Street party chic

Our Queen is 90 this year and there are nationwide celebrations this weekend.  Our avenue is having a street party and I’m getting into the spirit of things with a new manicure.

In the absence of a white gel in my repertoire, I’ve done a duo of blue and red.

I’ll be wearing a white dress, blue shoes, a red cardi if it’s cool and, of course, a tiara!


Secret Red from Alessandro Striplac

Something Blue by Sensationail *

* Although this is a soak off product, not a peel off, I find a base and topping of Striplac Twin Coat enables it to be peeled off easily; same for other soak off gels.  It’s so much kinder on your nails than soaking in acetone.


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! 




















A trio of new colours

Continuing to add to my collection of Striplac, the peel off uv gel polish I’ve fallen in love with, with a trio of colours: Bubblegum, Velvet Red and Blue Lagoon. Bubblegum – bright shocking pink – will be reserved for sunnier weather but I’ve already tried the red and blue.


I’ve bought four reds in search of a deep crimson and Velvet Red comes close but still isn’t quite right. However, it is a welcome addition to my gel wardrobe. P1080429

As you can see, it is much lighter than indicated on the label and I’d urge Alessandro to go back to the printers to correct the disparity in colour between the label and the actual gel. I found it needed three coats to get even coverage.

Shades are supposed to be replicated throughout every product in the range so I was disappointed when I opened Blue Lagoon which is much duller than the standard polish featured on the website, and nothing like the label. In reality is is a deep air force blue and it looks quite chic. I like it. P1080431

There are very few shimmer colours in the Striplac range which is now up to 48 shades. You can always do a shimmer or sparkly coat of an ordinary polish once you have cured the gel, though that never has the same resilience or shine.


20130612_124716This sickly turquoise – HOTSKI TO TCHOTCHSKE (by CCO but also available from Shellac and Bluesky) – has to be the worst colour I have ever tried on my nails!

I loved it on the shade card and the bottle but the actuality looks tacky and cheap, like something from a child’s paintbox.   It appears to be a vibrant mint green but the finished shade is poised somewhere between a nasty ice lolly and hospital walls.  I would wear shoes this colour, and undies, but it’s awful on fingertips!

The first coat was transparent so I hoped the colour depth would appear with the second – nope.  I tried a third on one nail, to no avail.  With one hand virtually done, what could I do but progress to the other.

The trouble with gel is that you can’t really change your mind halfway through other than by taking the whole lot off with an acetone soak or changing to a different colour and hoping: 1) it will cover and 2) you won’t have nails as thick as talons.

I’ll bet that, because I think it’s horrible, it will be really hard wearing!  What I’ll probably do is hide it with a layer of  ordinary polish on top.

CND Vinylux – the new kid on the block

Vinylux Hot ChilisOn display in my favourite salon this week was a brand new nail product – CND’s Vinylux polish (colour plus top coat) which claims week long wear,  fast dry, no curing with a uv lamp and comes off with ordinary remover.   Well I had to try it!

From the dozen or so colours available (there are 62) I chose Hot Chilis, in the bottle a pearlescent pinky red.  Instructions say two thin colour coats and finish with the top coat.  Each bottle was £9.95, about the same price as a premium polish.

I found I needed three coats to get a decent depth of colour and I felt it was much lighter – and more coral-toned – than in the bottle.  I’m not keen on this shade – maybe I’d be happier with it on toenails.

If the colour coats dried much more quickly than regular polish, the top coat was on speed!  As a result, I found it difficult to get a smooth finish – but this was my first attempt.  It’s not instantly fully dry like uv gel and I smudged a couple of nails.  Next morning I took off the polish (which was fiddly because I didn’t want to damage the ‘good’ nails) and re-did them.  I still wasn’t totally happy with the finish but I’m sure my technique would improve with experience,  just like it did with soak off uv gel.  24 hours later the polish is still intact. 

Vinylux doesn’t dry to the rock hard finish of a uv gel, so doesn’t have the same level of protection for weak nails, nor does it have the uniformity or deep shine.  I’ll report back on durability.

If it lasts a week I’ll try more colours because my nails grow very quickly and I really need to re-do my manicure every 10 days to have perfect nails.  I hate the look of the regrowth but it’s the time taken to soak off which bugs me.

In the absence of blue skies…

In the absence of blue skies I have opted for blue nails: Mystic Twilight to be exact, a Bluesky (£5.99) shade for spring 2013.  I fell in love with the blackness of Fedora and was reluctant to change – but it did look severe with the lighter clothes I’m trying to wear as our UK spring attempts to get into gear.  Mystic Twilight is a gorgeous light navy – cerulean – with a shimmer.  This will be hard to give up too!  Find all the Bluesky colours on ebay.

Mystic Twilight

The gel is thick and a single coat gives great opacity without any rippling during cure.  A second, plus top coat, gives rock hard nails.  It’s easy to apply – doesn’t run or shrink back from nail tips or edges.  This was a very quick gel application compared to some colours I’ve used.  I don’t match nail colour to outfits – you can’t really with a manicure which lasts a couple of weeks – but this complements jeans and looks good against pastels or dark clothes.  It positively zings in sunlight.

That’s my gorgeous dog, Truffle, in the background.  Read his thoughts on life, the universe and everything on his blog

Now enjoy a lady who knows how to sing the blues:

Black as the tube on a Chanel lipstick

Finally overcame my fears and used a black uv soak off gel.  WOW, do I love the result.

I’d thought it would be too ‘goth’ but, having decided I prefer very dark shade, I took the plunge.  My fingers look as if they’ve been tipped with black patent leather.  I used Bluesky Shellac in Fedora.  It was very thick out of the bottle and has cured to a rock hard finish in just two coats. 

The original CND Shellac Fedora is described as a purply black but this is as true a black as the tube on a Chanel lipstickTry it – and share with me the boldest colour you’ve ever tried.


Appropriately, this early Stones video is in black and white…