Tag Archives: swatch

A quick look at Sarah

Still trying to decide what to order for Zoya’s Earth Day Exchange?  A comment from a reader reminded me (thanks!) that I have never swatched Sarah.  And that’s a shame, because it’s one of my favorite reds.

Sarah is a cool-toned metallic red.  Not too dark, not light — I’d call it medium-dark.  Definitely not blackened.  And more of a metallic than a subtle shimmer.  Sarah is from the 2010 winter/holiday collection called Flame (may have originally been called Fire & Ice) and I only see three of the original six shades still for sale on Zoya’s site.  The ones not there as of this writing are Tiffany, Valerie, and Lisa, which is too bad because those are great too.

Anyhoo, Sarah is a classic red, great for winter holidays or the 4th of July or Canada Day or just because you feel like wearing red.  The formula is Zoya-typical-great and two coats might have been enough but I used three for a better photo.  With no top coat under indirect cloudy outdoor light:


I love the name Sarah and the polish Sarah, too!

Reece, Happi’s big sister

Seems like I haven’t swatched any polish in ages — probably because I haven’t!  The warm spring weather today (finally!!!) made me want to break out a pretty pink for the season, and I reached for Reece from Zoya.

Reece is part of the Reverie Collection from Spring 2010.  Only five of the six colors are still for sale on Zoya’s site; the one that’s sold out or discontinued is a dark bright red-coral named Lana.  All of the Reverie polishes are duochromes or have a slight iridescence, and one of them, Happi, is one of the very first Zoyas I ever bought.  Happi is a light peachy pink with a strong gold sheen.

If you love rose golds then you might love Reece as well.  It’s a darker pink, very slightly purplish, with gold iridescence that in some lights looks faintly green.  Not so obnoxious that you’d say, “Ew!  Green!,” but subtle and interesting.  Zoya calls it warm-toned on their site but I think it looks cool-toned or neutral.  The application was good and I used three coats.  Under indirect bright sunlight:


Reece is a happy medium in Zoya’s family of rose golds — darker than Happi but lighter than Shivon.  Here are all three bottles, without and then with the flash:

Happi Reece Shivon

Happi Reece Shivon flash

I’m a big fan of pinks and love all three.  Definitely no dupes, but if you could only buy one, go with whether you want a light, medium, or dark rose gold.  It’s that simple (and yay for a polish choice being simple for a change).

What can you do with sheer top coats?

Yesterday I posted about a new set of four sheer top coats from OPI called Sheer Tints.  They come in violet, yellow, pink, and blue.

Some may think, “So what?,” and I was reminded that I already have some tinted top coats which I rarely use.  So I thought I’d trot them out today and show you what they look like.  You can put these over bare nails or any kind of polish.

Remember one of the new Magical PixieDusts from Zoya called Cosmo?  I reviewed the MPDs last month and really liked Cosmo.  Here’s what it looks like with no top coat.

Now let’s bring out three jellies from Zoya that were released as the Gloss Collection in 2012.


Here’s how they look over Cosmo.  Left to right on my nails:  Paloma, Frida, Katherine.

Cosmo w 3 sheer top coats

My middle finger nail (left-most) is not in very good shape, and I needed two coats of Katherine and just one of Paloma and Frida, but you get the idea.  I especially like Frida, the teal.  Katherine is muddier looking than I would prefer for a purple, which is why I want the new violet from OPI, and I’d also like a bright blue.  Don’t need another pink and don’t think I’d use a yellow.

Maybe you’d wear a manicure of one polish plain for a few days and then want a new look without doing a full mani.  Brush a tinted top coat on and voilà!

Beyond Polish has “The Touch”

Disclosure:  These polishes were sent by Beyond Polish for review.

Two gorgeous new polishes to show you today, courtesy of Beyond Polish.

Beyond Polish is an online retailer that carries some of my favorite polish brands at great prices — China Glaze, Jessica Cosmetics, and OPI among others.  They’re also the only e-tailer I’ve ever found that has Essie polish at below suggested retail price.  I mean, Essie is never on sale!  Some of the prices are $3.50 for China Glaze, $5.95 for Essie,  and $6.95 for OPI.  Shipping and handling charges vary but are in my opinion reasonable.  Whenever I order online I always get enough items to justify the shipping cost.  If anything, I have to restrain myself from ordering too much.

First, let’s get right to one I’m so excited about, Give Me Goosebumps.  It’s from Jessica Cosmetics and is part of their “The Touch” Effects line.  Other polishes in the set are a light gold called Touch It and a pink called Ruff & Ready that are calling my name.  Please note that “The Touch” polishes are listed under the “Glitzy” Collection.  Those look cool too and are even on sale.  “Glitzy” has darker colors and appears to have bigger glitter.

Give Me Goosebumps contains 0.4 oz/12 ml and is only $3.25, compared to over $8 at Jessica’s web site.  GMG is two of my favorite colors, purple and silver.  The base is a sheer grape purple with micro silver and purple glitter and small silver hex glitter.  Formula was excellent and two coats gave great coverage.  Shown without a clear shiny top coat and then with one, under indirect cloudy outdoor light:

Give Me Goosebumps

Give Me Goosebumps w top coat

I love it both ways.  It’s not really a matte texture, more like a semi-matte texture.

The second polish is one I’ve mentioned before but haven’t owned ’til now.  It’s Amazon… Amazoff from OPI’s new Brazil Collection.  It’s a beautiful teal that’s dark yet bright.  Typical for OPI, the formula and coverage were very good.  Two coats:

Amazon Amazoff

Beyond Polish also has the new OPI Muppets colors for $6.95 each versus $9.00 at most retailers.

Beyond Polish has become my favorite e-tailer because they get new collections so quickly, have excellent prices, and are so nice to deal with.  Might want to check out their sale page; I see some great Christmas polishes!  One of them is China Glaze’s All Wrapped Up, which I reviewed here.  They also carry nail care items and nail art tools.

Disclosure:  These polishes were sent by Beyond Polish for review.

Playing with crayons

Crayons.  I love ‘em.  Always have.  Probably always will.

One of my very earliest memories is right before my fourth birthday.  My presents were wrapped in white tissue paper and tied with pastel ribbons, then set up on top of a high cabinet.  I knew I had to wait to open them, and was not tempted to reach them.  No, I was content to sit with a doll or stuffed animal on the floor and gaze up at them, dreaming of what was inside.  (Lest you think I was a model, angelic child, stop that right now.  I was quite sickly and was probably recovering from my latest hospital stay.)  At any rate, one of the presents was a short cylinder, like a big can of peas.  I just knew it had to be Play-Dough — what else could it be?  Play-Dough would have been a very fun gift, in my three-almost-four-year-old mind.

Imagine my surprise when, on the big day, I opened it and found a round container of Crayola crayons.  COOL!  I had never seen crayons in anything other than a square or rectangular box.  Funny how packaging can spice up an otherwise average item.

Now that I’m grown I still play with crayons, colored pencils, and paints, but call them “makeup.”  Let’s look at two eyeshadow crayons from different companies.

Always the cheap one bargain hunter, I picked up a chubby crayon from e.l.f. (eyeslipsface) for $2 at a big box store.  It’s the Jumbo Eyeshadow Stick and I got a brown called Turkish Coffee.  I thought, hey, if this works well then I’ve found a good inexpensive crayon.  I’ve liked some e.l.f. products in the past such as their $1 eye primer.

So I tried Turkish Coffee; it went on very smoothly, blended well with my fingertip, and was a pretty color but not very pigmented.  It’s a shimmery medium brown.  However, by the end of the day — which was normal as far as no crying, no rubbing, no standing under a downspout — I had prominent semicircles of brown eyeshadow under both eyes.  It was like the shadow completely fell off and landed under my eyes.  I tried it another day with the exact same results, so I would say this eyeshadow has about the worst wear I’ve ever experienced and can’t recommend it.

At Ulta, I got a newer eyeshadow crayon from Nyx called Infinite Shadowstick in the color Chocolate, which is a matte dark brown.  It retailed for $8.99 but was on sale and I paid about $7.  It also applied smoothly, had great pigmentation, but was not very blendable.  The line I drew with it was the line I got — that baby would barely budge!  On the positive side that meant it wore very well, but on the other hand I like an eyeshadow to be blendable with at least moderate pressure.  It was also hard to remove at the end of the day, even with specialized eye makeup remover.

2 brown eye crayons

2 brown eye crayons2

Here are the two colors swatched on my inner arm, first after initial application and then with a “smudge test.”

2 brown eye crayons swatch

2 brown eye crayons smudge

You can see how pigmented the Nyx color is, and how the e.l.f. one more than just smudges, it wipes away.

I’m going to toss the e.l.f. pencil since the wear is so poor and eye products should not be shared with others.  The Nyx pencil is good but I’m going to use it as an eyeliner.  It’s a bit too tenacious for me to use as eye shadow.

Magical PixieDust from Zoya — the review

Disclosure:  These polishes were supplied by Zoya for review.

Zoya’s new Magical PixieDust trio is out!  Being in the western U.S., my samples just arrived today but many other bloggers have already received, swatched, and reviewed their samples.  I’ve deliberately tried to avoid other reviews so as to remain unbiased and fresh.Zoya holo PD

These Magical PixieDusts are different from Zoya’s previous PDs in that they contain a lot of holographic glitter, in small and medium hex sizes.  The bases are clear and each polish gets its color from heavy microshimmer in white/silver, blue, and pink.  Even under indirect cloudy outdoor light — no sunshine or flash — you can see how holo and glittery they are.  Left to right:  Cosmo, Vega, and Lux:


Each polish was rather thick, with the blue Vega being the thickest.  I used three thin coats of each polish, with no base or top coat.  Let’s go straight to swatches and then discuss.




None of them ever dried actually matte for me and they’re shinier and obviously much more glittery than Zoya’s previous PDs.  One of the things I’ve liked about Zoya’s PDs (seen here and here, for example) is that they have a sugary sparkle that is neither a flat “dried paint” look nor a glitter bomb.  The Magical PDs remind me more of OPI’s matte textured polishes called Liquid Sand, which isn’t a bad thing but I still prefer the original PixieDust matte-yet-sparkly look.

I like all three of these new polishes and Cosmo is my favorite if I could only pick one.  I expected the pink Lux to be more pigmented.

Honestly?  I’ll probably use the Magical PixieDusts as a glitter top coat over other polishes most of the time.  I love the holo sparkle yet don’t get the matte or semi-matte look from PDs that I’ve come to expect.

Each polish is $10 (US) at Zoya.com and as always, Zoya polishes are 5-free — free of formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and camphor.

P.S.  Now that I’ve written my own review, I’ve read some others.  Several people think the dried polish feels too chunky or rough, but I don’t get that feeling.  Yes, it’s rougher than non-glitter polishes but feels average for a glitter to me.

Disclosure:  These polishes were supplied by Zoya for review.

Another from Julep — Rebecca

My polish life is kind of weird these past few days.  The new spring colors from Zoya — Awaken Collection, Monet topper, Magical PixieDusts — have not shipped yet, I haven’t bought any new spring releases from Essie or China Glaze or OPI, and frankly, I’m glued to the Olympics on TV.

What to do, what to do.  I decided to dig into my relatively-new-but-not-yet swatched stash, and I came up with a beautiful spring color from Julep called Rebecca.  I’m not a “Maven,” aka monthly subscriber to Julep; Rebecca is a polish that I bought cheep cheep at an after-Christmas sale.  As I’ve posted before, Julep’s full-sized bottles are what I call mini, 0.27 oz/8 ml, and I don’t care for the tall, narrow bottle shape.  But they have some nice polishes.

Rebecca is a lavender-blue or light periwinkle blue creme.  The formula was very thick but it self-leveled well and dried quickly.  Two coats, no top coat:


Rebecca is still available on Julep’s site and is still on sale for $3.99.  Personally I won’t pay more than that for such a tiny bottle, but I do love the shade.  It’s not just blue and it’s not just lavender.  Very spring-like.  I don’t have another creme exactly this color, although I do have similar colors in different finishes (shimmer, matte textured).

More deals can be found on Julep’s “Savvy Deals” page but shop carefully because there’s quite a range of prices.  The shimmery peach Karen that I swatched earlier is on sale for $2.99.

SquareHue does Harajuku style!

Disclosure:  One of the older polishes was supplied by SquareHue.  All others were bought.

This snowy, frigid, windy day has been considerably brightened by the delivery of my February SquareHue subscription box.  The theme for this month is The Passport Collection: Tokyo, and the tagline for it was “Nails ablaze, Harajuku style!”

For new readers,  SquareHue is a polish-of-the month (POTM) subscription club and each month’s box contains three full-sized 0.5 oz./15 ml bottles, not just one bottle and not skimpy mini bottles like other companies.  The polish is 4-free (free of DBP, toluene, formaldehyde, and camphor) and is not tested on animals.  You can suspend or pause your account at any time, or you can cancel any time as well with no penalty. Check out all the details at SquareHue’s “How It Works” page.

I know very little about Japanese culture but Harajuku is a district in Tokyo that has become a pop culture buzzword for its bright, outré clothing, makeup, and hair styles.  I don’t even pretend to understand it nor will I attempt to explain it because I’d probably get it all wrong.  A Google or Pinterest search of “Harajuku style” will give you a basic idea.  Think bright.  Think wild.

So I was reallyreallyreally hoping that SquareHue would get a bit wild with the polishes this month, and my dreams came true.  No white.  No black.  No cremes (not that I dislike cremes; in fact, SqH’s all-creme November box has been one of my faves).  Feast your winter-tired eyes on these babies:

SqH Feb14 bottles

SqH Feb14 bottles2

SqH Feb14 bottles3

Left to right:

  • Roppongi — lime green glitter
  • Shibuya — magenta-pink microglitter
  • Ginza — bright blue shimmer

The names are all Tokyo streets or districts famous for their shopping and/or night life.

Roppongi is a sheer top coat with multiple sizes of glitter.  I think it would be very hard to build up opacity on its own, and I show it by itself (one coat on my middle finger, three coats on my ring finger) and as one coat over SquareHue’s own lime green creme Flower Power from the April 2013 box, on my little finger.  Would be fun to try it over other colors too, such as black or light blue.


Shibuya is amazing.  It’s hot pink, it’s magenta, it’s fuchsia.  At first glance it’s similar to a color from SqH’s first-ever box in December of 2012 called Sugar Plum, but Shibuya is a duochrome that looks mostly hot pink but flashes blue-purple at certain angles.

Shibuya and SugarPlum

The formula of Shibuya was good and I used three coats, no top coat.  It dries very glossy and I think it looks more pink on the nail than it does in the bottle.


Reminds me of Mason from Zoya but Shibuya is more glittery.

Ginza is a silvery blue shimmer whose base color is similar to Midnight Flurries from SqH’s January 2013 box, but Midnight Flurries contained holographic microglitter.

Ginza and MidFlur

Ginza’s formula was thin and it was very streaky on the first coat.  The second and third coats covered better but I still had to watch out for brushstrokes.  Don’t overwork it.  I’d almost call this one a chrome, it’s so shiny.


I love SquareHue’s Tokyo Collection.  Huge props for giving us bright, saturated colors and shimmer/glitter!  My favorite?  That’s tough.  I really like all three but if I could only pick one I’d latch on to Shibuya, because it’s so bright and the formula is great.  Roppongi is a color I won’t wear very often but I still think it’s so freakin’ cool, and Ginza… well, I’m kind of obsessed with blue polish lately.

The theme city and picture for the March collection have been posted, and it’s Paris.

SqH March preview pic

From the extremely subdued colors in this picture — especially compared to the ones we’ve seen for the last several months (New York, London, and Tokyo), I’m expecting a set of neutrals/nudes, but that’s only a guess and I have no inside knowledge.  Selfishly I hope it’s not all nude cremes since I have enough of those and I rarely wear them because I think they’re kinda boring.  Guess I can hope for a beige or tan holo, though!

Disclosure:  One of the older polishes was supplied by SquareHue.

Dabbling in the Black Market

Wait!  Don’t call the police on me just yet!

A few weeks ago I posted my first makeup review, a chunky palette from Urban Decay called the Shattered Face Case.  From the set, I loved the soft formula and intense pigmentation of the eye liner pencil called Zero but wanted to try some colors other than jet black.

When I next browsed my local Ulta store, lo and behold, I saw a collection of six travel-sized 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencils from Urban Decay (same kind as Zero) called Black Market.  Oddly, the dozen or so sets of them were unceremoniously dumped on an end cap with no price sign, no advertising, nuttin’.  Not sure if I wanted to buy them or not, I checked online reviews and swatches and then decided yes, I most definitely did want them.

The set was $36 but I got them for 20% off, or $28.80.  This works out to just under $5 per pencil.  While travel-sized, they aren’t tiny; they’re about two-thirds the size of regular UD 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencils which retail for $19 each, and are plenty big enough for me.

I’ll show you swatches in a minute, but first — good news on the price of the set.  I no longer see Black Market on Ulta’s web site, but on Urban Decay’s site itself, they are on sale for $24 as of this writing.

UD Black Market set

The colors are:

  • West –dark brown pearl
  • Desperation — deep taupe-gray matte
  • Black Market — charcoal black satin
  • Riot — smoky purple shimmer with violet micro-sparkle
  • Apathy — metallic olive green shimmer
  • Ink – deep navy blue satin

I absolutely love the formula.  They go on smoothly with no dragging, skipping, or tugging.  For years I’ve been using hard eye liner pencils from Cover Girl but these UD pencils are so much softer.  Yet the pigmentation is intense and they’re waterproof too.  Excellent staying power; they don’t rub off until you remove them with makeup remover or soap.  Here are swatches on my inner arm, with colors from top to bottom in the same order as listed above.

UD Black Market swatches

I feel that this set gives me all the eye liner colors I need — they’re dark but not Goth, and aren’t garish or complete glitter bombs.  I truly love all the colors but feel I’ll probably wear West and Desperation the most as an everyday look.  Riot might be a bit sparkly for me except as an evening look, although I could tone it down by layering it with another color.  Black Market is less intense than Zero which I showed previously.

Oh, and don’t think you have to have green eyes to wear green eye liner, or blue eyes to wear blue.  I have brown eyes and think these all look good.  My old, hard, ancient eye pencils are going in la garbage!

P.S.  Here’s a tip.  Sharpening soft eye pencils can be tricky.  Push too hard and all you’ll get is a mushy mess and a waste of product.  Pop the pencil in the freezer for five minutes or so and try sharpening it then.  Gently.

A Song from Zoya

Reader request!  After waffling over to-buy-or-not-to-buy Song for months and months, I finally picked it up in my last order from Zoya.  Here’s a quick swatch on my poor, broken nails, along with some comparisons.

Song is described on Zoya’s web site as “Bold, vibrant medium primary blue with silver and blue glittery metallic sparkle.  A very vibrant blue with a glittery finish that’s smoother than traditional chunky glitter,” yet they list its finish as “foil.”  I don’t think it’s a foil; I’d call it a microfine glitter or flakie.  But let’s not split hairs.

It’s a beautiful medium-dark bright blue, not grayed or dull whatsoever.  Song was part of the Diva Collection from Fall 2012, which contained mostly jewel-bright shades.

Song went on well and was an excellent self-leveler, although it was a bit too thick.  One coat was almost but not quite enough, so I used two.  No brushstrokes here!  With no top coat under indirect snowy outdoor light:


I pulled out two other Zoyas for comparison, Neve and Ibiza.  Neve has a slight purple tone and Ibiza is darker and more indigo.  Under indirect light and then with a fill flash:


SongNeveIbiza flash

And here’s an old swatch of both Neve and Ibiza:

Neve and Ibiza

As you can see, they’re close but not dupes.  Do you need all three?  Do I?  Probably not.  If you wanted to pick just one I’d say go with Song if you want a bright medium blue, Neve if you want one that’s slightly purple-toned, and Ibiza if you want an indigo blue.  The level of shimmer in all three is similar.

And because I know someone will ask — and I love such questions because they make me think! — if I could only pick one, it’d be Neve.  It applied ultra-smoothly and I love its sapphire tone.


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