Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Red Carpet Manicure Gel Polish Pro Kit

I'm a big fan of gel manicures, so I was really excited to try out Red Carpet Manicure, a DIY gel manicure system. I have the brand's 'Pro Kit'* which gets you up and running with everything you need to create a shellac-type manicure at home. The kit contains:

Professional LED light
Prep - Max Adhesion Prep
Structure - base coat
Gel nail polish in 'Red Carpet Ready'
Brilliance - top coat
Purify - post application cleanser
Erase - gel polish remover
Revitalise - cuticle oil

So, how does it work? If you've ever had a gel manicure in a salon, you'll know the drill. The first step, after you clean your nails, is to brush on the Prep solution, a watery liquid that evaporates straight away. Then, it's time to start applying gel, in the from of the Structure base coat, followed by two coats of colour, and one coat of Brilliance top coat. In between each coat, you cure the polish under the LED light for 45 seconds at a time. Lastly, you clean your nails with the Purify cleanser. It's very easy to use as the gel applies like normal nail polish, but it's slightly thicker. 

A few tips that I learned along the way...
  • Read the instructions! I didn't, and was thrown by the fact that my nails were still sticky in between each coat after being cured by the lamp. I thought they should be dry, and thought that I hadn't cured them for long enough, or that I had applied the polish too thickly. Doh. In fact, this is normal. They'll be sticky until you clean them with the Purify cleanser at the end. 
  • Stay well away from your cuticles. If you get the polish on your cuticles, your manicure will begin to lift around the edges much more quickly than it otherwise would. 
  • If you can, coat the free edge of your nails. In my case, my nails are so short I'm just painting skin ;-)
  • I read online that you could use normal nail polish for your colour, once you used the base coat and top coat. I tried it, it doesn't work. It is possible that other brands of gel polish will work with this lamp but I haven't investigated fully yet. 
  • Cure your thumbs separately so you can lay them flat under the lamp. 
  • Don't pick it off (I must admit that I need to practice what I preach here).
  • Red Carpet Manicure sell all of the products separately (or in different kits) but once your supplies start to run out, some of them are interchangable with other brand's products, eg. I just bought generic acetone remover and post-application remover in a salon supply place - they were much better value than the RCM products. Of course you could just use any cuticle oil as well. 

So, is it any good? Does it last the full two weeks? Is it worth the €95 that the kit costs? 

Well, on me, the polish starts to chip and lift after about a week. However, my nails are in bad condition, my day job is very hard on them, and even professionally applied gel manicures do not last the course on me. Normal nail polish lasts a matter of hours. So, I'm delighted to get a week out of a manicure. I love it for holidays, weekends away and special occasions. 

Is it worth the cost? If you get shellac manicures on a regular basis, and you are confident that you could recreate them at home yourself, then yes. You would make back the cost of this kit in less than five manicures. One of the draw backs is that you just get one colour with the kit, but other colours are available from Cloud 10 Beauty, Debenhams, ASOS and some pharmacies, with an average price of around €13 which is not outrageous. It's also worth pointing out that Red Carpet Manicure do a 'Starter Set' which costs €65 and comes with a smaller lamp that has a slightly longer cure time, but otherwise is the same as the 'Pro Kit' . 

Do you do DIY gel manicures? Would love a heads up on other brand's gel colours that will also work with this lamp! 

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Monday, April 7, 2014

March Favourites 2014

I haven't made a video in an age and a half, so here are some of my March Favourites  - it kinda looks like I am sitting on top of the camera (sorry about that).  Watch me ramble, mispronunce things, not apolagise to Karen for breaking our spending ban and say the word arse in the same sentence as ArtDonatella.


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Friday, April 4, 2014

Brazilia Waxing Salon Review

I'm not a waxer. Or should that be waxee? Either way, my hair removal of choice for my legs is shaving - yes, it is a pain that you have to do it so often, but it's also cheap and easy. The main thing that puts me off waxing is the regrowth required. And then there's the pain. The first and last time I had a wax was about ten years ago and it was so painful it put me off for good. However... I realise that waxing methods and wax formulas have probably come a long way in the intervening years, so when we were offered the chance to try out a treatment at Brazilia, I decided to take the plunge. I was aware of Brazilia and their reputation for waxing, and a couple of my friends are regular clients. Mags tried to convince me to have an, eh, intimate wax, as some sort of equalizing measure for this, but I thought I'd do things in baby steps, and opted for a half leg wax on my lower legs. 

Once I booked in, the first thing I did was check out Brazilia's website, where they include some really useful advice in their FAQ section, which was great for a waxing newbie like myself. I didn't shave for a couple of weeks, and my hairy legs and I made our way to Brazilia's South William Street location (they also have a salon in Sandyford). 

Brazilia's city centre salon is located on the top three floors of an old Georgian building - its age gives the place a homely, comforable feel, a little different from the more clinical salons I'm used to. Once I fill in a new client form, I'm lead to my treatment room which is a big, bright room with a comfy chair and treatment table in it. There's also a TV on the wall in the corner, so you can catch up with the news while you're being waxed, or in my case, distract yourself with a bit of How I Met Your Mother

My treatment room
My therapist was great - she explained everything she was doing and gave good after-care advice. She worked quickly but very thoroughly and to my surprise, it wasn't half as painful as I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, there is some pain, you're having hair ripped from your skin after all, but nothing like I anticipated. Brazilia use Lycon wax which is infused with aromatherapy oils and is actually very kind to skin. I was in Brazilia for about half an hour (great place for a lunch time wax if you work in town!) and I left with totally smooth legs which lasted for a good ten days. 

While I haven't become a regular waxer, I will definitely be paying a return visit to Brazilia before my holidays in June. Less time shaving = more time sunbathing and shopping! 

Find a full list of treatments at - they also do spray tanning and shellac nails. 

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Shiseido Lips Perfect Rouge RD553 Showgirl and RS452 Tulip

Last year I fell a little in love with Shiseido Perfect Rouge lipsticks (€27.00). When I first swatched them on my hand I was amazed at how soft and buttery they were while still having amazing pigment.  Who does not want wow pigmentation while your lips feel balmy soft ?  They are definitely a luxury purchase with a high price tag but you can feel the quality of the lipstick on your lips.  

The packaging is a sleek black container which instead of being round is actually shaped like a lotus blossom (Shiseido's logo).  Although Shiseido name the colour of their lipsticks the bottom just shows the numbers (RE553 Showgirl - RED and RS452 Tulip - PINK).

You can see from the swatches on my hand how creamy and moisturising the Perfect Rouge lipsticks are.   They really feel fantastic on the lips but also look fantastic.  Although the formula is ultra moisturising I don't find Perfect Rouge bleeds out of my lips - like the perfect lipstick it claims to be it doesn't go wandering off.

I could look at these colours all day, I think they are stunning - although of course Shiseido also have more natural colours in their Perfect Rouge range.  They really are the perfect lipstick (especially Tulip, isn't it the perfect "Mags" colour).

Shiseido is a brand that I have overlooked for years, but every Shiseido product I try blows me away. Pin It

Friday, March 28, 2014

Benefit Gimme Brow - it's a bit of a WOW

Eyebrows - I know some people are mad about them but personally I let them get on with their day to day business of keeping sweat out of my eyes without paying any attention to them (I am not really sweaty so my eyebrows have an easy time).  Don't get me wrong I have tried the odd brow product before (even other people's holy grail like MAC Lingering) but generally my brows have a naturally good shape and with brow products there is a lot of faffing about.  First you draw in the brows - then there is toning down what you have drawn, then you have to brush and set the brows generally using different products or brushes .  I don't know about you but that's a whole lot of time in the morning that I just don't have.

When I first saw Benefit Gimme Brow* I thought  ... Meh, as I said I don't really do anything to my brows at all so I am not interested in brow products.  Even when I heard the blurb about Gimme Brow I was disinterested.  

Gimme Brow is hardly Benefit's first foray into the brow world - on my very first visit to a Benefit counter in the late 90s, the first thing the girl did was "fix" my brows with one of their brow products.  At the time I was less knowledgeable about makeup (and knew nothing about brows) but I did know that the end result had me looking a little more like Groucho Marx than any woman (or man) should ever look.  While this end result caused my friend great amusement it also meant that I was never keen on letting anybody near my brows.

A long time has passed since the late 90s (I am old, so very old), times have changed, Benefit has changed... I have not changed (I am like Peter Pan and so are my eyebrows).  So along comes Gimme Brow and I thought - "This product holds no place in my life" but I am holding my hands straight up to say I WAS WRONG.  Gimme Brow (€24.50) comes in 2 shades Light/Medium and Medium/Dark, I have Light/Medium to show you today.  The product is like a baby mascara even down to a baby mascara type wand which applies the product.  The product itself is tinted, with tiny little fibers to help build up the brown (don't worry I was totally creeped out by this at first but you can't really see or feel any fibers).  You basically run the product through your brows and you're left with brows that are long wearing, water resistant and more importantly very natural looking.  When I use Gimme Brow it takes seconds, it's a no muss, no fuss product.

Can you see any tiny fibers?  I can't so don't be creeped out.

As I mentioned before my brows naturally have a good shape so I thought I would use my Mam for the before and after shot.  While Benefit might be quite a young brand I think that Gimme Brow is an ideal product for all ages but especially the more mature lady.  As we get older our brows go grey (how depressing is that?) but they are not an even tone or shade of grey - more like 50 shades of grey - the brow hairs can also get a little coarser and wilder.  While a lot of women get their brows tinted, my Mam has quite allergic skin and breaks out from Stress Dermatitis (you can see a bit of dry skin below her brow) so tinting her brows when her skin is raw is out of the question.  



Excuse the surprised looking arch - it's cause she was literally surprised it took such a short time to apply. There is literally 10 seconds between the before and after pictures.  I used one quick sweep of the wand to define, shape and tame the brows.  That is why I love Gimme Brow, it's so quick and easy to use.  

A Side by Side Before and After:

If you have the time you can of course spend time building up the product and your brows.  I am very impressed by Gimme Brow - it's such an easy product to use and leaves your brows looking groomed but natural looking.

P.S. If you see my Mam don't tell her I have pictures of her on the blog.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Shiseido The Makeup Lacquer Gloss - RD305

Shiseido The Makeup range shows that not all makeup is made equal, not only are they colour cosmetics but some of the range have skincare benefits which improves the texture and condition of skin.  Shiseido Lacquer Gloss* is not only a beautiful gloss it also over time improves the condition of lips. MIND BLOWN.

The range of 8 strong colours don't feel like glosses - more like a treatment.  In fact, better than most treatments that I have tried.  Your lips feel amazing, moisturised and well, a bit sexy. 

The gloss is not sticky and not overly scented which is a welcome relief when it comes to lip products.  The gloss is shinny with full coverage.   The skincare benefits of the gloss re-hydrate and leave the lips feeling fantastic.

I am giving Shiseido Lacquer Gloss extra points for not being overly scented - while there have been a few lip products that I have loved recently they tend to be heavily fragranced which is not something I thought I was bothered by but I find the lack of scent refreshing.  I find Lacquer Gloss so easy and comfortable to wear. 

Shiseido The Makeup Lacquer Gloss are out now and cost €25.00 Pin It

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Smashbox Full Exposure Palette

The first time you look at the Smashbox Full Exposure Palette you think wow that is flipping beautiful and you would not be mistaken.  The palette which consists of 7 shimmery shades on the top row and 7 matt shades on the bottom row is kinda the perfect neutral palette although I have had to grow to love some of the shades (more about that later).  Along with the eye shadows your €43.00 gets you a double ended brush and a trial size of the Full Exposure Mascara so already you're only paying about €3.00 per shadow with a free brush and mascara (that's makeup maths).

The outside of the box is a sleek heavy cardboard type material - lightweight and durable its subtly hides the glimmer that is inside

Smashbox brushes are known as the Louboutin of makeup brushes because of their distinctive red handle. I have a few from kits over the years (they really stand the test of time) they are great quality brushes and this one is no exception.  The matt end is my favorite side by far (similar to a MAC 217 blending brush), it picks up and deposits product beautifully.

The shimmer end of the brush is similar to a MAC 239 Shader Brush but this little fella is a bit different as the picture below shows both sides of the brush are different fibers.  When I first went to use the brush with the shimmer shades - as instructed - I found it difficult to get any product on the brush but that is more to do with the shimmer shadows that the brush itself.

Most makeup palettes these days come with instruction leaflets helping the user to make the most from their palette but I have to give huge props to Smashbox who have taken their own spin on this by giving looks depending on the users eye shape.  I think this is a genius idea - I am forever seeing looks with cat eyes but my eye shape doesn't lend itself to cat eyes so with this leaflet gives your eye shape 3 different options. Excellent idea Smashbox, the product suits your eyes rather than you having to suit the product.  

Now I think its time to take a closer look at the colours - cause they are very pretty.

Swatches of the first 4 shades top and bottom

Swatches of the last 3 shades top and bottom

When I looked at this palette I thought - this is the perfect neutral palette - it has a fantastic range of shades BUT what about the quality of the shadows? Do they hold up to the high standards to which I hold Smashbox?     I am a massive fan of Smashbox eye shadows in fact they are my holy grail shadows.  Often when you buy a palette or a set the quality of the eye shadows is not the same as when you buy an individual shade from the brand - Smashbox don't play that way.  The quality of the products in the set is just as amazing although I have had a couple of issues. 

The matts:
I don't really like matt shadows, for the most part they are chalky and bitty to use and honestly I just don't have the makeup skills to make them work - this is not the case with Smashbox matt shadows. So even though I don't like matt shades I had to see what Smashbox could do.  They did not let me down I AM IN LOVE. Honestly I have been using the matt shades ALL THE TIME.

The shimmers:
When I first swatched the shimmery shades I was in love - I mean shimmers are my thing.  However when I went to apply the shimmery shades using the shimmer side of the brush hardly any product went onto the brush??? I used another brush, same thing.  The colours were pretty but I couldn't work with them, they are mega shimmery.  I went along with my life thinking I will use the darker shimmery shades wet as a liner and sure €43.00 for 7 shades is still only €6.00 per shade.   I had resigned myself to the fact that I would not be using the light shimmery shades (the colours I would normally use every day) out of the Full Exposure Palette.  I was having a chat to my pal Karen from Lovely Girlie Bits (go and say hello to her here) and she was asking how I was finding the Full Exposure palette - I explained I loved the matts but couldn't get the shimmers to work, Karen the genius said "Look Bridie forget about the brush and press those shimmers onto your eyeballs" (they were not her actual words but if you know Karen, you will know it's not far off).  Well did you ever have a Hallelujah moment?  I took Karen's advice and low and behold the light shimmery shades pressed onto my lids work fantastic. HALLELUJAH.  Shimmer at last

I wish Smashbox hadn't confused me with the brush and had of just said - "Yo makeup lover, press those shimmery shades into your eye, you can use either side of the brush on the matt shades, that is our present to you".

 Dark shade used damp as a liner over Matt shadows

I have pretty much been wearing the look below every day - I use a brown Matt shadow all over the lid, with a darker brown shade in the crease and I press the light shimmery shade onto the centre of the lid.  I think its pretty, natural and more importantly a very easy look.

Smashbox Full Exposure costs €43.00 and is out now - (it's a great purchase once you know to press the shimmery shades).

If you're slightly turned off by my tales of shimmer (seriously they are great once you know how to use them) Smashbox have a brilliant Spring Collection out soon which is packed with colour. 
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