Emerson Crystals - Unicorn Cuticle Oil

If you read my post of my Christmas Wishlist - you would know I've had my eyes on these Unicorn Cuticle Oils from Emerson Crystals for a while now. So in January they had a sale that meant I got to get my hands on 3 of these babies, so of course I need to share my thoughts with you. 
Why do you need shimmery scented cuticle oil? Because it's awesome, and if you're anything like me, you will be FAR more likely to actually apply it regularly if it's a beautiful product. 
The 3 scents I got are Watermelon, Pomegranate, and Peppermint. All in the 15ml size (they had sold out of the minis by the time I got around to ordering, but now I have them I'm really happy I got the larger size as I am in love). 
So what makes them all shimmery and pretty is what I am assuming is Mica - which does settle to the bottle after awhile, so you do need to shake them up before use. They are fun to shake though - so pretty to watch! 
As far as the actual oil ingredients go, these all contain coconut oil, argan oil, jojoba oil and vitamin E - if you have read my previous posts talking about cuticle oils you will know that these are all the standard ingredients that you look for in a quality cuticle oil. 
Each of the scents smell like what you would expect a lolly version of these scents to smell like. I freakin adore them. The watermelon is by far the strongest, the pomegranate smells a little like the watermelon but very sweet, and the peppermint smells like mint slice biscuits. Yes the fill lines were all the same when I got these - but you can tell my favourite is already the peppermint. I don't think I have oiled my nails so regularly!
So are these oils worth it? Absolutely! I can't believe how long it has taken me to get around to ordering them! 
Jump over to Emerson Crystals to see all their scents (they also have an awesome range of Swarovski crystals and the Aussie Deviate nail mag). 

The shimmer when it has settled to the bottom
Look at how shimmery the oil is when all shaken up




Monomer Roundup

I have tried out a few brands of monomer recently, so I thought I would share some of my findings with you. There are so many brands out there that I want to try, but as I am only doing a few sets of nails a week it takes me awhile to get through a bottle! Now all the monomers I have here I have checked do not have MMA (if you are new to this, I suggest a quick google to see how evil MMA is...). And every one of these I bought out of my own pocket. We have some fails and some wins, but let me know what your fav monomer is - I would love to add it to my wishlist. 

Born Pretty Acrylic Liquid
$8.08 AUD - 100ml
PROS: Cheap and easy for anyone to get, well packaged and ships worldwide. Very light purple colour liquid, no strong smell
CONS: It applies very weirdly, beads will not blend (might be ok for 3d sculpting or 1 bead technique, but for the 3 bead it just doesn't look good), need to work with very wet beads
Score: 1/5

Hawey Illume Fusion Monomer
$33 AUD - 100ml
PROS: Very smooth application, pretty bottle, Australian company
CONS: Has a fairly strong smell, a bit more pricey than some other options
Score: 5/5

DNS Liquid Monomer
Approx $15 - 150ml
PROS: Cheap, easy to get if you live near by, easy to work with
CONS: Smells like a toilet when you file (Literally!), lid had melted from chemicals so had to be decanted, impossible to get if you don't live near by. No size listed on bottle ?
Score: 2/5

Hawley Black Label Odorless Liquid
Approx. $36 AUD - 125ml
PROS: Has no scent
CONS: Takes forever to set - particularly if you use it with glitter acrylic, really hard to find a stockist
Score: 2/5

4oz (118ml) $16.95aud
PROS: Cheap for it's quality, easy to work with, moderate smell
CONS: No Australian Stockist (yet....) so takes time to get from USA.
SCORE: 5/5

Born Pretty Haul

Happy New Year everyone! Sorry I was a little MIA over the break – between us hosting Christmas, my birthday and then going away, things have been a bit crazy. Not to mention I didn’t actually get any nail items for Christmas (yes I am judging myself). But when I got back to work, I had a couple of parcels sitting waiting for me to get into. So here is the first of a few haul posts. These are all new items from Born Pretty Store.

The first is a scattered holo gel. I was a little worried as I have bought so many cheap holo gels in the past that have been so sheer they are useless, but I was really surprised when I went to try this one as it is actually really opaque and super holo.  This picture is only one coat!!!! The only downside is Born Pretty bottles are only 6ml and if you’re anything like me, that won’t last long! But I will definitely be getting all the other colours.

Next up is a stamping plate that I was hoping to wear for New Years, but it didn’t arrive in time. But I can totally rock fireworks nails all year right? It has a great selection of different shapes of firework which means it’s perfect for layering. In fact everything including stamping polishes and holo powder in this mani are all from Born Pretty, just not this haul. The plate is Christmas S001 (#44319)

I am LOVING that Born Pretty has started to have more professional items (or at least items for those of us who wear false nails). So I’ve been trying out their acrylic powders as much as I can (and I will have the monomer review up soon). This one is a glittery red with iridescent glitter mixed through all in a clear base. Really easy to work with and very pretty. Once again my ow down side is how tiny the jars are. 10ml – perfect if you are doing your own nails at home, but not enough if you want to use this on clients. Still it IS very cheap so you can stock up or use it for some accent nails. This shade is DAS03 Smile Eyelash (#43818)

Last of all is this peel of polish. I don’t wear a lot of normal polish anymore  (I am way too impatient to wait for them to dry!) but I wanted to try this one because I think we all know the pain of trying to remove black nail polish. Even filing off black gel still always seems to get some lingering colour. So this polish was really nice and opaque, only needing one coat. I topped it with some flakies and 2 coats of top coat. And once it was all dry I went to peel it off. I think this is intended for natural nails as it took quite a bit of scraping to get it off my acrylic. But hey, still easier to remove than normal polish! This shade is Dark Chocolate (#44293)

As always, you can use my code VHW10 for 10% off full priced items. And let me know if you try any of these and what you think!

My Christmas Wishlist

It's Christmas time! You know how most people when you ask them what they would like as a present say that they have no idea? Yeah that's not me. I always keep running lists of things I really want - both nail related and non-nail related. So I thought I would post my nail Christmas wish list in the hopes it might inspire you with something you might like to treat yourself with, or if you know a nail tech, get some present ideas!

Unicorn Cuticle Oil - Emerson Crystals
I own a million cuticle oils, but I find I don't use them if they don't smell great, so I've been eyeing off the Unicorn Cuticle oils as they have loads of enticing scents and they all have a swirling sparkle in them so they look beautiful too! $11.99aud 15ml
You can never have enough stamping polishes. Even with my large collection I still find myself never having the colour I need for a design. So my current stamping lust is this pastel set from Hit The Bottle. $26.75aud for 5ml set

My dirty little nail secret is that even though I file my nails pretty much ever day, I don't actually have a dust collector. I just spend half my life wiping down surfaces and vacuuming. So I'm eyeing off this dust collector that's currently up for pre-order. I just really like this style! $129usd

A few months back I bought the Warrior brush from this set and it has been a game changer - a good brush makes life SO much easier! So now I need the rest of the collection. $16.90aud each.

Builder in a Bottle - ORLY
If you've read my older posts you will know that I love brush on hard gels, particularly to do my non-dominant hand, but the removal is always a pain. So I really need this one in my life as it soaks off!! It is currently for pre-order in Australia through Hawley. $TBC

I sorted through all my gels the other day and discovered an alarming lack of yellows, greens and blues. Opallac have so many nice colours - so I picked one for my list, but I'm also eyeing off Intoxicated, Appletini, and True Blue. $19.95aud 

No one can ever have enough glitters, so I always have a wish list a mile long (did you see my past post of Aussie glitter companies?) This pretty mix is currently the very top of that wish list - it'st just perfect for doing summer nails once I stop doing Christmas designs! $5aud

Ok I am never going to able to afford this, but everything is this collection is just stunning. I have a shelf in my nail room where I get my most precious treasures that I will never actually use, and even one of these holo powders would look amazing sitting up there. $247.30usd

I actually work as a copywriter/journalist, so I don't have lots of time to do clients, but when I do I wish I had more than one pretty background to take their pictures on! Glitterati has SO MANY pretty designs to choose from. I secretly want them all! £9.99

Nail design training sheets - Ksenia Kupina
As I said further up I've been trying to increase my handpainting game, and I adore these kinds of swirly designs, so this template seems like an amazing idea! You get the design to print and laminate yourself and there's a video tutorial to take you through it. A class without leaving my home? Love it! €13

I always joke that I am a crazy cat lady in training because I live in a rental and can't have pets, but I ADORE cats. So the fact MoYou released a cat themed collection makes me so happy! £6.99

I love doing foil designs, but I like to do a full nail rather than this fad atm of just dabbing small amounts of foil on. Unfortunately I had mastered this with normal polish and transfer glue, but I just can't do it over gel as well. So I need this gel in my life so I have embrace having full nails of bling again. $25usd

Opallac Jelly Polishes

Opallac are on fire at the moment. They have just released 5 new jelly shades that are exclusive to their website. The jelly trend is quite polarizing in the nail world, but if you follow me on Instagram you will know I adore it. If you haven't heard of it before, it's when you have a clear nail extension on and then paint it with a sheer polish, making your nails look like jelly or glass. 
The thing that I think is really cool about these is that because they are sheer but also very pigmented you only need one coat to get the look, but it also means they are PERFECT for leadlighting. If you scroll to the bottom image you will see what I mean. To get this look you simply stamp a design onto the nail, then use a dotting tool to apply each colour. This has been around for ages in the normal nail polish world, but it works even better in gel. You don't have to worry about the polish drying up on your tools as you work, you can flash cure between each colour so there is no bleeding, and at the end there is no dry time! I am soooo in love! 
The Jelly range is available from Opallac's website, and they are $16.95 each. 

Jelly Frose

Jelly Mango Tango

Jelly Pina Colada

Jelly Lime Mojito

Jelly Maliblue

With mermaid powder on top 

The leadlighting look

Opallac Nude Shades

There has been so much going on in the Opallac world lately - you would have already seen the matte top coat, but now we have 3 new nude shades. All of which are gorgeous, but no matter what skin tone you have one of these (if not all) will suit you. As we've discussed before, I love Opallac because it is a really good high quality gel that is available to everyone, and you can pick up most of their shades at Priceline. As you can imagine I own A LOT of gel polishes, with everything from $2 Aliexpress polishes to high end pro brands. And these really stand up there with some of the real high quality polishes.

So each of my swatches is 2 coats - they are all beautifully creamy and opaque. Of course all my swatches have some art just because I can't help myself! Nudes are the best base for art after all!

Opallac is available through their website or from Priceline stores.

Sweet Romance

Faux Fur

Bare It All

Kertosis Pilaris

Today I wanted to talk about a slightly non-nail related topic - keratosis pilaris, aka chicken skin. It is insanely common (I've read some claims that it can effect up to 80% of the adolescent population) so chances are you either have it, or if you're doing nails on other people you are going to come across it it. 

KP looks like tiny red bumps on the skin and feels like sandpaper. It's caused by a buildup of keratin that forms a plug that blocks the opening of a hair follicle. It's meant to clear up after age 30, but I'm over that hill and am still covered.

This condition is not always something that bothers people, but my skin literally looks like one of those worse case scenarios off WebMD! It's all over my arms, legs, butt and even a little on the back of my hands. It's a charming look as a nail tech! The worst part for me is it has taken me most of my life to find our what the heck it is! I used to get teased at school where kids would dare each other to touch my skin, and I thought I was some kind of leper! It's only now I can tell you it is TOTALLY harmless. It amazed me that even at nail school we had lists of skin conditions that effect arms and hands so we could check for contra-indicators, but it wasn't there! The only thing to look for is if they are naughty like me and pick at it, leaving open wounds. 

So I have been doing a lot of experimenting with different products to see if i could find something that would help - and I hope help you or at least make you a bit more informed. It basically comes down to exfoliation (but not too much - it's a fine line) and moisture. Chemical exfoliates seem to be the way to go, so you need to look for products with a decent amount of ingredients like glycolic acid, AHA, BHA

Some of the things I have tried include plain old exfoliating with a loofah and moisturiser which smoothed the feel but didn't do much for the appearance, a few different exfoliating products like a rock salt scrub and a moisturiser that had a small amount of glycolic acid. It wasn't until I did some reading that I saw a lot of positive things about Paula's Choice and I bought a whole bunch of samples to try (and then their lovely PR sent me one full sized to try as well). 

The 2 main products I have ended up using are Weightless Body Treatment with 2% BHA and the Skin Revealing Body Lotion with 10% AHA. They both worked well for me, but I prefer the lotion just because I like the moisturised feeling it leaves and I think it works a little bit better on my skin. I was applying these after my shower each night - which makes sense just because you need to be careful going in the sun with these as you will burn easy, 

So here are some before and after pictures. These were taken 2 weeks apart You can see it has;t magically make it go away, but there is a huge difference! My skin also feels totally smooth which is a miracle for me! Note that the dead skin and redness in the before pictures is not from picking, my skin was just that inflamed from the condition.

Taken on my macro lens - you can see the bumps have reduced greatly

Before After

Taken on my phone so you can see more what it looks like to the naked eye. such in improvement!


Click here to check out the full Resist range from Paula's Choice