Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sparkle Saturday: Cult Nails Living Water

Happy Saturday, Lab Partners!

I hope you're having a great weekend. Personally, I'm still on a Cult Nails high, following my recent acquisition of Unicorn Puke, so I wanted to show you some more glitter awesomeness from Cult Nails: Living Water. This polish is a dark blue jelly, with blue and green glitter. I wish the photos captured the glitter better--you wouldn't believe how it seems to glow when light hits it!

Cult Nails Living Water. Outside, natural light.
Living Water. Inside, artificial light (Sorry about the lights reflecting off the polish!)

This polish applies like a dream! In fact, the notes I scribbled on an index card just after applying Living Water say, "OMG. I'm dying here!" I would have been fine with only one coat, but I applied two for good measure.

Blurred a bit to help capture the glitter.

Living Water is easily one of my top ten favorite polishes. Naturally, it was a bit  difficult to remove, but that's par for the course with a glitter polish. Believe me, this one is definitely worth it!

So what do you think of Living Water?

Till next time, sending you lab love!


Liebster Blog Award

Hello Lab Partners!

Thank you Taylor at Nailed to the T for our Liebster Blog Award!

We were recently presented with a Liebster Blog Award by our friend Taylor at Nailed to the T. Isn't that kind of Taylor?! "Liebster" is a German word, meaning in this context, "preferred" or "favored." I told Taylor it's a good thing I speak German or I might have thought she was offering us a lobster. Here are the conditions that go along with the a Liebster nomination:

1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving them a comment on their blog.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the internet
5. Spread the karma!!

So, with no further ado, here are our picks for the Liebster Award:

1) Once Bitten
2) Lacquered Lover
3) Imperfectly Painted
4) Chalkboard Nails
5) I'm Feeling Nail-Venturous

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tag Team Thursday: A Bouquet for Ava

Hello Lab Partners!

Welcome to another Tag Team Thursday, when the two of us here at the lab each review the same polish and share our opinion. Last time, we reviewed Butter London's Yummy Mummy, and we both came to the same conclusion: Yummy Mummy wasn't for us. After that experience with a nude polish, we wanted to opt for something with more color, so we chose Barielle's A Bouquet for Ava. Will we agree with each other once again? Or will we get different results?


I'm not going to lie to you; I love blue polish, so I was excited to try A Bouquet for Ava. I found the application somewhat streaky on the first coat, which was minimized to some extent by applying a slightly heavier than usual layer of polish. This color was streak-free and opaque in two coats. I found the control during application okay, but not great. If we were going by application alone, I'd be lukewarm on this polish.

But we can't end this discussion at application. There's also the matter of color, and --wow!--does this polish deliver! Barielle describes this color as, "a deep, cool Caribbean blue." I'd call it a highly saturated French blue that dries to a glossy finish. In the first photo (below),  I'm not wearing a top coat so that you can see the glossy finish of the polish itself. In the other photos, I'm wearing a top coat over the polish.

Barielle A Bouquet for Ava. No top coat. Inside, artificial light.
Barielle A Bouquet for Ava. With top coat. Inside with flash.
A Bouquet for Ava. Outside, natural light.
I did find this polish chipped rather easily, but I loved the color so much that I still like this polish overall. Now, what will Ace think?


I am another blue lover so Ava was a no-brainer when I placed an order recently with a 50% off promo at Barielle (on top of their BOGO50% deal for polishes). Unfortunately, I received two polishes that had brush issues with that order. I contacted Barielle and they asked me to return the polishes. I also returned A Bouquet for Ava due to my dissatisfaction with the formula. Barielle customer service was efficient and effective. They refunded me for the three polishes and shipping.

Why did I return Ava? Barielle tends to be on the thick side - but this polish was really thick. Application was clumpy and I tried and tried several times to apply it smoothly. I thinned it and thinned it and thinned it again - but it did not solve the problem. I got really frustrated. Not even my beloved Seche Vite could smooth the clumps out. The polish kept doing this:

My bottle of A Bouquet for Ava applied very clumpy, as shown on my thumb.
At times, I had it on my hands (literally) the same situation Allison found herself in with Julep's Jaime last week! Not as bad, but close. Apologies, I thought I took more blue hand pictures but I can't find them. So I'll show you this:
No idea what this is? You have to watch Arrested Development! Only the best comedy of the 2000s!

Eventually, I got a decent enough application thanks to a lot of time, remover and Seche Vite! But it was way more trouble than it's worth!

Notice my bottle is different from Allison's. I do wonder if this had anything to do with the problems I had with the formula. All my Barielle bottles look like this. Anyone know if this makes a difference?
The color is pretty and sophisticated - kind of a muted but not pale blue. It reminds me of Zoya's Breezi in that way. Breezi was a summer collection polish but I actually don't think this shade of blue is all that summery - they may be perfect for fall actually!

The next day, I spiced up Ava with a coat of Kleancolor Chunky Holo in Teal. Look how pretty that looks! I highly recommend these Kleancolors for layering.
KleanColor Chunky Holo Teal over Barielle A Bouquet for Ava.
This team saved this mani!
Now, since I returned this polish, it's clear that I was not a big fan. I have not had this problem with other Barielles and given Allison did not have the same issues I did, it's fair to conclude this was a bad bottle as opposed to the polish being defective overall.

Barielle's customer service did meet my expectations, however. I was asked to send the polishes back and was promptly refunded for them as well as shipping. Our experience with Julep about a formula problem was quite different! Allison was simply told "blues stain, deal with it". Barielle took the polish back, no contest.

By the way, yes bright colors can stain but this blue lover is happy to report, staining blues are a smaller subset of my collection than the non-staining blues! I just removed a gorgeous OPI blue and have no trace of it whatsoever on my hands. So don't rule out blues, there are awesome ones out there!

Nail polish is relatively inexpensive, so this is not necessarily about money alone. As consumers, we should not have to work hard to get what we paid for, which includes items that perform satisfactorily and customer service to address any issues that arise. Everyone makes mistakes, every company can have some lemons among its products. When problems arise, good companies remember to show customers respect and care for their satisfaction. For this reason, I will continue purchasing Barielle polishes even though I had problems with this particular polish.

(On that note, some of you have heard about the terrible products and customer service I have had from I will write about that separately but for now I can only say do not fall for their cheap prices, especially if you are eyeing that KleanColor chunky holo. They send underfilled bottles that literally are only 80% full, refuse to replace them, and shamelessly lie to you. While some people have had an OK experience with them, I've heard from at least a dozen people who've had similar problems. They've been so rude to me I had to file a BBB complaint. I will happily delete this if they resolve the issue, but I am pretty sure they won't. Spend your hard-earned at businesses that respect you, the customer.)

Conclusions: The lab was not terribly impressed with A Bouquet for Ava, though we noted the color is very pretty and customer service is efficient and effective.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bench Work: A Unicorn Puke Fest!

Hello Lab Partners!

As you may recall from my recap of the Florida Bloggers and Polish Lovers Meetup, I was fortunate enough to receive Cult Nails Unicorn Puke this past Saturday. I've waited since then to put it on my nails, and I just couldn't wait any longer. I had a tough time deciding which color I wanted to layer UP over, so I decided to pick a rather crazy assortment of five different colors, some light, some dark; some bright, some muted: Cult Nails Quench (wine-red), Cult Nails Enigmatic (brownish-purple), Color Club Chelsea Girl (bright medium blue), Sinful Colors Feeling Great (deep bright pink that leans toward fuchsia), and Cult Nails My Kind of Cool Aid (lavender-grey). On each finger, I started with one layer of UP toward the base of my nail and increased to three layers along the free edge so that you can see how it looks with different amounts:

Cult Nails Unicorn Puke over (from top to bottom): Cult Nails Quench, Cult Nails Enigmatic, Color Club Chelsea Girl, Sinful Colors Feeling Great
Unicorn Puke over Cult nails My Kind of Cool Aid

My favorite combo is on the thumb: Cult Nails My Kind of Cool Aid layered with UP.

As a reminder, this polish was only available under the name Unicorn Puke when it was on pre-sale. The color will be released this November as part of Cult Nails Winter 2011 collection under the name Clairvoyant.

A final note: If you'd like to see what UP looks like on its own (not layered over other colors) check out our friend Jacki's post.

So what do you think of Unicorn Puke?

Until next time, sending you lab love!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Unicorn Puke, The Pope, and I

Happy Sunday, Lab Partners!

So what do Unicorn Puke, the Pope, and I have in common? Sounds like a bad joke, doesn't it? But it's not. Answer: We were all at Buca di Beppo having lunch yesterday, along with some other polish and beauty bloggers . . . and some non-blogging polish addicts, as well. Okay, so it wasn't really the Pope. Not the Pope. It was this one:

The "Pope" blessing our nail polish. Or at least the Pope's head.
So there's one mystery solved--you now know what the Pope and I did yesterday. But where does Unicorn Puke fit into this picture? Well, this whole shindig was arranged by none other than the lovely Maria, from Cult Nails, who presented me with--angles sing--the Unicorn Puke I bought on pre-sale! Let's gaze at it's loveliness, shall we?

Cult Nails Unicorn Puke, bottle 66 of 275

So what do a bunch of polish addicts bring to lunch? Sounds like another bad joke, I know. Answer: polishes to trade, of course! Boxes and boxes of polish.

A sampling of boxes and bags filled with nail polish after nail polish


We ate, we  dug through boxes of polishes in an all-out polish frenzy (we left some behind for the servers, by the way), we laughed, and we dug through more boxes of polishes. Oh, and we took photos!

Left: Stephani from Imperfectly Painted. Right: Kari from Once Bitten (look at Kari's awesome hair!)
The whole gang! That's me in the back row, far left (look for the red hair!)

It was so nice meeting some of these bloggers I've been following, and meeting new (to me) bloggers and friends. I was surprised to learn that several other bloggers live quite near me (who would've guessed that Kari from Once Bitten and I shop at the same grocery store?!).

After lunch, we headed to Lush and Sephora, where I managed to restrain myself from purchasing Illamasqua Veridian, my number one lemming. I confined myself to gazing longingly at it. It was while at Sephora that Maria showed us her nails, painted with Cult Nails Mind Control from the upcoming  winter collection. I promise you that the pictures on Maria's blog, R3Daily, do not capture the full awesomeness of this polish. When Maria held her hand next to a grey top, the polish appeared a very dark--almost black--grey. Next to other colors, the purple and pink dominate.

I came home full from baked ziti, loaded with polish scavenged from my fellow polish lovers, and longing for Cult Nails winter collection. And yes, I also came home the proud owner of my very own Unicorn Puke, which undoubtedly received the blessing of bodiless pope.

Until next time, sending you lab love!