Monday, July 21, 2014

Over The Rainbow


Sorry I have been absent from blogging for a while. I've been too busy to paint my nails for the last few weeks, but I'm back with another lovely Essence polish. This is a Colour & Go polish called "Over The Rainbow" and it is a pale purple-blue with an almost holographic turquoise/violet shimmer. It doesn't photograph well, but it is very pretty.

I used Cheeky Jumbo stamping plate N and tried out the black Essence Stampy polish. It is very opaque, but dries super-fast so you need to work quickly or the design won't transfer fully (see my index finger). The consistency is similar to the Konad stamping polish.

I finished with Essence Gel Look Top Coat, which didn't smudge the stamping and I have found to be pretty chip resistant.

Essence products are now available from your local Wilko store or through who currently have a 3 for 2 sale on Essence products .

Friday, June 27, 2014

'It's Raining Men!' and 'Circus Confetti'


Just a quickie post to show off the two Essence polishes I'm wearing at the moment. The blue base is a Colour & Go polish called 'It's Raining Men!' which is a gorgeous blue polish with blue and pink-purple shimmery bits. Like all the Colour & Go polishes I've tried, it dries super fast, is opaque in two thin coats and and dries to a glossy finish.

The glitter topper is from the 'Nail Art Special Effect Topper' range and is called 'Circus Confetti'. It's a clear base with silver, bright pink, light pink, green, blue, gold and red metallic hex glitter in a range of sizes. This polish applies nicely and doesn't require any fishing for glitter. It dries very fast. It is labelled as '3D Glitter' which is a bit misleading as the glitter actually lies completely flat leaving a finish so smooth and glossy that it doesn't require a top coat.

I love this combination, and the colourful glitter topper makes me very happy!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Oooh Sparkly! - Playing with Essence Polishes


This is more a swatch and review post than a nail art post, which is a good job really because this is not the neatest nail art I've done! I decided to have a play around with some of the Essence products I got at the blogger event.

I started by using Studio Nails Ultra Nail Repair, which is a nail treatment and strengthener with keratin that also acts as a ridge filler and basecoat.  This dries very quickly and did a good job of making my damaged, uneven nails look smooth. I'll be continuing to use this as a basecoat every time I do my nails to see whether the condition of my dry, peeling nails improves.

I decided to use two polishes with different finishes from the Colour & Go range. That's What I Mint! is a pale minty seafoam green creme. I am a sucker for polishes in the pastel turquoise/peppermint colour family, and this one just became my new favourite. The brushes in the Colour & Go bottles are perfect. They have a broad, flat shape, similar to the brushes in Rimmel polishes, which means that you can cover the whole nail in one or two strokes. The polish applies very smoothly and doesn't have an unpleasant "cheap polish smell". It only takes two thin coats for full coverage, which is remarkable for a budget priced pastel shade! It dries really quickly, as fast or faster than any of the quick dry polishes I own. The finish is incredibly glossy and smooth, like a gel finish.

Miss Universe is a stunning sparkly polish that is hard to describe and harder to photograph. It has a dark, almost black, base and is crammed with blue microglitter that sparkles green and purple in different lights. It is gorgeous and I can't stop looking at it. It might actually be the prettiest polish I own. Just like the the creme polish, it is opaque in two thin coats, it applies smoothly and dries super fast. It dries to a nice shiny finish but isn't quite as glossy as That's What I Mint!.

I love everything about these Colour & Go polishes! These polishes cost £1.59 for 8ml. The bottles are really cute and the matching caps make it easy to find the shade you want if your polish collection is stored in drawers or boxes.

I decided to paint some triangles using an Essence striping brush and Miss Universe. Unfortunately I didnt work fast enough with the super quick drying polish and made a bit of a blobby mess. I'll know to speed up next time! I tried to disguise my messy edges by adding some white stripes in Sinful Colors Snow Me White. It wasn't a huge success.

I decided to top some of my nails with one of the stunning Special Effect Toppers from Essence, called 23 Million Dollar Baby. It's a clear base with chunky semi-transparent holographic hex glitter. Over a pale polish it looks really pretty and quite subtle, over a dark polish it really stands out and the glitter looks orange and green. I think I prefer it over the pale That's What I Mint! polish. Be careful if you tend to smoosh glitter polishes around to get an even distribution - this polish dries super-duper fast and you could easily end up making a gloopy bubbly mess. My nails began to succumb to that fate!

I topped everything with Essence Gel-Look Top Coat. This top coat applies well and does give a lovely shiny finish, but not quite as shiny as the super glossy finish that That's What I Mint! had to start off with.

I also used this opportunity to try out the Express Dry Spray. I let my first coat of Colour & Go polish dry naturally then used the Express Dry Spray on the second coat. To be honest, the Colour & Go polishes dry so quickly anyway that it's hard to see any difference. I think I need to try it out on one of my slow drying non-Essence polishes to see how well it works.

I also tried the Express Dry Drops which are an oil that come in a dropper bottle. I used them over the Gel-Look Top Coat. Because I am daft, I used the drops on both hands so I have no way of comparing drying time (I'll remember to only do one hand next time). The drops do seem to prevent denting while the polish dries. Because your nails are oiled, things seem to glide over the soft polish without damaging it, particularly clothes. The oil also moisturises your cuticles with almond oil and vitamin E.

Essence products are available from stands in Manchester Arndale and London Westfield, and are coming to a Wilko store near you, and Wilko online, this July!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Essence Launch


Hello fellow nailoholics! Sorry I haven’t posted anything for a couple of weeks. My poor laptop had to go in for repairs and after two weeks of being poked and prodded by experts it is still not behaving itself.

To make up for my absence, I have a mega post full of nail polish and makeup that are brand new to the UK market. On Sunday I spent the day at my first ever cosmetics launch for bloggers and I am still giddy with excitement.

Essence is an established European budget makeup brand, based in Germany, with the widest range of products I have ever seen, and now they have arrived in the UK. The majority of their products are made in Europe. Essence does not test their products on animals and they have very strict controls regarding ingredients. Essence products are already available from retail stands in Manchester Arndale and London Westfield shopping centres, and will be sold in all branches of Wilko from July (very exciting for me because Bolton has a large Wilko store).

I took my Mum to the launch with me and we had an incredible girly afternoon.  As soon as we arrived we were given bulging goodie bags and shown to tables piled high with products for us to try out. We watched a short presentation and then we were shown to a large stand of products, just like you would get in a store, and told to help ourselves to anything and everything that we wanted to try, all free of charge.

At first it felt very strange, almost like stealing, and I limited myself just to some nail care products and a few polishes.  Even the more experienced bloggers seemed to be a little overwhelmed by this “take anything you like” system. As the afternoon went on, every time a product was getting low on the stand, Essence staff would instantly refill it. They were incredibly helpful and friendly, answering questions and recommending products. After a few hours, everybody had forgotten their initial trepidation about helping themselves and had bags bulging with makeup.

We were provided with yummy food and unlimited hot and cold drinks, then we were all taken to the new Essence stand in the middle of the Arndale shopping centre, where we were given another goodie bag and posed for some photos. The Essence stand at the Arndale even has a giant nail polish bottle made entirely out of bottles of nail polish!

I ended up with so much stuff that I’ll be trying out Essence products for months. I’m not exaggerating. Here are  some of the things I came home with: 

Nail Care
Essence produces lots of nail care products, including at least four types of cuticle conditioner, a few types of cuticle remover, nail hardeners, strengtheners, conditioners, files and buffers.  These are the nail care products I picked up - less than a third of the full nail care range.  I’ll be trying these out over the coming months and I will let you know the results. 

Nail Polish
The range of colours and finishes of nail polish from Essence is incredible! Even for a premium priced brand the range would be impressive, but all of these polishes retail at £1.59 - £1.79 a bottle. I love the cute Colour & Go bottles. They have plastic caps which exactly match the polish shade inside, even the shimmery and glittery ones. This will make it super easy to find the right shade if you store your polishes in drawers or boxes. I was pleased to find that they don't have the unpleasant chemical smell that many budget polishes have. I picked up a whole bunch of these and it's still only a tiny fraction of the shades available.

The Effect and Special Effect polishes are an assortment of unusual glitters and toppers that all look really pretty. I picked up a selection but there are loads more available. They also have a range of pretty pastel polishes called Nail Candies that contain hardener and conditioner and smell sweet and fruity. I will be doing some swatches, reviews and nail art with the Essence polishes very soon! 

Gel Nails
Essence have their own home gel nail system called Gel Nails At Home, which involves using a peel off base coat, any ordinary Essence nail polish, followed by a gel top coat (available in clear and several different glittery finishes). I even got a free USB mini UV lamp for curing the gel! Essence claims that Gel Nails At Home stay looking good for up to ten days. Unfortunately I forgot to pick up the primer and cleanser, so I won’t be able to try this out until I have been back into Manchester to buy some.

Nail Art
Essence has a really wide variety of nail art decorations, stickers, pens, jars of embellishments (caviar beads, flocking, glitters), stamping plates, stamping polish, nail art brushes and tools. They even have ‘design your own’ nail stickers. They also have transfer paper in a selection of designs and transfer liquid – I can’t wait to try these out! I'm also very excited about the Magnetic Top Coat and pattern magnets which work over any polish.

Essence also sells Express Dry Drops and Express Dry Spray to speed up nail polish drying times. I picked up both of these and I'll be trying them out when I do my nails tonight.

I also got a selection of makeup in the goodie bags. I will be swatching and reviewing some of it soon alongside my usual nail art posts.

Check out some of the Essence products coming to your local Wilko store in July! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Over at Nailpolis a new cupcake badge has just been launched and this inspired me to indulge my sweet tooth and make some cupcake nails. I have a major weakness for cake and I'm having a hard time resisting the urge to lick these sugary nails!

For the bases I used three coats of Rimmel 60 Seconds in shade Sweet Lavender (Poundworld), which is the pinky lilac, and N.Y.C In a New York Minute in the very appropriately named shade Cupcakes And Latte (£1, Bolton Market), which is the minty green. Both of these shades scream fancy cupcake frosting to me!

I painted the little cupcake details using a fine paintbrush and some acrylic paints for the cake cases and the frosting was done with nail polish and a dotting tool. I added some matte white caviar bead sprinkles and deep pink caviar bead 'cherries' on the frosting of each little cake. I painted the big cupcake using Sinful Colors Snow Me White and pale blue acrylic paint for the case and Rimmel Sweet Lavender, Sinful Colors Snow Me White and MUA Frozen Yoghurt for the frosting swirls.

I used a mix of matte pastel, gold and silver caviar beads for sprinkles and placed them onto a coat of clear nail polish (L.A.Colors Voltage) using a cocktail stick dipped in polish. I topped everything with Limited Collection Matte Top Coat (Marks and Spencer).

What do you think of these sweet treats? I don't know about you, but I'm craving cake now.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I Am Cyborg

I have been meaning to do some electronics themed nails for ages, so yesterday I made these printed circuit board inspired false nails using genuine electronics components. I am really pleased with the way they turned out!

I used two coats of Rimmel 60 Seconds in shade Jungle Fever (Poundworld) as the base colour as it is the closest shade I have to a PCB green. I used a brass coloured metallic Vallejo acrylic model paint and a fine brush to paint the circuits. Once everything was dry, I trimmed the wire off some assorted resistors and an LED and attached them to the nail using superglue. If you want to recreate this look but don't have a big tin of electronics components like I do, resistors and LEDs are cheap and can be bought individually from online suppliers or your local Maplin or independent hobby-radio store. The total value of all the components on these nails is probably about £1.

Tip: nail glue and cheap superglue are exactly the same stuff, cyanoacrylate, but when buying from discount shops cheap superglue is often fresher than cheap nail glue (cyanoacrylate starts to get less effective 12 months after manufacture) because they sell much more of it.

I used L.A.Colors Top Coat on the nails after I'd glued on the components. Using the top coat afterwards helped disguise any areas where I'd been sloppy with the glue.

What do you think of these nails? Have you ever created nail art using unusual materials?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Experiment with Texture

I'm not in love with these nails. In my imagination they were amazing, but in real life I'm feeling a bit 'meh' about them.

I used false nails with one coat of Maybelline Color Show in shade Cool Blue followed by three coats of Technic Mermaid (£1, Bodycare), my all time favourite glitter, which is a mix of medium and small turquoise holographic hex glitter. I love how holographic glitter looks with a matte finish, so I added a coat of Limited Collection Matte Top Coat (Marks & Spencer).

I used strips of clear sticky tape to mask a wide stripe down the centre of each nail and used Sally Hansen Sugar Coat in Laughie Laffy, the dark blue, and Sugar Fix, which is white (from Poundland and Poundworld), to create textured stripes down each side of the nail. The stripes came out a bit untidy which was disappointing.

Although I'm not thrilled with these nails, they have inspired me to play with contrasting textures and finishes in future nail art. What do you think?