Friday, September 6, 2013

It's Been A While... Sorry About That!

Apparently, the last time I blogged here was in May. So, here's some product updates for you:

Since then, I've switched over all but one traditional gel client to CND's Brisa Lite Sculpting. I truly love this stuff, and when I put my last Ed Wyse order in (Oh, I have a new rep, Tracy, who comes to my salon once per month, shows me the new product coming out if there is any that month, takes my order, and processes it for me... Ed Wyse doesn't charge shipping, there is no minimum order, and since they are based in Seattle, I get my order in 1-2 business days), the Sculpting now comes in a larger jar; the same size as the one for their traditional gel.

* One client, JB, and I are in a weaning process right now. I have successfully removed all the gel (weaning from traditional, to Sculpting, to Smoothing, to no gel base) from my toes... I am now only wearing either traditional polish or any gel polish, with no gel. It's a weird feeling, but much less time consuming. I will still use gel to repair, if needed. My fingernails also have no gel on them anymore; as of last weekend, I am now wearing only gel polish. However, since I am still a very busy nail tech, and use removal products on my clients, I usually double top-coat, and use either Gelish, GelColor, or Axxium (they are stronger than Shellac, and Shellac's top-coat is acetone-permeable, so that's out). JB is on her first round of Smoothing gel under her Shellac & artwork. I just did that Tuesday, so we'll see how they're holding at her next appt... but so far, so good!

* I have tried the Vinylux on a few other people, and it's really a crap-shoot... Works great on some, but not so well on others. I have *one* client (the weekly traditional mani client I told you about in my last blog post) who still loves it, but it may be the color she chose -- Grapefruit Sparkle. Glitters & sheers dry faster, imo, than cremes... plus, it's easier to hide any minor imperfections. Cremes are unforgiving. I think these are best used on toes, as a Shellac match, but unless the client requests otherwise, I'll be using them with traditional base coat.

* Some new collections have also been released: OPI's had Mariah Carey and San Francisco. I'm patiently awaiting my San Fran GelColor pre-orders... I have on order: "Peace & Love & OPI", "Dining Al-Frisco", "Muir Muir On The Wall", and I own the Liquid Sands in "Alcatraz... ROCKS!" and "Wharf! Wharf! Wharf!". From Mariah's collection, I will be ordering three Liquid Sands, two regular polishes, and at least four GelColors. CND came out with their "Forbidden" collection; the only one of those I didn't buy was "Dark Dahlia", but after seeing some swatches, I think I may buy it. Gelish also has some new holiday colors coming out, so I'll be picking up a few of those, as well. Looks like I'll need to do some more swatching soon...

* MY STUDIO's REMODEL IS FINALLY DONE!! If you start at this pic, you get the idea. Three things are still in the works, but I have no idea on their timelines... (1) Hubs found a wooden sign carver/designer/painter, and for my birthday (which was in June), he was going to have a new ARTISTRY sign made for my door. Then, we had our motorcycle accident, so that is on hold. (2) The storage cabinet behind my desk needs to go; I have plans/sketches for a new (better) one, but until hubs is healed & had time, that, too, will have to wait. (3) I am on the hunt for another sheet of those flip flop wall decals. I got those at Michael's but the last few times I've gone back, they don't have them. And, they're a specialty item, so I can't just order them.

* Last thing - Since it's a new season, my hours of availability have, once again, changed. All of my standing clients have scheduled through December, leaving me with a couple spots for random clients, and every other Friday open. I would love to get one or two new standings for those Fridays. If you are local, and wish to get into a regular nail maintenance routine with me, PM me on my work page and we'll figure out what time works best.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

More Testing... (WARNING -- LONG POST)

(1) I have been looking for a nice creamy yellow for a while now... and finally found "Rocco" in the ibd Just Gel line. Sunday, I tried to use it, and it went on really thin & streaky. After THREE coats, I could still see bared spots. My original plan was to do black & white dots in a gradient over it, but with as thin as it was, I decided maybe glitter or a coat of Gelish neon yellow over it was good idea.
I talked to a cosmo (full Cosmetologist) friend of mine and she said, "How about a neon/glitter sandwich!?!?" So, we settled on a glitter. In the meantime, I applied one coat of "Honey Ryder", which I LOVE, but being traditional polish, it doesn't hold more than a few days (at least, not on my RIGHT hand). I used OPI remover to get the Liquid Sand off (since I topcoated the Just Gel with OPI's Axxium topcoat -- which is not acetone-permeable -- the gel polish was not affected), buffed with a 240g, wiped with IPA99, applied a coat of Axxium "Glow Up Already", cured, applied a thin coat of Gelish "Copa Cabana Banana", cured, Axxium Soak Off top coat, cured, wiped with IPA99 again, and applied CND Solar oil. Finished photo will be posted on my work page later today.

(2) I originally bought 10 CND Vinylux shades, and a top coat, to see how it held up to the hype (I later bought four more). It's being touted as "7+ day wear, no base coat required, dries in 8 1/2 minutes, removes in one minute, gets stronger in natural sunlight, no lamp required"... and I wanted to give it a test (or three).
* Client A (my husband) used to get weekly basic manicures with a coat or two of matte base coat (he got up to 5 days out of those). Then, I tried CND Shellac on him; that lasted three applications, and each time, at about a week, he had denting & scuffing. OPI GelColor holds much better, so we've been doing that for the last year, and he gets a full two weeks out of them (probably could get more, but I never recommend going any longer than that, since over time, the product becomes brittle & harder to remove). With Vinylux, we got a full week, but there was definitely scuffing (similar to those he had with Shellac) and a couple of tiny chips (remember, though, he's working & using his hands & using tools in our garage). His verdict? "Exactly what they say; I got a week's wear; could probably have gone longer if you wanted to test that. Better wear than traditional polish, and I liked that it was dry faster... but I don't like the smell" (remember, since it's an enhanced traditional polish, it still has the VOCs present; make sure your room is vented).
* Client B has been wearing traditional polish and doing weekly manicures for a few months (taking a break from CND Shellac, which lasted 10-ish days on her, but she didn't want to try OPI since it took a bit longer for application & removal -- by about 7 minutes -- and she has zero patience... lol). She, too, liked how fast it dried. The morning after I did them, she went to Nantucket (she'll be gone a few weeks), so I had to get her report by text. Her specific words: "LOOKS BRAND NEW! Love this stuff!" She sent me a pic, but it's fuzzy, so I didn't post it.
* Client C decided to try it (with glitter) on her toes. On toes, my clients typically get 4-6 weeks wear with traditional polish, then the grow-out starts to get to them. I figured that for clients who want their toes to match their Shellac'd fingernails, this is a good alternative to Shellac'ing their toes, too (an upcost of $13). Half the collection matches existing Shellac shades; the other half do not. Matching their gel polish was something that OPI had over CND... until now. I will report Client C's findings next month; I'm curious how long these hold vs traditional for her.

(3) CND also has two new soak off gel systems: Brisa Lite Smoothing Gel and Brisa Lite Sculpting Gel.
* Smoothing is meant to give a little extra backing to clients who can't wear Shellac for the full 14+ days. I have an item on my menu called "Diva Service", which is "a very thin layer of gel (for extra strength) under CND Shellac application". I had two clients, and my daughter, try it for me. All three got longer wear than when they wear CND Shellac by itself; closer to the 14 days the company touts (& about the SAME as Gelish and GelColor last, without the underlayment of gel). Since Shellac is the easiest to do craft foils, glitter, & pigment on top of, this product is perfect for those clients. Smoothing adds 5m to Shellac's soak off time (15m instead of 10m), and an additional 2m under the lamp, which means an extra 10-15m (total) in my chair.
* Sculpting is meant as a traditional enhancement, but they recommend nothing longer than "medium length". To make it easier to understand, I tell my clients it's an "in between" - goes on & cures like gel, but comes off like L&P. You can do standard overlays, use tips, or sculpt nails longer using forms. When you're ready to remove them, you file down some length, thin them down by 50%, wrap them in foil & cotton w/remover; they come off in 30m or less. Traditional gel must be filed off, which to some, is a down-side. Even when done properly, the natural nail always loses a layer or two in the process, leaving them weak & thin until the nail grows back out. Traditional L&P has odors, which, even when your salon is properly vented, means you & your client are inhaling those vapors. So far, I've only tried it on my daughter. Her Shellac, by itself, lasted about 8-9 days. L&P nails with tips held up, but the smell got to her (even in my well-ventilated studio). Traditional gel lasted 12 or so days before they'd start lifting (she admits to not being good with her Solar oil, btw, which would definitely help). I did her first application w/tips & artwork; took about 2 1/2 hours (same as a set w/tips using L&P or gel). She caught one a week later in a window, so that one came off; I repaired it. At her rebalance (13 days ago), she had some lifting around the edges (way less than she did with either L&P or traditional gel), which I filed off before filling them back in. Sunday (9 days in), she popped half of one off; I repaired it with a tip & traditional gel (it was all I had at home). This is her redo; I'll post the finished-artwork pic, as well, on Friday if you're interested.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

LED Facts

I've always had a scientific brain, and had a general understanding of the science behind my lamp & my products, but over the last year, I've done a lot more research. There is a ton of misinformation out there, so I want to share with you:

1. LED is still a form of UV. Don't be fooled by a salon tech who tells you "Oh, we don't use UV; we use LED". That is either an uneducated tech or a complete lie -- and that is not a place you should continue to go. If she doesn't know this simple fact (or worse, is lying to you about it), what else could (s)he not know or be lying to you about?!?

2. One LED lamp may not cure all LED-curable gel/gel polish. In very simple terms, LED is a finely-calibrated wavelength within the UV spectrum. While one UV lamp will cure multiple brands due to the wider wavelengths & some bleed-over, LED won't work that way.

3. You can find more information directly from a leading industry scientist -- Doug Schoon. One article, in particular, can be found here. Doug's website, as well as his FB page, are chock full of information. If you wish to be educated, please "friend" him, and sign up for his eblasts.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In Other OPI News...

... after two+ years of using my CND UV lamp for all my gels & UV polishes, I finally decided to get OPI's LED lamp. Reason? Simple: money. My CND UV lamp was $150 when I first got it, plus the bulbs (which are $40-ish), which have to be replaced every 80-100 hours (which is about every 3months for me). My CND UV lamp cures all brands of gel polish I own (CND Shellac, OPI GelColor, OPI Axxium SOG, Gelish, and ibd Just Gel). When OPI contacted me to test their new Glitter Gels, I wondered if it would be an issue that I used CND's lamp instead... Then, I got an email titled "HOW TO REGISTER YOUR OPI LED LAMP". Once registered, I will be on their Find A Salon list (to accompany the listing I already have on CND's page).

I decided to look into the differences between a couple of the brands I already use. I then talked to the manager at one of my local beauty supply stores, Gabbi. She said she could get the Gelish 18G lamp for me for cost. However, I started to hear some complaints about it... and when compared to the OPI LED lamp, it rated way low (cheesy feeling, lamp won't come on, timer not working, etc). I was going to ask her what price she could get the OPI for me when I happened to stop in Ed Wyse.

There, I was told the price had just come down from $400 to $300. They had one in stock. I was going to buy it, but then (as is her normal, above-and-beyond customer service) Kara tells me that there is a 20% off coupon, but it's not good 'til "next week". So, not only did they holding the last one they had (I can only assume they had more on order) until yesterday (when I went to pick it up -- $239.96, actually), but they also are holding stuff I need but not quite yet, until April 1st (which also happens to be my 9 year wedding anniversary, btw), when they have a 10% OFF everything SALE DAY!

Monday, March 25, 2013


I love them. Seriously... they are great. I hope OPI comes out with more of these. Just as in the chunky-glitter polishes, you can move the pieces to make designs... or just leave them as they lay. A friend of mine used the bigger gold pieces in "When Monkeys Fly" as the gold in a Pot Of Gold, St Patrick's Day, design. I used the big white squares in "Lights of Emerald City" in a line on one of my co-workers; had I used more pieces all over her nail, it would have been *argyle*. The rainbow flash from "Which Is Witch?" is awesome over just about everything! And, remember, it came with a creamy pick shade -- "I Theodora You" (there are two other cremes in the collection -- "Don't Burst My Bubble" and "Glints of Glinda" -- that were not included in my pack... one is slightly peach, and one is slightly yellow; great for your darker skin tones) which can be used alone, or layered for some "Candy Mani" or "Cake Batter Mani" looks!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Testing... Testing...

About a month ago, I was contacted by a friend of mine, CR, who is an OPI-lover to the MAX!!! She doesn't work for them, but over the years as a cosmetologist, has gotten to know some of the people who do. The email message from her to me (& another nail tech friend of ours, HBG), read, "How much do girls love me???? OPI contacted me about doing some in-salon testing on not-yet-released GelColor products and asked if I had some close, trusted nailtech friends that I could provide them with.... and I sent them your two names! So we all get to try out new stuff!!! Here's the official letter from OPI, along with an online form we all have to fill out. DO YOU LOVE ME NOW??!!?!? I have to copy and paste, so this will be in two messages. xoxo" then "Hello! Thank you for your interest in our new GelColor product. We are so excited to have you and/or your salon on board to help introduce the latest addition to our GelColor line to the world! To confirm that you are willing to take part in this initiative, please follow the link below and provide us with information about your salon (so that we can have it on file officially). GelColor Salon Outreach Form: *deleted this link for privacy* Once you submit the completed form, we will contact you via the email address you provided with further information about the products you'll be receiving, a rough timeline for when you can expect them to arrive, and a consent form you will need to complete. If for any reason you need to get in touch with us, please email *********** at ************. Thank you again for being a champion of the OPI brand. All the best, The OPI Team, OPI GelColor Salon Outreach."

About a week later, I had a confirmation email with information regarding all the details. Wednesday afternoon, I received a small box. In it was the OPI OZ Collection GelColors in "I Theodora You", "When Monkeys Fly", "Lights of Emerald City", and "Which Is Witch?" with additional notes, info cards, removal instructions, etc. Now, what's interesting here is that most of us were under the impression that OPI wasn't going to release any chunky glitters in GelColor (keeping them only in their Axxium Soak Off Gel line) due to suspension base issues... if that were true, that means (hopefully) that they've figured out the problem and corrected it; and that we can (hopefully) expect more chunky glitters in GelColor in the future. Regardless, my instructions are to play with these, layer them with each other & other OPI products, and post pics all over social media.

Follow me on this journey by "Like"ing my FB page (CLICK HERE), and watching for photos posted to the album titled "OPI "OZ" GelColor Collection -- Testing, Testing...".

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Schedule Changes

My days & times of availability have always changed every season, depending on my family's needs. My clients get that. However, I recently figured out that I was not getting my quality time with my husband, not feeling well-rested after my "weekend", and having a hard time fitting in doc appointments so as to not interfere too much with my regular working hours.

So, I had a long talk with my husband, and decided that I would increase my Saturday by two more hours, stop working Mondays, and increase my Tuesday hours. As of February 2nd, I changed my schedule. My new current schedule is:
Tues -- noon - 8p
Wed - Fri -- 9a - 3p
Sat -- 9a - 2p

I'm hoping, with the exception of our family's summer vacation, that this will be my permanent schedule... at least until Football season starts! I've already got about 10 or 12 clients that have booked out all their appts through August, to make sure they get "their spot" (subject to change for vaca, sick, etc). Hoping to get the rest of my regulars on board soon!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Come Back

Is it just me, or does it seem the basic "French" (and by that, I mean pink & white) has made a comeback?? I'm not complaining (ok, maybe a little) because I have more clients now than ever, but seriously, I've done more p&w nails in the last six months than I did in the previous six years! And, I have no idea why? It's not wedding season... I just have one request: can you choose a color other than white? Please? Or some glitter? PLEASE?!??!