Posted on October 30, 2014 under Reviews
I was on vacation in upstate New York this July when I stumbled upon the newly-launched Sally Hansen Miracle Gel nail polish. Being the type of person whose nail polish seems to chip within an hour of drying, I was intrigued. Could there actually be a DIY manicure that doesn’t involve any type of UV lamp that lasts two weeks?
That would be a hearty no.
In fact, the Miracle Gel nail polish is essentially the product of good marketing. You see, according to Sally Hansen, this is a two-step process. Step One is a base coat and nail polish in one. Step Two is the top coat, which is activated by natural light. Sally Hansen insists that these two steps must be used in conjunction with one another. So, essentially, Sally Hansen is able to guarantee an initial purchase of two products, totalling at about $20 CAD.
This sucks for the consumer not only because, well, you have to drop twenty bucks to use this product, but because if you want OMG miracle nails you only have 45 shades to choose from. I mean, that’s probably an average-sized nail polish range, but what if I told you that you could get OMG miracle nails in an unlimited colour palette?
Yes. That is a thing. Because while the Miracle Gel top coat definitely doesn’t last the advertised 14 days, it is a really good top coat. It makes my nails very shiny (as promised), and it certainly does make my nail polish last longer than it would on its own or with any other top coat I’ve tried. Yes, including Seche Vite (which I actually don’t like that much).
With this top coat, my nails go an easy 6-8 days without any chipping, and then another 3-4 with very minimal chipping. This is a long time for me, and it’s very convenient since I am lazy about my nail polish and tend not to take it off more than once a week, meaning I can continue to be lazy but not have nails that broadcast this fact to the world. Revolutionary! Thank you, Sally Hansen, for making me look like a competent and well-groomed adult!
So, what am I saying here?
The Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat is a product that, in my opinion, is worth the ten bucks it costs.
It is also a product that can be used over any nail polish (that I’ve tried, at least) with excellent results.
Therefore, you definitely do not need to buy both the top coat and the colour. You do not need to limit yourself to the colours in Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel range, although there are some very nice colours so don’t feel like you shouldn’t buy them if you like them.
This product is a lot of marketing (read: hype) with a not insignificant dash of impressive performance. At this point, I would say the top coat is my HG. I do have to deduct points for the bullshit marketing, and will therefore conclude that the top coat is a holy grail surrounded by a layer of hype.
Day 6 of Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat over Sally Hansen Miracle Gel nail polish in Sugar Fix. (Ironically, I found the top coat performed the worst over the step one it was meant to be used with. It got quite dull after a few days, which I didn’t experience with other polishes.)
Day 6 of Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat over Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Kiwi. (This was the most chipping I experienced in all my trials!)
Day 7 of Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat over Wet N Wild Fastdry nail polish in Ebony Hates Chris.
Day 7 of Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat over Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear nail polish in White On.
Day 6 of Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat over Joe Fresh nail polish in Lavender.
Day 6 of Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat over Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear nail polish in Coin Flip.
… So, yeah, clearly the “miracle” thing isn’t an exaggeration.
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat retails for $10.99 CAD for 0.5 fl oz, or $21.98 CAD per fl oz.
Posted on October 27, 2014 under Lists
If you made me choose one type of makeup product to wear exclusively, I would choose lipstick. No question. I mean, I’d miss eyeshadow and eyeliner, and I might have a pang for blush and highlighter, but lipstick is all that matters to me in the grand scheme of makeup and also life.
I’ll wear pretty much any colour: from light pink to orange to deep red to witchy purple, I love it all. I mean, I love bold colours best of all, but in the end lipstick is a magical product regardless of the colour.
Today, let’s not talk about formula. Let’s talk about colour – more specifically, the 10 colours I like putting on my mouth the most, out of all the colours in the entire world. Now, I do like all these formulas too, or I wouldn’t be holding onto these products, but this post is not about that. It’s about the genius of these hues.
(Note: these were photographed on three different days in natural lighting, which means the tone varies slightly between pictures due to weather being fickle. However, these photos are a good representation of how the colours appear on my lips.)
1. MAC lipstick in Rebel
Rebel is a colour that is singular in its beauty, in my opinion. It’s not quite a berry, not quite a purple. It reads differently on every pair of lips but looks amazing on every single person. It’s a bit wild, but still wearable. It is the perfect colour. It is my favourite forever. (Okay, fine, I’m not ready to make that commitment. But it’s amazing.)
2. Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Aria
Aria is another colour that is completely unique. I don’t know quite how to describe it; it’s almost a plum, but it’s a bit too pink for that label. I suppose “magenta” is the best word to describe it, although I still think that doesn’t quite get at the depth of this amazing shade. It’s dark, but not laughably so. It’s sort of purple, but with just the right amount of pink to balance it out. And it is glorious.
3. Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Lovesick
My love of fuchsia lip products runs deep and starts with this one. I think Lovesick is a universally-flattering colour, and so versatile. It’s bright so it’s fun, but deep enough that it’s not juvenile. It’s appropriate for every day wear, but can easily but used for a night out. (Trust. I’ve worn it out plenty of times.) If I had to pick one “power colour” for myself, this would be it.
4. Lise Watier Gourmand Velours lipstick in Cake Pop
“Cake Pop” is a delightful colour by a delightful Canadian brand. On a scale of Barbie pink to lavender, this guy falls somewhere in the “Orchid” section – a gorgeous purple-leaning light pink. I adore this colour because it’s super interesting but still light enough that I think it makes for a good “daytime” colour for those who are concerned with these things. It can also be paired with more dramatic eye makeup if you like to focus on eyes or lips and not both. I love throwing Cake Pop on when I don’t want to be too done up but still want a colour that feels me.
5. Joe Fresh Matte Lipstick in Raspberry
Contrary to its name, I don’t think this colour is quite a berry. It’s more of a cool-toned red that leans slightly pink. Regardless of the naming semantics, this is one of my favourite reds. I think the pink tones keep it fun and fresh. It’s a playful colour, and I like that. There’s room in my makeup collection for plenty of reds that demand to be taken seriously, but this is not that shade – and I love it for that.
6. Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss lipstick in 017
You may have gathered from the rest of this list that I’m generally not one for more subtle lip colours. However, they do have their utility, and this guy is the closest thing I’ll get to a perfect nude. A lot of colours that are advertised as nudes are more beige-toned, which just makes me look dead. This is a natural pale pink that gives me that “I woke up like this” look – not “I didn’t wake up because I’m dead“.
7. Revlon Matte Balm in Standout
If you’re looking for the perfect true red that’s not too dark or light, this is the one. I’m sure there are approximately 7000 other perfect true reds on the market, but this is the one I love. I’m not a red lipstick devotee (I mean, I like it, but there are SO MANY OTHER COLOURS), but every lipstick fanatic should have a perfect matte red. This is mine.
8. Lancôme Color Design lipstick in Wannabe
This is another one of these pink lipsticks that I love. It’s not quite bright enough to count as fuchsia or pale enough to be a Barbie pink. It’s the perfect medium between the two, with a slight purple tint. This colour is Revlon Lovesick’s more mature older sister.
9. L’Oreal Extraordinnaire by Colour Riche Liquid Lipstick in Plum Adagio
I do like a vampy lip on occasion, and a vampire would surely enjoy a deep purple that in some lights almost looks black. The glossy texture of this product complements the colour really well, in my opinion: it gives it that artificial, almost latex look. This colour is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it’s amazing if you’re inclined towards the truly dramatic.
10. OCC Lip Tar in Hoochie
On the more wearable side of purple, Hoochie is the perfect lavender: mostly purple with just a hint of pink in the undertone. It’s still a statement (as any purple lipstick is), but it’s not nearly as dramatic as Plum Adagio. It’s so much fun to wear with colourful eyeshadow; I just think that makes it pop.
Posted on October 23, 2014 under Reviews
Every beauty lover on a budget knows and loves Real Techniques brushes. They’re high-quality, cruelty-free synthetic brushes and they’re incredibly affordable considering how damn good they are. Like any good drugstore beauty fan, I’ve collected most of them over the past few years – so, of course, when I heard that Nic’s Picks was being launched with three new brushes, I reached out and prayed that a set would fall into my outstretched arms.
That is not exactly what happened. What actually happened is that I marched into Superdrug, saw that they were £30 (about $54 CAD), and turned right back around. Why is everything so expensive here? I cried silently.
When they were on offer for only £20 ($36 CAD), of course I snapped them up immediately. That’s only £5 ($9 CAD) per brush! And, given that I never managed to grab the LE Duo-Fiber set, the only brush I already owned was the Base Shadow Brush – which I use all the time and don’t mind having a backup of. (It’s my blending brush, and it’s always good to have a clean one of those on hand.)
The Real Techniques Nic’s Picks set comes with 5 brushes, 3 of which are exclusive to the set:
Duo-Fiber Powder Brush
Because this brush has bristles of varying lengths and is not very dense, it’s great for depositing colours that are quite pigmented. I tested it with bronzer (I’m fair and don’t like to overdo it!) and two blushes that I find veer into clown territory quite quickly. It was really great at diffusing all of these powders so that I ended up with just the right amount of pigment on my face. It’s also good for cream pigments, and it can be used to apply a light dusting of setting powder, though if you want a bit more coverage from your powder I’d go with a brush with denser bristles.
Best for: Diffusing pigments that are too strong when applied with a denser brush.
Cheek Brush (Set Exclusive)
I’ve been using the Multitask brush for my blush, but this Cheek Brush is smaller and therefore more precise. I think there’s room for me to use both a larger and smaller blush brush, so I’m glad I have this one. I can also see it being great for applying highlighter over larger areas or even contouring. It’s quite dense, which means it packs on colour quite well, so I probably wouldn’t use this brush with some of my more pigmented blushes. The slightly rounded shape means that this brush can blend colours as it goes. All in all, I’d say this is a really great blush brush that I will certainly be getting a lot of use out of.
Best for: Applying and blending cheek pigments over a medium-sized area – particularly blush and highlighter.
Angled Eyeshadow Brush (Set Exclusive)
The more eyeshadow brushes I collect, the less often I have to wash them. Thus, I am pleased to have this brush on principle alone. In practice, I find this is a true powerhouse. It’s great for sweeping colour all over the lid, but the angle that it’s cut at means you can also put colour into the crease. Finally, it’s fluffy enough that it can also be used to blend out crease colour. For anything very dramatic or precise I think you’d be better off using a smaller crease brush and a separate blending brush, but for a standard neutral eye look with a light colour across the lid and a matte brown in the crease, this one brush can be used for the entire look with great results. (Don’t worry, I tested this theory and it totally works!)
Best for: Everything. This one is a true multitasker!
Base Shadow Brush
Once again, I feel that this brush is a multitasker. I have one that I picked up in the Starter Set, and I love it for blending. However, it’s also great for putting colour all over the lid, and it works well as a concealer brush too. This is the only brush in the Nic’s Picks set that I already owned, but I know I will get a lot of use out of it. It’s a very solid and versatile eyeshadow brush – when would I not need more of those?
Best for: Personally, this is my favourite brush for blending, but it’s great as an all-over shadow brush too.
Eyeliner Brush (Set Exclusive)
I don’t use gel eyeliner that often, and when I do I apply it with a very fine pointed brush, or, more recently, the Real Techniques Silicone Liner Brush. However, I took this brush on a test drive and I was so impressed! It makes it really easy to push liner super close to the lashline, and perfect flicks have never been simpler. When I want winged eyeliner I tend to draw the wings with gel and then line my lashline with liquid, and I can definitely see this brush being my go-to wing brush. This was the brush I was most indifferent towards when I bought this set, but it has totally proven itself. For those of you who don’t use gel eyeliner, or who already have a gel liner brush you like, this one is exactly the right size and shape for brow wax (like Anastasia Dipbrow) or powder.
Best for: Making perfect winged eyeliner.
So, is it worth picking up Nic’s Picks?
In the end, the set is great quality, but whether or not it’s worth buying depends on how much utility you’ll really get out of the set.
Although it’s easy to get sucked in by a pretty design and a brand you love, it should go without saying that if there are 2 or more brushes in this set that you just won’t use, it’s probably not worth the price. On the other hand, if you think you’ll get use out of 4 or 5 of the brushes, it’d be foolish not to. Even at the original £30 price point, the set is amazing value for the number of brushes you get and the quality of those brushes. Plus, every single one of these brushes can be used for at least two things, so you really can’t go wrong with versatility!
If you’re a budget brush lover, I’d think long and hard about whether you want to ignore this set – because once it’s off the shelves, regret won’t do you any good. (I wouldn’t worry too much, though; I saw the Duo-Fiber set on shelves up until the beginning of this month!)
The Real Techniques Nic’s Picks brush set can be purchased in-store from regular Real Techniques retailers, or online from RealTechniques.com for $29.99 USD or equivalent in international currency.
(Note: if you’re based on the UK and can’t find them on offer, I’d recommend ordering them from the Real Techniques website – they’re only £18.66 + about £1.50 shipping as opposed to the £30 Boots and Superdrug are charging!)