Saturday, August 17, 2013

Nail break: Hiatus Update -- I'm still here!

Hi everyone! Long time no...type?


I know what you're thinking... "LUCYYYY! YOU GOT SOME 'SPLAININ' TO DO!"
*My name is not Lucy, just in case you're new. :)

But seriously, amateur blogging lesson #1: Don't go missing...atleast without saying something. Anything!


So what happened to The Manicured Amateur since my last post on July 7th?

Well, if you didn't catch the rare update on my Facebook, let me summarize:

A tree fell on my house that was already in poor shape due to a negligent landlord.
My boyfriend, our two cats, dog and I packed up and moved in with a friend for the time being.
Said friend had just moved back into her condo as we came into the picture.
Recent move = no internet.
Setting up the internet turned into a two week battle with Comcast.
No internet = no posts.
Seldom phone updates possible due to poor coverage.

That's where I left off the left since my last Twitter/Facebook updates.
While the internet issues were eventually resolved, my blogging troubles were not.


I even posted a quick instagram text saying I was coming back.
Looks like I lied...and cried. At the time I really tried.


So what's my excuse now?

1. The condo next to my roommate's has opened for rent, so as you can guess...I'm moving, AGAIN.

2. This past Monday I began training as a new, full-time Account Coordinator with Coca-Cola.

3. All my nails, and I mean all of them, broke during the first move.

Basically, I've been so short on time that I've only opened my laptop to complete on-boarding paperwork.


The Big Question: 
Am I coming back?
The Big Answer: 
BIGGER AND BETTER THAN EVER!


Bigger and better things are happening in my personal life, and that translates to my blogging life as well.
Going back to work means a bigger budget and a bigger budget means a bigger opportunity to purchase polish, subscriptions, accessories and everything to give this blog the most in-depth experience.

This blog far surpassed the expectations of a broke and bad-luck ridden country girl such as myself.
Now I can make The Manicured Amateur all I wanted it to be.

Even though I haven't been able to update, I have thought about it everyday.
I've even had dreams that I was younger and my parents punished me for not posting.
Yeah...melodramatic, but completely true.

I previously mentioned that my roommate is a fellow polish addict, and with our collections combined I am prepared to introduce so many new brands and series that I haven't seen from other bloggers.

With all of these changes, I decided the site deserved a bit of change too.
Don't fret, I like my style. Just call it some "fine tuning."

---

"Don't talk about it, be about it."

---

Man, my boyfriend throws that one at me a lot.


All of this sounds well and good, but when am I coming back?

I refuse to make any more assumptions as to when I can get up and running again.
Realistically, I can say it mostly likely be the beginning of next month when I'm officially in my new home.
I will have also completed my AC training and will be more settled into my new routine.

Question: So what happens in the meantime?

I will be returning to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram where I will begin showing my nail growth from start to finish, hauls, manicave updates, and more.

At this point, I can't ask you all for anything. If I could, I'd ask you to stay with me.
I love blogging about my nail adventures, whether it be for me alone or the entire internet world.

There is never a true excuse for just ditching you all without leaving many clues.
I promised to deliver, and I didn't.
I am truly thankful to have the readers I have.
I have received so much love and support from you all during such a hectic time,
and I have so much planned to give back in return.

From the bottom of my heart, thanks for reading!

Melody (truly, "The Manicured Amateur")

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Maven Madness: Julep It Girl Box + Blakely and Fireworks Add-Ons July 2013





Hi everyone!

I hope all of my fellow American lovelies had an exciting July 4th holiday.

I'm boxes deep into my move, but things have been slow trying to move things in between rainstorms.
Everything polish related is still packed and ready to be moved over, so hang in there with me and I'll be up and running again within the next day or two.

Luckily I was able to photograph my Julep box before packing everything away, and I finally had some time to sit down and share it with you!



The Box

This month's selection was inspired by the California Coast. 
I live in Georgia on the completely other side of the country, so I have no idea how these shades specifically correlate with California beaches, haha.

With no interest in the featured hair products this month, I went with the It-Girl option which includes three polishes instead of two plus the beauty item.



Julep Maven boxes are delivered right to your door every month for $19.99 and usually include two polishes, a beauty item, and one or two random extra gifts.

For a more details on all aspects of the Julep Maven program, read my in-depth review here.


The Colors




Nadia is a pale, banana yellow frost with the ever slightest orange undertones, and silver microshimmer.


I wanted to like it, I really did...but I just couldn't.

The formula is on the thicker side, which is becoming more and more consistent with Julep polishes.
This can cause a problem with application due to the frosty finish. If applied too thick the stroke lines will be wonky and crooked. While it can be opaque in one coat, I recommend two thinner layers for best coverage.

If I could ignore the formula, I would love this color. 
It's an interesting pearly yellow, but at the end of the day the overall finish looks dated and formula isn't top Julep quality.





Angela is a black-based, shimmery teal with a slightly frosty finish and subtle color shift.


Once again, the formula is thick, so careful not to apply too thick. 
However, this one can provide nice, full coverage in just one coat.

The finish can be slightly frosty, but not quite enough to bother me. 
It's also a duo-chrome wannabe, shifting from deep blue to teal.

As much as I think this color is stunning, I think I have a dupe that'll cost you less than a dollar.
Remember my Polish4Pennies post back in May? If not, click over here and scroll down to Sinful Colors "See You Soon." Close enough?

In short, it's higher priced slightly frostier version of SYS or Essie's "Dive Bar."
Angela may have a smidgen more of turquoise tint, but not enough for most polishers to care.







Tracy is a shimmery denim blue textured polish - the newest addition to Julep's Sea Salt line.


This was the whole reason I chose the It Girl box.

I love the other three Sea Salts, mainly for the sophisticated neutral colors.
I was very excited to see Julep add a bolder color to the line, and at first I thought the color was totally unique to my entire textured collection. 

In truth, it's actually pretty close to JulieG's "Blueberry Fizz" from the Frosted Gumdrop Collection. 
There are two minor differences between the two. 
Both the glitter and texture are much finer in the Julep version, as opposed to the JulieG shade which contains slightly larger glitter pieces. Julep's version is also deeper while the JulieG shade is a lighter and icier.

I am also aware that there is a Nicole by OPI shade "Blue-berry Sweet on You" that might be even  more similar, but I don't own the shade to compare.

Which you choose is a matter or price or preference, but I love this one. 
The only complaint I have is that the texture took FOREVER to develop, which is a problem I didn't experience with any other of the Sea Salts...or any of my other brand's textures either. 

It also applies thinner than any other texture I own, so I recommend two god coats for full coverage.






The Extra

Included in every box this month was a new item, Green Tea Facial Blotting Papers.


This is another one of the items I prefer to save for when I actually need it, so unfortunately I don't have an personal comments on how well these work.

Other bloggers seemed to be more excited for these than the actual polishes this month.
Overall feedback notes that the green tea smell is extremely pleasant and that they are truly effective at removing oil during touch touch-ups throughout the day.



The Add-Ons

There weren't many other colors in the whole selection this month that caught my eyes, but the announcement of a true duochrome in the Bombshell box was something I just couldn't ignore.





Blakely is an oil slick reminiscent, purple-to-jade duochrome with a hint of frosty shimmer.


The formula is identical to Angela, except the frostiness is a bit more prominent.
In short, I wish it wasn't.

I was really excited for this shade, but once again the formula and finish brings the excitement down a few notches.

I can't deny how gorgeous the color shift is, and if nothing else it'll make an intense stamping color!




In addition to Blakely I picked up this year's 4th of July inspired glitter topper.



Fireworks is a patriotic mix of red, white, and blue fine and small hexes.

Now I deserve a slap on the wrist for forgetting to individually swatch this shade before packing up my stash for the move, but you did get a good glimpse of it in my Independence Day Nail Art look.
(Click on the photo below to see more of this design!)



It's not as full coverage as most of Julep's glitter selection, and I like it this way. 
It's much more buildable and is absolutely beautiful on it's own, built up as a full accent in three coats, or gradated as I did above.



What was your favorite shade from this month's box?

Let me know in the comments below or give me a shout on Facebook or Twitter.



Overall

In the end, I think Mavens appreciated the variety of finishes Julep had to offer this month.
Personally it wasn't my favorite box with my well-known bias against frosty polishes.
I do love the summer-inspired shades but the fact that I already had them  in better-priced, better formulated versions left something to be desired.

Lately, Julep's formula is become less and less consistent.
Sometimes the formula is a dream, and something the quality reminds me of polishes that have been sitting in a hot mailbox for quite some time.

I'm also catching word of other bloggers and Mavens alike become increasingly disappointed with Julep's customer service and overall value of the products. 
Cynthia from Of Life and Lacquer provided some important insight as a blogger affiliate in a comment left on my detailed review page which I really appreciated. 
Check her out by the way, she's always been one I've looked up to.

I don't share the same horror stories as her and others (except for DD creme debacle), so it's only fair that I not provide any insight into the matter.
It is something I'm keeping my eye on, but I'm not giving up on Julep just yet.

-- 

Interested in becoming a Julep Maven?

The selection window for this month opens in two weeks, so join now with my referral link below and get your first box free!
 I think you have to pay shipping now, but it's still worth it!

http://www.julep.com/rewardsref/index/refer/id/45305/

If the link has not already filled it in for you, enter my referral ID# 3488485 and then enter promo code "FREEBOX" at checkout. It's that easy!

Thanks for reading!

-Melody

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day! 4th of July Nail Art


Happy Independence everyone!

The weather is icky and I'm busy packing.
Even though I can't join in on barbecues, bonfires and fireworks I thought I'd still get in on the nail art festivities!

I got up early to work on my 4th of July nails, and let me tell you it took me over 6 hours!
I changed my look about four times before settling on something simple.



My thumb is is a two layer base of Sinful Colors "Snow Me White" with a simple glitter gradient of Julep "Fireworks."

My index finger is one layer of China Glaze "Adventure Red-y" with a large silver star from my Born Pretty Store Stud Wheel.

My pinky finger in two layers of La Girl 3D Holo "Brilliant Blue" with another large stoar from BPS.



Now the glitter placement on my middle finger took incredibly long.

Before I began, I painted two coats of LA Girl 3D Holo "Brilliant Blue".
Not having any glequins around, I reached for My Pink Dreams "Casa Blanca" and individually fished and placed each hex glitter until I reached exactly 50 to imitate the stars on the American Flag.
I sware, it had to have taken over an hour as I kept losing count. Haha!

My ringer didn't take as long.
I began with a two layer base of Sinful Colors "Snow Me White" and then placed 6 evenly spaced pieces of nail tape over the nail.
I then painted over the gaps with LA Girl 3D Holo "Sparkle Ruby" and removed the tape to reveal 13 stripes in total matching the stripes on the American Flag once again.





Overall it's a simple, wearable option for any patriotic outfit.
I had more intricate, over the top designs half finished...but sometimes less is more.

What do you think of the 4th of July look?
Did your nails show your patriotic spirit today?


Let me know in the comments below and send me your 4th of July nails on Facebook or Twitter!
And don't forget to give this look some love on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest!

---

I apologize for being short of words this week.
I officially begin moving into my new place tomorrow.
I tried so hard to post regularly, but I know I've been bad and disappeared for one, to up to four days at a time.

After this weekend, things will be back to normal. 
I promise!

Meanwhile, I've reached over 500 followers on Instagram,
almost 1000 on Tumblr,
and approaching 500 on Facebook!

I cannot thank you all enough for your support.
Once I'm officially moved and settled, I'll be scooping up prizes for a huge giveaway to thank you.

You all are truly lovely and amazing.

Thanks for reading, be safe, and have fun tonight!

-Melody

Monday, July 1, 2013

Nautical Nail Art featuring Born Pretty Store Anchor & Compass Water Decals


Happy July everyone!

I can't believe over half the year is already gone.
Whether I believe it or not, we're deep into the heat and I wanted to create a nail art look that was both summery and patriotic.

Red white and blue is a combination I save exclusively for this time of year and now that's here I'm ready to kick things off with a nautical look using Born Pretty Store Achor and Compass Water Decals.

This is actually my first attempt using stickers or decals.
Up until now I avoided using such decorations for the same reason I initially dismissed polish appliques.
In short, I thought they were "cheating."

I'll already tell you that after this look, I changed my mind.





First I needed a small arsenal of colors before working with the decals.



From left to right:

Julep "Nan"
Avon "Golden Vision"

Sinful Colors "Snow Me White"
Wet n Wild Megalast "Break the Ice"
Sinful Colors "New Wave"

Each finger started with a two coats of SC Snow Me White
To add a little summer glow if you will, I then added one coat of Wet n Wild Break the Ice for a subtle shimmer.

To create the stripes on all but my middle finger, I took four pieces of nail tape and taped off two baby stripes.

On my thumb, pinky and ring finger I filled in the stripes with Julep Nan and pulled off the tape while the polish was still wet.
I then took a small, flat nail art brush and filled in the bottom and top edge of the nail with Sinful Colors New Wave.
I used the same technique on my index finger, but reversed the colors.

I then turned to my Born Pretty Stud Wheel and added small round gold studs where each little stripe met the edge of my nail.

To create the stripes on my middle finger I placed five evenly spaced pieces of nail tape and painted over the gaps with Avon Golden Vision, removing the tape in the same manner as before.



Now on to the decals!

This specific set of decals comes with one sheet of 20 decals in a variety of two different anchors and three different compasses.

You can purchase these decals through Born Pretty Store's website here and are priced at $2.86.
But don't forget you get 10% off your whole purchase with my discount code BHL91!



Even though directions are included on the back, they contain unnecessary steps are actually more complicated than the actually process.

Here's how I applied the decals.

1. Cut out desired image.
2. Remove clear plastic film.
3. Drop in water for 10-20 seconds.
4. Remove image from water with tweezers.
5. Place image face down on finger (not the nail!) and gently slide the decal off the backing.
6. Pick decal off finger with tweezers and place on the nail.
7. Let dry.
8. Apply top coat.

Notice I didn't use a paper towel or blow dryer or any other means of drying the decal prior to placement.
Skipping this step gives you a few seconds to shift the image around the nail if needed.

The process is so quick and I am incredibly pleased with how flush the image is with the base.
You don't see any clear outlines and the image really sits and looks like it's just apart of the polish underneath.

The images themselves are not pixelated, nicely detailed, and remove just like any polish.





There you have it!

The most time-consuming part of the design was obviously the taping, but it's a simple look that's suitable for all skill levels.

I'm in full support of these decals for those who aren't ambidextrous but desire detailed designs on both hands.

There are so many decals out there, and now I'm itching to try them all!




 What do you think of this summer sails design?
Have you tried any nail art decals?

Let me know in the comments below and give this look some love on FacebookInstagramTumblr and Pinterest.
Remember that Google Reader retires TODAY, so keep up with The Manicured Amateur on Bloglovin' and Feedly for all updates!


Also, if you'd like a more visual tutorial on applying water decals, give me a shout on Facebook or Twitter

Thanks for reading!

-Melody



**Born Pretty Store products provided for my unbaised review. This post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Indie Spotlight: Femme Fatale Swatches and Review


Hi everyone!

I know what you're thinking, "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!"

Four days without sharing my nail adventures with you all has incredibly hard.

With the packing and moving well underway, I've had no choice but to devote all my time to emptying the house.
We expect to be fully moved into our new home by the end of next weekend and I can not be more excited.

You all have been incredibly supportive during such a hectic time, and I cannot thank you enough.

Even though my hands have been overworked, beat up and reak of cardboard, I haven't stopped polishing.
I'm been testing a lot of new nail products include strips, press-ons, and new nail care items,
but my shining stars for the week have been none other than my new beauties from Femme Fatale Cosmetics.

Femme Fatale Cosmetics is one of the most highly coveted Australian indie brands and international distributors.
Femme Fatale Cosmetics are quality tested and 3 Free.

All of the stress and exhaustion of this month immediately melted when I received notice that I'd have the opportunity to share a few of their polishes with you all.

Today I have four of the following glittery shades:


From left to right:

Eventide
Jadefire
Keeper of the Grove
Suspended Starlight



No more jibber jabber, let's see 'em!



Jadefire is a yummy mix of coral, red, green, and gold hexes of different sizes, along with red and gold fine glitter in shimmery yellow-green tinted base.

(One coat shown over Sinful Colors "Unicorn.")


The base is very thin which allows this to easily be built up on it's own or worn over a base color.
The glitter is a bit clumpy on the brush, but spreads easily and does not require dabbing.

To reach full opacity on it's own you'll need three coats and will result in a more muted, darker yellow-green.

I chose a base to saturate the color, but I recommend choosing a shade as close to the yellow tint as possible, otherwise a bit of patchiness may show (intentionally displayed in the second photo).


Something about this combo makes me crave a fruit salad.
I have no idea how that relates to the name Jadefire, but who cares!

It's a smart choice of colors that can be appropriate for spring, summer and even fall, and is unique to my collection thus far.






Keeper of the Grove is a slightly green-tinted shmmery base packed full of all sorts of different glitter: 
from tiny green and gold hexes to small blue and fuschia round glitter, slightly larger gold and fuschia hexes and even large pink hearts!
(One coat shown over Fingerpaints "Tough Art To Follow.")


This one is definitely a full coverage glitter, but can still be used as a topper if so desired.
Most swatches I have seen of this shade use a matching lighter green as a base, so I thought I'd change it up with a darker shade to fully emphasize on just how diverse this glitter mix is.

Like Jadefire, the base is thin and the tint is extremely subtle to the point that it almost isn't there.
The glitter is very dense, but still doesn't need dabbing.
Fishing is necessary to obtain the hearts, but because the base is so thin it's not a big effort.


This is absolutely beautiful.
Whether or not you catch the possible gaming inspiration behind the name, the combination is simply a winner.







Eventide is a feminine mix of fuschia and gold glitter of all shapes and sizes -- small and medium hexes and small and large squares all stirred in a clear base.
(One coat shown over China Glaze "Purr-fect Plum.")


The base is slightly thicker than the previous two, but not by much.
The formula is pretty much perfect proven by the fact that I didn't even have to fish for the large squares!

The only important note to make is that a top coat is a must. 
Without one or two good layers, the top layer of the square glitters will begin to peel off if snagged or meddled with too much, leaving you with just the patchy holographic underlayer.


The options are endless with this one - light base, dark base, no base or jelly sandwhich, you can do it all.
It's so sparkly and regal and I can't get enough of it.







Suspended Starlight is blue jelly packed with turquoise and deep royal blue shredded, fine, small and medium hexes, along with large silver moon and star glitters!
(One coat shown over Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear "Pacific Blue.")


This has the most prominent base out of the four, and can definitely be built up on it's own.
Like Eventide, a top coat is required to prevent the moon and star glitters from peeling away.
Fishing isn't really necessary for them either, unless you have a specific placement pattern in mind.



 Are you as over the moon for this one as I am?
Even at one coat this has so much depth and and is the perfect emulation of a twinkling night sky.



Overall I think that Femme Fatale Cosmetics are carefully thought out color combinations that are sure to catch attention.
With so many ways to wear each shade you'll love them more and more with every mani.

With one of these is your favorite?
Let me know in the comments below and give them some love on Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest!




Want Femme Fatale Cosmetics for yourself?



To see the entire line of Femme Fatale Cosmetics and to see the other available artisan lines carried, you can visit Femme Fatale's website.

While purchasing Femme Fatale Cosmetics through their website is only available to Australian lovelies,
the rest us international beauties can see access stocklists through the following carriers:

United States
Llarowe - $13.00 per full size 12ml bottle.
(Currently carries Eventide, Jadefire, and Keeper of the Grove)

Canada

Harlow & Co. - $13.50 per full size 12ml bottle.

Singapore

Shop Ecclectico - $18.00 per full size 12ml bottle.
(Currently carries Jadefire)
 **Participating Austrailian brands currently 20% off (FF currently priced at $16.00)!

Norway

Norway Nails - NOK159 per full size 12ml bottle.
(Currently carries Eventide, Jadefire, Keeper of the Grove and Suspended Starlight)

France

Ledouxnage - € 8.64 - € 14.40 per full size 12ml bottle.

No matter where you go to shop, you will notice these babies sell fast,
so make sure to keep up with Femme Fatale on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for restocks, new releases and more.


Thanks for reading!

-Melody

Monday, June 24, 2013

Color Club "Reign In Spain" (Birchbox Wanderlust Exclusive) & Funky Striped Nail Art




 Hi everyone!

According to the calendar, summer is officially here! 
That means it's time for travel and adventures under the sun.

Whether you breaking out neons, glitterx or hanging on to your spring pastels, your summer nails should be bright.

This month Color Club and Birchbox had their subscribers covered.

Photo Courtesy of Birchbox.com


 The Wanderlust Collection includes four mini (7ml, 0.5 fl.oz) polishes, an exclusive to Birchbox.
The set retails for $8.00 and can be purchased here at Birchbox.com.

The mini collection includes three neons shades and a stark off-white:

From left to right:

Reign in Spain
Mod in Manhattan
London Calling
Pardon My French

Every Birchbox subscriber received one of the four polishes in their June box.


Included in my own box was Reign in Spain.




Reign In Spain is a super neon, coral creme.
(One coat shown over Sinful Colors "Snow Me White.")


If only the camera could capture the true color. 
You heard me say it before and I'll say it again. Neons are impossible to photograph correctly.
In person this color is much more bold and much more bright.

The formula was so incredible that I questioned whether or not a white base was even necessary.
While most neon polishes are semi-sheer and require building, this particular shade was incredibly opaque and creamy.

I think I've found my go-to summer shade.
It makes my skin look nice and sunkissed, and I can imagine it's a flattering shade for just about anyone.






As much as this color stands out on it's own, I couldn't help but add a little something.




This bright shade needs to shine, so not wanting to stay inside too much longer I grabbed minimal supplies and went to work.





I knew I wanted to keep it simple with either stripes or dots, so I reached for a dotting tool and the Salon Perfect Nail Art Striper Polish in "White Out." 

Creating the look took no more than five minutes!

First, I simply drew three stripes with the white striper: the first being off center and twice as thick, followed by the two thinner stripes closer to the edges of the nail.

Taking the dotting tool and the white polish, I dabbed dots on alternating sides of one of the stripes to create a waved effect.

I then took the same dotting tool dipped in a dot of the CC polish and dotted down the line in between the two remaining white stripes.




It's quick, it's quirky, it's perfectly imperfect.



What do you think of this funky summer look?
Are you a Birchbox subscriber?

Let me know in the comments below and give this look some love on FacebookInstagramTumblr and Pinterest.


If you're interested in becoming a Birchbox subscriber, you can sign up at Birchbox.com.
For $10 a month you'll receive 4 to 5 beauty samples and access to exclusive sales and specials on full size products in the Birchbox Shop.

You can also check out Birchbox on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
While you're at it, check out Color Club on Facebook, Twitter too!

Thanks for reading!

- Melody



**Birchbox subscription is paid monthly with my own money. This post contains referral links.
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