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  1. MUG SHOT: 3.1 Phillip Lim for NARS (swatches and review)

    August 17, 2014 by pam

    NARS has teamed up with 3.1 Phillip Lim to create a limited edition nail polish collection for fall. (Check out my newspaper article about it.)




    I’ve always been a fan of NARS’ designer collaborations (I had so much fun with the Thakoon and Pierre Hardy collections) so I was excited when I heard about it.


    Phillip Lim describes the collection: “To me, these colors are the essential 3.1 Phillip Lim colors. These are my colors. The colors that constantly inspire me; they are constantly threaded in everything I do. Every single shade or color has appeared in the collections for the whole history of the company. They are my go-to colors. We came up with inspiration boards for each color, they were inspired by fabric, flowers, cars – from all facets of life, actually.”

    There are nine colors in the 3.1 Phillip Lim for NARS collection but one of them, Insidious, a bronze black, is only available on the NARS website and at NARS boutiques. (I will get a bottle some way, I swear.)

    NARS fans in the Philippines would be happy to know that the eight gorgeous shades will be out this month at Rustan’s The Beauty Source.


    I had so much fun playing with these colors. Phillip Lim describes them as “colors that exist in shadows.”

    “At first glance, you see one color in the daylight, and at night, you see another color. They are very transitional, very adaptable. I like colors that you can actually discover… They’re actually colors that blend and appear different to different people and different tones and different situations and time and day,” he said. “They’re not true primary colors, they are actually two steps right before, or two steps right after. And to me, it’s like they’re shades of madness.”

    These shades come in NARS’ upgraded formula and in the new bottle with the removable square cap and wide brush. The brush was a bit of an adjustment to me because I was used to NARS’ old brush and had no issues with it at all. But I soon realized that the wide brush works well for me too. In fact, it speeded up the process because on some fingers I only needed one stroke to cover the entire nail. The trick is making sure you have exactly the right amount of polish you need on the brush – not too much – so you can have clean edges and no flooding.



    Phillip Lim: “Crossroads comes from the African violet flower; it’s a beautiful little purple flower. In the daytime it’s really charming, but at night the color is more mysterious, and its vibrancy comes out. It roars actually. This little flower roars at night. I wanted to capture the spirit of it. Crossroads is a great color for fall; we used it at the AW2014 show.”

    Crossroads is a gorgeous deep purple creme. The formula was super smooth and very opaque. I used two coats.









    Phillip Lim: “Angora is somewhere between a baby bunny that’s not pure white, and a magnolia flower. Not nude, not ivory, not virginal, but not transparent. It’s kind of like a beige, like a more beige concrete.

    Angora isn’t really a nude, it’s not ivory, it’s something right in-between that — it’s reality, but a dirty reality.

    Even the name Anarchy is anti-fashion but it’s the most fashionable because it’s the most confident.

    It gives you hope that there’s something soft and cuddly coming from within.”

    Anarchy is Phillip Lim’s unique take on a nude nail. I’ve said this countless times – I normally don’t go crazy over neutrals but I like that Anarchy isn’t your boring old beige. It’s a little dirty and strangely sexy. Application was super easy, love the formula. I used three coats but two could have been enough.








    “This color to me is like raw denim, raw indigo. It’s my favorite shade of denim to wear personally. And now you can wear it on your fingers. There’s nothing more chic than raw denim head to toe.”

    This color is quite darker than my photos show. My camera just couldn’t capture this blue accurately. It’s a dark, moody blue. Again, smooth formula. I used two coats.








    Phillip Lim: “This champagne is our house metal color. It’s everywhere in the studio, on the furniture, door handles, in the stores. It’s a particular type of metal color. I chose it because it’s like an accessory, like jewelry, but it’s not silver and it’s not gold – it’s right in between. It works with silver and gold. If you wear it with silver, then it brings out the silver champagne shade, if you wear it with gold, then the gold will pop. It’s a color that works with you.”

    Gold Viper is INSANE. I love it. Love it love it. It has become my favorite metallic gold polish. I love that it’s gold without being gaudy. I usually wait until my blog post is up before I share swatches on Instagram but I couldn’t do it this time. I just had to show everyone how beautiful Gold Viper is. This metallic gold applies beautifully. It’s a lot less brushstrokey than your usual metallic gold and the effect is just gorgeous. I wore it out and my friends gasped when they saw my nails. They made me stop talking so they could look at my manicure.

    Like other metallic colors, Gold Viper is prone to showing every flaw on your nail so buffing and using a good ridge-filling base coat would be a good idea. But here’s the good news: those flaws are actually only visible to you. Everyone else will be too dazzled by the gorgeous gold on your nails. I used two coats.








    Phillip Lim: “This color was inspired by the vintage bento boxes I collect. I love the black lacquer on the outside, and the beautiful burst of red on the inside. That perfect red is so impossible to capture sometimes but at the same time, it’s the most powerful red.”

    Hell-Bent is a beautiful bright red creme-jelly hybrid. Flawless formula, easy application. I used two coats.









    Phillip Lim: “This is like bitter chocolate. I was in love with browns this season and this one in particular. It was about mulberries and browns, but I didn’t want to go with the regular chocolate brown flavor. It had to have a bitter taste to it – like soil or rockiness, so when I was describing this, it was about texture, about sound, about taste – it hits all the sensations.”

    Other Side is a deep, dark brown with a slight red tinge – yes, like bitter chocolate. Great formula. I used two coats.








    Phillip Lim: “This color is inspired by American hot rods, muscle cars – Camaro, Trans Am, Thunderbirds. I was imaging the character that would drive those kinds of cars. They’re driving by so fast that you only get a glimpse of the metallic.”

    I know I love Gold Viper but my god, Wrong Turn is even more insane. And I’ll show you why in a second. I LOVE WRONG TURN. I rarely use all caps here but it’s necessary. YOU NEED WRONG TURN. If you were only going to get one polish from this collection (but why just one?), I say get this one. (This one and Gold Viper. Sorry, one is just impossible.) Wrong Turn is described as a graphite but it’s so much more than that. It’s a beautiful beautiful blue-tinged metallic gray. Application is super easy, it’s opaque in one coat and is not brushstrokey at all despite being metallic. Now here’s where it gets crazy. When you first apply Wrong Turn, it will look like a graphite and a gunmetal gray. But when you apply a top coat over it, it changes into this gorgeous deep deep teal. When it first happened while I was swatching, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me but I wore Wrong Turn today and it really does change when you apply a top coat. Let me show you. I used two coats.





    All those photos of Wrong Turn above are without top coat. And here’s one more, without top coat.


    With top coat.


    Again, without top coat.


    With top coat.


    One more time. Without top coat.


    With top coat.


    Totally insane, right? It’s like having two nail polish shades in one bottle.

    And because of the awesomeness of the metallic shades in Phillip Lim’s collection, I plan to buy all the metallic shades in NARS’ massive 43-color release (more about that very soon).



    Phillip Lim: “This is black with a touch of green vapor. To me, black is never black twice. Black is never the same black twice because the light will change it, people will change it, what you’re wearing with the black will change it. That’s what’s so genius about it is.”

    Described as a black sea green, Shutter is a beautiful deep green creme-jelly hybrid. Love the formula.





    The 3.1 Phillip Lim for NARS collection will be available at Rustan’s The Beauty Source this month for P1050 each.

  2. MUG SHOT: Rescue Beauty Lounge’s Italian Summer (swatches and comparisons)

    August 6, 2014 by pam

    What’s better than one new Rescue Beauty Lounge collection? Two new Rescue Beauty Lounge collections coming out less than two months apart.

    Hot on the heels of Anatomy of a #KDrama is RBL’s Italian Summer, inspired by the summer RBL founder Ji Baek spent in Italy with her husband. (Read all about it on Ji’s blog.)

    Ji takes us – and our nails – on the trip with her with these new shades. And I’m grateful. Summer is long gone in my part of the world and we’ve been dealing with crazy rain and typhoons so this collection has added a bit of sunshine to some dreary days.







    Ji: ”I promise I will stop my obsession with anything that has to do with a taupe-brown goodness, but what can I say? When I tried the gelato from Venice (and it had been about a decade since my last Chocolate Gelato—I know, not a huge chocolate fan, and yes, I’m human) I was mesmerized by its taste and color. When I was mixing this color, there were definitely times it looked good enough to eat.”

    Are you kidding, Ji? Please do not promise that. I can’t get enough of RBL’s taupes and browns and Gelato Al Cioccolato is a delicious addition to my growing collection. This gorgeous creamy chocolatey taupe brown is a breeze to apply. Lovely formula, it’s super smooth and it just flows onto your nail. I used two coats. Warning: this polish looks good enough to eat. Or drink.






    I brought out several browns and taupes to compare. Grunge and Instant Amnesia are a lot lighter, A Lonely House is a true brown that’s darker and Au Chocolat is a vampy reddish brown shade that doesn’t look anything like Gelato Al Cioccolato. I just wanted to compare them because they both have “chocolate” in their name.



    The closest shade to Gelato Al Cioccolato in my RBL collection is Decorous but they’re not dupes. I see a soft red tinge in Gelato Al Cioccolate that Decorous doesn’t have. And Decorous has shimmer while Gelato Al Cioccolato does not.




    Ji: “In Sorrento, while strolling by the sea, I saw a precious, dark-haired little girl in a bikini riding a bike with training wheels. The bike was pale pink and it sparkled and twinkled in the sun, the matching streamers flying along with the girl’s confident peddling. I was reminded of my own six-year-old self; this was the exact color I had longed for instead of my own lime-green bike! This pale pink polish has micro glitters that will make you think of sugar and summertime.”

    If I had a bike that looked like Bicicletta when I was a little girl then maybe I would have learned how to ride a bike. (Yes, I don’t know how to ride a bike and my friends feel bad for me.) When I saw this pretty sparkly pale pink polish on my nails, I thought, “Fairy nails!” It’s a fun but understated polish. Love the abundance of sparkle. Also really easy to apply, I have no complaints about the formula. I used three coats.






    One look at Bicicletta and I thought, “Pizzicato twin!” So I brought out Pizzicato and a few other pinks to compare. Oh Slap! and Poco a Poco are darker pinks while Naked Without Polish is a carnation pink. Pizzicato is the most similar to Bicicletta, I almost thought I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart but there are differences.



    Here’s a closer look. Pizzicato has a bit more white in it and has less sparkle than Bicicletta. And Bicicletta has a very very soft hint of lilac in it. I love them both.





    Ji: “Yes, I do adore those red and white stripe-shirted gondoliers floating around the canals in Venice. Gondoliere is the most vibrant orange-based opaque glossy red nail polish I’ve ever mixed. It’s so sexy, yet classic at the same time. This has more of an orange base than Bangin (hyperlink), trust me, I tripped over myself endlessly comparing the two. This color is hot, like dreamy, steamy summer nights.”

    Gondoliere is crazy. I can’t believe how bright it is. I thought Bangin’ was bright until I saw this polish. Referred to as Bangin 2.0 by Ji and the ReBeLs, Gondoliere is an insane orange-based bright red. This would make the perfect summer pedi. Application was easy. Gondoliere dries to a super glossy finish. Crazy. I used two coats.







    Smile is a lot more pink, Chinoise doesn’t have Gondoliere’s orange tinge and while Bangin’ is orange-tinged, Gondoliere is brighter and slightly more orange. Poppy’s orange-red base is also similar to Gondoliere but Poppy has glitter and sparkle while Gondoliere is a pure creme. My camera went a little nuts trying to bring out the differences in these shades. But yes, Bangin’ and Gondoliere are not dupes.



    I need to take better comparison swatches of these – soon, when the sun comes out. But in the meantime, I hope these bottle shots help you see the difference between Bangin’ and Gondoliere.




    Ji: “Did you know that Italian men climb ladders to carefully handpick olives for extra virgin olive oil? And that the olives that have the misfortune to be dropped on the floor are destined to become just plain olive oil? The smell of olive groves was something I want to smuggle back home. A wonderful multifaceted fading sun drenches those dancing, rustling olive trees. Oliveto is the perfect olive green that reflects the flash of rainbow and purple and periwinkle shimmers. It is a shimmery, yet less yellow version of No More War.”

    Oliveto is a beautiful olive green polish with multi-colored shimmer. I love this polish for so many reasons. One, I love No More War – it’s one of the shades that got me hooked on RBL. Two, I love olive green polish. Three, I love the name because I use olive oil a lot when cooking. Four, it’s gorgeous. Five, I love multi-colored shimmer. I’m wearing it now. The formala is great, application was super easy. I used two coats.







    There were a lot of RBLs I wanted to compare with Oliveto so I did two sets. None of these are dupes for Oliveto. Halcyon, Diddy Mow and The Mosses Mar are all dusty gray-tinged greens while Turn It Around’s base is a lot darker than Oliveto.



    No More War has a lot more yellow in it and no shimmer, Abi and Become One are both brighter shades of green while Orbis Non Sufficit is a lot darker.




    Ji: “If I ever learn how to drive a scooter, this would be the custom color I would mix for mine. A moodier, darker sister of our famed and playful Aqua Lily, this medium base of blue/aqua has a flash of surging fuchsia shimmer.”

    Motorini is definitely one of my favorites from the collection. It’s a beautiful, vivid aqua blue with pretty shimmer. Love love love it. Flawless formula, super easy application. I used two coats.







    I know you want to see this in comparison to Aqua Lily but I also wanted to see how different it is from other blue RBLs. 360 is a dusty blue with a hint of gray, Faraway is brighter and lighter, Aqua Lily is lighter and leans green.


    I know you want to see a better comparison of Aqua Lily and Motorino. No dupes here – they’re different enough to justify owning both. And yes, you need both. I love them both. Aqua Lily will always hold a special place in my heart.




    Ji: “During our nightly strolls you could smell the day’s catch on the shores, and out of every corner, bright green eyes flash at you from the cats protecting their food bank. This dark hunter green shows off a finely milled glitter. It’s almost like Burn The Evidence but with a black glitter that casts shadows, the way a dark cat’s fur might look in the moonlight.”

    Meow Meow is a mix of super fine green and black glitter.


    This glitter polish becomes opaque after multiple coats. I used three and I didn’t need to dab the glitter on, I just painted Meow Meow onto my nails like I would any other polish. The result? Festive, glowing green nails. This polish dries matte, you may need to use more than one layer of top coat.






    I’ve said this many times – I hardly ever wear glitter on its own. So naturally, I wanted to see how Meow Meow would look when layered over the other shades in this collection.

    Bicicletta + Meow Meow



    Gelato Al Cioccolato + Meow Meow


    Motorini + Meow Meow



    Oliveto + Meow Meow



    Gondoliere and Meow Meow



    Meow Meow reminded me of Wild Raspberries Grow from RBL’s A Poem collection and I wanted to compare the two. Here they are layered over Iconoclast. Their green glitter may be similar but Wild Raspberries Grow doesn’t have Meow Meow’s black glitter and Meow Meow doesn’t have Wild Raspberries Grow’s hexagonal raspberry glitter.



    Ji: “I love eggplants. In the markets, in pastas, roasted, and I can stare at them all day just looking at their lush colors. I always see the various tones of purples, vivid green stems, and sometimes there is almost a hint of a bluish tint on their skins. This glitter polish is just like that, you’re going to stare at your nails all day long— wait — make that all week.”

    Melanzane is a glitter party – in the bottle, you can see purple, pink, blue, teal sparkle in different sizes. I wouldn’t call the glitter chunky but it isn’t as fine as the glitter you saw in Meow Meow.


    Like Meow Meow, Melanzane becomes opaque after multiple coats. I used three. It was easy to apply too – no need to dab, just paint. The effect is pretty but, like I said, I rarely use polish on its own so I will be using this as a top coat.





    Here is Melanzane worn as a top coat.

    Bicicletta + Melanzane



    Gelato Al Cioccolato + Melanzane



    Motorini + Melanzane


    Oliveto + Melanzane


    Gondoliere + Melanzane



    Rescue Beauty Lounge nail polish is exclusively available at for $20 per bottle. Rescue Beauty Lounge nail polishes are created with resin and high molecular polymers to improve flexibility, durability, and high shine. They contain no harmful Toluene, Formaldehyde, DBP, and Formaldehyde Resin. They do not test on animals.

    48-hour pre-order starts on June 20 and ends on the noon of June 22 EST. Please sign up for the newsletter at to receive the email invite.

    Check out more swatches and reviews from Fashion Polish, Kellie Gonzo, Makeup Withdrawal, The Manicurator, Nails and Noms, Peachy Polish, Refined and Polished, Scrangie and Warm Vanilla Sugar’s YouTube Channel.