Some Girls Prefer Pearls

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S&M 2 September 2019

If you watched my swatch video for the Gelish Forever Marilyn collection, then you got a preview of this design. The base color is two coats of Some Girls Prefer Pearls.

The design on top is stamped using CJS polish and Morgan Taylor Designer Plate Flirty Florals 3720201-2. I stamped using the white polish (#2 Jenny’s Gonna Love It) first, then with the black polish (#1 More Like 1 AM).

This is a simple, relatively fast (double your stamping time only) technique, but it gives interest and depth to the finished art.

Morgan Taylor stamping plates have always worked well for me.  I use CJS supplies with them to get excellent results.  They’re somewhat difficult to find now, but you can get them online still, in three designs:

What do you think? Have you tried any of the Morgan Taylor stamping plates?



Everyday Nail Art #8: Bling the Ring

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S&M 18 June 2019

Here’s an oldie but goodie technique for adding subtle glam to a plain mani – add a glitter overlay to the one finger on each hand.  This is the one type of nail art I can get most women, even the most conservative, to try. We call it “bling the ring” because a lot of ladies like their ring finger to have the glitter.

For this design I used I Feel Flower-ful from the Gelish Spring 2019 Color of Petals collection, which is a lovely soft pink. I topped off two fingers and the thumbs with two coats of a glitter from the classic Gelish lineup, Golden Treasure.

Live swatching the Gelish Forever Marilyn Collection for Fall 2019

Contains affiliate links.Forever Marilyn collection

If you’d like to see all the colors in the Forever Marilyn collection, check out my swatching video on the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel!

In a previous post I said I wouldn’t be buying the full size bottles this time, but I just had to get the minis. And I’m so glad I did! They’re really lovely, unique colors.

While I used to prefer the full size bottles when working in the salon, the mini colors are perfect for home use, especially if you already have a large collection of colors to choose from.

Interested in buying this collection? You can pick up Minis at your local Sally Beauty or online from authorized retailers.  My Sally Beauty only stocks a couple of each color, and often the pinks, reds, or purples were sold out by the time I get there.  So, I’ve been buying online instead, and have provided a link to an authorized retailer here if you’d like to do the same. Shipping was free and only took about two days!


A new direction for Smoke & Mirrors nail blog

Life has changed here this summer at the Smoke & Mirrors headquarters.  Between 10-12 hour-long work days, beginning a master’s program, and LIFE, there hasn’t been much time to spend researching, swatching polish, recording and editing videos, creating nail art, photographing, editing photos, and blogging. And that’s saying nothing of the money it costs to buy product (this is not a sponsored blog) and let’s face it, the folks behind Smoke & Mirrors have helped keep Gelish in business over the last decade.  We have an extensive collection of all the Gelish colors sold in the U.S. since its inception (as far as we know)…

fall 2019 lineup

Which brings me to the latest collection, which I’ve not yet purchased. As much as I want all the pretty colors, I couldn’t bring myself to spend the money.

Image from Gelish Mini

I might wait for a coupon at Sally Beauty and buy the whole collection later, as there’s no point for me buying the full size bottles now that I no longer work in a salon.

For person reasons, I’ve lately become more interested in natural beauty products.  Over a decade ago I started switching over to less toxic brands without pthalates or parabens, but I never made the switch for nail polish. I mean, I was changing most of my products… what harm can a little nail polish do? And, I simply love Gelish. For whatever reason it brings me great joy.  I have often wondered about the wear time of the natural products.  How well would they hold up to my active lifestyle?

I invite you to join me on my journey to find a polish with more natural ingredients and with less toxic load.

Rest assured, I’ll still have some nail art ideas for you along the way. I’m not even promising to give up my Gelish.  But it’s time to try out some new things and see where the journey takes us! In the meanwhile, I hope you’ll stick around even though new content isn’t available here as frequently as it has been in the past.

If you have any input or suggestions for products I should look into, please leave a comment below!

Gelish Fall 2019 Collection – Forever Marilyn

forever marilyn
Image from 


Via the August 2019 issue of Nails Magazine, we have a sneak peak of the upcoming fall Gelish collection.  It will be called Forever Marilyn, and will be Gelish’s second Monroe-centric collection in two years.




While the previous Marilyn Monroe Gelish collection was massive, with 12 colors in the collection, we’re back down the the norm with 6 colors for this fall collection. According to Gelish, these colors are “reminiscent of Marilyn’s classic Hollywood beauty and effortless glamour.  They will be:

  • Some Girls Prefer Pearls – pearl white
  • All American Beauty – light cream
  • A Girl and Her Curls – plum purple
  • That’s so Monroe – bronze glitter
  • Flirty and Fabulous – deep forest/teal green
  • Classic Red Lips – classic red

Of course I’m guessing on the color descriptions, not having seen the colors yet in person. However, we should only have to wait a few more weeks, as new fall collections are usually released August 1!

Everyday Nail Art #7: Gel Polish Ombre

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S&M 12 June 2019For this design I started with Just Me and My Piano, from the new Gelish Rocketman collection for Summer 2019. On three of the nails on each hand I used three coats to get full depth of color, then added Bedazzle Me, which is the glitter topper from the Rocketman collection.
For the ombré nails, my base was one coat of Just Me and My Piano.  To get this easy ombré look I applied a generous stripe of Just Me and My Piano and one of the pink color from the same collection, Tickle My Keys, to a sponge makeup wedge.  I then dabbed the colors onto the nail several times, with the pink at the top of the nail. I cured, then repeated the process.
To bring those nails together with the others, I added a thin coat of Bedazzle Me to the top of the ombré nails, and cured. Then I top coated all the nails and cured one last time.
The ombré process is easy but can create a mess on the skin surrounding the nail. You can use a peel-off cuticle guard, or just clean the skin with acetone before curing in the lamp. The finished look is worth the extra effort!

Testing Color Street Nail Polish Strips – Part 2 – Wear

Last week I tested Color Street nail polish strips, and I have some wear test results for you in this post. This photos shows the results from one week of wear time:

S&M 3 June 2019

Within a couple days of applying them, I started to notice the edge of the strips in the cuticle area would catch on my hair.  Recall that I used top coat, even though the instructions indicated it is unnecessary… would this have been worse with no top coat?

In this photo you might be able to see where the strip began to tear away in small pieces, so the curve at the cuticle area became irregular.  Other than that, I was pleased with how well the strips stayed on over the week.

S&M 3 June 2019 B

Removal was easy with acetone, as advertised, even with all the glitter in this strip.

Overall, I was impressed with Color Street nail polish strips. I went in with fairly low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised.  The price tag indicates to me that you’re paying for convenience (less mess and quick manicure completion time). If you’re OK with the cost, then I’d say this product is a viable option for home users.

The best nail colors for summer 2019… (Part 2)

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… according to InStyle magazine.

For part 2 of our just-for-fun post about trendy summer colors, we have some expected and maybe unexpected options! As I noted in the previous post, their list is pretty good, but it’s all traditional nail polish.  Here we’ll update it to 2019 standards with some comparable Gelish gel polishes!

Gelish collection 008

Their suggestion:

“… pastel blue-gray nail polish.”

From Gelish:

Water Baby (AKA My One Blue Love)



S&M 6 August 2017

Their suggestion:

“Your summer glow-up: Painting your nails with…polish loaded with shimmery… gold flakes.”

From Gelish:

All That Glitters is Goldfrom the original Gelish Trends collection









Their suggestion:

“When in doubt, a rosy pink manicure is seasonally-appropriate all 365 days of the year..”

From Gelish: Go Girl

Make a Splash








Their suggestion:

“…tangerine polish can’t promise you a tan line-free summer, but painting it on does guarantee you’ll have a shiny, gel […] manicure…”

From Gelish:

You’ve Got Tan-gerine Lines from the Summer 2018 Gelish Make A Splash collection

Testing Color Street Nail Polish Strips – Part 1 – Application

S&M 31 May 2019 A

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This week I’m testing and reviewing Color Street nail polish strips. Someone gave me a set to try months ago, but I didn’t get around to testing them until now.  This is planned as a two-part post, and for this first one I’ll focus on buying and applying these nail polish strips.

If you haven’t heard much about these – they’re simply nail color strips, a la Sally Hansen, InCoCo, and Jamberry.  Like Jamberry, you buy them from a multi-level marketer. I imagine they’re pretty easy to get, and yoiucan pick out your designs online or from their little paper catalog. The sets are around $11-$13 each, and I’ve heard you can get multiple manicures out of each set. Unlike Jamberry, these are not an adhesive paper strip. They’re actually the closest thing I’ve found to my beloved Sally Hansen real nail polish strips, in that they’re a flexible acrylate and sit on the nail like traditional nail polish. (I read somewhere recently that Color Street owns the patent on this type of nail color application, and that’s why Sally Hansen isn’t selling their strips anymore.)

For these nails I grabbed a Gelish neutral that complemented the colors in my test strips, called Hey, Twirl-friend!Beginning with clean, PolyGel®-enhanced nails, I applied the test strips per the package instructions.  As you can see in the close-up, the strips weren’t the perfect width for my nail beds. There is an uncovered area along the sidewalls (and that was after I had flipped the strip around 180° and applied the thicker end!). The directions indicate that you should file the free edge to remove the excess strip. Unfortunately one of mine ripped during this process at the corner, which you can see in the below photo.

S&M 31 May 2019 B

The instructions say you don’t need to apply base or top coats, but I recommend top coat to seal the whole nail. This adds dry time, the lack of which is one of Color Street’s selling points, but I believe you’ll get better wear time with it. Overall, the application process was quick and easy. Once you get a hang of the alignment, you can probably do these very quickly. However, I don’t see how you can get away with no top coat on these for 10 days.

I admit, when I saw these on someone’s short nails at work, I thought they looked bad.  They did not seem to lie smoothly on the natural nail, and I would have been disappointed if I’d spent $13 on a single manicure with those results (you can get a full bottle of Gelish in all it’s glittery glory, for WAY less per manicure!). But after applying them to smooth enhanced nails, I’m a little more sold on them. As you know, I loved my Sally Hansen polish strips and, overall, these are very, very similar.

What do you think? Have you tried Color Street? Let us know in the comments!

The best nail colors for summer 2019… (Part 1)

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… according to InStyle magazine.

We’re back with another non-scientific, just-for-fun post: this time about trendy summer colors.  Whether you’re an on-trend polish wearer or you just wear what you like, hopefully you get some ideas for your next manicure here!

Their list is pretty good, but it’s all traditional nail polish – so 15 years ago.  Let’s update it to 2019 standards with some comparable Gelish gel polishes!

Their suggestion:

“… lavender shade has a subtle metallic finish. Yeah, it’s going to look amazing…”

From Gelish:

All the Queen’s Bling from the 2018 Spring Royal Temptations collection

S&M 3 March 2018 B

Their suggestion:

“Instead of using Wite-Out to paint your nails, we now have every shade of white imaginable…”

From Gelish:

Magic Within (AKA Potts of Tea) from the Spring 2017 Gelish Beauty and the Beast collection


Their suggestion:

“Bright fuchsia nails and summer basically go hand-in-hand.”

From Gelish:

Woke Up This Way from the Summer 2017 Gelish Selfie collection

S&M 6 August 2017 B

Their suggestion:

“…bright shades have basically become neutrals at this point, so you might as well embrace the trend by wearing slime green on your nails.”

From Gelish:

Sometimes A Girl’s Gotta Glow from the Summer 2013 Gelish All About the Glow collection

Gelish collection 006

Their suggestion:

“The color of that sandy beach you wish you were laying on, but make it chic.”

From Gelish:

Tan My Hide from the Gelish Urban Cowgirl Fall 2015 collection

Gelish collection 004

Their suggestion:

“…a creamy pastel mix of yellow, last summer’s most popular polish, with this year’s trendy neon shades.”

From Gelish:

A Tribe Called Cool from the Gelish Just for You Collection

S&M 14 August 2018 A