Sally Hansen Miracle Gel

Sally Hansen Miracle Gels have been around since last September but I am only getting around to trying them out now. They launched after I went on holiday so I got a Shellac manicure before I went. When I arrived home there was nine Max Factor Gel Shine Lacquers waiting for me and I have been playing around with them since. Over the Christmas a few of my friends were raving about the Sally Hansen Miracle Gels so I figured it was about time I gave them a go.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat
The concept of the Miracle Gel polishes is that you apply two coats of the colour polish and one of the top coat, which then reacts with natural sunlight to harden without the use of a UV light. The result is a long lasting, high shine, gel like manicure at home. It’s easily removed with regular nail polish remover so you can remove it at home whenever you feel like it.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Pink Tank
I am really impressed with this polish. The formula of Pink Tank is one of those perfect Goldie Locks formulas in that it’s not too thick nor is it too runny either; it’s just perfect. The brush is also perfect; not too soft but not too firm. Its fans out nicely so I can nearly paint all of my nails with just one brush stoke down the middle. The brush and formula really do make it very easy for me to paint my nails and without much mess and painting outside the lines. Normally I would have to do a fair bit of tidying up my cuticles after painting my nails but with the Miracle Gel there is hardly any cleanup required. The finish is really smooth and even. Two coats are all that was needed to be fully opaque and it dries in a few minutes. I would assume that the other shades are much the same formula wise and I can’t wait to try out a few more. The colour of Pink Tank is a gorgeous bright pink that brightens up these dark and dreary days.

They are supposed to last two weeks, but let’s be realistic; there is no way a home gel effect nail polish is going to last two weeks without the use of a UV lamp to harden it, especially at under €10 each. I painted my nails on Thursday evening, so no natural light, and I didn’t see any chips until Sunday night, but they were only tiny chips at the tips of my nails at that stage. I got to Tuesday before it was bad enough to need to be removed. This is really good for me because nail polish would usually be chipped within hours on me and I would have to remove it the next day or so. I am interested in seeing if it lasts any better if I paint my nails early on a bright day. Hopefully I’ll get that chance soon. Even if it doesn’t last any longer I am still happy with how perfect my nails look for the three-ish days.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Pink Tank
Have you tried these yet? How did you get on with them? What colours do you recommend I try next?


Max Factor Gel Shine Lacquer

I do have to apologise for the delay in getting this post done. Hopefully if you have seen other posts on these you may have forgotten them by now so I am reminding you. When these first arrived I actually had shellac on my nails so I had to wait till it was time for me to peel those off and wreck my nails in the process. You probably know by now that I am not that proactive when it comes to painting and repainting my nails on a regular basis. I wanted to get as much time out of each colour as possible. I was never going to be the blogger that got pictures of all nine shades in one day.
The formula for these Gel Shine Lacquers is pretty good; it is thick enough to make them easy to work with, they spread easily and evenly on the nail. They kind of self level instead of settling in to the grooves and ridges I created by peeling the shellac off. It’s not so thick that it goes sticky and gloopy on you though. Two coats is all I needed for them to be fully opaque. As you can see in the photos the shine is brilliant. I love shiny, shiny nails so these make me happy. They are touch dry within a few minutes and I find a half hour is usually enough for them to be properly dry and hardened. They last about three or four days before they start to chip, which is pretty good for me. I usually ruin nail polish before the end of the day.
There are nine shades with a good mix of brights and darker colours so there is definitely a colour for every mood.

Max Factor Gel Shine Lacquer Vivid Vermillion Max Factor Gel Shine Lacquer Patent Poppy Max Factor Gel Shine Lacquer Twinkling Pink

(L-R: Vivid Vermillion, Patent Poppy, Twinkling Pink)

Max Factor Gel Shine Lacquer Radiant Ruby Max Factor Gel Shine Lacquer Sparkling Berry Max Factor Gel Shine Lacquer Sheen Merlot

(L-R: Radiant Ruby, Sparkling Berry, Sheen Merlot – my current favourite)

Max Factor Gel Shine Lacquer Lacquered Violet Max Factor Gel Shine Lacquer Glazed Cobalt Max Factor Gel Shine Lacquer Gleaming Teal

(L-R: Lacquered Violet, Glazed Cobalt, Gleaming Teal)

Max Factor Gel Shine Lacquer Sheen Merlot

I shouldn’t pick favourites but I love the pearlescent gold shimmer through Sheen Merlot, its the perfect autumn colour.

Have you tired any of these, which is your favourite?



I am writing this post on Sunday so let me set the scene; its cold, wet, wild and miserable outside. It was much the same yesterday. I am training for Westport’s Sea 2 Summit, which takes place in two weeks so yesterday was the last Saturday to do a full training session, from now on we taper to avoid injury. Yesterday my training group and I did the whole course. So I spent three hours out running, cycling, hiking, cycling and running in strong winds right on the west coast of Ireland. To say the wind smacked the face off of me is putting it very politely but hey, I did enough swearing yesterday. So as you might guess I am in no rush to leave the house today. With the clock going back an hour last night, it feels like I have loads of time to do some pampering and use all the products that I buy to treat myself and then never have the time to use.

Bliss and Dermalogica

Pantene Pro-v Strength and Shine 1 Minute Wonder Ampoules
First up is my favourite face mask combo, you can read about them here. I start with Dermalogica Multi Vitamin Power Recovery Mask because my face definitely needs it today. Then fill the bath with hot water and throw in a cup of Epson Salts. If you don’t have Epson Salts you really should get some, they are a wonder cure all; I can’t even begin to tell you all their uses. I use them in a hot bath when I am all achy. I also bath in them when I have a chesty cough. Supposedly they draw out toxins and impurities through your pores. Apparently models bath in Epson Salts before photo shoots to reduce water retention. While I have never got out of the bath feeling a dress size smaller, if I soak puffy feet in a basin with Epson Salts the swelling goes down. While in the bath I pop one of the Pantene Strength and Shine 1 Minute Wonder Ampoules in to bring back some shine to my locks. After a long soak, I use Caudalie Divine Oil to moisturise my skin and the gorgeous scent is the ultimate indulgence.

Caudalie Divine Oil

L'Oreal Revitalift Magic Blur Moisturiser and Laser Renew Serum
After the bath comes the second mask, Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energising Mask. I find using this after the Dermalogica one really brightens my complexion and softens my skin. After the two masks I treat my skin to doubling up on the usual amounts of Serum and Moisturiser, at the moment I am using L’Oreal Revitalift Laser Renew and Magic Blur.

On to hands to finish, I do my DIY heated manicure that I told you about in this post. I love doing this; it’s so nice to have warm hands for a change.
After all this I feel brand new. I am toying with the idea of heading out tonight because I am feeling like a million bucks and hopefully looking like it too.
What are your favourite home treatments?


Essence Colour and Go 172 Splash!

I find that posts on Bank Holiday Mondays tend to have less views than others so I thought I would keep it easy and more about the pictures. So today’s post is a nails of the day #NOTD post which is much easier to take in if you are winding down after a hectic weekend or if you have a sore head after last night’s shenanigans.

Essence Colour and Go 172 Splash! Essence Colour and Go 172 Splash!

(L-R without flash, with flash)

Today I am showing you an Essence Colour & Go nail polish called 172 Splash! This is a lovely metallic teal green and I think this is the perfect transitional colour for the end of summer / beginning of autumn. It’s still bright enough to not look out of place on a bright sunny day but it’s not as bright as the neons or pastels that are usually most popular in summer. It’s also metallic! Metallic polishes, like glitters really catch the eye. If you are easily distracted by shiny things like me then this is one of those shades that you find yourself turning your hand back and forth under the light. This is one of the reasons why I don’t paint my nails too often; the pretty shiny shades that I want to paint my nails create a dangerous distraction.

SelfTimer03_08_2014 12_21_19

(That’s my ring finger, not the middle one!)

I found that this is an easy to use formula in that it’s not messy or gloopy so it glides on easily. It’s almost fully opaque with one coat but I find two thin layers look better. The brush is great; it’s wide enough that I can do most of my nails with one careful swipe down the middle, so painting my nails with this is quick. It dries quickly too, the first hand is nearly touch try by the time I have finished the second hand. Essence Colour & Go polishes retail for about €1.70, so you are getting a great polish for under 2 quid. You will see in my pictures that I am pretty messy with nail polish but I think someone with a steady hand could achieve just as good of a mani with this as with an expensive designer brand.

Essence Colour and Go 172 Splash! Essence Colour and Go 172 Splash!

(L-R without flash, with flash)

What is your current favourite nail polish colour?


Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat

If you’ve been following this little blog for a while now you may already know that I’m not a great one for painting my nails on a regular basis. One of the reasons is that I hate waiting for the polish to dry. Many brands claim to dry in 60 second and now there are some that claim to dry in 1 second. The varnish may be “dry” but it definitely hasn’t hardened. I certainly wouldn’t suggest going to the loo a second or even 60 seconds after painting your nails. Have you ever touched a nail with your finger to see if it was dry only to leave the imprint of your finger print on your nail? Even when you have waited an hour after painting your nails with the fastest drying nail polish, you can still end up smudging them.
Many bloggers swear by the top coat Seche Vite to quickly dry and harden nail polish, but I’ve never tried it so I won’t be doing a comparison. Seche Vite is not readily available where I live so I would have to order it online. Sally Hansen on the other hand is a brand that is available in loads of pharmacies and grocery stores. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri (€7.95) is a top coat that you apply over whatever nail polish you choose. It dries and hardens the nail polish in a matter of seconds so you are free to get on with life. You can go to the loo, sort the clean socks, do the dishes, or actually go have some fun without smudging your nail polish. I get a lot longer out of a mani with Insta-Dri because the polish doesn’t chip as quickly as it normally would and it also adds a bit more shine.

Essence Colour & Go in C'est La Vie
In the pictures below I used Sally Hansen Insta-Dri over Essence Colour and Go in C’est La Vie, a cute coral, which is perfect for summer. Essence Colour and Go nail polishes are cheap and cheerful (€1.79) so normally I wouldn’t make it to the end of the day without chipping it. It also took three coats to get this one opaque and the more coats, the longer it takes to harden, so the more likely I am to smudge it. With the Insta-Dri it hardened in seconds and it lasted almost four days without any chips.

SavedPicture-20146117555.jpg SavedPicture-20146117559.jpg

(Without Insta-Dri and with Insta-Dri)

What top coat do you rely on? Have you tried Insta-Dry?


Essence Gel Nails at Home Kit

Well its good and bad news with this Essence Gel Nails at Home Kit. I saw the press release for this ages ago and have been stalking the Essence stand in my local Penneys every week since. The bad news is that it is not a replacement for getting gel nails done in a salon for a special occasion. The good news is that you can use any nail polish with it and that polish then lasts a lot longer than if you just used it as normal.

It is quick and easy enough to use and you just follow these steps:

Use the cleanser to clean nails
Apply the Primer, which dries quickly
Apply the Peel Off Base and cure each nail under the lamp for 10 seconds
Use Cleanser again to remove any stickiness
Apply your choice of colour polish and wait for it to completely dry
Apply the Clear Gel Top Coat and cure under lamp for 10 seconds
Finally use the Cleanser again to remove any stickiness

Essence Gel Nails at Home Starter Kit

Some tips I learned:
If you normally make a mess painting your nails this will not suddenly make you magically paint them perfectly.
Make sure you have lint free cotton pads!
Instead of applying the Peel Off Base / Gel Top Coat to all nails and then curing all the nails, I suggest curing each nail directly after applying the product to that nail, especially the thumbs. The base and top coat are thick and runny so if you turn your hand to side to do the rest of your nails the products slides to the side of the nail thanks to gravity.
I prefer to cure each nail twice to be sure, to be sure, but it’s probably not necessary.

Essence Gel Nails at Home Lamp

I know lots of ladies like to change their nail polish very regularly and so don’t mind the paint, remove and paint again process. I like when my nails are painted but I don’t like painting them and waiting for the polish to dry and harden. I also don’t like removing the polish and usually leave it as long as possible and end up peeling the polish off and ruining my nails in the process. So this kit is a winner for me because I should get a week or more out of each paint job and then I can just peel it off without any damage to the nail.


So far it’s lasting well, it’s been 5 days and still no chips. I do think it wouldn’t take much to lift it at the sides of some nails but that may be down to my messy application and not so much a fault of the product. It’s also not as shiny as a salon gel manicure but DIY home kits are never going to be as good as getting it done by a professional.

Essence Gel Nails at Home Lamp

All in all, I think it’s a handy little kit that is worth the money; the lamp is €24.99 and the starter kit (with Cleanser, Primer, Peel Off Base and Clear Gel Top Coat) is €12.99. I especially like it for the Peel Off Base. Have you tried this or any other of the home DIY gel nail kits?



I’ve been meaning to tell you for a while now about my do it yourself at home hot hand manicure. Yes I know it’s so much nicer when someone else does it but it’s also so much more expensive. Most of the stuff you need for this you probably already have and you can always improvise if you put your mind to it. You don’t need the exact same products as me.

If you have already been looking after your nails then you can probably skip this first bit and get straight to the luxury bit. However, if like me you have been bad and let you nails go to ruin (by picking off your nail polish or gel manicure) then you will have to do some work.



First you use a cuticle remover or something that will soften the cuticle so you can push it back. I have the Sally Hansen Gel Cuticle Remover. Then you file and shape the nails. Next you use a nail block to smooth and polish the surface of the nail. This doesn’t really take that long to do once you get started but I always put if off.

Now on to the luxury bit. You will need:



A hand or body oil, I have Dr. Hauschka Neem Nail Oil but any body or hand oil will do, even baby oil.



A hand or body lotion. I personally think the Vaseline Intensive Care range are excellent moisturisers at a relatively inexpensive price and they are readily available.

A microwavable reheat able bean bag thingy or hot water bottle.

Two plastic bags, I use sandwich or freezer bags. You could always take a few extra of those plastic bags for fruit and veg in your local supermarket.

All you have to do is get your heat source ready, then massage a generous amount of the oil into your hands, cuticles and nails for a few minutes. Then you massage a generous amount of the lotion into your hands, nails and cuticles for a few minutes. By now you should be very greasy. Slip your hands into the plastic bags and pop them under the heat and relax for as long as you want or can. The heat helps your skin absorb the moisture for a really softening effect. When you take your hands out they will still be greasy so massage the product in a bit more and then wipe the excess off. That’s it.

I haven’t tried it yet but you could also try this with your feet, but that would involve removing the hard skin first, that thought of it just turns my stomach but I’ll have to do something before I subject the world to my bare feet in flip flops.

What are your tips for a DIY luxury treatment?