Nail The Week: Nude With Stars!

No, not a celeb magazine headline, but a simple, chic and (almost) work-appropriate Nail the Week Mani! I created this look with my Barry M Lychee (which is currently running dangerously low; a testament to its versatility) and some tiny star nail sequins from Inglot. I applied the stars with a small dotting tool after adding my second coat of Lychee and added a good dose of fast-drying top coat to make sure they stayed in place.

My biggest concerns over this mani were that the stars would be very fiddly to apply and would fall off in five seconds, but luckily both of these worries were unfounded. It was very easy to apply the stars and any dents I made in the polish from moving them around slightly were easily smoothed out with top coat. They also stayed tightly in place until it was time for my next mani.

I’ll definitely be using these stars again, especially as you get about a million per pot! I’m hatching grand ideas of a silver or glitter base for a party look or a stark white base (possibly with a matte top coat) for a trendy monochrome effect.

The materials I used for this look are:

-Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat

-Barry M Gelly Hi Shine in Nail Paint in Lychee

-Black Star Nail and Body Spangles by Inglot

-Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat

-Dotting Tools (not pictured)


Nail The Week: Delicate Dots!

Having been hankering after a set of dotting tools for some time, I was pretty delighted when mine finally arrived from Ebayland the other day. These little gems are as cheap as anything and are one of the easiest ways to instantly improve your nail art technique, even if like me you are not steady of hand. This week is a bit of nail art double whammy as I was so pleased with how my first dotting venture turned out that I went straight in with another design as soon as it was time to take the first one off.

For my first dose of dots  I opted for a metallic gold base with some bright multicoloured accent spots. I thought this worked really well and the overall effect is reminiscent of something you might find in a Moroccan bazaar or on an Indian sari. I also love how the design looks very intricate but is not challenging to create.

I went for a similar approach for my second dotty design, this time trying an ombre look for the very first time as the base. To create the ombre I painted on a coat of light beige before dampening a wedge make up sponge to prevent it from absorbing all the nail polish, painting stripes of my chosen colours onto it and dabbing it over the nail. I’ve been wanting to try gradient nails for the longest time but was dreading the process being difficult and messy, but I couldn’t believe how easy it turned out to be and how little cleanup was required! I liked the effect of the ombre on it’s own and it would be perfect if you wanted a subtler look, but as I was itching to get out my dotting tools again I added bold, deep red, purple and orange dots to each nail.

Next time I go for a dotty look, I’d like to try some monochrome spots over a silver glitter base, but that will have to wait as I’m away from home for the next couple of weeks and forgot to bring my white polish!

And finally here are the materials I used:

Look 1:

Look by Bipa Stop Split Vitamin Booster base coat

Gold Foil Effect, Satsuma Gelly Hi-Shine and Navy Nail Paint, all by Barry M

Orly Nail Lacquer in Beach Cruiser

Seche Vite Fast Dry top coat

Dotting tools (found on Ebay for a couple of pounds, or you could use bobby pins and tooth picks).

Look 2:

Look by Bipa Stop Split Vitamin Booster base coat

Lychee, Plum and Pomegranate  Gelly Hi-Shine and Gold Foil Effect Nail Paints, all by Barry M

Seche Vite Fast Dry top coat

A wedge make up sponge (I bought a bag of about 20 for around £3 in Superdrug)

Dotting Tools

Inspired By… Bride of Frankenstein Nails!

This year for Halloween I was the bride of Frankenstein, based on the 1935 film. As always, I needed to complete my outfit with a fitting manicure and although I do it fairly often, there really was no other option but a monochrome half moon design, to tie in with the black and white film and the era in which it was made, as half moon manicures originated in the 30s. Rather than using a bright white, I opted for a light nude polish for the half moon to give the mani a more aged, sepia effect. I haven’t done a tutorial as I’m painfully aware that it’s pretty similar to some other looks I’ve created, but I thought I’d share it with you anyway.

Materials  used:

– Look by Bipa Stop Split Vitamin Booster base coat.

– Barry M Nail Paint in Black

-Barry M Gelly Hi Shine in Nail Paint in Lychee

-Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

– Hole Re-inforcers from WHSmith

How to achieve the look: Follow the instructions in my Silver and Satsuma post.

Nail The Week Halloween Special: When Water Marbling Goes Horribly Wrong

Well, it’s nearly Halloween, the night of all things spooky, so allow me to regale you with my very own tale of beauty harrow and horror.

Picture the scene: it was an early autumn wedding, the sort of occasion which warrants an outfit such as this:

Naturally, as my thoughts turned to nail art for the occasion, Barry M’s Gelly Hi Shine in Satsuma and Lychee sprang immediately to mind as they picked out the staple colours of my ensemble perfectly.

The next question was how to incorporate the two colours together into a cohesive, eye-catching nail art design. I’ve been wanting to give water marbling another whirl after the relative success of my Midweek Marblin’ design and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try the technique once again. My biggest concern was that the Gelly polishes wouldn’t spread out on the surface of the water as required for this technique, especially as Lychee seemed very thick when I used it previously. When it came down to it, however, this didn’t seem to be a problem, so I duly continued the water marbling process until my first hand was done. Unfortunately, I quickly realised that the vivid orange hue of Satsuma was extremely overpowering next to the subtle tone of Lychee, to the point where the nails looked almost completely orange, so I had to take off the first attempt and start again, this time with two drops of Lychee for every one of Satsuma. Initially, this seemed to work much better, at least there were discernible colours within my marble, so I continued until both hands were done, and stepped back to admire my (extremely laborious) handiwork…

You know there are times when you’ve been working on something for so long that you kind of stop seeing it and then when you take a break and go back to it with fresh eyes you realise it’s utterly awful? This was one of those moments. The overall effect was one of a nastily infected wound or a septic creature from the bottom of a slime-ridden lake. Worst of all, one the fingers (left index) had marbled in such a way that it looked like the polish was chipped, which is truly unbearable for me.

All in all, it’s fair to say that my second attempt at water marbling was an unprecedented fail.

Luckily, knowing the unpredictable nature of nail art (especially water marbling) I did my manicure the day before the wedding, so I had ample time to acetone away all heinous memory of this misadventure and replace it with a much neater and easier half moon mani using the same two polishes. This is almost identical to my Silver and Satsuma half moon design but with light cream instead of silver to add a matrimonial feel.

The main lessons learnt from this episode are:

1. Never water marble with colours close to those which could occur naturally in the human body. The outcome is very, very creepy.

2. If in doubt, half moon it.

Definitely things to bear in mind for next time.

Five Cornerstone Lipsticks For All Eventualities

Today I thought I’d share with you my five ‘go to’ lipsticks; a capsule collection which will see a girl through any season and occasion. I’ve given some general colour guidelines as well as specific examples which I thought fitted the bill perfectly. So let’s begin!

1. The one that goes with everything.

Seems pretty obvious, but an all-purpose lip colour that goes with everything and is appropriate for both work and play  is a must. This one can sit in a handbag innocuously until it’s needed; when its owner is in a rush and has no time to ponder which lipstick to wear, when no other shade quite matches an outfit or when an ‘easy make-up’ look is the order of the day!

My essential ‘everything’ lip colour is Maybelline’s Moisture Extreme Lipstick in ‘Natural Rosewood’. In the photos this shade looks more red/ pink than neutral, but as it’s pretty close to my natural lip colour it works perfectly for me as an all-purpose colour and the formula is every bit as moisturising as it claims. Unfortunately I don’t think this colour is available in stores any more (do correct me if I’m wrong!) But it’s easy to get hold of on Amazon or Ebay for around £4.50.

2. A bright red.

Fact: bright red lipstick can be worn by anyone, the trick is to find the shade that works for you. For me, this is Rimmel’s Lasting Finish Matte Lipstick by Kate Moss in ‘Kiss of Life’. This bright, slightly orange-tinged red is eye-catching but not obnoxious, probably because of the matte finish. It’s only downside is that the formula is a bit on the dry side, so I find it best to use a lip balm before application. It costs around £5.50.

3. A deep red/ burgundy

Like a bright red, only more wearable and arguably more sultry! If you’re feeling a bit daunted by the prospect of a vivid red shade or it’s simply not that kind of day, this can be a subtler, easier option. Wine and berry shades are perfect for the autumn or winter and look ultra glamorous at night but don’t feel restricted to these occasions- deep reds can work just about anywhere if you find the perfect shade. My personal favourite deep red is Barry M’s Ultra Moisturising Lip Paint in Cranberry Red. At £4.49, this lippy is a bargain, although this formula can be a bit dry (despite what it says on the tin,) so I use a lip balm beforehand.

4. Your favourite pink.

Who doesn’t love pink lipstick? There’s a shade to suit all skin tones and occasions, so take some time to find the one that does it for you. My pink weapon of choice is Rimmel’s Moisture Renew Lipstick in Lily Extase. It’s pretty unusual because it’s a strong pink with cool blue undertones, whereas many bright pinks are of the hot variety. It retails at around £6.49 which I think is good value considering how long-lasting the colour is.

5. The special one.

As my mother likes to say, a great lippy is an investment piece- words to live by. I found this holy grail in the form of YSL’s Rouge Volupté Shine in Brun in Secure which is a shiny brown with reddish tones. The texture of this lipstick is dreamy, it feels just like a lip balm and you can play with colour opacity by adding more layers for a dramatic look or fewer for subtler tones. As it’s so shiny, I always use Lipcote or Rimmel’s Lipstick Lock to keep it in place. At £24 this gem does not come cheap but who doesn’t like a little luxury once in a while?

Nail The Week: Newspaper Nails!

As a person with a love of writing and intricate nail art, I knew I had to try this unusual newspaper print design as soon as I found out how it was done. The method couldn’t be simpler and the look can be achieved in a few easy steps:

1. Paint your nails a suitable base colour (here I’ve plumped for Barry M’s Gelly High Shine in Lychee) and wait for the polish to dry completely.

2. Cut a few nail-sized pieces out of a newspaper article (more than ten is advisable in case you have a mishap).

3. Soak the pieces in a bowl of alcohol- I dug out an old bottle of gin but I imagine any clear coloured spirit would also work. If you don’t have any alcohol water will also work but the text will not be as dark.

4. Remove a newspaper piece from the bowl with tweezers and press firmly but carefully to the nail. This can be a little fiddly at first and it’s easy to smear the text but the good news is that you can wipe it off with a damp paper towel and start again as many times as you need to!

5. Once you are happy with the design, seal it with a good dose of top coat.

Ideas to jazz up the design even more:

– seal with a matte top coat to enhance the newspaper effect

– use neon colours as a base coat

– use foreign language newspapers for some added exotic flavour

Inspired By… Art Deco Nails!

‘Inspired By…’ is my very first nail art design series, in which I adopt style elements from the world of art, design and fashion and create my own nail art interpretations.

My first entry is this quirky, colourful look based on designs from the Art Deco period. The movement focused heavily on geometric shapes, contrasting colours and sunburst motifs, all of which I’ve included here.  Like many of my nail art designs, this looks complex but is actually pretty simple to create (I’m kind of cheeky like that). All you need is three contrasting polishes, scotch tape, striping tape, and quite a bit of time! Here’s how I did it:

1. After applying a base coat, I painted my nails bright yellow. As you can see, I was not overly careful with this application as I knew that a lot of the yellow would not be seen in the final design.

After applying a base coat, I painted my nails bright yellow.

2. When this was completely dry (you can use Seche Vite to speed up this process), I sectioned off the bottom third of my nail and applied Revlon’s Nail Enamel in ‘Rich’ to the rest of it. This is definitely shaping up to be one of this autumn’s ‘It’ colours and I can see why- it’s a fabulous, wearable mix of gold, silver and green which goes with just about everything and can be worn day or night. It also manages to be sparkly and shimmery without prematurely entering into the realms of the Christmas shades, which is pretty unusual!

3. When the coat of Rich was dry, I applied three pre-cut strips of striping tape to each nail in a sunburst pattern as shown below and painted a dusky purple shade over the tape, being careful not to go over any of the yellow with the new shade. When applying the tape, I made sure that the tape covered only the Rich and none of the yellow, meaning that the shimmery gold would shine through after the tape was removed.

4. While the purple was still wet, I carefully removed the striping tape with tweezers in the reverse order to how I applied it, preventing any smudges. After waiting one or two minutes for the design to become touch-dry, I added a coat of Seche Vite to speed up drying time and protect my work.

I’m pretty pleased with how the design turned out. This was my first attempt at using striping tape and I thought it was quite effective and definitely a lot less messy than I expected. One thing I didn’t take into account was quite how bright the yellow shade was going to be; this caused the purple to take on a slightly green tinge, which lessened the contrasting effect with both the other colours . If I were to do this design again, I’d use a brighter purple or a pink to counteract this.

If you feel like creating your own 30s-style geometric design, I’d love to see how it goes. Here’s a reminder of the materials I used for mine:

Scotch tape

Striping tape (I picked up about six rolls for a few pence on Ebay)

Look by Bipa Stop Split Vitamin Booster base coat. This is great base coat which really does help to reduce nail splitting which is big problem of mine (well, relatively speaking, obviously there are far worse things). Unfortunately, though, I think this miracle worker is  only available in Austria.)

Barry M Limited Edition Nail Paint in shade 330, available at Boots

Revlon Nail Enamel in ‘Rich’

Astor Perfect Stay Gel Shine in ‘Make a Splash’

Seche Vite Fast Dry top coat.

Nail the Week: Space Age Half Moons!

An age-old design with a futuristic twist

As the season moves into autumn and colours become more muted, it’s easy to feel less than enthusiastic about the changing weather but in my experience this can be easily remedied with a quick injection of colour into a manicure.

Here, I’ve used my half moon technique to incorporate a popping purple and a shimmering slate silver with tiny multicoloured glitter. The polish I used for the silver overlay is in fact a magnetic one which can be used to create quirky patterns over the nail but as I was using it for a half moon design I decided to keep things classic and paint the traditional way. I’m a big fan of this colour combination because not only is it appropriate for fall, it also produces an unexpectedly modern effect, a bit like something you might see on a spaceship, should you find yourself in such a situation- in which case do let me know which extra-terrestrial nail art is out there!

Here are the materials I used:

Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat

Nail Paint in Bright Purple and Super Nova, both by Barry M

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Hole Re-inforcers

(Bag in top photo £22.99, New Look)

Nail the week: expanding the half moon- peacock nails!

The mani and the inspiration behind it!

Hello all, massive apologies for the lack of posting of late, it’s been a hectic couple of weeks. Today I thought I’d share with you a mani design  inspired by some peacock feathers which I keep next to my desk. Peacocks are one of my favourite animals so I love this design, and like a lot of my manicures, it looks quite complicated but is actually really easy to create and, best of all, it can be worn on long or short nails.

To create this look I started with a base coat and a coat of gold polish. I could have used my Barry M Gold Foil Effect for this, but I thought that the peacock design warranted something a little more sheer and whimsical, so I opted for my MaxFactor Mini Effect in Ivory (which isn’t Ivory at all, it’s a shimmery gold, but never mind). I then used the hole enforcer technique as described in my Silver and Satsuma post here to leave a gold half moon with a sea green nail. To complete the peacock colour palette and mirror the eye effect of the feather, I used the same technique to add a royal blue curved tip to the nails. I found the hole enforcers slightly too narrow for this step,  so I used small circular white labels instead. I really love the finished look of these nails and definitely plan to use the technique again soon, possibly with yellow, orange and red for a sunset effect or white, grey and black for a monochrome style. I’d love to see your take on this design, so please feel free to share it with me in the comments below! Bye for now.

Materials used:

Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat

MaxFactor Mini Effect in Ivory

Nails Inc in Symons Street

Barry M Nail Paint in Navy

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Hole Re-inforcers and small circular labels, from W H Smith

Interview Chic: how to land that job and stay individual!

We’ve all been there: you have to look smart for an interview but want to stay stylish and let your uniqueness shine. The question is, how do you strike a balance between the two? As it happens, I found myself in exactly this predicament recently, so I thought I’d share with you how I coped with this age-old conundrum.

My complete interview look

My complete interview look

As you can see, I didn’t stray too far from the time-honoured skirt suit. I teamed a classic black blazer with a patterned midi pencil skirt and a sheer cream blouse with a basic vest underneath. I felt that the midi length was perfect for an interview, and it’s always a good idea to wear layers, e.g. a jacket which you can remove, in case you get given hands-on tasks or assignments during the process. The off-white colours in the skirt tied in nicely with the cream blouse and I brought the overall look up-to-date with a statement (but not too dramatic) necklace and the collarless detail on the blazer, which I thought was really unusual and individual.

A closer look at the outfit’s detailing

In terms of accessories, for job interviews one has to be practical. This means a bag big enough to carry any documents you might need (CV, qualification certifcates, ID, etc), as well as essentials like a bottle of water which never go amiss in more nerve-wracking situations. This one has several useful pockets and compartments, so there was no embarrassing fumbling in the bag during the interview. I am a firm believer that a heel gives you that added confidence boost in an interview, but obviously you don’t want to be tottering around the office or worse, risk tripping up in front of the panel! That’s why I plumped for these chunky mid heel cut-out boots, which are a funky cross between a court shoe (or pump, if you’re in the U.S.) and an ankle boot. These shoes would be perfect to wear in all but the harshest of weather conditions, so I suspect they’ll become a regular feature of my work wardrobe!

Shoes and bags can make or break an outfit!

Shoes and bags can make or break an outfit!

Here’s where I grabbed my interview outfit:

Collarless Blazer, £34.99; Aztec Print Midi Skirt £14.99; Sheer Shirt, £16.99 and Cut-Out Boots, £24.99, all New Look

(I was lucky enough to be able to source almost my entire outfit from one store, which left plenty of time for coffee and gossiping with my shopping buddy. I only had to pop elsewhere for the basic vest and the super stylish and businesslike tote bag!)

Basic White Vest, £3.99, H&M

Large Black Tote Bag, £45, TopShop

Obviously, you don’t need to stick to my rules of interview style, maybe you’re more into statement earrings or prefer to leave the clothes classic and let your shoes do the talking. Whatever your preference, I hope that this post has managed to show that work style does not have to mean boring clothes; if anything, it can add a whole new unique dimension to your closet repertoire!

Oh, and did I land the job? I’m pleased to tell you that yes, I did! 🙂