Sparkling purple anyone?

IMG_4915Surprised to wake and find my nails sparkling purple.  How could I not know, you ask?  Well, that’s what you get for applying a made up colour – a mix of Alessandro Striplac in Blackberry and a dark pink nail glitter – in artificial light at 11pm.

I bought a tray of 12 nail glitters online and have been experimenting.  Doing the tips (applying to the sticky residue prior to top coat) is easy enough but I haven’t mastered trying to make a design (even spots) and it’s also tricky to apply top coat without smudging.

So I decided to mix the glitter directly into the gel – a few blobs of gel on a hard surface, a little glitter and a stir made a sparkling polish.  However, the combination was more purple than I’d hoped so I am going to have to judge carefully what I wear while it lasts!

After the disaster described in my last post (Oops!), I made sure my nails were super clean and I’ve not had any gels popping off.  Also, I feel the glitter stabilisied this colour which is prone to shrink from the nail edges during application.


Seasonal sparkle

IMG_2149Okay, it’s a bit early but I’ve two lunch dates in the next few days so a seasonal sparkle is the way to go.

After the trials with ‘essence‘ I’ve gone back to Striplac for the foundation – twin coat then two layers of Rococo Red – followed by a topping of ‘essence’ Glitterland top coat.  This red has a pink hue when left on it’s own but has come out deep scarlet with the different top coat.  Just right for the slide into Christmas.

Yo ho ho!




Essence-ially a disaster

Down to earth with a bump after raving about budget range Essence and their gel system.  I’m not consigning it all to the bin but the claim of being able to use regular nail polish between their 2-in-1 gel base-top coat is rubbish.  I went the full hog, bought cleargel  base-top coat (have a glitter top coat) plus four striking colours from their Colour and Go range.  Now this did not break the bank as dual coat was a only £3 and polishes £1.50 each but I am very disappointed with the results.

The Colour and Go polishes come  in fabulous colours with the tops the same shade as the polish and have an innovative cuticle-shaped tip to the brush (I know Nails Inc do this now but they are very much more expensive).   Having had nothing on my nails for ten years apart from gel, which stays liquid until cured, I found the quick-drying polish quite hard to apply.  That’s my fault.

The first coat went on patchy, the second brought great opacity.  Now to finish with the clear gel top coat.  That’s where things started to go wrong…

You’re told to let the poIMG_2103lish dry completely before adding the gel coat and it was definitely touch dry.  I LED-cured for the stated 10 seconds then wiped off the residue.  The layers started to smudge and the finish was not as shiny as I have come to expect from gel. The first photo (left) shows the damage after just removing the residue.  There was nothing for it but to take the whole lot off and redo.

What a nightmare – there is no way this stuff was peel off!!

You push a nail under the edge of Striplac, it releases and the colour comes off in a single piece or bits, no difficulty.  Try getting under the edge of four layers of Essence product – nada, zilch, zero!  It took me at least 30 minutes to SCRAPE off most of the sticky mess – the colour seemed to curdle – and the rest by buffing.  The base coat was more or less intact after the colour came off.  Where, oh where, did I go wrong?

IMG_2104 IMG_2105As an experiment, I replaced the manicure with Essence base coat and a single layer of gel glitter top coat and I will try the clear dual coat with my Striplac colours.  But if I have the same trouble with removal, it will be junked.

* The Essence glitter gel top coat which I had on over Striplac twin coat (see last post) lasted well and came off no problem. 


Update 25/11/2014: I did a friend’s nails the same way.  She reported good durability but the same problem trying to remove the polish – very hard work! 




















Budget gel discovery

On holidayIMG_2048 recently in Spain I discovered Essence cosmetics, a budget range aimed at young women (LOL).  To my delight I found it includes UV gel topcoats which work with a peel off base and regular nail polish.  Instructions say apply a peel off base (which Essence makes), then any colour, followed by the topcoat which needs 10 second UV cure – yes, just 10 seconds.  I reckoned it would complement and add a different dimension to my Striplac shades.

The pricing was a steal – under £5 each – so I treated myself to a pair – Glitterland, a multi colour holographic glitter and Polka Dots, black dots.

I must confess I’ve tried it over blue and red – lovely – but forgot to take any photographs!  So the first exposure is from a quick, couldn’t-really-be-bothered-manicure, of just peel off base (Striplac) and the glitter topcoat.  IMG_2039I’m thrilled with the outcome – for strength, speed and the demure but on-trend look.

As with most glitter gels, you have to work the brush so that there’s a reasonably even distribution but this budget buy is better than any other glitter topcoat I have tried.  Gelish (soak off UV gel), for instance, was very difficult to work.

I applied my Striplac base, cured for one minute, straightaway coated the nails with the Essence product, cured for an unbelievably quick 10 seconds, then cleansed the residue off with non-acetone nail polish remover.

My only gripe is that the product is confusingly called ‘effect’ gel top coat which could be misinterpreted as gel-effect (ie looks like gel but isn’t).  Be assured that this IS a gel, which requires a UV cure.

Essence is available worldwide and stocked exclusively in the UK by the Wilko chain.  The ‘gel nails at home’ range has everything you need, including a mini led lamp with a usb connection which is fantastic for travelling.

Important updatee 25/11/2014:  Read this review in conjunction with the following:



Blue, blue, blue

IMG_1461A parcel arrived a couple of days ago with a triplet of new Striplac colours – two bright blues and a confetti topcoat.  The colours are much more true on the labels than I’ve come to expect from this range of peel off gels by Alessandro International, a German manufacturer (see previous posts).  In case you think I’m mad buying three shades at once, the standard postage is £5 whether you buy one or six products!

Deep Ocean Blue is a clear cobalt, very striking

Hula Aruba, a bright turquoise, like the sea off Greece

Portand Dream, bright coloured dots in a clear gel which is shown as topcoat on the website.  I’m not sure whether this is a a sealer the same as the twincoat, or something which has to have that on top as well but I’ve emailed Alessandro and am awaiting a reply. * Update:  I never heard back from Alessandro (such good customer relations!) but tried it out and confirm it is a topcoat.

The last two are special edition colours, only available for a short time so if you like, better hurry over to the Alessandro website.

Deep Ocean Blue reviewed

Shrinks all round when applying which is a nuisance.  I couldn’t finish five nails before the first had crept back on all edges.  The only way is to do two or three, slip them under the light to semi-harden, then do the others and cure for a full minute.  The second coat went on better but a third may have been necessary for full opacity.  I decided the colour, although with the usual Striplac shine, was too flat for me and added a final topcoat of standard glitter polish in turquoise.  I think it will be a lovely colour in the darker winter months.

Shrinks from the edgesFirst colour coat shrinks from the edges






Without glitter

Finish without glitter






                                                  With glitter

With a glitter coat

Here comes…Striplac

Although it sounds like something used to take ancient paint off old doors, Striplac is a new innovation in the uv gel nail world – a product which has a dual base/top coat, lasts around 10 days and PEELS off.  Well, that’s the theory.

I’m writing this 48 hours after my first application because I want to document the wearability and removal in real time.  So far I can say:

* it was easy to apply

* didn’t shrink from nail edges, didn’t drip

* each layer takes only 60 seconds to cure

* dual base/top coat is economical

* cleansing pads prepare nail and remove residue from top coat

* one pad will do all nails, before and after

* feels tough

* has great shine.

Image Striplac Midnight red

It goes on exactly the same as soak off gels, doesn’t dry until cured and stays tacky between coats.  I bought Midnight Red, a deep purply red, as my first shade and have ordered Berry Red, plus Shimmer Shell which I will try over the opaque colours for a frosty finish.  The pot of 50 cleansing pads was £5.95, the dual coat and colours are £14.94 – £15.95 each.

Obviously the great advantage of this system will be if the polish lasts well and peels off as claimed in the literature and video (below).  No more soaking!

Minus points

* only 24 colours so far, many of which are similar (reds, pinks, purples; no blue, green, brown)

* cleansing pads are NOT lint free so rough skin retained fibres which got onto the gel.

Striplac is produced by a European company called Alessandro International and was introduced to the UK at a show in the spring of 2013.  I found several UK suppliers online through a Google search and my products came within 2 days.  A starter kit, which contains base/top coat, a bottle of Classic Red polish, cleansing pads and an LED light, is available – priced between £70 and £120, depending on where you look.  Because the product cures with UV as well, I chose just to buy the essential bits.

It’s also possible to register with Alessandro and buy colours from them for £7.49 each plus VAT (20%) and postage.  You need to have your own salon name to register……..


Still perfect.  Wow.


Four nails started peeing from the nail tip so I peeled them off – successfully – and have redone in less than half the time it would take for a soak off application.  The nails which were affected are very fragile and this may be the reason they haven’t lasted as long as predicted.  BUT removal is so much easier than soaking off and I think i will be switching permanently to this product.  Another plus point is that the shine lasts much better than any gel I have tried before.


One thumb nail has survived but all others have been renewed after lifting at nail tip.


I like this system and, although the polish hasn’t lasted the advertised 10 days, it is quicker to apply (and reapply) than soak off gel.  It is also kinder because there is no soaking in acetone to remove.  Recently soak off gels I’ve applied have been chipping within 48 hours – probably because of my fragile, peeling nails – so I feel Striplac is the way to go.  It may do as promised on someone with stronger nails.  A tiny bit of nail surface has come away with the polish.  It’s far better than ordinary polish because you get the strength and shine of a gel.  The shine lasts and lasts and it’s economical because of the dual base/top coat.