Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Pink Tape Nails

Lauren at The Naily Mail did some gorgeous geometric nails last month, and I've been thinking about the design several times over the last few weeks. Today, when I was a bit stuck for inspiration for what to do, I decided to do my own version of them.  

I started with a base of China Glaze Pink-ie Promise (which is lovely, but takes ages to dry well!) and then used striping tape with Zoya Blaze and Barry M Xmas Limited Edition 2012 to make the pattern, and then I added a coat of Seche Vite for extra gloss.

This was easy peasy to do (apart from waiting for Pink-ie Promise to dry) but I'm in love with how it turned out! I love the colours together and I love the effect, and the contrast between the creme, the metallic and the sparkly Zoya.

I really like this design, and I think this will be something I will be doing again with different colour combinations.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Autumn Watermarble

Today I got the urge to do an autumnal watermarble!  This was done with all Barry M Gelly colours. 

I'm really happy with how this turned out!

I've used Mustard, Mango, Paprika and Cocoa, which I think work really well together.

What do you think?

Friday, 2 October 2015

Stamping with the New Barry M Gelly Colours

The new Barry M autumn-winter Gellys seem to be a big hit amongst bloggers currently.  You can see my swatches here

They work really well for stamping!  I used 8 different Barry M Gelly colours for this skittle - a corresponding paler one for each of the 4 almost-black colours.  I stamped using MoYou London Steampunk XL plate 7. 

The red is the only one which doesn't work as well over the bright colour. The contrast isn't quite as strong as the other ones I chose.  

These are Blood Orange, stamped with Black Cherry, Key Lime stamped with Black Pistachio, Fondant stamped with Black Currant and Guava stamped with Black Grape. 

These work really well for stamping, and I can see them getting a lot of use from me this winter.


Sunday, 27 September 2015

NEW Barry M Gelly Colours!

Barry M have released 6 new Gelly colours for Autumn 2015. They're out now - 4 new dark shades, and 2 glitters exclusive to Superdrug. I have been wanting a black Gelly for ages now, so I was really excited to hear about these. I managed to pick them all up on Friday. 

Left to right, here are  Black Cherry, Black Currant, Sparkling Ruby, Sparkling Amethyst, Black Grape and Black Pistachio. 

First up, the four standard Gelly colours. These are all very dark colours that are almost black - one red, one purple, one blue and one green. The big difference with these is the new brush - it's a wider, flat brush with a curved edge. I know a lot of bloggers are loving the new brush. However, I am not a fan, I'm sorry to say! My nails are quite narrow, so I don't like wide brushes. I find it hard to not get polish on my cuticles, and these ones are particularly awkward to clean up.

First up, here is Black Pistachio. This is a black with a tinge of dark racing green. 

As you can see, it's a very very dark green. In many normal lights, at arm's length, this is pretty close to black. 

I found this hard to photograph and capture the green-ness of the colour. It does look a bit more green than this, I promise.

My issue is about the clean up! Ewww.

Black Cherry is a dark dark red Gelly, and probably the least black of the 4 colours. 

Again, a lovely formula but rather stainy round the edges, and tricky to clean up. If this had the normal Barry M brush, I'd love it. 

All these swatches are one coat, with topcoat.  The formula is really nice, and dries glossy and opaque. I just find the brush hard work.

Next is Black Currant, the purple one, and perhaps the most black of the 4. 
 Same good formula, same glossy finish. 

I'm wondering how other bloggers have managed to get swatches that clearly look green or red or purple! Mine all look black, with a tiny tiny hint of colour at the edges if you look hard!

Black Currant wasn't as stainy as the others, which surprised me, as it was the most opaque and pigmented.

Last of the 4 main range colours is Black Grape, the blue one. 

Again, the same opaque, pigmented formula. And again, I wish the brush wasn't wide and flat. 

It's been quite frustrating looking at my swatch photos in thumbnail and trying to work out which is which!

I mean - look!

On the plus side - these do work for stamping! They show their colour a bit more clearly then too, so I'm looking forward to using them in stamping designs. 

On to the two limited editions for Superdrug, Sparkling Ruby and Sparkling Amethyst. These aren't strictly speaking glitters, they're more gelly with tiny microsparkle particles. 
 This is Sparkling Amethyst, the purple one.
This is two thin coats - the second one was only really a touch up - with topcoat for extra shine. 

I like the blurriness here, it shows you the sparkle!

Sparkling Ruby is the red one.

Again, the same formula as the others (very nice) and the same brush (not my taste). Two thin coats again, with topcoat.

Amethyst and Ruby aren't as sparkly as I was hoping for, but they are very nice indeed, and I think will get considerable use from me over the autumn and winter. I just wish they had thinner brushes!


Friday, 18 September 2015

Jacava Phene Street - and an exciting Giveaway!

I'm excited about today's post!  I have a third lovely Jacava polish to show you, plus some nail art I've done using the new polishes, plus details of an exciting Jacava giveaway which will allow one lucky person to win the entire Woodlanders polish collection!

 Photo credit: Jacava.com

These were the three polishes I tried:

You can see my swatches of Holbein Place and Justice Walk by clicking on the links.  Today I have Phene Street to show you. 

This is the darkest of the three, and is a gorgeous muted, dusky purple. I really love the tone of all three of these polishes (and of lots more in the collection) which really does fit in with the misty autumnal woodland idea of the collection. 

Phene Street is another polish with a fantastic formula and finish. This is two coats, although this was opaque with one. I only added a second out of habit!

I really like how these colours go together, so I also used them for a couple of nail art looks. First off, I used sellotape to make a simple blocked tape design. 

I  was really pleased with this, and wore this for a day at the weekend. 

The colours go so well together, I think!

Then today, I've used the colours to make a gradient and a water marble. 

These worked really well for water marbling, I was very impressed! And they're fabulous for gradients - I love how nicely they blended.

Last up, the exciting news! Jacava are running a competition which will allow someone to win the entire collection! (See the range here - that's SEVENTEEN bottles of polish!)  All you have to do is check out their Twitter or Facebook, and follow the instructions to enter.  

These polishes were provided for my honest review. I don't get anything if you enter or win the competition (I'm entering it too!)  See my Disclaimer section for more information.


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Jacava Holbein Place

Today I have the second of my new Jacava polishes to show you, Holbein Place. This is the second of three polishes from the new Woodlanders Collection that I have to show you. This is Jacava's Autumn-Winter collection, and is full of gorgeous dusky autumnal hues. 

Photo credit: Jacava.com

Holbein Place is a pretty pinky lilac creme.  I wore this for three days with one coat and no topcoat, and it stayed perfect for almost the whole time. There was a teeny tiny bit of tip wear this evening, because I've been typing all day at work for three days, so I touched up slightly and added topcoat before taking these photos. 

Isn't this a pretty colour?

The formula is excellent. Like Justice Walk, this is a one-coater, with a smooth, even consitency, which is self levelling when you apply it. 

I've made no secret of how much I love Jacava polishes. This is definitely one which will be getting a lot of use from me this autumn. 

Keep your eyes open for news of a fab competition from Jacava coming soon! 

This polish was provided by the company for my honest review. All opinions are my own. See my Disclaimer section for further information.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Jacava Autumn-Winter 2015 - Justice Walk

I've made no secret of it on this blog, but I adore Jacava polishes. The bottles are beautiful, the brush is fantastic, the colours are gorgeous and the quality is superb. When I saw they'd launched the new 'Woodlanders' collection, I got quite excited, because I mean - look how beautiful they are!

 Photo credit: Jacava.com

I was even more excited when Jacava asked me to review some of these new polishes. Look at these beauties!

Today I'm showing you the bluey-grey one, Justice Walk. 

This is such a beautiful colour! Depending on the light, it's a gorgeous dusky blue, or a pretty slate grey.

The formula is excellent - this is one coat, with topcoat. This is a thickish coat. As I was painting, there were a couple of patches which went on a tiny bit unevenly, and I thought I'd have to go back and do a second coat. However, the polish is lovely and smooth, and evened itself out like magic! 

I love this colour, it's really lovely, don't you think?

Jacava polishes are 9-free, meaning they don't contain formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, parabens, camphor, DBP, xylene, ethyl tosylamide or lead. It's also free from all ingredients tested on animals, so is completely vegan-friendly. You can read more about this here, although you may not want to click on all the links and read about what these nasties can do to you, if you want to be able to use your cheap drugstore polishes without worrying! 

I'll be showing you the other two colours over the next few days, as well as some nail art using the colours. And if you fancy trying these out, watch out for a fab competition coming very soon! You could win the whole Woodlanders collection!

I received this polish from Jacava for review. Opinions are entirely honest however - see my Disclaimer section for more details.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

My Favourite Cheap & Easy Nail Art Items!

I'm sorry, I've been missing in action and haven't posted for a couple of weeks now. It's been our busiest time at work, and I've had zero spare time or energy for doing stuff to my nails! Things are starting to ease off now though, and I'm hoping to get back to more regular posting.

You don't need to buy lots of fancy nail art tools or expensive polishes or complicated things to make nail art! If you're a nail blogger, or a nail blog addict, you'll already know about these tricks, but my NORMAL friends and colleagues are always asking how I do some of the things I do on my nails, so here's a post for them! It's not magic, or something super complicated. It's usually something cheap and easy.  Here are my top tips for nail art using stuff you probably already have at home. 

These are my essential items - I always have these at home, and use most of them almost daily on my nails.  Sellotape. Baking foil. Cocktail sticks. Makeup sponges. Cotton buds. 

So, what do I use all these things for? 

Let's start with makeup sponges. I buy these in the pound shop - this whole bag cost £1. Using these, plus some foil and tape, you can make a gradient nail art look, which looks far more difficult than it is. This is one of the things that my colleagues most often seem impressed by.

Start by dabbing the sponge on some tape on all sides - this removes any fluff or loose bits of sponge. This is especially important with cheap sponges, as they can be a bit rougher in quality than the more expensive ones. 

Next step is to paint your nails with your base colour. Here, I've used Models Own Coconut Cream, which is a pretty off-white creme. Then, I lay down some foil on my work surface, and paint two stripes of my chosen colours next to each other on the foil. I'm using Models Own Coconut Cream and Bubblegum.

Then use your sponge to press down on the two colours (or three, if you're feeling fancy!) - I use the wedge shaped end of the sponge, but any surface works.  

You then just dab this onto your nail. The amount of pressure used is something you need to get used to. Too light, and the colours won't transfer. Too firm, and you could make a mess and make the surface lumpy.  To really blend the colours, move the sponge slightly in a wiggling motion up and down the nail. This is just a very slight movement though!  Do this on all the nails, and repeat with an extra layer if necessary to make the colours more intense. 

You'll end up with something like this!  As you can see, there's a lot of mess round the sides of the nails, but we'll deal with that later. There's also some textured bobbly bits showing on my middle finger nail here, and that's my fault for not cleaning the sponge on the tape enough. They are tiny bobbles of sponge. When the polish was dry, most of it just brushed off. 

This is where the cotton buds come in!  Dipped in acetone or nail varnish remover, they're my essential for cleaning up the mess round my finger tips after a gradient. 

Add topcoat, and ta da! One gradient mani. Depending on the colour combination you use, you could have something subtle and pretty, or dramatic and wild. You could do a three-colour gradient, or a different gradient on each nail, or a vertical gradient along the length of the nail... the options are as open as your imagination!

I've already shown you the sellotape used here for prepping the sponge for a gradient. That's just the start though, and my most common use for tape is for blocking off parts of the nail for a tape mani. I used China Glaze Shooting Stars over my gradient to make a pretty triangle design. 

First off, I cut short strips of tape, and stick them to the back of my hand. This is to slightly soften the stickiness, so that it doesn't rip the polish off the nail! You also need to make sure your base polish is totally dry and firm. This is where a quickdry topcoat is helpful!

I then position the tape over the nail, and make sure it's lying flat on the nail, with no lifted edges or bubbles.  Here, I've used two strips to tape off a triangle shape. I then paint the contrasting colour (in this case, my sparkly glitter) over the tape, and quickly remove the tape before the polish dries.

Again, you're only limited by imagination: you could do stripes, or block off the tip, or the base of the nail. Or you could tape off one side of the nail to make a 50:50 colour split. I did this triangle design, alternating with the opposite pattern of cutting a triangle of tape so that the middle section of the nail was blocked off.

Here's my final design!

And here's another tape mani. This one uses three new Jacava polishes - keep an eye out on the blog, full reviews are coming soon! To do this, I painted my base colour (the blue), taped off half the nail diagonally and painted the second colour (the pinky one), and then taped off the nail diagonally in the other direction before painting the third colour. 

On to the cocktail sticks!  I use these for all sorts of things - they're great for clearing cuticles of any flooded polish when it's still wet. They're really useful for helping to peel off tape from the nail, or to add rhinestones or studs (using the point of a cocktail stick dipped in topcoat).  But three nail art techniques that can be done with a cocktail stick are dots, dragmarbles (also called drymarbles) and spun sugar manis. 

Dotting is one of the easiest things you can do with a cocktail stick. Yes, you can buy fancy metal dotting tools of various sizes, but you don't need them to make dotty nail art. Just dip the cocktail stick tip in polish and dot it on your base. Depending how much you dip, you can make teeny tiny dots, or bigger ones, or even shaped ones. 

Next, drag marbling. 

Dry marbles, or drag marbles are something I've only recently started trying out. You need to check out Sveta Sanders, she's the expert at these!   Basically, you paint a thick layer of one colour, then quickly dab on dots of another colour, and while they're still wet, use the cocktail stick to swirl and drag to make a marbled design. This can be messy or neat, complicated or simple. Or just messy, like mine! 

This is what it's meant to look like!

Lastly, a spun sugar mani involves using the stick to draw out long strings of drying polish which you then trail over a base colour, just like spun sugar that is used to decorate desserts. 

To do this, drop a few dots of polish on some foil, and leave it to start thickening up and drying a bit. Then use the cocktail stick to draw the polish back and forth over your nail. This works best when the strings are thin, like spun sugar. I'm still working on this, so some of my strings are a bit thick! 

This process leaves a real mess on the sides of the fingers, but acetone and a cotton bud easily solves that!

Here are a couple of manis I did using a combination of the techniques. I'm less than happy with the finished look, but I like some individual nails more than others. 

I'm fairly pleased with how the dots came out here, and I like the gold spun sugar nail. I'm not happy with the drag marble at all though, as it just looks like a thick mess. Oh well, it's a learning curve!

This second mani was done with my new Jacava polishes again. This time, the drag marble is a bit better, but I'm not sure if it's too subtle to see properly. The spun sugar looked better before I added topcoat, which has flattened it out a bit.

Lastly, foil glitter polish removal! Some polish, especially glitters, can be a real devil to remove. I'm sure we've all experienced having to scrub away at rough glitter on the nails, which shreds the cotton wool and is really hard work. But the foil removal method makes it super easy. 

First, cut some strips of foil. 

Then add a bit of cotton wool soaked in acetone or polish remover on the nail. 

Then wrap the nail tightly in foil. 

Do this on all nails.Wow, this photo makes my freaky bent thumb look really obvious!

After a few minutes, just slide off the foil and cotton wool, and the polish just wipes off! I love this method, and use it really often.

So there we go. That's my tips for some easy nail art using stuff that you almost certainly have at home already. Who says you need fancy tools and equipment to have fancy nails?


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