Wednesday, 29 February 2012

OPI - Did It On'Em

The sun came out today and it felt like Spring is only around the corner, so I decided to try on this nail varnish from the Nicki Minaj collection which came out just before this year began.

I'd seen pictures of this shade and thought I'd give it a go. It's very different from anything I had bought before, so I took a leap of faith and ordered it.

The first time I tried it I thought it was hideous. It looked so awful on my hands, I just took a picture, used the shatter from the same collection on top and removed it straight away.

I tried it again today and I don't know if it had something to do with the sunshine, or the fact that I booked a day's holiday, but I almost liked it. It's still weird, like something out of a B movie, but it's definitely growing on me.

The formula is fine, although it needs three coats, which still showed some brush marks. Applying the top coat removed these. It dries a tad darker than the bottle, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I like olives, and this product looks like a very light olive green to me.

My nails are naturally long, so I think it looks better when they have been recently filed.

The bottom line is that buying this nail varnish has made me realise that sometimes staying within your comfort zone is not a bad thing.

I still haven't managed to cross the front door with this on my nails. Maybe next time, huh?

Click to enlarge
Brand: OPI
Collection: Nicki Minaj
Name: Did It On'Em
Type: Creme
Pantone equivalent: 381
Make Up Alley rating: 3.4/5
Potential dupes: China Glaze Electric Pineapple (comparison coming up soon!)
Buy it from Chemist Direct £6.99 + P&P


I used:
1 x OPI Natural Base Coat
3 x OPI Did It On'Em
1 x Save The Nail 45 Second Top Coat

Metadata:
Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 400 - indoors - no flash - sunshine

Monday, 27 February 2012

Nail Art: Ladybug

Continuing a recent theme, I am trying my hand at more Nail Art. This week I am bringing you the Ladybug (Ladybird) from the ZOO collection by Skip Hop.

My inspiration:

Skip Hop ZOO Ladybug

My materials:

The colours, described below
As I have no brush, I had to improvise once again. I used a French manicure sticker and a toothpick.

The process:

I painted things in the following order:
  1. My nails with the base colour, Mavala Poetic
  2. A half moon in Bullish on OPI, using the French manicure sticker
  3. Black circles using OPI Black Onyx and the toothpick
    1. The eyes and mouth
    2. The triangle on the chest (joining the dots!)
    3. The dots on the wings
  4. Two coats of top coat to be safe!
Click to enlarge

The outcome:

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
The curved line looks straight in the last picture, you can see it better in the penultimate one.

This has got to be the easiest Nail Art ever! Well, maybe not, but it's easy enough for a beginner like me, you only need three colours and it's super cute. 

I purposefully omitted the antennae, do you think it looks like something is missing?

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Mavala - Poetic

One of the good things about being in the UK is that when it comes to nail varnish we have a lot of choice and access to many brands from around the globe.

Mavala is a Swiss brand based in Geneva. Their products are free from parabens, formaldehydes, toluene, camphore, cellophane, animal ingredients and heavy metals.

All their nail varnishes come in 5 ml bottles; the idea behind it is that a small amount won't dry out but you can still have enough to last you all season. If you like collecting like I do, then you have a lot of choice with plenty of colours and finishes. 

I bought Poetic for Nail Art: I don't normally like pink on my nails, despite being feminine, so I thought the little bottle would be enough for the design I had in mind.

The brush is quite good so application was easy. The formula is neither too runny nor sheer and drying time was average. 

A créme finish with a delicate silver shimmer which adds a bit of interest, Poetic is very pretty and lady like. My daughter loves it!

I can't comment on wear time because I did my nails at night and when I woke up the next morning I felt like I'd had a hands transplant. I really don't recognise myself with pink digits so I did my Nail Art design and removed it pretty much straight away. I have tried another Mavala nail varnish before and it chipped within a couple of days, so next time I use this brand I will give them a fair chance and let you know what my experience is.

Click to enlarge

Brand: Mavala
Collection: Floral Colour
Number: 294
Name: Poetic
Type: Creme
Colour: Pink
Pantone equivalent: 1777
Make Up Alley rating: N/A
Potential dupes: Haven't found any yet!
Buy it from BeautyBay £2.99

I used:
1 x OPI Natural Base Coat
2 x Mavala Poetic
1 x Save The Nail 45 Second Top Coat

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

This post is dedicated to my friend Julie who is a big fan of Mavala's.

Friday, 24 February 2012

OPI - DS Reflection

Continuing to share my love for holos, I am bringing you Reflection from OPI's Designer Series. This is the second out of the three minis I got in exchange for an order which was unavailable, as I mentioned a couple of days ago.

This is a warm coral/red I hadn't tried before. It's OK but the holographic effect is not as noticeable as it is on other polishes, despite appearing to be more linear, as you will find in the pictures in bright sunshine below.

DS Reflection seems to flash a lot of pink and purple. When I think of holos I mainly imagine rainbows, so I feel slightly shortchanged with this one.

Application was great as it is with most OPIs. It was smooth and glossy after two coats, and that was all it needed for optimum coverage. Drying time was also good.

I have to admit I am on the fence about this one and can't really justify the increased price tag when there are more prominent holos out there. What do you think?

Click to enlarge
I made the most of a sunny day, see the colours below:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Brand: OPI
Collection: Designer Series
Name: Reflection
Type: (Scattered) Holographic
Colour: Red/Coral
Pantone equivalent: 186
Make Up Alley rating: 3.3/5
Potential dupes: Haven't found any, but there might be better red holos out there!
Buy it from eBay £14.99 (Buy it now)

I used:
1 x OPI Natural Base Coat
1 x OPI Ridge Filler
2 x OPI DS Reflection
1 x Save The Nail 45 Second Top Coat

Metadata:
Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 400/200 - indoors/outdoors - no flash - sunshine

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

OPI - DS Coronation vs Nicole by OPI - Imagine If...

After yesterday's post about DS Coronation, I decided to compare it to another nail varnish from my collection: Nicole by OPI's Imagine If...

I think that despite looking remotely similar on the bottle, both polishes are very different and Imagine If... is a sheer base with scattered holo particles. Looking at my photos again, it appears that II is more colourful than DS C, but it could be the angle the light was coming in from.  


Small finger - one coat of II over OPI Black Onyx. I really like this combination and will definitely be doing it again.

Ring finger - one coat of DS C over OPI Black Onyx, I think DS C is too thick to be a layering polish. Do you agree?

Middle finger - two coats of II, still a bit too sheer for my liking, but it might suit some of you out there looking for a very subtle look.

Index finger - two coats of DS C. You might need a third one or a clear base (I used two coats of OPI Ridge Filler for yesterday's swatches).

Click to enlarge
My favourite is the little finger, which one is yours?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

OPI - DS Coronation

The sun came out in Northern England and my first thought was "holos!"... I must be nail obsessed! Perhaps this is what lack of Vitamin D does to you.

A bit of background information first. I didn't actually buy this nail varnish, I ordered something else but it wasn't available anymore, so I was "upgraded" to three mini OPI Designer Series ones. I didn't actually know much about them at first but was really pleased when I found out just how expensive these babies are!

So the first one I am going to show you is the most classical of the three: Coronation.

This is one of those nail polishes that anyone can use: a light silver holo. For those in the know, this is a scattered holographic nail varnish, which means it's made out of lots of tiny (holo) particles, very much like a glitter, only smoother and easier to remove.

DS Coronation is so appealing and inoffensive that women of all ages would be attracted to it. I can see my mum's nails painted with it but I can also see my little girl wanting it... but then again she wants them all!

I tried it on as soon as I got it. It was a bit of an experiment at first, as it's so light, but it actually looked very nice and elegant on. Coronation is a very apt name indeed, there is something regal about this colour.

Application is fool proof and it self levels easily. In the past, I've had it on for a good three days or more and it didn't chip.  The only complaint I have is that, since mine is a mini, it hasn't got the silver cap.

I find holos almost as fascinating as diamonds, and we know well a girl can never have enough of either!

Click to enlarge
See for yourselves how it comes alive in the sunshine:

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Brand: OPI
Collection: Designer Series
Name: Coronation
Type: (Scattered) Holographic
Colour: Silver
Pantone equivalent: N/A
Make Up Alley rating: 3.9/5
Potential dupes: Milani HD, there are lots of silver holos out there but many appear to be linear
Buy it from eBay £16.99 (Buy it now)

I used:
1 x OPI Natural Base Coat
2 x OPI Ridge Filler
2 x OPI DS Coronation
1 x Save The Nail 45 Second Top Coat

Metadata:
Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 400/200 - indoors/outdoors - no flash - sunshine

Monday, 20 February 2012

OPI - Lucerne-Tainly Look Marvelous

Back in 2008, my then boyfriend (now husband, in case you were wondering!) and I went to Switzerland on holiday. We had a wonderful time amongst some of the most beautiful scenery I've had the pleasure to see... Maybe that's why I like the OPI Swiss collection so much. Or it might just be that some of the colours in it are simply stunning!

Lucerne-Tainly Look Marvelous is one of my favourite OPI nail varnishes ever! I got it as a mini at first but love it so much I had to buy the 15 ml bottle.

I have a soft spot for metallics, silver and dark colours, so this pewter is a match made in heaven. Does it remind me of Lucerne? Not really, as I remember the lake, wooden bridges and pretty buildings with colourful fronts. It doesn't help that the picture below is sepia, but I'm sure you get the idea:

Lake Lucerne - Click to enlarge
My experience with this nail varnish has always been positive until yesterday, when I got a chip after a few hours. I was very disappointed as I normally get three or more days out of it. It won't put me off though!

Application is easy, two coats were sufficient for me despite reading that it usually needs three. It's almost like a foil but quite textured, which is absolutely fine by me.

I can't find much wrong with this colour, I just adore it! What do you think?

Click to enlarge

Brand: OPI
Collection: Swiss
Name: Lucerne-Tainly Look Marvelous
Type: Foil/Glitter
Colour: Dark Grey/Charcoal/Pewter
Pantone equivalent: 432
Make Up Alley rating: 4.7/5
Potential dupes: Chanel Graphite is not close enough and neither is OPI Brand New Skates; China Glaze Jitterbug is the closest I have found online.
Buy it from eBay £9.44

I used:
1 x OPI Natural Base Coat
2 x OPI Lucerne-Tainly Look Marvelous
1 x Save The Nail 45 Second Top Coat

Metadata:
Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 400 - indoors - no flash - daytime

Saturday, 18 February 2012

OPI - I Vant To Be A-Lone Star

This OPI name is not my favourite at all, maybe I don't get it... maybe it's funnier in a Texas accent. Who knows? Since I used it as my base colour for yesterday's Bee, I thought it would be a good idea to review this nail varnish in full.

Texas was OPI's Spring/Summer 2011 collection. I saw the Lil Shooters mini set at a ridiculously cheap price from Sally's and snapped it up straight away. I like buying minis because you get a taster of some shades you'd never normally buy and you can find some gems as well.

This is a very light blue with a hint of silver shimmer. It's cool, delicate and feminine. I am used to seeing my hands in darker colours but this one looks quite nice on and I believe it even flatters my skin tone.

The formula goes on smoothly but I needed three coats for opacity. I was very careful with the application to avoid major brush strokes - I hope I've succeeded!

Drying time is average. I can't comment on staying power because the only other time when I've tried it was under Black Shatter and removed it after a couple of days.

If you're into pastels, why not give this polish a go?

Click to enlarge


Brand: OPI
Collection: Texas
Name: I Vant To Be A-Lone Star
Type: Shimmer
Pantone equivalent: 291
Make Up Alley rating: 4.1/5
Potential dupes: China Glaze Sea Spray is a tad darker and Essie Sag Harbor is the darkest of the three
Buy it from Nail Beauty 4 U (US) $5.75

I used:
1 x OPI Natural Base Coat
3 x OPI I Vant To Be A-Lone Star
1 x Save The Nail 45 Second Top Coat

Metadata:
Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 400 - indoors - no flash - artificial light

Friday, 17 February 2012

Nail Art: Bee

Last week I showed you my first attempt at nail art, the Skip Hop Owl. The staff at Skip Hop loved it, which was a huge compliment, and suggested I should do the Bee next... so here it is!

I initially thought of basing my design on the Zoo Lunchies, as I did with the Owl, but I soon realised it would lose some of its appeal without its wings and antennae. So I went for the Zoo Playspot instead.

My inspiration:

Click to enlarge
My materials:

The colours, described below
And a toothpick, as my only brush decided to give up on me!

I painted things in the following order:
  1. My nails with the base colour, OPI I Vant to be A-Lone Star
  2. The body of the Bee, using Mavala Acid Yellow and its brush
  3. The wings, making two circles with OPI Alpine Snow and a toothpick
  4. The detail: antennae, eyes, smile, stripes and sting, using OPI Black Onyx and a toothpick
  5. I topped it all off with a coat of Save The Nail 45 Second Top Coat
The outcome:

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

It was harder than it looks, but it's also a fun nail art idea, especially for the Spring! Will you bee having a go too?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Ozotic - 504

I had this nail polish sent to my husband's hotel when he was in the US last week. His airline managed to misplace his bags and I had 48 hours of near panic, not knowing whether I'd get my hands on this beauty or be left wondering what it was like... But here it is and I can breathe again.

Ozotic is an Australian company but that's as much as I know about them. Ingredients? No idea! I didn't get high on fumes as I was painting my nails, so I take that as a good sign. I am hoping that a developed country like Australia will have rules in place, but I am not thinking too hard about it. 

This nail varnish is pretty special: if you think duochromes are cool, you'll find this ice cold! It looks nice in artificial light, but the moment you go out into the daylight, your fingertips are suddenly dressed in rainbows. I can see blue, violet, coppery red, pink, orange and even a tad of gold on the tips. So hypnotic! 

Light base - Click to enlarge
The formula is smooth but quite sheer. I initially applied three coats on a light base for opacity, but a couple of days later I followed the advice I found on several websites and layered it over black. It looks better and since it's not cheap I suppose you're saving a few coats here and there. I did find that the effect was more apparent without the black base, though.

Black base - Click to enlarge

After two days of wearing it I started noticing some tip wear. It was probably not enough for others to see but considering how unusual this product is, I wish it had more staying power.

Another thing that caught my eye is the way this nail varnish looks when in contact with water. I accidentally spotted this and had to show you the evidence. Magic!

Click to enlarge
I read this is called Twilight, but my bottle only has a number. The name would definitely be fitting, don't you think?

Click to enlarge
I have seen a few pictures online but hardly any of them do it justice; I hope I have successfully captured just how amazing this chameleon-like product is. Check out this short video so you can see it in motion.



Brand: Ozotic
Name: 504
Type: Multi Chromatic
Pantone equivalent: Many!
Make Up Alley rating: N/A
Potential dupes: Haven't seen any yet!
Buy it from Llarowe (US) $17.50

I used:
1 x OPI Chip Skip
1 x OPI Natural Base Coat
1 x OPI Ridge Filler
3 x Ozotic 504
1 x Save The Nail 45 Second Top Coat

1 x OPI Natural Base Coat
1 x OPI Ridge Filler
1 x OPI Black Onyx
2 x Ozotic 504
1 x Save The Nail 45 Second Top Coat

Metadata: 
Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 400/800 - indoors/outdoors - no flash - evening/overcast

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Save The Nail - 45 Second Top Coat

I do most of my shopping online but sometimes it's nice to go to physical shops for a change.

I popped to a large Boots at the weekend and came across a fairly new brand by Nails Inc: Save The Nail. There isn't a lot of information online but their focus seems to be on base coats, top coats and nail treatments. They are reasonably priced, ranging from £5.95 to £7.50 each.

The packaging stands out on the shelves, as all the products come in brown paper bags with a clear heart-shaped window showing the bottles inside. I fancied a fast-drying top coat but wasn't sure Seche Vite was for me, so I thought I'd give Save The Nail a go.

Does it do exactly what its name states? I haven't timed it as such, but I did notice that 10 minutes after applying it, my nails were incredibly dry and smooth! I was very impressed.

I noticed that a couple of days on, the shine is dulling a little more than it would with my OPI Top Coat, but as I am about to change the colour it doesn't bother me at all. It is probably a compromise, but with the super fast drying time and reasonable price tag I'm a satisfied customer.

45 Second Top Coat is B3F, which means it has no nasty chemicals (Formaldehyde, DBP or Toluene). It does, however, contain "acrylic resin for a chip resistant finish" and Diamond powder. Will it become a girl's best friend? What do you think?

Click to enlarge

Brand: Save The Nail
Name: 45 Second Top Coat
Type: Top Coat
Pantone equivalent: N/A
Make Up Alley rating: N/A
Potential dupes: Loads!
Buy it from Boots £6.95

Metadata:
Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 800 - indoors - no flash - evening

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Review & Mani Options: Nicole by OPI - Step 2 the Beat of my ♥

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

I've decided to do the deed and post something cheesy and romantic today. So picking up from yesterday's post, I am bringing you another installment of the Justin Bieber inspired collection: One Less Lonely Girl.


Step 2 the Beat of my ♥ is made of a clear base with micro glitter and pink/purple metallic/holographic hearts. It can be tricky to apply as it's a bit thick in consistency and you need to fish out the hearts to ensure you don't just get a lot of glitter. I can't really see myself wearing this in public, but today's the perfect excuse to show it to all of you.

I applied it here over two coats of I'm a Belieber, for your viewing pleasure:


Click to enlarge
As it's Valentine's Day and hearts are everywhere, I came up with a few other combinations. All of the below are two coats of Step 2 the Beat of my ♥ over different alternatives:

Thumb - Nicole by OPI Canadian Star

I love this duochrome from the same collection. This is three coats for opacity. The hearts are a bit lost, don't you think?

Index finger - OPI Play the Peonies

I'm not into these really light shades, but I think it's the perfect background for the hearts, as it's feminine, delicate and it's not competing for attention. It looks better in person, when the light catches the hearts and makes them stand out a bit more. This is two coats.

Middle finger - OPI Dim Sum Plum

I love this colour, and it looks nice and bright. Very youthful! Only two coats are enough.

Ring finger - Nicole by OPI I've got Bieber Fever

Another great combination, even if it's a bit of a Bieber overdose! I like how the metallic hearts stand out in the dark background. I might get away with it if it's on one finger only. This is two coats too.

Little finger - OPI The Color to Watch

This colour is actually quite close to Canadian Star, but not as textured. I needed three coats for opacity and the hearts did not look great in it.

Once a Belieber, always a Belieber? A word of warning: even pure acetone won't shift these hearts easily! I removed the polish and just picked them off in the end.

Will you be attempting any of these looks today?

Click to enlarge

Brand: Nicole by OPI
Collection: One Less Lonely Girl
Name: Step 2 the Beat of my ♥
Type: Glitter
Pantone equivalent: N/A
Make Up Alley rating: 3.3/5
Potential dupes: Haven't seen any yet!
Buy it from eBay, if you see it, as it's become a rare nail polish!

Metadata:
Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 400/800 - indoors - no flash - overcast

Monday, 13 February 2012

Nicole by OPI - I'm a Belieber

I'm not really a Belieber, but this purple is one of those colours that I can safely go back to. It's the right amount of blue, bright and a creme, so it's definitely bang in the middle of my comfort zone... unlike Justin Bieber.

Nicole by OPI is a brand for the younger fashionista (within, in my case). This line, One Less Lonely Girl, was inspired by the young celebrity and is aimed at raising funds to build schools.

I have to say I've been very impressed with the quality of Nicole's products and the new brush. I have a few bottles with the old brush and wasn't so keen, but the updated, fan-like one is excellent. The bottle looks quite nice, however, it is a little awkward and doesn't fit in my OPI case.

The formula is a bit thinner than what I am used to, OPI's consistency, but it doesn't necessarily translate into a lower quality product. Drying time was good and I got at least four days of wear without chipping or tip wear.

I got this as part of a pack including many other purples from the same collection. There are a few gems in there, don't let the names or the persona behind them put you off. I am in my early thirties after all...

Click to enlarge
Brand: Nicole by OPI
Collection: One Less Lonely Girl
Name: I'm a Belieber
Type: Creme
Pantone equivalent: 526
Make Up Alley rating: N/A
Potential dupes: it's likely that there are some out there, I just couldn't think of any!
Buy it from eBay (US) $14.99 + $2.50 P&P (Buy it now)

I used:
1 x OPI Natural Base Coat
2 x Nicole by OPI I'm a Belieber

Metadata:
Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 400 - indoors - overcast



Sunday, 12 February 2012

Yves Saint Laurent - Les Fauves - Griffe D'Argent

This post has the longest title ever! Please excuse me, French speakers out there, if I have butchered your language by including every word I could read on the box.

This is my first luxury nail varnish review, so I am super excited about it!

My husband got back from a business trip yesterday and, since his airline has misplaced his luggage containing the nail varnishes I'd ordered, he must have felt sorry for me and bought me some YSL in the meantime. I'm not complaining!

He chose the duo after seeing the silver, and the lady who sold it to him told him that the black was to do French tips, but it is in fact, a shatter/crackle topcoat. From what I have read, YSL is the first luxury brand to jump on the crackle bandwagon and they called their line The Big Cats (or something like that). It comes in duos of 6 ml bottles in ochre, khaki, gold or silver with the black crackle top coat.

I was surprised to learn that this is a new line. I was under the impression that crackle polishes were  one of 2011's trends, but I suppose if a big couture house like Saint Laurent has just launched these limited edition polishes, we might be seeing them for a while longer.

The silver polish goes on like a dream. The brush doesn't look like anything special but it does the job magnificently and the formula is very smooth. I am not very good at applying light colours so I could see some brush strokes after two coats, which didn't bother me much because I was going to use the crackle on top anyway. I could have got away with just one coat, as opacity was very good, but I applied a second one nonetheless. Drying time was much quicker than I expected, which was a bonus.
Click to enlarge
The crackle worked better than OPI's. I would imagine that it needs to justify the elevated price tag, but the effect was more prominent than what I have achieved in the past with Black Shatter. I applied thickish coats on a couple of nails and these turned out quite well. The gaps are fairly wide and you can appreciate the colour underneath. It definitely looks feline, I can completely see where YSL got the inspiration from.
Click to enlarge
I can't comment on staying power yet as I've only had it on for a day. I know we have seen this silver/crackle combo before, but I have to say it looks pretty stunning. Today, a girl at a beauty counter asked me if they were Minx nails, so maybe that's a compliment.

Click to enlarge
Brand: Yves Saint Laurent
Collection: Les Fauves
Name: Griffe D'Argent
Type: Crackle/Shatter Duo
Pantone equivalent: N/A
Make Up Alley rating: N/A
Potential dupes: Many!
Buy it from YSL £28

I used:
1 x OPI Natural Base Coat
1 x OPI Ridge Filler
2 x YSL Silver
1 x YSL Crackle
1 x OPI Top Coat (which I later regretted!)

Metadata:
Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 400/800 - indoors - overcast

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Nails Inc - Houses of Parliament

Purple won my Facebook survey last week, so I am bringing you this magnetic nail polish from UK company Nails Inc.

Magnetic polishes are one of 2012's hottest trends, but this one is actually from last year. I believe it came out in the Summer, but my husband bought it for me for Christmas. He chose Houses of Parliament, the purple shade; it also comes in chrome (Trafalgar Square), blue (Whitehall), red (Kensington Palace) and gold (Big Ben).

The name is great, despite not having anything to do with purple in my mind. It does, however, remind me of walking along the south bank on warm Summer evenings and seeing the Houses of Parliament in warm lighting across the Thames.

When I first tried this nail varnish I thought it wasn't as easy to use as I'd anticipated. My experience was that the formula was lovely, smooth and dried very quickly, but once I had to use the magnet it all went wrong and I had to re paint several nails.

How does it work? You apply the first coat on all ten nails, leave it to dry and then do each nail individually. The cap comes off so you can handle the supplied magnet separately. This magnet only works on wet polish: you need to hold it at the right distance, by placing the lip on the cap just below your cuticles, for approximately 10 seconds. 

I had read that it was better to move it around a little to cover the sides and hold it for longer to have a more prominent 3D effect, but my experience proved that when I tried this I only got what looked like a burnt design, full of black parts and very messy indeed. I also held the magnet too close to the nail on a couple of occasions, lifting the whole lot and having to start from scratch.

When I did it again today for the photos below, I just followed the instructions to the letter and I was much happier with the results. Some people recommend using a black/dark nail varnish as a base, but I didn't think this was necessary.

I love this product. I think it's like nothing else I've tried before and it reminds me of those 3D rulers I had as a child, because every time you move your hands it's as if there are waves in your nails. It's mesmerising! Having said all this, it chipped within two days, which was very disappointing, especially after all the effort I'd put into getting the magnetic effect to look right.

Last but not least, it can also be used without the magnet and it looks fantastic with just one coat.

Click to enlarge

Brand: Nails Inc
Name: Houses of Parliament
Type: Magnetic
Pantone equivalent: 668
Make Up Alley rating: N/A
Potential dupes: Haven't seen any yet! There are other purples out there but they don't look similar.
Buy it from QVC (pack of three plus topcoat) £21.97

I used:
1 x OPI Natural Base Coat
2 x Nails Inc Houses of Parliament

Metadata:
Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 400 - indoors - no flash - overcast

Friday, 10 February 2012

Nail Art: Owl

I don't normally do nail art. It's very time consuming and I'm not entirely sure it's me, but I'd been desperate to give this design a go. Who knows, it might even be the start of a beautiful thing!

Skip Hop is an American company which makes the cutest changing bags and accessories for babies and children. I have some of their products and always recommend them to any expecting friends. 

Last year, I bought my little girl a backpack and a matching lunch bag with an owl character. I thought it was adorable and easy enough to copy, but didn't have all the colours I needed. When I finally got them, I just didn't have the time... until now!

My inspiration:
Skip Hop ZOO Owl


My materials:
The colours, described below
Small brush, orange stick & hair grip


The process:

I forgot to take photos at the end of each step because I was too busy trying not to mess it up!

I painted things in the following order:
  1. My nails with the base colour, OPI Fly
  2. A half moon in Nubar Classic Camel, using the small brush
  3. Two white circles for the eyes, using OPI Alpine Snow and a hair grip (bobby pin)
  4. Three tiny dots in OPI My Private Jet using the orange stick
    1. I joined the dots to form the triangular beak
  5. The black circles inside the eyes using the orange stick and OPI Black Onyx
  6. The red wings using Bullish on OPI and the small brush
  7. The red dots on its chest with the same red and the orange stick
  8. Some tiny white circles in white to form eyelashes (can you even see them?)
  9. Two coats of top coat, to be safe!


The outcome:

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
I love it, my daughter loves it... What do you think?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

OPI - Fly

When the Nicki Minaj collection came out, this was the colour that stood out for me. I wanted something more refreshing than my usual dark shades and decided to order it from the US straight away.

I love blues and teals. I also love cremes, so this was a perfect choice for me. This is the lightest blue I have and, having bought it between Christmas and New Year, it made me long for Spring. It is described as a neon but I wouldn't call it that. It's youthful, it's fun... I suppose that's what the collection is all about. 

From the photos I have seen online this is one of those nail varnishes that compliments most, if not every, skin tone. I'm not sure if it's the most mature of shades but I'm not particularly worried about it either!

The formula is a little more sheer than I had anticipated - I would say it's somewhere between a créme and a jelly. The first coat looks a mess, at least from my experience, but the second one normally fixes it. You could always apply a third coat for opacity but I got a close match to the bottle with just two coats.

Drying time was excellent and it looks very glossy indeed. I wore it for several days before noticing any tip wear. 

If you can only buy one colour for this Spring, this should be it! Oh, and it also comes as part of the minis set, in case you just fancy a little bit instead of the 15 ml bottle. 

See for yourselves how lovely it is:

Click to enlarge
Brand: OPI
Collection: Nicki Minaj
Name: Fly
Type: Creme
Pantone equivalent: 632
Make Up Alley rating: 5/5 
Potential dupes: Haven't seen any yet!
Buy it from NailBeauty4U £3.76 + P&P

I used:
1 x OPI Natural Base Coat
2 x OPI Fly

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

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

OPI - Here Today... Aragon Tomorrow: Mani Options

Picking up from yesterday's post, I am bringing you some combinations and suggestions with both versions Here Today... Aragon Tomorrow by OPI:

Small finger - two coats of HTAT Suede with a matte top coat. It loses a bit of shimmer but it's a small sacrifice if what you are after is a long(er) lasting manicure.

Ring finger - two coats of HTAT Suede with a normal top coat. Oh, it's almost like jewellery! The foil particles come alive and it looks just wonderful. I like it without top coat but you really need to see this for yourself to see how beautiful it is.

Middle finger - two coats of HTAT, normal finish, so you can compare it with the suede version plus topcoat. The original one is near black, so you can see why they are far from dupes.

Index finger - two coats of HTAT Suede with original HTAT French tips. I think this looks gorgeous and classy!

Click to enlarge

I thought I'd try a few more ideas:

Middle finger - two coats of HTAT, normal finish... updated with a matte top coat. It looks rubbery, not in a good way. 

Ring finger - two coats of HTAT Suede with a normal top coat... updated with normal HTAT French tips. 

Small finger - two coats of HTAT Suede with a matte top coat... updated with glossy top coat French tips.

Click to enlarge
My favourite two have got to be the ones that include both versions: the suede finish with the original French tips, with and without top coat. Which one do you like best?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

OPI - Here Today... Aragon Tomorrow Suede

I found this little gem in a clearance basket and could not believe my eyes!

Here Today... Aragon Tomorrow is my first and only suede nail varnish to date. I already have the normal version and was a bit apprehensive at first but to be fair they are far from dupes.

This is a beautiful shade of green. It's dark, rich and its shimmery foil particles make it look very luxurious. It screams winter to me, but that's fine because I live in the UK, which means plenty of wear!

The formula is excellent and it goes on like a dream. This polish changes before your eyes: as it dries, it goes matte, but the moment your hands are wet again, it looks shiny and closer to what you see in the bottle. Washing your hands has never been so much fun before!

Drying time is so quick that by the time I've done both hands, I'm ready for a second coat - very impressive! I love the matte finish but am aware it's not everyone's cup of tea; from the pictures I found online it appears that most people would rather apply a top coat than wear it on its own. I think that super fast drying and no need for top coat make it the ideal nail varnish for when you just fancy a quick change but haven't got a spare hour or so.

The only negative side to it is that you get tip wear easily, but sadly this is a common problem with matte/suede nail varnishes. I can live with that!

Click to enlarge

Brand: OPI
Collection: Suede
Name: Here Today... Aragon Tomorrow Suede
Type: Suede 
Colour: (Dark) Green
Pantone equivalent: 3435
Make Up Alley rating: 3.4/5
Potential dupes: Zoya Verushka
Buy it from Urban Trading at £8.99

I used:
1 x OPI Natural Base Coat
3 x OPI Here Today... Aragon Tomorrow Suede 

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

Sunday, 5 February 2012

OPI - Ali's big Break

I started blogging six or seven years ago, but life got in the way and I took some time out. My Twitter friends encouraged me to blog again and, since they know I love OPI, asked me to post a review of my favourite nail varnish from that brand.

It was a hard choice but I went for Ali's Big Break from the Burlesque collection. First of all, I'm not a huge fan of its name... after all, who in their right mind would like the words "break" and "nail" in the same sentence?!

I love this colour! So much so, that I wore it when I got married last year. Hence why it's so dear to my heart.

I wanted to look like myself, only better, on my wedding day and thought that my nails had to reflect my personality. If I don't recognise my hands in traditional French manicures, why would I want to see that in photos for years to come?

So I thought red would be good, and when I came across this beauty I was instantly sold.

Despite having several potential dupes, this product is not like any other red I own, it's a jelly base with red and gold flakes. I now know that this finish is called glass flecked/flakie, but a year ago I just thought it was lovely and that is the bottom line for me.

Burlesque was a Christmas collection, however, I find this colour very summery. I don't know whether it's the sheerness of the jelly or the vibrancy of the red, I just think it's quite refreshing. I always get nice comments when I have it on my nails.

The formula is flawless, neither too thick, nor too runny. Drying time is excellent, and despite many bloggers recommending three coats, I was very pleased with just two. The third coat will probably guarantee a closer match to the bottle. The finish is smooth, glossy and sparkly.

As with most OPI nail varnishes, I usually get at least a week of wear out of them, and by then I am normally ready for a change or notice too much growth.

Click to enlarge
Brand: OPI
Collection: Burlesque
Name: Ali's Big Break
Type: Jelly/Flakie/Glass Flecked
Colour: Red
Pantone equivalent: 186
Make Up Alley rating: 4/5
Potential dupes: China Glaze Ruby Pumps/Orly Last Dance/OPI Speak For You-Elf/OPI Smitten With Mittens (none of them appears to be a 100% dupe though)
Buy it from eBay, starting at £9.99 (buy it now)

I used:
1 x OPI Natural Base Coat
2 x OPI Ali's Big Break
1 x OPI RapiDry Top Coat

Metadata:
Canon EOS 450D - 50 mm - f/1.8 - ISO 400 - indoors - no flash - sunset

I thought it would be nice to include a few photos from my wedding, so you can see it in all its glory. Here they are:
Click to enlarge
Wedding photo credits: Frank Minghella, Mick Ryan & Cristian Corral