Friday, 21 November 2014

NYK1 Secrets at-home gel nail kit review

With a super glossy finish and a 2 week wear time, it's easy to see why so many people love gel nails. However it can be pretty expensive to keep going to the salon to have them done, with a single application usually costing around £20-£25. 

I was recently given the chance to test out an at home gel nail kit from NYK1 Secrets - a gel nail company that specialises in at home, professional quality products. 

NYK1 Secrets gel nail starter kit contents

NYK1 Secrets gel nail starter kit finished results

Inside my kit was everything I needed for multiple applications - base and top coats, two colours of polish, cuticle sticks, a UV lamp, prepping lotion, acetone for removal, lint free cotton pads, cuticle oil and much more. Also in the box were step-by-step instructions on how to create the perfect gel manicure at home. As a gel novice, these instructions were invaluable - they were super clear and easy to follow, making the whole process really easy to do.

I started off by filing and shaping my nails, before wiping them over several times with the prep and shine lotion. This helps to prepare the nails for gel application, removing excess oil and giving a good base for the gel to adhere to.

The next step was a base coat - I did one hand first, followed by the other. You have to cure each hand after every coat, and the two minute timer on the lamp meant there was no risk of under or over curing as you just push the button and then wait for the lamp to automatically switch off after two minutes.

After the base coat, I applied two coats of coloured polish, curing each coat for two minutes and then applied a final top coat and a last 2 minute cure session under the lamp. The instructions mention that even after the top coat, you'll be left with a slightly sticky finish to your nails, which is totally normal. Once the top coat has been applied and cured, then you need to wipe the finished nails over with a cotton pad soaked in the prep and shine lotion, which removes any sticky residue. After that, you're good to go! 

I found the process pretty easy, if a bit time consuming. You have to be careful to leave a small gap in between the polish and the outer nail bed - if you paint over your cuticle or around the edges of your nails, you'll need to remove this prior to curing (with a cotton bud soaked in acetone) as any overspill can lead to the gel lifting and peeling from your nails. 

It took me about an hour to do both hands, however I think this would be a lot quicker the second time around as I'm now used to the process.

My polish lasted an impressive 16 days before I got my first chip (easily 4 times the length of regular polish). I have to admit I was a bit bored of the colour by then, but I was determined to see how long it would last for! Removal was a slightly painful process of soaking off in acetone, but after about half an hour I had all of the gel off. 

I think this kit is a great option if you're a gel nail lover - you get everything you need in one kit and can top it up with extra polishes from their website. There are dozens of different shades to choose from, and although the initial outlay might seem a little pricey, it's really only about the cost of 4 salon gel manicures. 

I would definitely use this kit again, especially before holidays or weeks when I know I won't have chance to renew my nail polish regularly. 

The kits cost £97.95 for a full kit with your choice of 4 polish shades (plus a base and top coat) and extra individual polishes cost £8.95. You can buy the kits direct from the NYK1 Secrets website

Have you tried gel nails before? What do you think of this at home kit? 

*PR sample

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Real Techniques Nic's Picks Brush Set

Real Techniques have been one of my favourite makeup brands for several years now – they’re affordable, great quality and perform better than some of the high end brands I’ve tried! The brand was originally started up by Samantha Chapman, one half of the Pixiwoo sisters, but sister Nic has now come on board, making it a family effort. 

Their latest brush set is ‘Nic’s Picks’ – featuring five of Nic’s favourite Real Techniques brushes, including three that are exclusive to this collection. It’s great to see some new brushes being added to the range. I’m a bit of a Real Techniques addict and own pretty much every brush they’ve made (ahem) so three new ones definitely appealed to me. 

Real Techniques Nic's picks brush collection

Real Techniques Nic's picks brush collection close up

Real Techniques Nic's picks brush collection close up

Inside the kit, you’ll find: Duo-Fiber Powder Brush, Cheek Brush (exclusive), Base Shadow Brush, Angled Shadow Brush (exclusive) and an Eyeliner Brush (exclusive). As you’d expect from the brand, all five are made out of cruelty-free synthetic fibres which are super-soft against the skin. 

The Duo-Fiber Powder Brush is the largest of them all and is great for powder blushers, bronzers and face powders and gives an effortlessy even application. This has been in previous collections, but has been given a bit of a handle upgrade and the snazzy black and chrome is a bit different to their previous launches. 
The new Angled Shadow Brush is probably my favourite of the five – it’s amazing for applying shadow to the crease area of the eye and blending in. It makes applying a smokey eye really easy – the tapered shape fits in well to the eye socket and the soft bristles mean you can blend, blend, blend to your heart’s content. 

The Cheek Brush is also a new addition and is definitely worth investing in. It’s a great multi-use brush that I’m wishing was available separately so I could have a spare one! The slightly domed shape is great for blusher or highlighter application. Nic suggests also using it for bronzer/contouring, but I have to admit I prefer a slightly angled face brush for this as I find it easy to get a more subtle finish. 

At £29.99 for five brushes, this is slightly more expensive than Real Techniques' previous launches, but I think it’s a great value set that will last you for ages. I’ve been using some of my Real Techniques brushes for years and they wash up incredibly well, with minimal shedding of bristles. If you’re thinking of Christmas gifts (or are planning your own Christmas wishlist), this is a great introduction to the brand, or for any makeup lovers that are looking for some good value brushes. 

You can find the Nic’s Picks collection online and in store at Boots and Superdrug (where it's currently on offer for £20!) as well as online from Feel Unique. 

What do you think of the latest brush set from Real Techniques? 

*PR sample

Beauty tips - how to make your lipstick last longer

1. Prep your lips before application - buff away dead skin cells using a gentle lip scrub (try Lush's sugar scrubs) or very gently with a clean toothbrush. By exfoliating the surface it will help give lips something to cling on to and also will stop any dry patches showing through

2. Use a lip liner in a similar shade to your lippie to cover your lips entirely. Start with the outline and then fill them in all over. This will give your lipstick a good base and also add long-lasting colour underneath it if it starts to wear off.

3. Apply, blot and re-apply. A two layer process will ensure you get the best coverage and also aid lasting power. Apply a coat of lipstick, blot with a tissue and then re-apply another coat on top.

4. Try Lipcote - a seriously retro product, Lipcote helps to seal in your lipstick, making it last for hours and hours. It can be very drying, so make sure you top up with a bit of balm on top.

5. Use matte finish or satin lipsticks. These will last a lot longer than those with glossy or lighter textures.

If all else fails, make sure you've got a compact mirror and your lippie in your handbag for a top up!

Have you tried any of these tips before?