polish is in direct light, such as in the photo.

Overall, I'd have to say Barielle Make it a Latte, despite the need for three coats, is my favorite of this lot. I adore the way the gold shimmer comes out in direct light. But I'm not unhappy with any of these browns and look forward to putting them to good use this fall. One way I like to add a bit of interest to brown polish is to create a tiger's eye effect, and in a future post, I'll show you a piece of cake way to do just that.

Until next time, sending you lab love!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bench Work: Sheswai Stoned

Hello Lab Partners!

Allison here with you today for a look at brand of polish we don't often see: Sheswai. I ordered a couple bottles of Sheswai not too long ago, and before I get into reviewing the polish itself, let me say that this company has some of the fastest shipping going! About one hour after placing my order, I received a shipping notification! Impressive!

If you visit Sheswai's site, take a look at their manifesto, where they tell the shopper they believe, among other things, "Painted nails are wonderful accessories." This is an eco-chic brand, with polish bottle caps made from sustainably harvested wood. Intriguing, no?

Sheswai Stoned. Please excuse the drip of polish on the bottle!

But enough of manifestos and sustainable wood. Let's get to the bottom line. How's the polish? For my first foray with Sheswai, I tried the color Stoned  (c'mon, don't tell you me you don't love that name). According to Sheswai, this color is "a smooth pebble grey with a touch of lavender and a hint of shimmer that will leave you feeling blissfully happy." Although this description is mostly accurate, I don't entirely agree with it. It leans much more toward being a nude polish than I'd anticipated. Less of a grey, more of a beige. I was hoping it would look more like Cult Nails My Kind of Cool Aid. Also, when Sheswai says "a hint of shimmer," they really mint a hint, as in don't expect to actually see shimmer. This color is very similar to Butter London's Yummy Mummy, which we reviewed last week. If you'll recall, I wasn't too fond of Yummy Mummy--just not enough color for me. To a large extent, I feel the same about Stoned, although I like Stoned a bit better because it has a little more lavender than Yummy Mummy, so I don't feel like my nails are completely invisible. Keep in mind, I love bold, bright colors, so nude polishes are never going to be my favorites.

Sheswai Stoned. Inside, artificial light, no flash

Sheswai Stoned. Inside, with flash.
Sheswai Stoned. Outside

But let's discuss the application, shall we? Prepare yourself for what I'm about to say. Sheswai has quite possibly the best application of any polish I've ever used. Yes, that's right. The brush provided excellent control, and the polish went on entirely streak-free. It was opaque--or at least very nearly so--in one coat. I put on a second coat for good measure. Now here's the really unbelievable part: I got a fuzzy in my polish, and had every expectation of having to remove polish from that nail entirely and start again. Imagine my delight when I removed the fuzzy in question and watched the polish sort of glide back together as if it had never been disturbed.

Unfortunately, this polish chipped easily. Now, I wasn't wearing my preferred top coat, so perhaps the top coat is to blame. Further research is needed in this area. Because I change polishes so frequently, nice application is a higher priority to me than durability.

Conclusions: Stoned may not be my favorite cup of tea as far as color goes, but the application of this polish is so far beyond amazing that I'm looking forward to trying the other Sheswai polish I bought. Will I buy more of them? Well, let's just say the results are inconclusive. At $16 per bottle, it's pricey, but if the other Sheswai I bought applies like this one, I'll likely buy more . The color range is limited at this point, but expanding. In fact, since I ordered, they've added two new colors for fall: Yowza and Badass. I may have to buy Badass just for the name.

Until next time, sending you lab love!


Monday, October 3, 2011

Mystery Mani Monday: A Sky Blue

Does the start of a new week have you feeling cranky? Does your outlook need an adjustment? Why not put on this sky blue polish? It's sure to change your frame of mind!

Once again, we start the week with a Mystery Mani Monday or MMM. Can you tell us the name of this polish? If so, you'll receive an extra entry in our Birth of a Blog Giveaway! There's a subtle clue hidden in the post--it's sort of like a riddle. All guesses must be submitted by tonight at 9pm Pacific time (midnight Eastern time). You can make more than one guess, but we'll only count your last comment as your official guess. Good luck! PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR GFC NAME WITH YOUR GUESS!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Super Supply Sunday: Get it On and Wicked Fast by Cult Nails

Hello Lab Partners!

We all know that a good mani depends on more than the polish. One of the most important components is a great top coat, preferably a quick-drying one that leaves the wearer able to get on with her day without fear of messing up that fresh mani. Cult Nails just released their new base coat, Get It On, and quick-dry top coat, Wicked Fast. We couldn't wait to give them a try. 
Cult Nails Get It On (base coat) and Wicked Fast (top coat)

When we decided to put Cult Nails' new base and top coats to the test, I didn't think it would be that hard. I've been getting so much nail mail this week, there was always a few new lovelies waiting to be swatched. but I persevered and kept the color on for 3.5 days.

The task was made easier by the fact that I had the lovely Let Me Fly from Cult Nails as my nail color. It's a pretty, muted-yet-saturated, medium blue with fine hidden shimmer. Gorgeous! I applied two coats of the polish over the Get It On base coat and followed by Wicked Fast topcoat.

I'll just say that the base coat was fine, but requires further experiments. My mani did not chip at all for 3.5 days but that's neither here nor there. We can thus say the base coat is at the very least, adequate.

Now the top coat... I should preface this by saying I love Seche Vite. I love it even though it stinks and you have to thin it after a while and even taking into account the dreaded "shrinkage" that sometimes happens with Seche.
Not that shrinkage!
This shrinkage. (Image from Candy Coated Tips)

Now I am not saying Seche is the only top coat that does this, but it seems that it is most frequently accused of being the culprit.

But Seche Vite also provides incredible shine and hardness and dries faster than anything else I've tried. It also evens out the layers of polish and can make golden a clumpy application. I will always love it for its magic.

In this context, Wicked Fast had a lot to live up to and it is remarkable that I can honestly say, this is one good top coat! It dries a bit slower than Seche Vite but noticeably faster than anything else I tried (Poshe, Zoya, Sally Hansen, etc). The texture and shine were excellent. And my mani wore without even tip wear for 3.5 days. Here are the photos with the different outfits to prove it.

Day 1: Admiring the beauty that is Let Me Fly
Day 2: Close up (above) and outfit (below). Let Me Fly matched this top perfectly!

Day 3: Loved it with this dress!

Day 4: Another day, another dress and still going strong!

Overall, I can recommend the base and top coats. They're among the best I have tried.

So far we know these products do well with their own brand's polishes. But do they play well with other brands? I find it annoying when a product only plays well with its own polishes or vice versa. I know it makes sense from the companies' viewpoint, but as consumers, we'd like our base coats and top coats to be usable with all our polishes. Allison put these products to the test with a different brand.


I also tried both Get it On and Wicked Fast. Get in On applied evenly, and provided a smooth surface for my polish: Zoya Petra. Next came Wicked Fast. Here's the part of the experiment I was most curious about. As many of you know from experience, Zoya polishes tend not to play well with certain quick-dry top coats, so applying Wicked Fast to this mani would be interesting. I was thrilled to find my mani dried to a hard, smooth, glossy surface within minutes after applying Wicked Fast. And better yet--my Zoya polish showed no adverse effects:

Cult Nails Wicked Fast top coat over Zoya Petra. Inside, artificial light, no flash.

Cult Nails Wicked Fast used as top coat over Zoya Petra. Outside, natural light.

The photos don't do justice to the shine Wicked Fast left on my mani.  In one photo I chose not to show because I didn't care for the angle, I could clearly see in my nails the reflection of buildings behind me.

Now, I'm accustomed to changing my polish nearly every day, but because I wanted to see how well Wicked Fast helped my polish remain chip-free, I left this mani on for longer than usual. But after two days, I grew too impatient; I just couldn't resist changing things up a bit, so I used a fan brush to add some Zoya Goldie and a striping brush for a few streaks of Petra on top of my existing mani to create a mottled, gilded effect that reminds me of tiger's eye:

Cult Nails Wicked Fast top coat over Zoya Petra and Zoya Goldie

After another two days (four days after the initial mani), my mani was still going strong. My patience, however, were not. I just had to change polish! 

What more can I say about a top coat that not only quickly dried my mani to a glossy finish, but also made my mani outlast my patience? Move over Seche Vite. Get out of the way Poshe! I've found a new favorite top coat.

Conclusions: Although more experiments are needed, the lab's first studies indicate Cult Nails' new base and top coats are worth a try! They may just be your new favorites.

EDITED TO ADD: Cult Nails are having a free shipping promo: Now through Thurs 10/6 11:59pm EST at No minimums - free shipping for everyone domestic & International.

Have you tried these products? What do you think? What's your preferred top and base coat?