Sunday, April 28, 2013

Treasures of the Sea: Yellow to Blue Gradient and Round Stud Nail Art

Hello everyone!

As many of you know I am preparing my house for the move in of yet another roommate
That makes for three, 20 something year-old males and myself. Even three out of the four animals are boys.
Needless to say it's a madhouse here, and unfortunately it's been at the expense of my lightbox.

I had to apologize for the inconsistencies with the lighting of my photos lately, but don't fret! My boyfriend and I are hard at work custom building me a new one.

Today I wanted to share with you another nail art look that doesn't hesitate to shine.

The rain is back in the peach state, but the beach is still on my mind. This design was created with the idea of the sun on the sea, and the treasures hidden underneath.

Okay, so admittedly the idea came to me when watching The Little Mermaid. I am not ashamed. The glittery ocean world with golden castles and crowns was inspiration I just couldn't ignore.

I began with a neon yellow base using Avon Inspire

To recreate the look of sun shining through water, I used Avon Inspire, Serene Green, and Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Pacific Blue to create a bright, primary gradient that's Disney approved.

To emphasize the concept and add a little sparkle, I added one coat of eyeslipsface (e.l.f) Fairy Dust. The pink flakies really only reveal themselves in sunlight, and the pink is even a subtle ode to Ariel's hair (and my own).

While I may not have a gold crown of my own, I used three varieties of round studs from Born Pretty Store to give this look the royal treatment. They are applied by simply painting a top coat over the gradient, picking up the studs with a wax-based pencil or orange stick and placing the studs in the desired spots. I just use an old, white eyeliner pencil that I was allergic to and it works great.

 I sealed the entire design with Out the Door top coat, and voilĂ !

The end result is fit for a mermaid, a princess, and all polished lovelies under the summer sun. 
It's beach and pool proof, as the studs really stay put.

I won't lie, with my long red hair I definitely felt like the Little Mermaid.
By the way, did you know her daughter's name was Melody in the sequel? Too bad she had black hair.

What do you think of this design?
How do dress your nails for days by the sea?

Share you summer mani must-haves in the comments below and give this look some love on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest!

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cute As A Button Nail Art

Hi everyone!

Today I have a quick nail art look to share with you, and it's as cute as a button! Get it?

This is an all Julep look, using the following:

Eileen (White)
Madison (It's really Pink, but isn't coming off that way in the photos)
Annie (Blue)
Bette (Purple)

The Steps

1. I started with two coats of Eileen as my base.

2. Next I used the largest size dotting tool I have and created two dots on each finger using Madison.

3. To vary the size of the buttons, I took a small nail art brush and extended the circles until I was satisfied.

4. Using the same nail art brush, I used Eileen and free-handed a white rim just inside the edges of each button. 

5. Going back to Madison, I filled in the rest of the circles with a medium size dotting tool.

6. To complete the button look, I added two small "holes" with Eileen using the smallest size dotting tool I had.

7. I cycled through steps 2-6 two more times, first with Annie and then with Bette.

8. I finished the design by touching up noticeably bumpy edges with the same small nail art brush, and then sealed everything with two coats of Out The Door.

 I get a little obsessive over the clean up and making sure the edges are really smooth, so I spent wayyy more time than I should have on this, but I like the end result. At first I was unhappy with the transparency of the some of the buttons, but I knew the formula of the polishes going in. 

It's not perfect, but hey...I'm an amateur, right? :)

What do you think of this design?

Let me know in the comments below or give it some love on Facebook and Instagram.

Thanks for popping by!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

L.A. Girl 3D Effects Hologram Nail Polish: Brilliant Blue

Hi everyone!

I have a short post today as I need to get back to getting things organized around the house.

I wanted to share with you the L.A. Girl 3D Effects Hologram Nail Polish in Brilliant Blue.
I had originally planned to wait until I purchased the rest of the collection at the end of the week, but I just couldn't wait!

I'll stumbled upon this beauty at Rite-Aid along with the others for $4.99 each, and they were already flying off the shelves!

I hope I can scoop up the others by this weekend so I can do a full review.
In the meantime, you can view the entire collection at

Brilliant Blue is deep, dark blue scattered holo. 
The actual hologram effect is pretty subtle, but either way is out of this world.

 The formula is really interesting. It's a bit thick, but almost applies like a jelly. It's like you can see the 3D aspect as you apply it. It looks as if the glitter is raised above the base. I know it sounds crazy, but get it and you'll know exactly what I mean.

All of these photos were taken with two coats, without top coat after two days of wear. Can you believe it? I still can't. I never wear a polish this long but it's just been so good to me.

Dare I compare it to Picture Polish Cosmos? Why not.? 
Consider it the cheap cousin, and I'm dying to meet the rest of the family.

Have you seen the L.A. Girl 3D Effects at your local Rite-Aid?
Will you be picking any of them up?

Let me know in the comments below or share you love for holos on my Facebook or Twitter page.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, April 22, 2013

E.L.F Essential Spring 14 Piece Nail Cube Swatches and Review (Part Two)

Hi everyone!

Today I have the second half of the eyeslipsface (e.l.f) Spring Essential 14 Piece Nail Cube to share with you.

If you missed the first half of this review, you can jump over here and see the rest of the collection and get more information on pricing and availability.

The Collection

For the second half of this review I will be showcasing the following:

From left to right:

Mint Cream
Lavender Mist
Skinny Jeans
Chic Confetti
Gold Star
Dream Maker
Fairy Cream (I think this is actually Fairy Dust and my sticker is just a misprint)

[Mint Cream, Skinny Jeans, Chic Confetti, Gold Star, Dream Maker, and Fairy Dust (same as Fairy Cream) are available in full size bottles.]

The Colors

Mint Cream is a deep, duusty mint creme. Fitting name, right?

e.l.f. "Mint Cream"

We've all seen plenty of mint polish releases this year, but this one stands out among the crowd. It's skirts the line of being more of seafoam green than a mint green, but it still counts. I'm in favor of this one because it's more suitable for all seasons because of its muted tone. It's also more flattering for those weary of brighter green polishes.

In addition to the color itself, the formula couldn't be better. Smooth and opaque in one coat, and super glossy even before top coat. I did, however, have yet another hair come off the brush into the polish, but reapplication is a simple remedy.

e.l.f. "Mint Cream"

Lavender Mist is a bright periwinkle blue with silver microshimmer.

e.l.f. "Lavender Mist"

I assumed this was going to be a frost like the other two shimmers in the collection, but the brush strokes almost completely disappeared as the color dried. The brush did cause minor streaking, but two coats smoothed everything out. 

I'm a sucker for periwinkle, and a shimmery periwinkle is hard to come by.

e.l.f. "Lavender Mist"

Skinny Jeans is glossy blue creme.

e.l.f "Skinny Jeans"

This shade had the thinnest formula of them all, taking three coats to reach total coverage.

It's a pretty basic blue. There's no real wow factor here, but it does compliment the rest of the collection.

e.l.f. "Skinny Jeans"

Gold Star is a gold mix of fine and small hex glitters suspended in a clear base.

e.l.f. "Gold Star"

This is a great, basic, gold glitter mix depending on how you wish to use it. If you want to achieve the sprinkled look as I have demonstrated above, then this is a steal. The glitter sits so flat you don't even feel it when you run your fingers across the nail.

The reason behind this is also it's downside. The base is really thick. Unfortunately this means that it's extremely difficult to maneuver the glitter around and just about impossible to place a single glitter in a specific area. I basically had to dab it on and hope for the best.

I definitely like the end result, it's just shame that it's not more versatile. 

I know my photos are kind of funky, but since I'm back outside shooting (temporarily) I had to angle my hands down to avoid some major glare from the glitter. 

e.l.f. "Gold Star"

Dream Maker is a holographic mix of fine and small hex glitters suspended in a clear base.
e.l.f. "Dream Maker"

The formula for Dream Maker is nearly identical to Gold Star, but for some reason I had a much harder time getting the hex glitters out of the bottle. 

Even though it took some extra effort, I got the same beautiful result. 

Fairy Dust/Cream consists of tiny, iridescent flakies suspended in a clear base.

e.l.f. "Fairy Dust/Cream"

As with all iridescent finish polishes, Fairy Dust/Cream is extremely camera shy without indoor lighting. That being said, the flakies are more sparse than other iridescent finishes such as Color Club's "Snow Flakes." 

This can actually be a good thing as it allows you to control the intensity of the effect. This was much easier to work with than the previous two mixes. I used two coats for the photos above, but this is in direct sunlight where the effect gets a bit lost.

e.l.f. "Fairy Dust/Cream"

Chic Confetti is colorful mix of round and small hex glitters suspended in a clear base.

e.l.f. "Chic Confetti"

Multicolored  glitter mixes like this are a dime a dozen, and this one isn't all that special.

The formula was a bit more manageable than Gold Star and Dream Maker, but not by much.

I don't hate it, I just have many others like it.

e.l.f. "Chic Confetti"


Now that I've seen the collection in its entirety, I'm more able to look past my qualms with the brushes. Losing hairs into the polish is still unforgivable, but once I got used to the behavior of the brush I was able to see the polishes for what the really are. 

For $14 dollars you get 14 polishes in a variety of colors and finishes. Deal or no deal isn't really the question here. Of course it's a bargain, but only if you like the colors. While some of the shades are pretty basic, a few stood out as my favorites:

Flirty Fuschia and Mango Madness still rank as my top two, but Mint Cream, Lavender Mist, and Fairy Dust are a few that I'm 100% sure I'll be turning to again.

What were your  favorite shades from the collection? 
Will you picking up this nail cube anytime soon? 
What about as a gift?

Let me know in the comments below and shout out your favorite gift ideas for the polish-loving mother figures in your life.

And don't forget to keep with the Manicured Amateur on Facebook, Twitter, Bloglovin' and all the other little social media outlets by clicking the buttons in the top right-hand corner.

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, April 21, 2013

E.L.F Essential Spring 14 Piece Nail Cube Swatches and Review (Part One)

Hi everyone!

Today I have a part one of a two part review of the eyeslipsface (e.l.f) Spring Essential 14 Piece Nail Cube.

With Mother's Day coming up in a few weeks many are searching for the perfect girly gift for mothers, wives and other maternal figures in their life. 

If you're wondering if the e.l.f nail cube is right for a special lady in your life, keep on reading!

The Collection
Photo Courtesy of

The Spring nail cube consists of 14 mini size (0.2 fl.oz.) bottles including 7 creme shades, 3 shimmery shades, and 4 glitter top coats.

For the first part of this review I will be showcasing the following:

From left to right:

Metallic Elegance
Flirty Fuschia
Electric Fuschia
Smokin' Hot
Mango Madness

Price & Availibility

The nail cube is available for $14.00 at Target and on
That's $1 per shade. Fair price for the amount of product.
The set is supposedly limited edition, but e.l.f said that about the Holiday Nail Cube too (which I rushed to purchase at the time), and yet it's still available for purchase on their website.

Full size (10ml, 0.34 fl.oz) bottles of Nude, Flirty Fuchsia, Smokin' Hot and Mango Madness are currently available for $2.00 each.

The Colors

Metallic Elegance is a frosty, champagne pink shimmer.

e.l.f "Metallic Elegance"

Okay, so on my first attempt with this polish I thought the formula was horrible. However, after swatching more shades I realized the problem is in the brush, not the polish.

For a frosty shade like this one, a bad brush is a big bummer. Frosts have a naturally streaky application as it is, but a brush that fans out too much and gives you little control over the strokes causes an overall messy manicure.

It's really not possible to paint thin layers without experiencing major baldness or dragging. It took me FOUR coats to even out the streaking and to achieve full coverage, but in the end the polish pooled and sat thick on the nail.

It's a shame really; it's a pretty color.

e.l.f "Metallic Elegance"

Nude is pinky, deep nude creme.

e.l.f "Nude"

Luckily, all of the creme shades gave me much less trouble. While a little bit of streaking was impossible to avoid, Nude was entirely opaque in just one coat, and all strokes were smoothed out with top coat.

I'm still not sure if I like this type of "nude" on me. My skin tone is in the odd in-between of peach and olive undertones...and this particular shade just clashes. It's also too dark to be "my nude" and too light to pass as pinky brown. Can you tell I'm conflicted?

e.l.f "Nude"

Flirty Fuchsia is hot coral-like pink creme.

e.l.f. "Flirty Fuchsia"

I have no idea why this has fuchsia in the name. Nevertheless, this shade is gorgeous! It's borderline neon when you see it in person. Fine for spring, fine for summer, fine for me!

The formula is just a bit thinner than Nude, which resulted in the easiest application. Even and opaque in one coat, and it's very glossy even without topcoat.

e.l.f. "Flirty Fuchsia"

Electric Fuchsia is closer to actual fuchsia, but not quite. It's more of a rich, raspberry pink creme.

e.l.f. "Electric Fuchsia"

Indoors this shade shifts to more of a berry reddish color, but it's still beautiful.

It goes on more sheer than the others, requiring two coats to eliminate the nail line.

e.l.f. "Electric Fuchsia"

Smokin' Hot is a cherry red creme with purple undertones.

e.l.f. "Smokin' Hot"

The formula is identical to Electric fuchsia and required two coats for total coverage. I actually prefer a thinner composed red because it typically leaves less stains in the cuticles during removal.

e.l.f. "Smokin' Hot"

 Mango Madness is an almost neon, coral orange creme.

e.l.f. "Mango Madness"

Mango Madness and Flirty Fuchsia are great examples of the opposite ends of the coral spectrum. Their formulas are identical and are both equal in brightness. 

I immediately saw Mango Madness and thought "TOES!" For $2.00 I'll happily spring for a full size of this one and wear it on my toes all summer long. It's fantastic.

There was a total downside to this one. A hair completely came off the brush and I had to completely remove the polish from one nail and start over.

e.l.f "Mango Madness"

 Sunflower is true to it's name as a pollen colored yellow frost.

e.l.f. "Sunflower"
This is one of the most interesting shades of yellow I have ever seen. The yellow itself has green undertones, but the silver microshimmer gives the overall finish almost a peachy golden glow. 
You can't explain that!

The formula was definitely thicker, matching that of Metallic Elegance. I didn't have quite the same issues as I did with the other which I attribute to the color being much more saturated.

I usually don't care for frosts at all, and boy is this one frosty. But the shade is so interesting and somehow flattering that I feel inclined to make an inception. The brushstrokes almost mimic the actual texture of a well played e.l.f., well played.

e.l.f. "Sunflower"


So far, it looks like you get what you pay for. As I mentioned before, it's not the polish that's a problem, it's the brush. If you really like the colors, I say buy it anyway. It's still a fantastic deal for the price, and with a little patience you cane make every shade work. The packaging is very gift-friendly and it's a great option for any polish or makeup lover when you aren't sure what colors they'd prefer.

Which colors are you favorite from these shades? 
Will you picking this set up anytime soon?

Let me know in the comments below and share your thoughts about frosty polishes, tricky brushes and anything else!

Keep up with the Manicured Amateur on Facebook, Twitter, and Bloglovin' for part two of this review, updates and more!

I hope everyone is having a great weekend. Thanks for reading!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Maven Madness: Julep Sea Salt Mystery Box Version 1 (Swatches and Review)

Hi everyone!

I know I've gone missing for a day or two. 
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter then you already know that I am preparing for a third roommate. A good bit of my time this week has been dedicated to clearing out the guestroom, combining my boyfriend and I's closet (which was a daunting task) and moving furniture in just about every room.
So I'm back outside for pictures until I get a new lightbox. My current one didn't survive the room shifting. :(

With the warm weather rolling in, you're probably ready to dip your feet in the ocean. 
Once again, Julep's got you covered with the most recent mystery box debuting the brand's first textured polishes, the "Sea Salt Finish," a matte sandy finish that's beachside beautiful.

The Box

Every month Julep offers a Mystery Box for $24.99 which includes $70-$200 worth of Julep polishes and beauty products. There are multiple versions of the mystery box, and from time to time Julep will include a special price for a few lucky Mavens including gift cards, jewelry and more.

You do not have to be a Julep Maven to purchase a mystery box, but Mavens will receive the benefit of free shipping.

To learn more about the Julep Maven Program, you can read my in-depth review of the entire program here.

The Polishes

Version One of the mystery box contained four colors: Barbara, Joy, Madeline, and Otte.

Barbara is a full coverage mix of purple glitter that shifts magenta.
(Retail Price: $14.00, Maven Price: $11.20)

Julep "Barbara"

This full dimension of this glitter was camera shy in the overcast weather. Unfortunately with my house currently torn apart, there is currently no way to take pictures inside.

The formula was actually kinda chunky. Not thick, but after the first layer I noticed little globs coming out of the bottle that had to be worked through. In the end it doesn't affect the finished look, but it's something to mention. You only need two coats to completely cover the nail.

It's not my favorite Julep glitter just because I have a few others like it, but it's still pretty!

Julep "Barbara"

Joy is a dusty mauve creme.
(Retail Price: $14.00, Maven Price: $11.20)

Julep "Joy"

 Joy is actually a dupe for me. It came in the March It-Girl Maven Box which I reviewed here

If you read my original review of this shade you know that I loved it and the formula was flawless. I applied it in thicker layers this time and reached full opacity in two coats as opposed to three.

Julep "Joy"

Otte is a light, milk chocolate brown creme from the Fall 2012 Trina Turk Collection.
(Retail Price: $14.00, Maven Price: $11.20)

Julep "Otte"

The formula is identical to Joy, gliding on perfectly even. It will require three coats to eliminate the nail line completely.

Despite the warm undertones, this shade  is extremely flattering even on pale skin tones like myself.

Julep "Otte"

Madeline is the star of the show in this box: the pale, baby pink with a "sea salt" finish.
(Retail Price: I assume they will be $14.00, Maven Price: $11.20)

Julep "Madeline"

I fell in love with Madeline on the first coat. It went on like a creme and you actually see little speckles as it applies. It was almost opaque on the first layer, but if your nails are really white you'll notice the tips shining through. Some may prefer that look and leave it at one coat, but I added a second coat to full cover the nail and bring out the color.

If you are nervous about diving into the textured trend, start with this one and you won't regret it. The delicate color is sophisticated enough for any woman, but the sandy texture gives it a subtle edge. 

Wedding season is already here, and I immediately saw this as the prefect beach wedding mani or for any bride who wants something different than the normal french tips.

Julep "Madeline"

Beauty Item

Version one of the mystery box included the Glow On Age Defying Hand Brightener.
(Retail Price: $32.00, Maven Price: $25.60)

I immediately noticed that this smelled like the cream version of the Hand and Cuticle Stick from the January Maven Box, which is also available on Julep's website for $22.00 ($17.60 for Mavens).

The scent is very fresh but not overpowering. I can't say much about the "brightening" aspect as I have only owned it for a day, but it is very moisturizing.

It's not an extremely thick lotion making it ideal for the hands, but I wouldn't use it as all over body lotion, which it's not made for anyway. It's a bit sticky for just a second after application, then fully absorbs leaving the hands soft and smooth.

The Extras

Julep will always include a couple of extra goodies in version of the box, and version one included a basic standard Emory board and a pair of tow separators. I have quite a few of these at this point, but they are always good to have around...
...especially when the cats get a hold of the toe separators and absolutely destroy them. Gotta love 'em.


Approximate Final Retail Value: $88.00 (not including file and separators)
Approximate Final Maven Value: $70.40 (not including file and separators)

I'm extremely pleased with this mystery box. The Seal Salt polish is divine and I will most certainly be picking up the other shades when they become available.  Version one knocked off a couple of shades from my wishlist I had overlooked when they were first released, and for a better price. 

Even though I already owned Joy, it is a shade I absolutely love. As much as I would love to keep it as a backup, my mother has yet to own a Julep polish and I know she would love this shade for Mother's Day.
Hope she doesn't read this!

The best part about this Mystery Box is that it is still available! It will gone soon, so grab it now by clicking here!

**Also, Maven selection will be open in just two days so if you're not already a Maven, you can sign up at Julep's website here and get your first box for free! Just enter "FREEBOX" at checkout.

Which polish/product was your favorite from the Julep Mystery Box?
Are you thinking of becoming a Julep Maven?

Let me know in the comments below and share your thoughts about the Julep brand.

And don't forget to stay updated with the Manicured Amateur on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks by clicking the icons in the top right hand corner.

Wish me luck as a tackle life with not one, not two, but three 20-something year old men and all the mess that comes with them. Ha!
Thanks for reading!

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