Vengeance is Wine: Barry M Sunset Daylight Curing Nail Paint review

Just about every nail brand I can think of has a "gel effect" line out now. A lot of them promise not just the look but longevity of a gel manicure, but do they actually deliver?

I thought I'd try the Barry M Sunset Gel range with Vengeance is Wine (Β£4.99, 10ml) when it came out last October -- it was in the Autumn/Winter 2015 collection (reviewed by Polished Inka). I've now worn this a few times, and I can confirm: it definitely doesn't last as long as a classic gel manicure cured by UV lamp. But it looks good while it lasts! Which, depending on my application technique, can be up to five days without dents or scratches or chips. 

 Barry M Vengeance is Wine Daylight Curing nail paint and gel effect topcoat

Barry M Vengeance is Wine Daylight Curing nail paint and gel effect topcoat

For some reason my brain keeps wanting to call this "Revenge is Wine". It also makes me want to insert a Mr Burns gif, so let's get that out of the way:

mrburnsgif.gif

According to Barry M's product copy, the system is meant to "deliver the look and resilience of pro salon gel nails without a UV lamp or the expense!" I was pretty disappointed by the wear when I first tried it -- it chipped within the first day and dented really easily. It was nothing like an actual gel manicure. BUUUUUT I've always been pretty crap and impatient at putting on polish... apparently you're not supposed to slosh on two coats without waiting for them to fully dry in between. I've since had much better results after putting on two thin coats and taking my time; it's lasted roughly five days each time I've worn this with a bit of tip wear and minor chipping by days six and seven. It definitely starts looking scruffy around day seven and by then I'm ready to get rid of it.

 Barry M Vengeance is Wine: this is day five of wear, and you can see some tip wear and a chip on my index finger. The shine starts wearing off too.

Barry M Vengeance is Wine: this is day five of wear, and you can see some tip wear and a chip on my index finger. The shine starts wearing off too.

I'd been looking for something that was classic but a little bit vampy, and Vengeance is Wine is spot on -- a deep, rich red with brown undertones. The closest I have in my collection is the Body Shop's Colour Crush in Crimson Kiss (Β£5, 6.8ml), which is lighter and leans more purple. The formula itself is on the thick side, and it applies evenly. It's actually pretty decent in coverage after just one coat but needs two to be fully opaque. The brush is on the wide side -- almost exactly the same width and shape as those of my YSL polishes -- and flat so it lays across the nail nicely, and I can cover most of my nails in three strokes. 

 Barry M Sunset Daylight Curing nail paint: I like the brush size and shape -- it's wide and the shape lays down the polish nicely

Barry M Sunset Daylight Curing nail paint: I like the brush size and shape -- it's wide and the shape lays down the polish nicely

The polish on its own has the shine of your average nail polish. However, the Sunset Daylight Curing range includes a Daylight Curing Topcoat -- I bought it at the same time as Boots had a two-for-Β£7 deal on Barry M. It gives the whole thing the high-shine, plush finish of a gel manicure. The instructions say to only use with the Sunset gel range, but I've since used it with other brands (Chanel, & Other Stories, and Priti NYC to name a few) with good results. However, the shine does wear off -- you can see it fading on my nails in the photos.

Vengeance is Wine removes just like a regular polish, and while it's such dark colour, there's been no weird staining after removal even without using a base coat. I'm pretty pleased with it overall, and am thinking of picking up more colours from the range -- possibly Dark Side of the 'Shroom (also from the A/W collection) or Bug A Blue (from the recently released Spring 2016 collection; products shown on Beauty Queen UK's blog). 

I'd love to hear about any experiences you have with similar gel-effect polishes, particular by Sally Hansen and OPI. There's also Sensationail, which is an actual gel polish system that includes a UV light, but I feel like it's a lot of investment -- plus I'm really not keen on the annoying removal process for gel nails. Thoughts? 

Is this just Fantascene: the NARS x Steven Klein Pop-Up Store experience

Nars invokes a certain image of beauty, and have a knack of taking the overtly sexual and invoking something more edgy and cerebral. Auxiliary Beauty recently wrote a post about Urban Decay's Revolution Lipstick in 69, and made the comparison to the names from the Nars Guy Bourdin collaboration -- UD's name choice just seems lazy and crude in contrast. Sure, Orgasm and Deep Throat are as obvious as they come, but I suspect things were a little different when they were starting out back in '96. 

FranΓ§ois Nars also shoots his brand's advertising campaigns, and I think he does well in choosing great collaborators for some of their limited editions -- they don't feel like a marketing gimmick, and the product development often feels more fully fleshed than, say, MAC's limited editions. Their previous photographer collaborations were a little hit and miss: the Andy Warhol collection suffered from poor product quality, and the Guy Bourdin range was controversial due to the glamourisation of violence to women in his imagery. (Related: I really respected Christine of Temptalia's discussion of the topic.) 

  Killer Heel  print, hung opposite the video installation

Killer Heel print, hung opposite the video installation

Steven Klein, Nars' latest collaborator, isn't without his controversies, either -- hello, blackface in French Vogue! Just about every one of his shoots featuring Lara Stone! I'm no art or photography aficionado, but I think there's a fine line between exploring and commenting on some of these challenging ideas, and glamourizing them (and as often is the case, exploiting them for commercial gain). There's something about Klein's subjects and settings, though, a plastic, almost alien quality that reminds me of Blade Runner (is Replicant Beauty a thing? It should be) -- it makes his imagery more abstract to me, and is challenging in a less blatantly violent way.  

 Replicant Beauty! This look was very similar to the main collection imagery.

Replicant Beauty! This look was very similar to the main collection imagery.

Soho, London, was basically the perfect place to host a Nars x Steven Klein pop up store for their Fantascene Holiday Collection. While gentrification has well and truly set in (my friend Ryan, Essex native and Soho regular, is forever bemoaning the Crossrail development), there are still classics like the Soho Original (bookshop-cum-sex store SEE WHAT I DID THERE) and establishments filled with sordid goings on. The pop-up was kind of a gallery setting featuring the Steven Klein imagery used on the products and in the campaign. There was a tiny bar out back serving red-hued cocktails, a photo booth, and a room featuring the Killer Heels looping video installation. The products themselves were laid out on plinths alongside the corresponding visuals, and you could of course play with them -- makeup artists were on hand to help.

Nars Steven Klein Pop Up πŸ‘ πŸš™

A video posted by Teresa (@brushandbullet) on

I mentioned in my Anti-Haul post that I considered the One Shocking Moment palette, but went for the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit instead. When I visited the pop-up I swatched it, and asked a MUA to apply some of it on my face, and now I'm glad I went for the Hourglass. I wasn't so keen on the Paloma contouring duo included, already own Laguna, and while the blush shades were beautiful, I felt like I owned similar colours already.

Nars Steven Klein An Abnormal Female Lip Coffret

So the palette was an easy one to forego, but I kind of fell in love with the An Abnormal Female Bullet Lip Pencil Set. One day I'll write a post about the reasoning behind my blog name, and Klein himself has referred to the inspiration behind the product design in interviews -- there are some obvious parallels to be drawn between lipsticks and bullets. The red-tipped, brass-toned packaging is solidly made and weighted at the tip, and there's nothing flimsy about it.

 From top: Nars Dragon Girl, 413 BLKR, and Sex Machine on NC30 skin

From top: Nars Dragon Girl, 413 BLKR, and Sex Machine on NC30 skin

All three of the Velvet Matte Lip Pencils in the set are permanent and full size -- Sex Machine, 413 BLKR, and Dragon Girl -- and the whole thing retails for Β£45 (the pencils are normally Β£19 each). A while ago I commented on Auxiliary Beauty's (can you tell she's a favourite?) MAC Giambattista Valli Eugenie post that the range contained what are basically the Platonic ideals of all of the main lipstick colour families. The An Abnormal Female set is similar -- there's the mauve-y pink, a bright fuschia pink, and a punchy red. What would "complete the set" for me would be an orange or orange-leaning red, an oxblood, and a nude (I would never wear a pale pink like Bianca B).

 From top: Nars Mysterious Red and Dragon Girl on NC30 skin

From top: Nars Mysterious Red and Dragon Girl on NC30 skin

I already owned a Velvet Matte Lip Pencil as I was lucky enough to snatch one up when Liberty gave away a hundred Mysterious Reds at their Nars counter, and I adore it. For reference, Dragon Girl is a touch more cool-toned than Mysterious Red, and not as deep -- I'll show lip shots and review the set later once I've had the chance to wear them. The set is exclusive in the UK to the Nars website (and the Pop-Up store, which has now closed). The One Shocking Moment palette is exclusive to Space.NK and the Nars website in the UK, and Sephora in the States.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the collection, and let me know: have you picked up anything from the holiday collections recently? I think I've got all I want!

 Nars x Steven Klein collaboration imagery

Nars x Steven Klein collaboration imagery

Nars Steven Klein An Abnormal Female Lip Coffret pencils

Keep Calm, Carry On: What I Packed for Greece (Skincare, Makeup, Packing List)

Bangkok, around seven years ago: Will and I were about to head to the airport to go home. We struck up conversation with another Kiwi (who knew someone I knew, funnily enough - two degrees, etc) and went on to share a taxi.

I was impressed by how lightly she packed -- an everyday sized backpack and a tote bag, from memory, whereas I had been lugging around one of those big 60L backpacking monstrosities for three weeks around Tokyo and Thailand. Those packs have their place (tramping, festivals, or transporting your favourite possessions when moving across the world, like I did last year), but I couldn't help thinking how I would have been a much happier traveller had I not had to constantly schlep around a good fifteen kilos on my back.

Ever since then I've tried to pack light, with varying levels of success. For this trip, a week-long Greek sailing holiday, I went as minimal as I could. It helps that it was hot, and that we pretty much only fly with the budget airlines where you have to pay extra for checked luggage. This is SO NERDY, but here's what I packed, for anyone out there who obsesses over this stuff like I do:

 Sunset in Aegina: the black & Other Stories maxi is a little boobilicious at times. Wearing the Soap and Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude over Marc Jacobs Nude(ist) Lip Pencil.

Sunset in Aegina: the black & Other Stories maxi is a little boobilicious at times. Wearing the Soap and Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude over Marc Jacobs Nude(ist) Lip Pencil.

  • Three dresses -- a long black maxi (similar to this one, but in stretch cotton) and a short racerback tank dress (similar to this one, but with a twisted back), both from & Other Stories, plus a white linen sundress with crochet panels from Country Road several years ago (second from left in this pin).
  • Soft white button up shirt from Miss Selfridges, similar to this, and denim shorts from H&M - I probably could have done without both of these.
  • Two pairs of shoes -- jandals from Muji and plain black chunky sandals (Β£10 from a local department store).
 Same day I threw up my breakfast Greek yoghurt and figs over the bow of the boat.

Same day I threw up my breakfast Greek yoghurt and figs over the bow of the boat.

  • Two pairs of togs -- a one-piece and a bikini. Next time: two bikinis, which would double as bras.
  • Undies! And two bras.
  • Blue cotton towel from Sicily -- chartering the boat included towels but I used this as a sarong as well.
  • Two plain black singlets (H&M) and a pair of soft black shorts (Trenery) for sleeping.
 Calzedonia bikini top and a blue cotton towel from Sicily.

Calzedonia bikini top and a blue cotton towel from Sicily.

  • My beloved Saben Tilly's Big Sister handbag for going onshore, and a backpack from H&M (similar to this) as my carry on "personal item" for stuff like my diary, camera, notebook, phone, and travel documents. The challenge for next time is a smaller personal item. 
  • Sunglasses, an aviator style. I dropped them in a dirty toilet just before we left for the airport BAHAHAHAHAH. Luckily they were $5 from Cotton On.
 Evening in Hydra. Wearing the makeup in the next shot, applied on-deck! Mostly piled on the Korres Zea Mays Blush in Orange.

Evening in Hydra. Wearing the makeup in the next shot, applied on-deck! Mostly piled on the Korres Zea Mays Blush in Orange.

Cosmetics-wise, I tried to fit everything into this Muji case and the regulation-sized ziplock bag (although I cheated and put some stuff in Will's). It's a mixture of favourites and a few new things I've been playing with:

 Muji travel case with everything shoved in it. Applying makeup on-deck while moored up in Hydra: Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush, EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush, Estee Lauder Doublewear Eyeliner, Korres Wild Rose and Vitamin C Treatment, Korres Zea Mays Blush in Orange, Muji eyelash curler, ArtDeco Bronzing Glow Blusher.

Muji travel case with everything shoved in it. Applying makeup on-deck while moored up in Hydra: Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush, EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush, Estee Lauder Doublewear Eyeliner, Korres Wild Rose and Vitamin C Treatment, Korres Zea Mays Blush in Orange, Muji eyelash curler, ArtDeco Bronzing Glow Blusher.

 Maybelline Powder, Coppertone Facial sunscreen, Muji eyelash curler, ArtDeco Bronzing Glow Blusher in Queen of the Jungle.

Maybelline Powder, Coppertone Facial sunscreen, Muji eyelash curler, ArtDeco Bronzing Glow Blusher in Queen of the Jungle.

 Soap & Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude, Sephora Rouge Infusion in Peony, MAC Mattene in Eden Rouge.

Soap & Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude, Sephora Rouge Infusion in Peony, MAC Mattene in Eden Rouge.

  • Maybelline Clear Smooth All In One Shine Free Cake Powder SPF25PA++ (Β£1 at the local pound store! I think this is an Asia-only release), applied using the Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush (from the duo fiber collection). I know from past experience that liquids and BB creams would simply melt off my face in the 30+ degree heat, so I just used the powder over the top of sunscreen if I felt like a bit of coverage.
  • ArtDeco Queen of the Jungle Bronzing Glow Blusher (limited edition from a couple of years ago, but still available here and they seem to do a variation on the theme every now and then), applied with the EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush
  • Estee Lauder Doublewear dual ended eyeliner in Onyx and Coffee (I think this was a limited edition release; the full sized version has a smudger on the other end), smudged out with the Real Techniques Shading Brush, and the Makeup Revolution Awesome Double Flick Liquid Eyeliner. I probably could have done with leaving one of the liner options behind.
 EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush, Makeup Revolution liquid eyeliner, Marc Jacobs Lip Pencil in Nude(ist), Real Techniques Shading Brush, L'oreal False Lash Telescopic mascara, Estee Lauder Doublewear eyeliner, Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush

EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush, Makeup Revolution liquid eyeliner, Marc Jacobs Lip Pencil in Nude(ist), Real Techniques Shading Brush, L'oreal False Lash Telescopic mascara, Estee Lauder Doublewear eyeliner, Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush

 Soap & Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude, Sephora Rouge Infusion in Peony, Lush Solid Perfume in Karma, MAC Mattene in Eden Rouge.

Soap & Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude, Sephora Rouge Infusion in Peony, Lush Solid Perfume in Karma, MAC Mattene in Eden Rouge.

  • Coppertone facial and body sunscreens (these were three for Β£1 at the local pound shop; another Asia-only release I think), contact lens solution (FYI: no one seemed to sell solutions for RGPs in Greece, and mine got confiscated at customs because it was 120 mLs... woe), and mini shampoo and conditioner (I got the Charles Worthington Sunshine Protector range from Boots).
  • Collistar Glycolic Acid, previously reviewed here.
  • A freebie pack of Simple Face Wipes (although I've bought them in the past) to remove makeup and sunscreen, and then I would do a second cleanse with the (shock horror) freebie soap on board.
  • Lush solid perfume in Karma, in the old push up packaging -- such a gorgeous scent! It's an orange and patchouli blend, and almost smells fizzy, if that makes sense.
  • Skinny cotton buds from Muji, a few cotton pads, tweezers, and hair ties.

Looking back, I could definitely have gone lighter, but hey... [insert something about minimalism being a journey, not a destination]. What about you -- what can't you travel without? How many lip options would you be happy with? And would you mind if I write more travel posts? I've got a lot more to say about Greece!

 Ahhhhhhhhh take me back.

Ahhhhhhhhh take me back.

Extras for experts: How to Pack Like Joan Didion (Into The Gloss).

What would be in my Beauty Box? Featuring Vichy, Collistar, Pixi Beauty, and Topshop

I've written about beauty boxes before, and I'm still not that keen on them. Latest In Beauty, however, does some of the best boxes around. The key for me is that they are not a subscription service -- all of their boxes are one-offs, and you can build your own with luxury sample sized products, along with a few full-sized ones.

British Beauty Blogger collaborated on what I believe was her third beauty box with LIB a few months ago, and I was really happy with it. I won't review it as a whole, mainly because it's no longer available, but also because I would prefer to discuss the products separately. You can see LIB's Pinterest page on it here, which links to bloggers' reviews.

Caroline Hirons is another successful blogger turned product pusher, collaborating with a hugely successful box with Cult Beauty recently. I would have loved to grab it, but Β£140 was just too much for me at the time; a shame, because I've been wanting to try several of the products for a while. 

It got me thinking, though -- what would be in my beauty box if I were a massive blogger? 

First of all, I'd want to include as many full sized products as possible. There are enough sample boxes out there, so why bother? I'd also include my favourite skincare products that I think would suit a wide range of skin types and situations. There would be a couple of favourite makeup items, as well as something new and fun, because who doesn't want to try a hyped up product on the cheap? Lastly, I'd consider a "lifestyle" item -- I know there's divided opinion about the inclusion of these in beauty boxes, but screw it, this is all about me!

my beauty box picks vichy collistar pixi

So, here are my picks:

  1. Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum
    A favourite of Sali Hughes', I picked this up in Paris on her and many other bloggers' recommendations. This stuff is amazing on dry and dehydrated skin, and is so light that my skin loves it even when it's oily. It does contain silicone, which I'm usually not a huge fan of, but it seems to work for me. A great one for layering under moisturisers, or on its own when you're oily and/or the weather is humid.
  2. Collistar Glycolic Acid
    I picked this up in duty-free on the way home from Sicily. I've never seen the brand in the UK, and it's a shame -- the products I picked up from there are great! The gel/serum texture seems to be uncommon, as I've only ever seen acid toners here in the UK, whereas back in New Zealand I was a huge fan of the Environ Intensive Alpha Hydroxy Gel (previously reviewed here). I tend to find acid toners a little harsh and drying, while acid gels and serums seem to suit my skin a lot better. This is a little tacky going on, but five minutes later you won't feel anything -- just soft, plumped up skin.
  3. Pixi Flawless & Poreless Primer
    This contains silicones, despite what the salesperson told me! But it doesn't seem to contain as much as many "pore filling" primers, and also doesn't make my oily-combination skin even oilier several hours on. It's a bit weird because it's not tinted (i.e. doesn't rub off on white clothing), but it is coloured and seems to slightly even out my skintone. I've been wearing this topped off with MAC MSFN on a daily basis for work. 
  4. Something from & Other Stories
    I've shown a sample packet here from a recent order I made -- I haven't actually tried their body lotions, but I love their shower gels and facial skincare products. They're good, basic products with an amazing range of fragrances, and there's something for everybody. You can choose one free sample per order when you buy from the website.
  5. Makeup Revolution London Awesome Double Flick Thick and Thin Liner
    I think I picked this up in a deal at Superdrug along with one of their lip products -- it retails for Β£3.50! It actually is awesome, and I like it better than many others I've tried, including Eyeko's liners. You can achieve anything from a bold, graphic liner look to a baby feline flick. 
  6. Topshop Lip Ombre
    This qualifies as my trendy item. I'm a little sick of the ombre everything, but this is a cool idea -- a base colour, plus a lighter colour which works to highlight the middle of your lips. You could, of course, also wear them separately. This was a bit of an impulse purchase when I met up with Auxiliary Beauty last month.
  7. Kester Black Peony
    I previously reviewed this one here. It's a gorgeous colour, and the formula is great. I loved it enough to schlep it to the UK with me!
  8. Harney & Sons Ambessa blend in Earl of Harlem
    I'm no tea conoisseur, but I just can't stop trying new ones. H&S does some really beautiful blends in both loose leaf and pyramid bags -- I'd highly recommend trying them out. I found these sample sized tins in Farro Fresh in Auckland, and they each contain five bags.

What do you think of my picks, and what would you include in your Blogger Beauty Box?

Recent favourites: beauty or otherwise

  • Reading this post by Auxiliary Beauty, and not just because I feature :D Her blog in general is a favourite, and I was so, so pleased to be able to meet up with her during her trip to London. We swatched at various beauty places; I bought one of the new Topshop Lip Ombre duos (which I've still yet to try on!); we had a pretty photogenic/tasty dinner at Simurgh, a Persian restaurant in Covent Garden. (P.S. I'm still so impressed that you identified the maiko. I love finding out about peoples' obsessions!)
  • This pizza from Franco Manca:

The chefs liked us sweaty netball girls, obvs πŸ˜¨πŸ•πŸ˜˜

A photo posted by Teresa (@brushandbullet) on

  • Free TV and radio tapings abound in London, and I've been to several -- mostly thanks to my friend Lillian who is amazing at scouting these gigs out. The most memorable have been QI (basically a longer, smuttier version of what you see on the telly), Live at the Apollo, and last weekend's Museum of Curiosity (taped at the BBC, where we took photos in front of that telephone box, and weren't allowed to take photos of the newsroom).
 I've never seen Doctor Who.

I've never seen Doctor Who.

  • Dreaming of living in a teeny tiny house:
 Searching "modern tiny house" will leave you feeling poor and inadequate.

Searching "modern tiny house" will leave you feeling poor and inadequate.

  • I've been making my way through the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch. They're magical murder mysteries where London itself is essentially a character, and I've learnt so many random facts about the city (did you know about the fake houses in Bayswater?). The main character, Peter Grant, is mixed race, and I've noticed that Aaronovitch identifies white characters as being white -- that's not something you see very often, and I like that the books reflect the diversity of the city. They're witty, and really fun to read. I've also recently come across Aaronovitch's blog, Temporarily Significant -- there's a comic based on the series coming out mid-July!
 Rivers of London -- there are two more books in the series.

Rivers of London -- there are two more books in the series.

  • Planning holidays. Next weekend is Cornwall with friends; I want a cream tea (missed out while in Devon) and to eat at a Rick Stein's restaurant!