Products to Help You Perfect Your Manicure

Since I have been so into nail polish, nail stamping, etc lately, I thought I would share the items that I use to help achieve a better manicure.  I am NOT the best at getting or keeping a perfect manicure, but these items have helped a lot.

BASECOAT: Orly Bonder Rubberized Basecoat – The rubber component of this basecoat helps the polish really stick to your nails.  It’s easy to apply and dries in a flash.  By the time you finish painting Bonder on your 10th finger, you are ready to start your first coat of color on your first finger.

TOPCOAT: Seche Vite – I know this is a love-it-or-hate-it product (and is NOT 3-free), but the truth is, it has a lot of fans and has reached legendary status among nail aficionados because it WORKS.  It’s super thick and dries very shiny/glossy and HARD.  If you use this and let it dry thoroughly, you won’t have those dents, dings, or fabric marks in your manicure.

DRY DROPS: Qtica Half Time Accelerator – I will never again paint my nails without dry drops.  These from Qtica are the only ones I have tried, but they were highly recommended and I love them.  When I put on my Seche Vite topcoat, I wait 3 minutes, then put a drop or 2 on each nail, then wait about 5 minutes, then wash my hands and I’m 100% good to go and I don’t have to worry about being careful.

All 3 products are readily available at Ulta, Sally’s Beauty Supply, Amazon.com, and even drug stores (don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure I have seen all 3 at CVS).  So you don’t have to make a special trip or hunt them down.

If you want to see more of my nail stamping adventures, check out my nail blog, Sunshine And Some Polish.

DISCLAIMER: Post above contains affiliate links, however I purchased all products mentioned above with my own money.  All opinions are my own.

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Introducing…Sunshine And Some Polish

I have decided to start a new mini-blog documenting my adventures in nail stamping, nail art, and polish collecting.  This way I will be able to keep most of my nail-specific posts separate from my usual posts (which I know have been lacking lately).

If you are so inclined, please join me over at sunshineteapolish.tumblr.com!

Don’t worry, I will still be posting on Sunshine And Some Tea.  Coming up shortly: my January favorites post!

Julep Maven – Welcome Box

I mentioned recently on Facebook that I decided to cancel my Birchbox subscription.  Not because I was at all dissatisfied with my Birchboxes, but I think I was just craving something different.

Since I have been playing around a lot with nail stamping lately, I decided to become a Julep Maven*.  This is a monthly subscription program that mainly focuses on nail polish.  You take a style quiz, and are assigned one of five different “Style Profiles”: Modern Beauty, Boho Glam, Bombshell, Classic With A Twist, and It Girl.  The monthly boxes are curated based on these profiles, so if your profile is set to “Bombshell”, then when it’s time to ship your box, you will get the “Bombshell” box for that month.  But you are allowed to preview each box before it’s shipped out, and you can easily switch Style Profiles at any time.  The “dangerous” part is that you can upgrade and add items on to your box at a discounted price, which is great, but also bad (for the wallet!) at the same time.  You can get more info on how the Maven boxes work at the link above.

For my “Style Profile”, I got Classic With A Twist, so for my welcome box, I got two polishes, a cuticle serum, and a sample of makeup primer.  I also chose 3 extra polishes to add to my welcome box.  I used the discount code FREEBOX when I signed up, so my first box was free, but after adding on the 3 extra polishes, it was just under $15 shipped.

Here are the polishes I received, still in their packaging:

On the left are the three polishes I picked out as add-ons.  On the right are the two polishes I received based on my “Style Profile”.  Left to right:

  • Tracy (It Girl) – Sparkly ocean blue sea salt (textured polish).
  • Max (It Girl) – Black and white graffiti top coat.
  • Cassie (Classic With A Twist) – Soft coral sheer.
  • Myrtle (Classic With A Twist) – Flapper red crème.
  • Zora (Classic With A Twist) – Frosted pink pearl.

So far I have tried 3 of the 5 polishes.  I thought Cassie was going to be more of a peachy pink, but it ended up being much more peachy than I thought and clashed terribly with my skin tone.  It was just BAD.  So bad, I immediately removed it and did not snap a pic.  It’s a beautiful color, just not for me or my nails.  So sad!

Funny story: Once I painted Cassie on my nails, I was INSTANTLY reminded of one of my favorite Barbie dolls from my youth.  Did anyone else who was a child of the 80s have the Peaches N Cream Barbie???

Once I got that image in my head, that was all I could see on my nails…80s Barbie doll.  Again, it’s a very pretty color, but just not for me.

Tracy was actually the first color I tried.  I wore this for my husband’s birthday weekend.  This is my first ever textured polish and I have to say I loved it.  It’s a bit weird to not be aiming for that perfect smooth shiny finish, but on the flipside, it’s so forgiving if you are not great at painting your nails.  Also, if you accidentally smudge it a bit before it dries, it’s so easy to just pat it back down gently, or to just dab a bit more polish to touch it up.

I loved this shade of shimmery blue with a silvery sheen to it.  Since I seem to be on a flashback kick with these nail polishes, I can also share that this one made me think of one of my favorite music videos of all time, Tonight Tonight by the Smashing Pumpkins.

So when I was trying to decide on what to stamp on it, my thoughts instantly went to something silvery and starry.  I decided to keep it simple with silver stars on my ring fingers and thumbs.

My latest manicure involves trying out Myrtle, which is a beautiful, vibrant red.  I decided to stamp an abstract floral pattern using my new Konad white “special stamping polish”.  I have actually gotten quite a few compliments on this one.  People really like the red & white together.  I think it will be a good color combo to use again for Valentine’s Day.  Myrtle is definitely a winner for me.

At some point, when I decide to have a non-stamped manicure, I am going to try 2 coats of Myrtle topped with a coat of Max, the black & white graffiti top coat.  To keep with the flashback theme…Tadd said the idea of that combo makes him think of 101 Dalmations.  Ha!

One other thing I want to mention about the Julep polishes, is that the tall, narrow bottles, while very pretty and easy to store, make me nervous.  I am always worried that the slightest movement will tip them over and make polish go everywhere.  Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m waiting for it.

So far so good with my Julep Maven* subscription.  I am excited to try the rest of my polishes from this box, and interested to see what they put together for the next box.  I will keep you posted!

By the way, please forgive the state of my nails, cuticles, and polish jobs.  I was not blessed with naturally pretty nails, but I have been working on them.  I know I also have a long way to go in perfecting my polish techniques, but I have been practicing!  Hopefully as I keep up this new hobby, they will gradually look better and better.

*In the interest of full disclosure, if you sign up for a Julep Maven box through the links posted above, I will get a small referral credit.  Please feel no obligation to sign up through my link, just thought I would use it since it was provided to me!