Monday, December 23, 2013

China Glaze Happy Holiglaze Swatches


I have a few swatches from the recent "Happy Holiglaze" collection from China Glaze. At first glance, nothing really jumped out at me from this collection - but I actually really like a couple of polishes from it. I bought a set of 4 mini polishes called "Be Bright" from Salon Supply Store on eBay a while ago (link) - I love China Glaze minis, they are a very generous 9.6ml compared to other brands. CoughOPIcough.

[Source: eBay, link in post]
The four colours in this set are (L-R) Your Present Required, Be Merry Be Bright, Bells Will Be Blinging, and Mingle With Kringle.

Today I have some swatches of Your Present Required, Be Merry Be Bright, and Mingle With Kringle that I've accumulated over the past two weeks or so. First up - Your Present Required.

It's a thick multiglitter with hexes of various sizes. This was two coats on its own. I definitely think it would look a lot better over a dark polish, but I think that of every glitter!

Next up is Be Merry, Be Bright - another glitter.

This was on the lesser-spotted left hand, apologies forth e dodgy nail shapes!!

I'm not mad about either polish to be completely honest. I think I'm coming to the end of my super-glitter love affair - this always happens to me at the end of Winter, I seem to overdose on glitter polish from August onwards and I get totally sick of it. Both polishes apply well and I didn't have to go fishing for particles, but they were just a bit....meh.

The next one I tried was the gold foil, Mingle with Kringle.

I LOVE this polish. It's super shiny, much brighter and shinier than some other golds I own - in the bottle it reminded me of OPI Goldeneye but it's a few shades lighter and much less of a pain in the bum to remove. Definitely a favourite, and this year's Christmas Day polish pick.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Essie Warm and Toasty Turtleneck vs MUA Moody Mink


When I purchased Essie's Warm and Toasty Turtleneck recently, I was struck by its similarity to a nail polish I'd bought during the summer. MUA's Moody Mink is a dusky mauve cream that's equally as flattering on pale skin as the Essie offering from the Shearling, Darling collection.

They're not as similar as I'd initially thought, though. While they're hard enough to tell apart in real life, you can instantly tell them apart from swatches. The Essie is a warmer, cosier shade while the MUA is cooler. Here they are side-by-side, indoors, with flash:

And indoors, no flash.

All pictures show two coats, no topcoat.

Overall I think I prefer the Essie shade (Essie are fast becoming one of my favourite brands, the application and formula are just flawless on every single one I've tried so far) but for a quick fix, the MUA is excellent quality and an amazing bargain at just £1.

Not a colour I ever thought I'd pick up, but I'm glad I got both - they're flattering, warm, and make an excellent base for unusual glitter combinations.

Bizarrely, in the last photograph, it looks like four different shades, but it's just the light. Definitely not a dupe, but similar enough so that you don't need them both, unless you're really into those dusky kind of colours.

As always, I purchased the Essie from Salon Supply Store on eBay, and the MUA direct from their site.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Essie Toggle To The Top vs Leading Lady


I recently purchased 3 polishes from Essie's new Fall 2013 "Shearling Darling" collection. The ones I chose were Warm and Toasty Turtleneck, a dusky mink; The Twill of It, a purple/green duochrome, and Toggle To The Top, a black-based red glitter.

When I got them, I realised that I had probable dupes for all 3 shades already in my collection. I don't know why this happens - it's like a mental block. I've a China Glaze collection on the way and I could already pick out at least 4 dupes for one of the polishes. This nail polish lark does funny things to the brain...

Anyway, I've a dupe for Warm and Toasty Turtleneck to show you later on in the week, but for now, the ones I was most interested to compare were Toggle To The Top and last year's holiday red glitter, Leading Lady. I missed LL first time around and bought it on eBay earlier this year. To my shame, I hadn't even swatched it.

I also pulled out a few other red glitters from my stash - left to right we have O.P.I Stay The Night, China Glaze Ruby Pumps, Essie Leading Lady, Essie Toggle To The Top, Deborah Lippmann Ruby Red Slippers, and China Glaze Lubu Heels.

Here's a look at the swatch wheel outside -

And a blurry one inside:

I think the blurred photo especially shows that none of these are outright dupes for one another. The three in the middle there - Ruby Pumps, Leading Lady and Toggle To The Top are most similar, but Ruby Pumps is a much finer glitter.

On to a look at the two Essies side by side:

They look incredibly similar in the bottle. So much so that there was an audible "shite" when I opened the packet and saw the 2013 offering. However - it's a different story when you get them on the nail.

Toggle is practically a one-coater. It's a jelly-like consistency in a dark base and it's packed with raspberry coloured glitters. Leading Lady is in a red base and needs a second coat. Both are shown here with two coats of polish and one coat of Poshé.

They're very, very similar, but they're not the same. Application is also different, Toggle being a joy to apply. If you have Leading Lady and adore it, then you probably don't need Toggle, but if you have Leading Lady and think that you'd like something just a tiny bit darker and a tiny bit thicker - then Toggle is worth picking up.

I buy my Essies from the very reliable Salon Supply Store on eBay - the 3 I chose cost me less than €18 including international shipping.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Rimmel Space Dust - Aurora


I picked this up on a whim when I was recently repurchasing some Rimmel foundation (or as my husband once declared "I picked it up on a wimp"). Space Dust wasn't a line I'd heard of before. It cost me €5.49 which is dear enough for a small polish, but there was no way I was leaving without it. I'm SO glad I bought it - it turned out to be a textured sand style polish.

The texture is very much like O.P.I's liquid sand polishes, maybe even a tiny bit less gritty, but for a fraction of the price. Aurora is a dusky light pink shade, reminiscent of a pinker version of Sally Hansen's Razzle Dazzler from their Gem Crush line. It's really flattering on short nails, and looks gorgeous beside pale skin. Here it is in direct sunlight:

And inside, with a flash:

You can see the mixture of different sizes of glitter. It doesn't feel overly gritty or textured on the nail, which is a huge plus for me. Here's a close up:

Aurora is a gorgeous little find and I'll definitely be purchasing some of the others in the range if I can find them, in particular Total Eclipse, a dark vampy green/black; Shooting Star, a white; and Moon Walking, a purple. There's also a hot pink one called Luna Love which isn't to my taste, but is still a pretty polish. I'm 3 days in with this shade and there's not a chip in sight, making it perfect for the Christmas season when you're too busy watching Eastenders and eating chocolate to bother with frequent nail painting.

One of my favourite polishes of 2013 for sure.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: The Dark Water by Helen Moorhouse


I did it! I finally finished a book! My reading mojo has flown out the window over the past few months, I just could not concentrate. It turned out my iron levels were quite low, which may explain it - but I managed to get through this.

I wrote a review of Helen's first book The Dead Summer here last year - I loved it. I found it a really good ghost story and as I said at the time, it completely reeled me in. This one - not so much.

First of all, let's get the back cover out of the way:

Martha Armstrong has started again - new city, new home, new future. Yet she's troubled by her partner Will's obsession with the paranormal and an unwelcome face from her past. Troubles which threaten the happiness she thought she had found.

Her friend Gabriel McKenzie, a psychic medium, is troubled too - disturbed by ghosts he suddenly cannot see and haunted by ones he can't escape. Who is the strange intruder that leaves him mysterious messages in his apartment and watches him sleep at night?

So when a desperate call for help comes for Gabriel, Martha and Will make a decision to help him - a decision that takes them North, to the bleak Highland beauty of Dubhglas Castle and its lake, where mysterious occurrences are terrifying the staff. Could they be connected to Gabriel's nocturnal visitor and, worse still, to the powerful spirit of the brutal Jack Ball?

Together, they uncover the secret that shattered Gabriel's family and split a young couple apart, fifty years before.

Is it always best to uncover the past, or are some secrets best left lying in the Dark Water?

I hate doing negative reviews because I understand how long it takes to write a novel, and how passionate writers can feel about their characters. But I really, really didn't like this book at all. I found it a complete let down after the first novel.

It seems very cobbled together - there's too much going on. There's the stuff going on between Martha & Will, Martha & her ex, Dan, then Martha & her friend Sue (who is completely irrelevant), then Martha & her daughter Ruby who only really becomes important towards the end, then there's the feud between Will & Gabriel that is miraculously cured in no time, then there's a whole host of characters from the past - Claire, Martin, Jack, Laurence - enough. Seriously.

It had the makings of a great horror - the first few chapters suggested a really creepy haunting that needed to be investigated, but it took a horrendously boring turn after a couple of chapters and to be honest I struggled to pick it up. I've actually been saving it for when I'm sitting in waiting rooms and I need to pass the time, I couldn't bring myself to pick it up at home. Martha is not likeable, and by the time I got to the end I couldn't have cared less whether she came away unscathed or not.

The "baddie" of the piece wasn't remotely scary, and to bring the Krays into it felt completely out of place and a poor attempt at linking him to some well-known "bad" people. The final elimination of the baddie was rushed, nonsensical, and ridiculous. As was Dan's exit. One minute he's there all guns blazing and the next minute he's gone like a rocket?! What?!

I couldn't understand why Will was even still speaking to Martha by the end of it, to be honest. You can do much better, Will, seriously. She's a pain in the hoop. No doubt a wedding will feature in the next installment, with irritating best friend Sue in bridesmaid mode and adorable daughter Ruby all flowergirl-ed up. While I'm on the subject of Sue - why was she even there?! At one point I thought she was just brought in as a partner for Gabriel, but she was completely surplus to requirements in every scene she was in.

Considering Gabriel was pretty much central to the story, he didn't get much attention at all. I could have done with more Gabriel and less Martha. Much less Martha. The "twist" at the end where Gabriel speculates about Martha is laughable. I just hope to god that this doesn't mean the next book will also feature the same characters.

I hate to be horrible, but if you're expecting another novel as good as The Dead Summer, just approach this with an open mind. Maybe it's me, maybe I just don't have the patience, but I doubt it - very, very disappointed with this book overall.

I will read the next book, Sing Me To Sleep, but I'll be reading it on the back of how much I enjoyed the first book.

I'll be donating this one to the library.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

DIY: From Yankee Candle to Storage Jar


I'm a huge fan of Yankee Candles and regularly stock up on the tarts, but I rarely ever buy a jar. I have two - one that I got with some birthday money (Fireside Treats) and one that I received as a present ages ago (Sandalwood). Now - while I adore the majority of the scents, some just don't appeal to me at all. Unfortunately, the Sandalwood one was one of them. I think because I didn't choose it myself, I got completely sick of the smell pretty quick. I can't even remember who gave it to me, but it's been knocking round the house for at least 4-5 years. I came across loads of ideas for jars on one of my many Pinterest sprees, and thought that instead of having it lying around gathering dust, I'd do something to make it useful again.

Here's the offending candle:

As you can see, there was still an awful lot of wax left in it.

Now - how to get the wax out? We all know that the one thing that melts wax is heat, so I boiled the kettle and poured boiling water into the jar, figuring it would soften the wax. BE CAREFUL if you're doing this. Make sure the jar is on a non-flammable surface, don't touch the glass once the water is in, and pour it in very slowly to avoid cracking. Leave the jar for a while until the water cools to a warm temperature (mine took about 45 minutes). You'll be able to see the wax rising to the surface like a lava lamp.

When the water has cooled down enough so that you can pick the jar up without it being hot, get a spoon and a container and start to scoop the wax out. Don't go with your initial instinct if it's like mine and it tells you to pour that down the sink. MAJOR plumbing issues. The minute it hits the air it's going to harden, so don't use a fancy spoon either. Scoop it out into a container, bag it, and bin it. Pour the water outside.

After a lot of scraping and stabbing, I was left with a big lump of wax that loosened from the bottom. It was soft enough to push a knife through, so I stuck the knife into it, cut it in half, and pulled out the pieces.

A brillo pad got rid of any little bits of wax that were left, and I peeled the label off the front. After a good scrub, I was left with this:

You could use it to store ribbons, craft items, buttons, change, hair accessories - whatever. I use mine to store my cotton pads for nail art.

If you have some Washi tape or ribbon you can pretty it up some more, but I kinda like it plain.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A-England Tristam & Wet n Wild I Need a Refresh-Mint


If there's one thing a heatwave calls for, it's a holo. I decided to break out A-England's Tristam, which was a lovely surprise present a while back from Róisín, who is an absolute sweetheart and one of my favourite nail bloggers.

Tristam is part of The Mythicals collection. Sadly, A-England are no longer shipping internationally due to a huge amount of their packages being destroyed by Royal Mail during the huge nail polish debacle a while ago, but they are still available through international nail polish distributors like Llarowe, Ninja Polish, and Mei Mei's Signatures. You could also use Parcel Motel - I've asked them about nail polish and they confirmed that because most parcels are sent from mainland UK to NI via ferry or courier, nail polish should be okay to order using your Parcel Motel address. Good news!

Tristam is a dark denim blue with scattered holo microglitter, and it's the perfect polish to wear in direct sunlight. Even though the holo isn't apparent all the time, it's still quite sparkly but not overpowering. The third picture was taken with a flash to show you how holographic the glitter is. I used two coats of Tristam and one coat of Poshé topcoat.

I decided to get the striping tape out again and have a play around with different shapes and directions. I used Wet n Wild's I Need a Refresh-mint from their Megalast range. It's a gorgeous mint cream that I received last year in a swap with the lovely Jenna. It's a perfect polish to use for striping, because it's almost completely opaque in one coat. The brushes on this range are enormous, though, so you may need to do a little cleanup if you have small nails. Here's a comparison picture I posted before - a Megalast brush vs a Barry M brush.

On to the striping. I just placed the tape in random directions and did one at a time, removing the tape with tweezers to give a clean line.

I think my favourite is the little finger, but I'm going to keep trying to find new ways to use striping tape, I love the effect.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

O.P.I - My Vampire is Buff


Firstly, I completely blame Deborah over at lovevarnish for this - she's done some amazing looks with this polish over the last couple of months, and every time I saw another one I drooled over it a little more. O.P.I is expensive enough here, and as much as I love polish I'm not in the habit of paying €15 for one before you even add delivery. I got mine from Universal Nail Supplies on eBay here - it cost just under €10 including postage and arrived from America within 4 days. If you want to buy from an Irish site, have hundreds of O.P.I colours for €11.99 but unfortunately, they didn't have this one.

This is two coats and one coat of Poshé. It was completely opaque after the two coats, and not streaky at all, which was a pleasant surprise considering it's a pale polish.

After I ordered it, I got a little attack of the guilts, because I thought it might have been too similar to Essie's Fiji (swatched here), but it's much warmer and creamier.

It's definitely one of my must-have polishes of 2013.

And yes, I'm delighted at the very, very mild Buffy reference.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Flormar Super Neon NO12


I've been sans laptop for a couple of days, so forgive me for the little gap since my last post. Today I have an amazing neon polish, it's NO12 (grr to no proper name) from the Super Neon Colors range by Flormar.

[Image Source:]
I hadn't heard of Flormar until we got a local stockist last year. They're a Turkish makeup brand who do a really affordable range of products in super bright eye-catching colours. I haven't tried anything else from the brand apart from their polish, which I really like. The Irish website has just launched - you can find it at

On to the polish - a neon polish that doesn't streak, dries almost opaque in 3 coats, and has a gorgeous jelly finish instead of the usual rubbery almost-matte? YES PLEASE!

This is a little bit pinker in reality than I could get it - it's insanely bright, far brighter than the China Glaze ones I swatched in this post. The above picture shows three coats.

Here it is inside - it freaked the camera out no end:

And in low light:

It's super, super bright and the formula was amazing. I took a picture in direct sunlight for you today - this is after four days of wear, you can see how well it lasted with only minor tipwear. I took it off my index nail and painted one coat to show you how good the formula is:

I got this in a local chemist for €2.49, but you can get it online at for €2.70.