Neon Nails & Blue Mascara? Yes, You Can!

Best-Summer-Lip-Colors1So as we come to the end of the few glorious weeks of the year that us Brits know as the season of ‘Summer’ ( never mind that a season should technically constitute three months minimum, not that I’m bitter or anything…) I sit here writing this high on Vitamin D and enjoying the look of newly stimulated melanin. Yes, summer really does have a positive effect on us all both physically and mentally, and I really do believe it has the power to make a person more beautiful (within reason of course, I would not consider my Portugal sunburn of 2010 a look to be repeated anytime soon…)

I believe this is down to a number of reasons. No one can deny the effects of a healthy, glowing tan, but the sun also has the power to aid the healing of many common skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis and acne to name a few). It also has been proven to the increase the ‘happy hormones’ in our bodies to enhance your mood and even aid sleep. Sounds good, right?

Not to mention how much more creative and vibrant our wardrobes and make-up bags become when the sun is shining. I see so many women suddenly swapping their matte taupe eyeshadow for a glimmering turquoise and their dusky pink lipstick for a tropical coral.

With all this is mind, it got me to thinking about how we can capture this spirit for year round summer glam. After all, that tropical coral lipstick cost £20, why should it only be used for the one week you’re on holiday then stashed away with the neon nail varnish (Zante, 2009) and blue mascara (Majorca, 2011) in the vault of ‘Impulse Beauty Buys’, never to be used again?

imagesCAYE1QP9Here I will be quashing some common make up myths to encourage you to inject a little summer sassiness into your make up bag, all year round:

1. “Blue mascara? My boss will laugh me out the office!”
If the idea of applying coloured mascara to your lashes terrifies you, don’t worry you’re not alone. But with the range or colours available it doesn’t have to be so daunting. Try applying plum or violet coloured mascara just to your bottom lashes for a more subtle look. Yves Saint Laurent offers a fantastic range of colours.

2. “But I don’t want to look like I’ve drawn inspiration from a parrot!”
Try adding a more vibrant colour (think turquoise, purple or gold) to the inner corner or centre of the eyelid to make eyes pop. Keep the rest of the colour palette neutral so the look is wearable and not too dramatic (unless that’s what you’re going for!) Bare Minerals offer some gorgeous shades in all colours.

3. “Bronzer in November? Now I’ve heard it all…”
Strategically placed highlighter and bronzer can easily recreate a holiday glow without looking like you’re auditioning for a role in ‘The Only Way Is Essex’. Apply a gold tone highlighter (try St. Tropez Skin Illuminator in ‘gold’) in a ‘C’ shape around the outside of the eye down to the top of the cheekbone, on the inner corner of the eye, along the centre of the nose, and in the centre of the chin. Apply bronzer in a ‘C’ shape from the hairline to underneath the cheekbone, along the jawline and either side of the nose.

4. “Tangerine lipstick? Shame on me, stick to beige.”
Bright lipstick can look stunning for daytime and evening, summer or winter. Try coral or fuchsia tones to really enhance and lift the complexion. Team with mascara and flawless foundation for a sophisticated look.

So dear readers, go forth and dig deep into the darkest depths of your make up bags and get creative! While you’re doing that I’ll be raiding my fridge, all this summer talk has me craving a piña colada…

Images reproduced by and

Guide to Healthy Nails – Part 2

Following from Part 1 of her Guide to Healthy Nails, Shahnaz Khan gives more information and tips on keeping your nails in the best condition.

handsOnychophagiststhat’s the official name for nail biters – cannot do any long-term damage to their nails but half-chewed fingertips can look unpleasant. Beat biting them by trying one of the specially-formulated nail biting solutions which are made to taste horrible to stop you nibbling. Or apply two thin coats of good nail hardener which toughens up soft nails and makes them much harder to bite. Yellowing nails are caused by wearing heavily-pigmented darks colours without a base coat. It depends on how porous your nails are as to how much they absorb. Whiten them up a bit by soaking them in lemon juice for a few minutes. Prime your nails for colour first with a clear or pale pink protective base coat. Smoking will also discolour your nails since they can become coated with nicotine.

Allergic reactions to the formaldehyde which is added to some brands of nail polish is common and can lead to skin irritations. Rashes and redness around the cheeks and mouth can be caused by touching your face with painted nails.

Contraceptives like the pill which depletes the body’s iron supplies can affect the way the nails grow. Check out health shops for supplements specially for nails and hair that help put back missing vitamins and minerals. It’s a myth that chewing gelatine can make your nails grow stronger.

The development of horizontal ridges and grooves can be hereditary or due to a severe illness. Once the ridge has formed there is nothing you can do until the nail has grown out. Buffing will help smooth the surface of the nail, but manicure clippers and take small snips working carefully from one side to the other. Cutting off the tip straight across can severely weaken your nails.

Short nails look best painted in pale colours which can make them longer and slimmer. Choose pastels and leave a thin strip unpainted at the sides of each nail to give the illusion of a slimmer, longer shape.

Regular exercise helps get the circulation going and speeds up nail growth-that is why typists, surprisingly, are often able to grow long, super-strong nails. Try simple hand exercises once a day, hold the tip of each finger with your other hand and work it up and down quickly five times for each finger.

A broken nail before an important date does not have to be a complete disaster, ail glue will bond a split nail in a matter of seconds or if your nail has snapped off entirely replace it with a substitute, plastic press on tip and no one will ever know the difference.

Nail polish lasts longer if you take time to apply it. Start with a base coat then apply two thin coats on top and then apply a top coat to fix your polish. Plunging your nails into icy cold water when they are touch dry will also help harden your polish.

Finally, always finish off your polished look with rubbing hand cream into your nails and hands and hey presto you will have perfect nails each time!

Guide to Healthy Nails – Part 1

handsWhat do you know about keeping your nails strong and healthy? For instance did you know that your nails need a healthy diet to ensure strong growth. Step up your intake of vital nail foods rich in Vitamins A, B, C & D, including milk, fruit and fish. As well as calcium and zinc which you can find in spinach and nuts.

Like human hair, the visible nail is dead but the matrix at the base – like the hair follicle – is supplied with blood capillaries and nerve endings that need a regular and healthy diet.

Hangnails and tiny, painful threads of skin around the nail bed are caused by not pushing your cuticles back properly, excessive dryness, or from biting the bits of skin. Pushing and prodding with sharp metal files will damage the nail bed. Smooth on a little cuticle  cream instead to help prevent hangnails, the gently ease your cuticles back with a special rubber-tipped hoof stick or tissue-covered orange stick. Always moisturise the skin daily and snack on a carrot or some celery, instead of your skin. Nails that splinter and break at the sides are caused by a heavy-handed manicure. Filing too far down at the sides weakens the edge and nails split under the slightest pressure. Use the fine side of the emery board to file nails and never file deep into the corners. Nails will appear longer and wear better when the sides of the nails are allowed to grow. Filing to a sharp point also weakens nails and looks old fashioned. Aim for a gentle curve to match the shape of the cuticle end and file in one direction towards the top of the nail only.

Brittle nails that tend to break and split easily could be the victims of harsh soap detergents which rob the nails of their natural moisture. Treat yourself to a moisturising soap and always wear rubber gloves when keeping your hands in water for any length of time. Keep a tub of moisturising cream by the sink and rub it in after drying your hands.

White specks that appear on nails are caused by knocks and bumps, or, it is thought, a zinc deficiency. Try and keep your nails out of harm’s way and protect them with gloves whenever you can. Invest in a good manicure set to keep your nails in great shape and never poke at the nail base as this can cause the new nail to grow through damaged.

Your nails take between four and six months to grow from bed to tip and growth averages between 3mm and 4mm in a month. This means any splitting could relate to stress or illness six months ago and any further growth should be split-free. Try taking brewer’s yeast or cod liver oil to strengthen nails. Acetone based nail polish remover can dry out your nails and make them look dull as well as cause splitting, because the nail’s surface is made up of layers of keratin ( protein) which are banded together by natural oils and moisture. Whisk away colour with an oil based or conditioning remover and never peel off polish as the top layer of nail can come of too!

Check out Part 2 of Shahnaz Khan’s Guide to Healthy Nails next week

At Home Beauty: Nails

This is an article I have been meaning to write for a very long time indeed. It’s all about how to care for your own hands and nails if you don’t want to be visiting a professional, or if you are visiting a pro that they are doing their job properly, as many just are not trained very well. Even the ones that have countless certificates hanging on the wall of their salon may infect be doing you and your nails more harm than good.

If you are a nail addict like me you will need to keep reading. It may shock you and it may give you some useful information. I use to be an educator for some of the top beauty brands in the country so this information is totally 100% correct. I love helping others look good and feel great about themselves with ease. You can be a high maintenance if you like or you can have a little fun by doing home treatments….The right way! Here is the start of my new at home beauty series.

sbs nails 01First off you need to understand what nails are made of. They are totally dead and made up from layers of dead cells called keratin apart from the half moon at the bottom. This is actuality part of the root and is vey delicate indeed so you don’t want to be applying those nasty stick on fake nails for longer than a few days. They can and will affect the growth of the nail and in some cases even create dents that then will need to grow out. If you are fortunate they won’t split open leaving the
nail bed to be exposed to infection and possible permanent loss of the actual nail itself….Scary huh?!

The nails have clever little seals at either end. One is under the free edge called the Hyponychium and its important not to try to dig out any dirt too harshly or use implements to do this either. Using a soft nail brush when washing hands is adequate as it could damage the natural seal.

The other is called the Proximal nail fold and many of you refer to this as the Cuticle…well this is wrong. The Cuticle is actually just a layer of residue cells all over the entire nail bed and can be easily cleaned away. The skin at the bottom called the Proximal nail fold and is there for a reason… To stop infection getting to the root of the nail…So if you own a pair of nippers don’t ever EVER cut away the little bit of skin as this will just make it grow back thicker to protect
itself. If your manicurist is doing this then I highly recommend finding one that does not do this.

sbs nails 02Now you know this you can understand nails a little more too. They need looking after, they need to be kept clean and they actually benefit from wearing nail polish as it protects them. They don’t have lungs and they don’t need to breath its just an old wives tale. The best thing for them is to have a regular manicure… at home or by a professional you choose.

This Quality Ladies Manicure/Pedicure Personal Care Set Red with Solingen Tools – 10 Years Warranty is really the best home kit I have ever come across priced at £32.99 it sounds expensive but compared to 10 years of manicures from a professional its a snip!!

sbs nails 03Here is an explanation about each item.

The Glass nail files are really the best as they are very gentle on the nails. Scissors are for many things but these should be used to shorten the nails or trim the sides.

The nail clippers are the best thing to use shortening fingernails as they clip the layers neatly.

The toe clippers are perfect for shortening tough toe nails. You can clip the sides of the toenails…yes you can but make sure you get all the nail as leaving some behind will cause an ingrown toenail. Now cutting straight across will do the same if you don’t get all the nail in the clipper so its best to cut in 3 sections making sure the side are neatly clipped and then the length.

Pluckers are great to get rid of splinters

Now for the Cuticle pusher, this is your new best friend and can be used after you have a bath when the cuticle tissue is loose or use a cream remover. Then gently slide up and down the bed of the nail and you will see lots of unwanted dead tissue come away. I recommend you do this once a month.

You will notice this kit doesn’t have nippers this is because I think they should only be used by a trained professional and if you have a loose bit of skin or a hang nail just use the small scissors as you are less likely to cause any damage.

sbs nails 04Now to explain what the cuticle is… in fact it covers the entire nail bed. It’s basically the residue from the sticky layer of the proximal nail fold that helps keep infection out and as the nail plate grows it just travels with it. It can be carefully cleaned away by yourself you just need a little know how… So I have done a little routine for you.

The Home Manicure Routine

Wash your hands

Exfoliate hands with All About Hands Avocado Exfoliating Hand & Elbow Scrub 200ml or your regular body scrub will do.

Dry off your hands and rub in a nice hand cream like Chanel Precision Body Excellence Nourishing & Rejuvenating Hand Cream – 75ml/2.5oz its totally the best and won’t leave your hands feeling sticky.

Remove and unwanted nail polish with Cutex Nail Polish Remover Acetone-Free 200ml Acetone free is better for the nails as it won’t dry them out.

Apply Nails Inc Striptease Cuticle Remover 15ml to the surface of 5 nails and massage in. Wait a few minutes for the product to work then gently slide the cuticle pusher up and down the length of the nail. Wipe away any loose cells (cuticle) with damp cotton wool and repeat on the other hand.

Clip the desired length

Gently file the free edge to the desired shape. Using the glass file you can file back and forth no need to file in one direction.

Finish filing by doing a few downward strokes to seal all those layers of dead nail cells together.

Oil the nails with Creative Nail Design Solar Oil Nail and Cuticle Conditioner 7.3 ml and massage in along with some more hand cream if desired. Concentrate on the root of the nail if you are wanting lovely long talons as this will encourage growth.

Cleanse the nail plate using Graham Hands Down Nail Wipes  (as these won’t leave any annoying fluff) and a little of the nail polish remover to just take away excess oil from the nail plate.

Apply a coat of Sally Hansen Insta-Grip Base Coat.

Then apply 2-3 coats of nail polish, I recommend CND VINYLUX TOP COAT & VINYLUX HOLLYWOOD with FREE BIO SCULPTURE NAIL FILE as this is by far the best polish available. Simply wonderful and it drys in 8 minutes, gets stronger as the days go on and lasts up to 10 days

Now you have done your nails and even though they are covered up all these dead cells are very vunerable indeed and absorb water when washing up, cleaning and just general wear and tear, then they dry out and can start to look dishevelled and in most people water damage will appear. Any of you have peeling nails well that’s water damage.  Repeated misuse of detergents and household products will cause them to become very weak and flaky too.

So what can be done I hear you cry, well obviously wear rubber gloves when possible but the 2 other things that you can do to have perfect pinkies is oil them with a really good nail oil morning and night and wearing your nail polish will protect them even more.

Regular manicures or hand massages to encourage new cells to create new nail growth if you wish for longer stunning nails.

This is a perfect recipe for stunning, beautiful and strong nails. For more articles on how to look fantastic visit

Lanc̫me РVernis in Love

Lancôme’s new Vernis in Love range of striking nail colours reinvents nail polish application, making it simpler, faster and more stunning than ever. From chic neutrals to captivating brights – this wardrobe of colour can provide the ultimate accessory, the perfect finish to every look.

A patented brush with a grooved stem allows the nail polish to flow directly to the centre of the brush. An elongated and rounded base with extremely supple, flat bristles allows the nail contour to be perfectly followed and a uniform coat of varnish to be applied in just a single stroke. The fluid texture creates a smooth, streak-free finish and a flawless film of colour. Incredibly resistant for days on end, it is empowered with micro-mirrors which reflect light from every angle to create dazzling shine.

“The bottle is a fantastic shape and size which fits perfectly into the palm of your hand. The stem of the brush is the right length, which allows you enough time to place the brush into the bottle pick up your polish and apply it to the nail plate without it running down the stem causing drips and flooding the nail plate” 

Glenis Baptiste, Celebrity Manicurist

Available in 20 stunning shades, Vernis in Love is divided into three colour universes, capturing three different moments during the day:

All the beauty of an awakening dawn in Paris is captured in fresh and featherlight shades for luminous, natural colour.

Deep, vibrant and euphoric shades, perfect for early evening cocktails with friends.

A Parisian night, infused with promise, is mirrored by intense and magnetic shades.

Easy to apply and long lasting, Lancôme’s dazzling new nail colours are set to be this year’s most collectable items.

Minx Nails – Sassy Style Sure to Sizzle

Minx Nails are a glamorous nail treatment that lets you extend fashion to your fingertips. This latest trend will ensure that your nails show off some sassy style that’s sure to sizzle this season.

They’re funky, flashy, and super fashionable. First popularised by US celebrities like Lady GaGa, Beyoncé, Katy Perry and Rihanna, the Minx revolution has now gone transatlantic and UK stars such as Lily Allen have now been seen sporting this trendy sexy look.

So how does Minx work? Well, it’s not nail polish but a unique nail treatment. An adhesive acrylic film nail coating is individually applied and filed to fit the shape of each nail. There are dozens of ready made patterns to choose from – everything from bold colours to houndstooth (as worn by Scarlet Johansson in her fashion shoot for Glamour magazine). The amazing silver and gold metallics are a popular choice, as is the metallic leopard print. You can’t go wrong with the endless options available. Best of all, there is no damage to your nail, no drying time and no smudging. You’ll also be pleased to know that Minx doesn’t use chemicals for application or removal so there are no unpleasant fumes.

What is a Minx manicure like? Although you can have the film applied as is, I recommend having your nails tidied up first with a basic manicure as we’ve heard this will make the Minx treatment last that bit longer. You then choose your Minx from the wide range of designs available. The film coating is applied to the nails which are then briefly put under a heat lamp to set. A little heat is used to remove them too when it’s time to go for a new style. You can customise them too to match your favourite dress, purse or shoes. Prices are between £30 and £50 depending on what you have and where you go. The whole process takes just over half an hour. What you end up with are gorgeous catwalk-ready nails that will certainly get everyone talking.

There are a number of salons around the country now doing this exciting new treatment. Recommended London salons are Maximiliano Centini on New Kings Road and Percy & Reed on Great Portland Street. If you’re in Cambridge, visit the award winning Sun Studios on Cherry Hinton High Street to get the Minx experience. Minx manicures have a short shelf life so if you want something longer lasting, I’d recommend going for the Minx pedicure which lasts several weeks. Or for those special occasions, I’d go for a manicure and pedicure in a Minx design that matches your outfit to add sparkle to your ensemble.

Minx Nails – perfect for parties, holidays or whenever you want that glitzy Red Carpet look that will get you noticed for all the right reasons!

Please note – this is not a hard-wearing treatment and is more suitable for styling up your look at a special event rather than to wearing to do domestic chores. I recommend that you wear Minx nails when you want to treat yourself to a bit of celebrity glamour and when you want to be the envy of your girlfriends at a special party.

Image reproduced from Minx Nails