Showing posts with label nail art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nail art. Show all posts

Friday, 13 June 2014

NOTD: Topshop Boy Next Door + Models Own Microdots

Models Own's latest nail art effect polish is like polka dot nail art for lazy people.  The Microdots polish, £5, contains small hexagonal matte glitter particles in bright colours, and it makes a great topcoat on a creamy base colour, like this lovely china blue, which is from Topshop, called Boy Next Door, also £5.  Perfectly summery, very cute, and most importantly, very easy to achieve.  Better yet, Microdots isn't as hard to remove as a more opaque finish glitter.  I'm calling that a win all round.

Disclosure:  Models Own Microdots is a press sample.

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Models Own Sticky Fingers in Sweet Candy

Models Own have done it again - their new nail art kits are super easy to use thanks to the inclusion of some cute themed stickers.  The mini range is called Sticky Fingers, and it's made up of seven shades paired with five varieties of stickers.

I've been playing with Sweet Candy - a neutral taupe polish with the cutest sweets/cake/ice cream stickers - and whilst they're definitely easy to use, they're not for the impatient.

I used one large cupcake sticker on my index finger, which gathered a fair few compliments from the nail obsessed in my office.  Being terribly impatient, I only waited for my nails to be touch dry before I applied the sticker - and as a result, it's not sitting evenly on the nail, resulting in the two coats of topcoat I applied pooling a little around the edges of the sticker.  You can only see this pooling close up, but still - if I'd waited for the polish to be fully dry, I'd have a much neater looking manicure.

At £6, the Sticky Fingers polishes are a little more expensive than Models Own's usual polishes, because you're getting a little more than a bottle of nail varnish.  That said, you don't get a huge number of stickers, and if you decorate your nails liberally you'll only likely get three or four manicures out of a sheet before you run out.  If you use the odd sticker for an accent nail, you'll get far more.

As a cute alternative to difficult freehand nail art, or even to slightly fiddly water decals, these sticker polishes are brilliant.  It's just a shame you can't buy the stickers separately.  Find Sweet Candy and the rest of the Sticky Fingers gang at Models Own bottleshops and their website now.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Review: Red Carpet Manicure Gel Polish Starter Kit

It's been over a year since we reviewed the Red Carpet Manicure Gel Polish Pro Kit. Are gel nails still a thing? Most certainly - the gel trend has continued to rise along with the current "nail boom". We've seen high street and high end polishes mimicking the gel trend with gel-style polish ranges and high-shine topcoats. That glossy, bullet-proof finish is still very very much in demand.

We've also seen a rise in the availability of gel nail home kits, and gel colours in consumer-friendly bottle sizes (which cost £11-£12, rather than the £25 or so you pay for an OPI or Gellux gel polish colour). Superdrug are selling a home gel nail system in store, and there are several companies offering them online too, not least Red Carpet Manicure.

We previously showed you the Red Carpet Pro kit, which includes a large mains-powered LED light with timer. Today's post is about the Starter Kit, which has a portable lamp without a timer. It's powered by 4 AA batteries (not included), can also be plugged in at the mains, and it's smaller and lighter.

Everything else in the kit is the same - you get two 59ml bottles, one of prep solution and one of remover (which is basically acetone - ouch, cuticles), a bottle of nail colour in Red Carpet Reddy, a prep coat, base coat, UV top coat and cuticle oil, all 9ml.

The price difference between the two kits is around £25 - which would be nearly enough to buy 2 more gel colours from Red Carpet. The Starter kit is £65, and you're looking at £89.95 for the Pro kit.

So do you really need the Pro kit?

My results with the Starter kit are shiny, glossy, indestructibly strong and in every way a convincing gel manicure. These photos are taken after a week of wear. You can see there's no chipping, dulling or cracking, and the finish is as glossy as a fresh manicure.

The application process is pretty slow - the base coat, top coat and each coat of polish needs to be cured for 2 minutes, and you need to do 3 cures on each coat (one each for the fingers of each hand, and one for the thumbs). All those 2 minute cures add up, time-wise, but on the upside there's no drying time afterwards. Once you've completed all the cures and wiped the nails down, they're fully hardened.

If you're using the kit for the first time, read all the instructions before you begin. They're not written in a very helpful style, and some of the key information isn't presented in the order you need it - for example, I'd painted all 10 nails before I realised that they needed to be cured in separate stages. (Red Carpet - if you need a copywriter, drop me a line.)

It's worth noting that the Pro kit also needs each hand and the thumbs to be cured separately, but there's a shorter curing time with the full-size lamp, so you'll get your manicure done quicker with the Pro kit.

I did have to keep an eye on the clock during the curing phases, as there's no timer, but this wasn't much of a hardship. If I were doing gel manicures regularly, I would want the timer. But for personal use, I think the Starter Kit is fine.

Removal is interesting. It's done using the foil method, which is more commonly used for removing gritty and glittery polishes. First you scuzz up and ruin the shiny surface of the nails using a coarse file, which feels strange and somewhat rebellious. Then, after soaking cotton wool in the Erase acetone solution, you wrap it onto the nail using kitchen foil. After 10 minutes, remove the foil. With regular polish, the polish usually dissolves and comes away on the cotton wool. But with the gel manicure, the polish cracks and flakes off, rather than dissolving, so you end up with a strange shattered effect on your nails. Sadly I didn't take pics of this - I didn't expect it to be so remarkable, but you can see in this post at

Two tips I got from my friend Vix, who does gel manicures professionally...

  • Keep the base coat, colour and top coat well away from the cuticles. As the polish starts to grow out, any polish or base coat stuck to the cuticles will pull away, leaving a ragged edge that you will be tempted to pick at.
  • If you get bored of the colour during the life of your gel manicure (which can be 3 weeks) you can put ordinary polish on top, and remove it with ordinary acetone-free nail polish remover without harming the gel manicure's finish.

You can buy both kits, and a range of gel colours, at Red Carpet Manicure UK

Disclosure - PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating our copyright.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

SPARKLES: Bourjois Laser Toppings

These little beauties are Bourjois' latest addition to their nail art line.  Featuring tiny rectangular strands of glitter, they're perfect for a super sparkly look on top of a coordinating nail polish.  

From left to right, we have Sun Scales, Blue Neon, and Aqua Purple.  They're just £5.99 at Boots, making them a much cheaper alternative to Nails Inc's blingy Feathers kit.

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating our copyright.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Review: YSL Tie and Dye Cool Coat Nail Lacquer

This is one of YSL's recently released Tie and Dye polishes.  The set of four top coats all separate out into this very interesting stripy effect when left alone, and when shaken form a sparkling topcoat - each shade has a slightly different effect.  Cool Coat separates into a clear top layer, milky pink middle, and sparkling pale pink bottom layer - it does take hours to form this pattern after you've shaken and used the polish.

Shaken up, it's a pearlescent pale pink.  It looks almost like an opaque nail polish, but applied to the nail, it's actually rather sheer.

This is the nail polish I started with - a plain purple cream (one of the Mavala summer shades).  It's looking a little bit worn, no?

With the Cool Coat applied over it.  The purple base shade is transformed with a pink/green duochrome shimmer which is very, very sparkly indeed.  This is a single coat.  I did need to apply top coat afterwards as I found that the Cool Coat dries relatively matte, and I like a shiny nail.

Cool Coat, along with its sisters Pop Coat, Hip Coat and Ice Coat, costs £18 exclusively from Selfridges.  Is it worth it?  Well... the effect is undoubtedly pretty, but it's totally dupable with cheaper polishes.  And the three-layer thing?  Very cool, but there's very little actual point to it unless you display your nail polishes.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating our copyright.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

NOTD: Illamasqua Freckle

One of five speckly releases from Illamasqua's spring 2013 I'mperfection collection, Freckle is a mid-toned beige creme with non-sparkly black hexes and smaller particles suspended in it.

The speckle polish thing has been much imitated (and some might say emulated) by drugstore brands, but I have to admit there's something uniquely egg-like about Illamasqua's polishes that out-does the competition. I think it's the level of translucency of the base polish that lets the speckles show through to just the right extent, as well as the choice of the pastel colours. There's a generous helping of speckles too, so that 2 coats were plenty to achieve the effect shown here.

The wear on this has been superb, with a full 5 days before any signs of wear appeared. The only reason to remove it is to put new polish on. The exceptional quality is reflected in the cost, which is a rather bracing £15. I was lucky enough to pick this up in a flash sale, so it was £7.50, and a bargain at the price.

You can see swatches of Fragile, the pale blue speckle from the I'mperfection collection, on Gemma's post here.

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating our copyright.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

NOTD: Revlon "Moon Dust" Moon Candy nail polish

Revlon's got flakies. Yes indeed. The new Moon Candy polishes are double-ended kits (a la Andrea Fulerton), each with an opaque base colour and a clear top-coat filled with iridescent flakes.

I've seen several Revlon Nails displays around London in the last week with the slots for Moon Candy polishes ransacked and empty, but finally I struck lucky on Oxford Street and bagged this one - Moon Dust. It's got a thick and pigmented patent black base coat, and flakes of a gold-green-blue duochrome hue.

The finish is bumpy, bordering on scratchy in places. The flakes aren't the soft, flexible leaf used in some polishes, and are more like the spiky shards found in Models Own's Mirrorball polishes. Be aware when applying that they will stick occasional sharp edges up through the finished manicure even with topcoat. But it's easily fixed with judicious use of tweezers once the polish is on.

The compliments are strong with this one, mostly from cashiers whose notice is caught during the exchange of coins. I also mesmerised a baby with the shinies in the queue at Ikea.

For £7.99, these are a fun treat and I'm going to be picking up more shades as and when I see them - not least because I think the flakey top coats could be used with lots of other colours as bases.

Wear has been somewhat "eh", with some serious tipwear after a couple of days and some cracking around the points where my nails flex, but I like the effect enough not to mind at all.

If you fancy trying them, they're in bigger branches of Boots, found on the Revlon Nails stands.

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating our copyright.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

NOTD: Invogue Parakeet (Nails Inc feather dupe)

Imagine my surprise when I saw yet another high-end polish dupe sitting bold as brass on the shelf in Stratford Superdrug. This is starting to become a real phenomenon.
These "feather" polishes are about as close to Nails Inc's versions as you can get without actually printing Nails Inc branding on the bottle. They don't have the beautiful avian-themed designs on the lids, true, but inside the bottle, the tiny filaments suspended in clear polish are pretty much identical.

There are 4 in the Invogue feather range - Parakeet, with peach, yellow and blue feathers, is the one I picked up first, although I also later snagged a bottle of Jaye Bird (blue and white). You can also (if you're quick, these are popular) get Sunset (peach and white) and On the Money (green and yellow) Invogue feather polishes, each costing £3.49 in Superdrug.

Nails Inc's line-up cost a decidedly-more-pricey £11 a piece, and reiterate the colourways above, with different names obv. Peach, yellow and blue is Chester, peach and white is York, and blue and white is Cornwall. There's also a fifth Nails Inc feather colourway, which is a beautiful peach and pale blue mix called Edinburgh.

Nails Inc also do some very interesting DIY feather "kits", with loose vials of feather filaments, base coat and top-coat. So they still have some exclusive feathery offerings.

Are Invogue being profoundly cheeky to nab Nails Inc's feather idea and sell at a cheaper price? Or is all fair in love and capitalism? The Nails Inc bottles are certainly prettier and more covetable, but even if I had £44 to spend on feather polishes I doubt I'd be persuaded just on packaging. I feel kind of uneasy about how closely Invogue have modelled their colour choices on Nails Inc's, but maybe, as with the rash of magnetic polishes last year, the manufacturer who supplies these polishes only produces a set few mixes.

Who knows.

As for the Invogue polish itself, I can't fault it. The pictures here show 3 coats over a clear base coat, and as you can see there are plenty of filaments packed into the formula. Application is more of a "dab" than a "drag" affair, but even with a relatively casual approach you still get good coverage after the second coat. The finish is bumpy, though not snag-your-tights bumpy like some of the more audacious glitters out there. I added a couple of coats of Mavadry to even things out a bit.

Removal is hellish, and results in a shower of tiny coloured bars all over you, your clothes etc. I strongly recommend the tinfoil method for getting this stuff off without scratching up your nails.

I haven't tried any of the Nails Inc feather polishes. They cost £11 each... and I'm not made of money.

Invogue feather polishes, £3.49 each at Superdrug

Sunday, 7 April 2013

NOTD: Revlon Nail Art Expressionist in Silhouette

This rather lovely bit of nail art is courtesy of a Revlon nail tech at the launch of their latest nail products.  The range has three different types of double ended polishes - Moon Candy, with a cream base colour and sparkling flakey topcoat; Neon, with a bright white base coat and neon colour topcoat; and Expressionist, which matches a normal width brush at one end with an accent colour and thin striping brush at the other end.

Silhouette is from the Expressionist range, with a beautifully creamy neutral base colour and sparkling champagne accent shade.  Using the thin art brush with the champagne colour, the nail tech created this pretty design with contrast tips and half moons at the cuticle - both polishes are well pigmented, with the neutral base colour requiring two coats to get full opacity, and the accent champagne being opaque in one coat.

The fat and thin brush combo makes for endless nail art combinations - without the need to invest in specialist brushes or tools.  I particularly like this colourway as the neutral shade goes quite well with my cool skin, and doesn't give me lobster hands at all.  Find the new Expressionist polishes at the usual Revlon stockists, including Boots, where it'll cost you £7.99.

Disclosure: PR sample

Monday, 24 December 2012

NOTD: A Very Festive Manicure

So far I've avoided using the C word on LBR, but Christmas is almost here and I feel it's time for a festive manicure.  The base colour is Nails Inc Bruton Mews, a gloriously dark glossy green, accented with  two different kinds of glitter on the tips:  Servin' Up Sparkle by OPI, and a golden glitter by Le Chat I got in a multi-pack a long time ago.

My favourite thing about this sort of manicure is that it looks really impressive and is seriously easy to do.  Starting halfway down the nail, apply a thin layer of glitter, and then build up closer to the tip.  Easy.

Disclosure: Nails Inc Bruton Mews and OPI Servin' Up Sparkle were PR samples

Thursday, 29 November 2012

NOTD: Sally Hansen Salon Effects in I Love Lacey

I bought these Sally Hansen nail wraps in the States in August, and have only just remembered that I'd yet to
try them out.  Salon Effects are different to plastic printed nail wraps in that they are made of actual nail polish (apparently).  Whatever they're made of, they're significantly more comfortable to wear than plastic wraps, as they are much thinner, and are barely noticeable on the nail edge.

You can see in the photo above that the design is incredibly thin, with no noticeable edge or overlap atop the nail.  That funny, scratchy, coated feeling is one thing I really dislike about wearing nail wraps, so the comfort of these is a major selling point in my mind.

The design, I Love Lacey, is a pretty red and black lace-and-flowers graphic which looks pretty cool and is very detailed.  Application is reasonably easy - you have to match the pre-cut decals to your nails, then peel off a protective coating, then peel off the polish itself and stick it to the nail, from cuticle to tip.  As with other wraps, the excess is stretched over the edge of the nail and then filed off - which does leave a little bit of a noticeable tip, but nothing really obvious unless you're in the habit of staring at your nails close up.

They claim to last for ten days - we'll see how well they do on that front.  Given the easy application, interesting design, and clean, shiny finish, I'd quite happily invest in these for a special night out, with any extra staying time being a bonus.

Unfortunately Sally Hansen don't sell these in the UK - DAMN YOU SALLY HANSEN - but you'll find them on eBay for £3 - £6.

Friday, 9 November 2012

NOTD: Sephora Purple Jewelry

This is another Paris pick-up from Sephora. It's a flaky topcoat strongly reminiscent of GOSH Rainbow. In the bottle it seems to have blue and purple shift as well as red/orange/green. However, when worn it's mainly an orange/green shift. Still very pretty though.

The consistency is quite gloopy but it goes on smoothly and has a good density of flakes. This manicure is 2 coats. The base colour is an old Bourjois So Lacque shade called Cerise Noire.

Purple Jewelry cost 4.90 euro for 5ml at Sephora. (I'm not linking because I can't see it on the site, but it was in plentiful supply at the Champs Elysee branch of Sephora in late October 2012.)

Friday, 13 July 2012

NOTD - Flake-a-holic

I amused myself this Sunday evening by layering two different flakey topcoats over Rococo's VIP, a cool-ish red creme. The yellowy-gold flakes are GOSH Rainbow, and the more subtle blueish pink are Look Beauty Pearl Effect top coat.

I like it, but I think it needs a third flakey dimension to totally complete the flaked out-ness. Any recommendations?

Disclosure - Rococo VIP is a PR sample

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Poundland nail art - surprisingly good

You know how when you go into Poundland (yes, don't pretend you don't go in to check for bargains) you always come out with more than you went in for?

Last weekend I headed to the dreaded emporium of junk for some garden twine and came out with these two nail art sets. One features duochrome-finish hearts, stars and flowers while the other is a selection of tiny butterflies made of some type of foam. Each set includes a stick for poking the decorations into position and a file, which I haven't used. The decorations come in a handy wheel-shaped container.

The duochrome ones are of limited use to me because most are too broad and rigid, so they stick right out on my curved nails. The smallest stars worked well though. The butterflies are better, because being foam they are bendy and can be made to fit to the nail if held in place long enough for the top coat over them to stick. Especially cool are the purple butterflies in the pic here, because each wing is a separate piece. They're kind of like swallowtail butterflies, if purple swallowtails existed.


At just £1 per set, you can't go far wrong with these if you're interested in trying out some sticky-on type nail art. Keep an eye out for them in your local Poundland.

The green polish here is Kimono by Look Beauty (from Superdrug).

Sunday, 24 June 2012

NOTD: A Very British Summer

I'm starting to get the hang of this Konad nail stamping thing.  I'm still nowhere near as good as the likes of Leanne, but the images I stamp upon my nails are becoming clearer and cleaner, and I'm finding it slightly easier to get into the pace of polish-scrape-stamp-repeat.

Anyway, the base colour here is Ciate Bon Bon, which comes free with this month's edition of Marie Claire. It's a beautiful dusty lilac neutral, which I rather like on my fingers - it's a cool enough neutral that it doesn't look awful against my skin.  I used Konad Special Polish in white for the umbrellas.  

Sunday, 3 June 2012

NOTD: My First Konad with Nails Inc The Thames and Kensington Park Road

I've had a Konad nail stamping kit for a few weeks now, and I've really been struggling to use it properly.  Last night, though, I finally managed to get a decent image stamped onto my nails - the key, it seems, is to be firm and speedy.  The base colours here are both by Nails Inc - the bright blue is Kensington Park Road, which Sarah posted about a while ago, and the lovely cement grey is The Thames.  I used the white and blue special polishes I got in my Konad B kit, and although some of the butterflies are missing wing tips or the swirls beneath, I'm pretty pleased with the results.  It's amazing how detailed the stamped designs are, even missing pieces!  Now I've just got to figure out how to get more uniform placement on my nails, and I'll be set.

Are you an expert Konad user?  Got any tips?  Let me know in the comments!

Friday, 25 May 2012

NOTD - Nails Inc Kensington Park Road and Superdrug nail stencils

Important news: Nails Inc have invented a nail polish the exact colour of blue Smarties. 

Through what must have been hours of painstaking drop-by-drop matching work, the Kensington Park Road polish from their Neon collection contains the exact tiny hint of green needed to make a routine mid-blue creme into this unmistakable chocolate-connoting shade. Unfortunately my camera has washed this tiny hint of green straight out again, but I promise - it's there.

The other point of this NOTD is to show you the effects you can get with Superdrug's new nail stencils

They're small stickers you put on nails, either over a base coat or (as shown here) on top of a dried coat of polish. You then sweep a single coat in a contrasting shade over the top, allow to dry for a few seconds, then peel off the stencil and finish with a clear top coat. They also work with nail glitter - you paint clear polish over the stencil, add your glitter, then peel and reveal.

This one is raindrops, and there's also a heart version. You get 10 stencils for £1.99, and don't quote me on this, but I reckon you could squeeze more than one go-round out of them if you peel them off with care and re-adhere to the backing sheet.

Disclosure - Nails Inc polish is a press sample

Sunday, 20 May 2012

NOTD - Mavala nail art by Jenni Draper

I recently had the privilege of a manicure from tremendous nail artist Jenni Draper, using the new Mavala spring collection. The green colour is called Pistachio - it's a warm-ish pastel green with a slight shimmer. Jenni used other colours from the collection, (which is called "Delicious Colours") for the accent nails, along with some teeny crystals.

What I most enjoyed about this manicure was watching Jenni at work. She's incredibly fast, precise and skilled. From placing the brush exactly so that the polish didn't flood the cuticle, to un-fussedly repairing a smudge with a single stroke, she was absolutely masterful. She's also very nice to talk to, with an easygoing, down to earth style.

This manicure lasted around 4 days before I noticed chips around the nail tips. Jenni used 2 coats of Pistachio, and finished the whole thing with a coat of Mavadry, Mavala's answer to Seche Vite (which I will be reviewing at a later date.)

Mavala's spring 2012 polishes are out now, each priced £3.50 for 5ml at

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Fishnet Showdown: Nails Inc vs Barry M

It's no secret that the magnetic polishes on the UK market all bear a telling similarity to one another and almost certainly come from the same source, repackaged for different brands. The now-familiar wave pattern is the same across all the brands I've tried.

Barry M recently released 4 magnetic polishes with different magnetic patterns - stripes (horizontal), fishnet, starburst, and stripes (diagonal). This is an unprecedented range of magnet designs.

So having had a chance to try out Nails Inc's new fishnet polish in Spitalfields recently, I decided to compare their fishnet to Barry M's version.

I've used the same polish (the Nails Inc) for both of these swatches. It's quite a lovely colour in its own right, a metallic grass green. (Again, my nails were busy, so the chewing gum packet has been pressed into service once more.)

I was fully expecting the fishnet to be the same, but no, they're quite different. Nails Inc's magnet is a tighter and more intricate fishnet, whereas Barry M's is a broader and less uniform design with a sequence of oval patterns.

I much prefer the Nails Inc magnet. However given that the Barry M polish is £4.99 per bottle and the Nails Inc costs £13, I do appreciate that this is quite an expensive preference.

Nails Inc Spitalfields, £13 for 10ml
Barry M magnetic polishes, £4.99 for 10ml

Disclosure - Nails Inc product is a press sample

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Easy Nail Art with Water Transfers

When Jane posted about Hail the Nails water transfers, calling them out as a quick, easy nail art solution perfect for the inept, I had to rush over to the site and buy some.  You see, I love a bit of nail art, but I'm a bit cack handed, a lot clumsy, and a whole heap of impatient.  These water transfers, though, make the whole thing easy - you simply snip them closely around the design, plop them in a bowl of water, wait for the backing paper to come off, and then position them gently on the nail.  Use a tissue to blot excess water, seal with topcoat, and you're done.

These black lace tips come in a sheet of 20, and cost a mere £1.99.  An absolute bargain.  I've used a single one as an accent nail because I was feeling a) trendy b) lazy (take your pick), over the top of Topshop's rather beautiful Delusion, and it looks great (even if I do say so myself).

There are loads of other designs available, including bows, skulls, and animal prints, with the designs going from those designed for the nail tip, to those designed to cover the whole nail.  You'll find them at the Hail the Nails website, where prices range from £1.99 to £2.25.  Brilliant!
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