Thursday, December 10, 2015

My Beef With Squarehue

A bit of background info: I became interested in Squarehue maybe 2 or 3 years ago when I started seeing swatches people had posted of their polishes. What was this brand with the super cool bottle shape and simplistic logo? I found the idea of a polish subscription service intriguing. So when James and I moved to South Korea and I got a job, I emailed the company to ask if they shipped to APOs. The customer service rep told me she'd look into it and let me know. I never heard back from her.
Fast forward to about a year later. We've moved to Okinawa and I had just gotten myself a snazzy job as a cocktail waitress. Celebrating my newfound income, I decided to check the Squarehue website, and lo and behold, they'd added APO to their shipping options. On top of that, they had a new subscriber special going on. I could get my first box for half off, so I signed up immediately.

I was neither overwhelmed nor disappointed upon the receipt of my first box, which was 10/15, the 90's collection. The colors, while sort of dull and unexciting, did fit in with the theme of the 90's quite well.

From left to right we have Vogue, a shimmery deep burgundy with a tiny hint of gold, Desert Storm, a sand colored creme reminiscent of my husband's Air Force uniform undershirts, and Y2K, a graphite with silver shimmer. All subdued, yet refined and classy shades. Like I said, not overwhelming, but by no means bad. I looked forward to what the company had in store for the next box, the 2000 collection. The year 2000 to me brings back memories of Britney Spears, N*Sync, body glitter, and rainbow color iMacs. The next box would be exciting for sure, right? Well, not so much.

This isn't even my photo. Credit for this goes to a Kaycee Dragon, who posted this image on Squarehue's Facebook page to complain about November's box. I don't have my own photo because I already returned these polishes to Squarehue with a refund request. Why? Well, I've already lost my job, which means funds are very limited. I was SO disappointed upon opening this box. It actually infuriated me. Why had I just spent $20 on a collection of the most generic looking silver polishes? With that money, I could purchase one of the previous month's collections I actually liked, which is what I did. I ordered the 1940's collection mostly because I think the orangey brick red is awesome.

But anyhoo. All silvers? Really? What nail enthusiast doesn't already have at least a couple silver foils and glitters already in her collection? Hurricane, the darker silver on the right, was pretty interesting, but not enough to to make me want to keep the box. And I'm not the only customer who was disappointed. I read other's opinions online and the majority of ladies were dissatisfied with this box, too.

Moving on to this month's box! The 2010 collection. I got mine in the mail yesterday and tore into it in the post office parking lot, hoping this collection would please me.

From L to R: Baby, Baby, Baby; a metallicish purple shimmer? Sorry, I'm not up on my nail polish terminology. Olympiad, a soft, silvery gold foil, and Bird Fling, a bright red creme.

Baby, Baby, Baby was the polish that stood out to me first, so that's the one I decided to try first. Please excuse my painfully short nails, they keep breaking relentlessly.

This is 3 coats of a nice grapey purple with a tiny hint of pink shimmer. At first I was really happy with it, thinking I didn't have another purple like it in my collection. But after two coats, it hit me. I did have a polish just like this. A polish I've had for so many years, I can't remember the last time I even used it.

Buffy the Violet Slayer by WnW. It's just been sitting on the bottom shelf of one of my polish racks, collecting dust. I couldn't tell you how old it is. But my collector's personality makes it hard for me to get rid of polishes, even if I never use them. Because who knows when I might need that shade of purple for a nail art design?

That got me thinking: Could I find a dupe, or near dupe, for every one of my Squarehue polishes? It shouldn't be too hard, considering I have only 6 Squarehues among my 550+ bottle collection. So I went looking, and here are the results:

I'm not big on red nail polishes, but this one, CG Hey Sailor is my go-to red creme because it's straight red, not pink based. Bird Fling may look darker in the picture, but I promise they're nearly identical.

Zoya Severine, which I got in a 3 piece mini collection for free, is a little bit warmer with a slightly coarser texture than Olympiad. Plus, Olympiad has a subtle bit of silver too it, which I think is nice. But are they different enough to need both?

Fortunately, I don't have anything exactly like Y2K. This Nina polish, Smoke 'n' Mirrors, is just the closest I found. So no big problem with this one.

This one is no surprise. Essie comes out with this same sand colored creme, you know, like EVERY year.

Finally, we have Vogue. This is the only one of the 6 polishes I found I didn't have a near dupe for. It's a deeper red with a more pronounced gold shimmer than Essie's Wrapped in Rubies, and brither and more pink toned than Revlon's Autumn Spice. Overall, it's the clear winner of my dupe hunting challenge.

In conclusion, I have to say that for how much I built up Squarehue in my mind before subscribing, it has been a let down. I don't feel like $20 a month is really justified when I'm getting polishes that aren't all that different from ones I have. And that $20 applies to those of us lucky enough to have subscribed in time. About a month ago, Squarehue raised its prices for all new subscribers. I mean, it's nice how they want to donate a portion of their profits to charity, but if by doing so, they can't even afford to keep their prices consistent for the customers without having to raise them, maybe charity shouldn't be such a high priority. Just saying. They're a business first. Shouldn't priority be given to subscribers?

Even if I did still have a job and the money to keep my subscription, I don't think I would. I just haven't been impressed enough by the polishes I've received. Plus, now that they're offering previous collections for sale on their website, why not wait until I can see the colors, then just order the ones I want?

In my mind, the ideal Squarehue subscriber is a girl who's just getting into polish and wants to build her collection while trying new, unexpected colors she may not pick for herself in the store. Someone like me who already has every color under the sun, well, I guess I need to stick to the innovative indie creators if I want to avoid buying the same colors over and over.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Tamagotchi Nails #9

Yeah, I've been slacking. Why? Because I got sooo tired of having to do my nails by a set theme, then blog about it. It was becoming very routine. That being said, all my tama mani's are done, I just haven't gotten around to posting them. So here's number nine:

This is my Tamagotchi P's, my first and only color Tamagotchi. They come in a few different shell colors, and the green one is my favorite, but I found this white one for cheaper. On to the nails....

Polishes, I can't even remember them all, I did this so long ago. I think the base is China Glaze Pop the Question, or maybe it's Just Lovely, whatevs. They look the same. I think the blue is essie mint candy apple, the green is a Korean polish, the yellow might be China Glaze Lemon Fizz.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tamagotchi Nails #8

Here is number eight in my Tama Nails series (hachi in Japanese). This is the Japanese version of the Tamagotchi Angel. The shell is similar to my American Angel, but I wanted to try and do something completely different from my second tama mani.

I recently received in the mail my 12 bottle Color Club halo hues collection, after wanting those polishes for years and saving up MyPoints for an Amazon card to get them. One of the blue shades matched my tama pretty well, and it seemed fitting to use it since the name of the polish is Blue Heaven.

Please excuse the character's motion blur in the final picture. :)

Polishes used: Color Club Blue Heaven, Kleancolor Pearl Silver, and Kiss nail art paint in black.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tamagotchi Nails #7

This manicure was inspired by my Umino Tamagotchi, which is the Japanese version of the Tamagotchi Ocean. Of all the Tamas I have, this one is one that I specifically picked out the shell because it's just flippin' cool. I mean, a clear shell? So you can see all the inside parts? Amazing!

So clearly I had to do a negative space mani to emulate the clear plastic shell.

For my index finger accent nail I decided to hop on the beach/ocean nail trend that's catching on these days. This was my first attempt at the alcohol spray effect. I used 70% alcohol. I intend to do more tests with hairspray, hand sanitizer, etc to see what different effects can be achieved.

Polishes and plates used: Sinful Colors Grecian Sun, OPI Can't Find My Czechbook, Essie Mint Candy Apple, Konad spacial polish in white, and Moyou UK Sailor 03.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tamagotchi Nails #6

I have mixed feelings about this mani here. I wasn't looking forward to doing a mani inspired by such a girly shell design, but once I got the first couple of steps down I thought it looked amazing. Then I stamped the hearts, and well, I forgot that most people stamp designs facing away from them.

This is the Tamagotchi Friends. The first release of this model is notorious for only having super girl shell designs. They have since released newer versions that are a little more neutral.

So what's the deal with stamp directions? I remember my first stamped mani I felt was good enough about to post online had a strawberry on each nail, and I placed the strawberries so that when I looked down at my nails, the berries were facing me. Then I realized that most people stamp their images upside down to themselves, but right side up to other people who happen to be looking at the hands.  Is it just a personal preference? I honestly don't know, but when I was drawing out the idea for this mani, this is how I drew the heart stamp. It wasn't until I had already stamped two nails that I realized "crap, these aren't facing the right way". But does it really matter? I mean, no one looks at my nails more than I do. Shouldn't I do them in the way that makes them the nicest for me to look at? At the same time, I LOVE what I did with the gradient and the first layer of stamping, and I feel like the mistake with the hearts renders this manicure unfit for public viewing, a.k.a. sharing it on nail groups. But, whatever. Some of them got smeared when I applied the top coat anyway, though I was being SO extra careful to float the top coat on, streaks still happened, as they always do. Mostly on my left hand. Hence, no pictures of my left hand.

Also upon viewing these pictures I realized there's a defect on my Suki plate, a tiny little pit in the heart design. I am quite bummed about this.

Polishes and plates used: Zoya Zara, SH Gem Crush in Be-Jeweled, e.l.f. Pot of Gold, Konad special polish in black, Kand special polish (light purple shade), Moyou UK Suki 03, and a KO version of Cheeky jumbo plate B.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tamagotchi Nails #5

Well, it had to happen at some point. My nails were getting to that length where they all start breaking. And since I just got a job at a restaurant (I start today), I figured it was better to cut my nails now instead of risking accidentally taking a chunk off of one while I'm prepping vegetables for someone's pizza. I hate having short nails. They just don't look right on me.
Anyhoo, this is my fifth Tamagotchi mani, inspired by my Connection v5.5. I ordered this model off ebay when I became interested in starting a collection and exploring different Tamagotchis I didn't already have.

As I discovered with my third tama manicure, I have a severe lack of star stamping designs. This time I used the one star themed full nail design I have. I also attempted some hand painting of lines, which I'm never very good at because my hands are shaky, but I think they came out decent. The purple nails came out more plain than I'd originally planned, but at that point I was on my third day of working on my nails and just ran out of time to redo them for the billionth time.

Polishes and plates used: China Glaze For Audrey, OPI Pamplona Purple, Essie Go Ginza, Kleancolor Aurora, Kiss Nail Art Paint (light purple and silver lines), and Moyou UK Time Traveler 03. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Tamagotchi Nails #4

I am really excited about this one because I think it turned out fantastic. This manicure was inspired by my Tamagotchi Connection v4. Again, like with my v4.5, I didn't really choose this shell, it was the only one Ross had at the time.

I wanted to incorporate not only the wavy blob shapes on the shell, but the asterisk thingy on the screen background, so I finally got to use my Uber Chic plate I ordered months ago. A lady on facebook asked if anyone wanted to split the 3 piece set with her. I was surprised that I didn't have to fight anyone for plate 1-01. I think the designs on it are so much cooler than the other two plates, which were all flowery, but hey, that's just me. I love how it has mini designs that coordinate with some of the full nail designs.

I'm still very new to water marbling, but I learned from this mani that I've been dragging the toothpick wrong. Before, I thought it was best to start at 12 o'clock, then go to 6, then 3, then 9, keeping the drags "symmetrical". But then I realized it works much better to go from 12 to 1 to 2, etc.
I'm also finding out more things about these Kand stamping polishes. No, that's not a typo of Konad. They're cheap knockoff stamping polishes I got from ebay. First off, the yellow sucks. It was barely visible when I tested it over the light pink on my thumbnails. Then I had the blue stamped on there, and it was totally dry, I mean, completely, and I put on a top coat and it SMEARED so bad. I was so pissed, I had to completely clean off all the polish on my thumbnail and start over. So I skipped the top coat on my pinkies to be safe. For Christmas, I'm totally asking James for an assortment of MDU polishes.

Polishes and plates used: Essie Madison Ave-hue, Secret Story, and Muchi Muchi, China Glaze Sunday Funday and Happy Go Lucky, WnW D'oh!, Konad special polish in white, Kand special polish (the bright blue, I don't remember its number) and Uber Chic 1-01.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tamagotchi Nails #3

Third in my series of Tamagotchi inspired manicures, this one is styled after my Connection v4.5. While I own tama models older than this one, i decided to do this challenge with the Tamagotchis in the order that I got them, not by their release dates. Why? Because I'm lazy and it's easier for me to remember when I bought these instead of looking up all their specific releases. :)
If I had my pick of any of the v4.5 shells, it wouldn't be this one. I found this tama on sale in the toy section of a Ross, and it was either the only one they had or the better or whatever few options they did have. I don't remember. Anyway, it's weird. I mean, celery green and maroon? Who puts those colors together? And that black tribal looking design is so dated.

The weirdness of the shell gave me a lot of trouble at first. I couldn't figure out what to do. Then I remembered I had these little star shaped gems that are the perfect green color. But for me to use them, I couldn't have the green as my main base color. Once I decided to use the maroon as my base, it all came together.

Sadly, both of my thumbnails have broken off. My nail are at that length where they've just started to look good, and now they're going to start breaking one by one until I have four or so broken ones and decide it's time to cut them all. But for now, since it's just my thumbs, it doesn't look too bad and I decided to make use of their "differentness" and use them as my accent nails. The stars came out messy though because I used regular craft stickers to paint around. I didn't realize until I did this manicure how much I'm lacking in star stamping plate designs. Anyhoo, this is my favorite so far of my first three tama inspired manicures. I left off the top coat at first because I liked the contrast between the shiny maroon and the matte stamping, but then I added one because I didn't want the stars to snag my hair in the shower, and it still looked pretty good.

Polishes and plates used: China Glaze Loft-y Ambitions, Orly Green Apple, Sinful Colors, Just a Pinch, Essie Licorice, and Konad special polish in black with plate XIUYA-02.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tamagotchi Nails #2

This is the second in my series of manicures inspired by my Tamagotchis. It was based on my other vintage tama I got as a kid, my Angel. American Tamagotchi Angels are fairly rare and somewhat valuable these days, so I feel lucky to have one. Unfortunately the screws are stripped and won't come out, so I can't put new batteries in it.
This manicure gave me hell. I had way too much trouble just trying to get a good base of yellow. I think China Glaze should have just marketed their entire Up & Away collection as stamping polishes, because that's all most of them are any good for. I tried using Lemon Fizz (which I realized is the only pastel yellow I have in my polish collection) and I just couldn't get it to look good. It was still streaky after three coats. So I decided to start over with Orly Melodious Utopia, which I like because the pink shimmer makes it so pretty, but it too was giving me opacity problems. So I started over AGAIN with a beige undercoat, but it still took four coats of the Orly Polish for it to look decent. I covered it with a pearl polish to make it lighter and more like the finish on the tama shell.
Eventually I got to the embellishment stage and I kind of wish I hadn't. I don't like the three pearl buttons and the black stars seems out of place. I left my left hand plain, and I think it looks better. Less really is more sometimes, I guess! This stamp is actually from a bird themed plate, but I think it worked just fine as an angel wing. :)

Polishes and plates used: Orly Melodious Utopia, Tony Moly Fantasy Edition Tonynail Snow SF08, Essie Penny Talk, and Moyou Tropical collection 05.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tamagotchi Nails #1

I've been a fan of Tamagotchis since I was a kid, but it wasn't until a few months ago that I started really getting interested in them and collecting them. Now that I have several different models I've decided to do my own nail challenge in which I do a nail design based on each of my tama's shells.
I've started at the beginning with my very first Tamagotchi. This is an original released in '96. I remember going to Toys 'r' Us with my mom and picking out this teal color one. I guess I thought the teal/purple combination was cool back then, but now, not so much. Also, this Tamagotchi isn't really functional anymore, that's why there's no pet on its screen.

I really don'tlike this manicure, like at all. It's too 90's in a bad way. Maybe it's just the colors and checkerbard design, or I tried to follow the shell too literally. Next time I'll try to be a little more creative with what I do.That being said, I chose the flower stamp to match the flower icons along the top and bottom of the screen. To match the checkerboard background pattern, I painted my nail blue, then painted a piece of tape pink, cut it into pieces, and stuck them on. It was my first time using tape that way, and I think it came out ok, especially compared to my failed attempt of handpainting the squares on which I tried to do first.

Polishes and plates used: China Glaze Four Leaf Clover, Fancy Pants, and Sugar High, Kleancolor Ocean Wave, and WnW Be More Pacific. Flowers stamped with KO Dream Girl plate 02.