Nail The Week: Sugar Skull Stamping!

I absolutely adore skulls and everything associated with them so when, hot on the heels of my first stamping experience, I spied this sugar skull image plate on the MoYou website I knew instantly that I had to make it mine.

One of the best things about stamping is the number of different looks you can create with one plate; colours can be changed up endlessly to create a variety of designs. For this mani I decided to keep things simple but striking with a range of strong, vibrant colours standing out over a white base.

Unlike a large, whole-nail design which can pretty much be planted on anywhere and then cleaned up around the edges, the small, individual designs on this plate require more precise placement. I decided to practice a little on paper first but in a way I wished I hadn’t because it gave me misleading ideas about how easy it would be to line up the skulls! I was originally aiming to have each skull in the centre of the nail, but I’m actually glad it didn’t quite turn out that way, as slightly off-centred, skewiff skulls gave a funky, asymmetric feel to the manicure.

After my first use of this MoYou plate, I can safely say that I’m delighted with it. It’s affordable and good quality and I love how each little skull has different features, such as flowers or stars for the eyes and assorted headpieces (my favourite is the little pirate!) I worked out that you could do almost two manicures without using the same skull twice and many more using portions of the large skull to create an abstract effect. My test run on paper also proved that the use of this image plate is not limited to nails; it could also be used to adorn letters, cards and invitations. I’m not usually one for repeat manicures, but I loved this look so much that I might just have to bring out the plate again for my next nail design.

Here’s a look at my practice run on paper and a close-up of the image plate:

And lastly the materials I used:

– Gelly Nail Paint in Watermelon, Pomegranate and Satsuma and Nail Paint in Matt White, Bright Purple and Navy, all Barry M

– MoYou Explorer Collection Number 8 Image Plate

– Konad Stamper and Scraper Set

– Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat and Insta-Dri Top Coat (not pictured)

Nail The Week: Studded Sunset feat. Sephora Tie Dye!

In a break from tradition, I’m going to begin this week’s Nail the Week post with my materials list, which is as follows:

-Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat

-Barry M Nail Paint in Copper

-Ciate Mini in Hopscotch

-Sephora Tie Dye Top Coat

-Metal Stud Stickers in Copper, by MissLyn

-Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat

-Barry M Corrector Pen for clean-up

Is this list shorter than you were expecting? Well, I really haven’t forgotten anything; thanks to Sephora’s nifty and versatile Tie Dye Top Coat I was able to incorporate three different orange shades into my mani using just one colour polish! Best of all, Tie Dye is so easy to use- to create this look I simply painted my index finger and thumb with Copper and the remaining nails with Hopscotch and waited for the colour to dry thoroughly before layering on two coats of Tie Dye to my ring and middle finger, followed by a further two to my middle finger. After this had dried I attached the copper studs and added two coats of top coat to make sure that they wouldn’t budge.

I’m really impressed with how well Tie Dye worked. You could use it to create an ombre effect across several nails like I have here or paint coats of it onto the tip of each nail for a dip dye effect. It’s also brilliant for matching your polish to an outfit if it’s a couple of shades too light! You can expect to see more of what I think will soon become a cult product on my blog soon!

As a side note, I was also pleased with how well the studs stayed on my nails. I haven’t used metal nail decorations before for fear that they’d fall off very quickly but these stayed on for a good three days before I had to carry out emergency top coat repairs. I’ll doubtless be featuring these in my future Nail the Week posts as well!

And finally, my thumbnail polish hasn’t gone blobby, that’s a raindrop (English weather strikes again!)

Nail The Week: Silver and Satsuma!

Bright and tasty!

This week’s Nail the Week combines two very different yet beautifully complimentary colours from one of my favourite nail polish brands, Barry M. Although it looks a little intricate, this design is so easy to achieve with the help of a stationary cupboard staple, hole re-inforcers. To create this look, I painted a single coat of silver over a long-lasting base coat and waited for it to dry completely. After that, I took my hole re-inforcers and and adhered them to the bottom of my nails to create a half-moon shape, being sure to press them down firmly at the edges. I then added a coat of orange over the exposed area of the nail and removed the hole re-inforcer carefully and immediately. It’s important to remove the re-inforcers straight away after applying the second colour to prevent the shape from smudging. Once the orange was touch-dry I added a fast-drying top coat to smooth out any harsh lines in the design and protect my polish.

I really love the two colours I’ve used in this manicure; the finished effect is summery and very glamorous, and the bright orange reminds me of one of my very first nails polishes, a bright orange affair from Rimmel, back in the day when they were still using square bottles! Both the Foil Effects and the Gelly Hi-Shine polishes are pigmented enough to only require one coat of each, which is great if you’re doing a design like this one with more than one colour. This is a great look to opt for if you’re looking for a manicure to take you from day to night, as it’s bright enough to be striking in the daytime but shimmery enough to add some nighttime glamour. Of course, you could also make up your own colour combination, some others I thought of were pink and gold, black and white and peach and purple.

I’ve heard that the half-moon manicure was big news in the 1930s and 40s, so if you feel like trying out a classic manicure with a modern twist of colour, why not raid that office drawer and get started today?

Polishes used:

Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat

Silver Foil Effect and Satsuma Gelly Hi-Shine, both by Barry M

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Hole Re-inforcers, £1.99, from W H Smith.

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!