Sunday, 27 April 2014

Essence Gel Nails at Home Kit (Mini LED)

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I was so excited when I heard that Essence had released an at home gel nail kit! Essence are one of my very favourite brands, being both affordable and actually having decent products. I have done my own gel nails before with pretty good results but I absolutely DESPISE the time-consuming removal process. When I saw that Essence’s kit boasted PEEL OFF removal AND could be used with ANY polish, I pretty much sprinted down to Priceline to nab one! I had very high hopes for this product, here’s what I thought.

The Brand – Essence

Essence are a European brand, German to be specific, but most of their products are readily available in Australia, with the exception of certain limited edition releases. They are fabulously cheap but unlike most el cheapo brands, their products are actually pretty decent quality. I especially like their nail polishes and eyeshadows. Essence can be found in Priceline, Target and some smaller pharmacies too. Another big plus is that they do not test on animals, which is quite unusual for a brand with such low prices. 

The Product – Gel Nails at Home Kit ($39.95 for Mini LED Lamp, $5.95 each for Base/Top Coats)

The Essence at Home Gel Nails Kit consists of a mini LED curing lamp, a peel off base coat and a gel top coat. There are a range of other products too including a primer and cleanser but I decided against purchasing these as I already had similar products from different brands. The major difference between this system and other gel nails is that you can use ANY polish, not just the fancy (read: super expensive) gel polishes. These gel nails are also peel off, so there is no messing around with soaking your nails in acetone and pushing the polish off with an orange stick, ain't nobody got time for that!

Using the product

The steps are pretty simple, you apply the base coat, being careful to avoid your cuticles and ensuring you seal the tip of the nail, then cure for 60 seconds under the lamp. The instructions were a bit confusing as the ones on the lamp said cure for 10 seconds (not nearly long enough) and the ones on the polish said 60 seconds. Having done gel nails before, I went with 60 seconds. This was quite annoying as the timer on the lamp lasted for 10 seconds, so I had to keep pressing the button again and again! You can imagine how frustrating this was with the lamp only being big enough to do one finger at a time. After the base coat is cured, you wipe off the sticky residue with the cleanser then paint on your chosen colour. You then have to wait until the polish is 100% dry before moving on. This is both the up and downside to the system. You can use any polish you like BUT it comes at the price of having to wait the same amount of time for it to dry as you would with normal nail polish because you use normal nail polish. The fantastic thing about gel nails is NOT having to wait for them to dry so it kind of defeats the purpose a little. After your coloured polish has dried, you then apply the top coat and this is where I ran into the most trouble. 

The two fingers on the right have the base coat on.

Applying it was a bit tricky, both the base and top coats are very thick and gloopy and you have to take care again to avoid your cuticles and make sure you seal the whole nail.  When it came to curing the top coat, I had some major shrinkage problems. Gel polish can sometimes shrink away from the edges but this was ridiculous! I ended up with huge gaps down the side and at the end of my nails, no matter how well I applied the top coat. I also ran into issues after sealing when I wiped away the sticky residue. Because the top coat shrank, the regular polish underneath was exposed and ended up coming off when I tried to wipe away the stickiness. 

End product: messy edges, gaps at the tips and a hole in the polish of the middle finger.

It was just a general mess! I did have a few goes, in the name of giving it a fair go but I had very little improvement. My nails ended up with gaps all around or holes in the polish where it didn’t seal properly. And as for the 10 day wear claim, I have no idea where that came from because one evening of wear and a shower in the morning was enough to start them peeling off! The only glimmer of light to this whole debacle was how easy they are to remove, I wish it was that easy with all gel nails! The other upside is that price wise, this kit isn’t half as expensive as most so I didn’t waste too much money. 

Started peeling after just a night, so much for 10 days of wear! Also note the hole in the polish on my pinky nail.

Overall Score 

The Good
Can be used with any polish.
 Relatively cheap compared to other gel systems.
Very easy to remove. 

The Bad
Different instructions on different boxes.
Shrinking topcoat.
Gaps left in polish.
Does not last well at all.
Have to wait for coloured polish to dry, not like with most gel systems where you can just go.

KaBOOM! Cosmetics gives the Essence Gel Nails at Home Kit:  
I had very high hopes for this and sadly, they came crashing down around my head pretty quickly. I don’t like writing negative reviews but this really didn’t work for me at all and I would hate for anyone else to waste their hard earned moolah on it! Essence are still one of my favourite brands but I would not recommend this kit to anyone. I found it quite messy and time-consuming for a pretty awful end result! Has anyone else had success with this kit?

Stay beautiful!

Dani xx

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

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It might come as a surprise to you to learn that Mother’s Day is a mere 2 weeks away (panic stations, go, go, go!). I know that it crept up on me a little this year, what with the excitement of so many public holidays and long weekends recently. I’ve decided to put together a little gift guide (with the help of my very own mum) to save you having to buy your mum a cheapo bunch of petrol station flowers and accompanying suspicious looking chocolates. With this gift guide in hand, you now have no excuse not to buy your mum a most excellent gift. 


Being a mum is a full time job and I think it’s lovely to give your mum a few hours, or even a whole day to relax and be pampered. Manicures, pedicures, massages, spa days, the options are endless! And if you want to make it more of a family occasion, why not book yourself in too? That way, both you and your mum get to spend a great day together AND you get to come out looking and feeling fabulous. You could even splash out and get a full champagne spa day, what better way to say thanks to your mumsy? Places like Groupon often have really great deals on massages and spa days. 

A nice relaxing massage is the perfect gift for Mother's Day. (Image from
If you want something a bit more interactive, why not sign your mum up for a makeup session? Most makeup counters provide makeup sessions, you could even treat your mum to a few of her favourite products while you’re there. I love the idea taking your mum in to get her makeup done then heading out for a beautiful breakfast together, she’ll look and feel fabulous!

Time to treat mum to a complete makeover from her favourite brand. (Image from

I love this category because you can tailor it to suit your mum’s personal preferences. Maybe your mum loves gardening – a year’s subscription to ABC Gardening Australia it is! Perhaps your mum is big into motorbikes – she could be the newest subscriber to Road Rider Magazine Australia! Or maybe your mum just loves a good old gossip mag – she would be over the moon to be able to read about her favourite celebs with a year’s worth of WHO Magazine. A lot of magazines know that Mother’s Day is coming up and are including special vouchers or additional months when you buy a subscription for your mum. 

With so many magazines to choose from, there's sure to be one to suit your mum! (Image from

Tea Time
I don’t know about your mum, but my mum is big into tea, might be because she’s English! There are so many amazing teas out there at the moment, there’s one to suit every mum. Your super sporty mum might love to relax after her morning workout with a delicious green tea while your green thumb mum might like a nice Lady Grey after a hard day in the garden. I also love tea sets as gifts and there are some amazing iced tea coolers available too, for something a little different. Whatever your mum likes to do, there is sure to be a brew for her. Both T2 and the Tea Centre stock a range of amazing tea and tea time accessories too. 

T2 stocks a great range of teas and tea time accessories, they also do great gift packs. (Image from

Knick Knacks

The ideas here are endless! A cute photo frame to put that uber embarrassing photo of you on your first day of school on display could be a her thing. I personally think a digital photo frame loaded up with photos of your family is a perfect gift! A beautiful vase to display the cheapo petrol station flowers that your bro bought for mum because he didn’t read this gift guide might be what's she's after. She could be desperate for some beautiful scented candles to use while she relaxes in a nice bubble bath. Again, knick knacks are great because you can tailor them to suit your mum, maybe she hates candles but has been lusting after a new photo frame? It’s all up to you!

These beautiful cup & saucer candles from Dusk are so cute! Who wouldn't love them? (Image from


Australia is heading into winter so maybe your mum is in the market for a cute hat, funky scarf or cosy set of gloves? Perhaps your mum is a trendsetter and is desperate to get her hands on a necklace like the one she saw in Vogue last month? A great idea here is to round up your siblings and get them to part with some of their cash so you can buy your mum a beautiful ring/necklace/pair of earrings. 
This black rope necklace is amazing, any mum could rock this baby! (Image from


Last up on the gift reel are gifts to make your mum feel pretty! Perhaps she’s running low on her signature scent? Maybe she loves a Sunday night face mask and bubble bath? She might have misplaced her favourite mascara and hasn’t got around to getting a new one. It’s all about knowing what your mum likes and personalising your gift to suit her. For example, my mum doesn’t have a bath tub so fat lot of good a set of bath bombs is going to be for her! She does, however, love doing her nails so maybe a new set of OPI polishes is more to her taste? 
Lush's Limited Edition Mother's Day range is available in store now! (Image from

I hope my gift guide has given you a few ideas so you can make your mum’s Mother’s Day special. And don’t forget, even if you can’t get your mum an expensive gift, make sure she gets a hug and a heartfelt thank you! 
Stay beautiful 

Dani xx

Friday, 25 April 2014

LUSH Brazened Honey Fresh Face Mask

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Today we will delve into the delicious paradise that is LUSH! If you have been following my posts, then it’s no secret that I want to marry LUSH and have its babies. Just kidding, but I really do love LUSH. They have made a name for themselves as an eco-friendly, cruelty free brand and I have yet to find a product from LUSH that I don’t like. This post is all about the Fresh Face Mask in Brazened Honey, good enough to eat!

The Brand - LUSH

If you are keen to learn more about LUSH, please take a look at my previous posts on any of the LUSH products. I will just say (again) that I love LUSH, it always gives me a little thrill going into the shop. The staff are super friendly and very knowledgeable on all of their products. The LUSH staff are always willing to do a mini skin consultation to make sure you get the right product for your skin.

The Product – Brazened Honey Fresh Face Mask ($16.95 for 75g)

I bought the Brazened Honey mask completely on a whim, having just finished the Cupcake mask. I had just gone into the city and thought I would take a peek into LUSH in Queen St Mall. I waked out $50 poorer but the proud owner of a bag of LUSH products, including Brazened Honey. LUSH does a range of fresh face masks, catering to pretty much every skin concern. The lovely girl in the store (after complimenting me on my Paul’s Boutique handbag *blush*) asked me about my skin. When I told her that my main concern was oiliness and that I had already tried Cupcake, she recommended either Brazened Honey or Catastrophe Cosmetic. While I was quite tempted to buy both, Brazened Honey contains ground almond shells to exfoliate and that sold me. It also contains honey (duh), ginger root and lime and it honestly looks good enough to eat! 

 On a side note, the Fresh Face Masks need to be kept refrigerated and used within a month, but be careful leaving them in the fridge. It took an awful lot of effort to stop the boyfriend eating the Cupcake mask!

Using the products

Brazened Honey is pretty simple to use. I usually wash my face and cleanse before applying any kind of face mask. You apply a generous layer and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes to work its magic before rinsing off. The mask is a really funky bright yellow colour and you can see all the ground up little bits in it too (you can see a very attractive picture of me modelling the mask below). Owing to the inclusion of the ground almond shells, you can gently rub the mask into your skin as you wash it off for and extra exfoliating effect. 

I really liked added benefit of an exfoliator but I was a little panicked when I first applied the mask. It is, shall we say, very tingly when you first apply it. The girl in the shop didn’t warn me and I thought I might be having an allergic reaction (which happens to me more frequently than I care to say!). But I left it for a minute and the tingly feeling went away and my skin just felt nice and warm and when I washed the mask off, my face wasn’t red or blotchy. It does say on the tub that it is an “invigorating” mask with “warming Ayurvedic herbs and spices” which must be where all the tingling comes from ( I should probably read things more carefully before using).  

 PS - Ayrvedic means hailing from the Indian sub-continent, according to the font of all knowledge aka Wikipedia
The Brazened Honey Mask in action
Overall Score 

The Good
 Easy to use.
Exfoliates and nourishes at the same time.

The Bad
Not for sensitive skin.
Expires after a month. 
The tingling/warming might not be everyone's cup of tea

KaBOOM! Cosmetics gives the LUSH Fresh Face Mask in Brazened Honey:
So, do you love LUSH as much as I do? Let me know what your favourite LUSH products are in the comments.

Stay beautiful! 

Dani xx


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