Thursday, 17 April 2014

Organisation: Earrings

My earring organisation
In my recent 2014 To Do List post (link!) I blogged about how I want to sort out my jewellery organisation. Whilst I haven't sorted out a good storage method for bracelets and necklaces, I have stumbled across an awesome way to store some of my earrings! The answer being ring holders!

I have owned a jewellery box for years but I've never really put it to good use. Most of my rings are too thick to fit in the built in ring holders so this weekend I came up with an idea - storing my earrings in there instead. It works amazingly! Finally I can see all my earrings at once and I'm starting to reach for earrings more often too :)

I know you can purchase ring holder slots from Muji (link!) and they are often found in traditional style jewellery boxes too.

Let me know how you store your earrings and jewellery in general! Would love to get some more jewellery organisation storage tips :)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Beauty Product Back Ups

It will come as no surprise to all of you that I have a 'secret' beauty product stash in my wardrobe that I like to refer to as my beauty product back ups. As an avid beauty product junkie, I always like to stock up on my most loved products, that way I can take advantage of when they're on sale and know that I have a spare in case I run out of a product (shock horror!). I know that people's shopping habits are very different, personally I'm a person who likes to stock up (to a reasonable extent) so that I can shop bargains and always be prepared. Today I thought I'd share with you the back up products that I currently own :)

My beauty back up storage caddy
As I mentioned, I like to store the back ups in my wardrobe. I use a plastic caddy which allows me to keep everything together - this caddy pretty much acts as a guideline to how many products I should be keeping at one time! If this caddy is overflowing, I know that I need to calm down with purchasing the spares :P.

V05 Refresh Me Quick Dry Shampoo | V05 Plump It Up Dry Backcombing Spray | V05 Smoothly Does it Tame and Shine | V05 Smoothly Does It Hair Serum | Tresemme Superior Hold Hairspray
Perhaps the items that I have the most spares of are hair styling products. I purchased all of the V05 products when they were half price - I think they were all around £1.50ish which isn't bad at all. My favourite products are the Refresh Me Quick dry shampoos which smell like strawberries - they are my HG dry shampoo! Since starting work I don't like to wash my hair everyday so dry shampoo is great for my second day hair. The Tresemme hairspray is also another favourite, I purchased this when I was at uni so I had one at home as well as at uni... its safe to say I don't think I'll be finishing my current can anytime soon, they're huge!

Naive Moist Cleansing Wash | Softymo Speedy Cleansing Oil | St Ives Invigorating Apricot Scrub | The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter
Aside from hair products, the other products I stock up on are my facial cleansers and in particular the ones I purchased from Hong Kong. The Softymo cleansing oils are my favourite alternatives to the pricey Shu Uemura cleansing oil so they're definitely one that I like to keep around. I predominantly only use cleansing oil to remove make up so I definitely go through them pretty quickly. In addition another staple is my facial exfoliator which is always from St Ives - again, I purchased this when it was half price in Superdrug. Since its something that I always use, I might as well take advantage of offers on it! Lastly you can see a Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter - I purchased this when TBS was doing a half price offer. Most likely I'll use this in the winter when my skin tends to be drier.

Kose Quick Oil Off Sheets | Clean and Clear Oil Control Film
Brownie points for anyone who can guess my skintype from looking at the products above :P. Yep, I have combination skin where my t-zone tends to get shiny throughout the day. When I went to HK I stocked up on the Clean & Clear oil control film which is the plastic style film. Mamasaur then bought me the Kose Quick Oil Off sheets when she went to HK - I'm all stocked up for summer! Personally I find the asian oil control films to be more effective than UK brands and the sheets are larger which I prefer.

Puretree Nose Pore Strip in Charcoal
Next - another asian skincare item! I love doing nose pore strips so again I stocked up on these in HK. These strips contain charcoal meaning the strips themselves are black. It sounds gross but this allows you to visibly see your skin impurities better :P.

Tony Moly Peach Hand Cream | The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream | Bath and Body Works Sweet Clementine Hand Sanitiser
No surprises here - I like to keep a back up of my beloved TBS Vitamin E Moisture Cream. This must be about the 7th tub of this that I own? I love the stuff. Also from HK is a back up Tony Moly peach hand cream, not going to lie, I purchased this mainly because of the cute packaging and amazing smell. I also have a Bath and Body Works sweet clementine hand sanitiser in a snowman holder which my cousin purchased for me from America.

Complete Revita Lens Solution | Sasa Exfoliating gloves | Primark tanning mit | Bobbi Brown make up sponge | The Body Shop Muslin Cleansing Cloth
I'm finishing off this post with the most boring bits - contact lens solution, exfoliating gloves, sponges and a muslin cloth. I am indeed a contact lens wearer meaning its essential to have a spare bottle of solution. The muslin cloth was purchased to use in conjunction with the Camomile cleansing butter so this will be getting used in the colder months. In HK I stocked up on exfoliating gloves since I find them a lot more exfoliating than ones here in the UK - plus they're less than a £1 for a pair, you just can't go wrong!

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak into my beauty back up stash. Do you like to keep product back ups? What products do you always make sure you have spares of?

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Sensationail LED Gel Starter Kit in Pink Chiffon

Sensationail Gel Starter Kit in Pink Chiffon (£69.99)
For my 22nd birthday, I was extremely lucky to receive the Sensationail LED starter kit. For the longest time I've been wanting to invest in a gel nail lamp but was always put off since UV lamps aren't the best for your skin. I chose the kit in Pink Chiffon which is a complete kit that is supposedly meant to provide you with 10 manicures worth of product.

Everything that is included in the kit
Inside the kit you'll find the LED lamp with the charger, an instruction manual, lint free wipes, a cuticle stick, nail file/buffer, alcohol, gel primer, top/base coat and the Pink Chiffon gel polish.

A closer look at the gel products
The instructions are pretty simple - prep yours nails, prime, apply base coat, cure, apply gel polish, cure, apply 2nd coat of gel polish, cure, apply top coat, cure and wipe with alcohol. 

There are a few things to remember though: 
  • the LED lamp is set to a 30 second timer. This means when you press the button to start it, it will beep after 30 seconds and then turn off completely after 60 seconds
  • the transparent base and top coat layers only take 30 seconds to cure
  • the coloured gel polish will take 60 seconds to cure
  • always cure your thumbs together, your left hand's 4 fingers and your right hand's 4 fingers - this means painting 10 nails will take 3 sessions of curing in the lamp
  • keep your fingers free from dust in between painting and curing. After curing each layer, there is a sticky layer which can attract fluff extremely easily!
  • avoid getting gel polish on your cuticle area. Make sure you clean up your cuticle edges before curing!
  • cap the free edge of your nail - this will keep the manicure lasting longer
  • after curing your last layer of top coat, wipe them down with an alcohol saturated lint free wipe. This will get rid of the inhibition layer leaving your nails glossy
Pink Chiffon on my nails
Here is the finished result! I was extremely happy with how my gel manicure turned out :). Pink Chiffon is definitely a love neutral milky pink that I think makes the perfect starter kit colour. However, I did find that since it was my first attempt at gel nails, my application was a little bumpy and uneven. Gel polish is a lot thicker than normal polish so take your time in painting your nails - unlike normal polish, this won't set or dry until you cure it meaning you can go over your nails as many times as you need to.

I found that my gel manicure lasted around 10 days until I found it starting to lift in the shower. I only primed the edges of my nails, instead of the entire nail which may have contributed to the shorter manicure life. For the entire 10 days I found that there were no chips or dents to my nails. I think that soaking your nails in hot water/baths etc definitely softens the gel over time which can result in your gel nails literally peeling off in the shower. I think this could be reduced if my nails were longer - perhaps I would have been able to cap the free edge better?

Removal:
This has to be the worst part of having a gel manicure. The instructions suggest you submerging your fingers in pure acetone for 15 minutes. Are you for real?! Instead, I cut up cotton pads and soaked them in acetone. I then chopped up bits of foil and wrapped the acetone pad around my finger nail, and then wrapped foil around that. I left these foil finger nail wraps on for around 10 minutes before using the wooden hoof stick to push the soggy gel polish off my nails. 

Oh, make sure that you file the shine off your gel manicure before doing the acetone removal. This will 'break the surface' of your manicure allowing the acetone to work quicker. I don't think I'd recommend submerging your fingers in an acetone bowl - I can't imagine that being very healthy for you at all! The foil wraps really worked for me and if you're smart about cutting the appropriate sized cotton pads for your nails, you'll be able to reduce how much of your skin comes into contact with acetone.

Since some nails were removed better than others (probably because I had slightly uneven application), I then followed up with buffing my nails. This helped to get rid of any excess gel polish that hadn't been removed and also returned the shine to my natural nails. Ensure you follow up with a cuticle oil and hand cream to restore the moisture to your digits!

My thoughts:
There are definitely pros and cons to this kit and I'm going to run through it all. Brace yourselves!

Firstly the price of the kit. £70 may seem steep but I think it does reflect the quality of the products that you're buying. The LED lamp seems extremely sturdy and I honestly think it is something that will last for years to come. However, the gel nail products inside are extremely small. Whilst the kit promises that it will last 10 manicures, I'm really not that convinced. If you're being liberal with the alcohol bottle, I think this definitely could run out pretty quickly. 

This brings me onto the next issue - the gel polishes. Sensationail is an LED gel nail polish and UV gel polishes and products are a lot more common at the moment. This means there is a limited number of brands that actually produce LED compatible polishes. Sensationail polishes retail for approximately £15 meaning you'll probably only own a handful of colours. I know that Orly Gel FX and Gelish are also LED gel polishes if you're interested in other brands, but those too cost around £15 a bottle.

Next, removal. This was literally the worse part! If you're thinking of doing a gel manicure, you definitely need to bear in mind how long it takes to remove a manicure. The worse part is that the gel polish may decide to peel off in the shower leaving you unprepared as to when it needs to come off! Sensationail do sell a removal kit for around £15 but I'd advise you to purchase pure acetone of eBay instead for around £4. You'll most likely already own kitchen foil and cotton pads so that will save you a lot of money! Also, if you run out of the gel remover, it is actually just pure rubbing alcohol, so that too can be purchased inexpensively off eBay.

In conclusion:
So far I've probably painted a slightly negative image of the nail kit but my conclusion of the kit and how I'll use it is probably the best bit!

I can't see myself creating gel manicures on a weekly basis so personally I think the full gel manicures are best saved for special occasions or holidays when you really need a manicure to last up to 2 weeks. However, I've started to use my LED lamp in order to cure a gel top coat over a normal nail polish manicure. THIS IS ACTUALLY AMAZING! This method gives me a week long manicure where I can use all my own nail polishes that I already own, as well as giving me an incredibly shiny gel looking manicure and being incredibly easy to remove. WIN! I'll be doing a post on this in more depth over the next few weeks so keep an eye out for that :)

PROS:
good value for money
Pink Chiffon is a great wearable starter shade
good quality lamp
LED is skin safe

CONS:
products really are starter size
removal products not included
removal is inconvenient

CONCLUSION:
Since I'll be doing a separate post on the gel top coat method, I'll be basing my conclusion entirely on normal gel manicures. Whilst I can't see myself reaching for this kit on a weekly basis, I am extremely pleased that I own the kit. Gel manicures can cost around £30 when done in a salon so this kit costs the equivalent of 2 manicures - its really not bad when you do the maths. I would say however that a professional looking gel manicure does take patience and skill to achieve - I have always preferred doing my own manicures so this kit is right up my street, but if you don't enjoy painting your own nails, steer clear of this kit! As a starter kit, this kit is great since it gives you enough product to get going with gel manicures but I'd definitely recommend shopping around when it comes to buying more of the products. I'd purchase the rubbing alcohol and lint free wipes from eBay and shop around for Orly and Gelish LED nail polishes too :)

Have you tried out gel nail kits before? What are your thoughts?