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 (£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 (£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-£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? 

Smith and Cult Stockholm Syndrome (review and swatches)

For the past four months or so I've been on a beauty product low-buy, and it's been pretty successful. The only things I've bought have been replacements or things I needed, so when I had a £5 reward voucher on my Space.NK account I treated myself to something I'd been eyeing up for a while now: Stockholm Syndrome from Smith & Cult.

 Smith & Cult Stockholm Syndrome nail polish

Smith & Cult Stockholm Syndrome nail polish

90s kids will probably remember Hard Candy, the nail polish brand. I never owned any but thought they were so cool, what with the colours, the teenybopper rings that came fitted on the caps, and slightly provocative ads I'd see in the Seventeen magazines I'd get out of the library. From what I can tell the range went downhill after being bought by LVMH, but its co-creator Dineh Mohajer has now come out with Smith & Cult.

I picked this up at the Kensington Space.NK after attending a School of Life session "Discover 100 things you didn't know about yourself" at Harrods in an attempt at self-improvement. (It ended up just making me cringe, so I looked around the Harrods art gallery and stationery department instead.) The store was probably the biggest Space.NK I've seen in London, and pretty much stocked all of their available brands. From memory there were maybe twelve or so S&C polishes in the store, with the rest being online exclusives. See the 35-strong range here -- I'm drooling at the blues!

 Smith & Cult Stockholm Syndrome nail polish on my nails.

Smith & Cult Stockholm Syndrome nail polish on my nails.

I've been wearing two coats of Stockholm Syndrome by itself with no base or topcoat. It lasts about five days on me with a bit of tip wear, which is pretty damn impressive considering how rough I am with my hands. It only really started looking like shit when I burned two pots this past weekend and had to scrub the shit out of them. 

The Smith & Cult website describes Stockholm Syndrome as an "opaque elephant gray". To my eye it almost comes across as taupe in bright natural light, but it mostly comes out a slightly cool dark gray. It's not exactly a high-shine finish and would definitely benefit from a good topcoat. I'm seriously considering getting the one in the range seeing as how well the polish has lasted. 

 Smith & Cult Stockholm Syndrome nail polish. Background: Hands, Hands, Hands by Horst (1941)

Smith & Cult Stockholm Syndrome nail polish. Background: Hands, Hands, Hands by Horst (1941)

The bottle is basically a miniature paperweight -- solid glass with a dented metal lid, which is a faux cap in the vein of Chanel or Butter London bottles. The brush itself is housed in the real cap, about the same size in width and length as the YSL brush, slightly shorter than OPI, and is a good size for my small nails. My one complaint is about the cap, because it's on the small side (I didn't take a photo of it, but you can see a shot in Tynan from xojane's post on the range). I find it a little fiddly to hold, and definitely prefer the long, tapered design of OPI's lid.

The names of the polishes in the range are all named after moments or episodes in Mohajer's life. See this evocative quote for Stockholm Syndrome: When one ex started bawling, triggering two more, I made a quick b-line for the door -- was she the one experiencing Stockholm Syndrome, or her exes? What kind of pain and kindness did they inflict on each other? It had me thinking about how the beauty-obsessed often associate life events with products -- a perfume I can no longer wear because I associate it with bad feelings, a nail polish I used on myself and the other bridesmaids at a best friend's wedding, or the lipstick I wore when I really didn't feel like going on a night out and need a pick-me-up. It's not like I'll be creating a beauty brand anytime soon, but I think it's similar to why I write this blog: seeing my life events through the lens of beauty. 

Tell me: what's a memory you associate with a beauty product? Or, if you started your own makeup brand, what would be the first thing you make?

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 £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 £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?

How Pinterest-ing: beach-inspired nail art (feat. Formula X, Illamasqua, YSL, & Other Stories)

For a long time I had issues with insomnia, and consequently had a lot of sleep hygiene advice from health professionals. There's the usual stuff: don't drink, don't use stimulants, increase your daytime light exposure, exercise, only use your bed for sleepy/sexy time (lololol), and -- the kicker for me -- NO COMPUTER SCREEN TIME BEFORE BED. You know what flies in the face of that last one? My bedtime Pinterest habit. 

I get a similar effect from watching makeup tutorials on Youtube -- is it the blending? The soothing voices? Maybe the repetitive motions and sometimes gentle elevator music all becomes visual and aural white noise after a while... anyway, scrolling through Pinterest and re-pinning things is super relaxing as well. It's probably due to the type of accounts I follow, and if you take a look at the stuff I pin you'll get an idea of what I see through my feed.

teresa brush and bullet pinterest

Being a visual platform, there's a lot of makeup stuff on there. Some of it is very bold and eye-catching Instagram-style makeup, and there are a lot of product round ups, swatches, flatlays and the like. Then there are the pins which obviously engender the whole "that's amazing and totally do-able" feeling that results in me ugly laughing at Buzzfeed:

cookie monster nailed it
crayons nailed it
marbled nails nailed it pinterest

I haven't been brave enough to attempt marbled nails like the last one (although my friend Anthea, who is awesome at nails, did it on me once and it didn't seem like that awful a process? Future post idea...), I came across this and thought, I could totally do that without fucking it up!

 Click through for source, although when I click through it comes up with a gambling spam site. THANKS PINTEREST.

Click through for source, although when I click through it comes up with a gambling spam site. THANKS PINTEREST.

I've been wearing Sephora Formula X Enigma for the past week or so (great formula, completely opaque in two coats, self-levelling, tip wear after a few days but what's new), and when it started wearing off I thought this ocean nail thing could be worth a try.

Before (from my Instagram):

After:

pinterest ocean inspired nail art formulax sephora ysl stories blue

A slightly better shot because I overexposed the glitter tip:

 Feather found by Will on the Devon coast

Feather found by Will on the Devon coast

The products I used were:

  • Formula X Enigma, which was the base;
  • YSL Bleu Cosmique, which I blotted over most of the nail, along with
  • YSL Jade Imperiale;
  • & Other Stories Snowflake White formed the frothy waves, and
  • Illamasqua Swinger for the golden sparkly sand!
sephora formulax ysl other stories illamasqua nail polish

I'd probably use a latex sponge if I ever attempted this again, but I didn't have any on hand so I used cotton buds from Muji instead. I also only did one hand, because WHAT AM I AN ARTIST.

Tell me about your nail art history, dubious or not. Or even better: show me your pinterest successes/fails!

A beauty-lover's guide to London: the shopping edition

This week marks seven months of my arrival in London. I've been reasonably restrained in my beauty-related purchases since I've been here--Paris doesn't count--and this has involved scoping out the beauty landscape. I imagine a lot of this applies to the rest of the UK as well. Here's what I've made of it so far.

The Pharmacies

The two big players, Boots and Superdrug, are fairly similar, and you'll usually find one within spitting distance of the other. Superdrug tends to have a wider range of brands at properly drugstore prices (Make Up Revolution, MUA, GOSH), as well as stocking the product lines from the Gleam bloggers (Zoella, Tanya Burr, Ruth Crilly's COLAB). Actually, speaking of the Gleam lineup, the Real Techniques range by the Pixiwoo sisters are stocked at both chains, but the Bold Metals collection is only stocked at Boots. 

 Fangirling!

Fangirling!

Boots has a better loyalty scheme (1 point per £1 spent at Superdrug versus 4 points per £1 at Boots; 100 points converts to £1), and the bigger store have serviced counters (Estee Lauder, Clinique, Dior, Liz Earle and the like). Both Superdrug and Boots also do their own in-house brands -- Boots has their No.7 and Seventeen lines, while Superdrug has the B. range -- and often have bonus point events. 

One tip: download the mySupermarket app, which lets you compare prices across Boots, Superdrug, and the various major supermarkets. 

 Bought the baby Bioderma and the pharmacy owner threw in a bunch of samples!

Bought the baby Bioderma and the pharmacy owner threw in a bunch of samples!

Lloyds Pharmacy isn't as widely found around London, but I find that they, along with the independent pharmacies, stock a way bigger range of French pharmacy brands (Avene, La Roche Posay, Vichy, Nuxe) than Boots/Superdrug. Hunt those places out if you can't make it across the Channel and don't want to shop online.

The Department Store Beauty Halls

 Selfridges around Christmas

Selfridges around Christmas

Beauty halls here are incredible -- unsurprising, really; it was Harry Gordon Selfridge who pioneered the "theatre of retail", so what better place to see it in action than London? All the department stores stock the usual roster of mid- to high-end brands like Chanel, Dior, and YSL, but each will have exclusive brands and/or products within ranges that are sold elsewhere. Selfridges has Charlotte Tilbury (which is also stocked online at Net-A-Porter), Liberty has Surratt, Harrods has Sensai. I'm keen to try some more Suqqu -- their brow powder was great when I tested it at a counter -- and they can be found at Selfridges and Harrods. Liberty regularly collaborates with brands to create special designs, and Harrods have exclusive products as well.

In terms of stores with reward schemes, I quite like Debenhams. I signed up for their card when I saw that they were running a promotion; you could pick two free samples (I think I chose an Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliner, which wasn't very good, and a perfume sample from Givenchy). Supposedly you can show your card at any counter and get a free sample of their latest launch or a popular product, as well as mini makeovers, although I would argue that this is standard practice at most serviced counters. You can also get a free birthday brow wax at Benefit -- I've just realised that I've missed out on claiming this! It's probably the best place to grab your MAC staples, especially when the store does their 20% off beauty promotions.

liberty beauty club card

Speaking of rewards cards, how beautiful is the one from Liberty? When I signed up I received a £15 off voucher (for a spend of over £100) -- I've been eyeing up the Surratt range...

The Clothing Stores

 The Topshop polish rainbow

The Topshop polish rainbow

What would a post about London beauty shopping be without mentioning Topshop? Admittedly, I haven't bought anything from them while I've been here, but I've had a good play at the cosmetics section in their flagship store on Oxford Street. Their new lip bullets have some great colours, and their nail polish is cheap and cheerful. The Oxford Street store has also partnered up with BeautyMART, so you can try their selection of cult industry products in person. It's the only place in London where I've seen Daniel Sandler blushes in the flesh, as well as the Balmain range of hair products. 

and other stories body products

My personal favourite is & Other Stories. Their nail polish range is stunning, their skincare uses simple, effective ingredients, and their range of bath and body products are well-formulated and sophisticatedly-scented (sorry Body Shop) -- all of this at drugstore pricing. They also stock a small selection from other brands like The Balm, Uslu Airlines, and Percy and Reed.

and other stories makeup

I haven't spent a lot of time at Urban Outfitters, but they have a wee beauty section too in their bigger stores. These contain some of the quirkier or less easily available brands like Anna Sui and DHC alongside classics like Tweezerman and Carmex.

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That's enough for today, I think -- I might make a series out of this! What do you want to read about next? Where to go for cruelty-free and naturally-focused brands? Bespoke beauty products? Perfume -- oh god, I haven't even talked about the perfume halls! Where and what are your favourites in the big smoke?

*All photos are taken from my Instagram account -- it's easier just shooting with my phone when I'm out!