Winter Skin Care DIY

From your head to your toes, winter conditions are no fun for your skin. Not only does dry skin look unhealthy, it can be really uncomfortable, too. Did you know that everything you need to save your skin from winter is as close as your pantry or refrigerator? Below are Read more

Solid Lotion Bars from Faith, Soaps and Love

Know for their incredible handmade artisan soaps, Faith, Soaps & Love has another trick up their sleeves... or in this case, in their tubes. Good things come in 2 oz. packages. Don't let the small number fool you, as the Solid Lotion Bar tube is the size of my hand. Read more

How to Hide Unwanted Facial Hair #GoConfidently

No matter your age, unwanted facial hair can become a true confidence problem. From genetics to mature skin, it can be difficult to feel beautiful when dark excess hair lingers around. Bleaching the hair is an option and if you haven't tried it before and are curious, read on. First, Read more

nyakio ABC African Beauty Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen

I'm always on the lookout for a BB or CC cream that not only matches my skin tone but also has SPF 20 and over, covers without feeling heavy or oily, helps to reduce the size of my pores and gives me a little glow. My skin could be described as medium to Read more

Lancome Visionnaire [1 Minute] Blur #PhotoPerfectSkin #ad

I upgraded my beauty routine with Lancôme Visionnaire [1 Minute] Blur as part of a sponsored post for Socialstars #PhotoPerfectSkin. All images and opinions are my own. Large pores, skin imperfections, fine lines, wrinkles - these are just some of the things that come with age (thanks 40.) Throw in Read more

Nail Polish

Pros and Cons of Shellac and UV Gel Manicures


Pros and Cons of Shellac (TONS of comments on this post - good and bad!)
When I first heard about Shellac, UV and LED gel manicures, I was over the moon excited. I could finally have polish on my nails sans chipping and polish peeling for more than 3 days and all without having to apply fake nails. In August, while at Cosmoprof, I received an awesome manicure from CND in Hot Pop Pink (pictured below.) The manicure took just as long as having acrylic nails or wraps put on (an hour) and the result looked just as amazing. I remarked to the manicurist just how gorgeous her own nails looked, as they were long and it didn’t even appear to be naturally her own. She told me they were and that wearing the Shellac helped her achieve the length. I believed her, until my own experience has led me to believe otherwise.


My CND Shellac lasted me 3 weeks. I was ecstatic. I applied CND’s SolarOil to my cuticles and under the tips of my nails on a daily basis as instructed by the manicurist. My nails had grown a bit during this time and I was excited to go for round two of another CND Shellac at my local salon. This time I went for a French manicure CND Shellac. My nails were finally long enough to adorn some white tips and I was stoked. I went about applying the SolarOil again daily, but this time it only took 3 days for one of my nails to peel and the Shellac to come off. Day 4, one of my nails broke and it became clear how brittle my nails were becoming. By day 5, all of my nails were either peeling (the nail itself, not the polish) or breaking.

Looking at my very soft, peeling nails, I decided to not apply any polish at all for 2 weeks, but continued to put the SolarOil on them. But sadly, they didn’t seem to recover. In the meantime, I had been sent the complete Red Carpet Manicure LED Starter Kit and as I was about to have my first television appearance, I knew my nails had to look amazing. So I used the kit, which comes complete with a portable LED light and is a DIY home LED manicure kit. Colors were gorgeous, time was still about 1 hour to complete the manicure and I used their Revitalize cuticle oil daily. But by day 3, my nails were peeling and even more brittle. I now had stubs for nails (even shorter than pictured above.) Finally I asked fellow friends in the salon business and fellow bloggers if they experienced the same of gel manicures, and it was a resounding yes.

Pros:

Manicure can potentially last up to 3 weeks
No chipping
Manicure is instantly dry upon last UV go round
Mirror finish (nails look wet, but aren’t)
Can DIY and look just as amazing as at the salon
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous

Cons:

Very drying to your nails
Repeated application (without a breather) will result in brittle and peeling nails
Wear time gets less and less with each application
If you don’t apply the cuticle oil daily, your nails will dry out a lot quicker
Costs add up, especially if the manicure doesn’t last 2-3 weeks
CND Shellac requires it’s own Remover Wraps
According to some doctors, the UV lamps can cause skin cancer (but the jury is still out on this)

So it appears that, at least for me, a CND Shellac or UV gel manicure will only happen for special events (like holidays, TV appearances, events) and cannot be worn all of the time. Unless I want to continue having man hands with my stubby nails.

In the meantime, I will be in nail re-cooperation with Qtica’s Cuticle Repair Balm and Qtica Nail Growth Stimulator to regain my length.  I’d love to hear from you: what has your experience been with UV gel manicures?

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Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Nail Polish 62 Comments

Deborah Lippmann Gets Festive with Holiday Glitter Polishes

As a nail polish addict, I’m a big fan of Deborah Lippmann – and I’m not alone! Deborah’s trend-making lacquers are always the “it” shades on every runway, cover shoot and red carpet, and if her lacquers are good enough for the finicky celebrities she’s turned into diehard fans, they’re good enough for me!

And Deborah doesn’t let any special occasion pass by without commemorating with some festive specialty shades! Just in time for the upcoming holiday season, the glitter-loving nail expert has created two gorgeous glitzy polishes – Shake Your Groove Thang (a glittering gold) and Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? (a gorgeous shimmering red) – perfect for jazzing up your holiday party look! Wear alone in multiple layers for an all-over chunky glitter look, or layer over coordinating or contrasting shades to serve as a gorgeously festive topcoat! They make great little stocking stuffers for the nail polish addict on your list… but don’t forget to stock up for yourself in time for all your pre-Christmas cocktail parties!

- Alex Gambardella

*Guest beauty post for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! from my friends at TheFind.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Celebrity Beauty, holiday, Nail Polish Leave a comment

Highlighter Yellow Nail Polish: Funky & Fun Or Just an Eyesore?

As someone who actually watches the show, I’ll be the first to admit that Bad Girls Club probably isn’t the best place to look for beauty inspiration, but I have to give those crazy gals their props when due! After all, it’s where I first saw someone rock a highlighter yellow manicure… and actually look pretty cool doing it. Since then, as a rather adventurous girl when it comes to nail trends, I was convinced that I had to try it on myself, and I was pretty pleased!

It’s eye-catching, fun and festive for late summer, plus the ultra-neon hue pops against my pathetic excuse for a tan! In fact, it wasn’t until my roommates shrieked in surprise (or disgust) and shielded their eyes from my radioactive-looking manicure that I began to think: okay, maybe the rest of the world isn’t ready for this color. But if the world can accept seafoam green, oil-slick black and even leopard nail prints, what’s wrong with really bright? What do you think – would you rock a highlighter-inspired neon hue, or does the shade just give you a headache?

From left to right: Pop Beauty Nail Glam in Yellow, Essie Neon Nail Polish in Funky Limelight, and American Apparel Neon Nail Polish in Neon Yellow.

*Guest beauty post for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! from my friends at TheFind.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty Leave a comment

Review: Duri Wine Tasting Party Nail Color Collection

Fall is my absolute favorite season.  I love everything about it, the leaves changing colors, fall clothing, the new flavors of lattes at Starbucks…mmm Pumpkin Spice. Everything just seems to become a bit richer and more luxurious in fall, including nail polishes.  While I had fun with the playful nail colors of summer, I look forward to the slightly more polished, sexy, sophisticated colors of fall and I am absolutely loving the nail colors in Duri’s Wine Tasting Party Collection.

The collection includes four colors; Cognac (a warm plum) , Bloody Mary (a very sexy red), Pinot Noir (a deep garnet shade) and Grape Swirl (shimmery violet.) The colors in the collection perfectly complement the color trends in clothing for fall as well.  My favorite of the collection is the Pinot Noir, for some reason it seems to bring out my inner vamp, color is just so daring.  It’s fun wearing the Pinot Noir and Grape Swirl at the same time…either mixing them or wearing one shade on my fingers  and the other on my toes.

I know it’s a bit early to be planning this far ahead, but I am pretty excited about wearing the Bloody Mary nail color during the holidays. Do you have any polishes from this collection? Which is your favorite?

Posted on by Gail Lewis in beauty, Beauty Trends, Nail Polish 2 Comments

HIPP x RGB Nails The Nude Polish Look With Nail Foundation

As any style-watcher knows, nude is the must-have shade for everything from heels, booties, lip gloss, nails, and beyond. However, despite its timeless popularity, the perfect nude nail lacquer can also be a pretty tricky hue to get one’s hands on; after all, it’s relative to your specific skin tone. But what if choosing your shade was as straight-forward as selecting the correct shade of foundation?

Eco-friendly nail artist to the stars, Jenna Hipp, along with her team at Nailing Hollywood LLC, has already has had her work featured in various magazines and on countless celebrity cover girls, but her recent collaboration with green enamel line RGB (and founder Gina Carney) takes trendy, eco-conscious manicures to the next level. With their recent Nail Foundation collection, the power duo seeks to help beauty mavens get that perfect nude shade just for you, no matter what your race – for graceful, elongated fingertips. In-the-spotlight stars Keira Knightly, Michelle Williams and Lea Michele, among others, have already rocked their own specialized ‘nude’ shades in the public sphere – are you curious enough to join them?

- Alex Gambardella

*Guest beauty post for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! from my friends at TheFind.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Beauty Trends, Nail Polish 1 Comment

Meeting Zoya Reyzis of Art of Beauty

Recently I had the great privilege of being asked to speak at Cosmoprof North America. Not regarding my work as a beauty blogger, but on the social media side of things that I do for my day job. While I was there I decided to seek out brands I knew and loved, as well as up and coming brands that I know YOU would want to know about. If you’ve been reading A Girl’s Gotta Spa! forever or are a fan of us on Facebook, then you know I LOVE Zoya Nail Polish (part of the Art of Beauty family.) I’ve met Leo and Michael Reyzis before, but this time I had the opportunity to sit down 1:1 with Zoya herself. WOW. What an honor, not to mention what an amazingly talented and savvy woman she is.

Our conversation began with Zoya asking me what I liked about Zoya Nail Polish. I explained that a brand gets my loyalty when they can deliver a product that actually works. I told her that of all of the nail lacquers I have tried, Zoya Nail Polish has not only lasted the longest, but has an amazing product that I shout from the rooftops about: the Color Lock System. She seemed surprised that my focus was just on functionality and not on the color assortment or the collections themselves. To me, while I feel Zoya really has some great colors and I love the collections, as someone who is constantly sent the next “miracle” product that turns out to be not so much, at the end of the day, how a product performs is what sells me on buying it again, writing about it and telling all of my friends and family about such an awesome product (would you agree?)

I had the opportunity to hear the background of Zoya herself and how her nail care collection came to be. Did you know she is a classical musician? It is because of this training that Zoya Nail Polish has that air of artistic expression. When she came to this country there wasn’t a viable job opportunity as a classical musician, so she began to work at a beauty salon. During that time, hair care with a nail salon is what the trend was…you never found a business that was solely a nail salon without the hair care component.  At the time (1980′s) polishes were made with formaldehyde, and Zoya was pregnant with Leo (pictured with me) and knew there had to be a healthier, toxin-free alternative. Since her husband Michael was a chemist, she asked him to develop what is now today the Zoya Nail Polish formulation. It was then that Zoya opened a nail salon and was told she would never make it. But here she is, and I hope she is saying, “How do you like me now!”

Another way in which Zoya chose to be different is in the manner in which she named her polishes. Her 1st line was named after famous women such as Carmen, Cleopatra, etc. She felt there was only so many ways you can describe a plum or a red, as the other major players in the industry were doing at the time. She wanted women to be able to relate with another strong, intelligent woman because the color of your polish says a lot about you. She had me select colors that I wear, in which I choose many neutral and “safe” colors. She responded, “You live in a conservative area.” She’s right. Then she observed the colors I was wearing on that particular day–my Skagen Denmark watch with a bright orange band and my glistening peridot ring from Leela Bijoux. She said, “You are a generally happy and very positive person. You can see that in the bright colors you wear…and orange also means you have wisdom.” And she’s also right here. Have you thought about the colors you wear and how that projects portions of your personality to how others perceive you?

I was really impressed with Zoya and I left the Art of Beauty booth with a deeper appreciation of female entrepreneurs. And the feeling that maybe I should wear a bolder nail color my next go around.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, beauty interview, Nail Polish 4 Comments

RGB Nail Polish For Shiny Shades That Are Brilliant & Safe

Usually when it comes to nail polish, you’ll often find formulas that either boast natural, chemical-free ingredients that keep your nails in tip-top shape and protect against damage, or brilliant color payoff. But a brand that takes pride in delivering both?! It’s rare… but it certainly exists, and RGB won’t settle for anything less!

With high-shine, chip-free formulas that are free of Formaldehyde, Toluene, DBP (dibutyl phthalate), Formaldehyde Resin, and Camphor (trust me – you won’t miss ‘em!), these no-nonsense polishes come in classic colors and the latest must-try trends to boot! At $14-16 a pop, RGB polish is definitely more on the high-end side of the spectrum, but if you’re a shopper who’s mindful of taking better care of your nails, are typically unsatisfied with drugstore-quality formulas, and already have a specific color in mind that you can’t wait to add to your polish collection, RGB lacquers are worth every penny! Shop the newest colors on the official RGB online shop!

- Alex Gambardella

Guest beauty post for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! from my friends at TheFind.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Nail Polish Leave a comment

Sephora by OPI Has Crackle Polish Fever Too

When crackle polish top coats first reemerged on the nail trend scene courtesy of Katy Perry’s OPI collection, our inner junior high schoolgirl totally beauty-geeked out. I remember how cool it was back in the day — raiding my mom’s lacquer collection to experiment with all sorts of contrasting shades underneath my very punk-rock black crackle top coat. Katy Perry’s collection was cool, but I couldn’t help but think, is it really back, or is this just a gimmick?

Well, a couple of months later and now Sephora by OPI is rolling out their own crackle polishes — eight to be exact, including three metallic-based top coats (pictured) to edge up your typical summer corals and candy pinks. The Blasted Nail Colour collection boasts “an effect that appears to blast apart on your nails.” In other words, it’s totally crackle polish “but not,” in a new, modernized package. I’ve yet to try these Blasted shades myself, but I’ve seen them on others and I have yet to decide how I feel. The black crackle is so crackly, it ends up just appearing chipped from far away — but I do love the way the chromed-out silver and glittery gold give a cool, mirrored metallic effect over summery colors!

- Alex Gambardella

*Guest beauty post for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! from my friends at TheFind.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in Nail Polish 4 Comments

Sephora by OPI’s Safari Luxe Collection Looks Like a Million Bucks!

Despite the fact that most of us have never set foot on the savannah, the whole “safari chic” trend that arose a few years ago is still on the prowl on all the hottest runways, and the fad shows little signs of stopping! From khakis and belts and clean, crisp collared shirts to wild animal inspired prints (jazzed up with a little tribal jewelry, of course), the safari look isn’t complete without coordinating polish!

Leave it up to Sephora by OPI to create a whole collection to suit the occasion — appropriately named Safari Luxe — which contains six summery shades from both the neutral and the bold-and-bright sides of the trend spectrum! Inspired by not only the safari theme itself but also by the most fun aspect of the trend — leopard-print fabrics, snakeskin pumps, chunky gold jewelry — the collection reads less literal and more coordination-appropriate for going with the trend’s hottest looks instead of making it too costume-y!

From left to right: Caught with my Khakis Down, Wild About Shimmer, I Don’t Bite, A Color That Can’t Be Tamed, Once a Cheetah Always a Cheetah, and Don’t Feed the Hand Models.

- Alex Gambardella

CATALOGUE from TheFind is a new way to browse through all your favorite store catalogs in one easy-to-use iPad or Android app. CATALOGUE includes the latest catalogs in fashion, beauty, home and more! Download it here.

*Guest beauty post for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! from my friends at TheFind.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in Nail Polish Leave a comment

Sula Paint & Peel Polish Duos For a Blast-From-The-Past Manicure!

I remember back in the day when the closest thing I could get to my mother’s glamorous red manicure was Barbie pink peel-off nail polish. Even as a kid, I was annoyed by the lack of staying power (though arguably that was the point of peel-off nail polish), but it was undoubtedly more fun to peel off than paint on in the first place. Despite my childhood frustrations with “kiddie” lacquer, given how often I switch my polish nowadays (sometimes multiple times a day!), the old-school concept is starting to sound less lame and more just-plain-practical.

Take Sula Beauty, for example, who is working to reinvent peel-off polish into something modern, convenient, and polish remover free! Their double-sided Paint & Peel nail duos include both an enamel and a top coat, ensuring that the shade stays put for days until you want it to come off… in which case, you peel away! This isn’t the crappy, chip-prone, peel-off polish of your past — this is some pretty genius revamped polish of the future! Would you revisit the peel-off trend if it meant kicking nail polish remover to the curb for good?

- Alex Gambardella

*Guest beauty post for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! from my friends at TheFind.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in Nail Polish 2 Comments