Friday, January 6, 2017

Zoya Alicia

Today's polish is one where I wasn't really sold on it on the bottle, but on the! It's the scattered holo from Zoya's fall 2016 Urban Grunge collection that I was the least interested in, Alicia.
I'm struggling a little bit with my pictures lately. What I need to do is decide on a couple of specific poses and layouts, and stick to those, but I'm very conflicted. I've figured out how to take macro shots with my phone, so a flood of gratuitous macros is to be expected (see below), but what's tearing me apart is...I'm kind of liking my phone pics better than the pics I take with the DSLR, which seem kind of washed out. The swatch above is taken with my phone (it's a ZTE Axon, in case anyone was wondering), and aside from the radial blur, I like it better than the swatch in the below collage, which was taken with a Canon Rebel T2i. Oh well, I'll work it out. 
 Now to actually talk about the polish: it's great! Alicia is large holo flakies suspended in a clear base with a pronounced yellow-gold (heavy on the yellow) shimmer. The charred edges of my nicotine-stained ex-smoker's heart just lit up when this baby hit my nails. A yellow-gold shimmer in a silver flakie polish is an edgy element that's actually perfect for a collection called "urban grunge." I used three coats, as usual, for these pics, and you can still see my nail line because the flakes are so big; however, like with an ILNP Ultra Holo, the sparkle in this is so pronounced that the sheerness isn't noticeable in person.
Alicia is sheer enough that I'm wondering if it could be used as a topper. I think it would look really cool over a lot of different colors, especially greens or warm nudes. I didn't think to try it when I was swatching, but hopefully I'll give it a shot at some point. Come back tomorrow and see what kind of nail art I decided to do using this week's polishes!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

ILNP After Midnight

Today's polish is one that I hemmed and hawed about for months, ILNP order after ILNP order, putting it my basket, taking it out, looking at swatches and putting it back in, reading reviews and taking it back out. Was it worth the indecision? Short answer: no.
Isn't After Midnight beautiful? Yes, it is. It's a deep, sapphire blue with big sparkly scattered holo fragments and gold flakes that you can sort of see in pictures but that don't stand out that much in real life (under daylight bulbs, anyway). ILNP makes such exquisitely lovely scattered holo jellies, I've collected most of them and I think they're just stunning on the nail and in the bottle. 

 What I'm not so crazy about is the formula. I'm pretty sure ILNP was the very first brand I tried jellies from; I think I got Lulu in my first order, which has an unusually good formula and which is still one of my favorite polishes of all time. Sadly, quite a few of the ones I've bought since have had the same problem: dragging. The second coat sticks to the first coat and as you brush, the dry polish gets pulled off the nail and the result is bald patches. This is supposed to be preventable by letting the first coat of polish dry completely before applying the second, but for some reason this doesn't work for me with ILNPs. The third coat always goes on fine and evens the whole thing out, so it doesn't affect the look of the final mani unless you've overworked the second coat trying to cover the bare spots and made gloopy globs, which I tend to do. I get this with quite a few ILNP jellies, sad to say, and  After Midnight is one of them. I still won't hesitate to recommend ILNP, I'll never stop wearing and loving their gorgeous polishes...but basically, Pahlish has spoiled me on jellies.
These were actually the first macro pics I took with my phone, which is why they are blurry as heck. I mostly just wanted to show the little gold flakes. They're the same burnished gold as in Mountain View (another troublesome jelly) and Storytelling (another favorite of mine with a very fine formula). All in all, I do like ILNP After Midnight, and I'm not sorry I bought it, but I'm not super into it, either. Join me on Friday for a polish that I looooved and can't wait to wear again!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Baroness X (obligatory unicorn body fluid)

Welcome! I've gone ahead and hopped back to the beginning of the alphabet, because I've recently acquired some amazing polishes that I want to blog about. First up is this beauty from Baroness X that I'm going to call (oubf). The name is silly, but it actually does make sense considering that the origin of this polish was the unicorn-themed December Monthly Mythical Mystery box. Unexpectedly, it doesn't appear to have unicorn pee in it (unlike so many gorgeous BX polishes). It's jam-packed with other pretty things, though.
(oubf) is a teal jelly that is just loaded with silver flakies and the iridescent firefly glitters that have become very popular lately, with a sparse amount of holo microglitter scattered in. I did three coats here, but the jelly formula is so good, and the polish is so crammed full of stuff, that I feel like you could easily get away with two. Especially if you do thicker coats. While I was adding tags to this post, I realized it's the first one starring a Baroness X polish! This seems really weird to me, since BX is one of my favorite brands and I've been posting a lot of BX manis lately on Facebook and Instagram. Unfortunate that the first one on my blog is one that you can't buy!
If you're not familiar with them, the Monthly Mythical Mystery box is a darling package you can buy from BX every month (or you can subscribe). The boxes have a pre-order window, and then go out around the beginning of each month. Like this polish, the MMMs are always full of wonderful things: there's always a polish and some kind of bath or body item, and a cute little insert listing the contents and explaining the mythical inspiration behind that month's theme. When I swatch the other MMM polishes I have, I'll include a pic of the inserts; the unicorn box was a little different, in that it had so much stuff in it that the insert didn't have room for any info about unicorns.
Besides my blog and my nation, another casualty of November was my old phone. I'd had it for the better part of two years, it had died and had to be refurbished, and it was cheap as hell to begin with. So when the screen got smashed, I wasn't exactly broken-hearted. I've been posting on Instagram a lot more lately, because I now have a phone with a much better camera than my old one...and today, I made a breath-taking discovery:

I can take macros with my phone! I feel like a lot of people are kind of over macros, because when you buy a polish based solely on macros, you are guaranteeing yourself some disappointment. Since this blog is just cataloging random polishes, many unavailable or undesirable, I'm really not worried about accuracy or selling anything. So I'll be taking a lot of macro shots from now on. Check back in on Wednesday to see macro shots and other pictures of a polish that you can actually buy!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year, New Nails, New Post

Hello once again, potential and actual readers. The new year has arrived, a time for reflection and resolution, and I've decided to get back on the proverbial horse and fire up the old blog again. I feel a lot better now. This isn't a "personal" blog, but I'll tell you, the week of the election I started a new shift at work, and I also started my period. It was no good all around. Since then, I've been doing a lot of thinking and reading, dipped my toe in activism, settled in at work, and just generally gotten to a better place where I feel like it would be fun to start blogging again. Two blogs I used to read regularly concluded in December; while I'm going to miss them, I've also started branching out and reading a lot of new blogs, which has been great. Also, my nails grew out and I've got them back to my favorite shape. I'm a lot more happy and comfortable with pointy nails, and I've figured out the perfect length for them. To top it all off, I have lots of new polishes to swatch from Black Friday sales! I'm just generally feeling a lot more inspired, and I'm also loving my New Year's mani.
This is Powder Perfect Elysium, which was released to celebrate PP's third anniversary. It's a silver linear holo filled with a million little rainbow flakies. I think there's a little holo microglitter scattered in there, too. This is three coats, I could have been done at two but with these flakie-packed holos I always want to do one more coat to try to get the perfect distribution! Fortunately, these kind of polishes from PP are always flawlessly formulated; never too thick, never patchy, not slow-drying but also never drying too fast and getting goopy while you're trying to work with it. Another great thing about the formula: these pictures were taken after I got out of the shower, and yesterday I washed a bunch of dishes wearing this mani and no gloves. You can see I've got a little tip wear, but that's life with pointy nails. Most brands would have chipped after so much abuse.
 I stamped with an image from Powder Perfect's Art Deco stamping plate, which has become one of my very favorite nail art tools, using Powder Perfect Black stamping polish and Color Club Harp On It. If you check out my Instagram (@boldgold85), you can see a stamping-free swatch of Elysium, and also a ton of other manis stamped with this plate.
The plan going forward is this: I'm going to be continuing with my previous format (going through my collection in rough alphabetical order, swatching three days a week, nail art on Saturdays), but my nail art days are going to be a little different because I'm participating in a couple of challenges this year. So stay tuned for more swatches, nail art both good and bad, ill-advised editorializing, and a whole new world of unsweetened nails.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Temporary Hiatus

Hello, hypothetical readers. I'm an American, and two days ago, something extremely terrible happened in my country. The white supremacy, misogyny, selfishness, admiration of aggression, and arrogance that have been traits of United States citizens for as long as this nation has existed have resulted in the election of Donald Trump as our next president. This has left me sick at heart to a measure I could not have fathomed. I am extremely privileged to live in Portland, Oregon, a bastion of liberalism, and therefore I feel obligated to spend my spare time taking political action in any way that I can. This means that I have neither the time, nor the will, to blog about nail polish right now. This is a temporary hiatus; I will make time to continue blogging, and I will achieve the balance in my life necessary to incorporate self-care, including painting my nails. I am currently in a state of shock and horror, and I don't know when that's going to wear off; I am struggling to find ways to cope, but I am compelled to look outward and do anything I can to serve in this time of fear. I don't know what's going to happen, but I know we let this happen and I know I cannot accept it.
Thank you for reading Unsweetened Nails. See you again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Zoya Blaze

Today's polish is perfectly wonderful, in my opinion. It's sparkly holiday sensation Zoya Blaze!
 Zoya has a whole lovely line of scattered holos that everyone adores. Blaze is definitely the black sheep of the bunch, because it's the least holographic. The base is a bright cherry red (sorry it's so many different shades in these pics, the indoor lights make it appear darker than it is), and the saturated jelly base tints the holo flakes so that they mostly appear as pink, purple, and gold sparkles. Personally, I love the way this polish looks! It's definitely not as spectacular as Dream or Aurora, but it is very pretty in its own way.
I feel like I just gave myself holiday whiplash, going from so much Halloween directly to Christmas. Is this a blog, or Macy's? Haha! Yeah, that was totally lame, but Friday's polish is another fall-appropriate vampy sensation. Stop by to check it out!

Monday, November 7, 2016

ILNP Black Orchid

Today's polish is a classic from one of my favorite brands, ILNP. Black Orchid is a stunning vampy holo that apparently looks quite different in various lighting. 
 In real life, it's a rich deep burgundy with a metallic, linear holo finish and a bright magenta sheen. The indoor lighting brought out this sheen so intensely, the whole polish looks magenta in this photo.
 In the muted autumn sunlight, Black Orchid is the color of blood. This isn't one of ILNP's Ultra Holos, but it's still full of gorgeous prismatic sparkle. In a couple of these pics, you can see there's a little patchiness close to my cuticles; the formula on this one is a touch finicky, and like most ILNPs, it's at its best at three coats. The patchiness isn't visible in person, just in photographs, but I still recommend letting it dry thoroughly between coats.
This is such a classic color and a must-have ILNP. I've got another excellent burgundy holo that'll make an appearance on Friday; join me tomorrow for a less well-loved, but still quite lovely, holiday red holo!