NOTD: Sally Hansen Insta-Dry in 170 Expresso

NYC Grand Central Topcoat over

NYC Grand Central Topcoat over

This color is a gorgeous dusty rose color in a cream finish. This is kind of surprising considering the name, but I’ll go for it. I was so impressed by this polish: its pigmentation is incredible (this is literally only one coat!) and it did dry extremely fast. Thanks to the wide, stiff brush, application was also a breeze. It isn’t the shiniest polish out there, but this doesn’t  bother me because I always use my fabulous NYC topcoat (review here) anyway. I am looking forward to trying more from this line, if they are all like this my wallet may be in trouble!

 

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Review: NYC In a New York Color Minute Quick Dry Nail Polish in 202 Grand Central Station

Walgreens: $1.99

http://www.walgreens.com/store/c/nyc-in-a-ny-minute-quick-dry-nail-polish/ID=prod6155150-product

Grand Central Station (clear top coat) over OPI Bogata Black berry

Grand Central Station (clear top coat) over OPI Bogata Blackberry

New York Color describes this clear nail polish as being a ” slick, glossy polish that goes from wet to set in less than 60 seconds”. It also claims a special “flow control brush”. Grand Central Station is completely clear, and oddly enough is not labeled as a top coat at all, rather is lumped in with the normal nail polish range.

Let me start off by saying that this is the best topcoat I have ever tried, and I honestly cannot say I see a topcoat in my future that can beat this one. Just to show how serious I’ll say it again. In bold. This topcoat is awesome. Now here’s why.

Just as NYC claims, this provides a beautiful glossy finish that actually also works to help camouflage any mistakes made when doing the previous coats. For someone like me who sucks at nails and is also impatient, this really helps.

It does dry fairly fast, which is fabulous (because of the aforementioned lack of patience), but I’m not exactly sure about under 60 seconds. It doesn’t much matter though, at this point.

I’m not sure about the “flow control brush”, it looks pretty bog standard to me, but it doesn’t pose any difficulties in application. This polish does apply great, but I think this is  more due to the formula rather than the brush. The formula is quite thick, and disperses across the nail so it is really even. However, this thickness obviously doesn’t affect dry time.

But the thing that really set this topcoat apart from the masses is the wear time. For me, nail polish normally wears about 3-5 days before it starts to chip. Tip wear for me typically occurs about 1-2 days after. This would be for brands like OPI and Essie. Better polishes, like Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure, wear longer, and crappier polishes like Catrice chip sooner. This topcoat can as much as double wear time for me, I’m on the 4th day of wear of the color pictured, and I barely have tip wear. Some nails are still completely perfect. They are all as glossy as the day they were painted. I tried this with another old, really crappy polish and it lasted 5 days without chipping. For me, that is unheard of. What I find really interesting, though, is that the description says nothing about longevity. I haven’t tried any of their other polishes, but NYC might just be selling themselves a bit short!

Overall, if you don’t own this polish already you need to go out and try it. It is all of $2, and it might just change your life. For all those people that can’t get NYC where they live, I am truly, truly sorry.

Rating: A+

Product Smackdown: Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure (Commander in Chic) vs. Essie Merino Cool

I love taupe colors for fall in all capacities- eyes, nails, and sometimes even lips! Nearly every single nail polish manufacturer on the planet has got a version out there. Here I have two very similar colors of taupe polish from two respected brands- Essie and Sally Hansen. Let’s see which one wins!!

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in 370 Commander in Chic: $6.59 (0.5 fl oz/14.7 mL)   at Target

Essie Nail Lacquer in 76 Merino Cool: $7.79 (0.46 fl oz/13.5 mL) at Target

http://www.target.com/p/sally-hansen-complete-salon-manicure-commander-in-chic/-/A-13332358

http://www.target.com/p/essie-nail-color-merino-cool/-/A-13249632?ref=tgt_adv_XSG10001&AFID=Google_PLA_df&LNM=%7C13249632&CPNG=Health+Beauty&kpid=13249632&LID=PA&ci_src=17588969&ci_sku=13249632&gclid=CIvJoOb0kboCFZE7Mgod-ScApg

Essie Merino Cool vs. Sally Hansen Commander in Chic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sally Hansen Essie
Features (as found on brand websites) Base coat, strengthener, growth treatment, salon-inspired color, top coat, chip-resistance and a gel finish all in 1 bottleVita Care technology for advanced 10 day wear, more shine and nourishing care

1st place

Outstanding durability, a chip-resistant formula 

 

 

 

 

2nd place

Price 1st place 2nd place
Color (for me personally) Mid-tone purple-based taupe (lighter than Essie)1st place Dark-mid-tone purple-based taupe (darker than Sally Hansen)2nd place
Wear time (until first chip appears)   After 4-5 days, only minor tip wear , no base or top coat

1st place

 After 2-3 days, no base or topcoat

 

2nd place

Application Brush slightly larger, product less prone to gloopiness1st place Good brush, product prone to gloopiness2nd place
Dry Time 1st place  2nd place
Ingredients DBP, Toluene, and Formaldehyde freeContains parabens

2nd place

DBP, Toluene, and Formaldehyde free1st place
OVERALL RANK 1st place 2nd place

Overall, there is no disputing it: Commander in Chic outperformed Merino Cool in virtually every category. Honestly, the wear time for me was the most impressive; for me most things wear 2-3 days before starting to chip, like the Essie shade. For me to get that much wear out of it was absolutely mind blowing for me. The Complete Salon Manicure looks like an amazing formula, I think I will be picking up some more colors from the line in the future!

NOTD: Essie Merino Cool

Essie Merino Cool Swatch

Essie Merino Cool is a mid-tone purple cream with grey and taupe undertones.I really love this color, I’ve really gotten into more subdued creams, I think they really fit well into the winter and fall seasons. I love how this is such an interesting and relatively dark color, but the grey undertones keep it relatively quiet. This makes is a fairly wearable color, perfect for the more cautious nail polish wearer, and this would also suit so many skintones. The formulation could be better in terms of wear, but with a good base coat and/or top coat you’ll be fine. The pigmentation is excellent, though. I think this will be a staple color for many more A/W seasons to come!

Have a fabulous Friday!

Lilla xx

NOTD: OPI San Tan-tonio

 

This color was one that really grew on me. I got it as a gift, but to be honest when I first saw it I didn’t think I would like it. But after I finally applied it and wore it for a bit, I found myself really enjoying it. I will definitely be reaching for this one more! I also love how it’s part of the Texas collection, as I am from Texas. I feel like a bit of a traitor, though, as I don’t own the Houston one… :/ That will have to be my next OPI color!

Have a great weekend y’all!

Lilla xx

 

 

 

 

The Nasties Glossary

Oftentimes, you see labels claiming that they are “free” of something. This something has a chemical-y sounding name, which means that I have no clue what it is or what it is supposed to do. You must have heard it as well, sometime: sulphate free, paraben free, formaldehyde free (or three free)… As I am completely clueless, I figured that there should be at least one other person out there who also has not the foggiest notion about what is going on. For you, comrade, I have compiled a list describing what the hell these things are, and why people are going crazy.

Parabens

Parabens are a group of chemicals that act as preservatives, to stop the growth of microbes (little tiny organisms, for example bacteria or fungi). They can be identified by looking at the ingredients list, they are all long words ending in “paraben”, for example methylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben.

The concern over parabens is mainly linked to cancer. Some studies have shown concentrations of parabens in the tumors of breast cancer patients. This is not a clear link at all, they did not investigate paraben levels in the tissue of non-cancer patients, or in other body tissue. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the concern comes from the fact that the chemicals are not altered at all by the body’s metabolic processes, and is free to penetrate the tissue and accumulate there. This may or may not be bad. In addition, the parabens have the tendency to mimic the activity of estrogen, a hormone that the body produces. Estrogen has established connections to breast cancer, around 80% of breast cancer tumors rely on estrogen to grow (Wikipedia). Parabens bind to the estrogen receptors on cells, perhaps leading to breast tumor cells growing and multiplying. According to the FDA, parabens don’t have nearly as much estrogenic activity as actual estrogen, so they may not be able to aid in the growth of the tumors.

Nothing has been proven, and the FDA has investigated the harmfulness of parabens more than once. However, I think it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes with cancer, so I think I will start to avoid parabens.

Sulfates

Here is the place where the beauty community is split right down the center… sulfates are the ingredients in shampoo or body wash that make them foam up. There are three that are most commonly used: sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, and ammonium laureth sulfate. What they do is break down the oils in your hair, stripping your hair. Some say that this is a horrible thing, some say that it is a necessary ingredient for clean hair. Who’s right? LIke in most circumstances, they both are to a certain extent. Based on what I have read, it really depends on the individual. From what I can tell, if you have curly hair sulfates are pretty bad. Curly hair is more porous than straight hair, making it more brittle and more likely to get dry. It also means it soaks up the shampoo better, and the sulfates really dry it out further. Some people actually say that you shouldn’t wash curly hair at all! I assume they mean really curly hair, like African-American hair. So if you have curly hair, sulfates are definitely a problem. Similarly, if you have skin that tends to be dry, or a sensitive scalp, sulphates may irritate that, maybe giving you eczema. For other hair types, sulfates may be necessary to give you really clean hair. But you can’t use it every single day, and you can’t use it without conditioner, if you do it will dry out your hair too much. With these products, there have also been claims that they thin out your hair. I have not seen any evidence to back up these claims, although there may some out there.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas that is a cancer hazard and can cause irritation in the nose, eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. It is supposedly found in some cosmetics, most commonly nail products and keratin treatments (it’s one of the “three free” toxins). This is a well established fact that you can read about on the websites of many government institutions, including OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the California Department of Public Health. However, formaldehyde is not what is being used in cosmetics, as it is a gas. Instead, formalin is used, a solution of formaldehyde and water, normally with a stabilizing agent (mostly methanol is used). This is where the debate comes up. Many cosmetic manufacturers believe that the formaldehyde is soluble in water, although the Cosmetic Ingredients Review (CIR)* recently proved that this was not the case. When introduced to water, the formaldehyde produced a new chemical called methylene glycol, which is safe for use in concentration under 0.2%, but the safety of the chemical when used in aerosol cans is sketchy. However, the California Department of Public Health says that formalin is dangerous. It is unclear whether they have taken the methylene glycol into consideration.

*the CIR is an organization that reviews the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics. It is sponsored by, and works closely with the FDA, but it is an independent organization.

**The Nail Manufacturer’s Council is an organization founded by the Proffesional Beauty Association.

Dibutyl Phthalate (DPB)

DBP is one of the “three free” toxins found in nail products. As for acute toxicity (how bad it affects you if you are exposed to it only briefly) is low, even in concentrations higher than is what is in nail polish. According to OSHA, someone who swallowed 10 grams of the stuff got sick, but he recovered completely. There goes my habit of drinking my nail polish…? Anyway, you probably don’t even get 10 grams of nail polish in the bottle, let alone 10 grams of pure DPB. However, a study on the effects of DPB introduced to pre-natal boys found that “environmental levels” of the substance impaired testicular function. They didn’t specify what the “environmental levels” were, so I don’t know if that is more or less than what is found in nail polish. I guess just make sure the area where you’re painting your nails is well ventilated, and don’t use nail polishes containing DPB if you are pregnant. Oh, and don’t drink the nail polish…

Toluene

Toluene is an ingredient in nail products that makes them easy to apply, the last of the “three free” toxins. It is a clear colorless liquid, and has been found to be highly toxic. According to the National Library of Medicine, exposure to low levels of toluene can result in confusion, light-headedness, dizziness, headache, fatigue, weakness, memory loss, nausea, appetite loss, coughing, wheezing, and hearing and color vision loss. Exposure to toluene can cause birth defects in pregnant women. Yeah, that sounds pretty bad. The concentrations of toluene in nail products were deemed safe for use by the EU, but they recommend that the areas where you do your nails be kept well ventilated. Still, I think I will not risk this: no more toluene for me! Luckily there are some fabulous brands that make toluene-free nail polish…

Three Free/Toluene Free Nail Polish Brands:

butter London (3 Free)

Wet n Wild (3 Free)

Orly (3 Free)

Essie (contains formalin, called formaldehyde resin)

Nicole by OPI (3 free)

Ulta (3 free)

Red Carpet Manicure (3 free)

Revlon (toluene and formaldehyde free)

OPI (toluene and DPB free, some hardeners contain formaldehyde)

Resources:

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics on Parabens: http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=291

FDA on Parabens: http://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/productandingredientsafety/selectedcosmeticingredients/ucm128042.htm

Wikipedia article on Estrogen: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estrogen#Breast_cancer

OSHA fact sheet on Formaldehyde: http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/formaldehyde-factsheet.pdf

California Department of Public Health fact sheet on Formaldehyde: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/hesis/Documents/formaldehyde.pdf

Article by Doug Schoon (Co-Chair of Nail Manufacturer’s Council) on Formaldehyde in Cosmetics: http://personalcaretruth.com/2010/08/exposing-the-formaldehyde-myth/

CIR Council Thing (not quite sure what it is called…): http://www.cir-safety.org/sites/default/files/119_final_formyl.pdf

Report on CIR decision: http://personalcaretruth.com/2011/11/cir-confronts-confusing-chemistry/

Nail Manufacturer’s Council: http://www.probeauty.org/nmc/

Cosmetics Ingredients Review: http://www.cir-safety.org/

NY Times article on Sulfates: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/30/fashion/30Skin.html?pagewanted=all

TheBeautyBrains.com on Sulfates: http://thebeautybrains.com/2007/06/30/sulfates-in-shampoos-what-are-they/

Environmental Health Perspectives study on DPB: http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/info:doi/10.1289/ehp.8100

OSHA on DBP: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/healthguidelines/dibutylphthalate/recognition.html

National Library of Medicine on Toluene: http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/text_version/chemicals.php?id=30

European Union Scientific Committee on Consumer Products on Toluene: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_sccp/docs/sccp_o_076.pdf

NOTD: OPI Lucern-tainly Look Marvelous

Image

This is one of the polishes I got from my sister for my birthday, and I love it!! It is an amazing metallic gunmetal-gray color, the kind of polish the Black Widow might wear. Well, in my mind, anyway. Maybe I’m crazy but this polish makes me feel slightly badass…

Is there any polish that gives you confidence and/or makes you feel badass? Comment below!

Hope you have a great weekend!

Lilla xx

NOTD: Wet n Wild Bijou Blue (443D)

I would just like to start off this post by saying, I don’t think this polish is aptly named. Instead of calling it ‘Bijou Blue’, I think it should be called ‘Superhero Blue’. That is what this polish really reminds me of, a superhero’s cape. Which just makes it awesome. It is an interesting color, not quite turquoise but not your classic blue either, with a not-quite-greeny-turquoisey shimmer running through. This polish is pretty, dirt cheap, and does not use animal testing… not bad, Wet n Wild! OK, truth be told it does tend to chip… well, a lot. But you can just wear a good base coat and you’ll be good to go! Another good thing about the polish? It really truly does give ‘Wild Shine’, it is glossy enough that if you are pressed for time, you can skip topcoat and still be fine.

What nail polish are you wearing right now?

Love,

Lilla xx

Lilla’s Box of Treasures (LBT): May 2012

As the month of May draws to a close I would like to draw your attention to a couple of products that I have really reached for this month.

MAC Eyeshadow in Quarry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have really been neglecting my eye makeup recently (the result of warmer weather, extreme laziness, and the sudden fascination for bright lipsticks, which I unfortunately am not brave enough to wear to school), but when I have done something with my eyes, it often involves this color. One of my biggest pet peeves in the world of beauty (or anywhere, really) is an overly dark crease color. I don’t think having a brown line in your eye socket is attractive, and it sure as hell isn’t fooling anyone when it comes to eye depth. To me, Quarry is the perfect color. A beautiful soft purple-y brown (I don’t think the camera is quite picking up on that), it is subtle enough that it can actually look like a naturally shadowy socket, but does still provide a unique color. I also sometimes use it as an all-over lid color for a subtle and polished eye look (a nice partner for bright lips, for instance), or to blend out the edge of Urban Decay’s Sidecar eyeshadow. As for quality it is a very nice, smooth texture, and provides the perfect amount of pigmentation for a crease/blending color. I really do recommend this shade; it is a very versatile and unique eyeshadow that you can always depend on.

Catrice Ultimate Nail Lacquer in Genius in the Bottle

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have only recently acquired this color, and I have been really enjoying it! It is a beautiful color, one of the many dupes of Chanel Peridot. I have gotten a ton of compliments on this nail polish, and actually a couple of friends bought this shade after borrowing mine, so expect some drooling if you choose to wear it ;).

Wet n’ Wild Megashine Nail Color in 437F Emblazed 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To me this is the perfect summer color: a gorgeous true coral, even if it doesn’t show up on camera as such (it is actually less orange in real life). I currently have this on my toes, and it looks amazing! Another amazing thing: the price (somewhere under $2, I believe…)!

Labello Soft Rose Chapstick

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s just talk about lifesavers for a minute. Along with my face, my lips have been so dry recently. And then, of course, I went and lost my Carmex. I was not amused. So of course I had to trek down to my local drugstore and pick up another chapstick, and I picked up another one of these guys. Well, two of these guys, as they came in a two-pack for a grand total of €1.99 (!). The color provided is really sheer, NOTHING like the Revlon lip butters, but when applied they just give you the prettiest your-lips-but-better lip color imaginable.

Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Lotion SPF 15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been getting pretty sunny this month, especially now towards the end, so sun protection is getting to be really important (click here to see more about sun protection). This has made it really easy for me to just throw on some protection without needing a separate facial sunscreen. In addition, my skin has been especially dry recently (normally it’s combination, but it has been just flat-out dry), and this also has really helped that.

Clarins Moisture-Rich Body Lotion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, I have been into skincare this month, more so than usual (skincare normally comes as an afterthought to makeup for me). I have been really into this moisturizer this month, because it is fabulous. It is so super nourishing; my dry scaly legs just love to soak it up. Good thing too, considering I have to expose them now that it is warm…

John Frieda Frizz-Ease Daily Nourishment Leave-In Conditioning Spray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been looking for a good detangling spray to use on my rat’s nest after coming out of the shower. Apparently your hair is super-vulnerable when it is wet, so you’re not supposed to yank a hairbrush through it at that point. Oops. Anyway, that’s where this spray comes in: you spray it in your hair, and voila, your brush just slides right on through with no problems whatsoever. I was also very excited to see that it comes with heat protection, so I can blast my hair with a hairdryer and not feel bad. Is it bad that this makes me so excited…?