Miami Spice Review: La Mar

5 Sep

Hey everyone!

Living in South Florida has many perks, but it can get pricey when dining out in the city. Luckily, I was able to experience a Miami Spice 3 course meal priced at just $23 per person, at La Mar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Downtown Miami. Miami Spice is a once a year dining experience, in which top restaurants in Miami participate in from August 1st – September 30th.

It’s around this time of the year, that tourists (and locals like myself), take advantage of ordering from a curated discounted menu at these restaurants. The Mandarin is a very popular hotel down here, and being able to enjoy this lovely view, was also a real treat for me!

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La Mar is a Peruvian cuisine restaurant, and is ran by the famous chef, Gaston Acurio. I grew up eating Peruvian food all of my life, so anywhere I go to eat it, I always judge a little bit harder. My family members are able to cook the most exquisite Peruvian cuisine right from their homes, so that’s where my biases kick in.

Taking a look at the Miami Spice menu at La Mar, it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to enjoy not one, but three appetizers brought out to you automatically, along with a main course, dessert, and the choice of a bottle of wine. My only complaint on the beverage selection, was that you weren’t allowed to order just one glass of wine. That would be a bummer for someone dining out for a quick lunch, but not so much so for a couple or group of people.

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The appetizers included small bites of a causa salad, cebiche chifa, and chicken anticucho in separate bowls. The causa salad consisted of sunchokes, crushed beets and asparagus, topped with a bit of avocado and huancaina sauce. Causa can be eaten warm or cold, and this causa was warm. I thought it was just right, and the flavors were a nice cleanser between the other two appetizers, which packed a punch in taste.

The cebiche chifa included a mixture of ginger-sesame sauce along with a soft piece of salmon, wonton strips and leche de tigre (lime juice) with cilantro to top it off. This was by far my favorite appetizer that I got to try. I was left intrigued with mystery, as to how the chefs cooked the salmon, where it literally melted in your mouth, and felt like jelly at the same time. It was absolutely delicious, and the citrus sauces brought out the flavors so much more! The appetizer I felt was just okay in my book, was the chicken anticucho.

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Containing chicken thigh, confit potatoes, choclo (giant corn), and ocopa sauce, I felt the chicken was a bit on the burnt side. I think this was meant to add diversity to the flavors, but I just didn’t see the point of it to be honest. It felt like the “odd man out”. If it was cooked to a more medium level, then I probably wouldn’t have noticed how it didn’t fit in for me.

With not having ordered a $50 bottle of wine, I decided to have a non-Miami Spice drink, which was the Pisco Sour for $15. Pisco Sour is Peru’s national drink, and the one at La Mar consisted of a blend of barsol quebranta pisco, lime, egg white, and angostura bitters. I thought the drink was amazing. Not many restaurants make their pisco “easy to swallow”, as most are made to be bitter tasting. If you like a lighter tasting cocktail, that easily packs a punch at the end of one glass, this is the drink to order at La Mar. The fact that one glass is $15 was kind of lame, but it also left me not needing to order another one at the same time.

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For the main course, you’re only allowed to choose one, and I chose the carapulcra. Carapulcra is technically a dry potato stew, with a side of white rice, red beans, and pork belly made to a crisp. This was such an amazing meal, and I feel that if you like the stew type of dishes, picking the carapulcra (anywhere you go) is your safest bet. I do want to comment, that the crispy pork belly was crispy on the outside, but once you tore into it, was completely soft on the inside.

This is something you find rarely with hispanic dishes, as pork chunks are usually crispy from the inside and out. I thought the way it was cooked, was very impressive. My only critique was that it could have used a little more salt. Nothing major, and none the less I would order this dish again, and again!

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To top the experience off, I chose to eat the Peruvian dark chocolate cake. This savory pastry bite was made of lucuma mousse and orange caramel. It was so yummy, and for the first time I realized how well citrus fruits such as orange or tangerines, go well with dark chocolate. It truly brings out the flavors of each combination, and every bite was like heaven in your mouth.

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All in all, this Miami Spice dining experience at La Mar was a success! If I had to rate everything from 1-5, I’d give it a good 4.8. I was impressed by the curated cuisines, but not impressed with the lack of deals on the drinks.

I’m happy I was able to go, and if you’re ever at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Miami, this is one restaurant you do not want to pass up! Until next time, have a great week!

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My Blow Dry Routine

2 Sep
Hey there!
This will be my third hair tutorial video on my channel and blog! I always get asked what products I use to style my hair once it’s blow dried, so I’ve featured an in-depth description on what each does for my hair, and why it works so well!
The tools I also use, as well as the techniques featured in this video, will only help you achieve a blow out within a shorter time span, and give you beautiful voluminous hair for around two days or so after your blow dry session!
Make sure you subscribe to my channel, and let me know what you want to see next!

August Monthly Favorites

29 Aug

Hey everyone!

August has come and gone, but I’m excited for this month’s favorites because they’re all new, and I’ve been obsessed with them! Starting with some awesome new skincare products I’ve been testing out, I was able to get my hands on the Burt’s Bees Herbal Blemish Stick. It’s purposely made to help concentrate on specific target blemish areas, in a roll on liquid formula.

The blemish stick contains 10 natural herbal ingredients, such as calendula, Tea tree and juniper oils along with willow bark. So far, whenever I had a blemish, I apply this stick on it, and the next day it’s calmed down or completely disappeared. I find this has worked out better for me than any tooth paste trick, or market pimple cream I’ve tried before.

Burts Herbal Stick Garnier Micellar

I received the Garnier Micellar Water from an order purchase at ULTA for free, so I figured I’d give it a go. I find that this product works best to use AFTER a makeup wipe application to the face, because the micellar water isn’t as potent as its water-proof version is. I love how gentle it is on my face, and it does remove any residue that the wipes didn’t pick up. Then I continue with my regular cleansing routine after that. If I had known about this product beforehand, I would have used it in my skincare routine video. Yet with the way it performs, I must say this is the micellar water I’ve been in search of for a long time now.

L'Oreal Blow Dry It Quick Dry Primer Spray September

A product I’m extremely impressed by, but was not expecting to be, was the new L’Oreal Blow Dry It Quick Dry Primer Spray. Blow drying my hair is such a pain because I have so much of it. It usually takes me around 30 minutes to brow dry my hair fully, but with this spray, it took me about 10 minutes. If you’re ever in the drugstore section of any store, please do yourself a favor and pick this gem up. I got this product at ULTA on sale for around $4, but I know at Walmart is only around $3. I’ll will repurchase after my first trial of it. I only wish it came in a bigger bottle!

I got an Essence Lip Liner in #11 In The Nude, which was super affordable, and glides on the lips easily, unlike many cheap lip liners. The Volumizing Lip Booster by Catrice does feel tingly, as it’s supposed to plump the lips up, but I feel it only plumps your lips slightly, and that’s not always a bad thing. The shade #010 is a beautiful sheer pink, which I feel would go great with any skin tone, as it accentuates your natural lip color with a tint. It was on sale for only $3, and I’ve been swapping my liquid lipsticks for lip gloss as of late any ways.

Volumizing Lip Booster Lipliner in Nude

Finally, I accumulated enough points that had been sitting in my ULTA account for some time. Then suddenly, Anastasia Beverly Hills temporarily restocks their Self Made Palette (only available last fall), at ULTA and I immediately jumped the gun to own it. While this palette is no longer available after it sold out, I do plan on doing a tutorial on my channel by creating a look with it. So those of you who own this palette, you’re in for a treat. The Modern Renaissance Palette just had too many shades I already own. I have no regrets about getting the Self Made Palette, and that’s why it’s on this month’s favorite’s list!

Self Made Palette

That’s it for my August favorites. Have you guys made any recent product discoveries yourselves that you’re adoring? Let me know, and until next month’s favorite’s, I hope you all have a wonderful beginning of September!

Products Mentioned

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water & Makeup Remover

Burt’s Bees Herbal Blemish Stick

ABH Self Made Palette (Limited Edition)

L’Oreal Blow Dry It Quick Dry Primer Spray

Catrice Volumizing Lip Booster in #010

Essence Lip Liner in #11 In The Nude

August Ipsy Glam Bag Review

26 Aug

Hey guys!

The August Ipsy Glam Bag was quite different this month, although I haven’t tried most of these items as of yet. I have a new busy schedule, but I still wanted to let you guys know what I got, along with personal thoughts on these items, as I will be reviewing some.

The theme was “Sugar Highness”, which shows all of the Ipsy girls in colorful wigs, and dreamy settings. The bag was illustrated by Michelle Phan herself, and I absolutely love it. It’s one of my favorite bags in a long time, because it’s so original!

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I haven’t received a hair care product in a long time from Ipsy, not since my Garnier Primer spray which was such a generous full-size, and I quite enjoyed it while it lasted. This time, I received a product that I thought would be a dupe for It’s A 10 Leave-In Treatment Spray. Even the brand/product name were closely similar. The It Haircare 12-in-one Amazing Leave-In Treatment, claims to achieve 12 tasks while it does work on your hair.

The description promises to: Get rid of Frizz; De-tangle; Treats brittle ends; Adds body; Leaves hair shiny; Maintains hair health; Repairs dry hair; Repairs damaged hair; Protects hair; Works on color-treated hair; Protects against heat; Protects against split-ends; Protects against breakage. Whew, that was a mouthful. If a product claims to do so much, I expect a lot from it once I test it out. I have yet to see any results indicating that this treatment is anything spectacular. Though I can say, it made my hair feel soft, and it smells delicious. As a leave-in conditioning treatment, it’s actually decent.

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I got to try a primer, mask, and moisturizer all in one for the first time as well. This Works in-transit camera close-up is pricey in regular size, at $60 a bottle. It’s raved about by magazine brands such like Elle, and celebrities such as a Victoria Beckham. It’s supposed to give your skin a lively look, as it contains caffeine. It also claims to erase signs of fatigue, and it has an SPF of 30. I haven’t used this one yet, but seeing as I easily break out into skin allergies, I might be passing this one along in the end.

OFRA Cosmetics came out with highlighters this year, and I’ve wondered when I should purchase one to try out. Luckily, I received a sample size of the OFRA and @DupeThat collaboration product, “You Glow Girl”! Their highlighters go for around $25, so I was pleased that I didn’t have to spend that much for a full-size. The highlighter is a rosy pink, and claims to be long-lasting. I’m a sucker for highlighters, and this one is gorgeous!

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I always like receiving nail polishes from Ipsy, because they’ve all been of good quality so far. This month, I got to try my first Ciate London Gelology nail polish in Spinning Teacups. Ciate London carries an expensive line, starting at $15 per polish. That’s more than OPI or Essie, so I told myself I wouldn’t invest in a bottle unless it came in a sample. The gel formula is made to last long, but I’ve had my hopes crushed by polishes that claimed the same thing this year (you’ll read about it in an upcoming post).

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You can read the descriptions of polishes all you want, but you’ll never know how it performs, unless you try it out for a few days on yourself. This color, is a bright lilac, and I loved it so much. The brush on this nail polish make for a very easy application. Just check out the result!

Finally, Ipsy sent me a $17 palette sample in my $10 bag, which had me intrigued to try it. I discovered Jelly Pong Pong Cosmetics, and their Neapolitan Palette. This is a limited edition palette, that includes hues to enhance the eyes, with a base, highlight, and contour shade included. Check out the pigmentation on these babies. I will probably be grabbing for these colors more often than not during the Fall season.IMG_0523

With everything I was sent this month, quality and price wise, I was pleasantly content. This is why I love Ipsy so much, because you get to try items that might have been costlier on their own, but yet only pay a minimum fee for a few more items included as well. Make sure to check Ipsy out, if you like to save on money, while receiving all new products each month to try out.

Thanks so much for reading, and enjoy the rest of your August!

Products Listed

Ipsy Bag Subscription

It Haircare 12-In-One Amazing Leave-In Treatment

This Works in-transit camera close-up

OFRA Cosmetics x @DupeThat “You Glow Girl” Highlighter

Ciate London Paint Pot in Dangerous Affair/Spinning Teacups

Jelly Pong Pong Cosmetics Neapolitan Palette

L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Glow vs. Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation Demo + Review

22 Aug
Hey there!
This is an interesting video post, because I’ll be comparing and contrasting the original L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation, along with the new Infallible Pro-Glow Foundation.
I’ve worn the original Pro-Matte for almost two years now off and on, and found that I had to mix it with other products in order to achieve the effect I wanted. Meanwhile, the Pro-Glow has total different attributes, and I’ll expose them today.
If you’re someone with oily skin, and wants to try this foundation out because of your love for the matte one, I suggest you watch this video in its entirety, and find out my results. They just may surprise you!
For more reviews such as these, be the first to see them when you subscribe to my channel!

Products Listed

L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Glow Foundation in Creamy Natural

L’Oreal Infallbile Pro-Matte Foundation in Shell Beige

Weekend Chit Chat: Ikea & Wedding Decor

19 Aug

Hi there!

These past weekends have been quite eventful for me, and they include attending a family wedding, and taking a stroll in Ikea. I don’t know about you guys, but Ikea is a field trip in and of itself. I want to note that sometimes when I write eventful chit chats, they don’t always occur in the same weekend. They are more of a recap than anything else. Still makes for a fun, and interesting post if you ask me!

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The wedding I attended was spectacular. The theme was cinema, and all things theater, which I found to be such a creative way to celebrate! The décor and displays were made personable, and that’s one of the best ways to connect with your family and friends on your special day. Everyone could relate to the bride and groom in some way, and I was lucky enough to enjoy this beautiful centerpiece of tulips and hydrangeas in my own home as a reminder of the beautiful night that had occurred.

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I also got a chance to explore my local IKEA, and as always, I find it fascinating. Not sure if it’s because of the maturity relating to my age, or genuine interest, but anything relative to architectural or interior design, has remained an unawaken liking of mine. I first reached the rug area, because I was in search of a new rug for my room. Overwhelming was an understatement. There are rugs hanging from the walls, on the floor, and thrown on boxes. It’s literally your choice of many, and it’s kind of like encountering a play pen of pets. It’s like a picking a puppy to take home with you, to be quite frank.

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After choosing the right rug for my surroundings, I decided to explore a bit, and my curiosity got the best of me. I found these little lighting fixtures first, which would be adorable for a child’s room. I wondered what the inspiration was behind them, as these reminded me of characters sort of like from the movie Totoro, which was a childhood favorite of mine.

The lighting fixtures are permanently interesting. You never see these types of designs other than Ikea. I do wonder whether the orb shaped fixtures give enough lighting as the uncovered, wired ones do. I’ve dreamed about having a modern and minimalistic room, and putting one of these as the main centerpiece. While chandeliers were my first preference when I was a little girl about lighting fixtures in my future home, these futuristic designs have replaced that dream of mine, or should I say, evolved.

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Making my way to the storage area, there are tons and tons of boxes. Some are metal, some are cardboard. I managed to pick these two zig zag cardboard pattern boxes, which came with a self-assemble box and lid. For less than $5, I thought these were a steal. Just because something looks expensive, doesn’t mean it has to be.

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Recycling material once used to hold documents in a storage room, which is now transformed to an aesthetically pleasing household décor piece, not only looks good, but protects the environment as well. One less plant destroyed in vain, right?

Ikea and weddings are fun, but knowing you guys enjoy these posts is even more fun for me! I hope you all have a great weekend, and thanks for reading!

L’Oreal Voluminous Voxbox Review + Demo

15 Aug
Hey everyone!
Today’s blog post is all about my L’Oreal Voxbox that I received for FREE thanks to Influenster. I could go in depth about Influenster on this post, but if you’re truly curious to find out how you too can earn a chance to receive your own Voxbox, then check this post out.
I was able to try not just one, but SIX different products by L’Oreal Paris, and was fortunate enough to create a look using all of them for you guys on my YouTube channel! I love when I’m able to demonstrate any product for the first time on my channel, because my audience gets to see how the products perform for themselves before making any type of purchase.
So if you want to know which ones are worth it, and which ones you can skip out on, make sure you watch my demo below. Also subscribe to my YouTube channel for more product demos coming up in the near future. Thanks so much for reading and watching!

Products Mentioned

L’Oreal Brow Stylist Prep & Shape Pro Kit

L’Oreal Colour Riche Monos Eyeshadow in Paris Beach

L’Oreal Colour Riche Monos Eyeshadow in Pain Au Chocolat

L’Oreal Infallible Eye Liner

L’Oreal Voluminous Primer

L’Oreal Voluminous Volume Building Mascara

Easy Homeade Pina Colada Recipe

12 Aug

Hey drink lovers!

This post is SO for you! Summer may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your yummy tropical drinks. Pina Coladas can be made all year long in my book. On my Instagram, I had promised you all a recipe my family has been making for some time now for an easy homemade Pina Colada experience. This recipe is dedicated to my grandmother, because she introduced me to it.

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What You’ll Need

For starters, you’re going to need the two most very basic essentials in this recipe: a blender and two cups of ice. If you add too much ice, this drink will be watered down, and not frozen. The only way I can withstand so much sugar, is by it being nice and frozen!

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Once the ice is placed in the blender, it’s time to open that can of Pina Colada mixer. It’s very gooey, and you’ll need a spoon to dig it all out. After the product is in the blender, be sure not to throw the can away, at least not yet.

Measuring the amount of rum is fairly easy, so you’ll need no measurement cup. Your measurement cup will be the remaining mixer can. Trust me, I’ve tested this many times, and it’s JUST right.

Now just blend, blend, blend. After you’ve hit your desired formula, you’re going to pop open that Maraschino Cherry can. My grandmother likes for the cherries to be cut in half with the stems still intact, and placed on the rim of a glass. You can get quite creative at this point.

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Finally, with a spoon you’re going to scoop some cherry juice from the jar, and swirl it on top of the drink. It will then sink to the bottom of the glass, creating an aesthetically pleasing factor about this drink. I think it pulls it together nicely, while making it taste delicious.

Does your family have their own drink recipes? Let me know if you get to try this out in the comments below, and enjoy your week!

Walmart Summer 2016 Beauty Box Review

8 Aug

Hey guys!

It’s time for another Walmart Beauty Box review, and this time for the Summer of 2016! I received some of my favorite products of all time, along with not so great ones. If you don’t know about the Walmart Beauty Box, I explain it at the beginning of all of my reviews for those unfamiliar with it.

My opinions are solely mine, and no one pays me for them, therefore they are 100% honest. Remember, what doesn’t work for me, might be working for you!

So please check it out for yourselves, and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel!

Best Nail Polishes: Summer 2016

5 Aug

Hey there!

For those of you who’ve been subscribed to The Gift of Gab for a while now, you might remember that last year I posted my favorite nail polishes for the Fall of 2015. I’m here to chat about the one’s I’ve been liking for Summer 2016! During the Summer and Spring season, I like to wear pastels, nudes, and at times a bit of a shock color if I know I’ll be out at a daytime party or hanging at the beach.

Some are wearable for every occasion, while other’s you might want to try to wear on the weekends if your work is in a professional setting. I’m a sucker for nude polishes, but I figured I can cater to all types of polish lovers for this season’s favorites!

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If you want bright colors, but not to an overwhelming extent, I suggest picking up the OPI New Orleans Collection Set. It comes with four colors of their New Orleans line which are: Got Myself into a Jam-balaya, Take a Right on Bourbon, I’m Sooo Swamped! and Show Us Your Tips! My personal favorites out of the set are Sooo Swamped! and Show Us Your Tips! I find that they are both gorgeous blues and greens for the summer, while having dimension to them. They are a duller version of a true bold.

I want to switch over to the nude and blush toned polishes I cannot leave out for the summer. This is my go-to personally, and I love that a nice nude toned polish is favorable for all seasons of the year. Starting with my top pick, Dulce de Leche, is one of the best nudes I feel will go with any skin tone. The DERMELECT ‘ME’ polish in Commando is a few shades darker than Dulce de Leche, so it’s quite similar if I had to pick a dupe. I received this polish in my November Ipsy Glam Bag of 2015, so if you’d like a more in-depth description of it, check that post out.

As far as blush toned polishes, I highly recommend Diva Bride by China Glaze and Bittersweet by Nina Ultra Pro. I feel that Bittersweet is a true medium blush along with plum shade, and Diva Bride is perfect for when you want that fresh semi-french mani look. They’re both gorgeous shades, so if you’re looking for those types of colors, pick those up!

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Now we can jump back into the bold and the beautiful. Vermillionare by Essie is a bright orange, with a hint of shimmer when reflected in the light. You can either wear this one out on Halloween, or summer time which makes it appealing. Orange nails I find are just as original and creative as yellow ones (sorry I don’t have any yellows on this list, because I myself have yet to find one I like). Another Ipsy Glam Bag discovery was the Formula X Power Source nail polish.

I like Formula X because it’s long wearing, and I am a fan of coral colors for the season. It reminds me of being away on a tropical vacation, while sipping on a strawberry frozen margarita. Nice scene I painted there, huh? Miami Beet by OPI is a deep rosy plum shade, and it’s beautiful in the summer. This shade might look dark, but once it’s on the nails, it’s buildable so if you’d like a lighter tone, I suggest just one layer or two. I personally love the deeper shade, so I stick to three layers!

If you like bright with glitter specs, plus affordability, I think the Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear polish in Violet Voltage is the next one to pick up at your local drugstore. This is a truly bold lilac purple, that has a good amount of glitter in it. Yet it’s not hard to take off, which is a relief to everyone that fears glitter nail polish. Influenster was nice enough to send me this one for free, and I’m glad I got to experience it!

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The Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure polish in Jaded is a bright blue turquoise, that could be also described as a deep aqua. This color is gorgeous, and reminds me of the ocean in the tropics. I usually grab colors like these during this season, because it adds a pop of color to your nails, yet it isn’t too distracting as it is still in the paler range, making it wearable to any occasion.

Finally, I have one of my all-time favorite OPI nail polish colors in Alpine Snow. This shade is wearable all year long, and it looks like pure white out. I feel that white nail polish is so classy, and wearable with any outfit. This is one shade I’ll probably keep repurchasing when the formula gets dry or I run out!

What are some of your favorite summer polish shades? Let me know, as I’m always looking for new ones to try! Hope you’ve found this post helpful, and have a great summer!

Products Mentioned

OPI New Orleans Collection 4-Pc. Mini Pack

OPI Nail Lacquer in Dulce de Leche

China Glaze Nail Lacquer in Diva Bride

Nina Ultra Pro Nail Enamel in Bittersweet

DERMELECT ‘ME’ Peptide Infused Lacquer in Commando Terra Cotta

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Nail Color in Jaded

Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Color in Violet Voltage

Formula X The Colors Nail Polish in Power Source

Essie Nail Polish in Vermillionare

OPI Nail Lacquer in Miami Beet

OPI Nail Lacquer in Alpine Snow

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