Category Archives: Nail Care

Reviews Revisited: Volume V

Purchased – Affiliate Links reviews revisited -2

Thank you so much to those of you who took the time to fill out my feedback survey – your suggestions were so helpful! And it’s still open if you’d like to take it.  I’ll definitely be incorporating your feedback, starting with today’s Reviews Revisited post. I had stopped doing these posts, but several of you mentioned that you like them, so they’re back!

First – Givenchy Le Rouge in Brun Createur (I have the mini size that was a Sephora 100 point perk; one of the best they’ve had!). Continue reading

Skincare Mini-Reviews

 Simple Eye Makeup Remover, Bioderma Sensibio,  Shu Uemura High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil, Lush Angels on Bare Skin

Makeup Removers & Cleansers:
Simple Eye Makeup Remover, Bioderma Sensibio,
Shu Uemura High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil, Lush Angels on Bare Skin

Today, I thought I would post mini reviews of my favorite and most-used skincare products. I have a ton of products to mention, so each individual review will be super short. If you have questions, please ask!

Makeup Removers and Cleansers

Simple Eye Makeup Remover and Bioderma Sensibio: I use both of these primarily to remove leftover eye makeup under my eyes after cleansing; just a little on a q-tip does the trick! I’ve heard that the Simple one stings some peoples eyes, but never had that problem myself; I find it very gentle. Both are water based, so perfect for fixing mistakes as well.  I’ve also used them to remove lip swatches.  Since the price is actually not that different between the two, I will probably repurchase the Bioderma.

Shu Uemura High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil: Fantastic stuff – it removes almost all of my makeup, including waterproof mascara (just leaving a little darkness under the eyes). It cleanses thoroughly and gently, and leaves my skin soft, not dry or tight. It’s my one-step nighttime cleanser – I use this almost every night. I will definitely repurchase.

Lush Angels on Bare Skin: A very gentle manuel exfoliator.  I occasionally use this in the morning, it feels really nice on my skin.  However, since I’ve started using a retinol (which chemically exfoliates), I use the Lush less frequently. I might repurchase.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser [not pictured]: I forgot to take a picture of this one since I keep it in the shower.  It’s a really nice gentle, hydrating cleanser that doesn’t strip my skin.  I use it when I’m not wearing makeup but I need to wash my face – for example, after exercise, or in the morning if my face needs washing (most days I just splash with water in the morning). I have, and will continue to, repurchase.

 CeraVe PM, Mandom Barrier Repair, Philosophy Hope Oil-Free SPF, Armani Regenessece High Life SPF, Avene Eluage, Neutrogena Healthy Skin

Moisturizers, Sunscreens, and Retinoids:
CeraVe PM, Mandom Barrier Repair, Philosophy Hope Oil-Free SPF,
Armani Regenessece High Life SPF, Avene Eluage, Neutrogena Healthy Skin


CeraVe PM: This is a long-time staple of mine. It’s a light, but very hydrating, moisturizer.  I hear it  has good skincare ingredients (ceramides, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid), though I’m not sure what does what.  I sometimes use it at night, and it’s all my go-to moisturizer to mix with foundation if I want to sheer out the coverage. I have, and will continue to, repurchase.

Mandom Barrier Repair: I read online that this Japanese serum was great for dry or dehydrated skin, so when I saw it in-store (in LA’s Little Tokyo), I bought it.  It has a light gel-like consistency, and feels wonderful when applied – hydrating, and not sticky or tacky. I love it so far, and I think it will become a staple this winter. I will probably repurchase.

Moisturizers With SPF

Philosophy Hope Oil Free SPF 30: This is my daily sunscreen. It works well under makeup, and isn’t too greasy. It doesn’t smell too much like sunscreen. It’s photostable. I don’t love it, but my goal for sunscreen is to find something that I can tolerate, and this works for me. I will probably repurchase, unless I find a similarly priced sunscreen I prefer.

Armani Regenessence [3.r] High Lift SPF 15 Cream:  I got a sample of this with my recent Armani purchases, and it is AMAZING.  It feels like a wonderful moisturizer, has no sunscreen smell at all, and I love it.  It is photostable.  However, the SPF is too low, and the price too high for it to be my daily sunscreen. So, for now, I am really enjoying wearing it on days that I won’t be outside much, and when it’s gone I will be sad. I would love to purchase, but can’t afford to.


I started using retinoids about seven months ago, to improve my skin texture.  I started off with Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream, Night – it’s has fairly weak retinoid (a retinol, specifically), which is great to start with – I had no irritation at all.  Once I had almost finished the tube, I moved on to Avene Eluage, a stronger retinoid (a retinaldehyde) – I believe it is one of the strongest over the counter retinoids available.  Since my skin was already used to the Neutrogena, I had no irritation when I switched. I’ve been intending to use up the rest of the Neutrogena on my neck/chest area, but I usually don’t bother. I will repurchase the Avene.

If you are unfamiliar with retinoids, Skinacea is a fantastic website for information.

Body Shop Mango Body Butter, Trader Joe's Jojoba Oil, Rapidlash, Lansinoh (in jar)

Misc Skincare:
Body Shop Mango Body Butter, Trader Joe’s Jojoba Oil, Rapidlash, Lansinoh (in jar)

Other Skincare and Related Items

Body Shop Mango Body Butter: The only lotion / body butter I will use on my legs.  Feels fantastic, smells great, and doesn’t irritate my legs post-shave.  I love this; I’ve used up a mini and made a significant dent in the full size. I have, and will continue to, repurchase.

Trader Joe’s Jojoba Oil: Pure oil is, in my experience, the best makeup remover for super-stubborn makeup.  I used to use this on my eyes, and still occasionally will, but my favorite use for this is removing extremely stubborn swatches on my arm. I haven’t met anything this cannot remove yet – though Prestige Total Intensity pencils and Rouge d’Armani 400 required two applications – massage oil in, wash off, dry, then repeat. I will repurchase.

Rapidlash: I started using Rapidlash about nine weeks ago.  After about four weeks, I noticed that my lashes were longer.  I can absolutely see the difference – especially with mascara on.  I can’t tell if they are thicker, but I’ve heard that eyelashes continue to thicken for several months after starting Rapidlash. I’ll keep you updated! I will repurchase.

Lansinoh (lanolin): I use this every night on my cuticles. It’s a fantastic moisturizer, but very thick and sticky – thus, night is the best time for it.  Lansinoh is actually meant for breastfeeding mothers, but I promise it works really well on cuticles too! I will repurchase.

Poshe AHA Cuticle Cream [not pictured]: I forgot to include this in the picture, but I LOVE this.  It helps keep my cuticles moisturized and under control.  I use it a couple times a day. I have, and will continue to, repurchase.

Kate Somerville EradiKate [not pictured]: When I feel a cystic pimple forming under my skin (usually if not always hormonal), I use Eradikate at night to treat it.  It often prevents anything from every surfacing / forming, which is great – that means it doesn’t leave a slow-to-fade mark.  I will probably repurchase.

It isn’t obvious where to find all of these, so here’s a list of where to buy some of them – the links go directly to the relevant page.

  • I bought my Bioderma at a store in Little Tokyo, but the best prices are probably on Amazon.
  • In the US, Shu Uemera Cleansing Oil is only available online.
  • I bought my Mandom Barrier Repair at a store in Little Tokyo, but it’s also available on ebay, and Adambeauty (it’s on Amazon too, but overpriced).
  • I bought Avene Eluage from Dermstore because there was a sale; it’s also on Amazon.
  • Rapidlash is available at many websites. I did some research on the best prices, and decided on Amazon.  Hautelook sometimes has it available, so I’ll check out the price the next time it’s there.
The Armani moisturizer was given to me as a sample for personal consideration.  The Amazon and Hautelook links are affiliate links; the rest of the links in this post are not.  

This post is from Project Swatch. All rights reserved.

In My Manicure Bag

nail polish supplies - in my manicure bag

Today, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what’s in my manicure bag! I do all my nail polishing and swatching outside, so I have everything I need together in a medium – sized Sephora bag, so I can head outside any time and have everything I need with me.  I just grab the polish (or polishes) I want, my bag, and I’m ready to go!

acetone, homemade remove plus

One of the most important things I have with me is nail polish remover. I have two types in my bag: pure acetone, and a homemade version of Zoya’s Remove+.  I usually use the homemade version of Remove+ to remove nail polish, because it’s more moisturizing than pure acetone – it’s made of acetone, glycerin, and water, and I learned how to make it from this post on the blog Loodie Loodie Loodie.  I use the acetone for stubborn polishes (usually glitter), for my pedicures, and to clean up the edges of my manicures with a brush.

My favorite top & base coats

My favorite top & base coats

I also keep my favorite base coat and top coat in my nail bag.  I’m still using Essie First Base basecoat (which I posted about quite a while ago). I find that most topcoats make my nail polish peel off in sheets, so I usually skip topcoat. If I’m wearing a polish that requires topcoat (for example, a rough glitter), NYC Grand Central Station is my favorite – it rarely leads to the peeling nail polish problem.

My favorite white & black creme polishes

My favorite white & black creme polishes

Several of the polishes I wear require a coat of a solid color first. Neons work alone, but pop more with white underneath, and some duochromes look best over black.  I find it convenient to just leave my favorite white and black creme in my manicure bag all the time. My current favorite white is Milani High Speed Fast Dry in White On the Spot, but I’d love to find something a bit less streaky. And I love Wet n Wild Wild Shine in Black Creme – it’s one coat of perfect black glossiness.

Decanted Blue Cross cuticle remover, nail polish thinner, quick dry spray

Decanted Blue Cross cuticle remover, nail polish thinner,
quick dry spray

Some miscellaneous but important items: my favorite cuticle remover is Blue Cross, but it’s very watery and hard to use.  Then, I read the wonderful idea of putting it in a clean nail polish bottle. I just brush a little on my cuticles, let it sit for a minute, then gently push them back.

I can’t believe I didn’t own nail polish thinner until Mimi at Makeup Withdrawal wrote about it a few months ago.  Her post convinced me that I needed it immediately – and really, I did. If you ever paint your nails, go buy nail polish thinner – you’ll be glad you did! It’s only a couple dollars (I think mine was $4?) and it makes thick, gloopy, and aging nail polish like new again. You can even use it to revive totally dried out nail polish.

The quick dry spray is not a necessity; I’m not sure how much it actually speeds up the drying process. However, it’s fairly moisturizing. When my fingers are too dried out from nail polish removal to photograph, I paint them anyway. Then afterwards, I spray them with the quick dry spray – it moisturizes them enough that they look fine in photographs. Once the nail polish is 100% dry, I can apply a cuticle cream (I don’t photograph nail polish when it’s wet, but I photograph it when the top layer is dry, but it’s still dentable).

Nail tools

Nail tools

And finally, some tools. Cotton squares for removing nail polish; the ELF $1 concealer brush is my clean-up brush; an orangewood stick for pushing back my cuticles, and a no-name glass file I got for $2 at Big Lots.

Below is the bag I use. I usually have a couple more items than those listed above kicking around in it – some nail polishes, a swatch wheel, a sharpie to label the swatch wheel, along with various other bits and pieces.

manicure bag

Do you have a manicure bag, or nail art supply bag? How do you organize your nail stuff? I’d love to see!

Sally Hansen Cuticle Eraser plus Balm Review, Photos

As a recovering nail-biter and nail-picker, it’s important for me to keep my cuticles neat so I don’t pick at them.  I’ve tried various cuticle remover products, and the latest is Sally Hanson Cuticle Eraser + Balm.

The first thing I noticed about this product was the texture.  It’s thick and a little bit sticky, but it rubs in fairly easily. It’s moisturizing, but not very.  I don’t love the texture, but it’s okay.   The next thing I noticed was the scent.  It’s not heavily scented – it’s a mild, fresh scent, which I enjoy.

It’s packaged in a small plastic screw-top container which is easy to open.  The black “Sally Hansen” on the top is smudged, which doesn’t really bother me.  The swirled design on the product goes all the way through – it’s not destroyed by use.

My hope for this product was that instead of using a cuticle-remover once a week or so, I could just rub this in once a day or so, and in addition to having moisturized cuticles, it would also remove them. However, it does not work AT ALL to remove my cuticles.  I’ve been using it every day for about a week, and it looks like I haven’t done anything to my cuticles for a week.

So, I would not recommend this product.  It doesn’t have a great texture – it’s a little too sticky for my tastes, though it’s not terrible.  It’s not very moisturizing, though not terrible.  But – it doesn’t remove cuticles at all.  It simply does not live up to its claims.

If you’re looking for a good cuticle remover, I recommend the Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover instead – it’s what I normally use, and it’s great.

(I’ve also received many comments that the container is difficult or even impossible to open; the comments got left at my old blog address, unfortunately. Yet another reason to pick a different product!)

This post contains an affiliate link. For more information please see my disclosure policy.