21 May 2009

A new favourite

I've always been a firm believer that price doesn't necessarily dictate quality when it comes to cosmetics. That said, and despite my recent disappointment with an offering from M.A.C., I've also tended to favour the more expensive brands of nail polish because in general their application and wear are superior to drug store brands. However, a recent post from Michelle over at All Lacquered Up turned me on to the polishes by Barry M, a UK-based cosmetics company whose products are definitely at the cheaper end of the spectrum. I ordered several bottles from their website recently, and I am SO impressed. The colours are gorgeous, the application is brilliant and they wear well. Most are opaque in two coats, they go on easily and don't streak.

My current favourite is Turquoise, a gorgeous, cheerful light blue that reminds me of the colour of the Twitter logo (seriously!).

International delivery is GBP8 which isn't exactly cheap, but given that the polishes are only GBP2.95 each it's well worth it if you order several polishes at once. And I will definitely be making a point of buying LOTS of them when we go to England next year (did I mention we're going to England next year?), orders happily taken, small commission charged. In the meantime you can purchase them from the website, or if you're lucky enough to live in England you'll find a stockist near you.

Review: M.A.C. Peppermint Patti

After blogging about my desire for this colour a few weeks ago, I went straight out to the M.A.C. store and bought a bottle of it. And let me tell you, it is just as gorgeous in person as it looks in the photos - a gorgeous mid green creme that makes me think of summer and mint choc chip icecream (mmmmmm ... mint choc chip icecream). That said however, I did have quite a few issues with it - given that it was roughly the same price as OPI I expected good things from the application and it really didn't live up to my expectations at all.

First problem: the bottle. I love M.A.C.'s packaging, it's understated and sexy, and the polish bottle is gorgeous is it not, with it's tapered lines and stubby, rounded lid? But this is where the problem lies - the width and stubbiness of the lid makes it difficult to hold and manipulate comfortably whilst applying the polish.

Problems with the bottle aside, application wise the polish was most definitely a problem child. Although the finished application was a gorgeous smooth creme with no brushstrokes, getting to that point was a bugger! Even after three coats streaking was a real problem, and the polish had a tendency to drag quite badly.

All that said, it has become one of my favourite colours and I will persevere with applying it just because I love how it looks so very much.

On a side note, I apologise for not swatching this. My nails are post acrylics at the moment, and too short and ridged to be photogenic!

16 May 2009

Review: Seche Vite Top Coat

My obsession with nail polishes means I read a lot of blogs and websites devoted to nails, and the one product that comes up again and again is Seche Vite top coat. I decided I had to get some to try for myself, which turned out to be not as easy as it sounds because I can't find any places here in New Zealand that sell it. I did track down some American e-tailers that stock it AND ship to this side of the world and ordered myself a couple of bottles (oh and some China Glaze polishes while I was at it because seriously if you're going to go to the trouble of ordering products from all the way over in America it seems pointless to just order a couple of things!).

My package arrived a couple of weeks ago and I've been giving the Seche Vite a thorough trial since then, not just on my nails but on my daughter's nails and her friends' nails and my friends' nails, and we even ordered a bottle for the Eccentric English Boyfriend's mother in England when he was on Amazon the other day buying her birthday present. And the verdict? This stuff is feckin' brilliant!

Let's start with the application. This is what the Seche Vite website says about applying it:

"Apply thickly, get a nice bead on the end of the brush, then set softly down on the first nail painted and watch how Seche Vite flows over the wet nail polish self levels and will not drag or streak the underlying manicure. It takes time to master the application and when perfected it is possible to apply in only three strokes...keep trying."

As they say it is necessary to have a large-ish bead on the end of the brush, which takes a bit of time to get used to if, like me, you tend to use less rather than more nail polish on your brush (I prefer to apply my nail polish as 2-3 and sometimes even 4 thinner coats). With enough on the brush the Seche Vite does flow smoothly onto the nail and application requires a minimum of brush strokes. However, it is quite thick and does dry very quickly and because of this I occasionally find that I will miss a thin stripe down the side of my nail. Probably something only I will notice, but it does rather bug me.

And what about the wear. Well as I said, brilliant! Seche Vite dries incredibly quickly, to a beautiful diamond-like shine, and unlike other quick dry top coats I've tried which have often muddied the underlying polish colour the colour stays absolutely true and in some cases I find it even intensifies it slightly, which I love. And the best part is, this stuff absolutely does what it says - it makes your polish last and last. I have the most appalling soft nails and normally my polish starts to flake off within hours of putting it on, but not any more. My daughter's nails are better than mine but still very flexible plus she doesn't have the patience to wait for a manicure to dry so her polish very quickly becomes smudged and chipped. She was delighted to find that the Seche Vite dried quickly enough that she didn't smudge her polish, and after several days worth of wear her manicure was still intact with only a little tip wear. And the Eccentric English Boyfriend's mother reports from England that her polish too is lasting much longer than she would normally expect.

I have heard that after a while Seche Vite does thicken in the bottle, which makes application harder. Seche manufacture a thinner (Seche Restore) which can also be used to thin nail polishes too.

All in all this is one product I highly recommend. Admittedly not cheap, but shop around the online suppliers for a good price. I get mine from TransDesign, who are quite reasonably priced (even if shipping to New Zealand isn't cheap), and also stock a huge range of nail related products including OPI and China Glaze polishes.

06 May 2009

A new use for an old favourite

I have a confession to make. I'm a Perpetual Pimple Picker (do you see what I did there, with the alliteration?). Ever since my first spot appeared in my early teens, through to the adult acne that still plagues me now in my (late-ish) 30's, I've been completely unable to keep my hands away from them. I'm well aware that this is a Bad Thing - picking spots spreads the infection, can lead to scarring and half the time makes them look worse than they did before I started prodding at them, but I'm completely unable to stop myself.

A couple of weeks ago I developed not one, but two of Those Spots. You know, the massive, painful blind spots that throb painfully and feel (even if they don't look) like a giant beacon shining from my chin. So of course I had to squeeze and pick and generally mutilate myself, until I ended up with a patch of painful, raw, red skin on my chin, even after the pimples had long since gone. After two weeks of trying every moisturiser in my arsenal and even a bandaid (which looked really stupid and itched like crazy) in an attempt to stop myself from picking at the scabbing and help it to heal, I finally, in desperation reached for the Chapstick I always carry around in my handbag, figuring that if it helps chapped lips then maybe it would do something for my poor, sore chin. And what do you know, it worked a treat. The thick, sticky texture of the Chapstick meant that I wasn't tempted to pick at it, and it very quickly soothed the raw skin. Within a few hours the skin was less inflamed, by the next day it was smoother and the inflammation had gone down even further and now, several days later, I have only a patch of slightly pink skin in place of the social life-destroying monstrosity (ok I may be exaggerating slightly) that was there previously.

In future I'm obviously going to try to stop myself from squeezing pimples in the first place, but I'm also going to ensure that I always have a tube of Chapstick handy just in case.