Nail The Weekend: More Sparkles, Matte and Shine.

Monochrome and glitter- how it evolved

Monochrome and glitter- how it evolved

So here’s a fun variation of this week’s ‘Spikes, Monochrome and Glitter’ look from Nail the Week (If you haven’t seen it, here’s the link to check it out) I mentioned in the post that any number of combinations would work as long as you stick to the ‘one dark, one light, and one shimmer’ template. Here I’ve given the monochrome look an up-to-date makeover using lilac and silver, to which I’ve given a glossy top coat, and black, to which I’ve added either pink glitter or a matte top coat, meaning that there is even more colour and texture variety than in the original design! Now that I’ve donned these fun and varied pops of colour, I am well and truly ready for the weekend! The more beady-eyed amongst you may have also noticed that I’ve filed my pointed nails into a more practical oval shape. As much as I love the quirky look of pointed nails, I have to say that they were more than a little annoying in terms of catching on things and generally being a danger to myself and delicate objects around me, but they still remain a glam and striking look for special events, and I’m glad I’ve given them a whirl!

Feel free to let me know in the comments section which of this week’s colour combis you preferred, or maybe there’s a better combination you’d like to recommend? Either way, I’d love to hear from you!

Polishes used:

Just for the record, I'm not being sponsored by Barry M in any way, I just happen to love their products!

Just for the record, I’m not being sponsored by Barry M in any way, I just happen to love their products!

Black, Silver Foil Effect, Ruby Glitter, Prickly Pear Gelly Nail Effects, all by Barry M

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Rimmel Lycra Pro Matte Finish Top Coat

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Mermaid’s Cove: Sparkly Eye Neutrals To Suit Every Budget!

A neutral eye palette is an essential component of any makeup bag, but sometimes you just want something a little more jazzy- step in sparkly neutrals! These shades are subtle enough for everyday wear but also have an added shimmer which can really brighten up any outfit. They are perfect if you want a makeup look that will take you from the office to the bar on a friday night (you can simply add a touch more contour or shimmer if you want to vamp it up even more) and they are also the ideal mix of subtle and glam for bridal makeup. Best of all, they suit any skin tone, eye colour and outfit. In brief, you can’t go wrong with neutrals, in fact the only difficulty is knowing which palette to choose, with so many on the market. To help, I’ve compiled a collection of my favourite sparkly neutral palettes, ranging from super-affordable to high-end, and given you the lowdown on each palette. You might use my guide to choose just one, but of course you could even buy all three and mix and match the shades for a unique neutral look! So here are my  favourites…

The Affordable Palette.

Collection 2000 Eyeshadow Palette Smokey Eyes in No. 3, Smokey: £4.19, Superdrug.

This palette is fantastic because it contains no less than nine versatile colours, all but two of which are big on shimmery impact (the remaining two matte shades can be used to tone down your look for daywear). The palette also contains one creme eyeshadow which is great for brightening eyes and adding a highlight. All the colours work perfectly together, so the number of different looks you can create with this one affordable palette is huge. It’s also slim and lightweight, and will even fit in the tiniest of clutches! The tips on the back are useful, especially if you’re a bit of a newby to the smokey eye look, as they guide you to which shades fit best in certain areas of the eyelid. I’d say that for the price, the quality of the shadows is good, and you can increase their staying power by using a good eyeshadow primer (I usually opt for Urban Decay’s Primer Potion.) Overall, this palette is a brilliant bargain: nine wearable colours at less than 47p each- who can argue with that?

The Mid-Range Palette

The Body Shop Shimmer Cube Palette in No. 6, Warm: £16, The Body Shop.

I knew as soon as I saw this palette that it was destined to join the ranks of my makeup stash. To be honest, the funky geometric packaging alone sold it for me, but when I set eyes upon those warm, shimmery copper tones with their equally irresistible names (you try saying no to Honeycomb, Dark Chocolate, Marshmallow and Choc Chip!) I knew that there was no going back. I suppose £16 isn’t cheap for an eyeshadow palette, but you do get a lot for you money, as each tray is much deeper than conventional eyeshadows. As I am pretty fair-skinned, I was a little worried that the colours would be too strong for me, but it turned out they go on very subtly, and can be built up to a more striking effect either by simply brushing more on or, if you’re feeling really bold, applying them with a wet sponge applicator. The best thing about this product is that each colour is supplied in its own individual box which can be removed from the palette, which is great if you only need one or two and are short on packing space. There are also different palettes in the collection, so you could mix and match your favourite colours for the perfect getaway look! In sum, a fabulous little cube of glittery goodness that is both glam and practical!

The High-End Palette

Benefit World Famous Neutrals Sexiest Nudes Ever Eyeshadow Kit- £23.50, Boots.

The third and final (and most expensive) palette that  I have to show you is this show-stopper from Benefit. I do love a bit of Benefit; the packaging is fab, the products are (in my experience, without exception) fantastic and you can always rely on the brand to be at the cutting-edge of makeup innovation. My only beef with the brand its prices. Take this palette, for example- the colours are luscious and both the creams and powders smooth on like a dream, but I can’t help but glance back at my Body Shop palette and think that it gave me a lot more for my money (to be honest, a lot of the time I wonder whether most of my money spent on Benefit goes on packaging which, as lovely as it is, I could easily do without if it drastically reduced the price of the product!) Another problem that I have with this and a lot of Benefit’s packaging is that it is quite bulky and definitely not the type you want to be carrying around all day. That said, I do love the shadows in this palette; you can create a number of day and evening looks with them (guided by the handy leaflet inside the lid), and the powders can be blended seamlessly with the creams, which I found quite surprising, as they are of vastly different consistencies! Overall, a great product if you want to splurge but not the most practical of the three.

I hope this brief guide has helped you navigate the murky waters of eyeshadow shopping, I’d love to hear your comments on my selection, or of any alternative palettes which you think can trump the ones I’ve shown you here. Have fun creating a myriad of shimmery neutral shades!

Nail the Week: Spikes, Monochrome and Glitter!

Glitzy and glam!

Glitzy and glam!

This week’s Nail the Week is coming to you on a Tuesday thanks to the bank holiday, but I hope it’s worth waiting for. This mani blasts some of my favourite Barry M polishes into action to create an eclectic look using sleek darks, matte lights, and mostly importantly lots of bold glitter. I was feeling a bit wild when I did this manicure, and strictly speaking it’s probably not ‘one for the office’ but if you feel like rebelling against those back to work blues, then this is the nail design for you! One thing’s for sure, it’s definitely going to make tapping those computer keys a whole lot more exciting!

To begin, I used a fairly course file to to add a point to my nail tip. I appreciate that this look may not be for everybody, so if you feel that it’s a little to Gaga for you then just skip this step and stick to your preferred nail shape. Next up, I painted my pinky and middle fingers gold, my ring finger and thumb white, and my pointer finger metallic navy (you could use black for a true monochrome effect, but I fancied a a dash of bold colour). I waited for the first layer to dry before adding a second coat to each. After the second coat had dried, I added the gold holographic glitter to my pinkies in a dabbing motion, which provides much more glitter coverage than brushing it on as you would a plain polish. Finally, I added a fast-drying top coat to the gold and navy nails and a matte top coat to the white and accessorised my unconventional manicure with lots of stacking rings.

Don’t feel restricted to the colours I’ve used, I think it would work equally well with any other colour variations as long as you stick to the basis of a light, a dark and something shiny! If you feel like recreating this look I’d love to see the results in the comments section.

Polishes used:

My (Barry M heavy) polishes for this look

My (Barry M heavy) polishes for this look

Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat

Matt White, Navy, Gold Foil Effect and Yellow Topaz Glitter, all by Barry M

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Rimmel Lycra Pro Matte Finish Top Coat

Handbag Review: Accessorize Hoxton Neon Satchel

I didn’t go out with the intention of having a big spend-up; it was just one those impromptu sprees. You know the sort, you nip into town for coffee with a friend, take a casual wander through the shops and before you know it, the credit card has scorch marks from all that swiping. Personally, these are my favourite kind of shopping trips, ad-hoc, unpremeditated, and quite often deliciously irresponsible.

Among my many and varied purchases from Operation Unexpected Spend was a hot pink Hoxton Neon Satchel from Accessorize. I adore bright colours, especially pink, and I find that satchels are a great combination of stylish and practical, so I knew as soon as I set eyes on this titillating tote that it was destined for my wardrobe. I was instantly drawn to the realistic leather-effect of the material and the gold embellishment, as well as the handy inner pockets for phones, make up and general nick-nacks (I find bags with just a single compartment in which everything just floats around frankly pretty stressful). As if these fab features weren’t enough to have me rushing to the till, it was also not the bank account-basher I was expecting; I braced myself for the seemingly inevitable wince at the price tag, only to find to my pleasant surprise that it was a mere £25, which further cemented my belief that the bag was, indeed, made for me.

I rushed home to complete the laborious task of transferring all my things from my previous handbag to my new shiny pink dream and immediately took it for a spin. I was delighted to find that the bag was the perfect size for all my essentials (purse, phone, make up, etc), without leaving room to fill up with weighty but unnecessary items (endless receipts, water bottles, magazines, etc), which is ideal for someone like me with hoarding tendencies. The bag was lightweight (is there anything more annoying than a bag that weighs a tonne even before you put anything in it?), the quality of the bag in general felt excellent, and I especially liked the gold clasp on the front, which I felt gave added security and, perhaps more importantly, class. One small issue (although by no means a deal-breaker) that I’ve found with the bag is that unlike other satchels I’ve owned, it doesn’t tend to keep its shape well when not done up, which can be a bit problematic if, for instance, you’re trying to do it up in a shop one handed, with an armful of purchases. This also means that once it’s full, it really is full- there’s no walking around with the bag undone and things rammed in the top (although my mum has always told me off for doing that anyway and at least wear and tear should, in theory, be reduced).  Also, the bag may not be suitable for everyday wear purely because of it’s colour which, although fabulous, mightn’t suit every outfit.

Overall, though, it’s safe to say that I’ve officially fallen for this snazzy little satchel. It’s managed to strike the right balance between quirky and classic and is an easy, eye-catching addition to my daywear. You can expect to see it surgically attached to my shoulder for the foreseeable future!

(The bag is available in Accessorize stores or at http://uk.accessorize.com/. It is not, as far as I know, available in any other colours).

Thrift Shop Find: Warehouse Chain and Mirror Drop Earrings

Sometimes good fortune is found in the most unexpected of places. This section, Thrift Shop Find, is here to show you that it’s possible to get glam without getting broke.

This week’s TSF is a brand new pair of Warehouse drop earrings that I picked up for two pounds (original price ten pounds, if the label on the back is to be believed, which I imagine it is). It was one of those ‘I’m buying these and nobody can stop me’ moments; no umming and ah-ing, just straight to the till! Take a look at my new beauties below:

A steal at £2

As you can see, they have a substantial yet subtle square mirror stud at the top which ups the glam and both gold and silver chain work, which means that they can be paired with pretty much any other accessory. They are finished off with a second glass stone within the chains, which really adds some depth to the design. Despite making serious impact, these earrings are surprisingly lightweight, which is great if you want to wear them for dancing all night! Another thing I love about them is that they are so versatile. Here, I’ve created three very different looks which are all offset perfectly with my latest thrift shop addition; a sultry LBD and leopard shoes combo which would be great for night on the tiles; a more ‘street’ look with layers of skull print tops, skinny jeans and wedges (for shopping without the tottering!) and finally an elegant jade and cream vintage look with an oyster-coloured clutch (now when’s that summer wedding, again?) It is my firm belief that you can’t really go wrong with a stunning pair of danglies, so why not check out which gorgeous sparklers await you in you local thrift shop today?

Nail the Week: Sparkle ‘n’ Shine!

We all want to embark on the week’s journey feeling great, and one sure-fire of achieving this is with a dazzling manicure! This is what my newest section, Nail the Week, is all about- giving you tips and inspiration for starting the week on a sassy, stylish and creative high!

This week’s mani à la mode is a chic mix of lilac sheen and chunky gold glitter. Unlike a lot of styles, this combination can be worn all year round, and it’s so easy to create. To achieve this look, I painted a single layer of Barry M’s Lilac Foil Effect over a strengthening base coat (I use Sally Hansen Double Duty Base and Top Coat). For the accent nail, I swiped on layers of Yellow Topaz Glitter, also by Barry M, starting lightly in the middle of the nail and loading more onto the nail tip. You could do this on one or two nails or all of them for a more dramatic look. I finished with another layer of Double Duty to prevent chipping and give the design a polished look. If you can’t get hold of the colours mentioned, you can try any other lilac polish (I also love Rimmel’s Lasting Finish in Lively Lilac) or a completely different colour of your choice. For a subtler glitter effect, try a finer glitter, such as Barry M’s Gold Glitter, or for a high-glamour evening look you could opt for a darker purple and coloured glitter- for my next night out I think I’ll try out Rimmel’s 60 Seconds in Pompous with a topping of Barry M’s Jewel Glitter Paint in Amethyst (in case you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a big Barry M fan!), but you could pick the perfect shades to compliment your glad rags or let your imagination run wild! Either way, I’d love to see how you’ve worked this look so please share you Sparkle ‘n’ Shine creations with me in the comments!

Rimmel London Pro Matte Finish Top Coat

Hello and welcome to Savvy Sundays! As the working week dawns and we all buckle down (at least theoretically), it’s time to bid farewell to  the weekend’s shenanigans and get shrewd. This section aims to introduce some smart, sharp, and occasionally sensible cost-busting style, beauty and travel essentials.

As the title of this post suggests, this week’s budget-booster is a matte top coat from a British make up brand that has really upped its game in recent years, Rimmel. A fairly ordinary product on first sight it seems, but contained within this unassuming 12ml bottle is the ability to transform any nail polish from a shine finish into more muted, matte shade that is chic and striking.

Here I’ve used MaxFactor’s Max Effect Mini Nail Polish in Chilled Lilac with Nails Inc’s ‘The Thames’ on the tips. A perfect colour combination for the rainy English spring; some bright optimism with cloudy undertones. Next I used the matte top coat on the left hand to compare it with no top coat on the right. The matte finish looks velvety smooth and seems to mesh the colours together to give some cohesion to the nail design, it also feels velvety smooth, dried very fast, and best of all, has so far been very chip-resistant.

As much as I love this product in its own right, I felt compelled to feature it in the very first Savvy Sunday because, in buying this single £4.59 product, the nail lover effectively doubles her polish collection- it can be used over any shade (even shimmer or glitter shades, which produces an mysterious sheen) to create a completely unique effect. Furthermore, its a lot more affordable than many matte top coats on the market and comes with a wide, flat brush which makes application effortless and waste minimal.

So I earnestly recommend all nail-atics out there to give this product a whirl- it might just change the way you wear polish forever!

Logbook: Florence Travel Review

Let me start by saying that as far as Florence, or for that matter anywhere in Italy, is concerned I am wholly biased. Having travelled to and around the country since my parents drove my two-year-old  self from England to the Tuscan coast in the back of their Vauxhall Cavalier, it’s fair to say that I have a long-standing love-affair with Bella Italia.

That said, it’s hard to see how anyone, historical alliances or not, could resist falling in love with the Tuscan capital. The architecture, like that everywhere in Italy, comprises both awe-inspiring cathedrals and cosy, rustic terraces; the Tuscan hillside provides a calming yet inspiring backdrop to the bustling town and the atmosphere is continuously one of contented excitement. The food, in my opinion, is second to none and suits every budget, from huge slices of thin crust take-away pizza dripping with cheese to fine dining in the city’s historical centre. Best of all, unlike many European countries, Italian cuisine always has something on the menu for vegetarians (albeit not deliberately- the concept is almost unheard of in the country). The sweets are equally blissful, whether your fancy be every flavour of gelato under the sun, decadent miniature tarts or, if you’re feeling indulgent in the afternoon (or in my case at breakfast time!) a huge slab of tiramisu. It goes without saying that Florence is also unbeatable  if  drinks are closer to the forefront of your trip, whether you favour coffee, authentic Tuscan wine or sparkling fruit juices.

One of Florence’s biggest pulls its numerous art galleries and museums, including the famous Uffizi, which houses, among others, works by Botticelli and Raphael. However you don’t have to join the lengthy queues to see some man-made beauty; in many ways the entire city is a work of art. Intriguing statues adorn nearly every building, elegant ironwork gates tempt you into passageways and even the drain covers are uniquely ornate.

Contrary to popular belief, Florence doesn’t have to be expensive. Cheap flights run daily to nearby Pisa airport, or you can include your visit as part of an interrailing trip; there are direct trains from most of Italy’s main cities, and even as far away as Vienna. Once you’re in Florence, getting around is easy- the city is small enough to navigate on foot, but there are also regular electric city buses. Cheap accommodation is easy to find in the city, and in my experience quite charming. I stayed in the Alekin Hostel (Via Porta Rossa, 6) and was delighted by the cosy old building and view onto a covered souvenir market. Like everything else in Florence, there is something to please every budget; from a myriad of designer shoe shops to exotic trinket markets, you’re guaranteed to find an unforgettable souvenir for yourself or a friend (including the furry variety- see gallery).

In case you haven’t gathered by now, I think that Tuscany’s beautiful capital is a must-add to every avid traveller’s destination list. The city is unique, multi faceted, indulgent and delightful all at the same time. The only issue is that  once you’ve visited Florence, you may be loathe to go anywhere else!