Beauty Review: Maybelline Forever Strong Professional Nail Varnish in Orange Couture

I've been collecting a bunch of ideas for nail art for a while, but this one just struck me as the one I wanted to do today. Now, I have to admit that my make-up purchases are influenced mainly by two things - magazines and friends' purchases - and the base nail polish for today's nail art came from a feature in a magazine about summer brights. I am a sucker for bright colours and nail polish is no exception. As you might be able to guess from the name, Maybelline Forever Strong Pro in Orange Couture is a very bright orange, almost a neon but not quite. I did buy it on a bit of a whim but thought it would be a fun colour for summer, and then when I was looking through my polishes earlier I decided that it would be the perfect base polish for the idea I had.

The polish itself applies really well, largely thanks to Maybelline's brush which spreads out perfectly to give full coverage in one stroke rather than having to go down the middle and then do the sides as I normally end up doing (and which seems to make the polish go streaky more often than not). I don't have any other Maybelline polishes - apparently there's a lovely deep purple out there as well but I haven't found it in years of searching - but having found the brush so good I'm definitely going to keep my eye out for them (including that purple!). The polish also contains calcium, iron and silicia, which based on how rotten my nails are currently is a Very Good Thing.

The accent for this manicure is something that's been having a moment recently - Barry M Instant Special Effects, aka 'crackle'. For those who have been living under a metaphorical beauty rock for the past few months, crackle polish looks like an ordinary coloured polish, but when you apply it to your nail it 'cracks' (not entirely sure how, I think it's something to do with being exposed to air), leaving chunks of crackle polish on top of your base colour. I only have it in black but when I've played around with it before I've loved the effect, kind of a bit punky but also giving the base colour an edge. I knew it'd be perfect for the nail art idea I had in mind - black crackle over orange nail polish, hence 'tiger nails'!

This is done using two coats of Maybelline Orange Couture and one thick coat of Barry M - generally I find the thicker your crackle layer the fewer chunks it breaks into, which is good for this design, but if you want something where you can see more of the base colour then a slightly thinner layer would work better.

Base coat is Nails Inc Hyde Park and top coat is Seche Vite.
I really like this manicure - I think it's very funky and a bit different, and whilst it hasn't lived up to the vision I had in my head it does still look pretty cool. Plus it's confirmed my crackle addiction - expect a *lot* of these posts to feature crackle in the next few weeks!

You can buy both Maybelline Forever Strong Pro and Barry M Instant Nail Effects from your local Boots, Superdrug or independent pharmacy. The Maybelline costs around £4.09 a bottle but is quite often on offer, and the Barry M is £3.99 a bottle, which is slightly pricier than a normal Barry M polish but as you only need one coat it does last a good while. It's also on offer quite often as well so do snap some up!

Beauty Review: Topshop Nails in Geography Teacher

I am very lucky in that I work in a rather laid back office where bright nail polish is allowed, but there are occasions where you feel like a smart neutral as a nice grown-up alternative. As regular readers of this blog will know, I am a big fan of Topshop's nail polishes, which whilst having a collection full of the most amazing brights also have a good line in very nice neutrals - I also have their Mannequin polish which is a classic nude, but I have another idea for what to do with that one, so today's polish is Topshop Geography Teacher. I saw this in a magazine a little while back where it was mentioned that Katy Perry wore it (what can I say, I am a huge fan of hers) and thought it would make a change from my usual kinds of colour choices so figured I'd give it a whirl.

As always with Topshop nail polishes, it applied well and gave excellent coverage with two coats. However, as you can see from the picture, it does come out a different shade on my nails to the shade in the bottle - it's kind of a dark camel colour in the bottle but on my nails it looks much more like a chocolate brown. My boyfriend keeps making jokes about my nails looking good enough to eat (boys and food eh?). I do really like it though and will definitely wear this for smart work occasions or when I need something a bit more toned down. Plus

As with all my manis, this is done using Nails Inc Hyde Park base coat and Seche Vite top coat. I haven't really sung the praises of these much but I have to say they are both really, really good. Hyde Park is a conditioning base coat, which I bought when my nails were in rotten condition and have been using for a while. It does seem to be having an effect slowly but surely in terms of the conditioning, but as a base coat it's great at preventing staining and keeping the polish nicely bonded to the nail. It makes a nice plain clear polish as well, even though I'm not normally a fan of Nails Inc polishes. Seche Vite is something that friends on a forum I visit have sung the phrases of, and I have to say I'm impressed by it - it's incredibly shiny and works really well at preventing chips. There is a slight tendency for it to go a wee bit gloopy if you use too much of it, but otherwise I absolutely can't fault it as a top coat for when you want shine and chip-free nails for a good five days.

Geography Teacher, along with other Topshop nail colours and the rest of their make-up range, is available in larger Topshop stores and costs £5 for an 8ml bottle - sadly it seems to be discontinued on the website but I found it quite easily in the Preston branch. Nails Inc Hyde Park is available in Boots for £7.15, and I buy my Seche Vite from Sally Salon Services at £9.49 for a 14ml bottle, which is not cheap I know but the product is so good it's totally worth it in my book.