Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! I don't know about you, but my evening has been spent watching Fred Astaire films (NOT horror movies) and praying no trick-or-treaters come to the door, which fortunately they haven't. My manicure today isn't overtly Halloweeny, but I rather like it anyway.

I saw a tutorial the other day for a shredded funky French mani, and I decided to try my hand at it. I didn't have the patience to do it on every nail so it was only on my thumbs and ring fingers; my other nails had the standard French design on them.

After applying a base coat I did two coats of Nails Inc Augustus Street, which is a grey suede-effect colour that was part of their Texture Collection from earlier this year. I paired this with two coats of Illamasqua Vice, a rubber-look deep cerise. I'm not a huge matte fan as a rule, but I thought the difference in texture between the suede and the rubber would look pretty cool. The normal French was done freehand, while I cut a jagged pattern out of Scotch tape for the other nails.

It's definitely not perfect - especially as I couldn't use a top coat to seal and smooth it - but for my first attempt at a shredded mani, I don't think it's too bad. I really like the contrast in textures, it creates a bit more interest.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

17 Magentized Nail Polish

I had such a positive experience with Nails Inc magnetic nail polish that I was interested to try another brand's version and see how they compare. I decided to try 17 from Boots. I couldn't find it in store so I bought two colours - blue and teal - off their website.

The bottle design is idential to the Nails Inc one. It's a 10ml bottle with a detachable magnet cap. Both caps also have a little lip that you rest against your cuticle to line up the magnet.

So I could try both colours at once, I alternated the colours on each nail. As with the Nails Inc polish I did two coats of each, the first coat obviously without the magnet and the second holding the magnet over the nail while the polish was wet. It was incredibly easy to do. I then sealed with a top coat to make it super shiny.

These photos were taken after three days so there's a bit of tip wear, but no chipping. As you can see, the blue has a more subtle effect than the teal but I like both colours equally. They're just so pretty.

17 vs. Nails Inc

So if you were only going to buy one magnetic polish, which brand should it be? Well, the Nails Inc formula was definitely superior to the 17 one. I can't fault the former, which I found the latter a bit gloopy. It wasn't bad enough to cause any real problems, though. 17 has a choice of four colours (silver, lilac, blue and teal) and Nails Inc has three (gold, silver and purple). But the most obvious difference is in the price. I got the 17 polishes for £4.99 each, while the Nails Inc ones were a whopping £13! In spite of the inferior formula, for more than half the price and a wider range of colours, I'd personally go with the 17 polishes.

Monday, 24 October 2011

A Simple Halloween Manicure

I'm pretty rubbish at doing facy nail art, so I was ridiculously excited at the beginning of this year when the crackle trend really took off. It's such an easy way of making your nails look a bit different without actually having to do any tricky designs. The first crackle polish I bought was the black Nails Inc Camden, and yesterday I decided to use it to make a very simple Halloween manicure that anyone can replicate.

I started off with a base coat and then did two coats of Barry M Block Orange. I've been a huge fan of Barry M nail polishes for years - they come in a wide range of colours and are actually very good quality given how inexpensive they are (£2.99 usually). I then did a coat of Nails Inc Camden and waited for it to dry thoroughly. I was going to use a standard top coat but changed my mind and used GOSH Matte Dry top coat instead to make it a bit different.

Usually I'm on the fence when it comes to matte nail polish, but I rather like how this turned out. I was going for just the standard orange/black Halloween colours, but I think it looks a bit like glowing lava oozing from a volcano, with the black crust forming on top as it dries (or is that just my overactive imagination...?). A surprising number of stangers told me they liked it today, so it's a win as far as I'm concerned!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

OPI Nicki Minaj

Look what I just saw on OPI's Facebook page:

Nicki Minaj inspired polishes!

From left to right: Super Bass shatter, Metallic 4 Life, Save Me, Fly, Did It On 'Em and Pink Friday

I don't quite know why I'm so excited about this as I've never really listened to Nicki Minaj's music, but the colours look pretty cool - especially Fly, as I'm partial to blues. None of them strike me as particularly unique at first glance, though. Metallic 4 Life reminds me a bit of Nubar Knights Armour, but it's difficult to tell from just a photo. I liked the Katy Perry collection from earlier this year (and, of course, it contained the Black Shatter that prompted pretty much every nail polish company to jump on the crackle bandwagon...not that I'm complaining), so I'll be interested to see how this one compares. The release date is some time in January.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Nails Inc Gossip Girl Collection: Blair

I'm a big fan of Gossip Girl so I was really excited to learn Nails Inc have released three nail polish duos inspired by the TV series, a solid lacquer and an 'overglaze' top coat. I was even MORE excited when I found out these top coats are actually flakie polishes. Nails Inc are doing flakes (yay)!

The duos are Blair (deep teal with a blue/green overglaze top coat), Serena (black with electric blue overglaze) and Lily (dark plum with red/green overglaze). The overglaze polishes are comprised of irregular opalescent flakes in a clear base. When I first heard of them I immediately thought of Nubar 2010 - of these, Lily sounds the most similiar to it - and as I already have 2010, I decided Blair sounded the most exciting. Plus, she's my favourite character.

I forgot to take a photo of the teal base on its own, but I'm not sure it would have shown up very well anyway as it's so dark it almost looks black. You can tell it's teal in the right lighting, though, and I actually think it would work very well on its own without the overglaze top coat, too. I did two coats, but it was opaque enough that one coat would probably have sufficed. The overglaze itself I did one coat of, and ohmygoodness it's beautiful!

Isn't it lovely? I honestly can't stop staring at my nails. The flakes go practically the whole spectrum of blues and greens, from electric blue to turquoise to bright green. It's so pretty. It makes my nails look lovely and shimmery, but the overall look is still dark enough that it's appropriate for winter.

The formula on these was great. The teal base was perhaps a tad thick, but this didn't make it too difficult to work with. The overglaze went on perfectly. My only real complaint (as it usually is with Nails Inc) is the price. Each Gossip Girl set costs £20, which isn't cheap, although I'm tempted to say it's worth it because the overglaze top coat is so gorgeous. I'd love it if they sold these separately. Pretty please?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Accessorize Halloween Haul

I was in Accessorize at the weekend and zeroed in on their Halloween section. Accessorize always do such lovely things - whether it's jewellery, bags, or make-up - that I was interested to see what they had. Aside from the usual fare like skull earrings, they also had a couple of things that caught my attention...and ended up going home with me!

There's nothing really new about black nail polish or black lipstick, but it was only a fiver for the set and I wanted to see if they were any good. The nail polish isn't the best - it's a bit gloopy, which is a problem that lots of black nail polishes suffer from. I really liked the lipstick though. You know how sometimes you buy a dark-coloured lipstick but when you actually put it on, it's quite sheer? This is not like that. This is black. Really, really BLACK. It's absolutely perfect for Halloween.

I was really into temporary tattoos (and then a real tattoo!) when I was younger, so these bat body stickers reminded me a bit of that. Plus, they're sparkly. You can't go wrong with anything sparkly.

Finally, I bought some adorable bat nail transfers. They were a bit on the pricey side (£2.50) considering you only get enough for one for each finger, but they're so cute that I couldn't resist. I wasn't sure what I was going to go as for Halloween, but given all the bat-related things it looks like I'm going as a vampire bat!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Orly Fowl Play

I decided to be good and limit myself to one colour from Orly's autumn offering, Birds of a Feather. Orly Fowl Play is the one that's been getting the most attention, and having seen swatches of the others I'm really glad I chose this one. Don't get me wrong, the others look beautiful, but Fowl Play is just a bit more special.

Fowl Play is a difficult polish to describe. It's kind of a dark purple jelly with red/green duochromatic flakes (I thought they were just red until they caught the light), blue glitter and silver microglitter. In bad lighting it looks mostly solid purple, but when the light hits it right, it comes alive with sparkliness!

My pictures show two thin coats with a top coat, but it could probably have done with a third coat of Fowl Play to be honest as it was a bit uneven. The formula was pretty good - a little thick, perhaps, but this didn't really interfere with the application (my so-so ability to paint my own nails did that!). Overall, I'm really pleased with it. It's quite vampy, and absolutely perfect for autumn.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Nubar Indigo Illusion

Indigo it is not, but Nubar Indigo Illusion is a gorgeous colour all the same. For as long as I've been obsessed with nail varnish, one of my favourite effects has always been duochromes - they appear one colour in some lights, and another colour in others. Nubar is known for its talent for duochromes, and Indigo Illusion is one of the best I have ever seen. It goes from dusty blue to lilac, grey, green, gold... Stunning.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Nails Inc Magnetic Polishes

I gave in and bought the Nails Inc magnetic polishes the other day. For those who don't know what a magnetic nail polish is, it doesn't mean - as most people I've mentioned it to seem to think - that you suddenly become like Magneto from X-Men and metal things stick to you (trying to set the dinner table would be a lot more interesting if it did!). Rather, it means that the polish formula has little metal particles in it - to quote the Nails Inc website: "As the magnet is held over the nail, the iron powder in the formulation gravitates toward the magnet forming the pattern/design secretly hidden in the magnet for an astonishing finish!"

Nails Inc currently has three magnetic polishes, all named after famous London landmarks: Trafalgar Square (silver), Houses of Parliament (purple) and Big Ben (gold). I bought Trafalgar Square and Big Ben. Each comes with a magnet built into the removable cap, which then leaves a smaller bottle lid underneath. There's a little peelable instruction book on the magnet cap, but they also provide you with a larger one (with pictures) if, like my mother, you're old long-sighted.

I was too impatient to try one polish at a time so I decided to alternate the colours on each nail. The instructions said to do one "generous" coat on each nail but I ended up doing two coats to make it look more even, obviously not using the magnet on the first coat. I was worried using the magnet would be awkward, but actually it was very easy. One by one I painted the second coat onto the nail and then, while the polish was still wet, held the magnet over it. You can see in the first photo above that there's a sticky-up bit (the technical term!) on the cap that you're supposed to hold over the cuticle to make it easier to position the magnet. I actually ended up resting it lightly on my cuticle as it made it easier to hold the magnet steady over my nail without touching the polish. I one-Mississippi-two-Mississippi'd for about fifteen seconds before lifting the magnet away to reveal the cool effect.

Considering it was my first go, I'm really pleased with how this turned out. The formula on these was brilliant, I had no problems whatsoever. My application wasn't perfect as I was so worried about the polish drying before I had a chance to use the magnet that I wasn't as careful as I should have been. My only real complaint is that it's quite hard to see the pattern with Big Ben (the gold polish); it's nothing like as obvious as Trafalgar Square. In some lights it's almost invisible, which is a pity.

Nails Inc magnetic polishes are priced at £13 on their website (or £11.70 with their reward scheme) with £1 going towards The Prince's Trust. I'll freely admit they're not cheap. However, for such a beautiful effect - and such an easy alternative to nail art - I think they're worth every penny.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

OPI The Muppets Holiday 2011 Collection

I have been coveting OPI The Muppets Holiday 2011 Collection since I first heard about it a month or two ago - not only because it's THE MUPPETS (and who doesn't love them?), but because the colours in it are so gorgeous. There are 12 in the collection, half of which are glitters. And not just any glitters, but oh-em-gee-there-are-no-words glitters!

The collection isn't officially released until 1st November, but I obsessively check (where I get many of my polishes) for new nail colours and I got lucky last Thursday - The Muppets Collection is on there already! I wanted them all, but being somewhat insolvent at the moment I had to limit myself to three. I chose Rainbow Connection, Gone Gonzo!, and Excuse Moi!

Top to bottom: Rainbow Connection & Gone Gonzo! & Excuse Moi!

Rainbow Connection is the one that seems to be creating the most buzz - and in fact, I just went back onto and it's not on there anymore, so it must have sold out already (thank you, nail polish gods, for letting me nab a bottle!). It's a clear polish with multi-sized hexagonal glitter in silver, green, yellow, blue, orange, and pink. It looks to be a close, if not perfect, dupe of Deborah Lippmann's Happy Birthday, although I don't actually have Happy Birthday in order to do a proper comparison.

The polishes haven't arrived yet for me to try them out, but fingers crossed they'll be in the post tomorrow.

Monday, 3 October 2011

OPI Glitzerland

My mum and I visited Buckingham Palace yesterday to see the Fabergé exhibition (which was AMAZING, by the way), so naturally I had to bling up my nails a bit. I was going to do an extraordinarily OTT design but ran out of time, so I painted my nails a simple gold instead.

This is two coats of OPI Glitzerland from Autumn 2010's Swiss collection. It's a champagne-coloured gold with very fine gold glitter in it. It's almost a foil, but not quite. It's gorgeous indoors, but when the sunlight hits it all its sparkliness comes out (my photo doesn't do it justice):

For those of you who have toured the Buckingham Palace state rooms you'll know that there is gold EVERYWHERE - tables, chairs, walls, ceilings... I thought my nail varnish matched this perfectly, and I'm really pleased with how this manicure came out. The formula is impeccable, and I've only had it on for a couple of days but it hasn't chipped yet.

No trip to London is complete without visiting a department store, so my mum and I trekked down Oxford Street in the blazing heat (in October!) to Selfridges. I painted her nail (yes, only one - my mum rarely wears any polish that isn't a pale pink) using a tester of Chanel Paradoxal. I can see why this nail varnish has received such mixed reviews. In the bottle it's a dark, greyish mauve with a lovely purple shimmer when the light hits it; on the nail it just looks muddy, with the shimmer basically nonexistent. Disappointing.