Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Apothecary: Nubar Foundation and Diamont

Hello ladies,

Today I wanted to share my experience using Nubar Foundation Base Coat and Diamont Top Coat. I'm glad I had the opportunity to test big three free treatments from Nubar. These products are formaldehyde free, toluene free and pthalate (DBP) free. I am aware that some readers are very concerned about what chemicals are present in their nail care regimen. I want to honor that choice in adding Foundation and Diamont to the Apothecary section. 

Nubar Foundation Base Coat and Diamont are the best performing big three free treatments I have tried. Foundation Base Coat remains sticky to the touch after painting to help secure color to the nail. The formula is slightly less tacky than CND Stickey, but reasonably similar. The consistency is thin and it adheres evenly.

Diamont is spectacular. It's a fast dry topcoat that hardens polish in minutes. Diamont is self leveling. It delivers a smooth, glassy layer over color with no visible brush stokes.  As with most quick dry topcoats, application requires a good amount of product on the brush to glide over and seal the nail. I start with a large drop at the base the nail and use three quick strokes to complete the manicure. 

Diamont works well as a layer beneath Konad stamping. It dries polish quickly and lessens waiting before stamping can occur. I had no trouble with the designs transferring cleanly. I also used Diamont over Konad special topcoat and it sealed the manicure perfectly with no issues. 

I appreciate how the formulas work with my Nubar polishes and I will continue to use them as part of their system of color. However, I prefer the older formula CND Stickey and Air Dry as my go to base and top coats with other brands. I really like the way formaldehyde resin works as a hardener. I haven't found a single big three free formula that can mimic formaldehyde resin. My nails feel more flexible with Foundation and Diamont. I noticed a similar affect with Zoya Anchor and Armor. Some might argue that formaldehyde resin makes nails too rigid and leaves them prone to breaking. I disagree. I have some damage to my right thumbnail. I noticed using a big three free formula that slight bit of fine surface cracking was starting to feel textural once I removed my polish. After a week without formaldehyde resin, the corner of my nail chipped off. It had been holding together for months. Returning to Stickey and Shiney, my thumb nail feels smooth again to the touch and strong. For preserving nail length, I love my chemicals. 

Despite issues I have with big three free treatments, I do think Nubar created the best available with Foundation base coat and Diamont top coat. I will use them with my Nubar polishes and can recommend them as quality treatments. Both are available at


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Roses and sparkle

Hello ladies,

Today I have the adorably named Essie Chinchilly. I added roses with a flourish from Konad plate M54. Psyche Pink polish from Coraline set B forms the stamp. I couldn't resist adding a photo of the decorative glass bottle. 

I have a rosebud ring and an owl ring. 

The weather in Philadelphia was mutable. It was beautifully sunny and then there was a pressure change that summoned cloud cover. I think the shift caused some bubbling in my manicure. Essie Chinchilly dried smoothly with the first coat of CND Air Dry. The problem seemed to occur after the Konad special topcoat was added. Thankfully, it's not visible on the nail unless I position my hand directly next to a light bulb. I was surprised to see bubbling when I began cropping pictures.

Chinchilly is likely to be my favorite from the Essie Fall Color collection. Since I still have the pink and orange neon polishes to try, I may alter my opinion. Chinchilly is grey with a slightly green undertone. It's different from my other grey polishes in that it doesn't lean towards pink, which gives grey a cool tone. Inside the cafe, my friend David thought my polish coordinated with my mint green scarf. As I was being complimented, I decided not to make a point about color vs. undertone. I said, "Thank you."   

Psyche pink has a bright foil shimmer that I enjoyed pairing with a creme base color. Psyche pink can also be purchased under the Princess polish category. I made a birthday order of some new Konad plates. I will be showing designs from M13, M14, M15, and M21. 

A reminder that the Painted Halloween Lady contest ends October 1: Please visit the contest post for a chance to win the discontinued Essie St. Martin Mint and an original Halloween painting from artbysarada. I will have more Halloween festivities in store! 

Happy painting, ladies.    

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Hello ladies,

Today I decided to revisit the idea of layering Nfu Oh flakies. On this occasion, the top coat was Essie Matte About You. The manicure reminds me of a view of planet Earth from space. Painting Nfu Oh 56, 50 and 52 over Essie Midnight Cami created a mesmerizing royal blue and emerald green duochrome. Matte About You made the color seem distant and frozen in time. You can click on any of these pictures to enlarge. The photos show the atmospheric manicure in every type of natural light I could capture, arranged from full sun to shade. 

The Nfu Oh flakie polishes are pictured in order of layering: 56, 50, and 52. 

Above shows Essie Midnight Cami in sunlight. The blue shimmer in the bottle is visible on the nail in moderate to bright light. I couldn't photograph it's full beauty on an overcast day. It appeared to be a deep navy in yesterday's post, but Midnight Cami offers lovely shimmer with the presence of sunbeams.

This is my first occasion using Essie Matte About You topcoat. I am wholly impressed with the formula. The topcoat self levels, creating a smooth, matte surface on the nail. The appearance makes me think of frosted glass. The consistency is thin and it dries quickly. I appreciate that the topcoat alters the look to a satin finish rather than a chalky matte. For ladies who want to experiment with the matte trend, this Essie topcoat can give you the option to create the look with favorite polishes in your collection. 

I would recommend doing cleanup of any excess color around the cuticle area before adding Essie Matte About You. Otherwise, the acetone can create a subtle halo of shine where it encounters the topcoat. For this manicure I used CND Stickey as a base, one coat of Essie Midnight Cami, one coat each of Nfu Oh 52, 50 and 56. I added a coat of CND Air Dry to harden the layers of color before adding Matte About You.

Happy painting, ladies!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Evening sky with Virgo

Hello ladies,

Today brought clouds and rainfall to Philadelphia. I spent some time in the garden, enjoying picture taking, despite the sun remaining bashful behind a grey screen. I'm wearing Essie Midnight Cami from the Fall Color collection. I will ask you to use your imagination and add some fine blue shimmer to the navy base. That's far more enchanting and true, were the sun out today. While I have your creativity awakened, go forth and add some sunlight to the visuals below. 

This flower looks a bit like a squishy brain. Perhaps I spent too much time in the Halloween aisle at Walgreens today!

The petals are still unfurling. The pattern of string behind my hand was woven for plant support.

I am helping the flower hold her head up.

What an adorable and patient little friend! I had the lens so close, yet he remained still.

Essie Midnight Cami is a pretty navy. There is visible blue micro shimmer on the nail that isn't as apparent in low light. I can see it quite clearly by lamplight as I type. The color reminds me of a dark blue sapphire. It makes an auspicious base for the astrological Virgo design from Konad plate M34. The face of the Virgin was stamped in silver special polish.

The funky french was painted with Orly Shine on Crazy Diamond, a holographic glitter topcoat. Creating the french was challenging because the glitter content is so sparse in the clear base. I would paint the smile line and only the bottom portion would contain glitter on some nails. I had to go over each nail twice and dab in extra glitter for moderate coverage. If you are willing to work with the formula, it's a way to create a striking french that doesn't obscure the base polish. 

Midnight Cami was almost completely opaque in one coat. Though I used two, I think ladies with shorter nails would be satisfied with a single coat. I am really pleased with the application of Midnight Cami. While I do have other navy shimmers, this polish is useful as a quick base for nail art or a one coat manicure. It will definitely be a go to navy shimmer for me. I can appreciate this color as a fashionable classic that Essie did well. 

Ladies, I got locked in the garden again today! There were two elderly gardeners who I greeted when I arrived. I managed another climb to escape over the front gate. There happened to be a film crew nearby working on a small project. My blase attitude about scaling the fence in a dress brought some humor to their workday. All for the love of nail polish!

Happy painting, ladies! 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A peacock and cherry blossoms

Hello ladies,

Today I am wearing Essie Angora Cardi from the Fall Color collection. I stamped cherry blossoms from plate S9 using Konad special polish in white. I couldn't resist adding purple rhinestones to the center of each flower.

Accompanying me to the canal for picture taking was a jeweled peacock perfume bottle with a faceted crystal stopper. At the store each week, I gaze at the cloisonne peacock in the glass, counter display. I adore the fanciful plumes!  

The photo above was taken in lower light. The others show the full sun of midday. 

I received compliments on Angora Cardi throughout the day. The color exists somewhere between mauve and purple. It has a muted, dusty look that is perfected with a high gloss topcoat. Angora Cardi was easily opaque in two coats. The formula applied smoothly over the surface of the nail. 

I love Angora Cardi as a base for nail art. The creme formula smartly offsets the stamping. I did have an unusual experience with the Konad topcoat. I applied a protective layer to keep the design from smudging before adding CND Air Dry to seal the manicure. It was odd because the Konad topcoat went through a matte stage at the tips before drying with shine. I have never seen this occur before with any other polish outside Essie Fall Color. I noticed it with Mink Muffs yesterday as well. It didn't affect the finished manicure at all, but I wanted to mention it for anyone who plans to use these polishes with the Konad.  

I hope you enjoyed the manicure and the whimsical prop.

Happy painting, ladies!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Skippers and fritillaries, butterflies all

Hello ladies,

I did a manicure today to celebrate the tiny orange and brown butterflies who pose for me so enchantingly at the garden. While these insects are commonly mistaken for moths, they are indeed butterflies. Many of the ones I have shown are types of skippers and fritillaries. Even their classification is darling.  Skippers have wondrous names! Clouded skipper, fiery skipper, little glassywing, and wild indigo duskywing are among my favorites.  

I wore Essie Mink Muffs as the base for the design. The butterfly is from Konad plate M16, stamped in dark orange special polish. The sun seemed to flash right over the design, making it a little more challenging to see, instead of dutifully highlighting it. For photographic purposes, I would have preferred white, but the dark orange flutters quite pleasingly on my fingertips. The pictures can be clicked to view full size for a better sense of the design element.  

Above is the Essie Fall Color Collection: Mink Muffs, Pink Parka, Chinchilly, Bright Tights, Angora Cardi and Midnight Cami. 

I applied the rhinestones to form a crescent. If you follow the top two orange flowers to the golden jewel, it creates an arch. I was thinking about how the flowers on a butterfly bush dip down with the gentle weight of pollinators busy with nectar. 

I really love Essie Mink Muffs. It's slightly darker than many of the mushrooms shades we have been seeing. I am wearing two coats. The application was fairly easy once I readjusted myself to using a standard size brush. 

I will be showing polishes from Essie Fall Color over the next week. I am excited to wear and review the collection. I'm pleased to see Essie experimenting with trend colors and thinking outside the classic boundaries of pinks, reds and nudes. 

Happy painting, ladies!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

30% off Konad supplies at OC nail art

Hello ladies,

I just received notification from Kathleen at OC Nail Art that the coupon code "paintedladyfingers" will now offer a 30% off discount. How wonderful! There is still free shipping on all orders over $20, even internationally.

Added to her store inventory are sponge nail art kits and smaller kits suitable for Konad beginners. I think you are going to be seeing some sponge nail art here in the not too distant future! 

Editing for clarity: While I do not receive any type of commission for referring you to OC Nail Art, I have had great experiences with Kathleen's personalized customer service. I am happy to have a discount code to benefit readers. 

Happy painting and stamping, ladies! 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Inspired whimsy: The Queen of Hearts

Hello ladies,

I was inspired by the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland when creating this manicure. 

Who's been painting my roses red? WHO'S BEEN PAINTING MY ROSES RED?/Who dares to taint/With vulgar paint/The royal flower bed?/For painting my roses red/Someone will lose his head.

If the Queen of Hearts were to wear a funky french, I think the one below would be splendid for her. Nubar Ruby forms the base and the french was painted with Tiara.  Both polishes are from the Royal Gems Collection. 

In shade, Ruby appears like a fine jam or jelly. Look at all the colors that make up Tiara. Fascinating!

Ruby is one of my favorites from the Royal Gems Collection. It's such a versatile polish. The red micro glitter and shimmer offer enough decoration to make Ruby perfect for winter holidays or Valentine's Day. It has sufficient sparkle alone to give visual interest, but can be topped with Tiara for a more striking appearance.

I have been wanting to experiment with painting Tiara as a funky french since I saw the first promotional pictures. Since the formula is partially opaque, it's an ideal glitter to work with. I emptied the brush down to the lightest amount possible and painted the smile line. Afterwards I filled in moving horizontally across the nail. When using glitter for french manicures, be careful not to build too much color at the sides of the nail. It can make the tip look chunky or imbalanced. I run my thumb nail along the exposed sides immediately after I am done painting the french. This will remove any excess glitter that could make your french look too thick. Ladies with shorter nails would probably want to have an orange stick on hand to ensure the glitter doesn't pool against the skin. I would recommend trying these techniques before moving on to the next nail. It's difficult to make adjustments with glitter as it dries.

I am still feeling under the weather. I will respond to all your comments over the next couple days. They have been a delight to read. Thank you.

Happy painting, ladies. Wishing all of you (to whom it is seasonally appropriate) a lovely first day of fall. 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Birthday delights

Hello ladies,

Thank you for all of your birthday wishes yesterday. It was so sweet to have your lovely comments waiting for me when I returned from the day's festivities. I will share my day with you and then delight your eyes with my celebratory manicure. I met my girlfriends, Lisa and Cassandra for brunch at Max Brenner, a chocolate theme restaurant. I ordered the Well Mannered Omelette with fresh spinach and goat cheese. On the side were spiced home fries and a sugared biscuit with chocolate dipping sauce. We chatted about Essie Fall Color and the Milani Black Magic collection over coffee and chocolate drinks. Lisa and I brought bottles to gaze at. After such a pleasant time, they made sure I took home a treat to remind me of the day: Max Brenner's Madagascar Vanilla Hand Moisturizer. I plan on doing a review for you ladies soon. The font in the birthday card Cassandra chose would translate well into nail art. It was perfect! After brunch, Lisa and I strolled to the garden for meandering and photography. 

My friend David took me to Longwood Gardens in the late afternoon. We initially were planning on seeing fireworks, but we discovered it was a ticketed event and was sold out. Neither of us had ever purchased tickets to see fireworks so it didn't occur to either of us to reserve them. We both felt the kinship of good company and were set to have a nice time no matter what the arrangements. We walked through the grounds for about an hour and a half, comparing the perfume of heirloom roses and getting lost in the saturation of color in the trial garden with the bees and the butterflies. We went for a country drive for much of the way to the waterfront in Delaware. I love seeing light reflected on the water at night. It was a beautiful walk. 

We journeyed back to Philadelphia for dinner at Bindi, serving modern Indian cuisine. David loves to explore as many offerings as possible when dining so he encouraged me to order whatever interested me on the menu. I had an amazing dining experience and a satchel of leftovers. For an appetizer, I had spring pea and potato samosas with mango-date chutney. I chose sweet goat cheese paratha for bread. It was stuffed with small pieces of coconut, dates, and pecans and was drizzled with wildflower honey. My entree was a vegetarian thali with saag paneer (creamed spinach and cubes of Indian cheese), spiced cauliflower, chana masala (chick peas, tomato gravy, spices), raita (a cooling yogurt sauce) and pulao rice with cashews and golden raisins. It was an absolutely incredible meal. I must say I was so thankful David had requested that we walk across town to Bindi in lieu of driving. It was one of the most beautiful days of the year weather wise. It was so pleasant to have the company of good friends on my birthday with so many treats for the senses. I am very thankful. 

I wanted to do a celebratory manicure for my birthday with an abundance of sparkle. Lauren from Dizzy Nails recently showed a look with layered Nfu Oh polishes. Inspired, I decided to build the flakies to resemble the start of fall leaf changing. Beginning with two coats of Sephora by OPI Dark Room over CND Stickey base coat, I then added one coat each of Nfu Oh 60, 51, and 56. All of the pictures below can be enlarged by clicking. Enjoy.

The variety of the dahlia above is called Peaches and Cream. How perfect!

Here's David making fun of me with his giant hand and similarly proportioned flower. I have been trying to get him to model a matte black or grey polish for you ladies, but he hasn't taken to the idea.

Above and below are the Nfu Oh polishes with different levels of sun brightening them. They are positioned in order of application: Nfu Oh 60, 51, and 56. 

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and the remembrance of my birthday. 

Happy painting, ladies!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bark, flower, fruit

Hello ladies,

This is my Thursday manicure with Nubar Tiger's Eye from the Royal Gems Collection. The light was variable with clouds moving across the sun for much of the day. I did capture a few sunbeams on my nails. I accomplished more painting and photography today. I am a little behind on commenting and posting because I am recovering from a cold. Saturday is my birthday. I have a lovely day planned beginning with brunch with my girlfriends and ending with seeing fireworks at Longwood Gardens with my friend David. I'm really excited for the day. 

I was feeling nostalgic when I chose Konad plate M20 and green special polish for stamping. The design had me contemplating ginkgo leaves. If I squint and round out the edges into two distinct parts, it could be transformed into a ginkgo. The proportion of stem to leaf is correct. The rest of it is clearly a bit of fancy. I really love ginkgo trees. When I lived on Pine Street, there was a row of female trees shedding spheres of golden orange fruit to the pavement. Women would come from Chinatown and sit on the sidewalk with baskets, sorting the ginkgo fruit and chatting together.  I always looked forward to walking outside and catching sight of them at harvest time. Nubar Tiger's Eye makes me think of stained wood or bark. I added some rhinestones to represent the fruit. 

I have a handful of red tiger's eye stones from the store. Nubar did wonderful color matching. 

Coming down the steps from the canal, I spied this starry trumpet. It's a Milky Way Morning Glory. How fetching!

Nubar Tiger's Eye is beautiful on it's own. I wanted to try it with the Konad to see how the stamping would appear with such a strong shimmer. I am happy with the embellishment. The leaves were subtle, but they added some charm. Unlike the rest of the Royal Gems collection, Tiger's Eye doesn't contain micro glitter. I wish Emerald shared the same formula. Tiger's Eye is a stunning brown. It makes me think of mahogany. 

The application was atypical. The polish felt like it had a drier consistency than usual. There were some brushstrokes that disappeared after drying. My advice is don't try to correct what appears to be a mistake if the polish doesn't look quite level. It evened itself out for me and dried smoothly with Diamont topcoat. Tiger's Eye required careful application, but I love the resulting look on the nail. It's definitely worth purchasing.

I hope you ladies enjoyed the manicure, the gemstones and the flower. I will be back on Sunday with some pictures from my birthday outing. 

Happy painting, ladies!