Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Red Carpet Manicure Gel Polish Pro Kit : What you get, How it works, What it looks like

Hello everyone!

Yesterday was my 18th birthday, and typically I asked for some nail tech bits and pieces. I've recently become really interested in gel polish, and I wanted to know how I could do my own gel manicures at home, since getting a gel manicure where I live is £20 upwards! I thought that getting a DIY kit would be more economical in the long run.

So, I asked for the Red Carpet Manicure at-home gel polish kit. I had a go with it yesterday, and I'm very happy with it indeed!

First of all, here's some pictures of what you get in the kit:

This is the box that everything comes in. It's all safely packaged inside so that nothing gets broken or tipped over.

This is the LED lamp! It's a 6 Watts lamp. As you can see there's enough room for all 4 fingers underneath. The button above the RCM logo switches the light on for 45 seconds, after which it automatically turns itself off. The lamp plugs into the mains socket directly, so no batteries are required!

I've heard that you can get stronger lamps and I know that there's also UV lamps available. I've yet to try out any UV specific polishes with my LED lamp - I'll probably stick to the RCM nail system for the moment. However, I did see someone on a nail tech forum saying that you can use Gelish with the RCM system.

These are 59ml bottles of Purify and Erase. Erase is RCM's branded gel polish remover, Purify is used to cleanse the nail plate of tacky gel residue before gel application, and also to remove the sticky surface of the Brilliance topcoat after it's cured under the lamp.

Prep is a nail plate dehydrater that removes excess oils from the nail and prepares it for the base coat.

Structure is the base coat for this system. After it's cured, it's sticky so that the gel colour can adhere to it  beter, so it's important not to touch it when you've cured it! Also, it's best to apply this in as thin a coat as possible, otherwise the base coat tends to shrink away from the nail tip.

This colour came with the kit; it's called Red Carpet Reddy and it's a jelly-based bright red. I use 2-3 coats on each nail to get a bright, slighty translucent red. Again, I cure each coat for 45 seconds. After curing, the polish is still sticky, so you have to make sure that you don't dent or wipe your nails on anything before sealing the colour with Brilliance topcoat.

The Brilliance topcoat seals in the coloured gel polish. I cure this for 45 seconds and it's ready to go, provided I use Purify to wipe of any stickiness.

Revitalize is a cuticle oil which you can apply every day to keep your natural nail hydrated. It smells really lovely, sort of like flowers!

In short, the process of actually doing a gel manicure with this system is as follows:
  1. Apply Prep to nails liberally.
  2. Apply Structure to nails, using a thin coat.
  3. Cure Structure under the lamp for one button-press, i.e. 45 seconds.
  4. Apply a coat of colour.
  5. Cure the colour for another 45 seconds.
  6. Apply a second coat, making sure you don't touch the sticky layer on top of the first coat of colour. Also, make sure to swipe the brush along the free edge of the nail to prevent the nail tips from showing and to improve longevity.
  7. Cure the second coat for 45 seconds.
  8. Apply Brilliance topcoat, again making sure to swipe it along the free edge of the nail. This seals in the colour and prevents the gel from peeling off of the nail / chipping.
Provided that you follow these steps, this is what you'll end up with:

It's incredibly shiny and looks almost jelly-like. Best of all, it looks identical to the gel manicures that I've seen done in salons, but you can do it at home yourself!

You can buy this kit on Asos.com, and you can also buy additional colours of RCM nail polish on their website or at Sally's Beauty Supply.

I hope you've enjoyed this post, if you have any questions about the RCM gel polish system or any tips/pointers for me, please comment below! 


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

NOTD - *~* Stars and Meteors *~*

Hello everyone!

Today's NOTD (that's Nails Of The Day) post is inspired by space. Retro cartoons of space, with all the little stars and planets whizzing around, have always been something I like. They're charming in that they show a futuristic landscape in an old-fashioned style!

Today, I started off with 2 coats of Sinful Colors' 'Rich In Heart'. In the bottle this is a blackened red metallic colour, but once on the nail it appears to be a deep chocolate brown. It's not what I was expecting it to be, which is unfortunate, but I can still find good uses for it despite the red shimmer only showing up in very bright sunlight. I like to think this colour lends a warmth to my fingers - black can sometimes look quite harsh unless I jazz it up once it's on my fingers.

On top of this is one coat of 'Golden Enchantment' by China Glaze and one coat of 'When Monkeys Fly!' by OPI. GE is a lovely micro glitter which contains both gold and holo particles. It works best as a  subtle shimmer over the top of dark colours. Here I've used it to create the effect of stars. WMF! is a mix of big gold hex glitter, medium round holo glitter and small round holo glitter. It's a huge favourite of mine already! The holo glitter looks like twinkly stars and planets, and the gold hex glitter looks like little shiny meteors. It's a very sparkly but interesting combination - not just your average glitter! Now that I think about it, this combination kind of reminds me of Easter eggs, what with the whole brown and gold combo....

Let's have a look at some crappy iPhone pictures:

RE the 'taco glitter' qualities of WMF! : I've heard tell all across the blogosphere that the gold hex glitter in WMF! is of the taco variety - as in it curls in on itself to the point that you can't get it to sit properly on your nail bed and it sticks up and snags on things. It basically looks like tacos on the nails.

BUT! There is a way of getting past this taco-y disaster! If you're willing to take a few extra seconds on each nail, what you can do is apply the gold glitter manually with the polish brush. The steps are as follows:

  1. Fish out a gold hex glitter - I find that plenty of glitters are loaded onto the brush with each dip in the bottle. Lay it onto the rim of the bottle.
  2. Make sure that your glitter is sitting so that it curves in a way that makes it look like an upside-down U shape. This way it'll curve to the shape of your nail instead of snagging on things!
  3. Pick it up using the end of your brush and place it down onto the wet nail polish. 
  4. Wait about 30 seconds, then take the end of a cuticle pusher/orange stick and gently press down any curved edges of the glitter to ensure that it sticks to the nail.
  5. Finish off with topcoat!
This way I can easily get the gold glitter to sit flat against my nail and I have no snagging problems! It's really easy once you get the hang of it. This is how I deal with that other tricky OPI glitter of mine, 'Nothin' Mousie 'Bout It'.

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed this and that your Easter's been a good one!

Amber ◕‿‿◕

Saturday, 30 March 2013

NOTD - Sinful Colors 'Sugar Sugar' x China Glaze 'Golden Enchantment'

Hello everyone!

Sorry for the extreme hiatus - college is pretty busy at the moment!
However, I have good news to report - Boots is now selling Sinful Colors nail polish! This is really exciting because it's not often that we can get hold of US brands in the UK outside of trade outlets or department stores!

I've picked up 4 SC colours so far, and today I'll be showing you the latest one, 'Sugar Sugar'. This is a shimmery cherry red that's opaque in 2 coats. A word of warning - make sure your first coat is completely dry before applying a second, or it'll streak up a storm! In all other respects it applies pretty normally though.

On the plus side, 'Sugar Sugar' is fairly quick to dry, and it looks lovely with some glitter on top. I've decided to use two gold glitters here. One is by Rimmel, and it's called 'Disco Gold'. That's the bigger pieces of glitter that you can see below. The smaller glitter is a mix of gold and holo glitter that's by China Glaze, and it's called 'Golden Enchantment'. Please excuse any hangnails in advance, my cuticles are in a bad way at the moment!

It's a good combination, I think. The Rimmel glitter shines warm gold in some lights and green-hold in others, which makes for an interesting visual effect in different types of light. 'Golden Enchantment' has a mix of gold and holo glitters that are micro-micro-small, they're more like a dusting of glitter than actual sequins or anything - but this is why I like it so much. It adds something delicate to an otherwise bold combination.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Holo Polish: The Makeup Store's 'Siw' and GOSH Fix Base Coat


Today I'll be demonstrating a rather beautiful polish from The Makeup Store. I believe that this brand is quite hard to obtain in the UK unless you take a trip to Carnaby Street in London, although I've heard that a Westfield somewhere in London also has a branch. I think it's a Swedish brand if I've heard correctly. Their nail polishes are all £11, and they're also all 8ml. Expensive, yes, but this is one of the only holos I've found on the UK market, and possibly the only coloured one apart from its TMUS sister, Britta, a pink holo with a more pastel holo shine (which I coincidentally also own).

This polish is a wonderful, vibrant green-blue holo. The holo is linear and very, very bright- I suppose I would describe it as fiery more than anything, it really is that bright! I find that the effect is most visible under artificial lighting, so before I get to talking about formula and longevity etcetera, here are some photos. This is 1-2 coats depending on the finger, over GOSH Fix Base Coat, without topcoat:

Isn't it beautiful? The name is apparently said 'Seev', despite being spelt S-I-W. Interesting.
It's incredibly vibrant, and is perfect for any event where you'll be under bright lights. It's not quite as bright in daylight, but still gives a pretty, fish-scaly effect. It's a personal favourite of mine.

As far as topcoat goes, I've heard that topcoat can diminish holo polishes in terms of shine, but I used one coat of Nina Ultra Pro Wet Glaze on top of this afterwards out of curiosity and found that once it dried, it made no difference at all to the holo effect - in fact, it just smoothed out the planes of the nail and made it smoother.

As with all holo polishes, this lasts for less than a day on me without tipwear and minor chips, but this comes with the territory as far as I'm concerned, so I was far from surprised at this. Holos are notorious for chipping very quickly, but I feel like the effect is worth the minor tipwear that I've experienced. On this polish, it's not especially noticeable when there's tipwear anyway.

One thing you have to realise with holo polishes is that if you want them to apply anywhere close to easily, you must use an aqua base coat. If you don't do this, then you end up fiddling around and using close to 3 or 4 coats. A normal base coat just won't do the job, and you'll end up wasting polish trying in vain to even out the polish. 
In addition, I've tried using this without aqua base coat and the holographic effect is nowhere near as bright.
Aqua base coats multiply the holo effect by a huge amount and make application a hundred times easier, trust me!

The aqua base coat that I use is GOSH Fix Base Coat. I bought this off of Ebay for £5 including postage, which was a total bargain considering that it is now discontinued as far as I know! TMUS also make their own aqua base coat called Aqua Fix, but it is more expensive per bottle and cannot be ordered online (at least, not in the UK).

Here's a couple of photos of GOSH Fix Base Coat:

That's TMUS' Siw and GOSH Fix Base Coat in a rather wordy nutshell. I hope that this has been useful, and please contact me or comment below if you have any questions!
Thanks for reading,

Amber ♫ 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Simple, quick and neat: Lazy nails that still look polished!

Hi everyone,

Exams are finally over and I can start posting more often!

I thought I'd share my method for an easy, quick way of getting nails to look nice and polished without having to apply multiple costs of a colour, wait ages for layers of polish to dry, and fuss over really obvious chipping a few days later!

I came up with this a little while ago for the evenings when I haven't got the energy nor inclination to paint my nails super carefully and elaborately. I also hate hate hate chipped nails, so the fact that this involves a sheer nude polish gets around that issue.

I've used a French manicure colour from Natural Collection (which is quick drying and a steal at £1.99) followed by a coat of OPI Nail Envy. The French manicure colour is quite sheer and a little on the streaky side depending on application, but it's cheap and looks lovely and neat on the nail.

I hope this has been helpful, bye for now!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

OPI Die Another Day - Review and Swatches

Hello again, for the second time today!

I picked up this polish yesterday at Sally Beauty Supply for a wondrous price of £3.64! How amazing is that? I've never managed to get OPI at such a huge discount before, and the bottle is full size too!

This is Die Another Die from the OPI Skyfall collection, as I'm sure many of you know.
It's a beautiful orange-tinted red. It's opaque in 2 coats, and I had few problems with application. It dries quickly to a satiny finish that's very very shiny. It appears to have a bright orange-red shimmer going through it that's quite silky looking, it's not frosty in any sense. In some lights this polish appears cherry red, and in others it leans more towards orange. I love it because it's a subtly different, dynamic take on classic red.
I can't comment on durability having only had it on since this morning, but I expect it to last me about 2-3 days at the maximum without too much major chipping. My nails are bendy to the point where long-wearing nail polish sadly just isn't a thing for me.
On my right hand, I used OPI Goldeneye on my index finger as an accent. I think it goes quite nicely with the red!

Here are some swatches:

I have to say, I had a couple of problems with streaking when I applied this, but that was more my lack of left hand control than anything else. I doubt that it's anything to do with the formula.

Anyway, I highly recommend this colour - it's a bright, vibrant red that's good for all seasons and is classic with a twist - definitely not boring at all!

I hope you enjoyed reading this, if you have any questions please ask!

Nail Care and Maintenance


Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I'm right in the middle of exams and spare time is hard to find!

Today's post goes out to my sister Cachelle, who needs some education in the nail care department. As an art student, her fingers are always covered in paint and ink, and she's always tearing her nails on things!  (#゚Д)  Everyone in our family has ridged, weak nails, and I have to use specific products to get mine in shape for polishing. So I present to you my nail care and maintenance routine (Cachelle, if you read this take note!!!) :

Step 1: Shaping and Filing

For shaping and filing I use the Stylfile file and buffer. The curved shape is unbeatable for getting a perfect round nail, and can also be manipulated to shape nails into stiletto, square or squoval shapes. The abrasive on the file is good quality and long lasting. The buffer works very well and gives nails a nice smooth, shiny surface for polish to adhere to.
The buffer has 4 different areas, and the file has a stronger grit and a smoother grit side:

Step 2: Nail strengthening cream

I use Nu-Nale to strengthen my weak nails before I get to polishing them. I use a small dot of cream on each nail, making sure to rub it in so it soaks through the nail's pores. This is what the tube looks like, I got it in Boots for just over £3:

I find that this product starts working overnight if you choose to go without polish and leave it on. I personally do this every few days to give my nails a rest if I can. Otherwise, it's just good to put some on and leave it for half an hour before painting your nails, just to give them some extra strength.

Step 3: Strengthening Base coat

I use Original Nail Envy by OPI as my base coat. It's very expensive for a nail product at nearly £19, but it does last a long time and keeps nails stronger and stain free when you wear polish. I recommend using it as a topcoat as well! I received this as a gift, and I probably wouldn't buy another full size bottle since they're so expensive. I advise finding a mini bottle on Ebay, that way you can save at least £10-£12 and still have enough to last you for a long time!

I also have a couple of go-to products that I use once the polish is on:

Seche Vite topcoat:

I really love this topcoat. It provides a glassy finish like no other topcoat I've tried, dries quickly and is self-leveling (i.e. it smooths out itself and the polish underneath it to minimise lumps etc). I find that it does bubble on the nail occasionally if you pile it on too thick or shake the bottle too much. It really smells very chemically since it contains toluene, so make sure to ventilate the room when you use it! It's not cheap at around £10, but it's lasted me a good few months and I'm not even half way through!

Elegant Touch Rapid Dry for Nails:

This is a sprayable version of quick drying nail oils. It's really quite handy! I use it after Seche Vite to speed up drying time further, and to moisturise my cuticles (it contains Vitamin E, which is beneficial to the cuticles I imagine).  It dries things nicely within a few minutes, depending on how thick your polish is applied onto the nail. It's about £3 from Boots.

That's a summary of the products I use to keep my nails in check. I hope this was useful, and if you have any questions please just ask!
Thank you for reading,