Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Nails Inc Couture

 If you are stuck on what Christmas gift to buy a girlfriend, sister, friend, mother, brother... ANYONE who has nails worth painting then you should definitely consider Nails Inc's newest service launch: Couture. Quite frankly its genius. For a mere £20 you can create a bespoke nail varnish, from colour selection, colour description and packaging for your loved one.

 There are around 70 colours to choose from, your options being a creme finish, jelly finish, metallic finish and of course the obligatory Christmas (or if you're me then the every other day) glitters. There is literally something for everyone. The packaging can be customised with different stickers whether they be "Get Well Soon" or "Congratulations!". The options are rather vast so that in theory, I should be receiving one of these couture varnishes after every mini-milestone for the next 5 years...

 Cosmetic present buying can be an absolute minefield if you aren't in the know, but nail varnish is usually one of the more inoffensive option, saying that, unless you're buying say the new sold out Chanel colour or perhaps a hard to find Deborah Lippmann glitter... nail varnish can veer towards the more sedentary side of present options, but Nails Inc Couture changes allllll of that and I. WANT. ONE.

 1) Pick your lid
 2) Pick your colour
 3) Name your polish
4) Choose the packaging... DONE!

The Un-Dupeables

In beauty terms or probably more accurately blogger terms... a dupe is a product, usually a cheaper one, that is pretty much an exact 'copy' of another (premium) product.

 There are varying degrees of dupes as you could imagine... There are some exact dupes out there. There are some reeeally close dupes, so close that if they could just have a tiny bit of tweaking here and there then they could be spot on, you also have the half hearted dupes, the ones where you can kind of see where they were going with it but they really couldn't make it happen... and then of course there are the Un-Dupeables, you know the ones who just cant be beaten, the ones that aren't even worth trying to dupe, and if you do so then shame on you.

 Its kind of like when someone waltzs into work carrying a fake bag. They know, I know, they know I know but we all smile, nod and get on with what needs to be done but at the end of the day... you can't beat the real thing. Or can you?

 There has always been whispers that Chanel is actually the parent company of Bourjois and that you were throwing your £26 away on a blusher that could be bought for £6.75 in your local Lloyds pharmacy, but despite all the similarities those domed baked blushers have I'm still not sure how much truth there is in that one. Bearing in mind these rumours were circulating at a time before you could Google "xx product dupe" and numerous blogs would pop up eagerly waiting to bestow all the dupeing information you need. One blog in particular that specialises in literally any swatch you desire and boasts it's own 'dupe list' is Temptalia, which everyone should have on their blog roll.

 Two particular products have always stayed at the forefront of my opinion on dupes (mainly its me wondering how the hell they have gotten away with it) one is a nail varnish... Enter Chanels 'Paraxodal' and Barry Ms 'Dusky Mauve' and the other is a blusher... Say hello to NARS 'Orgasm' and Sleek 'Rose Gold'. I FINALLY managed to get my hands on a Rose Gold this week, my daily post-work pilgrimage to Superdrug eventually paid off and resulted in the swift purchase of both 'Pomegranate' and 'Rose Gold'. I almost wept with joy when I saw that the usual barren shelves were fully stocked, and I do agree with the musings of many a blogger that it really is an excellent Orgasm copycat... just for a fifth of the price.

 So every now and then, either upon a new discovery or re-discovery of mine, I'll be doing a post on an un-dupeable and at the polar opposite of the scale a perfect dupe post... Only time will tell!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Gareth Pugh for MAC

 This highly anticipated collaboration is already available in the USA but as usual will not be released here until January 2012... The video scares me.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Seche Vital.

I have no idea why I didn't like this topcoat. I think it might've been the nail varnish supremacist in me refusing to accept that this £9 wonder bottle, which strangely enough I can only find in Urban Outfitters of all places, could outperform my beloved Chanel counterpart.

Initially there isn't much difference between the two. Both provide a hard and quick drying armour to your chosen polish, with an unparalleled shine that enables Miss Sporty to put OPI to shame, but where the Chanel needs a minor top up after a day or two the Seche Vite seems to be the Duracell bunny of the topcoat world, it just keeps on going! If I wasn't so fickle and easily bored by colours then this would be my 7 day manicure saviour, but I'm more of an extreme gloss and no chips kinda gal so at half the price of my usual manicure drug of choice I think Seche Vite might have just become a permanent fixture in my every other day nail change routine.

Below pictures show how Seche evens out the bumpy surface of a Deborah Lippmann glitter and provides a gloss like no other, making what was already an expensive nail job look ten times that.
One thick coat of Deborah Lippmann 'Superstar'
One coat 'Superstar' with one coat of Seche Vite

Monday, 5 December 2011

Secret Camouflage

 I took the plunge today and finally bought the Secret Camouflage from Laura Mercier! Secret Camouflage is one of LM's cult products, up there with her primers and Lip Glaces and after countless recommendations from Lisa Eldridge coupled with mounting nominations and wins in various beauty awards, it was the least I could do but to trot to Harvey Nichols and buy some for myself.
 The concealer itself is extremely pigmented and only the tiniest amount of product is needed to conceal blemishes. My first impression was that the consistency was extremely hard to the touch and a little difficult to work with but all it needs is a bit of warming up with your fingers before application. I wasn't sure in the beginning if the hard texture was for me, but in hindsight my usual complaint with concealers is the product has too much slip and blends away to nothing leaving you and your (usually huge) spot right back where you started. So it really is the perfect concealer for, well, concealing! It is not however, suitable for using to fool people into believing you had your 8 hours sleep the night before. For that you will still need to rely on your Touche Eclat,or perhaps just go to bed earlier.
 The idea behind finding the perfect colour match for yourself is that you choose the compact of which the left hand side strip of colour closest matches your skin tone, and in theory the warmer toned product on the right can be used to custom blend your own perfect concealer depending on which area of skin needs concealing and more importantly which time of year you will be concealing it. This is hugely beneficial for me, as products seem to last me a lifetime meaning my concealer or foundation sometimes just isn't the right colour as I purchased in August and by the time November rolls around I'm manically smearing NC30 over my blemishes when really I could be doing with an NC20... 
 Secret Camouflage costs £26 and I got mine from my local Harvey Nichols. From my research I can't find Laura Mercier's UK website which strikes me as odd but nevertheless LM products can be purchased from SpaceNK, Selfridges online etc etc so if you don't have a luxury department store near you then purchasing online is another option... The SA matched me up as an SC-2 which I'm pretty happy with on my NC20 skin tone, but saying that I don't think I would have been able to determine the difference between the shade swatches provided on the SpaceNK/LM USA website. If you did want to buy this and lived out in the sticks then definitely have a look at KarlaSugars, reliable as ever, swatches before you buy!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

November Glossy Box

 I love Glossybox, behind payday it's one of the happiest days of the month. Novembers wasn't the box of dreams I was hoping for but there's always next months...
 As predicted, of course I received the bath salts in place of the Hair Elasticizer, which I REALLY wanted to try, and to add insult to injury instead of the hand cream I was gifted with the cooling foot cream. That should work a treat in December... I don't wish to talk about the Nail Rock Wraps (even though I do quite like the leopard print), the perfumes are nowhere near my cup of floral tea and the Monu Skin Perfector smells like that awful woodland fresh dry oil spray my mum used to order by the dozen from Avon.
(Excuse the terrible photographs, it was 1am and I was delirious with disappointment)
 I understand the concept of GlossyBox and that its element of surprise can work out amazingly in your favour or alternatively it could leave you with a box of perfume samples and foot cream, and for £12.95 can you really complain? There were rumours swirling around the twittersphere that some disgruntled GlossyBoxers were demanding a refund due to there being "no full sized products" I can't help but have a little sympathy for the poor soul who runs the GlossyBox social media... GlossyBox have never offered full size products as part of their luxury sample service, generously sized offerings are just one of many perks of the box, it can't all be full sized NARS illuminators and HD Brows now can it.

 I can't see the logic in hurling online abuse at GB's facebook threatening to unsubscribe and stray to another beauty box company, because at the end of the day its literally luck of the draw, people probably spend a relative amount on lottery tickets but don't compose a sarcastic email or wall post waxing lyrical about how disapointed they are because they didnt scoop the £5.3million jackpot...

Although saying that, the Christmas box better be bloody good.

Evilbay Update.

3 days to go on the calendar and its a £355...(?!?!) Save yourself the money guys and just buy the full sizes of the products you actually want and give yourself one of those each morning... Outrageous.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Mulberry Matches.

What better reason to spend £825 on a handbag other than "It matches my nail varnish!"?

This month the nail varnish and bag in question are Topshops 'Poison Ivy' polish and the Mulberry Small Heritage  Bayswater Satchel in Pheasant Green. Never mind co-coordinating hands and toes, if you want to take matchy-matchy to a whole new (and rather expensive) level then this is the bag/nail varnish combo for you...



 Five days to go and its already at 13 bids and the winning bid is currently £137, thats £67 over the original asking price...SO curious as to how much it will end up going for. I wanted the Lancome Beauty Advent Calendar as much as the next person but of course, despite Selfridges increasing their order after the huge success of last years calendar, this years again sold out in a matter of hours online.

 I was wondering how long it would be before they started to crop up on Ebay and today it has! There must be some desperate boyfriends/husbands hovering over the bid button waiting to make somebodies December 1st a very happy one. I'm going with £230 as the winning bid!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Can You Get Hooked On Lipbalm?

 One particular beauty myth that sticks in my mind was that if you relied too heavily upon lip balms and glosses, then would you become addicted?

 Perhaps not addicted in the sense that you would sell your house and children just to get your hands some Vaseline to see you through the day, but addicted to the point that when a rummage in your handbag doesn't provide you with a little tin of something to quench your thirsty pout, its enough to leave you panic stricken and wondering where on earth you'll get your next fix. (Although having seen the below LE Vaseline released to one lucky winner two years ago I'm thinking I probably would sell something of significant value to have it in my possesion...)
 It seems there was enough truth behind the musings for popular cosmetic science blog The Beauty Brains to name their first published book "Can You Get Hooked On LipBalm?". To cut a long story short... essentially yes. Yes you can become reliant on lip balm. Or at least your lips can anyway. It's kind of like when you start to wear false eyelashes on a daily basis, you soon realise how bloody awful you look without them and they becomes more and more difficult to live without.

 Thankfully The Beauty Brains have a much more scientific answer to these questions, as opposed to my manic ramblings about false eyelashes...

" Yes. Skin is a complicated organ, with multiple layers. The top layer, the stratum corneum, consists mainly of dead, dried-up cells, and as those cells flake off they send a signal to a deeper layer of skin - the basal layer - to produce fresh skin cells. This is the process of cellular turnover.
 When you apply lip balm regularly, you create a barrier that prevents the evaporation of moisture from the inner layers of skin, since the top layer isn't drying as much as it would normally, the basal layer stops getting the signal to produce new cells and slows down production.
 When you stop using lip balm, your lips dry out and your basal layer must start producing new cells again... but since your lips already feel dry, you apply more lip balm
 Once that application of lip balm has worn off and there are no new, plump, moist skin cells to replace the ones drying out, your lips feel dry again and you have to apply more lip balm. And so on, and so on. Use balm too often and you'll train your lips to rely on it."

 So in an attempt to try and reverse my reliance on all things shiny and moisturising I wondered if more of a Quality versus Quantity approach would work in my favour and have forgone my usual Vaseline in favour of Chanel's Hydrating Lip Treatment. At £20 for 3.5g it works out at a rather eye watering £5.71 per gram of product compared to Vaseline's more modest £0.08 per gram... The proof is in the pudding I suppose and I'll be doing a follow up post detailing my finds but already I'm struggling to not apply every five minutes (defeating the object of the experiment i suppose...) but the bullet is fast wearing down and I can already see this is a habit that isn't going to benefit my bank balance... My lips on the other hand seem to be fairing pretty well!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Curiosity Killed The Cat.

 I'm undecided as to wether I'd have preferred the disappointment first hand or if I'm glad I googled what I did. Every month I vow to myself that I'll wait for my Glossy Box and I won't succumb to the bloggers who have the perk of having their boxes delivered straight to them rather than awaiting the arrival of the box to their uni address from home, enabling a speedy reveal post.

 Last month I welcomed my findings... this month however... Perfume samples, again? I could go to each department store in Manchester and probably blag more than the Glossy Boxes worth in free perfume samples alone. So why, why do they insist on including them?! Nobody enjoys them every month, its like the shit stocking filler you get every year. (Not that you ever buy any shit stocking fillers if you're reading, Dad!) Maybe they'll pull their finger out for the Christmas box (!!) and it will be as good as they're hyping it up to be on their Facebook...

 Another item in this months box is a pack of the Nail Rock Wraps... Brillo. If you read my 101 Dalmation Attempts  post then you will feel my pain. I'm going to give them one last go when they arrive although I'm not holding out much hope. I watched yet another infuriating YouTube tutorial showing just how easy peasy they are to apply and nearly punched the screen, so heres hoping millionth time is the charm! If previous boxes are anything to go by then I wont be receiving the Phillip Kinglsey Elasticizer included in some lucky beggars November boxes but will instead I'll be given the deathly boring Dead Sea Bath Salts... I suppose time will only tell what delights I receive but if you ever see me on the street smelling of Illamasqua 'Freak' mixed with salt, bad hair and even worse nails you can rightly assume it was a terrible month on the Glossy Box front.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

MAC MSF - Soft and Gentle

I can't even begin to imagine how many Mineralise Skin Finishes MAC must sell worldwide on a daily basis, Google couldn't help me on this one either, so I'm going to take a very analytical and complicated guess and say a lot.

 After Soft and Gentle constantly being out of stock,  I went ahead and purchased its (inferior) sibling; the Iridescent powder in 'Belighftul' hoping it would fill the champagne highlight shaped hole in my life. Unfortunately I was to be disappointed with the noticeable chunks of glitter and its slight pink sheen, but alas, in a stroke of luck a friend who after having fallen in love with my Belighftul but had not been able to buy due to stock issues also, ended up purchasing Soft and Gentle as a replacement... A few unsatisfied weeks passed until we did the inevitable swap and we both lived happily highlighted ever after. 

 Well, this was until until Mahiki and its Zombies claimed that and the majority of my make up bag during my 21st celebrations back in August... but that's a whole different story and it was only up until a few weeks ago that myself and MSF Soft and Gentle were reunited at House of Fraser in Manchester.
 Soft and Gentle is described on the MAC website as a "gilded, peach bronze" which I'd say fits the bill pretty well. You get a huge 10g of product for your £20.50 which does seem quite steep, but it really will last you what feels like a lifetime. Only the tiniest sweep of product is needed to give cheekbones and brow bones a natural glow thats suitable for daytime and also looks incredible with flash photography. I would personally say Soft and Gentle is almost a powder version of Benefits cult classic Moon Beam.
 For comparisons sake I have swatched S&G next to Benefits High Beam in the top picture to get a real idea of the contrast against a highlighter intended for a cooler skin tone, as you can see in artificial lighting S&G shows up as a much warmer, golden highlight compared to the bottom picture which has been taken in natural lighting whereby the warmer tones aren't so visible. In my eyes this is the perfect highlighter and until the day its challenged then I'm pretty sure its my HG.

 In the unlikely event that this runs out before I inevitably lose it on my "travels" then I would 1000% repurchase and would highly recommend it to anyone who doesnt have the complexion of a Cullen... in which case, Lightscapade is the one for you. (Currently selling for outrageous prices on evilbay).

Thursday, 17 November 2011

NOTD - Barry M Indigo

 A quick NOTD for Thursday... Two medium coats of the ever dependable Barry M 'Indigo' with one coat of Chanel Beaute Des Ongles, my now go to topcoat for a speedy touch dry finish and a gloss which surpasses even that of Seche Vite, which I love but like many others found shrinkage on the edges to be an issue and my clumsy nature even more of an issue in attempting to "seal the colour" in on the edges. A technique which many a seasoned blogger had recommended to prevent the dreaded shrinking but has, and still does, manage to baffle me.

 I also found it really difficult to capture the colour of this varnish, it looks a very cool toned blue in these pictures but in real life I would describe it as more of a warm blue-y violet colour. On the rare occasion that I have a glitter varnish overload then 90% of the time I'll turn to this to revive my nail mojo...

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

"Its all about self respect"

 A few days ago on the 12th of November, news broke that a beauty legend had passed. Evelyn Lauder, daughter-in-law of the formidable Estee Lauder, had sadly lost her four year battle with ovarian cancer at the age of 75. Having been previously diagnosed some years before with breast cancer she had beaten the disease once in the past and Evelyn was not one to let her illness slow her down. Despite being diagnosed again in 2007, she still in the month of  October every year afterwards attended several cancer awareness events across the globe to promote the cause and her belief in "fighting the good fight".

 Every October sees a new breed of Breast Cancer awareness campaign products gracing the shelves of various retailers. From cosmetics to cakes, the pink ribbon is ubiquitous in the fight against breast cancer not just in the month of October, but every month of the year and has been since it was founded by Evelyn in 1992.

 Each year more than 44,300 women and around 300 men are diagnosed with breast cancer and it is the second most common cause of cancer related deaths for women in the UK and worldwide, second only to that of lung cancer. Evelyn was a firm believer that early detection and treatment was a key factor in saving lives and increasing the chances of survival, and so what started out as small pink ribbons handed out on beauty counters to remind customers of the benefits of regular mammograms and self-checks had soon manifested itself into something much, much more significant.

The facts and figures surrounding these small pink ribbons soon puts the significance of Evelyns crusade against cancer into perspective. At the end of 2009 over 85 million pink ribbons were distributed - incase you were wondering thats enough material to stretch all the way from the empire state building, NY to Beijing’s Legation Quarter in China - and $50 million from Estee Lauder and its various partners has been donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, taking up a healthy proportion of the $330 million raised since its launch. 

Without the support of the Estee Lauder companies and its ambassadors such as Evelyn and Liz Hurley, a long time friend and supporter of the campaign, the progression and future of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation would have certainly been a lot more difficult. Its impossible for the likes of you and I to donate a cool $50 million to the cause but we can all take a leaf out of the late Mrs Lauders perfectly made up book...

  "Don't be afraid of Breast Cancer. Don't be afraid to do breast self-examination or to have a clinical breast   exam as part of a regular doctors visit. Don't be afraid - or wait - to go to your doctor if you find a lump or suspect something. And please keep spreading the message that early detection and treatment saves lives."

 So, have a little self respect and you could maybe, one day, be thanking your lucky pink ribbons.

Super Lustrous Indeed.

 A  few posts ago I mentioned the Revlon goodie bag swag I got at the Mulberry SS12 event, included was a lovely red lipstick in the brands 'Super Lustrous' formula, described on their website as an exclusive 'LiquiSilk™' formula with "mega moisturizers to seal in colour and softness".

 I have no idea as to what "Liquisilk" is, I don't really care and part of me wonders why brands often bother hamming up a product with imaginative trademarks which mean nothing to it's customers. (hello Dior skincare, I'm talking to you...) Yes, it is moisturising but I'm not sure myself or anyone else would be swayed on its moisturising properties solely upon them including all of the technical cosmetic wizardry jargon that they do. Anyway, all that aside I reeeally like this lipstick.
 For around £7.49, depending on where you buy, you get 5g of product and at the minute Boots are doing their usual 3 for 2 promotion so if you were planning a few purchases anyway you might just be able to get this for free! The finish is similar to that of MAC's Amplified Creme, perhaps a little creamier, and the wear is good. After an hour or two the colour dies down to more of a fuschia/orange stain and once applied it seems to stay put, having only worn this in day time I can't comment on its behaviour on a night out but the OCD in me says a slick of Lipcote wouldn't go amiss to prevent the embarrassment of having red lipstick smeared around the chin and nose area when looking at the photos the next day.

The picture below is Revlon Super Lustrous in 'Revlon Red' swatched next to Chanels Rouge Allure Velvet in 'La Fascinante' (Review to come soon) in natural light. The Chanel is a much bluer toned red and helps show the orange undertones of the Revlon... Just to clear up any confusion the Revlon is the top swatch. All in all I really would recomend the Super Lustrous finish and already have my eye on the 'Blase Apricot' shade, although one downside with the range definitely has to be the shade names. 'Raisin Rage', 'Plumalicious' and 'Blase Apricot'? I think I now take back my previous comments about the lack of creative thought behind 'Revlon Red'...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Croc, Crackle and Co

 After a little internet browsing I came across this, first on Barry M's website and then after further googling, on various blogs. This is the new take on the shatter topcoat trend, this time instead of a shatter the effect is that of crocodile skin. There doesn't seem to be any swatches yet but Barry M have uploaded a tutorial video which you can view here. From what I can gather it seems the product only launched about ten days ago, but I am yet to see it on my almost daily Superdrug/Boots visit whilst doing my usual work-train station route. I'm in two minds of whether to quickly change my nails from a dark to light colour in the morning so if and when I see this in store I can do a quick swatch to see the effects for myself before I buy...

 When the crackle phenomenon first took hold I didnt actually have any nails to paint, so I had to sit and watch my housemates sit and first paint their nails a festive gold colour, then apply the crackle topcoat and watch in absolute wonder as their nails transformed before their very eyes. I wasn't jealous, at all. So when my day finally came I was a little disappointed with the results, it didnt help that I was about six months behind the trend and that it had already been done to death but I just didnt love the effect all that much. I'm hoping that with a little less pressure on the croc effect and the fact that its brand spanking new giving a helping hand, I might actually like this one a little more. I'll keep you posted...

Erase and Rewind.

For months and then years I had hankered after the little pot of loveliness that is MAC Lip Erase.
 With no access to a nearby MAC Pro store and the organization skills of a four year old I had never gotten my act together quick enough to nab one from any of the limited edition collections MAC had thrown our way, but my luck was to change as I wandered through House of Fraser on what happened to be the last Thursday of the month... IE. Pay day!

 With the aid of a helpful MAC girl I picked up a few vital bits and pieces and had noticed out of the corner of my eye the lip erase sitting quietly, patiently, as part of the Fall Colour 2011 collection just waiting for my inner shopping demon to cry out  "Yes! There is something else I'd like actually, I'll have a lip erase please"

 I'm still yet to decide if I love or loathe when the SA smiles sweetly and asks "Is there anything else you would like today...?" Cue panicked thoughts of what else you could possibly add to your waiting pile of goods under such mounting pressure. Then you remember the lip erase. It seems rational, you've been after one for a while now. You'll practically be saving money on the foundation or concealer you wont be using to drain your lips of their natural colour anymore, it's the right thing to do.

 And so that is how I finally ended up in the possession of my un-swatched Lip Erase!
 First impressions were not so great. I had always assumed Lip Erase would have the balmy, glossy texture of the MAC tinted lip conditioners and so I smeared it on right away on my train home. Straight onto my poor dry lips. It looked awful. Things marginally improved when a slick of Juicy Tubes was added to the mix but again it definitely wasn't what I had imagined in all the months I had spent yearning for the product I thought would provide the perfect nude lip.

 I had all but given up on lip Erase and had relegated it to the murky depths of my makeup box. At one point I even attempted to fashion it into somesort of concealer. Epic, epic fail on my part and I should have known better, but alas, after my usual trick of googling "[enter product here] swatch" it seems I had gotten it all wrong, what I had hoped would be a nude conditioning balm turns out to be a mere step in the recipe for the perfect bold lip. In hindsight this makes a lot more sense... erasing the natural lip colour to provider a truer pigment representation for a bold lipstick, stain or gloss. So I put it to the test under a favourite coral of mine - now MAC's cream colour base in Virgin Isle, which is now sadly discontinued, usually translates to a half-hearted coral effort on my bare pigmented lips but a swipe of lip erase onto (well prepped) lips before a quick smudge of Virgin Isle does the trick perfectly.

 So from now on, any swatched/applied lip products will be done so with a base layer of Lip erase for continuity, and at the end of the day I'm still pretty happy with lip erase, I just wish it was what I thought it was... until then I melted one of my many lone pots of Vaseline and mixed in a smidgeon of lip erase to quench my nude-gloss hybrid thirst.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Holidays Are Coming...

101 Dalmation Attempts

Thursday 3rd November marked the date of the Mulberry and Stylist magazine event to be held in store at Spinningfields, Manchester to celebrate the beginnings of our Spring/Summer 12 stock making its summery arrival onto our shelves. 

There was a whole host of things to get excited about, not so much when you're working the event, but still an event is always a bit livelier than your average shift. So despite the promise of male models bearing gin cocktails and bite-size British culinary classics, Yasmin performing a live acoustic set/DJ set, gold Bayswater balloons, goodie bags and a prize bag draw amongst other things the only thing I was getting rowdy about was the pile of cardboard boxes waiting patiently in the toilet cum storage space with the words "REVLON" printed all over them. Despite my best efforts the boxes remained sealed until absolutely necessary meaning no precious play and swatch time.

 When I finally got a free minute to devour a mini steak sandwich and wash it down with a coconut and grapefruit gin concoction I sneaked my way over to where the pile of goodie bags patiently lay, waiting to be rifled through. Naturally I wasn't disappointed, there were some eyeliners and mascaras from the fairly new 'Grow Lucious' line from Revlon along with a lovely Super Lustrous Revlon lipstick in 'Revlon Red' (very imaginative) and thankfully there was the clink of a glass bottle I was hoping for. Yes, yes I love lipstick and I love mascara but since growing my once stubbly nails this summer I have rapidly become fluent in all things nail varnish so the presence of a polish was a welcome surprise, unfortunately the shade was 'Bewitched Bordeaux' - lovely in itself but I had received Rouge Noir as a present a few weeks previously so the Revlon will probably lie a little dormant in my collection for a while until Rouge Noir has served its purpose.

But to ease the pain of my shade disappointment the lovely people from Nail Rock nail wraps had provided us with a whole host of nail wrap freebies and two of their talented manicurists to be at everyones back and nail art call throughout the evening. I had heard nothing but good things about nail wraps and nail water decals from BritishBeautyBlogger and so after the disappointment of not having my nails "rocked" by one of the manicurists on hand (pun unintended) at the event due to the glossy nature of my Chanel Beaute des Ongles topcoat preventing the nail wraps from sticking to the nail bed, I was looking forward to an enjoyable evening of applying my goodie bag Dalmatian print nail wraps at home.

"Its easy!" they say, "it takes two minutes!" Does it balls.

 I lovingly prepared my nail as instructed. I removed all shine from the nail bed (not a difficult task after daily varnish changes have left my nails a peeling, yellow stained wreck). I applied the nail rock. I didn't even have the chance to pick up my nail file to "shape" the wrap as it had fallen off my finger. Ever since I had become a nail varnish aficionado I hadn't really encountered anything of too much trouble. Shatter coats mastered, the perfect even distribution of Deborah Lippmann Happy Birthday glitter chunks in only one coat and without the aid of an orange stick was a walk in the park, freehand french manicures… a doodle. But my Nail rock nail wrap skills didn't flow rather so freely, to say I struggled is quite the understatement.

I wondered if i was doing something wrong? I was sure I'd heard over time on various blogs that a hair dryer was a vital part of the process? But no, the packaging insists "NO HEAT REQUIRED" So what makes them stick?! Hard work and brute force certainly doesn't. There is no give in the wrap and so it cant accommodate any sort of bend in the nail which leaves a big ugly crease when I try to smooth the wrap out over the nail. The worst part was, for three hours at the event I watched on as the manicurists buffed, filed and pressed with ease all the while sipping on Gin and cranberry cocktails, laughing and joking away. After what felt like 101 attempts I gave up and so it is on that note that I (un)gracefully bow out of my quest for Dalmatian nail rock wrap perfection.

 If anybody, anybody has the secret, please help a sister out.

Event images courtesy of http://www.manchestersfinest.com/