Madam Glam gel polish {review & discount promo code}

Monday, October 27, 2014

I was recently contacted by a nail polish company called Madam Glam, a relatively new, online-only nail polish brand. They carry regular nail polish as well as gel polish, so you know I just had to try out the gel. I had been wanting to do a gel french manicure for the blog to go with my other gel tutorials, so I decided to give their white, Perfect White, a try. I also used their base coat and top coat for this manicure.

The consistency Madam Glam gel polish was just like most other gels I've used. The base coat and top coat were just a little bit thinner, but they provided great coverage without being too runny. I first applied the base coat, then two coats of Perfect White just to the tips of the nails, cleaned up the smile line with a clean brush, and finally sealed with the top coat, curing between each coat with my LED lamp. You can see the complete gel french manicure tutorial with more details and pictures here.

I wore this Madam Glam gel manicure for about 10 days without any chips or wear on the free edge. I could have kept it on longer but I wanted to change up the color of my manicure. My nails were still very shiny and felt strong after 10 days and I could have definitely wore them much longer if I had wanted to. Madam Glam gel polishes are advertised to last for up to 3 to 4 weeks. The cure time for the gel polish is 2 minutes under a UV lamp and 30 seconds with an LED.

These gel polishes retail for $17.95 each and ship free worldwide on any orders over $25 and of 3 nails lacquers or more. If you're not into gel polish they also sell a huge variety of regular nail polish that retail for $8.95 each. Their nail polishes are all "five-free" (meaning no formaldehyde, toluene, diButyl phthalate (DBP), formaldehyde resin or camphor) and are cruelty free!

Madam Glam has an amazing promotional code just for my readers too- visit their website using this special link and use the promo code YGEL30OFF to save 30% your entire order! I was very impressed with the quality of this new gel brand so I definitely recommend trying it out.

If you need more gel nail tutorials make sure to check out all of mine on the blog.

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Gelish fall 2014 "Get Color-Fall" review & giveaway

Monday, October 20, 2014

I feel like I may be just a tad late on the whole fall thing, but in my defense it's been sweltering here up until about a week ago. Now that it's finally cooled off I'm officially in "fall-mode, meaning jeans, boots, scarves, darker makeup, and now (thanks to Gelish) gorgeous fall nails. Want to see the beautiful new Gelish MINI colors? Lucky for you, I've got swatches and a giveaway of their new line, Get Color-Fall!

When this package arrived at my door I couldn't wait to open it. I desperately needed some rich, deep colors to add to my gel polish collection after all of the bright colors I had been wearing during the scorching hot summer. The Gelish fall 2014 line delivered just that, coming up with 6 new shades that were inspired by the the brilliant colors of nature this time of year. Let's get a close up look at these babies!

Do I Look Buff?

Do I Look Buff is a slightly shimmery nude color. If you look up close you can see the sheen, but it's by no means sparkly. It's fun, yet sophisticated. I applied 3 coats of this color and it was still slightly translucent, so I would probably add a fourth coat next time to get the coverage I like.

Clean Slate

Clean Slate is probably my favorite of the collection. It's a dreamy, slightly blue-ish medium grey color. It's not too light and not too dark and has no shimmer or sparkle to it. This is the color I have on right now and it goes with a majority of my wardrobe. The little bit of blue in this sets it apart from all of the other grey colors I have.

Hello, Merlot!

Hello, Merlot! is what I like to call a rich, "wine" red. It reminds me of the color of wine with it's slightly berry, pinkish tone. I'm not usually a fan of red polish on myself, but even I like this one. It's very classic but not too bright.

Whose Cider You On?

Whose Cider You On is another one of my favorites. It's a really fun, sparkly, cappuccino brown that is unlike any other colors I own. The tiny gold flecks in it are just gorgeous and add just the right amount of glitz and glam.

Berry Buttoned Up

Berry Buttoned Up surprised me because it was a lot brighter than I thought it would be. It's a uniquely lush, shimmery purple color that really pops. This would be a good color any time of the year.

Rake In The Green

Rake In The Green is a dark grey/green color that was probably my least favorite of the bunch, only because it was really, really dark. It looked almost black to me unless you saw it in bright or natural light. If you like really dark colors this would be a good choice for you. I still like this color, I just wish it was a bit more green and less grey/black.

Now that we've seen all 6 of these Gelish Get Color-Fall shades, who's ready to win a set of their own? I'm giving away a complete set of the fall 2014 line (6 bottles) to one lucky reader! You can also purchase Gelish MINI at Sally's Beauty Supply.

Never tried gel nails? I've got a ton of tutorials for you! My DIY Gel Nails post is a great place to start. I walk you through the entire process, step by step, and I include a lot of pictures and I'm a stickler for detail. It's a long one...but I promise: read the tutorial from start to finish and you'll end up with an amazing gel manicure. Just read some of the comments and you'll see- that tutorial has been viewed over 300,000 times! Once you've got that down you can move on to some of my other tutorials and you'll soon be a pro.

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Easy at-home gel french manicure

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

 Nothing beats a classic, right?

I soaked off my pink breast cancer awareness gel mani and noticed how long beautiful my natural nails looked underneath. I really liked the look of them, but wanted to make them pop just a bit more by rocking a natural looking french manicure. I've had a lot of people leave questions about doing a french manicure with gel polish on my DIY Gel Nails tutorial, so I figured I'd take a few pictures of the process and show a few tips to getting the perfect, easy, classic french mani.

I started by prepping my natural nails for the gel polish application. If you're unfamiliar with gels or if you need some instructions be sure to read my DIY Gel Nails tutorial- it's very detailed and includes step-by-step instructions on the entire process.

I filed and shaped my nails, pushed my cuticles back, buffed to remove the shine, and dehydrated the nails with Gelish Cleanser (if you don't have this, 99% alcohol will do just fine). Then I applied the pH bond (if you don't have this either don't worry- you can skip it. Just be very very sure to dehydrate the nail extremely well. Sometimes I do it 3 times just to be sure). Next, I applied my my base coat and cured under the LED lamp. Use a dry, lint-free nail wipe to remove the tacky layer of gel after curing. 

For the next step you will need either a nail brush or a Q-tip, plus an orangewood stick and a little bit of alcohol.

Next, I applied my first thin coat of white gel just to the tips of my nails. I held the brush horizontal to my nails and tried to follow my nail's natural white. Now, this part isn't going to be perfect at first, but we can go back and fix it. Don't use too much gel- if you don't have the coverage you like you can add a second coat, but do not apply it too thickly or the gel will ripple while curing (an indication that you are using too much product). If your white "smile line" isn't perfect or if you got some gel on the skin you can fix that before you cure the gel. And if you feel like you completely mess up the white and want to start over, don't panic! Get a dry nail wipe and wipe off all of the white gel and try again. As long as you haven't cured it you have some room to play around.

Dip just the tip of your nail brush (or Q-tip) into the alcohol and then gently dab it on a paper towel to remove excess alcohol. You don't want the brush to be saturated...just lightly wet. If it's too wet the alcohol will pool or drip into the whites and it will run everywhere. Use the brush to lightly wipe away any white areas you're unhappy with. I use the brush for the smile line and the pointed end of an orangewood stick to get the gel off the skin and cuticles. Make sure you have it exactly how you like it and then cure.

Add another coat of white on top of this, clean it up and perfect your line again, and then cure again. Remember to do thin, even coats. Then you can seal it with the top coat. I prefer 2 coats of top coat for an ultra shiny, smooth finish. Make sure to cure in between each coat! Then use the Gelish Cleanser (or 99% alcohol) on a nail wipe and remove the final tacky layer. Finish with a little bit of cuticle oil and you're done. If you still have a little bit of white gel on the skin around your nails you can use another Q-tip with some acetone and wipe it off. If you're like me you can leave it and it should peel off the next time you shower...or hand wash your dishes. 

You should end up with a crisp pink and white french manicure. Perfecting your smile line may take some practice. I suggest practicing a few times before actually sitting down to do your gels and without curing them- just apply the white directly on your natural nail with no base coat and practice applying it and cleaning it up with the brush so you can get the feel of it. When you feel confident enough, go for it!

So there you have it. A quick & easy french manicure.
Who's ready to try it?!

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Pink ribbon manicure for breast cancer awareness

Friday, October 3, 2014

 Holy crap, it's October already!

I know everyone is thinking "fall" this month. The weather has finally cooled off, the leaves are changing and falling, and I've pulled out my favorite boots and scarves for the changing season. Fall also means it's time to put away those bright makeup and nail polish colors and switch over to the deeper, more rich shades, right? Or maybe some black and orange to get ready for Halloween? Not so fast. October is breast cancer awareness month, so don't put away those bright pinks just yet!

I've mentioned many times here on the blog how close breast cancer is to my heart. It's huge in my family. My grandmother and aunt both passed away from it, and my own mother was diagnosed just over 5 years ago. I'm happy to say she kicked cancer's ass and has been cancer free for four years now! The kids and I did Race for the Cure last year with my parents (though we were unable to make it this year with Harper- we are hoping to all join them next year). The race was a lot of fun and if you have the opportunity to walk or run it in your area I highly recommend doing it!

In honor of breast cancer awareness in October I whipped up this quick little gel manicure to show off my pink ribbon pride. The colors I used here were Gelish MINI's Make You Blink Pink (my favorite) and Clean Slate (from the new fall line). 

I love how the pink and gray colors look together, and the pink is really much brighter in person. It's hard to capture the true color on camera- it's actually as bright as a pink highlighter. The pink ribbon was drawn free-hand and was a little bit shaky thanks to the giant cup of coffee I had for breakfast. I used the pointed end of my orangewood stick to draw the ribbon and do the polka dots. I wanted to add some glitter too, but Harper decided she'd had a long enough nap so I had to wrap it up.

Don't have gel polish? You can also do this manicure with regular nail polish. If you don't have a lot of nail polish colors you can use craft paint for the nail art part- just make sure to let it dry completely before applying your top coat. I've found that regular acrylic craft paint works great for nail art and accent nails and is pretty inexpensive (try Hobby Lobby, Joann's, or Michael's).

I'm loving my pink ribbon manicure!
How are you wearing your pink this month?

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DIY refinished oak side table {stained & painted}

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Oh boy.

I don't think I've ever been so excited to be done with a project before. I really underestimated how much work I was getting myself into when I decided to stain and paint these dated little oak side tables I had given to me from my mother in law. She snagged these up some time ago at a thrift store with me in mind and I finally decided to do something with them. I've done my fair share of spray painting furniture (see here and here). Most times I've been successful and didn't run into any big problems along the way, but this time was different. I had no idea how much more work staining wood can be compared to just slapping some spray paint on it. I'm going to show you some of the mistakes I made in hopes that you will heed my warnings and don't make the same screw ups I did. Trust me, you don't want to mess up like I did!

Aren't these things hideous? I mean, once upon a time I'm sure they were in style and looked amazing in a 90's decked out house, but I had something totally different in mind for them in my own living room. I love the shape of them though. I wanted to stain the tops a rich, dark espresso color and paint the pedestals a creamy white. Sounds divine, right? Divine, yes. Easy? Not so much. At least not for an impatient person like me. Here's how it went down.

First up, I had to sand the finish off of the table tops and get rid of any scratches I could see (there were a lot). I started off with 100 grit sandpaper, then worked my way up to 180 and finished with 220. Sandpaper grit numbers are just like nail file grit numbers- the lower the number, the more coarse the grit. The higher the number, the finer the grit. Got it? 100 grit is pretty rough and worked great to remove the finish and get down to the natural, bare wood. Then 180 grit helped to smooth it and even it out, and 220 grit is super fine and made the wood as smooth as silk. Sanding sucks. It makes a ton of dust and you end up with most of it all over you. Make sure you sand outside because you don't want that mess in your house.

Alright, we're down the bare, natural wood. Next up, stain! The one I chose was called Ebony by Minwax. One coat was not nearly as dark as I wanted it to be, so multiple coats were going to be necessary. Multiple coats also means a lot of waiting around because you have to wait 4-6 hours to reapply. 

Here's the first problem I ran into with the square table and the stain.

Remember when I sanded the table tops? I thought I did a great job, but apparently I didn't sand down enough because as soon as I put on the first coat of stain a ton of crazy scratches showed up that I didn't notice before. I swear, that thing was smooth and I thought I'd gotten all of the imperfections buffed out, but I guess I didn't. There's no other way that I know of to hide these scratches, and I certainly couldn't just leave them, so guess what that meant? Yep, more sanding. I had to start all over again with my 100 grit sandpaper and re-sand the whole thing. Yay.

I decided to start painting the table pedestals instead, because I was already sick of all the sanding business. Spray painting is easy. Well, easier, if you know what you're doing. I removed the table tops from the pedestals and made sure to wipe them down really, really well with a damp cloth. There was a lot of dirt and gunk on the pedestals, especially the feet. The wood needs to be totally clean and free of all dirt, dust, and debris before spray painting or it will end up clumpy and ugly. Normally I would prime the wood before painting, but I splurged and bought Krylon's Dual Paint + Primer so I got to skip the extra priming step.

It took a good 4-5 thin coats to get the coverage I wanted. Thankfully, spray paint dries really quickly, especially in warm weather. It was a warm 75-ish degrees that day, so I only had to wait about 10 minutes between each coat of paint. This was the quickest part of the whole project. Don't the pedestals look great painted white? I could tell these were going to be really pretty when completely done. Now, back to the staining business.

I re-sanded the square table and removed the stain I previously applied. I took special care this time to completely buff out all the scratches and made sure I inspected the table top from every possible angle looking for any other imperfections I missed the first time. I did not want to have to sand again. When I was absolutely sure it was well sanded it was back to staining. I applied 2 coats of the Ebony stain to both table tops and I stepped back to admire my work. It was looking so good! But by then it was getting dark, so I decided to move the pieces inside to dry over night. We have a lot of outdoor cats and squirrels in my neighborhood and I didn't want them getting curious and messing with my tables that I so painstakingly worked on all day. I carefully brought everything inside and put them in my basement to dry overnight. I wanted to apply one more coat of stain to get the wood nice and rich and dark.

The next morning I woke up excited to finish up my tables! That's when I found another huge mistake I made with the stain, except this time it was on the round table top.

Those would be my fingerprints. Two sets of them to be exact, right where I touched the wood to carry them inside the night before. I thought the stain was already dry, and I guess I was a little rushed getting them inside and didn't realize I was touching the still-drying stained wood. In my defense, I was home alone for the weekend because my husband was out of town, so in between staining and painting I was coming inside to breastfeed and care for my 2 month old and check on my 6 and 10 year old children. Maybe I was doing too much at one time, but I couldn't believe I messed up another table top. How was I going to get these fingerprints out? I did not want to start allover on another table top and sand it all the way down. Maybe I could just sand off the fingerprints, right? Sure. I'll try anything.

Maybe not. I carefully sanded the stain and fingerprints off and tried re-staining just those spots. Nope. Didn't work. No matter how much I tried I could not get the spots to blend in with the rest of the table top. You know what that means- more sanding. I had to start all over again with this one and sand it all the way back down to the natural wood and stain it yet again. At this point I'm pretty sure my poor neighbors were sick of my sanding and my yelling of expletives.

After sanding the round table again, I went back to work finishing up the last coat of stain on the square table. Finally, after all the mistakes and screw ups it was starting to look really gorgeous! The third coat of stain ended up being the perfect color I had in mind. I patiently let it dry and handled it ever so carefully this time. I attached the table top back on to the finished pedestal legs and admired my work. It still needed to be sealed, but it finally looked exactly like what I had in mind.

I finished sealing the table with a lot of coats of polyacrylic and let it dry very, very well. If I had made another mistake at this point I probably would have ripped every strand of hair out of my head and Hulk-smashed the table in the street. What I thought would only be a 1 day project had turned into a weekend long event, and when my husband returned home on Sunday from a  work trip I still had tables drying in the driveway. I would have been done a lot faster had I not made the scratch and fingerprint mistakes, but you live and you learn I guess.

Here is my pain-in-the-butt side table in it's new spot in my living room

Oh, that lamp? I also painted that. It was from a set of two brass lamps that I painted a gorgeous, glossy gray color. I found the shades on clearance at Target for 12 bucks each (marked down from $25!) and I knew they would look amazing on my newly refinished side tables. I've been wanting to find some brass lamps like these and paint them up forever, and I'm so glad they are finally mine!

Staining takes time. Lots and lots of time and careful application. Stain is not forgiving. Paint is. I've made mistakes while painting and most times a little light sanding and a few extra coats of paint will cover up whatever went wrong. This is not the case with stain. Make a mistake with it and you're stuck sanding and starting all over again. I don't want to even think about sanding something again for a very long time, which is unfortunate because I still have an oak coffee table to go along with these end tables that needs refinishing too.

Oh, and if you're wondering where the round table is, it's still in my basement drying. Hopefully it can join the square table and find it's new home in another corner of my living room as well.

What do you think? Are you ready to find your own ugly table and refinish it?
Have you ever made a big painting or staining no-no? I'd love to hear your tips.

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