Best foot forward into spring

First signs of spring in the UK and I’m wandering around indoors without socks so had to do something with my naked winter toenails.  This is my first try with a replica peel-off UV polish from BlueSky who have introduced a range of 24 colours at just £6.50 a bottle.  I used many of their soak off gels before migrating to the peel variety and am pleased to find a much cheaper option than Alessandro Striplac.

Application is much the same but I can’t judge durability yet as I just did them today.  This is the unimaginatively named PB14, a pearlescent deep pink, which is a bit like ‘Shiny Rubin’ from Striplac.  The colour in the bottle is exactly the same as on the colour swatch online.


Black patent spotty wedge sandals – Russell and Bromley

Performance update,  March 9:  Very pleased with the durability of this Blue Sky peel off gel.  18 days on, my toenails are like new and I’ve also used it twice on my fingernails.  I found it much easier to remove than Striplac as it comes off mostly as an entire nail covering whereas the original is sometimes resistant and needs several applications of Activator.  So, top marks for the copy.



Took off my gel nails last night in readiness to redo them, slathered my hands in hand cream before sleep then washed and prepped them before my manicure this morning.  I used a recent Alessandro Striplac shade – Blackberry – which isn’t the easiest to apply as it shrinks away from the nail edges and was horrified to find the gels popping off my nails within an hour.

I think I have to blame myself because I used this colour on a friend who got three weeks wear.  I’m suspecting that my handwash and prep (non acetone nail polish remover) wasn’t thorough enough because my last few applications with other colours have had good staying power.  Most times I remove one shade and straightaway put on another (because my nails are weak and peel when naked).

So, I’ll not forgo my hand lotion (Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream*), but I will make sure I give my nails a good brush and cleanse with soap and water before starting again tomorrow.

Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream   Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 20.59.40

This is my all time favourite hand cream.  Originally I had a small size in one of those travel kits you buy on planes but fell in love when I realised it healed, then prevented, the skin under my nail tips from splitting in winter.  It’s not cheap but I’d tried all sorts of balms to deal with my tender fingertips and this is the only thing that has worked.  It also claims to reduce age spots – see me in 10 years time to see if this is true!  The 30ml size sells online for about £7.50, the 100ml from £15 and sometimes you can find the bumper 200ml tube in duty free shops for around £25 (otherwise £30+).

Sparkling burgundy

Took a risk this week and sandwiched a soak off gel in between two layers of  Striplac Twincoat to get a dynamic sparkling burgundy.

I chose Red Carpet ‘Draped in Rubies’, a glorious red wine hue with a fine sparkle.  It peels off just as good as a full Striplac manicure so I will buy more shades as I can see the true colours in my local ‘Sally’s’.  No more gauging colours from the web and being disappointed at the reality.  RC is around £12.98 for a 9ml bottle.

Update, Jan 2, 2016  I’ve kept this colour going right through Christmas and New Year because it looks so festive and cheerful.  Dark, wet winter days in the UK demand a touch of colour, on nails at least.

No problems whatsoever peeling if off, having used Alessandro twin coat for base and seal.  Must investigate the rest of the Red Carpet hues.

This is how you do it, say ‘essence’

My last post described my problems with the removal of essence base/top coat gel.  I messaged the company and received this reply.  I was clearly too impatient with my application!

Top marks to essence for taking the time to respond so quickly and to address the full range of issues. 

IMG_2048How to remove the peel off base and top coat:

Usually the gel nails are easy to remove by using the fingers or a rosewood stick. Using a rosewood stick may be easier than just using your fingers. if this does not help, soak your nails in nail oil or olive oil, lift a small corner of the gel nails with a rosewood stick and then let some of the oil seep under the gel. This way, the gel nails will come off really easily.

How well the base can be removed also depends on the surface of the nail and how thickly the base is applied. The smoother the surface of the nail, the easier the base can be removed. Also, make sure that the first layer of the 2in1 gel is applied thickly.

The colour nail polish used inbetween the peel off base and top coat layers has to be completely dry. The LED Lamp will not harden regular nail polish. If the nail polish is not 100% dry, the top coat cannot harden either, which would explain why the result was not as shiny as you expected. It is important that you apply all products with the same thickness to prevent any irregularities. If you sometimes end up with a bump or raised area, it’s probably because either too much or too little of the base or top coat was applied.

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


It’s chilly, I’m pushing summer clothes to the back of the rail and a dark nail colour doesn’t hack it – so GIVE ME RED!

Through trial and error, I have a lot of Striplac reds.  I blame manufacturer Alessandro because the shade labels on the bottles are very inaccurate, mostly bearing no resemblance to the colour inside.  With the bottles being black (so the polish is kept away from the sun’s UV rays which could harden it), you can’t see the true hue until you buy and unwrap.  There’s no stockist,  store or salon near me where I can look and make a proper judgement.  As I’ve said before, I now look at the regular polish colours on the Alessandro website before selecting but I WISH they would go back to the Pantone shade cards and get it right!

Velvet red

Velvet red – the label and the actuality!

So, for the next ten days or however long it lasts, I’m wearing Velvet Red which is a cranberry shade, not the Merlot on the label.  I still haven’t found a proper winey red in the 48-colour range.  Please, Alessandro, make a colour halfway between Velvet Red and the gorgeous but much darker Midnight Red and it’s slightly shimmer partner Dark Rubin.


Four fabulous new Striplac colours

Expanding my Striplac collection with four new colours from completely different aspects of the spectrum:

Four new colours * Dark Rubin – the deep plum red I’ve been searching for, with a hint of shimmer

* Nude Parisienne – a dense, smokey rubble

* Hurly Burly – a classic rose pink, closely related to Bubble Gum

* Heaven’s Nude – a transparent shimmer, subtle on its own but which will turn any colour into a shimmer shade.

The biggest problem is deciding which to try first! 

Once again, the coloured labels on the bottles are not 100% representative of the contents so I urge you to look at the ordinary polish shades on the Alessandro website before choosing.


Just to remind you, the Striplac system has a twin base/top coat, each coat cures in just 60 seconds (LED or UV) and PEELS off when you have regrowth or want to change your colour – no soaking in harsh chemicals.