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I like my nails to look good but tend to go for just a clean, natural look on my fingernails, reserving bolder, brighter colours for my toenails. So, on a day to da basis I usually opt for a neutral pale pink varnish to keep them looking good. For special occasions and evenings out, however, I have favoured the 'french manicure' look for any years now. I've tried all sorts of ways of achieving this from salon manicures (costly), acryllic nails (even more costly) and at home do it yourself kits (much more purse friendly!). As a result, over the years I've tried many different french manicure kits and one that I'm just coming to the end of now is my Elegant Touch Rapid Dry kit. I've had this particular one for ages so can't remember where I bought it (although at the time I bought it I was living in a town with a Savers, so the chances are it was from there) but a quick Google shows that it's available in most pharmacies including Boots and Lloyds for around the £6 to £6.50 mark (obviously buying at Boots will gain you advantage points too). The kit came packaged in a box which I don't normally like with cosmetics as it's usually unnecessary, but in this case it wasn't done for mere extravagance but actually to keep the several items contained together so I'll let them off for that. Inside the box you get three bottles of nail polish - a base coat which is a pale pink/peachy colour, a white 'tip' coat and a clear top coat. You are also provided with little half moon shaped stickers to use as guides to get the shape of the french tip accurate. I don't remember if this kit came with instructions inside or not, but I'm sure there would have been some on the box (long since thrown away I'm afraid, so I'm unable to give any further information as to what was on it). As I'd done many french manicures on my nails prior to buying this I didn't need instructions anyway. Applying the french manicure is very easy. First you apply the base coat, covering the entire nail. Then you stick one of the little stickers to each nail so that it's underneath the white of your nail and leaves exposed the section you want painting white in your manicure. You then apply a layer of the tip whitening varnish to each tip, remove the stickers and then apply the clear top coat. Obviously you need to wait for each coat to dry before moving on to the next step, but apart from that it really is an easy process. Years of practice have taught me that a) I prefer a different way of doing it (details following shortly) and b) it's best to do this the night before I'm going out and when I'm already in bed so that my nails have plenty of time to dry properly when all three coats have been applied. Many times in the past I've tried doing something soon after applying a french manicure only to smudge the tips and had to start all over again, so now I make sure that I have nothing left to do that day and then try to sleep with my hands on top of the cover for good measure! So, my way of applying the french manicure kit is this: Instead of applying the base coat first I always apply the white tip as the first step in the process. I find that if I apply the tip second and only have a layer of clear topcoat covering it it's too harsh a white for my liking and I find it looks more natural when I use the tip whitener first and then apply the base coat over the top of it. It really helps to tone down the brightness of the white and I much prefer this look. I then apply the top coat over the pink colour. I also never bother with the sticker guides either. I did try them a few times but when you take them off again it's much like peeling masking tape off when you've been decorating and few of the kits I've tried have ever managed to get that part of the product right so I just don't even bother trying anymore. Either they're too sticky and rip half of the white varnish off with them or they're not sticky enough and the white bleeds and you don't end up with a nice crisp line. So I now just rely on a steady hand to apply my white tips. This has taken a lot of practice but I got there in the end! The Elegant Touch Rapid Dry kit is one of the nicer ones I've used. The bottles are all the usual size of nail varnish bottle (holding 11ml) which is slightly annoying as, obviously, you use more of the base and top coats than you do the tip whitener so it would make sense so have less of the tip whitener. The brushes inside the bottles are all a good size so with the pink and clear coats you just need the usual three sweeps down the nail for good coverage, whilst the white one is slightly thinner, allowing you to achieve a greater level of precision if you're applying it free-hand like I do. I usually get around 2-3 days from a french manicure before it starts to look a bit tatty and this is no exception but I've found that if I apply an extra layer of top coat each evening before bed for extra protection I can usually make it last for 5 days, which is really good staying power as far as I'm concerned. Removing the manicure is easy enough to do using my regular nail varnish remover. Although by the time I get around to removing it I usually have about 6 coats on my nails and so have to hold a cotton wool ball soaked in varnish remover against each nail for a few seconds to loosen it all first and I generally end up using 4 cotton wool balls to remove everything. As for it's quick dry claims I'm in two minds about this. Yes, when you apply it each coat is touch dry rather quickly so you can apply the next coat, but when the manicure is complete I just don't trust that it's going to be smudge proof for a good long while afterwards and would never test it by doing the washing up or anything for at least a couple of hours afterwards and, as I said, I prefer to err on the side of caution and applpy this last thing at night so it has plenty of time to dry properly. I've had this set for so long that I can remember neither where I bought it nor how much I paid for it and I'm just getting to the end of the basecoat and topcoat bottles now. It has definitely seen better days and rather than try applying it when the varnish has dried out slightly and it a bit too stringy to be able to apply properly I think I'll be investing in another set before my next night out. But I'm more than happy with this set, how easy it is to apply, how long it lasts, both on the nail and in the bottles, and the effect that I can achieve with it. So if I can find it in boots for £6.50 I would happily buy another Elegant Touch kit. Buying a kit is much more economical than buying the separate elements individually, although I do find the sticker guides to be a waste of time. Unless I was bought a voucher for a manicure as a gift I can't see me ever splashing out for a professional one again, as this kit is WAY cheaper, easy to apply and looks good when finished. I don't think this kit is perfect enough to give it the full five starts and really wish I could give it 4.5, but as I can't it will have to be a 4 star rating from me. The rapid dry claims could mislead you into using your nails before they're really ready and having to reapply, but apart from that I would highly recommend this kit.
If you've ever tried to put on false nails then you will know what a hassle, pain and downright task it is to not only apply them but then take them off when they start to look bad. Having lived in Los Angeles for a number of years nails were big business and as a girl you were never fully "done" unless you had your nails on. All my friends either went to the salon to get their nails done or used the at home do it yourself kits. Now, I must admit that I did sort of get sucked into the trend but was not as religious about getting them done as some people. I just tended to use the kits now and again when I knew I had somewhere fun to go and wanted to look nice. Nowadays nail bars are popping up all over England and its becoming more and more the norm to have nice nails. Again, I don't really have time to get mine done all the time and with soon to be two little kids its not that practical but for a nice night out and then some time afterwards I like to use the kits. I like the natural look and so really only go for a French manicure look as I think this is the closest to natural you can get. I hate the long plastic painted coloured nails that you get as I think they look tacky and cheap but the Elegant touch brand seem to do a really nice french manicure set. The set comes with 24 nails which I think is good value as this gives you at least two sets of nails at two different times and allows for any mistakes you will make and believe me, you will make mistakes applying these. The nails are already painted in the French manicure style, with the white tip on the nail and then the main body of the nail being a light beige/pink sort of colour. The nails are all about the same size although there are bigger ones to suit the thumb which then allows you to cut the nail down to size to your fingers. I find this is usually the tricky bit. I always size the nail up on my finger, apply it and then attempt to file it but sometimes I can just never get it right and end up having to do it again on another nail so one or two are always lost. There are two ways to apply the nails with this set. If you want to wear the nails for just one night I recommend using the stick on tabs, this way you can pull the nails off easily after use. The nails comes with a stick on tab backing that you just pull off and then apply the false nail straight to your real nails. To remove you just soak your hands in a bit of soapy water for a few minutes and they come off, don't worry they won't come off with just regular hand washing throughout the day when you have them on. If you want to keep your nails on for a week or longer I recommend using the nail glue. I generally always go for this option but this is where the trouble begins sometimes for me. The nail glue sticks very well, as you would hope it would, but that just means that you have to make sure that you have stuck the nail where you want it quickly and not try to rearrange it for very long after you have stuck it otherwise it might not move. Then when it comes to removing these nails it is always a bit tricky. The back of the box suggests that you Buff the surface of the artificial nail to break down the top coat and then soak in pure acetone until soft. This is always too much hassle in my opinion so I'm quite naughty and tend to pull them off gradually over a couple of days. The only problem with this is that the natural nail underneath can split a bit so you are always left with weak nails after using false nails which is why I like to leave it quite a long time between applications. I find these nails to be strong and hard working, they generally don't break and the manicure does not come off either so I think they actually last longer than a shop manicure would. All in all if this is the look you want to achieve then I do recommend these nails.
Now this really is a first for me to be not only using but actually reviewing a beauty product! I have never been the type of person to make any sort of effort with my nails, there were always bitten off and not very attractive. The a few months ago I decided on a whim that I would grow my nails?? Don't know where it came from but still I was determined. In order to keep them strong and make them grow faster I have been using a clear top coat and had got quite fond of the shiny result. Not being a big fan of coloured nail varnish and wanting to do something to showcase my newly grown nails I decided to get a french manicure kit. So off I went in search of the unknown into the nearestcosmetics store and had a look at the products on offer. Not having a clue what meant what I picked up Elegant Touch french manicure kit simply because it was the cheapest. The product itself comes in a rather attractive little box with cut out windows at the front so you can see the colour's of the polishes included. In the kit was a Base coat, White polish, Tip guides, Clear top coat and full instructions. You can buy two different versions of this, from what I see the only difference is the colour of the base coat, you can choose from pink or peach. I went for peach as it look like it would produce a more natural result. Once I got home I opened up the box and had a good read of the instructions, being to this whole nail care thing I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I started by applying the peach base coat all over my nails, the polish glided on really smoothly and dried to leave a flawless mooth finish that was very similar to my natural nail colour. Then I appied the guides. These are like curved stickers that you stick across your nail a milimetre of so from the end. There is a tab on each side to make them easy to apply and remove. I managed to get them all on in the right position the first time which I was pleased with. Once the stickers are in place you paint the tip that remains visable with the white polish, again wait for it to dry before removing the stickers. I took the stickers off and was very pleased with the result, the tips were beautifully white and perfectly curved to match the natural curve of my nail. To finish you aply the top coat all over your nails and allow to dry. I was amazed by the end result! My nails look fantastic and the result is so natural looking. Everyone I have seen has comented on how fantastic they look. The kit is so simple to use with easy to follow instructions and using the tips it really is fool-proof. Trust me if I can do it anyone can. A few people thought that I had had them done at a salon that's how professional the finished result is. The nail varnish is rapid dry and when it says rapid it means rapid. It took approximately one minute for each coat to dry and the whole thing was finished and dry within 10 minutes!! My nails have now been painted for 5 days and there is no flaking, peeling or chipping. The varnish is of very good quality and long lasting. I am unbelivably pleased with the result and will definately be buying this product again. The price I hear you ask, well I managed to get a fantastic product that managed to make my grubby old nails look beautifully feminine and elegant for just £2.99. You don't get much better then that. Give it a try I promise you'll be amazed.