Born Pretty January Roundup

Born Pretty have changed up how they do PR a bit and send things more or less at random, so this latest set I got sent for review wasn't exactly all my choice, but I'll never say no to having more gels in my collection. They also wanted their items to be linked to their various sales platforms, although of course all these items are on their store and I find always cheaper on AliExpress.

The first polish I have here is SST01 - its thermal AND UV colour change! The light/dark blue is inside and the light/dark purple is outside. It also is packed full of fine glitter which is silver and holo! Here I am wearing 2 coats with their white stamping polish.
http://bit.ly/2lnEBFb .


Next up is Midas Touch. This is a gorgeous opaque gold. I paired it with the BP gel stamping polish to paint on the black leopard print (pity even after curing it was a little smudgy!). I am wearing 2 coats but this was very opaque for such a metallic shade which is nice!
http://www.bornprettystore.com/born-pretty-glittery-nail-polish-holographic-sequins-pink-gold-silver-soak-p-45999.html

I can't say I adore gel stamping polishes, they look great but are a pain to clean up! But this is a very pretty metallic green. As with all gel stamping, it picks up fine lines really well and give you all the time in the world to you it right. I know I’ve said it before but these stamping gels make for the best hand painting! They’re so pigmented that they are very versatile, and this particular shade is very shimmery and pretty!
Check out their full range of colours at http://bit.ly/2m5T09D .

Next is Confidante. This is a case of looking stunning in their pictures, but looks totally different in person. Theirs looks like an opaque holo pink, but in reality it's a sheer pink flakies. Here I am wearing 3 coats (which is why they look so thick and a little misshaped) and topped with some stamped stars with glitter which I think still looks very pretty, just not what I thought! Still this range of gels does have a few gems in it.
Check them all out here: https://amzn.to/2kooTtG .

The last of the gels is Morning Gorgeous- a shimmery SUPER sheer pink. From their swatches I didn’t expect it to be quite so sheer, I’m wearing 2 thick coats here, but it does have a nice sparkly elegant feel to it. To jazz it up I stamped over it with plate BP Flower Tango S001 with Pure white stamping polish.
http://www.bornprettystore.com/born-pretty-glittery-nail-polish-holographic-sequins-pink-gold-silver-soak-p-45999.html

This last item was a bit of fun - alcohol ink brush pens that you can just draw straight onto the nail with. It works just like if you took a sharpie mixed with alcohol and painted on, so you might want to use a little pure alcohol to move the ink around on the nail, but it is certainly a fun way to use this kind of product and comes in a bunch of colours.
http://bit.ly/2m3EG19 .











Focallure Review and Looks

I've seen a lot of people online talking about the brand Focallure, it's crossed my feeds before, but as it is a brand directly from China and available on Aliexpress I have been a little suspicious of it. But in the last big Ali sale I decided to bite the bullet and but a few things to try out. They claim to be cruelty free (and have the bunny logo on the packaging) - although I would love to get that verified. 
I got a black liquid eyeliner, a holographic glitter eyeliner, 2 liquid eyeshadows, and a lippy. 
Glitter Eyeliner
Shade5 - Party
This was pretty disappointing, although I'm sure I will find some use for it. It's just so sparse that you can't see it unless you really layer up hard. I can see you might be able to work with it as a topper over black eyeliner if you just wanted to add a little sparkle, but I think there are much better items out there to get the look with. I just wish there was more holo makeup on the market!
You can see the subtle metallic golden effect. It's super elegant!
Chameleon Liquid Lipstick 
#40 Rose
I actually loved this lippy. The colour had a very slight duochrome effect to it with a gold shimmer to it. It wears pretty nicely too - just good luck getting it off! Definitely long wearing! It dries down to a slight sticky feeling, which can be a tad annoying, but I have faarrrr more expensive brands that feel worse! This is definitely worth picking up and I will be grabbing a few more shades.
My glorious panda eyes from the eyeliner
Black Eyeliner 
I am yet to find a really cheap eyeliner that works how I want it to, so I didn't have high hopes for this guy. It wasn't to bad to apply and was a nice opaque black, but I wore if for a day in my air-conditioned office and by the time I got home I had the worst panda eyes known to man. For once I was grateful I wear glasses so it wasn't as obvious! And yes it was the eyeliner - the mascara was my usual Benefit that I swear by and doesn't budge. This isn't something I would add to my makeup kit, but I'm adding it to my emergency car kit as it is fine if you're popping out for dinner but don't expect it to be long wearing.
Diamond over my normal basic nude eye look. You can see it's sheer but grabs the light.
Liquid Eyeshadow
1 Diamond, 13 Amethyst Crush
Oh boy these liquid eyeshadows, oh boy. They. are. STUNNING! Both have the same problem a bit that they want to work their way into your creases and folds and you need to do some careful patting application, but they are so beautiful it's worth it!
The Diamond was a sheer white with a wild blue kick - you will want to put this over another colour. It's definitely a topper buy the shimmer is out of this world!
Amethyst Crush I would describe as a rose gold with a gold duochrome effect. It's still a tad sheer so I think it would still be best over something, or layered with a really good primer. But it's very metallic and in the right light the shift is superb. Both of these I have added to my daily kit and will 100% be grabbing more shades.
Amethyst Crush - Still a tad patchy so best over a similar colour, but very shiny and pretty
This is a terrible shot, but I did this so you can see the duochrome effect that pops out in the right light
Rubbed down with some water. That lippy did NOT want to come off!
Wearing the Diamond liquid eyeshadow and Rose lippy. 
I did also want to quickly throw in a note that as much as I quite enjoyed their products, they do have a subscription box called Babebox. I wanted to mention this as I am always seeing ads for it on FB with the whole 'get your first box free' - I mean nothing is really free but I've seen a lot of people complaining because they then make you buy the box after it even though it doesn't say it anywhere in the T&Cs that you're obliged to. That and considering how cheap their stuff is on their site and Ali, I'm not sure it's worth it. But hey they are apparently trying to get more brands on board so maybe it will improve. Just don't get sucked in atm.

If you want to check out their full range, you can check their Ali store here, or go directly to their website here.

OPI x HelloKitty

For this holiday season, OPI have partnered up again with Hello Kitty to create a range of 12 polishes, I was lucky enough to get 5 of the shades along with the Infinite Shine base and top coats, all in the cutest little bag! So I'm here to share with you swatches and the art I did with each of these shades. I would say most of these are takes on classic shades, which is something OPI does do really well. And you can't go past how freakin adorable the bottles are!
First up is A Kiss on the Chic - a super flattering classic red. It's in that between zone of not too in-your-face red and vampy red, making it bold but still keeping it very classy. The formula for this one was nice and opaque and creamy. Here I’m wearing 2 coats with a glossy top coat.
For the art look I stamped over the red with Moyra foil polish for stamping using a Christmas plate 06 from Beauty BigBang and a Swarovski crystal glued on.
Let Love Sparkle - a shimmery frosty blue with iridescent micro glitter scattered through it. It looks a little textured on the nail because of the glitter but a thick glossy top coat made it feel totally smooth. It was a tad hard to work with because of that texture and the sparkle that you see in the bottle gets a bit lost on the nail. But it's still quite a nice shade and I'm pretty sure it will be a unique one for your collection.
For these nails I did some layered stamping using 2 stamping polishes from Born Pretty and used plate 122 from Nicole Diary.
Let’s Be Friends - this is actually a re-release from their first OPIxHelloKitty range as it was so popular, which makes sense as it is quite similar to Bubble Bath which has to be their all-time best polish IMO. It's a little faded out in my pics as it was hard to capture right, but it is a really pretty pastel strawberry pink. Lovely colour but it is quite a thick and very fast drying polish which is a bit hard to work with - here I am wearing 3 super thin coats.
I went SUPER easy for this art look all using Born Pretty stamping polishes hand-painted on. If you haven't seen this style done before, you literally do 3 downward strokes in the coloured polish just using the bottle brush, and once that dries enough, do the same thing again in black starting slightly lower than the colour. It's one of those looks that I can do in my sleep, but I always get tonnes of compliments whenever I do it.
Isn’t She Iconic - This is a  gorgeous shimmery pewter for when you want silver nails but want them a little more toned down. The polish is packed with tiny reflective particles that are densely packed enough that I only needed 2 coats. This applied really nicely, and even more importantly it removed really easily too! No grittiness at all.

You can tell I did these nails right before Christmas! Some simple hand-painting using Born Pretty stamping polishes again and all the crystals used are from my store.
Lastly is Hello Pretty - a rich and deep purple that real intensity in colour that you want to touch them all the time. OPI always slays when it comes to dark cremes, and this one is no different. This is 2 coats.
This last art look was done by stamping on the design, painting over the inside of the stamped area with foil glue, foiling, then stamping again over the top. I know it sounds a little fiddly, but it's a technique that always comes out looking 10x more complex than it actually is. Once again the stamping polish is from Born Pretty, the foil was just a silver holo from AliExpress, and the stamping plate is Kads Fashion 12.

OPI x HelloKitty polishes RRP: Infinite Shine $22.95, Nail Lacquer $19.95, Advent Calendar $89.95 (exclusive to David Jones) and Mini 5- Gift Set $29.95 Stockists: Available at Myer, David Jones and selected salons for a limited time




Benefit Warehouse Sale (Sydney)

Before anyone freaks at me - yes this is an event that has come and gone, but I am posting this for future reference! As a chronic warehouse sale goer, I am always googling when a brand says it is having a sale to see what they have sold in past years so I have an idea of when to expect. So for all the people in the future who want to go to a Benefit warehouse sale - here's pics and the price list from the 2019 one. It ran from 24 - 26/10 (thurs - sat) in Sydney.
This sale was in a room attached to the old theatre in Paddington - it was basically just one very large room. I got there on day 1 an hour early and there wasn't any queue. About 10min prior to opening there were about 20 people. They had to let us in one by one as you had to check your bags in as you entered, but it didn't take long (compared to those old Peeptoe Shoes sales where I stood outside for over 3 hours to get in!). All the items were put into giant boxes with prices written on the side. The best value of the day were the gift packs that were $20 each - some of them like the eyebrow kits there was loads of stock of, but others were very limited and were all done within the first half an hour. 
The shade ranges were fairly limited too - so you couldn't exactly go with a shopping list, but as someone with brown hair they had all the mid toned brow items that suited me!
 If you scroll to the bottom you can see me little haul - I didn't go crazy because I was on a VERY limited budget *sob* but there were girls there buying up BIG (and a lot I then later saw on eBay...). The Ace that Face was $5, brow brush $5, large cosmetics bag on the top $5, and the rest was a $20 gift.
Verdict: 9/10 this sale was absolutely worth it! Just make sure you check out for packs first as some of the single items were more than an entire pack that included them!
Be sure to follow Benefit on their socials in case they do this again.




Batiste Scented Dry Shampoo Packs

The other day I got surprise mail of these sweet gift packs from Batiste, so of course I'm going to show them to you, and rant about the joys of being a wavy hair girl (seeing as you all seem to love my curly girl hair rants!).
These gift packs contain one of their scented version of their standard dry shampoo formula and a matching hair brush. A great little stocking filler for the hair conscious gals and guys out there! There are a range of scents available but the 2 I have here are Tempt and Wildflower.
Tempt is described as Violet Leaf, Rose, Musk. I would say it's a bit of an earthy floral - totally my type of scent! Wildflower is Watermelon Sorbet, Apple Blossom, Sandalwood. It's a fresh floral fragrance perfect for summer. Both of these have a subtle scent, they smell amazing as you're doing your hair, and then it dissipates quite quickly so you don't need to worry about them clashing with your perfume. It makes for a nice sensory experience as you're freshening up those locks! The brush they come with is quite small but it is a cute addition and fits nicely into the handbag. 
So if you've read previous hair rants, you will know I tried out the Curly Girl method for my waves and struggled (particualrly with the hard water I had to deal with!). Since then our landlord finally replaced the hot water heater, so no more rust in the shower! I also got a haircut that the hairdresser did to help accentuate my waves. But as I am not quite ready to tie myself down to using such a specific set of products, I thought I would give it a go using what I had on hand, but all the styling techniques of the CGM - squish to condish, lathering up my hair with my Jessicirl Rockin Ringlets, scrunching in the Organic Care Hard Gel and then plopping into a tshirt. Below a pic on day 2 hair with no refreshing. And then on day 3 I hit it with the dry shampoo (hence I am loving my collection of Batiste!), and day 4 it goes into an up do. I'm going to experiment with some other products on the market to see what results can be done without getting restrictive about ingredients - so if you have any suggestions I would love to hear so I can try them out!






Opallac Sheer Gels


Sorry I have been a little MIA the last couple of weeks - nothing worse than bloggers who simply vanish! Whoops. 2 weeks ago I had surgery for my endometriosis which then had me on my back sleeping for a week to recover, and then my poor hubby unexpectedly went into hospital for a week - he's fine now but dang it's been a full on fortnight! So I posted these polishes a few weeks ago and hadn't gotten to posting them on here. But this is the latest offering from Opallac. These are 3 sheer nude gel polishes. I have to admit when I heard they were releasing sheer nudes I was kind of dreading what they would be like, I was imagining something like those watery boring pinks you use for french polishes. I know they have a time and place in the world, but there are only so many I need in my collection.
So I was VERY surprised when I went to swatch these and realised that they wen't like that at all, and are far closer to a milk bath nail. 2 coats gives you a good dose of colour, but just enough sheerness to make them elegant. I find particularly with white polishes that they can be a little glaring and you can see every little mistake in the application, especially around the cuticle. But you just don't get that with these! This means that they are the perfect cover-up if you want something really subtle on your nails, but the are also the PERFECT base for nail art - especially Fluffy Bunny.
The 3 shades are: Fluffy Bunny - white, Dear Sheer - Pink, Barely There - pink/orange nude.
Each of the swatches here are 2 coats with a top coat over clear acrylic nails.
Do you need all 3 in your life, maybe not, but you 100% need one of them and I think the 3 shades should cover all skin tones.
Check out Opallac's range over at their website here, or at Priceline.
Fluffy Bunny

Dear Sheer
Barely There
Nail art foil over Fluffy Bunny
The super adorable kit they sent out! 

Gel Overlays 101

Are you someone who loves their natural nails, but wants to add some strength to them or fix a break in a stronger way than the tea bag method? Then welcome to the world of overlays!
This is a guide for those out there that are not nail techs and have no idea where to begin in the world of pro products. If you have any questions, just let me know and I'll add them to this guide!

What exactly is an overlay?
An overlay is where you take a product that is used for creating nail extensions, but only covering your natural nail. Because you aren't extending the length of your nail the product can be thinner and doesn't require any of the structure that we worry about with long nails so it is much easier to do at home.

What type of overlay product should I get?
There are a whole world of products out there that you can use for overlays. The main ones that spring to mind are:
*dipping powders
*hard gel
*acrylic
*polygel
*silk wrap
If you are a total novice to this with zero training, I recommend going with either a dip system or hard gel. Both are very different systems with totally different products, but similar outcomes. Which one you choose is entirely up to you, it makes no difference to your nail health.

Dip Systems:
Are basically layers of nail glue and fine acrylic powder. Pros - easy to apply, require no light or special equipment, come in a HUGE range of colours (although you want to stick to just clear if you want to paint over it), easy to buy an all-in-one kit. Cons - takes more work to get the end effect totally smooth, degrades easier when you are constantly removing nail polish on top of it (unless you use a gel top coat, but that defies the point), you can't easily extend the nail if you want to venture into the world of fake nails.
If you've ever used ORLY nail rescue, this is just dipping with a bigger price tag. I won't go into full instructions here (unless anyone specifically requests it) because any dip system will come with instructions and it's SUPER easy.

Gels:
This is a very thick clear product (like gel polish but MUCH thicker) that you lay down on top of the nail. Pros - if applied correctly it won't break down at all when you polish over it so you only need to reapply when it grows out, it is self-levelling so it will have a very smooth finish, for overlays you only need one coat so it is quite quick and easy to do once you get the hang of it, it does come in natural colours but the clear is CRYSTAL clear, you can build extensions out of it. Cons - you will need to buy all the bits separately (unless you want to spend a tonne of money), there's a huge variety of products out there and many of them are slightly different so you need to be careful what you get to start with.

So if there is such a huge range of gel products, where on earth should I begin?
If you are in this to help nurture your natural nails while you grow out a break, make sure you get a gel that says it is soak off! Many hard gels out there do not soak, so to remove you need to file them off. If you haven't had a tonne of practice this is very hard and scary to do without taking off the top layer of your natural nail. Be aware that soak off gel products do take as long as acrylic to soak off which may seem like a pain, but it does mean that when you are constantly changing the nail polish on top, it won't be damaged at all. Soak off gel comes in 2 varieties - in a pot and in a bottle. If you are a beginner, I recommend getting a product in a bottle as it means you paint it onto the nail like you do with polish. Although you can get higher end products, if you want to try it out I can recommend this gel here as a cheap beginner gel. 

What lamp do I need?
You will see on the market both LED lamps and UV lamps. Rather than go into the difference, I suggest just getting an LED lamp. There are some tiny ones out there that are meant for gel polish, but not all of them will work for hard gel. So before you buy anything check that they will cure hard gel. There are still some budget friendly options out there - here is a previous post to the lamp I use, but it is overkill for starting out (but it is very sexy!)

Step by step - how to apply your gel overlay
1. Prep your nails
This is the most important part of making your overlay stay adhered.
Buff the surface of your nails with a 180 grit nail file. Don't be scared, all you're doing is removing the shine of your nail so the gel doesn't slide off. Push back your cuticle (but don't soak your hand to do so). Use a lint-free wipe to scrub the nail with a nail dehydrator or isopropyl alcohol to remove all debris on the nail and dry it out.
A fully prepped nail

2. Prime  (optional)
Depending on which gel you have bought this step may be optional. Very dab a few spots of primer on each nails - one dip into the bottle should be enough to do one hand. When choosing a primer that will keep your nails happy, opt for an acid-free primer. The 2 primers I personally us are Young Nails Protein Bond or Hawley Premabond. If you're starting out you can try without but you risk the overlay lifting from your nail prematurely.
Small amount of primer

3. Forms (optional)
This step ONLY applies if you have a chip taken out of a nail, or if you've had one nail break and want to make it the same length of the others. Get your nail form and slide it under the broken nail, then pinch the bottom of the form together and stick it onto your finger (this is a bit of an art form and hard to explain in text - if you have troubles look it up on YouTube).
A long form fitted - there are many styles of forms but any will work for this

4. Application
Pick up a decent amount of product and float it onto the nail so you get an even coat over the nail, trying to not get any bubbles, then pop it into your nail for 5 seconds, remove your hand and wait for it to cool (from what we call a heatspike) and then pop it back in for a minute.
If you are extending or filling in a chip, put the product just where the missing nail is and cure. Then apply over the whole nail as above. (Note that you can't go totally crazy and decided that you want giant talons this way - longer nails require more structure so there's a few more steps you would need to do so they don't snap).
Apply a small amount of gel to where nail is missing then cure

Apply gel to the whole nail then cure

5. Clean up
The gel will create a sticky (or inhibition) layer when it's cured. Remove this with a lint-free wipe soaked in acetone or isopropyl alcohol. If you are building out the edge at all, it will most likely look like a hot mess when you remove the form, but it is SUPER easy to file into shape so don't stress. Buff the top and side walls of the nail so it is all smooth and nice, and file the edge as you would with your natural nails.
After the form and sticky later is removed
Filed up and ready to go

6. Removal
When time comes to remove the product, file off as much as you can without filing all the way to the natural nail. Get a cotton bud and soak it in pure acetone, put it on the nail then wrap it in foil. Leave for approx 10 minutes, then remove it and take a cuticle pusher and GENTLY scrape the product off the nail. If it doesn't come off easily, keep soaking until it has the texture of butter and can be easily removed.

That's it! Feel free to paint over the top with nail polish as much as you want. Try to use non-acetone remover to take off normal polish so it doesn't eat away at the gel at all.

All painted! (20/20 hindsight this could have been filed neater, but you get the point)