Beauty: Easy Ombre Nail Art DIY featuring Illamasqua Speckled Varnishes


You guys will probably say I am being all obsessive again, but when I find a brand I really love I get a bit carried away with it! I always say I’m not a huge beauty product buyer, but now my dressing table is fighting for space I think its time to admit, I have become a beauty junky. My main loves are always going to be Chanel for their nail colours and lipsticks, Benefit for their innovative products and Bobbi Brown for their sheer natural perfection and long wear products. But I have been getting into nail art lately, I blame Sharon1 nails taking me behind the scenes at London Fashion Week and getting into YouTube (a post on my fav channels to come). I think its the summer (well the thought of it), which really has me in the mood for some fun, bright and creative make up. I still love my classic red lips and slick of eye liner but it’s nice to try something different.

Yesterday afternoon @Illamasqua reached 50,000 Twitter followers and to celebrate they offered 50% off all products for a few hours! I really couldn’t believe it, so generous! Having only just discovered the brand there were a few products I had earmarked to go and check out next time I was at the counter, but I didn’t think I would ever get chance for such a high discount again so I snapped up a few things. Fighting the clock and the frustraitingly slow website, due to the amount of people on it, I had to check out before I added everything I wanted. I wanted to make sure I at least got soemthings. Then Illamasqua announced they would run the offer again at midnight for just one hour for those who missed out. This time I was prepared, I added items to my basket so that when the clock struck 12 I could just check out. There may have been a few extra items that crept into my basket!

How to Create Ombre Tips

Whilst I was waiting up for the sale to start I had a play around with the two new nail colours I got from Illamasqua earlier in the week. Speckle (Lilac) and Mottle (Mint Green) from the Speckled Egg inspired collection. This is such an easy manicure to do but it looks really striking, you can easily do this with any nail varnish too.

1. Apply Base Coat

2. Apply two coats of your first colour all over the nail

3. For you accent colour at the tips, make sure you wipe most of the varnish from the brush on the side of the bottle. Very little varnish is needed for this stage. Carefully, using tiny strokes, apply the varnish to the very tips of your nails. In fast strokes, keeping pressure light dab on the varnish to the tips, extending as far down as desired.

4. As the varnish dries it will blend together, I didn’t use a Topcoat as I like the matt textured effect of the varnish I used but you can choose to use Top Coat if you wish. Just be sure the bottom layers are dry first to avoid smudging.

You can play around with this effect, have cascading levels of colour or have them all the same length, try using three colours to build up the Ombre effect and so on.

TIP: If you are struggling to get the Ombre effect try using a sponge to apply the accent colour. You can lightly sponge the varnish onto the tips which will give you a softer application and be easier to blend.




Beauty: 18k Gold Nail Varnish – DIY or OPI?

After seeing my nails in my last post I got so many questions about them, were they a DIY or one of the expensive real gold nail varnishes?

Rarely for me they were a DIY! Ah now don’t get too excited it doesn’t end well – it never does. I first came across the gold leaf nail varnish when I saw the limited edition OPI ‘Man with the Golden Gun’ in honour of the new James Bond film. I tested it and was really taken with the shimmering, gold flakes – real 18k gold, but at ┬ú30 I was a bit hesitant about paying so much for a nail varnish, real gold or not. I went home and deliberated over it, agonised on Twitter where we debated trying it as a DIY.

Hmm I thought, lets see how much gold leaf costs – ┬ú2 for ten sheets of real 24k gold leaf, bargain. So I ordered it, it came, I scrunched it up, cut it into tiny pieces with sharp scissors, used a folded sheet of card as a funnel to pour it into a bottle of spare clear top coat, poked it in with the brush, gave it a good shake and that was it, simples! I painted it on and the results you can see on my nails above.

As you know I suck big time at DIY, so I was amazed I’d managed to pull this off. About an hour later I went to get my newly made nail polish to show off and erm it was starting to turn green. Yep that’s right real gold leaf dissolves in nail polish, in fact it totally dissolved over night and left me with a green lagoon coloured varnish yuck! I scoped around online to see if anyone else had managed to pull this off and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You can do this so long as you use fake gold nail art foil and not real gold leaf foil, the fake gold foil doesn’t dissolve woop! But if you are a bit like me and find the beauty in this being the sheer luxury of having real gold on your nails there still is another DIY option. Cut up the gold leaf and just sprinkle it onto the nail, you can use a clear base coat or a colour, the leaf will stick to dry polish so let it dry or it gets messy, sprinkle it on and press down – I just used my fingers but you could use tweezers, then use a clear top coat to seal the gold onto the nail. This is what I did on my toes below, over Chanel ‘Rouge Carat’.

The DIY’s were very easy to do and they achieved a nice larger piece effect – you could cut smaller if you wanted to, I also think it would be great if you wanted to cover the whole nail. Whilst I was on ebay I managed to snag an OPI polish for half price, because by then I really wanted to try it for comparison. You can see the OPI varnish in the first photo over Chanel ‘Blue Satin’. The OPI is a richer, warmer toned gold and is in smaller pieces than my own DIY, the flakes sit flat on the nail bed but I put a clear top coat over to seal it. As the bottle is opaque it is hard to see how much you are getting onto the brush, so be sure to give it a good mix up. You can also use the brush to move the pieces around if you end up with a bald patch and of course layer it up for a more dramatic effect. I have to say I really do love the OPI and I think it is worth the money, however this is such an easy DIY if you only want to spend ┬ú2 then go for it. I will be trying out some different looks with the OPI and the DIY. Yes, I did wear my OPI to go see Skyfall, I confess!

Which do you prefer OPI or DIY?

Cheap Tricks

(Wearing: Vintage skirt, Primark top and belt, Prada faux fur stole, Chanel shoes, Mulberry clutch)

I bought this vintage navy pleated skirt from eBay for about ┬ú1, however it was miles too big around the waist. Since I had paid so little for it I didn’t then want to have to pay for it to be tailored so I got a bit creative.

Nail colour Mimosa by Chanel

I made two slits in the waist band and threaded a thin belt though, I then ruched the skirt along the belt so only the end and the buckle were visible. This allowed me to cinch in the waist.

I decided I liked the look of the tan belt with the skirt so I cut out two sections along each side to reveal more of the belt. I also chopped off a few inches from the hem, the fabric being strong enough to cope with a raw edge.

The belt on the sides

The belt from the front

The raw hem

I added a mani/pedi in bright yellow to contrast the pink and navy, shame it doesn’t show up too well in the photo’s. I love it when a plan comes together, believe me the amount of DIY roadkill I have created would make you weep.

P.S Don’t forget to join me on Facebook, I have been adding lots of photo albums and look books and even the odd fashion quiz – this weeks is regarding what you want to read about during fashion week – show reviews? who wore what? Nothing at all because it is boring?? You tell me!

A Lesson from Dr Pearl: update on the Dylon disaster

If you read my last post you will know I managed to ruin a very expensive cardigan after attempting to Dylon dye it. It was really irritating me as I had followed the instructions to a T. After reading the packet again and checking out the clothing tag I came to the conclusion that perhaps the fibres in the cardigan were not what they said on the tag. As it happens (and here is the bit were I reveal my inner geek), in the real world I work in fibre analysis so I snipped off a few strands and stuck them under the microscope, like you would!

The image on the left with the thicker fibre was taken from the looser knit at the bottom of the cardigan which had remained purple, the thinner fibre was from the top of the cardi which had successfully dyed black. As you can see the fibres are very different but are both natural fibres – if you can see the ‘scales’ on the fibre this is the cuticle layer, just like we have on our own hair, which all natural human and animal fibres have. The left hand fibre is typical of sheep wool whilst the left is mohair (from the Angora Goat). This matched up with the tag 65% lana, 25% mohair and there is 10% nylon which will be for the strip with the buttons etc.
Now the Dylon states all natural fibres such as wool are suitable for dying, it says some man-made fibres will not dye so I was prepared for the nylon parts not to dye, as I can resew the buttons etc myself. So it doesn’t make sense why the natural fibres didn’t dye. I weighed the fabric and required 2x 250g of dye but I actually used 3x 250g to be on the safe side and it still didn’t dye, as you can see in the microscope images even the dyed black fibre is still very purple in places. So my scientific conclusion is that the dye:weight ratio is inaccurate.
(The headless shots are due to the fact I am sick and have the worst cough ever, so really didn’t want to do my hair, you can also see what I wear around the house trusty old leggings and univeristy t-shirt)
Anyway irate letter to Dylon aside I still wasn’t ready to give up on the poor sad cardi! So, again thinking as a scientist I considered how I would deal with matted fibres – you would brush them! So I gave it a try using my natural bristle hair brush, as you can see it worked fairly well pulling the pile back up. But the cardi was still out of shape – how do you reshape natural fibres? With either chemicals or heat – think of your hair, you can reshape it using chemicals in a ‘perm’ or with heat using straightening irons or curling tongues. With a hot iron I pulled the material into shape and ironed it out. The white marks I managed to scrub off – still no idea what caused that. I know my photos are a bit iffy as its dark but you kind of get the idea that I at least have a wearable cardi, even if it is one that will be relegated to dog walking! You also now know how much of a great big geek I am in real life!! Thanks for all you commiserating comments, I certainly won’t be doing any more DIY!
P x

How to ruin a £300 cardigan: Dylon disaster

In my last post I mentioned how I was going re-dye my faded jeans. I also decided to dye this gorgeous Petrizia Pepe cardigan, I don’t really suit purple so thought it would be so much nicer in black. I had bought the cardi last year in the Flannels 75% off clearance sale and hadn’t worn it since.
I bought the hand wash Dylon as the cardi tag says either hand wash or dry clean only and checked that the mohair mix was suitable for dye, I followed the instructions exactly and used an extra pack of dye to make sure the colour would be very dark.
Also let me tell you how messy using the dye was, I had to scrub my entire kitchen, arms and face with bleach to get rid of it all, it just went everywhere!

So after all that I was absolutely devastate to see the state of the cardigan. Not only had it dyed patchy but there were white spots all over it. Even if I could like it with the tie-dye effect it wouldn’t be so bad but the cardi has gone all out of shape and all the fuzzy mohair has matted almost like felt. To be honest it looks fit for the bin.
If anyone has any suggestions I would really appreciate it, I just can’t understand why the material has gone like that at all. To say I am totally gutted is an understatement.
So no I didn’t dye the jeans after that, especially when my mum told me last time she used Dylon, even though it says one wash with bleach will clean out the machine, she had varying shades of blue clothes for weeks after!
P x

Mummy Scissors – For Roz

One of my dearest blogger friends Roz had a wonderful idea a few months back, however she has been in hospital so didn’t have time to get it going. My other good blogger friend Jill decided to start it off for her, so she will have a lovely surprise when she gets well enough to get back to blogging. I couldn’t explain better than Jill or Roz so here are the explainations in their own words:

Jill says:
A few months back, Roz had a vision: to wrap a scissor like a mummy, as art. The really spooky thing, for me personally, is I happened to have done the same thing a few YEARS back. As art. For no particular reason.

Roz’s vision was to ask other bloggers to do their creative version. No strings attached. (Sorry, no pun intended). Just to see how far a DIY idea could spread through the fashion blogging community. She’s now in the hospital, and didn’t get a chance to get this started, so I thought perhaps if we did it, shot it, posted it, put the link on her top post.. might cheer her up.

Mine took me a few minutes to make. I used a small nail scissor, for a smaller pennant. In my case, I posted it to her, but that’s not what she’s asking: just to post it on your own blogs. (The Eugene Lim brochure, btw, is for a post coming up). You could then wear it as a necklace, if you want. Or simply unwrap it and use it again as scissors.

In Roz’s own words:
“The idea of make-do-and-mend has had a real revival over the last couple of years.. I wanted to combine this rediscovered DIY ethic with an (I think, so far) unique idea – sharing and ÔÇÿmarketingÔÇÖ a make-it-yourself, identifiable ÔÇÿproductÔÇÖ via the internet…simply for the joy of sharing the idea for and then making – as opposed to selling (or buying) – a styled accessory.

Last year I devised and made a simple pendant design – a pair of blunt sewing scissors (or childÔÇÖs metal craft scissors) wrapped in strips of silk ‘bandages’ and hung on a chain. Subsequently, I’ve had a lot of people commenting whenever I wear this ÔÇÿmummifiedÔÇÖ necklace. I now realise that I made this pendant shortly after I began my blog, and this gave me the idea to put the two together into a novel blogging project.

I want to experiment with the force of the ‘blogosphere’ to see how far one idea can reach – namely, the mummy’s scissors. But the difference is that this is not a publicising-to-sell campaign, it’s a ‘make it yourself’ concept. My aim is to encourage bloggers (and subsequently their readers) and indeed, anyone interested to make their own pendants.. to style it in a personal way for them.

This is therefore not so much selling a product as ‘anti-selling it’ – getting everyone to create their own version of an idea – a totally not for profit scheme. Another driving idea behind this item is to create something that is not main-stream, as it is taking the idea of a product but ‘giving it awayÔÇÖ for the individual to manufacture.

IÔÇÖm simply intrigued at this point to see how far this might (or might not) stretch as a concept. I would really love it if you were interested in getting involved, but I understand that you’re probably very busy.”

Mine only took a few minutes to make, wrapped in lace with some charms added. If you would like to take part please post you link to Roz or Jill’s blog, or if you are not a blogger email a photo to Jill who will make sure Roz gets it.
So far you can also see these bloggers versions: