Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Beauty of Science #1: A Primer & Some Food For Thought

Welcome to the first entry in the "Beauty of Science" series. I struggled a bit with this, because I didn't want to overwhelm from the get-go, but I wanted to establish a solid foundation so that following posts would be well understood. I decided to start from the very beginning. Hopefully this won't bore readers with science backgrounds, but will be enough of a starting point for everyone else. Also, I have to say that I will be glossing over some of the more involved details, because I want to stay focused. The point is to prepare you to discuss and understand topics that do interest you, like the science of skincare, certain ingredients, etc. This is meant to be a reference that you can take your time with, and refer to as necessary in the future. Ready? Let's go.

Atoms are the basic building blocks of all matter. Each atom contains a nucleus (the center), which is composed of protons and neutrons, and an outer electron cloud, where the electrons dwell.
I'm going to use computer-drawn figures after this post, but for my purposes here, I thought my hand-drawn figures would be a little less sterile.

Elements (remember the periodic table?) are defined by their number of protons; that is, a hydrogen atom has 1 proton, a helium atom has 2, lithium has 3, and so on.
Example of entries in a periodic table; these are the element abbreviations: H = hydrogen, He = helium, Li = lithium. We're all about abbreviations!

To form molecules, atoms need to get together and bond; this is through the sharing or exchanging of electrons. Electrons are important, people! A single bond consists of two electrons; you can also have double bonds and triple bonds, which each add on another two electrons.
For our purposes, we'll focus on carbon-based chemistry, and see mostly carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), and nitrogen (N). A C atom needs 4 bonds to be stable and happy. An H atom will have one bond.

Chemical reactions are due to bonds breaking or forming. To illustrate this, we use pictures and arrows.

Molecules are written out (e.g. H2O, water) or drawn out. The picture gives us more information.
One of my favorite molecules :)

However, drawing out all of those carbons and hydrogens gets time consuming, so we have a shorthand. Any non-carbon/hydrogen atom is still written in.
You can count all the points and assure yourself that all of the carbons and hydrogens are still accurately represented.

Okay. Take a deep breath. Still with me? This is easy, right? There are no tests. This is only for your personal information! Now that we have all of that done, I'm going to throw out a couple of things to think about.
More examples of familiar molecules, drawn out in shorthand.

First, the word "chemical" encompasses all things. Water is a chemical; its formula is H2O and it has many systematic chemical names, such as dihydrogen monoxide. Say it out loud. Sounds scary, doesn't it? It's still water. So when companies claim to be "chemical-free," you can see why I'm a little skeptical. There are substances I want to avoid, for a variety of reasons, but in that case I really prefer it when they list exactly what they are eliminating, e.g., "free of X, X, X, X."

Second, there's really no hard and fast rule for what makes something a "bad" chemical, and what makes it a "good" one. There are classes of compounds that are toxic to humans, of course, but sometimes a small change (substitution of a single atom, for example) can make a big difference. For example, look: here are methanol, and ethanol. As their names imply, they are very similar in structure - ethanol has one more carbon and a few more hydrogens. However, methanol in all forms is poisonous; ethanol is diluted and consumed for pleasure (vodka, rum, gin, wine, etc.).


All right, I'm done. Class dismissed! Seriously, though, I really want to make science less intimidating. If this was not helpful at all, please let me know - I want to make it easy to follow and as clear as possible. I would love to hear from you, whether it's because you hated it, you loved it, you're looking forward to more, whatever it is. Also, if you have questions or need a little more, please feel free to email me or leave a comment below. The next topic I'll be covering is antioxidants and free radicals, which I'm excited about. I'm still taking suggestions for other topics! 

Also, I feel that there are many ways to teach and learn. For more information about drawing structures and basic organic chemistry, check out this.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Another Natural Lip: Manic Panic High Voltage Lip Gloss

Even though I'm primarily a lipstick girl, I do think there is a time and place for lip gloss - it can make you look polished, but less "done up" than a lipstick. Especially if it comes in a nice, creamy shade that is almost a dead-on match to my natural lip shade. Like this one.
This is Manic Panic's High Voltage Lip Gloss in Naked*; it's an opaque formula described as "medium mauve with gold shimmer and cupcake flavor."
A little milky looking close up, but from a normal distance - looks like even coverage. The gold sparkles aren't really apparent on lips, either, which makes this very wearable.
I know - I was little concerned about the cupcake flavor, too, but as far as I can tell it's just a faint vanilla-esque scent, similar to that of Fyrinnae's lip lustres (and not like MAC's lip products). As far as texture goes, I find it more comfortable than Revlon's glosses and less than Dior's, but that's only natural, I suppose, as at $12.00 (0.24 oz), it also falls appropriately in the middle of the price range scale. It's initially not sticky or tacky, but also not slippery. After a few hours wear and reapplications, it becomes a little tackier, but it's nothing like, say, the original NARS glosses. As far as the product itself goes, thumbs up. It is also vegan and paraben-free!
The mirror can be useful for brief touch-ups on the go.

The downside for me, however, is the packaging. The tube has a mirror on the side, which, if you carry it around, will get scuffed up like nobody's business, and there are LED lights in the cap. I understand the intent, but I find it unnecessary and not really successful in practice.
Doe-foot applicator.

In normal situations, the light is actually a problem. When you apply, the lights do illuminate your lips, but it makes it difficult to see exactly what you're applying because of the way the light falls. At least, that was my problem. I feel packaging gimmicks like this are absolutely unnecessary.
That issue aside, I do think it's a nice gloss and a great shade. It comes in three other colors and can be purchased through Manic Panic's website, blush.com, drugstore.com, thinkgeek, and Hot Topic's website.

Ingredients: Polybutene Mineral Oil (and)Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer (and)Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer Octyldodecanol Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride Tocopheryl Acetate Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax Disteardimonium Hectorite Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate Ascorbyl Palmitate Ammonium Glycyrrhizate Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract GlyrrhizaGlabra (Licorice) Root Extract Caprylyl Glycol Phenoxyethanol Flavor, May contain: Titanium Dioxide, Mica , Iron Oxides, D& C Red No. 6 Barium Lake, D&C Red No. 7 Calcium Lake,Aluminum Lakes of D&C Red No. 27, FD&C Yellow Nos. 5,6, Blue No. 1, D&C Red No. 36.

*Item was received by PR for evaluation.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Introducing: The Beauty of Science

As some of you know, I'm currently a Ph.D candidate in chemistry. My focus is in physical chemistry; I do spectroscopy and analyze the structure and function of proteins.
Yep. That's one of my lab notebooks - and my glasses.
Which means, essentially, that I sort of like science. Since I've been feeling artistically uninspired lately, I thought it might be fun to exercise the right brain a bit and bring that to the blog, by explaining some topics that are of interest to the beauty community.

I'm not trying to alienate readers, of course! But I am of the opinion that everyone can understand the principles of science, even if it's not your favorite subject. If you fell asleep in chemistry class in high school or college, I can sympathize. It's not always exciting, especially if it's not presented in an accessible way. I'm going to try to break it down with tools that have always aided me as a student: illustrations, out-of-field examples, non-jargon terms - because I think people don't always have the means to assess claims made by beauty/health brands, and being able to make informed decisions is important. Also, I know that a big portion of my readers are female, and that is an issue near and dear to my heart: there aren't enough women in science, and there should be.
I'm going to start with a basic primer - that will be the first post, which will be up this weekend. Then I will cover other topics, starting with antioxidants and free radicals - the culprits thought to be behind the aging process, as well as forms of cancer. Beyond that, I thought I would cover sunscreens (physical vs. chemical), the science of color, and anything else that might interest you: suggestions are welcome and encouraged! Of course, if this doesn't interest you at all, don't despair. I'm not turning this into a science blog. It's a beauty blog, so there will still be swatches, reviews, and looks. I just thought I'd mix it up a little bit.

Lastly, I have to put in a disclaimer: I'm not a health professional. I'm a graduate student with access to tools and an understanding of science. I'm not offering any health advice, and I'm not a consultant. I will do my best to answer any questions to the best of my knowledge, or direct you to another trustworthy source.
Some of my textbooks.
Okay. Now that we've cleared that up, what topics would you like to add to the list? I'm intending for this to be an ongoing series, so feel free to add as many as you want!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Thursday Post


Ms Mr: Bones. It's interesting. I like interesting.

I have an iPhone, but this is too funny not to share.

I learned about tonka beans.

I quite like foxes.

The power of science! This is so, so cool.

Melted my heart.
He does play, sometimes! Also, he has a fluffy tail. :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Lipstick Bandits Go Incognito

As in, we're trading in our bright red lipsticks for something a little less conspicuous. Sometimes you want something subdued, like when you want to rock a smoky eye - your lips should not compete. We've got you covered! That's right, lovelies. We're tackling nude lips today.
And that means I'm bringing out the big guns. Dior. Rouge Dior Angelique Beige, to be exact. I've already reviewed this, but now you know that I do use my lipsticks, ha! To be clear, when I talk about a nude lipstick, I'm talking about a shade that matches my complexion, not necessarily the natural color of my lips. This one is slightly pinker, but I think the faint pearl it has reflects light in a flattering way, which means we skip the corpse face look.
I decided to pair it with a typical smoky eye - dark browns and soft peaches, blended together to create drama. I think it's an eye look that everyone can put together, and it's great with a nude lip. I think I do need a bit of color in my cheeks to offset the nude lip, so I did not skip blush.
Man, I need to get myself one of those fancy lighting set-ups.
Face: Chanel Perfection Lumière B20, MAC
Stratus Mineralize Blush
Eyes: theBalm Nude'Tude palette, L'oreal Voluminous Power Volume 24H Waterproof Mascara
And now, off to see what the other bandits picked! (A few of us are missing due to real life getting in the way, but remember to give them some love, too!)
(Confused about this whole Lipstick Bandit thing? See our original posts).

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Real Techniques Core Collection

This is the last set of Real Techniques brushes that I have for you. I've reviewed the Stippling Brush and the Starter set; this is the Core Collection. It is composed of four face brushes: a Contour brush, a Pointed Foundation brush, a Detailer brush, and a Buffing brush. Again, these brushes are made with Taklon fibers - they're soft, not scratchy, and cruelty-free. The handles are also labeled appropriately, so you know what each brush was intended to do.
L-R: Contour, Pointed Foundation, Detailer, Buffing brushes. They also come in a 2-in-1 case/stand.
I will admit that these brushes don't see much use, because I use my fingers for liquid foundation and concealer, and I don't know how to contour. I use the buffing brush for my MAC MSFN but I think I prefer the Ecotools kabuki; I do like using the buffing brush to just tap some powder over undereye concealer, though, as it has a smaller head and is softer than the kabuki on the eye area. I was hoping that the liquid foundation brush would somehow enlighten me, but it seems to perform the same as similarly shaped brushes; this is a good thing if you like those, as this is an affordable option.

I like having them but probably could have passed on this set. If you use a lot of face brushes, this is a steal, but if not - save your money for the eye sets or finishing brushes. I personally want a couple of the new eye brushes, as well.

This set retails for $17.99 at Ulta and Fred Meyer, and also on Amazon, I believe.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Thursday Post

Tes Elations: Autumn. Good. So good. Her voice is so smoky.

This is amazing. All with match sticks!

And this is really freaking cool. Video game characters, portrayed in traditional Japanese-styled prints.

New monkeys! It's kind of amazing how vast our world is, and how many things have still been undiscovered.

Rae is amazing :) Now that they come with brushes, I'm more tempted.

Thought-provoking.
He's gradually getting used to the water. He looks quite upset here but actually it does seem like he has fun at the lake.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Another Plum Acquisition: MAC Stratus

MAC Stratus is a limited edition, mineralize blush that came out with the Heavenly Creatures collection this summer. I passed on all of them at the time - though Stratus did initially catch my eye with its unique coloring - but then, last week, I realized that this was the plum-colored blush that I had been looking for, and I purchased it (it's still available on both the MAC and Nordstrom websites).
I really like the swirled blush design in the pan, though I don't know that I'm the biggest fan of how the melange translates onto skin. I could probably use less of the coppery shade, but there you go.

Temptalia's review persuaded me, because she says it shows more plum on the cheeks than in a swatch, and her photos seemed to agree. My experience is the same. In my arm swatch, it's a purply red, almost like a bruise (attractive, right?) - a bruise with flecks of gold.
The flecks are more apparent in direct sunlight - it's almost glittery, but not as harsh. It definitely seems like individual flecks of glitter in this photo though, huh?

On my face, since I apply it quite lightly, it shows up as a plummy pink. When applied more heavily, it turns into a deliciously deep mauve, but it can get out of hand in a hurry. I'm still playing around with it - there have been quite a few disasters that resulted in a frantic buffing out of the cheeks, accompanied with pirate language.
Could I have used a pink blush instead? Probably. This one has just a hint of reddish warmth, though, and works better in some looks than brighter or cooler pinks.
On lips: Rouge d'Armani
609
It's perfect for fall, paired with a nude lip and well-defined eyes, or to add some color to your face in preparation for vampy lipstick. But as I said, be careful: they weren't messing around with this blush - it is seriously pigmented. I don't like using stippling brushes with powder formulas, so I use a very fluffy brush and light hand. Of course, I'm pretty pale, so your mileage may vary.

At this time, it's still available and retails for $23.50 (0.10 oz). Stratus is not a must-have, by any means. But if you're looking for an autumn addition to your blush stash, this could be it. It would also be divine on those with a deeper complexion.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Good Fairy, Bad Fairy

Since my first attempt at glitter tips didn't fail horribly, I decided to give it another go. I was inspired by Jian's version, so I decided to try a more delicate version before tackling the A England Camelot - Butter London The Black Knight combo that I had mentioned earlier. I really liked what I came up with, though it is a bit different from Jian's.
Good Fairy! I felt so feminine and delicate, hahahaha. And then I went to Muay Thai class :X

I used Zoya Gigi as a base because I like it - a pale, delicate pink with silver glitter throughout, and the faintest hint of a pink, pearly sheen. Then I added China Glaze Fairy Dust to the tips, but it wasn't enough. So I slapped on Cover Girl's Disco Dazzle, and that did the trick. Finished it off with an Essie quick-dry top coat.

When I got tired of the "Good Fairy" combo, I took it off and replaced it with the "Bad Fairy" combo: A England Camelot, Butter London Black Knight, and Revlon  Facets of Fuchsia. I was just going to use The Black Knight, but, guys, it didn't work out. I applied two coats of it, and it was gritty and cloudy and bleh. It ruined Camelot. So, Facets of Fuchsia saved the day!
Bad Fairy!

And I'm done with glitter for a long while. My elbows are sore from scrubbing all of this off and all of my creativity has been extinguished. However, the one awesome thing that came out of this: my love for Camelot has been rekindled. Such a fabulous, inky black.

Have you made any fun forays into the realm of nail art lately? What have you tried?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Thursday Post

Antony and the Johnsons: Knocking on Heaven's Door (cover). I've never heard of this group, but "baroque pop" just kind of pulls you in, doesn't it?

This may be the cutest freaking thing I've seen in a long time. And they remember him! Every year!

HAHAHA, this makes me laugh, every time.

Beer and bacon pecan pie bars? Oh man.

I like foodgawker, but dwellinggawker has also started to get my lemmings up. Oh, for some money and a real house, haha.

Beautiful pools. Beautiful!
Ahahaha. This picture cracks me up every time. Dennison kept trying to get his ball that went under (it's on the right past the edge of the photo here) and I was dying as I watched him try to get it. Dying, I tell you. So, so funny. Eventually I helped him out. But man that is entertaining.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Clinique's Almost Lipstick is Almost...Lipstick

I figured we haven't had an obnoxious title in a while, so we were due. Ta-da! Quota filled.

Moving on. This is Clinique's Almost Lipstick in Flirty Honey. This summer, I was looking for a sheer, juicy pink, and this fit the bill. I quite like it - I find it non-drying (almost moisturizing, even), and the cool shade is spot-on, but there are a few things I'm on the fence about. I think the sheer lipstick thing is actually hard to pull off, mostly because, well, it can look like you were wearing brighter lipstick and it wore off.
Swatch.  Please forgive the condition of my lips. 
Still, if you want a juicy, non-drying, sheer wash of color, an Almost Lipstick isn't a bad choice. I'm not sure that I'd buy any more of them - I kind of want to try L'Oreal's Rouge Caresse line, as it seems like a much more affordable stand-in - but they deliver on their promises.
Pretty much a tinted balm, I guess. Adds a bit of color, comfortable to wear, sheer, juicy finish.
They retail for $15 (0.07 oz) at Clinique counters or Sephora; I purchased mine at Sephora.
Ingredients.
What's your favorite sheer lipstick?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Thursday Post

Flight Facilities: Crave You (Adventure Club Dubstep Remix). I love the image in the video - so fantastic. This song takes me to far off places, too.

Quotes.

This bird is smart! I love seeing videos like this where birds use tools to capture something or to accomplish something. So freaking cool.

Guys, it's MARS. How flipping cool is this?

Best friends :)

Art imitating life imitating art? :)
"Hey, guys. There's something on my nose. Guys. Take it off. I'm busy lounging here."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lotions and Potions: Alchemic Muse

Quite a while ago, I needed some new bath and body products, so I placed an order with Alchemic Muse. They gave a full ingredients listing for every product, which is extremely important to me. I ordered a full sized Body Whip (a body butter), a mini Foaming Body Scrub, and a Mini Cream Soap. This is partially the reason why I picked Alchemic Muse, and not other indie shops - some of the others didn't have the three products that I wanted in scents I could live with.
A free sample of Honey Basalm soap was included with my order. I already opened the body whip. Oops.

The first thing I tried was the Willow Body Whip; this scent was from the Spring 2012 release and is described as "Crisp Leaves, Green Tea, Water Lily" (taken from the product page). The full size is 6 oz and is $10.00; the jar comes sealed in plastic and with a further seal in the jar (all jars came this way). The texture is not greasy or overly heavy; it rubs into skin well enough and it does feel moisturizing. The scent is quite strong and does linger; it's a spicy, clean scent, and smells like...the Dove for Men body wash, actually. It's quite masculine in my mind, but maybe that's just because I associate it with men? At first it wasn't my favorite, but it's grown on me. I'm not sure I'd repurchase the scent, but I would buy more Body Whip.

For the mini Foaming Body Scrub (2.5 oz, $4.50), I picked Vanilla Bourbon; I like vanilla, and I like bourbon, and anyway, it's a soap and washes off so I'm willing to be more experimental with fragrance choices here. It smells delicious at first, but then sort of deteriorates into something that smells like ginseng (blegh), so I'm not too enamored. The good thing is that it doesn't last. I like to use scrubs a few times a week to exfoliate my skin, and this one is quite nice - it foams up nicely and doesn't feel stripping.

The last thing I purchased was a Mini Cream Soap in Dreamcatcher (2 oz, $4.50); this is a spring collection LE scent. It is described as "honeysuckle, sugared citrus, green leaves," which sounded awesome to me. It does sort of smell that way, a well-rounded composition of all three, without any of them coming out too strongly. The texture of the soap is kind of like bar soap that's been softened and put into a jar; I'm not the hugest fan. I feel like I have to use quite a bit of it in order to get clean, but in the end, my skin feels a bit stripped, as well. Not something I'd repurchase.

Alchemic Muse refunds excess shipping charges and is prompt in doing so; I found the overall shopping experience easy and everything arrived within the stated TAT, in perfect condition. I will be shopping there again, but probably just for body lotions. They also make perfumes and cold-process soap, for those of you interested in those types of goodies.


Willow Body Whip ingredients:
Ingredients: Distilled Water, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Emulsifying Wax NF, Vegetable Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol NF, Macadamia Ternifolia (Macadamia) Seed Oil, Prunus Avium (Cherry) Kernel Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil, Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Oil, Vitamin E, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol

Vanilla Bourbon Foaming Body Scrub ingredients:
Organic Cane Sugar, Distilled Water, Vegetable Glycerin, Sorbitol, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, Sodium Chloride (Salt), Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Macadamia Ternifolia (Macadamia) Oil, Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Oil, Prunus Avium (Cherry) Kernel Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grapeseed) Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium EDTA

Dreamcatcher Cream Soap ingredients:
Distilled Water, Vegetable Glycerin, Sorbitol, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, Sodium Chloride (Salt), Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Oil, Macadamia Ternifolia (Macadamia) Seed Oil, Prunus Avium (Cherry) Kernel Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Fragrance, Citrus Bergamia (Calabrian Bergamot) Oil Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Annatto Seed Extract

Monday, September 3, 2012

Empties + Rejects, V8

It's that time again.

Empties
The MAC bag is my empties bag. I like the MAC bags - they're sturdy.

Yu-Be Foaming Skin Polish
I reviewed this here, and my sentiments are pretty much the same. Already looking for something new - think I may try a Neutrogena or St. Ives version. I finished this by using it as a facial and body scrub - especially on hands and feet, which need the extra exfoliation every once in a while, I think.

Alchemic Muse Dreamcatcher Mini Whipped Soap
I haven't reviewed my Alchemic Muse purchase yet, but that will happen soon. This started off feeling like a melted down bar of soap; I'm not sure if it was because the weather warmed up, or moisture got into the jar, or what, but it did get creamier as time wore on, though it still felt a bit stripping and I don't think I'll repurchase. I liked the scent, though.

Alchemic Muse Willow Body Whip
This jar lasted me a little over three months, used daily. Not bad, but maybe not the best mileage. I have no idea. I only recently started using a body moisturizer daily. I liked the scent, and I like the texture. I would repurchase them in the future, perhaps, but right now I have some Solstice Scents goodies to work on!

Origins Super Spot Remover Acne Treatment Gel
Works, but I'm not convinced that it's worth the extra money over drugstore versions. I bought it because at the time, it was harder to find a drugstore paraben-free option, but lately budget brands have become better about that, so my replacement is now a Clean and Clear salicylic acid treatment. Also, I found the packaging of this Origins thingee to be weird. It's a plastic little thing, but it's a soft plastic so you can squeeze it. I thought it would be hard to get the last bits out of, but flipping it upside down solved that easily enough. Still - weird. What's wrong with a simple tube?

Sweet Anthem Juliet
Guys. GUYS. I finished a perfume. Even if it is a little bottle. I'm a little bit torn, too, because I want to repurchase, but I also want to explore new things. Sweet Anthem has a recycle/fill program, too, which is exciting.

Clean Outdoor Shower Fresh Perfume sample
Liz sent me this. I like it. It's slightly sweet but clean. Not in a soapy way, but...in an aquatic way. Simple and lovely, although it doesn't last very long. I would buy a full size if I weren't already swimming in perfume, and this is definitely something I would only wear in the summer, anyway.

No rejects this month, as I haven't really bought anything new or had any other samples kicking around. I'm pretty stoked that I finished a perfume! A lot of my skincare is running low, so I expect that the next empties post may have some potions and lotions in it. I also bought some new skincare that I'm trialling, so that may show up around here after a while.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Something Like Nail...Art

I received Essie Stroke of Brilliance* (blue hex glitter coat) and Blue Rhapsody* (metallic blue) as separate Klout perks this summer, and decided to attempt something fancy with them. By fancy, I mean, more than just layering the two completely, which is my normal thing.
Essie Blue Rhapsody*, Essie Stroke of Brilliance*, Essie Good-to-Go Rapid Dry Top Coat

I decided I just wanted to apply the Luxe Effects Stroke of Brilliance to just the very tips of my nails - mostly because this sounded pretty fool-proof and also, I figured I could just trim that part off when my nails started to grow, thus eliminating painful glitter removal. (It sort of worked out - I was impatient and trimmed them before they grew out too much, so I still had to scrub some of it off.)
Ta-da! Sorry about the chip. The pictures I had taken earlier didn't come out well. So I retook them, without realizing that I had chipped my index finger. Oops. Clearly I'm not a nail blogger.

I think it turned out pretty well, all things considered. I might attempt it again with another pairing (I'm thinking A England Camelot and Butter London The Black Knight, both for the color combo and the NAMES), but probably not with this duo again. Blue Rhapsody is horribly streaky and application is a hot mess; it drags and doesn't level out very well. I doubt I'll pull this one out too often. Stroke of Brilliance is fun, but I don't really have much use for an icy blue glitter very often. Nice to have, though. Do you have either of these? Did you pick up any of the metallic Essies from this summer? I'd be interested to know if the rest of them are streaky, as well.

*Items were received free as Klout perks.