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This year I was lucky enough to attend PBA Beauty Week in Las Vegas, Nevada. Here’s a little bit about why I was there:

As an esthiology student at Aveda Institute Charlotte, I applied to become a Beacon winner, which is an annual nationwide contest for cosmetology and esthiology students focused on the business and marketing side of the industry. Though Beacon, NAHA, and Cosmoprof have much more to do with hair than make-up, I applied anyway. I had to do 3 before and after pictures and create a marketing piece for myself, in addition to submitting a professional resume. I was thrilled to find out in May that I was one of 100 winners nationwide, and the amazing company that owns my school, Beauty Basics, paid for my flight and hotel in Las Vegas for the weekend of July 30 so I could attend! I’m hugely grateful to them for sending me over to get a taste of Beauty Week. Thank you BB!

As Beacon winners we were set up with a unique schedule of seminars and parties that allowed us to hear from motivational speakers, manufacturers, distributors, stylists, and salon owners, including some of the industry legends. As I said, most of this was directed toward hair stylists, but I still took a lot away from all the speakers and their advice. We got to attend exclusive parties and mingle with tons of people, and we also got to attend the North American Hairstyling Awards. If you didn’t know, NAHA is like the Oscars of hair. It was a fun night hosted by Miss Tabatha Coffey herself.. I’ll post pictures of that soon!

I stayed in the Luxor, which is connected to Mandalay Bay, where all of the Beacon, NAHA, and Cosmoprof events were held. I got to meet a bunch of other Beacon winners from schools that Beauty Basics owns; my roommate for the weekend had just graduated from Aveda Institute Dallas.

I met a lot of great people and took away a lot of really solid advice from the various speakers we heard from. Stedman Graham (yep, Oprah’s boyfriend!) was the opening speaker, just to give you an idea! He’s actually a great entrepreneur and motivational speaker in addition to his famous relationship. ;)

For now, here are the before and after pictures I sent in which won me a place in Vegas. I will list some of the products I used if I can remember what I used… it was done way back in March!


Katelyn’s wearing a custom-mixed lip color, Sable and Twinks eyeshadows, and Stud for her brows.


Amber’s wearing MAC Faux lipstick, Macroviolet fluidline, and Top Hat eyeshadow in the crease.


Nicole’s wearing MAC Hollywood Nights lipstick, Coygirl blush, and Feline eye kohl.

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I have a little treat for you today, several manicures.. mostly nail art I’ve done over the past month or so that I’ve been meaning to share. Hopefully I’ll be able to upload some higher quality pictures another time, but for now cell phone pictures will have to do!


China Glaze Crushed Candy Crackle layered over China Glaze Swing Baby


What I call a “preppy” manicure, it made me feel very tennis-club-in-the-Hamptons. Used Essie Cute As A Button, Essie Mint Candy Apple, Essie Tart Deco and (unfortunately) an unknown Essie (the bright pink).


!!Toes alert!! Essie Mint Candy Apple bows outlined in Art Club black nail art polish, layered over Essie Cute As A Button!


I can’t find the nail art inspiration picture I interpreted for this manicure–but I used Justin Bieber for NOPI I’m A Belieber with white and black Art Club nail art polishes for the design.


I am so utterly obsessed with jelly polishes, and this color especially: OPI Big Hair, Big Nails from the Texas 2011 collection!


I can’t tell you how ecstatic I was when I found OPI Sparkle-icious at a salon nearby. I didn’t jump on them when they first came out because I was poorly, and I couldn’t pass it up again!


Nail art with Zoya Dove and some Art Club studs! Loved this one, so chic, so… Rihanna.


I recently bought wall shelves from Target to organize my polish collection. This is a shot of all my polishes as of May 23, not including my MAC polishes (which are stored on a MAC polish display next to my make-up).

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Yay, I had a lot of fun doing this manicure! I was inspired by a picture of someone’s manicure that I found on tumblr. The “roses” are very easy to make, just lots of semi-circles in varying tints and shades of a couple colors. I chose to do roses only on my ring and thumb nails for this manicure, while the rest just had the striped pattern.

Before I post the pictures, an apology for the state of my nails in these photos. My nails (and hands) take a lot of abuse from me right now, as I am giving 2-3 facials a day, and constantly washing my hands to keep sanitary. I get thirsty just looking at my poor dehydrated skin!

USED:
Color Club High Society
Color Club Who Are You Wearing?
Color Club Ms. Socialite
Color Club She’s Sooo Glam
OPI Who the Shrek Are You?
Seche Vite Top Coat

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Just thought I’d mention that I tried water marbling for the first time today. It was sort of a failure :P, but I’ll post pictures soon!

Ever since product pictures were revealed for MAC’s Venomous Villians/Maleficent nail polishes, the beauty community has suspected that two of the polishes from Orly’s CosmicFX collection, Galaxy Girl and Space Cadet, were dupes for MAC’s Formidable! and Mean & Green. I wanted to post some comparison swatches of the four polishes along with my thoughts.

To get it out of the way, you definitely don’t need all 4 polishes. Space Cadet and Mean & Green, and Galaxy Girl and Formidable! are so similar to one another that unless you’re an avid collector of some sort, it’s be redundant to add them all to your collection.

Pictures are below. I’ve posted several because getting the same light on each finger while photographing proved to be impossible. Please forgive the messiness!

USED: (no base or top coat)
Orly Galaxy Girl (index finger): 2 coats
MAC Formidable! (middle finger): 3 coats
Orly Space Cadet (ring finger): 3 coats
MAC Mean & Green: 4 coats

Reviews

MAC Formidable! is beautiful, but is exactly the same as Orly Galaxy Girl. (Full review here.) I have seen people say that Formidable! has more of the blue sparkle than Galaxy Girl, but this was not my experience at all. Formidable! was perhaps slightly more sheer, but when coated to opacity (I used 2 coats Galaxy Girl and 3 coats Formidable!), they look exactly the same.

Mean & Green was EXTREMELY sheer in one coat. And although Mean & Green and Space Cadet contain the same colors and the same multichrome, Space Cadet appeared to be much more “sparkly” than Mean & Green. Space Cadet (full review here) is, for lack of a better description, all bling-bling all the time. Even in low light, the pink sparkle is beautiful and stands out against the olive/emerald green base. Mean & Green, disappointingly, did not exhibit as much of this pink sparkle as I would have liked. That being said, these are pretty much the same polishes. If you have one or the other, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

So what’s the bottom line? Here we go: Orly raised their prices with the CosmicFX collection for the first time, so Galaxy Girl and Space Cadet go for around $10 online. Formidable! and Mean & Green, on the other hand, cost $13 at MAC. What’s more, all of the MAC polishes are sold out online and likely at every counter and store you’ll find. Case in point, MAC is amazing at marketing limited edition collections. You may still have a chance to find the Orly polishes at Sally’s and on online retailers. In addition to being cheaper, the Orly polishes have a more consistent formula which means quick drying time, beautiful sparkle finish, and long-wearing quality polish. Also, I’ve seen at least a dozen complaints online about some of the MAC polish brushes being wonky. (If you received a polish with a wonky brush, you should be able to contact customer service to get a replacement cap.)

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It’s finally feeling like Autumn here in coastal South Carolina, and this feels like the perfect polish for the new season. From MAC’s Venomous Villians Disney collaboration collection comes the star nail polish of the three limited edition releases: Baaaaaad Faaaaairy!!! (Cue angels singing.)

Before I get on with the review and pictures I should mention that there are 2 other polishes that were released with the Venomous Villians/Maleficent: Formidable! and Mean & Green. The reason that I didn’t purchase these is because Orly Galaxy Girl and Orly Space Cadet are dupes (and cheaper, no less!!) for both of those, respectively. I will have comparison pictures coming up soon! Now, onto BF!

Bad Fairy is a beautiful multichrome nail polish which changes depending on the sunlight between fuchsia, purple, a warm pink, copper, orange, and gold. It’s a sparkle formula, with large particles of shimmer that aren’t exactly glitter. The formula is pretty sheer, but I see that as a pro and not a con. Why? Because its being sheer allows you to either layer it over other colors without covering them completely, or use it alone. I’m anxious to try it over both dark and light colors, but this is 3 coats by itself. It’s a really gorgeous and versatile color, and definitely eye-catching. One person asked me, “So is your nail polish copper or purple?” I was happy to clarify by turning my fingers every which way to show her how the color changed in the sunlight and shadows.

Without further ado, here are a BUNCH of photos! Bottle pics first:


An accidental shot that I thought looked cool, with Wicked Ways lip glass in the background!

Nails & bottle pics!

Just nails in different lights!

Base: Gelous
Layer 1: MAC Bad Fairy
Topcoat: Sally Hansen Mega-Shine Topcoat

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One of the polishes I picked up at Rite Aid during the BOGOF Sally Hansen sale is this Insta-Dri in Pronto Purple. Pronto Purple is a violet-based frost with fuchsia and tiny hints of blue shimmer.

Color

I love this color, but it’s purple so that’s not too surprising. Despite its being a frost, it didn’t apply streaky at all for me (partly because of the wide brush, I’m sure). I love the subtle blue shimmer that you can see when you look closely. Alone, the base color may lean towards vampy, but the shimmer lightens it up and makes it a stunning polish, in the sunlight and indoors.

Formula

Personally, I like the Insta-Dri formula, but you may find it to be goopy or thick. I found it easy to use, though, super smooth opaque in one coat if you’re careful. One problem: despite a coat of Gelous, this polish bubbled like CRAZY on me. Funny thing was, as soon as I applied my topcoat, it completely smoothed out the appearance. It was like an illusion, I really couldn’t believe it. But, lesson learned: definitely use a top coat with this polish.

Final Recommendations

I’d definitely recommend the color to add to your collection. I think it’s a great transition from summer to fall if you like to keep up with nail trends, but I’d wear this yearround. Luckily, it’s a permanent color in the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri line, so you don’t have to worry about shuffling out to grab it immediately.

Base: Gelous
Layer 1: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Pronto Purple
Top: Sally Hansen Mega-Shine Topcoat

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