Tuesday, 11 December 2012

2true Limited Edition Crystal Nail Polish - Ibiza

If you follow me on Twitter you already know the reason for my extended silence: on Wednesday 28th November I became a mum for the second time, welcoming another little girl, Lucía, to our family.

During the last few days of my pregnancy I was contacted by 2true Cosmetics and asked to review some of their new products. I was very eager to test a brand I wasn't familiar with and aimed to meet their launch date of 5th December but unfortunately my recovery from C-section has proven a little slower than I was hoping for.

So today I am showing you the colour I was most excited about: 2true Limited Edition Crystal Nail Polish shade 8 - Ibiza. The press release describes the Crystal shades as "perfect for event season" and I couldn't agree more. The formula is thinner than I had anticipated but two coats ensure full coverage as the micro glitter is very densely packed. The most noticeable colours on shade 8 are fuchsia and turquoise, giving it an overall metallic purple tone from afar. Very feminine and eye-catching!

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Drying time is average and a layer of top coat enhances the product whilst smoothing over the surface. Removal with pure acetone was easier than your average glitter and there was no staining afterwards.

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A couple of very important points to add are that 2true nail varnishes are B3F and not tested on animals. Their products retail at £1.99 each or three for £4.99, exclusively from Superdrug. These 7.5 ml bottles are ideal for those who just want to try something new without breaking the bank. I was impressed by the quality of such an affordable polish.

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2true Cosmetics are a British brand and all their products are made in the UK/EU, to European quality standards. 

Please note that the product reviewed above was sent to me free of charge by the company's PR for my unbiased consideration.

Friday, 31 August 2012

a-england Gothic Beauties Collection

I have been itching to post about the Gothic Beauties collection for months and they are finally here! 

Gothic Beauties

I spent a few days in London this week and squeezed in a visit to Adina and company before heading back home. My timing couldn't have been better!

When I first heard of the concept I was immediately sold: a small collection of five black nail varnishes with an elegant and mysterious twist. For those who have been following me here and on Twitter, it'll come as no surprise that I loved these even before setting eyes on them! These nail varnishes are so me that I just had to get them all.
Indoors - natural light
Outdoors - daylight
Adina is very passionate about her brand and everything that she does, and created each shade with a lot of care and thought. Talking to her is a real delight and her love for her polishes is contagious.

As with all a-england nail varnishes, each shade has a story behind it. These gems are based on characters from literature who either have a darkness within or end their lives in tragic circumstances. This darkness is represented in the base of all of these colours: Camelot, a-england's signature black creme.

The formula on these is excellent as usual: it goes on smoothly and requires minimal clean up if you have a fairly steady hand, which is a bonus considering black polish can be tricky to get off from your cuticles.

They are so richly pigmented that one coat would have probably been enough; two ensure perfect coverage and leave no staining upon removal. One thing I love about a-england polishes is that you have the flexibility to just apply one coat if you're doing your nails in a hurry! They are also great for stamping, as I have recently discovered.

I applied a coat of The Knight base coat, two coats of each polish and one coat of The Shield top coat for the photos below. A skittles mani seemed apt so you can see the differences between each colour:

Jane Eyre (little finger) is packed with red and coppery micro particles which resemble embers. It's very effective, yet subtle, and a perfect fit for the character it is named after. 

Ophelia (ring finger) is my personal favourite. The darkest of all, it is brimming with purple and some fuchsia particles. The purple is piercing, much like Avalon - I think the two together would make a lovely mani!

Avalon (top) - Ophelia (bottom)

Lady of Shalott (middle finger) is full of blue particles, with a hint of purple/pink to add depth.

Tess d'Urbervilles (index finger) is probably the most noticeable of all, with its emerald green particles. I think I saw some teal in there too, but don't quote me on that.

Dorian Gray (thumb) started as a black but became pewter in the process. It has shimmering gold particles that add intensity to this shade and it's very classy and wearable. When compared to King Arthur, Dorian Gray is more sepia, like an aged version of a-england's other dark silver/pewter shade.

King Arthur (top) - Dorian Gray (bottom)
King Arthur (back) - Dorian Gray (front)
Despite being black, you can still notice the difference between one polish and the other indoors, but they really come alive in the sunlight. Besides Dorian Gray, which is the most unique of the five, Tess d'Urberville and Lady of Shallot look lighter than the other two (Ophelia and Jane Eyre).

If you are desperate to get your hands on the Gothic Beauties collection and can't wait for the a-england website to sell them, you can order them from tomorrow, Saturday 1st September, by emailing your choice to hello@a-england.co.uk. Did that make your weekend or what?!

I understand from Adina that two new shades will be available before the end of the year, so stay tuned. 

By the way, in case you are not familiar with each character, a perfectly executed description of them, as well as a full review, is available at Eugenia's highly recommended blog: ommorphia beauty bar.

Last but not least, I am sure you all want to see handsome Tristam, looking very grown up indeed, so here's a little photo for your viewing pleasure:

Tristam, Adina's gorgeous cat

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Nail art ideas using a-england Guinevere

I haven't had a lot of time to post lately but I am still experimenting with my nails on a regular basis and try to take photos whenever possible. 

Nail art has been growing on me since first attempting it back in February and I now try to enhance my manicures with simple designs.

I have a couple of ideas to share with you, both using the same base colour. As you are probably aware, I am a big fan of lilac cremes and Guinevere is one of my favourite nail varnishes.

The first option is with a-england Elaine and three different sized dotting tools. It's really easy to do, all you need is a steady hand!

The second option is what I would probably consider cheating: stamping! I'd fancied getting some Konad plates for a while, tempted by the possibility of achieving symmetry and more intricate patterns, so I gave them a go.

For this mani I used a-england King Arthur, as I wanted a subtle silver shimmer instead of a more eye-catching, contrasting look. The plate is M65 and I chose the roses design for a delicate and utterly feminine result.

The photos below are in bright sunshine to appreciate the roses more clearly.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Mythical Fair

If you have been following my blog since its start, you are probably well aware that I am a huge fan of a-england's.

To celebrate 5,000 Facebook likes, Adina has launched her biggest promo ever: All of The Mythicals nail varnishes at just £5 each, almost half price! This includes some fan favourites like Tristam and Lady of the Lake.

The only catch is... it ends on 22nd July, so you'll need to hurry! Get them here.

For swatches, reviews and nail art, check out my a-england posts here.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Leighton Denny - Coral Reef

Ladies in the UK have been spoilt this Summer, we have a choice of nine top quality nail polishes free with fashion magazines!

Today I am showing you my latest acquisition: Coral Reef by Leighton Denny, which came free with July's issue of Harper's Bazaar. This is my first nail varnish by this beauty expert and, unlike the free polishes by Ciaté and Nails Inc I got this month, Coral Reef is actually part of the S/S 2012 collection and retails at £11. So you really are getting a bargain!

I have to say I am not a huge fan of the bottle. I think it looks a little dated and, although this has no reflection on the quality of the product inside, it would not grab my attention on a shelf. Having said that, the nail varnish itself is very good, goes on smoothly and evenly and offers optimum coverage in two coats.

This colour is a coral red shade with a pink shimmer which makes it very glossy indeed. I am not sure this is very me, but I have a feeling it might grow on me after a while. My husband reckons it would appeal to an older audience, but it's a matter of taste I suppose. I feel that is it so summery it makes my hands look tanned. See for yourselves:

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Brand: Leighton Denny
Collection: Castaway
Name: Coral Reef
Type: Creme/Shimmer
Colour: Coral red
Pantone equivalent: N/A
Make Up Alley rating: N/A
Potential dupes: Zoya Nicole, Nicole by OPI The Right Thing and OPI Bright Lights Big Color definitely look more orange.
Free with the July 2012 edition of Harper's Bazaar (£4.20)

I used:
1 x Save the Nail Eau So Hydrated Base Coat
2 x Leighton Denny Coral Reef
1 x Save The Nail 45 Second Top Coat

Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 200 - indoors- no flash - daylight

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Nail Art: Irregular Dots

Continuing with the freebies, a few days ago I decided to try Ciaté Bon Bon, a near nude with a hint of mauve that I got with July's Marie Claire magazine.

I found it was good formula and application wise, but the colour looked a bit washed out against my skin tone. So I decided it was the perfect background for a nail art design I'd seen some time ago on Pinterest:

I really liked the middle finger on Jennifer Love Hewitt's right hand so I copied that design on my left ring finger. Every other nail was inspired by her mani.

I used OPI Black Onyx and two dotting tools. I found that this was one of the easiest nail art designs ever because you don't have to match every nail, so I even managed to do my right hand with some success. A steady(ish) pulse and a table to rest my hands on was all I needed!

I've had this on for four days now and I love it. The photos I took when it was fresh came out terrible so I had to re-take them today before removing it; you'll have to excuse my cuticles on the pictures below:

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Thursday, 7 June 2012

Ciaté - Jelly Bean

When I read that Marie Claire came with a free Ciaté nail varnish, worth £9, I asked my husband to go and get me all three colours. I know that sometimes finding these gems can be tricky, so when he came back empty handed I was a little deflated but understood that could be the case.

But then, on Tuesday morning, he gave me a birthday card and a magazine with all three bottles of Ciaté nail varnish (as well as other things, may I add!). My daughter knew straight away that she wanted me to paint her nails with the pink one, and despite not normally being my first choice, it was the one I was drawn to too.

Jelly Bean is bright and happy. It's a summery colour, young and vibrant. It's fuchsia and has a very subtle lavender shimmer which I can see in the gorgeous bottle but not so much on the nail itself.

I would say Jelly Bean probably sits somewhere between a jelly and a creme. Application with the Ciaté brush is easy and flawless and it goes on smoothly. I have three coats of it on and there is still a bit of VNL as you will notice in the photos below, I imagine you can reach full opacity with a fourth coat. It's very shiny indeed! All my photos are without topcoat.

Finally, Jelly Bean has been on my nails since Tuesday night and there are no signs of chipping or tip wear. Am I turning into a pink lover? I doubt it, but this shade is certainly a nice exception to make!

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I decided to decorate Jelly Bean with a few black flowers, using OPI Black Onyx and a dotting tool. What do you think?

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Brand: Ciaté
Name: Jelly Bean
Type: Jelly/Creme
Colour: Fuchsia
Pantone equivalent: Rhodamine Red
Make Up Alley rating: N/A
Potential dupes: Couldn't find any yet!
Free with the July 2012 edition of Marie Claire magazine (£3.70)

I used:
1 x Save the Nail Eau So Hydrated Base Coat
3 x Ciaté Jelly Bean

Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 200 - indoors- no flash - daylight

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Nail Art Special: It's My Birthday!

I am 17 again today, but unlike the film, I am not going back in time to get the life I've always wanted... I decided to show you some nail art instead!

A friend of mine was hosting a Jubilee party and mentioned she couldn't get any Union Jack nail wraps, so I offered to do her mani. I used Cult Nails Time Traveler as a base colour and then drew stripes in OPI Alpine Snow and Bullish on OPI. See the results below:

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My daughter has chickenpox, so we've spent the long weekend at home. I fancied doing something different and came up with a mosaic pattern using a few different sized dotting tools. Unfortunately, my choice of colours (OPI Alpine Snow as a base, OPI Black Onyx, Nicole by OPI I'm a Belieber, a-england Guinevere and Elaine) was so similar that the pattern is lost and it just looks like a bunch of spots, much like my little girl's back:

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Since my little angel is bored of being stuck in the house, she asked me to do her nails. I used a dotting tool to draw flowers using OPI Flit A Bit and Ciaté Jelly Bean.

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And finally, one of my friends suggested this morning that I should do some birthday-themed nail art for the occasion, so I decided to focus on the things that make birthdays special:

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  • Cake on my thumb
  • Party hats on my index finger, although these are not compulsory
  • Presents on my middle finger
  • Love and laughter (or smiles) on my ring finger
  • Balloons on my pinkie, another item which can be omitted when you reach my age
I used: Nubar Classic Camel, Nicole by OPI I'm a Belieber, China Glaze For Audrey, Kiko 279 and 316, MakeMyDay Inés, a-england Guinevere and Galahad, Opi Did It On'Em, Flit A Bit, Suzi Says Da, Manicurist of Seville, Black Onyx, Dim Sum Plum, Your Royal Shine-Ness, Alpine Snow and Bullish on OPI.

As with most themed nail art, this is probably not the most tasteful of designs but it delivers the message. Happy Birthday to me!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Nail Art: Diamond Jubilee

If you live in the UK I don't need to remind you what is happening this weekend, but if you are abroad then you might not be aware that tomorrow, 2nd June, we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation. This event is known as the Diamond Jubilee, a term which  normally marks a 75th anniversary but is used differently when it comes to monarchs.

As you can imagine, 60 years on the throne is no small feat, and the only other monarch to have celebrated such a date was Queen Victoria in 1897. Ten years ago, when I was living in London, I went to the Golden Jubilee celebrations near St Paul's Cathedral but this year I will be staying at home. There are many events planned for the long weekend, and for the first time ever, I will be having my birthday on a Bank Holiday!

There are hundreds of manis out there to portrait the Diamond Jubilee. In a sea of Union Jacks and red, blue and white themes, I decided to take a different approach: 

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As you can see, I went for a subtle look. Using Nubar Classic Camel as a base colour, I got my inspiration for the accent nail from a 1st Class stamp. The rest of the nails are covered in diamonds, in the form of OPI Servin' Up Sparkle.

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Would you say this mani is fit for a Queen? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, 21 May 2012

New Skip Hop Zoo Nail Art

I am back after a few weeks of silence! I've got a great excuse to reactivate the blog a little...

Last week I was pleasantly surprised to see an email from Christy at Skip Hop. After my first Nail Art doing their Owl, the company contacted me to take part in the launch of their latest Zoo backpacks and lunchies by doing the new designs on my nails.

My photos were used as teasers on their Facebook page, starting with the Hippo last Friday and continuing with the Dino today. Some of the fans guessed them correctly, so I suppose my creations were pretty close!

I was super excited to take part in a fun launch like this! Creating the designs was a little difficult but after a few attempts I came up with the following:

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For the Dino I used:

  • OPI Ski Teal We Drop
  • OPI Gargantuan Green Grape
  • OPI Did It On'Em
  • OPI Black Onyx

For the Hippo I used:

  • OPI Fly
  • OPI Alpine Snow
  • OPI Black Onyx
  • China Glaze For Audrey
  • Kiko 279

What do you think?

Sunday, 22 April 2012

New Page: My Nail Care Routine

I created a new page on the blog describing my nail care routine. I will be updating it as and when I find new products, change my method or learn new tips. If you haven't yet seen it, please feel free to have a look and share your suggestions!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Nubar - 2010

If you like flakies, and I know many of us collectors do, I'm sure you've heard of Nubar 2010. Nubar is a cruelty-free, vegan brand based in the USA. All their nail varnishes are B3F and reasonably priced.

This top coat was released for their 10 year anniversary. It's a clear base with different size iridescent flakies that reflect mostly red and green. The formula is pretty good and dries quickly; one coat is enough for layering.

I've been thinking about this post pretty much since I started the blog. I wanted to do it justice and show it to you over lots of different nail varnishes, but then realised that it looks so cool over black I don't need to show you less interesting options. Here's a few anyway, so you can see what I mean:

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From Top Left to Bottom Right:
OPI Jade Is The New Black

Over black it's just amazing, like autumn leaves or even embers. I really like this look, it certainly shows off all the different colours vividly.

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This is definitely a must have as it can update your mani in a matter of minutes. If you, like me, fancy a change after a day or two and can't afford to completely change your look, make sure you try this.

Brand: Nubar
Name: 2010
Type: Flakie/Top Coat
Pantone equivalent: N/A
Make Up Alley rating: 4.6/5
Potential dupes: several potential dupes, Sally Hansen Hidden Treasure is probably the most popular one.
Buy it from BeautyBay £5.50 (with free worldwide delivery)

I used:
1 x Save The Nail Colour Enhancing Base Coat
2 x OPI Black Onyx
1 x Nubar 2010

Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 400 - indoors - no flash - daylight

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Nails Inc - Notting Hill Gate

It's not news that most Nails Inc polishes are named after places in London/stations. While Notting Hill Gate might bring memories of Julia Roberts being glamourous and Hugh Grant being awkward, it reminds me of something much closer to home.

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon in late Summer 2003 when I went to Notting Hill to have a coffee with my now husband. Norah Jones was playing in the background, we were sitting on a brown leather sofa in a small venue on Portobello Road and realised we wanted to be more than just friends. And the rest, as they say, is history.

So I ended up buying a pink nail varnish! I haven't gone insane, I am a romantic and this is not just any pink. This is a cool pink, it's neon! I thought it'd look great as a vibrant pedi colour but haven't tried it yet.

The formula on this is very good. It goes on smoothly and only needs two coats. The finish is between a matte and a creme, for those who, like me, are not familiar with neon polishes. I thought it might glow in the dark but it doesn't, I hope that gives you an idea of how eye-catching this product is!

I honestly can't wait until the sun is back, hopefully for more than a week, in the UK and I can wear this again. When my little girl gives it back, that is!

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I also created a few mani options below using Nails Inc Paddington for the French tips, star and dots and Nails Inc Electric Lane holographic top coat. In hindsight, I'm not sure how good they look... see for yourselves:

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Brand: Nails Inc
Collection: Neon
Name: Notting Hill Gate
Type: Neon
Colour: Pink
Pantone equivalent: Rhodamine Red
Make Up Alley rating: N/A
Potential dupes: Illamasqua Collide, comparison coming up soon! Other neon pinks out there.
Buy it from Nails Inc £11

I used:
1 x Save The Nail Colour Extending Base Coat
2 x Nails Inc Notting Hill Gate
1 x Save The Nail 45 Second Top Coat

Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 400 - indoors - no flash - daylight