Holographic Glitter Gel Nails (aka Rockstar Nails)

This legacy post was one of my favorites to do. I’ve given it a bit of a facelift for flow and clarity, but the content remains the same! I shared these easy-to-reproduce glitter gel nails before the holo and chrome crazes took root – so take that, trends!

Glitter gel nails, also referred to as rockstar nails, is a glitter-dense style is used both for accent nails as well as full manicures. This form of nail art is commonly considered a premium service (and is, therefore, more costly!) at salons, but glitter gel nails are easy and (to my surprise) fast. If you are so inclined, you can wear them all the time with minimal effort.

glittergel_11Glitter Gel Nails

If you’d like to learn how to achieve these glitter gel nails / rockstar nails, continue past the jump for details and a tutorial!

Read moreHolographic Glitter Gel Nails (aka Rockstar Nails)

Sensationail Express Gel Application & Wear

Sensationail Express Gel

A few months ago, a commenter asked if I had tried Sensationail Express Gel ($6) At the time, I had not yet heard of the product and was left baffled.

Getting my Hands on Sensationail Express Gel

I was surprised to see that Sensationail Express Gel has such mediocre reviews; after all, their original line is pretty solid. It was my first gel polish product and although I wouldn’t call it the best ever, it is reliable and I repurchase. I endeavored to try and judge Sensationail Express Gel myself; I eventually picked up a bottle with the few dollars I had remaining on a Target gift card.

So far, I’ve only seen the product in Target.

About Express Gel

Express Gel, which first launched in the UK, seems similar in concept to their ill-received Fuse product. Sensationail Express Gel claims to be a base coat and top coat free product featuring no cleansing. It supposedly requires less application effort than China Glaze’s Gelaze product.

Sensationail Express Gel may be cured with their old or new LED lamp and cure times are similar to their classic product. Cure times may vary slightly from color to color, so be sure to check the packaging. Sensationail suggests that darker colors may take longer to cure.

Application

Like every gel polish, I prepped my nails with a quick buff and wash. Next, I applied the dehydrating primer to each nail. Then, I applied the colored gel polish to each nail and cured.

The color I chose, My Cherry Amour, was nearly opaque in two coats. I could have stopped there but decided on doing three for super-full coverage. It applied easily and without a fuss.

Wear

Applied as-intended, I got six days of wear without any chips. It isn’t bad, per se, but I have higher expectations when it comes to gel manicures. I removed and reapplied with a single coat of Sensationail’s top coat – and got 12 days!

Twelve days of wear is definitely acceptable for a gel polish by my terms. I was satisfied.

Removal

Application was easy, but removal was another story. Unlike most other gel nail polishes, including Sensationail Classic and Gelaze, this required some work to remove.

I’m a bit of a punk and don’t remove my gel the intended way. For the most part I can get it to pop right off (yes, without damage – otherwise I wouldn’t do it) without soaking.

Express Gel, however, required the whole nine yards; buffing the top layer. Soaking. Scraping away with their metal removal tool (though an orangewood stick would do just fine).

The Bottom Line

Even though removal was annoying to me, I think Sensationail Express gel is a nice addition to the line. Apparently, there are colors that are full-coverage in 1-2 coats. I personally wouldn’t wear without a top coat, but a total of only 2-3 coats vs. the conventional 4-5 makes the process much faster.

At this time, I’m uncertain as to whether or not I would buy more colors in this formula. I think if the color were unique to me, I would – but otherwise I might pass because the extra steps don’t bother me.

Nail Care Routine

Cuticle Oil - Nail Care Routine

Although I have pared down my collection of colors and don’t have polish on as much as I used to, my nail care routine is still an essential part of keeping myself feeling human as opposed to some cave-dwelling fiend.

In Shape

Every week or two, I kick my nail care routine off by trimming and shaping my nails. I’m still using the clippers from the kit I shared in January 2015 and these super-inexpensive files from Sally Beauty that I shared this past February. They’re great! I taper the sides and round the edges ever so slightly.

You see all these super squared-off manicures constantly that look nice, but I’m like, “How are they not stabbing everything with the corners of their nails!?” Looks nice, but just like a two inch nail enhancement – not practical.

Care for your Cuticles

Don’t skip cuticle care in your nail care routine! You could have an amazing polish job, but ragged, dry cuticles will bring it down a few notches. Conversely, polish-free nails still look great when they’re shaped and have their cuticles cared-for.

For cuticle care, I slap on Sally Hansen Apricot Cream (shared January 2017) throughout the day. Once per week, I use a Sally Hansen gel to facilitate the removal of dead tissue where my eponychium meets my nail plate. An orangewood stick does just fine, but I like cuticle stones, these plastic pushers (I bought just one at Sally’s), or one of the heavy-duty stainless steel implements salons use. I hate using cuticle nippers for this; they tend to cause more problems than they solve. I do use them, however, to treat annoying hangnails.

Slap a hydrating cuticle treatment on afterwards. I use either the cream I mentioned above or Essie Apricot Oil. At this point, I’m not sure if I would repurchase the Essie product. I don’t dislike it but there are probably more cost-effective solutions out there.

Polish and Beyond

If polishing, I’ll use acetone or alcohol to clean up and slightly dehydrate my nails to prep for polish. After I polish (regardless of method), I apply cuticle oil (yes, again!) and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

If I’m skipping polish, I finish my nail care routine by giving my nails a good scrub with hand soap, then reapplying cuticle oil. In case it is relevant, my soap dispenser is currently filled with SimpleHuman Spring Water – I like it, but will probably just go back to Method; even though I bought it cheaper than Amazon has it for, Method is still cheaper and works just fine!

Nail Care Routine Maintenance

Usually, I can go two weeks before needing to trim and redo my cuticle work. In the meantime, I keep my cuticles from spontaneously bleeding all over my keyboard (yes, it really happened) by applying my cuticle cream at least once a day. I don’t use a crazy-fancy hand lotion, either; Skinfix (shared August 2016) is unscented and awesome.

If I break a nail, I file it smooth lest I lose my mind. Otherwise, I mostly let them be and enjoy a tidy manicure. If I lose my mind and get a shoddy manicure in a salon, however, I usually need to pay extra attention to my hands for the month after (aka defeating the purpose of a salon manicure). Boo.

What does your nail care routine look like?

Why I Don’t Get Salon Manicures

This is a legacy post that I’ve given a facelift because for some reason in April I think it’s a good idea to get a manicure…only to be disappointed every. single. time. Content is the same with spiffed-up formatting and another anecdote from this year.

Bitey

Once upon a time, I was a horrific nail-biter. Jagged, short, lame. I eventually stopped myself, but not by self-torture (bitter nail drops and whatnot), but instead I painted my ragged nails. I eventually did not want to mar the polish (or have it in my mouth), so I eventually broke the habit. Over time, I leveled up my polishing skill and now my nails are awesome and the envy of millions generally pretty nice!

In a Groove

Since then, nails became my thing. Long before I bothered with makeup or tried to pretend that I could manage my hair, nails were my thing. I feel put together when they’re tidy. My polish collection is decent and find the process relaxing, especially when I’m using gel polish that is relatively odor-free. I rarely have to clean around the nail afterwards, and I rarely have to retouch.

Praise be to DIY

I DIY most of my own manicures and do not bother with salon manicures. So many salons that are in a friendly price point do not take time with their clients; it’s all quantity over quality. I hate being rushed and I hate paying so much (even at a ‘friendly’ price point) for something I can do 20x better myself.

Beyond that, my collection consists all of polishes I like, so I don’t risk going to a salon and being left with a picked-over, old, separated, and thinned-with-thinner OPI polishes that are, frankly, the odd ones out – or, in the case of the topcoat in the OPI bottle, not even a freaking OPI product! Although I know I could bring my own polish, I usually don’t; the polish is part of the price for the service. You don’t get a discount for supplying your own product.

I am also not a fan of how it feels when someone else files my fingernails – I can’t describe it, but it bothers me at a cellular level. Too little is done to stabilize my fingers, and everyone knows that back-and-forth zig-zag filing is bad for the nail…yet so many do it! I can do just fine on my own and save money.

Read moreWhy I Don’t Get Salon Manicures

2016 Holiday Gift Guide

With Thanksgiving coming up, I’m adjusting my posting schedule for the upcoming week. There will be this post (Saturday evening), the normal Monday post, and the normal Wednesday post, but no Friday post.
We’re officially in holiday shopping season! In the interests of self-preservation, I completed my holiday shopping a month-and-a-half ago. Here’s the Beauty Skeptic 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for those of you still in the thick of it.

Before You Shop

eBates

If you aren’t signed up for eBates, go sign up now. Their commercials are weird, but they are absolutely legit. I’ve been a member since January 2012 and am just cents shy of earning $900 cash back over the lifetime of my membership. Here’s a screenshot from my eBates dashboard:

ebates

It is free to join, and just like not contributing to a contribution-matched 401k, to not do so is to throw away free money! Don’t leave money on the table, sign up and earn cash back on nearly all of your online shopping. They pay out quarterly via PayPal, Check, or gift card. Disclosure – I do get a referral credit if you use the link above and YOU get $10 in your eBates account, too.

Honey

If there’s a promo code, I find it. That said, finding them does take time; usually several websites and then time to apply them to check for validity. Honey makes the process easier via a browser plugin that auto-applies the best-available promo codes for you. It operates via user submissions, so you can add your promo code finds to help the community if you’re so inclined.

It’s also free, and you can sign up hereDisclosure – Like eBates, I get a small referral credit if you sign up with that link. Whether or not you sign up with that link, I use and recommend it myself.

Shop!

Skincare

biore aqua rich watery essence

It isn’t often that you can give the gift of health. I love sunscreen as a skincare gift particularly for those who may be a bit lax with their skin. If you’re interested in prestige options, Coola apparently makes some good ones; that said, when it comes to facial sunscreen I can’t be talked off the Biore AQUA Rich ($9) ledge. It’s SPF 50, suitable for all skin types, and not something you can just grab off the shelf in CVS or Target…but even being imported, it is really inexpensive!

Everyone can benefit from some Vitamin C, but especially if your recipient has expressed anti-aging concerns, this is a good pick. This duo from Ole Henriksen ($25) is a cute gift that can boost collagen production and make the skin appear more radiant.

Palettes

Read more2016 Holiday Gift Guide