Marshmallow Manicure

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About a month ago I saw a post on the Nails Magazine website about the “marshmallow manicure” that Morgan Taylor lead artist Gina Edwards had created for Caroline Herrera’s Spring 2018 NYFW collection models.

While Gina Edwards used Heaven Sent (formerly Little Princess) for the white color, I decided to use the new white called I’m Drawing a Blanco, from the fall 2017 Matadora Gelish collection.  I’m Drawing Blanco does have a bit of shimmer to it, which I embellished with some rhinestones and Gelish Grand Jewels to create this design. The butterfly is a double-stamped (first white, then black) image from stamping plate BP-07 I purchased at The Born Pretty Store.

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New Gelish collection swatches posted!

I’ve been crazy busy adulting lately, but have been slowly working to add all my collection swatches to the Gelish Collection swatches page. Check back soon for more!

Collection Matadora

Mauve Your Feet

S&M 30 September 2017

One of the new colors from the Gelish fall 2017 Matadora collection is proving to be very popular so far, at least on social media. It’s called Mauve Your Feet, and I’ve been seeing it everywhere lately. Here’s my take on it.

This is 2 coats of Mauve Your Feet stamped with a rose design from Morgan Taylor Designer Plate 3720201-1 in black polish.  I used a plate and stamper from the Flirty Florals Collection 1 kit, and the design came out beautifully!

What do you think? Have you worn this color yet?

Review: Gelish PolyGel

S&M 31 August 2017

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been doing some product testing with Gelish® PolyGel™. (Of course I have to thoroughly test it on myself before recommending it to others.) This is a photo of my nails enhanced with clear PolyGel and then polished with one coat of Gelish Tickle My Heart (which Gelish is, unfortunately, no longer manufacturing).

I was going for a simple, neutral design with this set, but couldn’t resist a polish with a bit of glitter! You can see that I used the PolyGel to extend the nails, basically doubling the length of my free edge.

After using and wearing PolyGel for about 3 weeks now, I am happy to report that it is as user-friendly and easy to apply as they say. I had watched a few videos on the application of this product, yet I was still blown away by how easy it is to work with. It’s really something you have to experience for yourself!

PolyGel enhancements also sit on the nail very comfortably – it’s light and feels natural on my nail and fingers. This is in contrast to acrylics, which I have trouble getting used to… acrylic on my nail always feels like an enhancement to me.

I’ve applied both Gelish gel polish and regular polish to my nail with no issues, and experienced great wear time. As far as wear and tear, the PolyGel has held up very well. The only minor issue I’ve noticed is that the corners of my square nails are now rounded, especially the nail of the middle finger on my right hand. I believe this is due to the softness of PolyGel as compared to acrylic or even hard gel. But after ~3 weeks of wear, that isn’t too bad! I have experienced very little lifting – much less than I usually do with acrylic or even hard gel.

Some tips for working with PolyGel:

  • Pour the slip solution onto your PolyTool over the dappen dish, with the brush-side down. The Polytool will guide the slip solution liquid into the dish, and at the same time your are priming your brush with slip solution.
  • Slice off only a small amount of PolyGel. You can always add more product.
  • You don’t need a lot of Slip Solution on the brush. Be sure it’s not dripping, only saturating the bristles.
  • If the PolyGel starts to feel gummy or tacky under your brush as you are working with it on the nail, then you’ll know it’s time to put some more slip solution on the brush.
  • PolyGel is great for techs who prefer to hand file because it files so easily and quickly. Use a fine bit and a low speed if e-filing!
  • I recommend starting with the trial kit and PolyTool because that’s everything you need to get squeezing, slicing, and rolling with PolyGel. Once you get a feel for the product, you can add always buy other colors or brushes and tools to your arsenal.

Have you tried PolyGel yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this product!

New Gelish Brush and Bottle

Matadora Collection final with watermark

As of Summer 2017, Gelish has updated their gel polish formulation, as well as the full-size bottle and brush. The new formulation, according to Gelish®, is:

  • enhanced for better stability
  • product flow improved
  • easier to lay down
  • smoother

What’s the same?

  • smooth application
  • streak-free and shiny
  • chip-free for up to 21 days

I never had any issues with the Gelish formulation, so honestly it just seems like the same great product to me!


The new bottle features:

  • A similar overall shape to the already-familiar Morgan Taylor® & Gelish Dip bottle design
  • Shrink-wrapped, enclosed bottle with larger color call-out dot,  and color band

New bottle pros:

  • Branding continuity within the Hand and Nail Harmony brand
  • Opaque wrapper with no window means you won’t have your Gelish curing inside the bottle (due to being exposed unintentionally to UV light, including ambient UV light in the room)
  • color band can be seen from almost any angle
  • More difficult to counterfeit

New bottle cons:

  • Old bottles now seem outdated
  • Gelish has re-named some of their old colors to match them to Gelish Dip and Morgan Taylor color names

The new brush features:

  • dome-bristled brush
  • increased bristle count
  • ergonomic cap

New brush pros:

  • smooth application with full coverage
  • increased product control when polishing in the cuticle area
  • helps pick-up the perfect amount of product
  • cap flares out at the base, which makes it slightly easier to grip and position in the hand

The new brush really does make a big difference! I thought it wouldn’t, but was surprised at how much these seemingly minor tweaks enhanced application. Check out the Smoke and Mirrors YouTube channel for my in-depth brush comparison and test video to see the difference!

New brush cons:

  • Old brushes aren’t as easy to use, by comparison

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I love the new design and, for brand recognition reasons, this was clearly a great move for Gelish. I’ve been a Gelish user for almost a decade now, and I’m looking forward to many years of using this excellent product for myself and my clients. There’s just a tiny part of me, the OCD part of my brain, that is a bit ticked with all the name changes. But I guess that’s progress and we’ll have to be understanding about it!

You can also check out the Fall 2017 issue of Nail Style for more information on the all the new Hand and Nail Harmony products.

Gelish Fall 2017 Matadora Collection Swatches

Collection Matadora BThe Matadora collection is on store shelves, and the summer is winding down… My clients have already been requesting some fall colors, and I have these now to offer!

Collection Matadora

If you prefer to see these colors in action, you can view my swatch video for this collection on the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel.  And, check out my updated Gelish Collections List page and the Gelish Collections Swatch photos page to see more about this and previous Gelish collections.

I’m looking forward to using Don’t Break My Corazón the most. What about you?

Well, hello, Gelish Holiday 2017 Collection!

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My September 2017 Nails Magazine arrived in the mail this week, and inside it is the NailStyle insert for Fall 2017… which has a sneak peek of the Little Miss Nutcracker Holiday 2017 Collection from Gelish! I was so excited to see color dots for these new shades, even though it’s still August and 80+ degrees at the Smoke and Mirrors Headquarters.

If you’re getting amped about the holidays, check out the new colors coming our way from Gelish:

  • 1110273You Crack Me Up – eye-catching green
  • 1110274Baby, It’s Cold Outside – deep, midnight navy blue
  • 1110275Plumthing Magical – royal purple
  • 1110276Don’t Toy with My Heart – bold, shimmery garnet red
  • 1110277Just Tutu Much – shimmery blonde gold
  • 1110278Dreaming of Gleaming – glistening silver metallic
  • 1110279Silver in my Stocking – silver special effect glitter, a part of the Trends lineup

They all look beautiful but I am loving that green color! I can’t wait to get my hands on these. What about you? Which ones do you like?

Images from beautypageinc.com

Battle of the Big Three

The battle of the big three gel polish brands: OPI GelColor versus CND Shellac versus Gelish.

S&M pink comparison

In this photo of my practice hand you’ll see that the nails are painted with (from left to right) OPI nail lacquer in “A Definite Moust-have” for reference on the pointer finger, with OPI GelColor “Strawberry Margarita” on the middle finger, Shellac “Gotcha”on the ring finger, and Gelish “Don’t Pansy Around” on the pinky finger.

For this test I applied two coats of each polish color and did not use a base or top coat on any of these. Let’s look at the consistency of each polish, including viscosity and opacity, application, brush, bottle, and finish for each. We’ll compare all three products to nail lacquer, using the OPI brand lacquer on the pointer as the baseline.  I chose lacquer as the baseline because it is the product that gel polish was purported to emulate when it was first released a few years ago. Note that this is not a wear test; these products were applied directly to acrylic enhancements on a practice hand and there is no top coat. I decided to go with pinks simply because they seem to be a popular choice for many clients.

So let’s see how they stack up!

First – the lacquer was not too viscous so as to be thick when applied to the nail, but also not too thin or runny.  It was opaque so that the nail was not visible after one coat, but application was somewhat streaked so I applied two thin coats for even coverage. A third coat would have been unnecessary. Application was easy and familiar; the polish applied smoothly and did not flow onto the cuticle or nail fold areas. The lacquer, with no topcoat, dried to a somewhat dull, yet smooth finish.

Of the three gel polishes, I struggled the most with the OPI GelColor application, mostly due to the consistency of the polish. It goes on very thick yet runny, and I had to clean up the nail fold areas with a polish remover pen prior to curing.  As you know, it’s very important that gel polish not run onto the skin, so this is a big minus for me with the OPI GelColor brand. (The runny consistency was not unique to this bottle of polish or this particular color; I used another color on a pedicure client a couple weeks ago, and the polish flooded the cuticle area then, too.) Overall application was smooth but not easy to control because the polish ran.

However, this OPI gel polish provided good coverage with just one coat. I did apply two coats, though, to remain consistent with my applications during this test.  The brush seemed to be OPI’s usual thick brush with long bristles, which we were introduced to as the Prowide brush back in 2008. I really like the OPI brush for nail lacquer application but it doesn’t seem to work so well with the GelColor formula. You can see that there is a bit of shine to the finish of the OPI GelColor, which I’m sure would be enhanced with application of top coat. Cure time is 30 seconds in an LED lamp and 1+ minute in a UV lamp, and it cured fully and smoothly in that time. The colored wrapper on the bottle lid provided a decent idea of what color was inside, though bottle and wrappers on Gelish polish never seem to be a perfect representation.

S&M 24 Aug 2017

The Shellac polish “Gotcha” seemed very thin, almost watery, during application, and I experienced some shrinkage at the tip as you can see in the photo. Though it was thin, I did not have any trouble with the Shellac polish running into the cuticle area.  It stayed where I applied it, just like a lacquer would.  Unfortunately, it had such low opacity that two coats were not enough.  I imagine three coats would be necessary for most Shellac colors, and maybe 4 for the lighter colors like this one. Application and curing were both smooth. The Shellac brush is shorter than the OPI brush, which I found gave me more control during application. Cure time for Shellac is 30 seconds in an LED lamp and 2 minutes in a UV lamp, and it cured fully and smoothly in that time.  The finish was somewhat shiny, which will look even better with top coat.

I tried to use pink colors from each brand that were similar to each other, and with the Shellac in particular thought I was getting a much darker color based on the bottle color.

Finally, the Gelish “Don’t Pansy Around” application, which went on smoothly and easily, was the overall winner for me. Applying it felt the most similar to applying lacquer, of the three. The consistency was not too viscous, so the polish applied like lacquer would. It also was not too thin, so it self-leveled and smoothed out as soon as it was applied. One coat covered the nail fairly well, and the second coat evened out the color nicely. (In my experience a few Gelish colors require three coats to reach an acceptable opacity, but most look great with just two.)

The older style Gelish brushes are shorter than the OPI brush by just a little, and have reasonably wide bristles. Beginning Summer 2017 Gelish has introduced a new brush style, which they advertise as the new gold standard. The brush in this bottle is the older style, and it works very nicely for Gelish application.  The bottle has a small circular window through which the client can get a view of the color, and therefore the color representation is very accurate. However, the clear window in the side of the bottle leaves the polish vulnerable to unintended curing in ambient UV light. It’s very important to store Gelish in a dark area (unless you’ve purchased one of the new collections. The new bottles are designed to extend the life of the polish, using a color callout on the outside of the bottle rather than a viewing window like the previous design).  Like the OPI GelColor and Shellac, the Gelish fully cures in 30 seconds in an LED lamp, and has a shiny finish that is enhanced by applying the top coat.  Cure time in a UV lamp is typically 1 minute, and up to 2 minutes for darker colors.

For me the clear winner is Gelish on all accounts.  Based on my blog posts one might believe that I exclusively use Gelish and therefore am biased. But I do occasionally use Shellac or OPI GelColor in the salon, and those occasions serve as reinforcement of my decision to purchase Gelish. So, what do you think? Have you had any different experiences when applying these products? Leave a comment below!

 

 

 

Unboxing: Gelish Polygel

video thumbnail unboxing polygel trial kit

Check out the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel for a new Gelish Polygel unboxing video!

In the video you’ll see what is in the Polygel Trial Kit, including:

The video also features the new PolyTool, created by Gelish for use with the Polygel.

Thanks, Gelish and Gelish Mini!

Smoke & Mirrors would like to thank Gelish and Gelish Mini for the Facebook mentions these past couple months!

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Thank you for creating all your great products for nail techs and nail enthusiasts! I always enjoy testing new Hand and Nail Harmony products.SMMentions2

If you haven’t already, like Smoke & Mirrors on Facebook at facebook.com/smokeandmirrorsnails!