Tonal play with new-to-me H&M

When I received my long-awaited H&M parcel today, my intent was indeed to play … but gee, did this turn out to be a lot of work!

Perhaps it was ill-fated from its inception — none of the varnishes and only a few of the eye shadows shown here were the ones I had chosen in my original, never-arrived order, placed way before Thanksgiving. By the time I re-placed the order (for which I am *still* awaiting a refund), the original shades I had ordered were no longer available — they had sold out.

I’m more than content with what I’ve received, but things started going awry from the get-go. My backdrop fell on top of the nail wheel with the four freshly painted H&M chips, so they have more coats than the other 14 chips, in order to remedy the dents.

It was very windy here in Northern California today, which caused me a number of problems, even though I was indoors. First, lack of light (my house is rather gloomy, even though it faces south). Then, there were the bubbles and/or debris appearing from nowhere on the chips. Especially with Giorgio Armani Parma Greige, which when I had used it for a manicure, was an utterly flawless formula! Enormously frustrating. I almost threw in the towel, since the images looked horrendous on my camera viewing screen.

I still don’t think the images I halfheartedly captured do any justice to what I see in person, but I posted anyway, because in the process I learned a lot about each varnish. Some of these I’ve had for years and hadn’t even used yet.

Below are my field notes:

1 – H&M Cloudburst and 4 – H&M Volcanic Mud required a third coat to reach evenness and opacity, whilst 2 – H&M Taiga and 3 – H&M Cobblestones were opaque at two coats. Cloudburst and Volcanic Mud also had, like, dried varnish specks in their more transparent formulae, which were no longer visible after the final third coat. Volcanic Mud is a much more interesting shade than it appears in the bottle, with green-blue undertones somewhere in that medium grey.

I probably should have included Chanel Khaki Vert to compare to the beautiful H&M Taiga (opaque at 2x), but I just grabbed whatever was staring me in the face on one of my varnish shelves. Khaki Vert was tucked in the back of the lineup somewhere. (As an afterthought, I should have included all of the Les Khakis here!)

H&M Cobblestones (opaque at 2x) is more of a neutral taupe with lilac undertones (as I had hoped it would be) — online swatches I referenced show it as a much warmer, yellower-leaning shade, with no cool purple undertone whatsoever.

5 – D&G Jaipur Blue – bliss at two coats. Great brush, colour, smooth formula. Shade is slightly dustier than you see here. This brand is worth every extra shekel you pay.

6 – Giorgio Armani Parma Greige – same as above accolades for D&G, including the dusty comment, although today the chip looked hideous. Debris, bubbles, ugh … only because I’ve used it before for a full mani do I know that it is indeed a thing of beauty.

7 – Chanel Horizon Line – this is a tester bottle, recently purchased in a panic on the auction site at a discount. I knew it was limited edition, but I had no idea back in August it would sell out so quickly. I don’t like the brush or the formula at two coats, same thoughts I had when I first tried Turban (the only one I’ve actually tried of these new Chanel bottles, although I have others). It’s like they’re heavy on plasticizers and that thin brush just wallows in and drags them around. Note to self: test your other new bottle Chanels before acquiring any more. Another thing: does anyone know how OPI Taupe-less Beach stacks up to Chanel New Dawn?

8-11 – Kure Bazaar Chloe, Boyfriend, Khaki, Hipster, all at two coats. Colours are smooth, opaque and pretty, but I don’t reach for these often. They’re touted as safe and natural, but they still smell just as strong and nauseating as the chemical-laden varnishes. I could not imagine using these while pregnant. Plus, on me, they never, ever dry — even on my toes at the height of summer. I must be doing something wrong.

12-13 – YSL Call Me Grey and Fur Green, both at two coats. Call Me Grey’s brush had a few wonky hairs. I left the tolerable wonkies and pulled out the worst offender. Stuff like this bothers me, as M. Saint Laurent’s image should not be allowed to tarnish in even the smallest detail, and it’s too late. A few years ago, when I ordered a Black Opium sample from the faux-luxe website, it never arrived. Then suddenly I received several, one after the other, each bearing a slightly different version of my name on the address label. They must have young marketing interns with no idea of the brand’s heritage in charge of this stuff. Fur Green, on the other hand, was perfection. Love this one.

14-18 – Uslu Airlines MYK, NIM, SBT, ACE, ABS. Perfection in a bottle, all. Two smooth coats. Beautiful brush, excepting SBT — it has the skinny old one. I can no longer purchase these in the U.S.; good thing I made a run while I could, although there are still several I yearn for that I missed. Oftentimes I imagine having to forsake my entire collection and being forced to choose only one brand for keeps. Uslu Airlines would be my choice.

xx blueberry milk tea

Understated British pageantry, Part II



Models Own HyperGel – Paradise Pink, Nails Inc. The Perfect Nude – Elizabeth Mews


Nails Inc. The Perfect Nude – Charlotte Street, Rimmel Salon Pro – Chic Chick, Rimmel 60 Seconds Rita Ora – Let’s Get Nude


Rimmel Salon Pro – Soul Session, Rimmel 60 Seconds – Caramel Cupcake


Models Own HyperGel – Naked Glow, Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine – Lychee


Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Almond, Burberry Ash Rose


Barry M Cappuccino, Burberry Dusky Mauve


xx blueberry milk tea

For richer or for poorer, getcha dizzy on!


Chanel 563 Vertigo, around $25 USD in 2012

Kiko 515 Cioccolato Fondente Metallico (Metallic Plain Chocolate), around $4 USD now (and can often be had for 50% off)





At one coat, directly above and below.  Chanel streaky and thin, Kiko opaque and thick (but not too thick).



At two coats, directly above and all remaining photos below.




Chanel evens out beautifully at two coats, but Kiko is still darker, nice opacity with a seemingly more visible and twinkly shimmer.



As with a great many others, I’ve had this post on the backburner for eons.

I have a lone sheet of Italian marble paper in grayscale that I’ve long thought would be perfect as a backdrop to these two varnishes.

The only problem is, the marble paper lies as buried treasure under several layers of inspirational elements culled through the years, and I’m a lazy one with no inclination to shovel, now or then.

While flipping lazily through a sprawling 2005 issue of Vogue Italia this lazy Saturday, sprawled out in my lazy armchair, I homed in on the Custo Barcelona advert you see above.

Initially, I was focused on the colour of the furry hat.  As I was randomly placing the varnish bottles on the page, a public radio program was broadcasting a theme based on a Chinese saying, “no coincidence, no story”.

The coincidence here, and thus the story, turns out to be that the resulting images are indeed quite vertiginous, wouldn’t you say?

xx blueberry milk tea

A butter sandwich

My intent was to put the finishing touch on this post, since I dreamed of doing so last night!

Either my camera or the photographer is suffering, cos the image above is the only one of the series that turned out even remotely in focus …

Kiko 369 is square in between Misa Hot Couture, pictured above, and Misa Silly Daffodils, more dusty golden yellow (included in one of the shots that didn’t pan out).

If I can get my mustard mojo back, I’ll show you the other bottles I have that are brighter and darker than those pictured.

They remind me of Luis Barragan’s house in Mexico, especially when paired with a searing hot pink!

xx blueberry milk tea

Rich girl, poor girl: Sephora v. Target

Givenchy Mandarine Bolero, $22 USD

Sonia Kashuk Knock Out Beauty collection – On the Ropes, $5 USD

2x each … SK is just a wee hair lighter than Giv

Both formulae appear impeccable upon painting the nail wheel.

I had initially picked up both SK varnishes from this collection – yes, that dark blurple crelly a la Chanel Sunrise Trip – but had to return them, as the brushes themselves were as daunting and impossibly crooked as the rattlesnake on the bottle.

I was only able to replace one (with the bottle you see above).  In the past few months during my random Target jaunts, I’ve yet to open a bottle of SK’s version of Sunrise Trip that has a proper brush :/

Keeping my fingers crossed, meanwhile.

Background is an Orla Kiely print notebook.

xx blueberry milk tea

A Valentine tale of two varnishes, ft. Revlon – chapter one

Once upon a time, a then 46-year old varnish fiend walked into Sephora and fell in love at first sight.

The object of her infatuation was Deborah Lippmann Between the Sheets.

She had so many drawers of suitors and lineups of paramours, however, that she decided not to move too fast in initiating yet another romance …

Meanwhile, further investigation of online dating sites revealed that Between the Sheets had virtually identical siblings*, some of them cheaper dates than others …

And so the flirtation began with Revlon Plum Seduction, whom the varnish fiend began to recognize at many local venues, but did not actually allow herself to even be courted until a drugstore Revlon discount sealed the deal.

It was love at two coats each.

OPI Ate Berries in the Canaries, for whom the protagonist fell hard last year after hoarding enough retailer coupons to tie the knot gratis, was also mentioned online as Mr. Right Now by a gaggle of girls equally gaga for Between the Sheets.

The immediate differences among the three are these:

Between the Sheets is at once brightest, darkest and coolest, with a seemingly crelly formula.

Plum Seduction is warmer, redder-leaning than BtS, albeit with the same (thinner) crelly formula.

Ate Berries in the Canaries is a hair lighter than Plum Seduction, but the true difference in character lies in its straight crème-iness.

As much as the varnish fiend wished to become a committed partner to glamorous Between the Sheets, she found herself to be more and more compatible with pedestrian, ubiquitous Plum Seduction.

An old flame not mentioned on the online sites, but still burning bright in the varnish fiend’s heart, was a flashy Italian by name Kiko 290 – Dark Magenta.

Next to other affections, although definitely of similar stripe, Dark Magenta was not so dark …

Kiko 290 – Dark Magenta is a hair lighter and brighter than Ate Berries in the Canaries, although they are both straight crèmes and good at two coats.

To be continued …


Kiko 290 – Dark Magenta $3.90 USD

OPI Ate Berries in the Canaries $10 USD

Revlon Plum Seduction $6 USD

Deborah Lippmann Between the Sheets $18 USD

*future potential crushes – Dolce & Gabbana Passione; Illamasqua Grab

xx blueberry milk tea

Rich girl, poor girl ft. Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro

Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro – Dirty Little Secret, $20 USD

Sinful Shine – Prosecco, between $2-3 USD

Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro – Get Lucky, $20 USD

Sinful Shine – Blue Suede Shoes, between $2-3 USD

Above, at one coat each

Dirty Little Secret is sheerest sandy beige, with a subtle gold-tinged scattered and faint linear holo

Prosecco is opaque and leans greyer, with tonnes of greengold shimmer

Would that all new Lippmanns had this faboo brush (or do they?)!

Hmm … we can always dip as a Dirty Little Secret the Lippman brush into Prosecco since we own both 🙂

Is this new brush not a thing of beauty?

Above, all at one coat

Above from left:

Dirty Little Secret, 2x

Prosecco, 3x

Get Lucky, 2x

Blue Suede Shoes, 3x

Some non-gel Butter London comparison friends

All Hail McQueen (love you forever and always, genius mate! xx respects) is the closest weak scattered holo I have to Dirty Little Secret, although he’s obviously a warmer, toastier beige

Artful Dodger is less saturated, more muted than the gel varnishes

xx blueberry milk tea $$