Tag Archives: topcoat changes things

Is that all? Myths and stories can be as real as anything else. They can inspire and broaden your worldview and take you over forever, if you let them. I loved certain of the King Arthur tales when I was a child, and a book called Castles brought many of them to life for me, along with Beowulf and Grendel, and others. I’m not entirely sure what happened to that book; it may still be in a box in storage somewhere, or it may have been given away or sold at some point along the way.

a-england creates beautiful, beautiful colors inspired by myth and legend. She had a sale on the Legends collection recently, and I picked up a few things. The first two I have to show you (along with a relevant Zoya) are Galahad, a turquoise creme, and Morgan Le Fay, a gleaming silver-white that I used as a topcoat. The Zoya, Nimue, is the shimmery dusty purple.

I decided to attempt a sponged gradient manicure with Galahad, but my first attempt went rather badly, ending up significantly more textured than I might have liked. I wiped that off and tried again, this time with colors closer in tone and not quite so aggressively different in finish. Creme to metallic = not such a great idea. Creme to shimmer = a-okay! …or at least, more acceptable.

Nimue is a soft, dusty purple from last fall’s Mirrors collection. It’s described as a metallic “thistle” purple, and that’s pretty accurate for the color, but the finish feels more like it’s just got a very strong silvery shimmer. I painted my two accent nails (left pinky, right thumb) with two coats and sponged several times on all the others. It was easy to work with, though compared to the a-england polishes, everything feels difficult. :) As a point of trivia, Nimue is one of the names accorded to the Lady of the Lake. a-england also has a Lady of the Lake polish, and it is also a dusty purple, but with a holographic finish. You’ll see that one later. :)

Galahad is the most perfect turquoise polish I have yet tried. The formula is amazing, as is the case with all the a-england polishes I have; it goes exactly where you tell it to, dries faster than many, and self-levels. I used one coat as a base on all but my accent nails. The accents didn’t come out perfectly opaque, but I am inclined to blame my technique rather than the polish.

Morgan Le Fay is a sheer polish that I am more inclined to use for layering, but I’ve seen people wearing it alone and it still looks lovely. It looks shimmering and white in the bottle, but gleams silver once on the nail. It’s beautiful and illusory and all of this looked so much better in person. I used one coat over all my nails.

I bought the a-england polishes directly from their website — these do ship from the UK, so it might take longer than you might like, but shipping is free. You can also find them at Llarowe, if you don’t want to risk overseas shipping or your country isn’t among those she ships to direct. The Zoya came from Zoya’s site, though I do see the seasonal collections at Ulta, and sometimes stragglers lurk around for a while after.

Under the cut is my first try at a sponged gradient, this time with Galahad and Excalibur, a brilliant silver a-england polish. It didn’t go so well. I’m still working out the kinks on my technique, and may poke a few other tutorials for ideas.
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So I was poking about peeping at things a little while ago and stumbled across this post on Pandora’s Nails, and was hit with a severe “lemming”, a.k.a. a desperate need to own something that you’ve seen swatches of and/or missed buying or whatever. It may translate somewhat to “WAAANT NAOOOOOOWWWW”.

Nails Inc. Covent Garden Ballet. This first photo is it entirely on its own, two coats. I did get some bubbling from my basecoat, which I had just thinned and thoughtlessly failed to wait for the bubbles to dissipate. Not the fault of the polish!

You should by now have realized that I am a gray polish fiend. Light grays slightly more than dark grays, but not by much. I just love gray. I also have a deep and abiding love of subtle shimmer. This polish hit all my buttons. The shimmer is gold or pink or both. Rose-gold? Whatever. It floats there under the surface looking magical.

I was curious and thought it would coordinate well, so on the ring fingers as an accent nail, I added a layer of Lilacquer Kitsune. It looked lovely, and I contemplated doing a full hand, but the greenish flash that Kitsune shows did distract sufficiently from the effect I wanted, so I decided to leave it at just the one nail on each hand.

You can see the contrast a little more starkly here — internal shimmer, external shimmer. Both are beautiful. It reminded me a bit of opals, and I might try this with some flakies sometime to emphasize the effect. I loved this manicure. The gray is so soft and light and easy on the eyes. It wore for two and a half days until I got something else I desperately wanted to wear. ;)

I ordered this (along with the other three polishes in the set) from the U.K., as I couldn’t find a U.S. seller that had it at what I considered a reasonable price. I paid a little less than retail at Beautybay (free international shipping!),  but there are a couple of other places that I found that had it even cheaper but didn’t list it as shippable to the US. If you’re in the U.K., you might be able to pick the A Listers set up wherever Nails Inc. is usually sold, but I never saw it at a local Sephora.

Looking at a few swatches, it does look like one of the new Essence Colour & Go polishes, Grey-t to be here, is similar in color, but the Essence looks like it has larger, flaky-type glitter instead of fine shimmer. I’ll probably pick it up if I ever see it in person (gray polish fiend!), so I’ll do a quick comparison then. It is, to be fair, much, much cheaper, so I couldn’t blame you if you prefer that one.


Pastels make me happy sometimes. Okay, frequently. Especially when they remind me of ice cream, and not just any old ice cream, but spumoni. I could have made it more like spumoni by adding, perhaps, a light amount of pink glitter to the pink nails and including a milky brown nail for the chocolate, but pshaw. This was quite pretty enough on its own.

The two main polishes here are OPI Where’s My Bikini Top and First Names Only. These are from the current crop of Ulta exclusives, but are actually straight-up renames of, respectively, Stranger Tides and Steady As She Rose from the Pirates of the Caribbean collection last year. Where’s My…/Stranger Tides is a mildly pistachio-esque, pleasantly dusty pale green, and First Names/Steady As is the cool light pink; both are cremes, both had reasonably good coverage. I used two coats of each color over a Revlon basecoat, and, much to my dismay, these OPIs did not play well with it at all. Shrinkage started almost before they were dry, and they started chipping around the edges after less than a day.

The sparkle topcoat is Zoya Glimmer. It’s a silver and gold shimmer in a slightly peachy translucent base. I’ve seen people use this for a full mani, but I think it’s really best used over other colors. It did alter the color of the base slightly, making it slightly more warm. Compare the nails on my left hand (green shimmer, pink matte accents), with my right (pink shimmer, green matte). I think it’s more noticeable on the pink; without Glimmer, it’s cooler and with it trends slightly more peachy.

Pistachio and cherry ice cream. This is entirely what this reminded me of, soft and creamy and suddenly I want spaghetti. Check out the chipping action on the side of my index finger there. I cannot recommend the Revlon quick-dry basecoat with OPI, or at least, -these- OPI polishes. It has worked reasonably well with other brands, especially other drugstore brands, however.

Sparkly! Did I mention that I’ve had a full relapse into my matte-ifying ways? Well, I have. Oh, Matte About You, why are you so amazing? I have no good answer for this, but I certainly do love it.

Funny story — the ring finger on this hand actually had a different base coat because I dinged it badly enough that it needed repainting. Can you see how much less shrinkage there is on that finger? All the others just look slightly lumpy at the edges, but not that one.
The two OPI polishes I bought at Ulta, as you might expect, although I’ve seen the original releases with the Pirates names at the Nordstrom Rack recently. The Zoya was purchased from Zoya.


I wanted something equally mellow after I decided to remove the previous mani, because when worrying about one’s pets, it is good to have something very relaxing to look at. So, lilac/lavender with a sweet and coordinating topcoat.

Essence No More Drama is the lighter lilac color (here on the middle two nails), Ulta Lav-ish is the darker lavender with the coppery shimmer, and over the top of both is a single coat of Lilacquer Encantado.

Lav-ish I got in a set of mini-bottles. It’s what’s hidden in my hand here. I like it a lot, it’s very muted and, on its own a bit pinker than it looks here; the topcoat disguises the color some, as it’s not clear. The shimmer is very lovely, variously appearing as gold, pink, or coppery, depending on the light.

Encantado is a sheer lilac topcoat with a blue-to-aqua/green duochrome shimmer. It seems to be the same pigment as Selkie, which I wore a bit ago, but imparts a lovely tint to whatever you wear under it. I picked the most obvious option, really. :)  I’m sure it would be lovely over quite a variety of other colors, too. Bit hard not to be, really; it’s gorgeous.

Essence No More Drama is a basic lavender creme. It has a nice formula, easy to control and fast-drying, but there is nothing particularly out of the ordinary about it, unless you count what a perfect match it is for Encantado.

Lav-ish was bought at Ulta as part of a set of minis, but is also available as a full-size bottle. The Essence I got in a blog sale, but you may be able to find it at Ulta or your local variation if you’re lucky — alternately, for a somewhat similar, though slightly cooler in tone, color, check out the current Ulta OPI exclusives for Talk About An Upgrade!, which is a re-label of Planks A Lot! from the Pirates of the Caribbean set. Encantado is part of the Lilacquer Shapeshifters topcoat collection, and can be purchased on Etsy.


The other day I was shopping at Ulta, as one does, and chanced upon a display of the new Ulta Summer Exclusives from OPI. I stared at them a little, having a certain sense of deja vu, and then started chortling. They’re all re-releases of colors from last year or thereabouts. Some of the details are linked here at The Daily Varnish, but it sums up as: the entirety of the Pirates of the Caribbean and Katy Perry collections (respectively six and four colors), and a couple of random colors from other recent collections I didn’t recognize, plus both black and silver shatters. I missed both collections, so I was pretty happy to see them available (albeit with different names) at 2/$12. Sweet deal.

Observe my lulzy attempt to clean up my nails.

I got Oh, Waiter, which is the Skull & Glossbones reissue (a soft putty-like gray), along with a couple of others you may see later, and today, when I wanted something really mellow, decided to wear it with a couple of pretty duochrome shimmer accent nails. This one is Lilacquer Selkie, a topcoat with a clear base like Kitsune, which is featured here, though this one has a lovely blue-aqua-green shift. It’s quite subtle, especially as compared to some of the others, but I thought it worked pretty well for my purposes. Can you guess what else was involved?

MATTE MATTE MATTE

Yeah. I’m predictable. Since I got E-MAY, I’ve been obsessively slapping a matte on most of my manis in one way or another. Sometimes, just for kicks, I’ll toss a coat on one nail right before I remove my polish just to see what it looks like. Sometimes it’s awesome and I make a note to do that again. Sometimes it’s terrible and I note the reverse. I will apologize once to people who are huge lovers of shiny nails, and never again: People, I’m sorry. I love matte nails. If you don’t, this may not be the blog for you.

You can kind of see the greenish?

I really enjoyed wearing Oh, Waiter (this was two very easy coats), though I keep mentally calling it Skull and Glossbones because I prefer that name. This particular shade of gray is one I find very soothing to the eye, and it’s just neutral enough to neither clash nor totally overtake the blue shine of Selkie.

I love mini bottles. Love them.

Here’s Selkie in the bottle. She mentions that the pigments used can be a little thick, but I’ve found that they’re just to my taste. They also tend to dry pretty quickly, which is pleasant. If you’ve been enjoying seeing me use these, you can check out swatches of the whole nine-color collection at Spaz & Squee. She’s also got swatches up of Lilacquer’s new Fifth Element-inspired collection.

Selkie was purchased at Lilacquer’s Etsy shop, and the OPI was from Ulta.

Both were bought by me, for my own purposes.