In need of a cool down – Essie’s ‘Find me an Oasis’

Ah, summer. You bring with you such gorgeous pastel colors for nails. And so much frustration when it comes to a smooth application of the aforementioned beauties. Last summer’s nemesis was the perfect shade of creamy buttercup yellow, and this year’s successor to that title is the ice cool blue I’ve seen looking so cute in flip-flops around the city. It’s such a perfect hot weather shade – more interesting than plain white and with a bit more edge than the usual pastels.

The shade I really liked and ended up buying in the end was Essie’s Find me an Oasis. Blue is my favorite color anyway, and this icy tone seemed perfect. But man, it’s such a headache to apply. This particular polish still has Essie’s old thin brush, which has me confused – the color is part of the current Resort 2014 collection and I was under the impression that all of Essie’s brushes are now wider and fan-shaped? Oh well.

I found the formula to be quite runny, so first impressions weren’t great. The first coat is a streaky mess and halfway through it had me wondering whether I had wasted my money. Oh, and this is a sneaky formula…even though it is runny, it still manages to dry quickly, so you better have a steady hand applying this one as you can forget about running the brush over the same area twice.

Now to the second coat to cover up the results of the first one. Honestly, I have found it so difficult to even get close to something that resembles an even finish. I had to load the brush with product and sort of  hover just above the nail to distribute it. Imagine a drop of oil or something. The minute I pushed the brush down to properly ‘drag’ the polish across the nail, it just looked awful. So it definitely takes a certain technique to get it just right.

Needless to say, the results were not fantastic. Not as bad as expected, but not great if you want to be picky like me. I finished off with a coat of the superb Butter London Hardwear P.D. Quick top coat. If you have never come across this top coat before, it’s definitely worth checking out (Sephora stock it). I used to love the Seche Vite Dry Fast top coat, but have now converted to this one, as I don’t get the ‘shrinkage’ I used to get with Seche Vite. Hardwear applies like a dream, has a glossy finish and lasts for days. I have worn it for up to seven days chip-free.

Essie find me an Oasis

The color in itself is very pretty and two coats will provide a fairly opaque finish. However, I noticed on closer inspection that the polish on most of my nails was peppered with tiny holes, which are visible on the first picture (second nail from left). I have never had that happen before, and as I have been using the Butter London top coat for over a year I doubt that it’s the culprit. I know, I know…I’m now kicking the Essie one whilst it’s down. I’m such a meanie.

Essie Find me an Oasis

So to sum up, I really like the color (it’s spot on for summer) and I could live with the bubbly finish if I absolutely had to, but I’m just not convinced the application is worth the effort. Yes, you could probably take the polish to a nail salon and see what results the experts get, but I like doing my own nails and if the finish is still uneven, you will have paid good money for results that are not immaculate. I know the perfect pastel formula is out there. I just need to find it 🙂

love, lou x

 

 

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Metallic Aqua – Essie’s Beach Bum Blu

I love, love, love blue. It’s hands down my favourite colour. My wardrobe is full of variations on the theme and when it comes to clothes shopping I’m usually left deciding between two things – something blue and something that is, for a change, not blue. But blue wins. Maybe it’s because I love the sea, or maybe it’s because I was a Smurf in a former life. Who knows.

Since I love blue so much, I’m also a sucker for blue polishes. Even though I like my nails best when they are a shade of red (dark berry red in the winter or bright tomato red in the summer), I enjoy experimenting and find it hard to resist a bottle of gorgeous blue polish. Sometimes I know before reaching the checkout that I will probably only wear a particular blue shade a couple of times but I still have to have it.

Blue nails are absolutely everywhere right now, so there’s an abundance of shades to choose from. There are blue polishes everywhere – how’s a girl to resist?! As is usually the case, I was looking for something entirely different when I came across Essie’s Beach Bum Blu in Boots. The shimmering aqua blue instantly caught my eye and had my imagination drifting to paradise islands. This shade had sea, warm breezes and holidays written all over it.

As much as I loved the colour in the bottle, the quality of the polish was a source of frustration. Let’s start with the brush. I’m really not a fan of Essie’s new, wider brushes. They are far too wide for me, and I found it difficult to get the colour close to the cuticle without smearing over it. It forced me to leave a bigger gap than I would have preferred, especially when I was applying the colour with my left hand. In my opinion, the brushes are somewhat unwieldy.

The polish is on the runny side and after the first coat I was so annoyed at how streaky it was, that I almost took the whole lot off! You also have to be super quick, as it goes tacky so quickly. I persevered with a second coat and after applying my trusted Seche Vite (it’s the best top coat ever and available from Boots for £9) things looked better. The manicure wasn’t flawless, and closer inspection revealed the odd rough patch, but by that point I had invested too much time to start again. Overall, it was alright.

I'm hoping the Colour takes the Focus away from the fact that this Manicure is four Days old!

I’m hoping the Colour takes the Focus away from the fact that this Manicure is four Days old!

I was surprised how metallic the finish was. There’s only a hint of shimmer (the tiny silver specks in the bottle hardly shine through), but the colour is vibrant and almost electric. My nails looked as if I had applied metallic foil on them. I don’t usually do metallic nails – for me, they are the nail equivalent of rhinestones. So at first my nails felt a bit over the top and wrong. But I absolutely love this shade of blue. I look at it and instantly think of sparkling waters and sunshine on my skin. It feels wrong, but yet it has won me over.

Whilst Beach Bum Blu (£7.99) might be a bit OTT for the office, it’s eye-catching and the perfect shade for a holiday mani/pedi – it screams flip-flops and fun. I will definitely use this on my toes as soon as I have a spare hour. And to make the most of it, I think I should also book a holiday. What…nobody’s booked a holiday to fit around a nail polish before?! 🙂

love, lou x

A fresh and chic Red – Essie’s Clambake

I’m all about red nails at the moment. Even though all around me the most gorgeous pastel shades are popping up for spring (mint green, anyone?) I just absolutely adore red nails. I will get to the pastels soon, I’m sure.

I guess one of the reasons I love red nails is because they are always current and match any outfit. I can’t think of many occasions (actually, I can’t think of ‘any’ occasions) where red nails are inappropriate. Short, glossy, true red nails can look fresh with denim and chic with a dark silk blouse. I also love them with trench coats and Breton stripes. By the way, there’s a funny blog post on Breton stripes and why Parisians dislike them on the Paris Do, Paris Don’t blog. I do really like Breton, but after reading this article I’ll refrain from wearing them in Paris!

I posted before about the manicure I had using Essie’s Clambake and how I ended up buying Revlon’s Colorstay in Delicious as I couldn’t find the Essie one in my local Boots. I did, of course, place an online order as soon as I got home but I got so hooked on the Revlon polish I only just got around to wearing Clambake. And it’s fab!!

The polish is quite watery, so you will definitely need two coats. Even then, the moons on my fingernails are ever so slightly visible under bright sunlight. In terms of consistency I would have preferred it somewhat thicker, but it doesn’t streak and the colour is gorgeous – a bright tomato red with just the slightest hint of orange. The finish is shiny and with a coat of Seche Vite it’s super glossy and fresh.

The picture is from day four of wearing the polish and it’s lasting really well. No chipping and no flaking.

You cannot go wrong with this

You cannot go wrong with this

In terms of comparing this against the Revlon one, I would say they are very similar. Clambake is brighter, lasts better (but I am comparing two coats against one) and is less opaque.

Boots don’t stock this particular shade and as it’s not a current colour your best bet might be to buy it online. I ordered mine from Lookfantastic and paid £9.95 for a 15ml bottle. They also offer free worldwide delivery – so what’s keeping you? 🙂

Have a great weekend!

love, lou x

Oh la la! Revlon Colorstay in ‘Delicious’

You know how you feel naked if you leave the house without your favourite makeup staple? For lots of women it’s mascara. For me, it’s definitely blush and a bit of brow powder. However, I had to dash out earlier this week with ‘naked’ nails and let me tell you – it felt completely wrong.  It was like missing a shoe and now I know that nail colour is definitely one of those things I need to wear to be seen in public. I love sporting a glossy manicure when I hold my coffee (it really is the simple things in life), so on my way to get my Americano I popped into a nail salon to get some much needed colour on my nails.

Okay, I am now done with dark colours until autumn, and fancied a bright pop of something red to herald spring. One colour that caught my eye was Essie’s ‘Clambake’, a bright orange-red. It wasn’t 100% opaque, even after two coats, but the lady at the salon did a fantastic job and I skipped out with my perfect manicure. I loved the colour so much, that I decided to pop into Boots on my way home and pick up a bottle.

I do wonder if the security guys in Boots ever get suspicious of me or whether women regularly spend hours staring at nail polishes. I’m sure I’m not the only one. After all, my husband can watch hours of Top Gear without passing out and all the colourful bottles of polish are so much more exciting. As it turned out, Boots didn’t stock this particular shade. Looking online later that evening I realised why – this shade is older than the pair of Converse I bought over three years ago. I didn’t want to leave empty-handed, so I started looking for a dupe. After a (very) long time, I decided to buy Revlon Colorstay in ‘Delicious’ (£7.99 for 11.7ml)

I can’t remember ever owning a Revlon polish and I didn’t have any high expectations, to be honest. I just really loved the colour and thought it was worth a try. I applied the polish today and it was instant love!!! Wow. This is one pretty darn good polish.

Glossy and fresh - love it :-)

Glossy and fresh – love it 🙂

First, there is the superb consistency. It’s thick, almost like a gel, yet very fluid. It applies like a dream and there is no streaking. None. Just lush, glossy colour. It settles beautifully. And the brush….oh, the brush. The brush is perfection. It’s small to medium size with just the right resistance. Whoever designed this brush, deserves a medal. The tip of the brush is ever so slightly domed and it allows for immaculate application. I always worry about starting the colour too close to my cuticles, as most polishes end up ‘travelling’ onto them. So I start a little bit further up, even though I prefer the colour to be as close to my cuticles as possible. With this brush I easily and confidently started close to my cuticles, as the polish just stayed put. The design of the brush made it so easy to drag it round and up the sides of the nails. It’s the first time I managed to do such a great paint job with my left hand! And drying time is impressive, too.

One coat is enough, as the colour is so dense and glossy. I love it! It’s more of a tomato red with a touch of orange (a bit less orangey than the Essie one) but it’s so fresh and pretty. Perfect for spring. I’m so happy with it! Oh, I did also order the ‘Clambake’ one from lookfantastic.com. I just couldn’t resist 🙂

Have a fab week-end

love, lou x

Gray with a bit of Sparkle – Mavala ‘New York’ & Barry M ‘Rose Quartz Glitter’

Man, it’s cold! I almost wavered and got my spring colours out last week as we had a couple of sunny days, but this week had me reaching for my scarf and gloves again. I fancied a nice gray on my nails as I have been wearing so much dark recently. The polish I chose was one I had actually bought some time ago and never got round to wearing. Do you ever do that?

I have to say, Mavala is not a brand I am naturally drawn to. It’s not as cool and trendy as, say Ciaté, and generally their polishes are tucked away in some department store in a ‘blink and you’ll miss them’ kinda way. They are very unassuming to say the least and I only really checked them out because my sister, who is a big fan, wanted us to. Turns out they are really worth checking out.

I can look at an OPI counter and find ten colours I like within a minute. It’s a bit more hit and miss with this Swiss brand. But – Mavala have a decent range of colours and although I’m not bowled over by the majority of them, there are definitely some great finds.

‘New York’ is a beautiful, creamy blue gray. I really liked the consistency of the polish, as it had a nice flow to it. I don’t like overly thick polishes that become gloopy too quickly. This one was just right. It meant I could easily correct mistakes. Setting time was impressively short and the colour set smoothly with a glossy finish. It may not be the most exciting brand, but the quality really is good. After all, Mavala have been around for over fifty years and doing some online research I quickly noticed that they have received a fair amount of press coverage over the years. It seems they are most famous for their nail care products, which I am now tempted to give a go.

The Reflection of the Windows is clearly not accidental and took lots of Planning :-P

The Reflection of the Windows is clearly not accidental and took lots of Planning 😉

I finished off my manicure with a coat of Seche Vite and some sparkle on my ring fingers. I’m not usually a fan of Barry M, but if you are looking for a bit of ring finger glam, look no further. A bargain at £2.99 this is a pretty clear polish infused with silver and pink glitter particles and small rose coloured discs. It’s a bit thick, but it’s easy enough to distribute the glitter evenly. It’s eye-catching and goes with most colours. I have now worn this glitter with red and very dark polishes and it works beautifully. Plus, it catches the light in a different way, depending on what colour you are wearing underneath.

The dinky little 5ml bottles from Mavala are cute and a perfect size (who ever finishes a big bottle of nail varnish, anyway?) and at £4.50 a pop it means you can try different colours without breaking the bank. A huge bonus. What bugs me about the design is the gold coloured octagon shaped lid. It makes the bottles look quite dated and reminds me of cosmetics my mum had in the 80s. Having said that, the brush is excellent – just the right firmness and width.

With spring around the corner, I will definitely be trying some of Mavala’s pastel shades. Check them out when you get a chance. I already have my eye on ‘Blue Mint’ – something to look forward to 🙂

Have a fab week-end

love, lou x

Not quite ready for Spring – Ciaté Velvet Tuxedo

We have snow! Well, not the beautiful, thick type you associate with a winter wonderland. You know, the one that crunches so satisfyingly under your boots. This is the South Coast of England and before you have finished saying, “Ah, it’s snowing”, the snow has already turned into a sludgy, muddy mess. But hey, it’s still a novelty and feels like winter. And winter calls for dark nails.

But despite the chilly wind and frost covered trees, I I have noticed a few bright coloured nails around recently. Seems people are already getting excited about spring. And I will get excited, too but in good time. For me, the time to start thinking about pinks and corals is March. January and February are both strictly reserved for winter makeup.

Wrapped up in the biggest scarf I could find, I took advantage of my trip to London last week to seek out a dark gray polish. After what seemed like a week in John Lewis, it came down to two choices: Black Oyster by Mavala and Velvet Tuxedo by Ciaté. The glitter seemed a tad too chunky on the Mavala one, so I went for the Velvet Tuxedo, a shimmery gunmetal shade.

Now, the Ciaté paint pots (£9, 13.5ml) really have the cutest bottles. Adorned with a chic little black bow, they are hard to resist. I have written about Ciaté before ; they are great quality polishes with trend-setting hues. And they have taken nail polish innovation to a whole new level – their velvet manicure set is a sellout.

The polish has a creamy consistency with a nice flow and is infused with very fine silver shimmer. I love how the dark gray colour seems almost blue in bright light. With careful application and the right amount of product, you can get away with one coat. Although I have to say that a completely smooth application was somewhat difficult to achieve. Even after applying a top coat the colour seemed just a tiny bit streaky (but only if you are very fussy and look really closely – which I am and I do).

Soooo cool :-)

Soooo cool 🙂

Drying time is excellent, although in my experience Ciaté polishes are not the longest wearing ones if you are not using a top coat. Whilst there is a nice shine to the colour, it’s not exactly über glossy. The brush is a good size (definitely on the wide side) and makes for a quick manicure. It just takes a bit of practice to perfectly navigate the edges.

The shimmer is very delicate, and gives the colour a classy feel. It‘s sumptuous enough to be worn on a cocktail night and understatedly cool for everyday. And it perfectly matches my charcoal Converse! 🙂

love, lou x

Reptile coloured Nails – OPI’s Just Spotted the Lizard

It all started with the Chanel counter a few weeks back. Spending far too much time again looking at nail polishes, the intriguing Péridot shade really jumped out at me. Now, Chanel are known for coming up with ‘gotta have this one now’ colours, but this particular one really was very different. It’s a metallic mix of gold, green and bronze. Whilst I loved the colour, I had only just made some beauty purchases and couldn’t really justify the price tag to myself. I also had reservations about how wearable the colour would be. A couple of days later, I came across OPI’s ‘Just spotted the Lizard’, part of the Spiderman collection. Talk about doing a double take. They looked identical! I had a little look online, and as it turns out, ‘Just spotted the Lizard’ is an exact dupe. They are quite a few pictures online of people wearing both colours and you absolutely cannot tell the difference.

I finally caved in and bought the OPI one last week. It wasn’t as thick as I expected it to be, but had a lovely flow and I was quite impressed how one coat gave me full and opaque colour. I considered a second coat, but there really was no need. And drying time was great. So what you see on the pictures is base coat, one coat of colour and my Seche Vite top coat.  On a side note, every time I use Seche Vite I am astonished at how great a job it does of a) making my nails shiny and b) making my manicure last. I had a little look on their website and I am now a bit wiser on what makes this product so good – apparently it is formulated to penetrate through the polish to the base coat. So it forms a single solid coat which is really durable. However it works, it’s great stuff.

Firstly, I have to say that I absolutely love the colour. It’s complex, and changes depending on the light. It can look dual-tone, gold or a shimmery green. It is a tad streaky, but I find that metallic shades can be very difficult to get completely even on the nails. And it really is barely noticeable. I am posting two pictures, which I hope show how different the polish can look.

Now it’s a greenish Lizard…

…now more of a Gold Nugget

Okay, here comes the ‘but’ at the end. It’s a great unique colour. I love its various facets….but….but…but…it really is just that bit too weird for me. On my nails it just didn’t feel right and overall it didn’t work for me. Maybe it would look pretty with a peridot ring, but I found that the colour looked a bit ‘stuck on’. Nail polishes don’t have to match your outfit anymore (for me, it’s more modern if they don’t) but this really was a step too far out of my comfort zone. I lasted one day, and then it had to come off. It might make another outing around Christmas, perhaps with a sparkly top, but this will not be one of my favourites. And I’m glad I didn’t splurge on the Chanel one. My gut feeling was right 🙂

love, lou x