Sunday, April 13, 2014

Powder Perfect Euphoria Collection Review and Swatches

I know my blog has been pretty heavy on the Powder Perfect coverage recently, but honestly, they are just bringing out SO MANY gorgeous polishes I'd feel bad not covering as many of them as I could. For such a new label, their polishes are improving in leaps and bounds, becoming ever more complex and rich with each release, and the Euphoria collection is no exception.

This is a small collection of four jelly micro glitter polishes, but they all bring something amazing (and stupidly sparkly) to the table.

First up is Bliss, which was created in close collaboration with well known Australian Instagrammer @strawbrie. Her deep seated obsession with all things pink, sparkly, and unicorn related is summed up remarkably by this bright fuschia polish, and it's an absolute must for the pink loving femme in your life.

All the polishes in this collection are absolutely packed wall to wall with glitter, but are still remarkably easy to apply. This was two thin coats with two coats of topcoat, just to even it all out, and this collection would be a good alternative for people who love the shiny, but have difficulty making larger glitters sit flat.

While I'm not what you'd call a fan of pink, I have to give mad props to Powder Perfect for making such an interesting, rich pink polish that even I have to admit it's gorgeous. While I'll probably never wear it agin myself, it makes a stunning background for my Mean Girls pendants.

One from this collection that I WILL wear again, possibly over and over until I scrape the last drop from the bottle, is the AMAZING Exhilaration. It's a deep purple base filled with purple and holo microglitter, and it's absolutely breathtaking.

I just...I don't even have the words, honestly. I have loved a lot of glitter polishes, but I think this might possibly be my new favourite. It's also so dense it only needs one coat - maybe two if you do them very thin, but you can absolutely get away with one.

Next up is Elation, a beautiful ocean blue base filled with an assortment of teal and blue glitters. This polish really reminds me of splashing around on the beach as a kid, and how astonishingly beautiful the water always looked sparkling in the sun.

This one is a little thinner than the others - you will definitely need two coats, or undies if you really only have time for one coat. It does look best layered with itself though - I think undies would really detract from the careful glitter composition.

Finally, we have a pastel blue beauty called Delight. The formula on this one is more similar to Exhiliration - you can probably get away with one coat, or two two thin coats. The colour is just lovely, and as with all the others the glitter mix is complex and rich enough that there's always something new to see in it depending on the light and angles.

The great thing about the variety of glitters used in this collection is that they sparkle under even the merest suggestion of light. A lot of glitters really need to be out in the sun to be their best, but these pick up every little bit of light, paint it in rainbows, and spit it back again.

The Euphoria collection is available now within Australia from the Powder Perfect website, and internationally from Mei Mei's Sigantures.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Pretty Perfect Package - Collection Two

Hello and welcome to another post packed full of perfectly pretty polishes! (Hush, I couldn't resist.)

The lovely ladies behind Prettypots Polish and Powder Perfect released a limited edition collaboration box similar to What's Indie Box a little while ago called A Pretty Perfect Package, and after seeing swatches all over the place I was really kicking myself for not getting in on the action. Luckily, I was offered an advance viewing of the upcoming second Pretty Perfect Package!

Both brands have come up with some absolute must have polishes this time around, and the colours won't be available for individual sale until all the boxes are sold out, so you're definitely best off getting them while you know you can. At this stage, the brands plan to put out the Pretty Perfect Packages quarterly, so you've got plenty of time to save your pennies in between releases and the blow them on a fantastic package of delight.

You might remember Prettypots Polish from my post about the February What's Indie Box, or from my numerous overexcited posts about them on my Instagram. They entered the Australian indie market at the same time as a lot of other competitors, but the consistent quality of everything they put out has always made them stand out for me when deciding what to exchange my hard earned cashes for. Prettypots' contributions for A Pretty Perfect Package are a delightfully romantic duo; Golden Chariot, inspired by Apollo's daily trek across the sky, and Spellbound In Perpetuity, inspired by an Emily Bronte poem.

Golden Chariot is a delightfully smooth, yet glitter filled bottle of liquid sunshine, totally appropriate for the god it's inspired by. These swatches are two coats, plus topcoat - there's no undies required for a polish this packed to the brim with glitter. Unfortunately it turned out to be a little camera shy, or perhaps I'm just not very practiced photographing gold tones. The top picture is closer to the real life colour, but the bottom picture shows at least some of the beautiful glow that all the glitter brings to this polish.

If you aren't familiar with the story of Apollo and his chariot, the very short version is that it was the Greek explaination for how the sun went from one side of the sky to the other every day. Being the god associated most closely with the sun, Apollo theoretically hauled the sun across the sky every day with his golden chariot, as shown in this delightful illustration by Donn P. Crane.

Spellbound in Perpetuity is a dark "blurple" based polish, with loads of dusty pink, blue, turquoise and green hex glitters in between a generous serving of purple micro glitters, with a sprinkling of large diamond holo glitters on top. The base on this one isn't quite opaque enough for my liking, so I've swatched it here over Kleencolour Disco Purple.

The poem it's inspired by is quite beautiful, if rather bleak: but then, Emily Bronte isn't exactly known for her uplifting, cheerful tone.

by Emily Bronte

The night is darkening around me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
and I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go. 

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

I think the mixture of colours and shapes used in this polish really capture the feeling the poem invokes of being caught in the middle of a storm - flurries of colour drift across each nail, over an appropriately dark base. It's also really quite pretty in and of itself.

Powder Perfect's polishes have recently been moving away from simpler, larger glitters towards more dense, shimmery micro glitter concotions, and their contributions to this box are no exception. Another Time, Another Place is a dense berry purple with a scattered holographic gleam in sunlight, and Around The Salvatore Fireplace is a rich burgundy that appears to glow from within.

As with most of their recent polishes, neither of these Powder Perfect creations require undies. In fact, these swatches of Another Time, Another Place are only a single coat, with top coat - the colour is that dense and rich! Because of the huge proportion of glitter in this polish, it does need a good gooey topcoat to prevent it drying textured (unless you want that, I guess) but take it out in the sunshine and it is just breathtaking.

This polish is inspired by those times you wonder how things, people, life in general would have turned out if certain things had been different. What if you'd been born in another time, or place? What if your partner had? These are the sorts of things I always find myself pondering at four in the morning, and the way this polish comes across quite dark and melancholy in the shade, but then bursts into life in the sun really mirrors the way these thoughts always vanish, or at least get lighter, by morning.

Now, I'm going to come clean and admit I had to good the inspiration for this next polish. It's called Around the Salvatore Fireplace, but because I am very out of touch with what the cool kids are watching, I had no clue what that actually meant. Turns out the Salvatore family are in The Vampire Diaries, and their house has a super cool fireplace where lots of plot and brooding happens!

Without knowing anything about the inspiration, I still fell desperately in love with this polish the moment I put it on. The glow is so difficult to describe, and as it turns out, even harder to photograph. But trust me, if you like vampy, burgundy beauties, you really must get your hands on this polish. As with Another Time, this didn't need undies, but I did use two thin coats and topcoat for these swatches.

The presale for this Pretty Perfect Package (I love alliteration so much) begins on April 7th, and what's left over will be available for general sale on April 14th. There are also a limited number of the first Pretty Perfect Package collection available, so set yourself an alarm and hit up the Powder Perfect page come April 7th.

Just a little self promotion while I'm at it - there will be some new jewellery up on my Etsy store very soon featuring these polishes, if you're interested in matching your accessories to your awesome mani.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What's Indie Box - Bakery Delights, February 2014

I've been buying What's Indie Box on and off since the inception of this rather nifty idea - a rotating roster of five indie labels each contribute an exclusive polish to a special themed box once a month, and once a month a surprise package of delightful mystery arrives on your doorstep! Unlike a lot of other surprise boxes, What's Indie Box doesn't require any minimum subscription - all you have to do is trundle over to Peita's Polish, lay your cashes down when you decide you want in, and if you can't afford it next month, there's no drama. I've found it's a really great way to sample a bunch of different indie labels at once, and would particularly recommend it to anyone who's still hovering around the edges of the indie pool, dipping in a tentative toe.

(Just to be a TOTAL enabler, I'd also point out that you can chuck in a couple of things from Peita's Polish while you're ordering the Indie Box for no extra postage charge - her Quick, Gloss Me Up fast dry topcoat is a particular favourite of mine)

Enough spruiking, on to the swatches! The February box as themed around cake, and as someone who's allergic to just about every kind of cake, I was already pretty tempted. However, this box also featured a bunch of my favourite up and coming indie labels all in the one place, and just like that I was sold. My only mistake was opening this beautiful box at work when I could neither play with any of the polishes, OR have any cake, which became pretty equal compulsions as I sorted through these delicious treats.

First up we have Key Lime Pie, from Moonstone Polish (who I reviewed a little while ago here), which is a clear based glitter topper full of pale cream and lime glitters.

I swatched it here over Ulta3 Mojito, although in hindsight it would probably do better over a calmer, subtler base. It wasn't until I got it under my light that I noticed the teeny tiny irridescent specks through it - they're absolutely gorgeous, but show up much better in person than in photos.

Next is a creamy confection from an old favourite of mine, Glam Polish. Their contribution to this box is called Fairycakes, and reminds me perfectly of the delicious little cream filled cakes I would always make a beeline for at parties.

No undies needed for this one, which is pretty unusual for a creamy based glitter. The formula is just fantastic opaque enough to cover on it's own, while still letting the glitters shine through. It's also very easy to work with for something jam packed with so many sizes of glitter and shimmer.

Are you getting hungry yet? Maybe some blueberries will fix that. Peita's Polish contributed a beautiful polish called Blueberry Bonanza, and I can't look at it without picturing big, fluffy blueberry muffins warm from the oven, with plump ripe blueberries just waiting to burst into your mouth when you bite into them.

As with Fairycakes, this didn't need any undies, and the formula was the perfect balance for a creamy glitter. Amoung the blue speckles, there are also large iridescent hexes, that like the ones in Key Lime Pie, show up much better in person.

Next up we have one from Prettypots Polish, who I've been getting pretty excited about over on my Instagram, even if I haven't gotten to blogging about them here. They contributed a polish called Mintberry Macaroon, which looks delicious even if I'm not 100 per cent sold on the idea of a minty macaroon.

This one came with a little bag of extra glitters, similar to the Shades of Phoenix Dia Dos Muertos collection, and they really come in handy when you want to add just a little extra sparkle on top. I didn't have any trouble getting the stars in the polish onto my nails, but they stand out much better if you carefully place them on top before topcoating.

And finally we have a glorious purple flakie filled holo from Lilypad Lacquer called Blackberry Beauty. I have a few Lilypads from back when they first launched, but to be honest they've lost my interest lately by focusing on holographic polish almost exclusively. Don't get me wrong, their holographic polishes are absolutely amazing - but there are only a limited number I will ever really use, and I already have a BUNCH. Blackberry Beauty is an interesting departure though - there's still a ton of holo sparkle, but the flakies give it a lot more depth than some of their more recent releases.

I'm such a sucker for a good purple, but even given my natural bias, this is a STUNNING polish.

The April What's Indie Box is available now from Peita's Polish, and the theme is All Things Mythical and Fantasy - this is open for order until 29th of March, so be sure you don't miss out!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

It's Time To Shake Some Dust!

If you're one of the three people who watch my blog as closely as I do, you might have noticed I've been gradually making some changes around here, and as of now I'm ready to go ahead and announce them.

Firstly, Reluctant Femme isn't going anywhere - I've just got the layout how I like it, apart from anything else. However, in the future I will only be posting polish, beauty, and fashion posts here. It's gonna be all pretty things, all the time, which I know will make some of you very happy.

For those of you who preferred my rants about feminism and other such meaty matters, or who just want to continue to keep up with them, I will still be posting those over at my new (sub)blog, Brainy Femme. If you missed my last column for Already Pretty, I've stuck it up on Brainy Femme by way of an introductory post.

Finally, my little accessory enterprise Femmecraft has kind of taken on a life of it's own; so much so that I decided to start another (sub)blog to home my rantings about resin and glitter, and how important wearing a dust mask really is. If you're interested in that sort of thing, or just want to oggle all the pretty things I'm making, you will be able to see them over at Femmecraft.

I'll be spamming links to all three of these blogs on my Twitter, and probably off the Reluctant Femme facebook page too, so if you just want to keep getting links to everything without making any changes yourself, those are the two easiest avenues.

Reluctant Femme will still remain my main focus, but I wanted to make it as easy as possible for everyone to find the things they love best, and avoid the things that don't interest them, without restricting my freewheeling attention span.

I hope I don't lose too many of you in the confusion, and we can stick together like adorable otters in a stream.
You and me, we like dis! Gorgeous print available here

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Shiro Cosmetics Seven Kingdoms Collection Swatches

Ever since someone tipped me off to the delightful randomness of Shiro Cosmetic's Nic Cage Raking Leaves on a Brisk October Afternoon eyeshadow, I've been something of a Shiro fangirl. Not only does the owner have a delightful sense of humour, their shadows are deliciously rich and pigmented. I've even started using them to colour resin for my jewellery, because a tiny tiny amount makes it just GLOW. Because I haven't shut up about this brand since I stumbled across them, and we all know how much I love Game of Thrones, my lovely Mr. Reluctant Femme got me a sample pack of the ENTIRE Shiro Cosmetics Seven Kingdom collection!

My face when I opened up the package
Now, I know a lot of you look at the bolder colours of eyeshadow that I tend to prefer and get all shy, so you lot in particular will be delighted with how overall worksafe this collection is. There's a lot of earthy, mellow browns, tans, and peaches, as well as some brighter shades, and I'd be pretty shocked if there wasn't at least something here for everyone.

First up, swatch pictures! There are quite a few in this collection that do not come out how you would expect from how they look in the sample baggy, so I tried to get pictures as accurate to life as possible. They're are all swatched over Urban Decay Primer Potion, which tends to dull the shimmer a bit, so they will be a little bit more sparkly over different primers.

From left to right we have Mother of Dragons, Women's Weapons, Queensguard, Hodor, and No Men Like Me. Mother of Dragons looks like a very dark burgundy in the baggy, but in the swatch the cool silvered purple shimmer shows up much more strongly, and on the eye the burgundy base more or less disappears under the shimmer. No Men Like Me is also quite tricksy - in the baggy it looks like a dull, greyish cream, but on the skin the gold shimmer pops right out and more or less takes over. Women's Weapons goes on just how you expect it to, and it's WONDERFUL. Queensguard is a little too far on the orange side of orange-brown for my taste, especially when you blend it out, but I think on different skin tones this would look great.

From left to right, this is Master of Whispers, I Loved A Maid, Little Bird, and You Know Nothing. The top photo is under artificial light, and the bottom one is out in the sunshine to try and capture the sparkle.

I like Master of Whispers rather more than I thought I would, considering what I usually think of anything pink, but this one is such a lovely colour that it won me over. It's also a welcome addition to the (tiny) warm side of my collection, and goes very nicely with all my rich chocolatey browns. I Loved A Maid is, like Queensguard, simply too orange for my taste, but the green shift is unexpectedly delightful. While I probably won't wear it, this is still a lovely colour to look at. Little Bird is another one I didn't think I would like, but found myself enjoying. It's gorgeous soft peach tones mean it would probably work very well as a blush as well as an eyeshadow - I actually initially thought it WAS intended to be used as a blush. You Know Nothing is a lovely, shimmery white - nothing groundbreaking, but a good choice if you don't already have a shimmery white in your collection.

This armful is, from left to right; Gift of Mercy, Maiden Queen, Here I Stand, and Salt and Stone. The top picture is in sunlight, and the bottom is under artificial light. This lot are a little bit tricksome, so I wanted to show the full range of colours they show up.

Gift of Mercy is the darkest of dark, cool browns, with a very generous serving of reddish sparkles through it. It comes out VERY dark, because of the super pigmented Shiro formula, so you might want to go a little easier with it than with others. Maiden Queen is an absolutely gorgeous aqua teal, with a strong gold shimmer over it, and it's a delightful pop of colour in an otherwise very earthy collection. Here I Stand is a slightly lighter, slightly warmer toned cousin of Gift of Mercy, and is a little more wearable. Salt and Stone is...well, it's tricksome. In the baggy, it looks like a matte camo green, but on the skin it's totally different. So different I actually stopped and cleaned off my brush the first time I used it because I assumed I'd had some other colour still on the brush that was contaminating Salt and Stone. But it turned out that's just how this eyeshadow rolls. On the skin, there is a SLIGHT glimmer of the camo green that's so obvious in the bag, but it's mostly greyish brown.

Top half is the swatch, bottom half is a shot of the sample bag. Weird!
And finally, the last two stragglers, which also happen to be my two favourites - here we have Climbing Chaos and Valar Morghulis. I've nearly used up my samples of both of these already, so I'll have to be hitting up the Shiro site for replacements pretty shortly.

Climbing Chaos is a lot brighter on me than I was expecting, but that's definitely a good thing. It's coverage is amazing for something so shiny, and you only need the tiniest bit to lift a whole look. Valar Morghulis on the other hand is deliciously dark and pure black, and the tiniest bit adds a lovely sexy smokey feel to any look.

Speaking of looks, let's have a gander at how some these go together, shall we?

This is Here I Stand with Climbing Chaos on the inside corners, and this has pretty much been my go-to warm eye look for about a month now. It's just so wonderfully wearable, easy to do, and goes with just about anything.

This is Women's Weapons in the crease, with Mother of Dragons over the lid and Little Bird just under my brow. In hindsight, it could probably use a little more Little Bird and a little less Women's Weapons, but apart from my ineptitude, the colours go together beautifully.

This is just Maiden Queen blended all over the lid and into the crease, with a little liquid eyeliner. SUPER simple to do, but the colour alone is very attention grabbing, it doesn't really need a lot of fuss around it.

Phew! That was a LOT of pictures. Hope you enjoyed my dabblings! The Seven Kingdoms Collection is available from Shiro Cosmetics, and happily international shipping is both available and not outrageously expensive!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Gimme Gimme Gimme - Getting your hands on Aussie indies internationally

I've been getting a few questions lately from international readers about how they can get their hands on the delightful Australian polishes I'm so fond of showing off around here, so I thought it might be useful to put all my advice on squashing Aussie lemmings in the one place.

Just let me state something first, for the record: posting nail polish from Australia, if you don't have the appropriate license to do so, is illegal. It IS legal to post domestically so long as you specify that it's to travel by road only, but the actual implementation of this can vary widely between post offices. Some refuse to post it at all, some don't care. You just have to take your chances. But unless you have the appropriate license, posting polish internationally from Australia is always illegal.
So there's that technicality out of the way. On to how to source the shinies!

Step 1. Go Straight to the Source

If you're lusting after an Australian lovely, the first thing to do is check whether the brand is able to ship internationally. Not all Australian indies are able to do this, but quite a few have gotten the paperwork and licensing in order and are able to ship to lots of international locations directly. A lot of this information is already listed in my Shopping Guide, but I figure it's worth including here too. The brands I know of that you can buy directly from internationally include;
Pretty Serious
Femme Fatale Cosmetics
Alanna Renee
Dead Set Babes
Glam Polish
Love Thy Polish.

Step 2: Hit The Shops

If the brand you want doesn't ship internationally, then your next step is check out some resellers who stock Australian indies. There are lots of these around, so you've got a pretty good chance of finding what you want, even if it is at a slightly higher price. While resellers charge more per item, the shipping costs can be dramatically lower than shipping from Australia, depending on where it's going. Resellers are also often a good place to look for discontinued stock after the brand has sold out of their supply - often they'll have gotten their stock a bit later, and so it's available for a bit longer than through the brand directly.

The reseller I hit up most frequently is Color 4 Nails, because they are not only a reliable source of discontinued Aussie indies, they also stock indie brands like A England and Esmaltes da Kelly which are impossible for us Aussies to get directly from the brand. (In addition to the indie goodness, they stock mainstream brands like Essie for about $15 less than the Australian retail price, but that's probably less relevant if you live somewhere that sells them for a reasonable price.) I've always found the customer service from Color 4 Nails excellent - the shipping is a little costly, but everything always arrives quickly and totally safe. The owner also keeps the Color 4 Nails Instagram very up to date with swatches of new polishes, so you can have a good browse before you buy.

The Australian brands stocked by Color 4 Nails that aren't able to ship internationally directly include Celestial Cosmetics and Shades of Phoenix. If you need some more pretties to round out your basket, Color 4 Nails also carry Alanna Renee, Femme Fatale Cosmetics, Glam Polish, and Pretty Serious.

Mei Mei's Signatures is another site I find myself browsing fairly often. Like Color 4 Nails, Mei Mei's stocks a combination of indies and mainstream polishes that are viciously overpriced here, which often equals doom for my wallet.  I've only had one issue buying from Mei Mei's; once a polish from my order accidentally got shipped with someone else's order, but the owner was incredibly quick to respond, offer me options, and ship me out a new bottle on the double. I was SUPER impressed with this, as it's often when things go wrong that otherwise perfectly pleasant small business owners can really drop the ball. But Mei Mei's Signatures reacted calmly, quickly, and very helpfully, so I would totally recommend giving them your dollars. Speaking of dollars, keep in mind all prices are listed in Singapore Dollars - this always throws me, but it's easy enough to Google a conversion. The Mei Mei's Signatures Instagram account is always bursting with swatches too, which is really helpful for decision making when they stock so many, MANY pretties.

The Australian indies that Mei Mei's stock that aren't able to ship internationally include Arcane Lacquer, Celestial Cosmetics, Emily de Molly, Mckfresh Nail Attire, Sayuri Nail Lacquer, and Shades of Phoenix. You can also pick up Femme Fatale Cosmetics, Glam Polish, Love Thy Polish, and Pretty Serious while you're there.

I haven't bought from Harlow and Co for a while now, but don't recall any significant issues when I did. Harlow and Co stock a huge variety of international indies, including a couple of Aussie indies, and are based in Canada so they might be a better option postage wise than the US based sellers for my maple leaf loving readers.
Australian indies stocked by Harlow and Co include Arcane Lacquer, Femme Fatale Cosmetics, Glam Polish, Love Thy Polish, and Pretty Serious,

Now, the next two resellers I want to mention are ones I haven't actually shopped at personally, just because I don't really need to source Australian indies from resellers that often. However, I haven't heard anything bad about their service either, which is always a positive sign in a community known for spreading gossip like butter and "glitterbombing" anyone who stuffs up.

Beauty So Fly are based in Singapore, like Mei Mei's, and also list all their prices is Singapore Dollars, but have a much smaller range of Australian indies available. Lilypad Lacquer and Prettypots Polish are available, as well as Femme Fatale Cosmetics.

Norway Nails is probably the best bet for anyone based in Europe looking for Australian indies. The US and Singapore based ones that are close to me are not exactly convenient for those of you in, well, Norway, so it's neat that there's a business covering that other side of the world. All prices are listed in Norwegian Krone, and the exchange rate makes this a ferociously expensive option for those of us earning Australian pesos, but for those of you with money that's actually worth something on the global market the prices aren't too bad.

The Australian indies available from Norway Nails that don't ship internationally directly include Arcane Lacquer, Emily de Molly, Lilypad Lacquer, Miss Ashleigh and Prettypots Polish. You can also scoop up lovelies from Alanna Renee, Femme Fatale, Glam Polish, Pretty Serious, and Love Thy Polish.

Step 3: Become a Smuggler

So what to do if NONE of these suggestions can get you what you want? People who don't understand might tell you it's no big deal, and to forget about the perfect polish you just can't get. I say those people are fools, and coveted pretties are ALWAYS worth the effort. And if you can't get your mitts on what you want through conventional commercial means, it's time to investigate smuggling.

Now, just to reiterate, sending polish to your friends in the post is illegal. It's bad, and naughty, and pretty much every postal service in the world says it's a big no-no. If you're in the UK, Royal Mail actually have a habit of destroying packages leaving the country that are found to have polish in them without the correct authorisation, but most other countries will just return it to the sender.


IF you CHOOSE to send polish to people, or get people to send polish to you, of your own FREE WILL, there are a couple of options available. If you scout around the internets, there are quite often polish fanatics holding blog sales, where they sell off their unwanted polish for wildly variable prices. Sometimes the prices are amazingly low, sometimes jawdroppingly high, you rolls the dice and you takes your chances. There are also a couple of communities set up on Facebook to facilitate these type of sales: Just Indies is, as the name suggests, just for indie polish sales and The Nearly No Rules Polish Sales Group also has a lot of Aussie indie sales on a regular basis.

If no one is selling what you're looking for though, you might have to consider getting together a polish swap. While this can be a totally awesome and mutually beneficial arrangement, there are a few precautions you should keep in mind. Lacquerheads of Oz did a very useful summary post on just this topic, covering all the basics, but I have a few additions from my own experience.

Firstly, always swap with someone who has done it before if you can. Places to look for potential swap partners are The Safe Swap Society, which is dedicated to polish swapping in general, and The Australian Indie Polish Appreciation Society, who are dedicated to Aussie indie polishes in particular. A first time swapper isn't always a dealbreaker, but I would recommend looking for an experienced swapper first.

Secondly, make sure you're both on the same page about what you're agreeing to. There are a hundred different ways to negotiate a swap; will you be swapping bottle for bottle, or dollar for dollar? Are you just sending someone money, and they send you back polish? Whatever works for you is fine, but make sure it works for both of you, and that you've both explicitly agreed on what you're each expecting.

Thirdly, when you've found a partner, done the negotiation, and have your package ready to go, (this is starting to sound more like a date the more I talk about it) make sure you take a couple of pictures of the package and it's contents. If you can afford it, postage with tracking is always the best bet, but this can be ferociously expensive, so at the very least make sure you have pictures to prove the package existed in the first place if it goes wandering.

And lastly, communicate, communicate, communicate! Let your swapee know what's going on at every stage of the process. Most people won't mind waiting a bit to get what they want, but long silences invite paranoia and it's horrible cousin drama. Let them know when you order the polish you're swapping, when it arrives, when you're sending it out again. It's always better to be the person sending too many emails and keeping someone too up to date than the person that has to be kicked to give a response.

Step 4: Ask Aunty Femme

If all these methods fail you, and the pretties are still hanging tantalisingly just out of reach, you can always send me an email and I will investigate your situation. I love putting people and polish together, and if it's possible, I am always happy to make it happen!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sea Siren Cosmetics - Call of the Ocean

Once again, it's time to introduce your eager eyes and wallets to another new Australian indie polish company! The lovely Sea Wenches at Sea Siren Cosmetics sent me a package recently absolutely BURSTING with goodies, and I'm pretty excited to share the excitement with you guys. This is going to be a REALLY picture heavy post, so settle in and get comfy.

This is the enormous bundle of gifts I received from Sea Siren after answering a call for reviewers over on their Facebook page. I don't think I've ever received so much from a single brand, even when I was paying for it myself - to be honest, it was a little overwhelming! But never fear, I managed to put aside my feelings of being buried under a pile of beautiful bottles and got to work.

First up we have Mystical Atlantis, an absolutely stunning teal with amazing turquoise shimmer. Usually this kind of pearlescent, shimmery polish tends towards the thin side, but this covered beautifully in just two coats. I don't often wear "plain" polish now that I've fallen so hard for glitterbombs, but this colour is not only gorgeous, it's surprisingly fascinating.

Deep Blue Sea is another colour from this collection I would happily wear on it's own. In the shade, the navy base is delightfully lush and deep, and in the sun it sparkles like CRAZY.

You might remember this next polish from my review of Shades of Phoenix's Thread of Life trio, hiding under Atropos. It's far too pretty to relegate to undie status though, so here's Stunning Sunset in all it's shiny, shiny glory.

 The formula on this was a little trickier than Mystical Atlantis or Deep Blue Sea, because a lot of what makes it so darn shiny is a heavy serving of gold flakies. They're teeeeny tiny, but they can create little lumps if you're not careful.

The next polish is called Reflections, and in the bottle I'll admit it looks a little plain, especially next to some of the glitterbombs that cluster on my shelves. But on the nail it's surprisingly pretty! This swatch is two coats alone, except for the ring finger where I did two coats over Midnight Moves.

This would be really great for a situation where you wanted a little bling, but couldn't be really overt about it. The sparkle is quite delicate and lovely, and because of the clear base I would imagine it's very versatile. 

Since the box of polishes from Sea Siren was apparently bottomless, and I can only swatch so many polishes before my fingers threaten to drop off, I combined four of the plain cremes into this pretty skittle manicure so I could show you as many as possible at once.

From left to right, we have Code Purple, Cabin Fever, Gossip, and Sea Dayze. The formula on all of them except for Cabin Fever was absolutely PERFECT. Sea Dayze was actually more or less a single coater, which is a big plus for any creme. Cabin Fever is an amazing fire engine red, but the formula was oddly thin. It didn't show up in the photos, but in person I could still see visible nail line after three coats, which is a real bummer.

Along with all these pretties (and more), Sea Siren were kind enough to send me their Sea Gloss Quick Dry top coat to try. While I'm pretty committed to my Glisten and Glow HK Girl topcoat, Sea Gloss does give my favourite a run for it's money. It doesn't touch dry as quickly - HK Girl is touch dry in aprox 20 seconds, and Sea Gloss took a full minute. But the downside of super fast drying topcoats is the wear time, and Sea Gloss definitely takes the lead in that department. I usually have to top up HK Girl in two days, whereas Sea Gloss lasted without chipping or significant wear for three.

Image courtesy of Sea Siren Cosmetics

Of course, the delightful thing about Sea Siren Cosmetics is that they've got "travel" sizes of everything available, including the top coats, so you can give it a go and see if it works for you. Top coat performance is such a complex combination of chemical and environmental factors that it's really convenient to have a trial size available for testing before you commit to a full bottle. And the believe me, the full bottles from Sea Siren Cosmetics are FULL. These things are HUGE. I'm used to indie bottles, which are technically 12ml, but practically around 10ml. The bubble bottles from Sea Siren are labelled 15ml, and I fully believe I got ever last drop of that 15ml.

Aside from polish, the lovely Sea Wenches were kind enough to send me a hard case glass file to try. Unlike some other glass files on the Australian market, the ones Sea Siren have sourced are made from proper Czech glass, which is a big plus in my books. Cheaper glass files that aren't made to the traditional Czech tempering method will go blunt just as fast as emery boards, which makes them a total waste of time. These, however, will keep their grit just about forever.

Using a glass file rather than an emery board can be a big help if (like me) you tend to get peeling corners and edges, because they have a very fine grit and can help the nail bond into a single layer. What I found really neat about the Sea Siren hard case file in particular was that the case is actually part of the file. I am CONSTANTLY leaving my glass files out of their cases, and have broken more than one that way. But now, it's right there! GENIUS.

All these lovelies and more are available from the Sea Siren Cosmetics site, and for information on sales and new releases be sure to like their Facebook page and perform the required arcane rituals to ensure their posts are visible on your feed.