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Saturday, 14 April 2018

Smokey Mountain Lacquers - Empowerment (January 2018 Polish Pickup)

Hi everyone! Today I have a polish from a new-to-me brand to share with you. I won this beauty called Empowerment in a giveaway held by my friend Lisa (Cosmetic Sanctuary) in the Polish Pickup Facebook group after a shipping mishap. 

I was super excited to try this polish as it is my first from Smokey Mountain Lacquers. It's always fun to try new brands right? Empowerment is a mint/turquoise crelly with some blue shimmer and lots of little metallic UCC flakies in bronze/gold shades! 

I used 2 coats and a coat of topcoat to finish. The formula was excellent. What impressed me the most with this polish was the wear time. I removed this after about 5 days with absolutely NO chips or tipwear whatsoever, which is very rare for me at the moment as I have a couple of peely nails which are quite delicate. 

I'd definitely be interested in trying out more from Smokey Mountain Lacquer and will be checking out her other polishes and new releases (Polish Pickup etc!). Have you tried the brand? If so, are you a fan? I'd love to know your favourites and recommendations! 

Where to Buy:
Smokey Mountain Lacquers

Smokey Mountain Lacquers on Social Media: Facebook - Instagram - Twitter

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

STELLA CHROMA - Let Me Show You (Polish Pickup - March 2018)

Hi everyone! Today I have swatches of one of my favourite Polish Pickup exclusives so far! This is Let Me Show You from March the March 2018 Pickup which was book-themed. 

Pam chose Harry Potter (of course!) as her inspiration, in particular an image from the illustrated version of The Chamber of Secrets in which Harry is taken into the diary by Tom Riddle. The polish matches the image so perfectly! 

Let Me Show You is a dark blackened-brown colour packed with golden shimmer and multicoloured flakies! The flakies just glow from the base! This polish is so unique in my collection and I have absolutely NOTHING like it. Not even similar. I'm a sucker for a good dark polish or flakies and this is a combination of both, done extremely well. I used 2 coats plus topcoat. 

What do you think of it? As a huge Harry Potter fan too, I totally love the inspiration as well! 

Sadly, this one is no longer available as it was a PPU exclusive but you may be able to find it on swap/sale groups! Do be sure to check out STELLA CHROMA anyway, it's one of my favourite brands for sure! You can also get 15% off your order with code THEMANICAFE.

If you'd like to keep up to date with all things STELLA CHROMA, we'd love to have you in the fan group on Facebook called stella chromatics (which I co-admin). 

Polish Pickup:
Store (code THEMANICAFE for 15% off!)

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Pink Gellac Gel Polish Starter Kit

Press Sample/Review

Hi everyone! I have a gel polish review for you today. I recently tried out the Gel Polish Starter Kit from Pink Gellac. Like the name suggests, this is a complete kit containing all you need to do your gel manicure yourself at home. Included in the set is a LED lamp for curing the gel polish, a base, colour (Dynamic Pink), a topcoat, 10x remover pockets, 10x cleaner pockets, nail file and orange woodstick. 

I wasn't familar with the brand before being approached to review their products. The brand is based in Europe and the USA. Prices on their site are in USD. I received the products very quickly with transporter shipping. I'm not sure if this is standard for purchases via the site but it was very efficient. 

The kit is nicely presented in a nice box with all the necessary information. The lamp is a good size and quite practical, beeping after 30 seconds and turning off after 60 so you can't over-cure by mistake. There is an on/off switch on the back for the power and the button on the top to turn on to cure. The lamp is spacious enough to do your whole hand at once if you prefer or 4 fingers very comfortably and laying flat. Personally I prefer to do 4 fingers on each hand then my thumbs together, so all in all 3 lots of curing.

The kit comes with simple instructions on how to use the products and the cure times are noted on the bottles themselves. The gel colour bottle, like most gel polishes, has a coloured button on the top of the lid to show you the colour as well as a part of the label. I'd say the colour is true to what is shown on the bottle for the Dynamic Pink shade I received in the kit. 

I followed the instructions, applying the primer to remove oils from my nails, then the base followed by 2 coats of colour and then topcoat. The gel products were easy to apply, with a good consistency and nice rounded brush making it easy to apply around the cuticle area in particular. I found the Dynamic Pink colour very similar to nail polish in texture which was pleasant. Some gel polishes I have tried in the past have been on the thicker side but this is not the case with the Dynamic Pink Pink Gellac. The topcoat has a nice shiny finish. The other thing I liked was that I didn't notice any really strong smell, like I do sometimes with gel polish. I'm sensitive to scents and this didn't bother me.

Overall, I am happy with this kit and would consider trying more colours from Pink Gellac. The wear time was good also, I wore it for 5 days without any issues. I removed the product to swatch other polishes (blogger/nail polish addict speaking) and I don't generally wear the same polish for 14 days but I am currently wearing it for a pedicure and have had no issues so far. I will update my post to let you know how the wear test went! Removal was fine, quite similar to other gel polishes I have tried in the past.

Where to Buy:
Pink Gellac (here is the starter kit I reviewed and you can find all the available colours of gel polish here)

Pink Gellac on Social Media: Facebook - Instagram - YouTube
The products in this post were provided for my honest review

Monday, 2 April 2018

Alter Ego - Altarf aka Beta Cancri (Polish Pickup April 2018 - Across the Universe - Planets & Galaxies)

Press Sample/Review

Hi everyone! I have the April Polish Pick Up Exclusive from Alter Ego for you today!

The Polish Pick Up theme for this month is 'Across the Universe'. Cynthia from Alter Ego has made a polish inspired by her starsign, Cancer. I don't have an inspiration photo to show you but a quick search online shows many images featuring different shades of orange, just like this polish! 


Altarf aka Beta Cancri is a bright yellow leaning orange full of orange shimmer and copper/orange flakes. I used 2 coats and topcoat. The formula was great!

I absolutely love how this polish just glows. I am not generally a fan of orange but I really loved wearing this and can't wait to wear it again with some nail art. The shimmer is gorgeous, especially in sunlight. Even in the shade, it looks super vibrant! My post is photo-heavy but I had such a hard time choosing photos! LOVE! 

I also decided to add some matte topcoat to see how it looked and I love it matte too! You might know that given the option between matte and shiny, I'll almost always choose shiny but I really do like how this one looks matte. The glow sort of stays and the polish is still bright. Even though the shimmer is a bit less prominent with matte topcoat, the end result is far from 'dull'

I was dying to do some nail art with this polish and decided to pair it with some stamping using Girly Bits Another Brick in the Fall. The terracotta creme looks great against this bright base and highlights the flakies well I think! The floral image is from Lina Nail Art Supplies Let's Doodle 01 plate. I also posted a pic of this mani on IG here and you can get a good idea of how bright and amazing this colour is even in the shade and early morning light!

Altarf aka Beta Cancri will be available from April 6th at 11am EST until April 9th at 11:59pm EST along with polishes from other brands with the 'Across the Universe - Planets ! Galaxies' theme!

Polish Pickup:

Alter Ego:

The products in this post were provided for my honest review

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Girly Bits - I Licked It, So It's Mine (February 2018 Polish Pickup)

Hiya everyone! I have a super awesome mega beautiful polish to show you today that I was sooooo excited for. It's been a while since I was so desperate and impatient to receive a polish but I just knew I was going to love this one and I needed it from when I saw the very first promo pics. 

I Licked It, So It's Mine is the Girly Bits contribution for the February Polish Pickup. Can we just mention that name? How perfect and cute! It makes me love the polish even more!! I Licked It, So It's Mine is described by Pam as a 'glowing light pink base with prismatic holo flakes that look like sugar crystals. There is a sweet golden glow and a violet shine, with added blue holographic glitter, and blue metallic flakes'. The theme for February's Polish Pickup was 'Sugar Rush' and Pam was inspired by Unicorn Bark!

I applied 3 thin coats and topped with topcoat. The formula was perfection, as I expect from Pam. I can't even properly describe how beautiful I think this polish is. It glows in the shade and is just stunning in the sunlight as well. It's holographic, shimmery, bright and delicate all at the same time. I'm really really sad that I didn't order a second bottle. I don't even mean that in the joking 'I need a backup sense' but genuinely a 'what the hell was I thinking when I bought only one?!' :( 

What do you think of this one? Did you pick it up? I love Pam's complex finishes as you probably know by now if you're a regular reader and this one just absolutely wowed me. That is quite a feat.

This beauty is unfortunately no longer available, as that's the nature of Polish Pickup. But do check out Pam's site for more beautiful colours and monthly shades etc. I'll pop the Polish Pickup info down below too. There are some stunning things every month and something for everyone!

Polish Pickup:

Girly Bits:

Facebook - Instagram - Twitter - Pinterest - Google+

Sunday, 11 March 2018

STELLA CHROMA - HHC Exclusives March 2018

 Press Sample/Review

Hi everyone! Today I have the upcoming STELLA CHROMA exclusives for HHC (Hella Handmade Creations). HHC is a Facebook group which has featured indie makers each month who create exclusive polishes for members. This month, STELLA CHROMA is one of the featured makers and Pam has created three gorgeous, complex polishes! 

HHC was previously Hella Holo Customs but they have recently changed name to Hella Handmade Creations and will be offering a wider variety of polishes and products. Check out the HHC Facebook group here to keep up with new exclusives and chatter!

Now, onto the swatches! Check out the end of my post for availability and purchase info as well as a discount code!

Nightwander is a vibrant blue with linear holo, pink flakes and green/pink shifting micro flakies. This polish is the maker's choice from the inspiration photos submitted. 

I used 2 coats of Nightwander. Photos are without topcoat. The formula was excellent, just as I expect from Pam. The shiftiness of the flakes against the super vibrant base is stunning. I love when holos are more interesting than just linear holo! If you love blue polish, this one is a must-have.

Peri-Winkle in Time is an ultra holo periwinkle blue with pink shimmer and pink flakes and was based on the number one member voted inspiration photo in the HHC group.

This is another interesting combination that I love. I'm a sucker for pink, shimmer and flakes so this one is totally my cup of tea. It is delicate and so so pretty! A very wearable colour. I used 2 coats and again, application was a breeze. No topcoat. 
Pluminescence is a grass green linear holo with bright blue flakies, based on the second highest voted inspiration photo submitted in the HHC group. 

This polish just makes me think of summer and peacocks. Again, nothing to report formula-wise. I used 2 coats and no topcoat.
I love how these polishes look next to eachother, they make the perfect set. I was inspired to try out a gradient with Nightwander and Pluminescence, continuing on the peacock inspiration. I knew they would look great together on the nail. I started out with Pluminescence and then created the gradient with a triangular cosmetic sponge. I then topped with a coat of STELLA CHROMA Like Lightning topcoat. I've already written about this topcoat on my blog, but if you are looking for a great quick-dry topcoat, this is perfection. The texture isn't too thin or too thick, no shrinkage (and believe me, pretty much every topcoat shrinks on me), 5-free and fast-drying. What more could you need? 

The HHC exclusive polishes will go on sale on March 14th at 12:01 EST. The listing will be password protected and you will need to be a member of the HHC group to access the password and purchase. Each polish will retail for $13 and they will be available until the end of March. 
You can get 15% off your order with code THEMANICAFE
If you purchase or just want to keep up to date with all things STELLA CHROMA, we'd love to have you in the fan group on Facebook called stella chromatics (which I co-admin). 
Where to Buy:
STELLA CHROMA on Social Media: Facebook - Instagram - Twitter
Hella Handmade Creations: Store - Facebook - Instagram - Pinterest 
The products in this post were provided for my honest review

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Pahlish - Sarey's Berry & Gradient Stamping

Hi everyone! I hope you're having a good weekend. I have a quick but simple mani to share with you today. 

I wore this mani a couple of weeks ago when I shortened my nails again after a break. I absolutely have to file them all down to match so when I have new nubs, I always put on a polish I know I love, especially on short nails. Pahlish Sarey's Berry is an old favourite and I always know I can put it on and it will look beautiful. It is a purple pulling fuchsia berry polish packed with silver and violet flakes. The finish and colour are right up my street. 

To accentuate the base colour without covering it up too much I chose to do some quick gradient stamping with Girly Bits Gettin' Figgy With It and Essie No Place Like Chrome. I like how the purple sort of blends into the base colour and makes it look like the stamping is emerging closer to the tip. It was admittedly more discreet than I imagined but I did really like it. The floral image is from Lina Nail Art Supplies Make Your Mark 03 plate. I topped with topcoat as always.

What do you think of this one? What are your go-to polishes when you need a safe but sure option?

Where to Buy:   
Essie - various retailers  
Girly Bits Cosmetics 
Lina Nail Art Supplies

Pahlish on Social Media: Facebook - Instagram - Twitter
Essie on Social Media: Facebook - Instagram - Twitter  
Girly Bits on Social Media: Facebook - Instagram - Twitter - Pinterest - Google+ 
Lina Nail Art Supplies on Social Media: Facebook - Instagram - Twitter