Thursday, August 14, 2014

Nails Inc. London: Ballet Sheers

Hello, beautifuls!  Have any of you ever wanted to be a ballerina (or in fact ARE a ballerina)?  I've spent many an hour prancing and leaping about my house, and sometimes I feel like I may have been a ballerina in a past life, but then if that is the case then any gracefulness I once had has been deeply suppressed in this lifetime.  It's a nice thought, though.  I had exactly one ballet lesson during my childhood, and all I remember doing are donkey kicks.  But I freaking destroyed at those donkey kicks. Today I have for you some of the Nails Inc. Ballet Sheers polishes!  Along the lines of the recurring OPI "Soft Shades" releases but much more creative, IMHO.  I have three out of the four Ballet Sheers available at Ulta, and am currently missing Mayfair Ballet, which is the white pearl of the collection.  The confusing thing is that Mayfair Ballet and Covent Garden Ballet both debuted two years ago as part of the A Listers Collection, but have now made a return as part of a collection that hasn't gotten much attention at all.  Since I've had my eyes on these for a while and I'm sure you have too, let's finally give these lovelies a talking about.

Hamilton Mews

Dainty, airy, sweet; this one is strongly evocative of a Belle Époque ballerina in her lovely little shoes.  Hamilton Mews is a powdery blushing mauve that is frosted over with an ultrafine aqua mint shimmer.  The convergence of ladylike pink and Tiffany blue is beautifully reminiscent of macaron-hued vintage lingerie, an impression heightened by the subtle luminance of the superfine shimmer, much like that of fine silk.  This idyllic daydream is why I want so badly to love this polish, but I must tell you that the formula was being very naughty (and not in a good way).  Surprise... this is actually a matte polish!  Unfortunately, the super-fast drying quality of the matte finish means that you have hardly any time to sweep the polish on before it sets up, which for me meant that the polish would mound up behind every stroke!  I'm determined to give this polish one more try to see if I can find the sweet spot, but my goodness was it frustrating.  I did four coats- FOUR- purely to see if it would ever level, but I shouldn't have bothered.  "Hamilton Mews" was actually opaque after two coats, and pigment-wise went on quite evenly; if not for the touchy matte-ness, this polish would be incredible.  Adding topcoat made nominal improvement to the mounded appearance, but not enough to disguise it completely.  The watery blue-green shimmer is a little shy in front of the camera (and is confounded by the matte effect, so I'd recommend topcoat for multiple reasons), but it's there and it's charming.  This color couple has been popular this year, so if you're loving the mauve & mint but don't feel like doing battle with the formula, I'm recommend checking out Cult Nails "Alluring" from their Spring Radiance collection earlier this year {}, and Lilypad Lacquer "Tender Touch" from the Delicate Duos collection this summer (swatch coming soon!!).  Ugh, but even after all the lumpiness it's still a beautiful color, and would be great both for the serious business of practicing your pliés or the whimsical one of catching butterflies <3

Nails Inc. "Hamilton Mews" {no topcoat}

Nails Inc. "Hamilton Mews" {no topcoat} in shade

Nails Inc. "Hamilton Mews" {no topcoat} in electric light

Nails Inc. "Hamilton Mews" {with topcoat}

Nails Inc. "Hamilton Mews" {with topcoat}

Nails Inc. "Hamilton Mews" {with topcoat} in shade

Nails Inc. "Hamilton Mews" {with topcoat} in shade


 Radnor Walk

My darling friend Amy turned me on to nude polishes last winter, and oohlala but this is a gorgeous one.  "Radnor Walk" is a peach-kissed porcelain nude sparkling with coarse-milled pink iridescent shimmer that twinkles azure and gold.  A light, neutral nude that is well-balanced between rose and golden tones, I found this to be very flattering.  It can be tough to find your perfect nude; if you have neutral or pink-toned skin, you might just love this one.  Like "Hamilton Mews", this is also a surprise matte polish, but unlike the monstrous formula of the former, I found "Radnor Walk" to be tolerably manageable.  It was also unexpectedly opaque, I believe this is two coats.  It didn't make it very long, though; I snapped these pictures after the first day, and you can see how it was chipping on my index finger.  I slicked on some topcoat for the second day and it seemed to become brittle because the polish started flaking by the end of the day.  It's so pretty that I can forgive it, though.  And it will match your leotard beautifully <3

Nails Inc. "Radnor Walk" {no topcoat}

Nails Inc. "Radnor Walk" {no topcoat} in shade

Nails Inc. "Radnor Walk" {no topcoat} in shade

Nails Inc. "Radnor Walk" {with topcoat}

Nails Inc. "Radnor Walk" {with topcoat}

Nails Inc. "Radnor Walk" {with topcoat}

Covent Garden Ballet

I'm kind of picky about my grays (maybe I'm paranoid, but I feel like the wrong one can make your fingernails look a teensy bit, umm, dead?) but this one.  THIS one.  "Covent Garden Ballet" is a delicate dove grey with a gauzy golden rose shimmer that seems to glow from within.  With the same ultrafine, almost pearl-like shimmer as "Hamilton Mews", "Covent Garden Ballet" has this understated yet exquisite radiance that I find completely mesmerizing.  I think this one could make for a beautiful French manicure; unlike the others, it goes on sheer the first coat, and is even enough to be presentable that way, but is easily built to full opacity in three coats.  Such a romantic shade, like a hazy English sunrise.

Nails Inc. "Covent Garden Ballet" {one coat}

Nails Inc. "Covent Garden Ballet" {one coat}

Nails Inc. "Covent Garden Ballet" {three coats}

Nails Inc. "Covent Garden Ballet" [in shade]

Nails Inc. "Covent Garden Ballet"

I had a déjà vu tickle in my head when I was swatching this, and then I remembered: Essence 142 "Grey-t To Be Here".  Indoors, the base color looked spot on; however, as you can see, Nails Inc. is a classic French grey with warm undertones, whereas Essence is cooler and more stark on the nail.  The shimmer in Nails Inc. reads as more of a glow, while Essence has a magenta coarse-milled shimmer with golden edges that cast sparks in every light.  Formula-wise, they both were wonderfully even and easy to apply, though Essence was a bit more opaque, and was pretty much good to go after two coats.  Essence also has this super fat brush that makes painting each nail a one-stroke deal, so if you love the OPI Pro-Wide brush this is right up your alley.  Price wise, there's no comparison; Nails Inc. retails for $9.50 while you can pick up Essence for a scant $1.99.  I do feel that "Covent Garden Ballet" is much more flattering and sophisticated due to its gentler dove hue and silky shimmer, but honestly they're both beautiful, well-formulated polishes so you can't go wrong with either one.

Essence "Grey-t To Be Here" [index & ring] vs. Nails Inc. "Covent Garden Ballet" [middle & pinkie]

Essence "Grey-t To Be Here" vs. Nails Inc. "Covent Garden Ballet"

Essence "Grey-t To Be Here" [index & ring] vs. Nails Inc. "Covent Garden Ballet" [middle & pinkie] {in shade}

Essence "Grey-t To Be Here" [index & ring] vs. Nails Inc. "Covent Garden Ballet" [middle & pinkie] {in electric light}

As far as I am aware, Nails Inc. Ballet Sheers are only available at Ulta in stores; they're not on either the Ulta or Nails Inc. websites!  I'm so bewildered by this.  It's not like I found these forgotten in a corner, they've been set up with the permanent Nails Inc. display all summer.  Like I mentioned above, there was definitely some re-releasing going on in this collection, and I've noticed that Ulta has been selling at full retail older Nails Inc. polishes that went on clearance at Sephora ages ago (i.e. Nails Inc. "Chester", a Feathers polish) so I was wondering if maybe these had been exhumed from the Nails Inc. vault,  but then the only anything I can find about Ballet Sheers on the internets is on the Sweet Elyse blog, from early May this year:  So they should be new polishes, just kinda forgotten about.  I love them but I do think "Hamilton Mews" especially and even "Radnor Walk" would have been more successful if the matte was taken out, though admittedly they would have been more sheer and had a longer drying time, but that would have been immensely preferable to the impossible mess that "Hamilton Mews" makes.  I'll let you know if my second crack at it goes any better!

I bought all three of these at Ulta, where they retail for $9.50.  These haven't gone on sale since Ulta started carrying Nails Inc. early this summer, and the nice sales lady at my local Ulta didn't know when or indeed if they would be, so I finally cracked under the pressure and just used a coupon on them.  Essence can be found at Ulta for $1.99, though apparently "Grey-t To Be Here" is not among their polishes available online, argghh!  You can find it at grossly inflated prices on eBay, however.  If anyone sees or knows anything about where else to find these polishes, please let us all know!


In other news, look who was in my front yard this evening!!  There seem to be tons of fawns in my neighborhood this year, but I still get excited every time I see one.  I like to convince myself that I'm having a Sleeping Beauty moment, only instead of singing I'm hiding behind a tree, trying not to spook baby deerest :)

woodland fawn friend <3
Far from terrifying, it would seem that I was positively mundane; this particular fawn was so unimpressed by everything/anything, s/he just sat there chewing cud like a teenager chews gum.  It was boredom so absolute, I just had to capture this little deer diva in action:

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