mom who works

the joys and challenges of being a working mom trying to find "balance"

The Vamp Files – Chanel Le Vernis Rouge Noir 18, Malice 637, Vendetta 483 January 24, 2013

Filed under: beauty — Deborah @ 2:23 pm
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Chanel Le Vernis Malice 637

Chanel Le Vernis Malice 637

I’ve never met a vampy nail color I didn’t like.

I love the dark seductiveness of a nail that has the appearance of dried blood. Not as goth as black, not as classically pretty as red, but a mix in-between.

Opinions vary over whether colors this dark are appropriate to wear at the office. I say “know your office,” and be mindful of your position – where you are and where you want to go. They’re dangerous, these vampy colors. They say “I’m a woman who knows what I want and I will do what I need to do to get it.”

Chanel was the originator of the dark nail craze, with the introduction of Chanel Le Vernis Vamp 18 nail color back in 1994, most notably on Uma Thurman’s short nails in the cult classic film “Pulp Fiction.”

For your consideration are 3 of my more recent Chanel vampy acquisitions. Chanel Le Vernis Malice 637 was Chanel’s holiday polish in 2012. A beautiful deep, dark, blackish-red with an actual *visible* red shimmer, the formula on this is spot on. This photo, in fact, is ONE coat of Malice, applied in a huge rush. I can only imagine that 2 coats looks downright amazing.

Chanel Le Vernis Vendetta 483 is a deep purple creme, with the classic hidden silver Chanel shimmer. It flashes nearly black in certain lights, dark purple in others, and dusty grey in still others.

Finally, the classic, Chanel Le Vernis Rouge Noir 18, which is the non-US version of Vamp 18, and was only recently made available to US customers via the web site. A deep, dark, black-red crelly (jellyish-creme), Rouge Noir has a perfect formula, and the color has the depth and squishyness I look for in a jelly or crelly formulation.

Malice and Rouge Noir are limited edition colors, currently available on for US $27 each. Vendetta is part of the permanent collection, also available on for US $27.

Chanel Le Vernis Vendetta 483

Chanel Le Vernis Vendetta 483

Chanel Le Vernis Rouge Noir 18

Chanel Le Vernis Rouge Noir 18


Chanel Le Vernis Black Pearl 513 nail polish August 1, 2012

Filed under: beauty — Deborah @ 10:40 am
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Chanel Le Vernis Black Pearl 513 nail polish swatchI love, love, love the color of Chanel Le Vernis Black Pearl 513 nail polish. I mean, I really, really, love it. It is easily one of my favorite nail colors of all time, and that’s saying a lot because I love a lot of colors.

Introduced in 2011 as part of the Les Perles de Chanel collection (along with Pearl Drop 511 and Peche Nacree 515), it works so well as a neutral, yet it is so very interesting, shifting depending on the light from a mid-toned black to a steel grey to a darkened teal. And teal is the definite undertone, but it is an undertone. I think the color really does reflect that of a black pearl.

Chanel actually recommended Pearl Drop as a pedicure and Black Pearl as a manicure, and that’s exactly what I did. A sophisticated black and white combo.

Gushing about the color aside, however, Black Pearl is a pain to apply. This is not the impeccable formula I’ve come to expect from Chanel Le Vernis. There was a ton of dragging and pulling, and in some nails I had to spot apply a third coat just to fix the “holes.” I apply my polish pretty much the same way, regardless of color, so I blame the polish. I don’t have time to babysit a polish that wants to be difficult. Let’s just say Black Pearl is darn lucky that it is such an amazing color, or she’d get tossed into the swap or sell bin.

Chanel Le Vernis Black Pearl 513 is on the discontinued list at, for US $26, so you should pick up a bottle sooner rather than later. And you should pick up a bottle, if for no other reason that the color is beautiful!

My reviews are of products I purchased, and that I (usually) love. Other than affiliate links with Amazon, I receive no compensation, samples or other products of any kind.


Chanel Le Vernis Lilac Sky 210 nail polish July 31, 2012

Filed under: beauty — Deborah @ 3:19 pm
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Chanel Le Vernis Lilac Sky 210 nail polishI started on my Chanel nail journey only at the end of 2011, so there are a number of nail colors that I have missed out on, some of recent vintage and some of not-so-recent vintage. Of those, one of my more obtainable desires was Chanel Le Vernis Lilac Sky 210. I say more obtainable because it was still available in other countries at retail pricing and at a small markup over retail in the US, versus a shade like Jade, which is going for nearly $300 a pop on eBay.

Thanks to my Canadian polish fairy, I was able to pick up Lilac Sky along with my Les Jeans lemmings, and I was chomping at the bit to try it out.

Introduced in Spring 2006 as part of The Color World collection, this is a beautiful color, and is unique in my small, but growing, collection. At first it looks like it could be a scary frost, a la grandmas and the 1980s, but alas, this is a CHANEL frost, which is really more a pearlescent shimmer. I really hesitate to even call it a frost, but I feel I need to distinguish it from a straight-ahead creme finish.

This is a sister clearly to Chanel Le Vernis Pearl Drop, and also likely for the new Chanel Le Vernis Skyline (part of the new 2012 Bleu Illusion collection, not yet available in the US), from what I’ve seen of swatches online. All three seem to have that same, ivory shimmer undercurrent, highly visible in the bottle and more subtly so on the nail.

This is Chanel nail color the way I love it, an absolute PLEASURE to apply. Non-streaky, no pulling, no brush strokes. The color is a straight ahead lilac. I actually imagined how beautiful this would be in an Easter-themed skittles-type mani with Coco Blue, Pearl Drop, May and maybe Mimosa (Chanel’s yellow creme nail color).

I’m not aware of any direct dupes, and although there are plenty of lilac creme polishes I’m not aware of any with an undercurrent of pearlescent shimmer.

This is two coats over Barielle Pro Argan Oil Nail Fortifier and topped with Out the Door quick dry top coat. Chanel Le Vernis Lilac Sky 210 is not currently available in the US, but if you’re traveling to Canada, Europe or Asia, you should be able to readily find a bottle. It’s currently available for US $27 on IzzysBeautyShoppe, but since it’s no longer a current color in the US, stock, and pricing, may vary.


Cuticle care July 24, 2012

Filed under: beauty,general — Deborah @ 1:54 pm
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Lush Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter

Image courtesy of

I am obsessive about moisturizing my hands. Wait, let me take that back. I’m obsessive about washing my hands, and therefore obsessive about moisturizing them after I’ve washed them 8000 times.

All this washing, and then the cold weather we get in these parts, and then the blistering hot weather we get in these parts, and then of course the cooking, the cleaning, and the DISHES (even WITH gloves, it’s still DISHES). Well, let’s just say that without my obsession with moisturizing, my hands could compete with an elephant’s foot for most wrinkles.

I’ve always been a fan of cuticle oil, or at least a fan ever since I had a manicure once in San Francisco and the tech kept admonishing me that I wasn’t moisturizing my cuticles enough and I needed oil, oil, oil. So, even before my recent mani obsession I always had a couple of bottles of cuticle oil laying around the house and office.

But with all the oiling and the moisturizing I was doing,  I felt like my cuticles should look better. Like they should be non-existent. Like they should like as they do on so many of the photos of amazing nail bloggers I see all over. But they don’t.  I have big, honkin’, tough-azz cuticles. And still dry patches of skin around my very-short thumbnails. And that didn’t seem right.

So internet research later, and I found out that a lot of cuticle oil (read: the cheapy stuff you can pick up at Walgreens or Target which is the stuff I was using) often has petroleum-based oil in it, and petroleum-based oil can actually DRY OUT your skin (!) not moisturize it. The solution, of course, is using plant-based oils, which include argan oil, almond oil, coconut oil and olive oil, to name a few.

These plant-based oil cuticle oils, however, are EXPENSIVE. And believe it or not, notwithstanding my obsession with Chanel polish, I’m kindof a cheapskate. Meaning I don’t like to waste money or spend it unnecessarily (note, Chanel polish is NOT unnecessary, in fact, it is QUITE necessary to my happiness!). So rather than shell out megabucks for fancy cuticle oils, I did the Midwest cheapskate thing and started filling up my empty and near-empty bottles of store-bought cuticle oil with extra virgin olive oil. From my kitchen. That I cook with. And do you know what? That stuff is AMAZING! I’ve noticed a huge difference in just the few weeks I’ve made the switch, and now find I only have to do massive cuticle removal once per week instead of with every mani.

Sometimes though you need more than oil, so in those instances (or to “seal in” my oil) I turn to LUSH’s Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter. This is pricey (US $14.95 for a 1.5oz tub), but a small amount seems to go very far and boy is it buttery. It moisturizes like nobody’s business, smells fresh (duh, lemony), and really seems to take my moisture odyssey to the next level.

Extra virgin olive oil can be purchased at your local grocery store (prices vary). LUSH Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter is US $14.95 and available at LUSH counters and And my $0.02, well that’s absolutely free!


Crabtree & Evelyn India Hicks Island Living Spider Lily Eau de Toilette July 14, 2012

Filed under: beauty — Deborah @ 9:12 pm
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I’m not much of a fragrance person. Like my lipsticks and most of my other makeup (other than nail polish, and that’s only recently), I don’t mess around too much when I finally find a fragrance that I like. I have my fall/winter fragrance, and my spring/summer fragrance and that’s usually it.

That being said, lately I’ve been feeling a little bored with that setup.

Maybe it’s because I have finally reached saturation with readily available Chanel polishes, and have little interest in the crazy indie nail polish glitterbombs that come out every other week, so I’m searching for a new obsession to learn about. Maybe it’s because I’ve been spending a lot of time around the Chanel counter, and got a nice gift of a substantial No.19 eau de toilette sample from one of my favorite local sales associates, which has caused me to start thinking about expanding my fragrance horizons.

In either case, since I’ve been initially thwarted in my effort to purchase No. 19 (not available locally), I was searching around for something new, and recently dug out from my box of half-used samples this eau de toilette from Crabtree & Evelyn I picked up a year or so ago, called India Hicks Island Living Spider Lily.

For a mid-range (i.e not designer or high-end) fragrance, it’s surprisingly interesting and subtle. There is definite citrus in it, but it’s not overwhelming. And some floral (I’m assuming the eponymous spider lily) and green undertones as well. It certainly doesn’t smell “cheap” and it doesn’t smell like 90% of the fragrance you’d pick up at your local department store either, which is why I really like it. It’s a lovely spring/summer fragrance. It doesn’t linger very long, so if you are looking for an all-day fragrance you’d expect to need to reapply 2-3 times throughout the day. The bottle is a nice size (3.4 ounces) that will even fit in your purse (assuming it’s as big as mine!). Crabtree & Evelyn India Hicks Island Living Spider Lily Eau de Toilette is available at Crabtree &, US $55 for 3.4 ounces.

My reviews are of products I purchased, and that I (usually) love. Other than affiliate links with Amazon, I receive no compensation, samples or other products of any kind.


MORE Chanel nail art from the Fall/Winter 2012/13 Show – UPDATE July 4, 2012

Filed under: beauty,fashion & style — Deborah @ 8:57 am
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Both and reported on the new looks and nails presented at the Chanel 2012/13 Fall-Winter Haute Couture Show, and I’m definitely noticing a trend in how Chanel is presenting nail art.

Between the Chanel windows in Paris displaying Diwali (pale gold metallic) with a red creme (possibly either Coromandel or Dragon) diagonal accent, to now a silver metallic base (color unknown) acting as a sort of “outline” to a mid-toned cool pink (looks to my eyes a lot like May but it’s likely a new color), Chanel’s combination of metallics with cremes is refreshing.

As an aside, I was looking at the photos from the show at and let me just say I love the color palette Karl Lagerfeld chose. I know it’s not unique to use shades of grey and pink together but it somehow seems very fresh as a fall/winter collection. I’m used to seeing it more with spring clothes.

Anyway, back to my favorite subject, Chanel nails. What I love about both of these presentations of nail art is that they are classic and subtle, yet slightly edgy and trendy. The “toning down” of a metallic polish by the subtle introduction of a creme makes these nails appropriate for the office (know your office!) but yet still communicates style.

And while I can appreciate the skill and artistry in a lot of nail art, I never, ever thought I would ever do any kind of nail art myself. I don’t have the skill, the time and frankly, I never really want to have nails that are THAT distracting. These nails, though, I could definitely do!

Peter Philips and his team at Chanel really have nailed (no pun intended) the Chanel brand promise in these presentations. They took what is a definite trend (nail art) and made it classy.

UPDATE –’s Beauty Counter blog had an exclusive interview with Peter Philips after the show, and quotes the following regarding the nails:

“The show’s theme was best realized through Sam McKnight’s silver-lined, forties-era hair nets and the nails, where Philips took the idea of the classic French manicure and gave it a touch of now, thus ushering in Chanel’s first foray into fashion’s continued embrace of the nail art revival. “When we were playing around with the idea of doing a nail polish, we evoked the idea of using two shades on one nail,” Philips explained, employing a discontinued chrome color that launched in 2007 to outline the entire nail bed, rather than just the tip, which had been lacquered with two coats of May, a melon varnish from the Spring 2012 show. “[New vintage] is…preparation for something that could last,” Lagerfeld explained to our intrepid runway reporter following the show, which we’ll take as a sign that nail art isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. At least now we have a new design to challenge our manicurist with.”

Well as I noted above, I would disagree that it’s their “first foray” into the “nail art revival,” but let’s not get technical.

So I was right about May 535 being the pink – although I would seriously debate with calling it a “melon” color. Now Le Vernis June 539, I would call a “melon” color, but May, that is decidedly a mid-toned pink. The silver, well, debate on the interweb is that it could be Kaleidescope 479, and it could be Silver (special edition). Kaleidsescope 479 was a Fall 2008 release (and Phillips said in his interview it was a 2007 polish). After looking at online swatches (sadly, I don’t own either, or any silver metallic chrome), I think it could be either one.

In any case, Phillips certainly did not hint in his interview (and the blasted interviewer didn’t ask! They need to have ME do these interviews – I would grill him to within an inch of his life! Chanel fans MUST know!)  that he would be re-releasing said “chrome color” polish. However, I think the look could be easily replicated with other metallics, either gold or silver, and any number of other mid-toned cremes (with silver, I agree that May is a good choice, as is June, and possibly Coco Blue for fun!). I’m sure there are tons of OPI, Essie and China Glaze dupes of a silver metallic, chrome-finish polishes as well if you wanted to dupe the nail art exactly while we wait with bated breath to find out if Chanel will re-release or dupe a silver metallic chrome polish.

One can only hope.


The office nail February 28, 2010

Filed under: general — Deborah @ 12:09 pm
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Marilyn with beautiful short red nails

Corner Office Chic recently had a great post on how Chipped Nails are Sooo Anti-Chic!, which caused me to think about manicures and maintenance.

I love the short red nail. I think it looks very French and very chic (there I go with French references again!). It also seems somewhat retro to me, very ’40s and ’50s glam, which I also love.

I agree that while a short red nail is not conservatively professional, I think if the red is not in any way “sparkly,” and if it is a good, clear, classic red (i.e. not overly dark), and if you wear it with neutral colored clothes (i.e. blacks, greys, reds, navies, some browns), and if you keep them impeccably (i.e. not a single chip or crack), then I think you can wear it to the office. But that’s a lot of “ifs,” which in the life of most busy working moms, is just too many “ifs” to deal with.

That’s why I tend to stick with either a light colored neutral polish, or during especially busy times, no polish.

Now “no polish” does not, and should not, mean not manicured or cared-for nails. You still need to keep your cuticles in check, your nails trimmed and filed and scrupulously clean. You just get the added time savings of not having to put on and most importantly during busy work weeks, maintain, polish.

There are also some shortcuts you take to help your nails look manicured even without polish.

1. Whitening Pencil. Revlon used to make one but I don’t think they do any more. Thank goodness for Sephora. The trick with these is you wash your hands/wet your nails, then run the pencil underneath the nail and it whitens the whites. It only lasts about a day so you’ll want to reapply each morning.

2. Cuticle remover. My favorite, Nutra Nail Green Tea Cuticle Remover, appears to no longer be available, but there are any number of quick-acting cuticle removers on the market. Don’t use them more than once/week, and I prefer to work on cuticles after a shower when they’re nice and soft.

3. Quick Polish. These polish “sticks” are compact, portable (great for that office emergency kit) and best of all, don’t need a base or top coat. They go on quickly, dry quickly, and rather than chip they just sort of melt away from your nails after a few days. I really like Nicole by Opi’s Nic’s Sticks Hydrate It!, which is really just a clear quick polish that shines your nails nicely and doesn’t chip. You can reapply it right over the old once or twice, but after that you’ll need to remove with polish remover.

Just remember, look beautiful out there!