Nail Art Training

essential nails nail art kit

essential nails nail art kit

I’m a huge advocate of further education no matter what career path you chose in life. So many skills to learn and new people to connect with – what’s not to love?

At school I was not gifted in art at all, so I pretty much gave up on it but it’s a skill I’ve always envied in others. Creativity is such a lovely thing to get lost in. Over the years I was drawn into graphic art with photoshop and web design and really enjoyed it. I discovered that I actually did have a creative side after all – it just needed to be nurtured.

Getting back into nails I am always blown away by the beautiful things people can do with nail art and whilst I have learnt some skills from the amazing youtube community and practicing at home – it just doesn’t seem enough to feel like a bona fida nail artist.

For that reason I was excited at the prospect of doing a nail art course with Essential Nails. It is expensive to buy the kit, which includes a “trainer hand” that feels and moves like a real hand but when nails are part of your career – I felt the expense would ultimately be worth it.

The kit arrived about 2 months ago and I watched the dvd but as I work so many nights, I hadn’t had time to delve into it properly. Well, now I’m off work on holiday until the end of July so I am making time each day to not only blog (hello!), but to do some lessons and practice, practice, PRACTICE!

Last night was my first attempt at doing a very simple (or so I thought) flower design with graduating dots. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to get my placement as close to what the tutor does as possible but I am finding doing this is taking longer than I expected. I’m excited to progress so determined to figure out how to get it exactly placed so it as close to the original design as possible.

Here’s the vieo about the course to give you an idea of the designs I’m looking at

I shall keep you updated as to how I find it but I’ve found printing out some practice sheets to use is saving me using all my practice nails up. Each time you make a mistake you learn something so eventually I will get it. Probably.

Have you done any further education? How did you find it?


Pound Shop Polishes


Hidden gems ahoy!

In years gone by you wouldn’t have caught me dead in a poundshop, or poundland or anything that screamed “CHEAP”. This was due to a small sprinkling of snobbishness, mixed with the fact that my experience of pound shops in my youth was that they were full of tat.

Whilst back in beauty school, second time round, I was reintroduced to the poundshop and although it is still full of mostly tat – if you look carefully you can often find some hidden gems. I was nosing through the cosmetics section one day a few months ago and nearly exploded with excitement when I discovered a stash of Sally Hansen Insta dry polishes. I have never seen them available anywhere in the UK, and couldn’t believe my luck. So of course I bought about a million of them*.

*a million may be a slight exaggeration here

Let me share the lovely stash that I have accumulated over recent months, which includes the Insta dries, sally hansen complete salon manicures, art deco striper and revlon glitter polishes.


revlon polish

Revlon Popular & Stunnin Polish

I was so excited when I spotted these gorgeous revlon glitter polishes as they retail for around  £5. They are both pretty sheer used on their own, but look gorgeous layered over other colours. Who doesn’t love to bling up their nails?


sally hansen insta dri polish

Sally Hansen Insta Dri Polish

My most exciting find to date. I nearly imploded with excitement when I spotted loads of these hanging up. Pretty much every nail stamper in the USA has a stash of these polishes as they are great for using with stamping nail art. They are fast drying and the colour range is amazing. Sadly the pound shops seem to have run out but I think it’s worth keeping an eye out in case they get a shipment in again.


Sally Hansen complete salon manicure

Sally Hansen complete salon manicure

Another popular choice with USA nail artists, so I decided to try them out too. I have seen them for sale in a local chemist for over £6 so I think I got myself a major bargain with these beauties. In saying that I find the brush is very big and makes precision polishing more difficult so I would never use these as a professional salon polish.


Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Polish

Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Polish

Hello glittery shimmery goodness! These polishes are really lovely – some are sheer enough to be used as part of a french manicure to give it some sparkle, whilst others are more opaque. Really lovely polishes to work with.


Sally Hansen Nail Prism Polish

Sally Hansen Nail Prism Polish

Deeply regretting not getting more of these as they are amazing. The polish is pretty holographic when it goes on with a metallic sheen. The reason I was put off lifting it was because it had separated in the bottle so looked really sheer but a good mix sorts that out. More of these are definitely on my wish list. Yes indeed.


Rimmel Nail Pro

Rimmel Nail Pro

Rimmel is widely available in the UK but £1 is a bargain and I loved the colour so I grabbed this while I was in store. Ok, maybe I didn’t NEED it but, you know – a polish addict doesn’t understand that concept. You can never have too much colour in your life! True story.


Striper & Nail Art Pen

Striper & Nail Art Pen

Another find that almost had me hyper ventilating. La Colors stripers are brilliant and this was lying there all alone, so I had to buy it. I’m not sure if they had only got one in randomly or they had a batch of them and I missed the rest. I prefer to think the fairies left this for me specifically because that makes me feel special. Similar story with the pink nail art pen which has black gem stones in the base for adding to your art. I’d never heard of the brand before but decided to risk it for a pound and it’s a great little pen.

Here is a colour wheel showing all the colours swatched:

Colour Wheel Swatch

Colour Wheel Swatch

Moral of the story – being a snob gets you nowhere – check out those pound shops people!! As an aside if you happen upon anymore stripers/ nail art pens or insta dri’s – TELL ME! Until next time…

The Beauty Industry

beauty-therapistIn times where recession is all we hear about on the news, it’s comforting to know that the beauty industry continues to thrive. In 2011 Olay conducted the Big British Beauty Poll in which they questioned 20,000 women aged 18-65 on their beauty habits. The women were asked; “Would you say that your beauty spending has increased or decreased in the past five years?” Incredibly 59% of the women asked stated that it had increased, with 21% saying that it had increased significantly. Results like this go to show that despite the recession, women are still willing to pay for their beauty treatments.

This is all brilliant news for those of us in the industry; however it does have its reverse impact. I trained as a beauty therapist immediately on leaving school in 1990. Back then the industry was very different. We aspired to very high standards, endured very tough and long training on anatomy & physiology, hygiene, industry standards etc, and all of us had come into the training based on our passion for beauty and being the best we could be.

My one bug bear after all that training was always the low wages we received (which hasn’t changed sadly). You definitely weren’t in beauty to make your millions back then. Salons were few and far between, clients were generally wealthy women, but on the upside jobs were always easy to find.

Fast forward to 2010. I had left the industry in favour of motherhood and in order to work around my children as they grew older, had taken jobs in retail instead. I missed beauty therapy though. I decided to go back to college and retrain as a beauty therapist to get my confidence back and to increase my chances of getting employed again.

MoneyTree2My experience at college overall was good;  I loved the course, and met some really fantastic girls who shared my passion for quality and good hygiene standards, but there lurked another type of trainee in our midst – the kind that looked on the industry as a way to make a fast buck. They wanted to get through the course as quickly as possible so they could get out there and start making money and they didn’t care about any of the standards that were so dear to my heart. In most cases they were out advertising their services before we had even finished learning the treatment. I was appalled and dismayed.

Irritating as these girls were – they were only the tip of the iceberg.  At least they were willing to do a year long course.

The newest (I say newest but I’m not sure when it started) thing in the beauty industry is the “one day course”. It used to be that to do a “one day course” in something like nails; you would have to be fully qualified in beauty therapy first. This would ensure that you understood the structure of the nail and how not to cause damage to it. I would say that is a pretty important thing to understand, wouldn’t you?

Apparently not to the “training schools” who offer these courses.

As a result the industry is now saturated with people who have little understanding of what they are doing, running around like cowboy builders. The impact can be severe. I have met so many people terrified to get shellac on their nails because a “cowboy nail tech” that wasn’t properly trained has damaged their nails. It’s so frustrating.Cowgirl

Then we have the ridiculously low prices they charge which a real beauty therapist, using genuine good quality products cannot compete with without making a loss. The saying “you get what you pay for” is something clients need to keep in mind. If you are paying peanuts, chances are the quality of the product the therapist is using on you is inferior, regardless of what she tells you it is.

I am of the opinion that to continue offering a great service to my clients; I must continue to train, train, train. Training is expensive and so are the quality products so overall my prices will reflect that. I always buy from reputable stockists to ensure I am getting the genuine product for my clients. I do not buy my stock from ebay!

Then we move on to the “business people” who buy a salon with no understanding or education within the beauty industry. They employ therapists, pay them minimum wage and are only interested in how big a profit they can make. Do they care about standards, clients, therapists? I doubt it.

The cry from industry professionals, including myself is that we need the industry to be better regulated. This protects our clients and our reputation, and those are the two most important things as far as I am concerned.

My advice to people seeking a beauty therapist is always do your homework. Ask questions and ask to see their diplomas.  Look into the company they got the diploma from. Protect yourself – beauty therapy isn’t all fluff and if you happen across a cowboy you need to run a mile.

A geeks guide to makeup…

You don’t have to spend a fortune to look good nowadays. The secret is doing a bit of research and learning how to use the products properly.

How I wish we had youtube and google in my youth. If you need to learn how to apply makeup or which makeup is best – these are the places you will find your answer.

I will list my go to resources on all things pretty in no particular order.

makeup alley

makeup alley

My favorite site for reviews on beauty and skincare is without a doubt Makeup Alley. I have been a member of the site for a very long time and I always go and check out reviews on a product before purchasing. This site is better than believing the many youtube beauty “guru’s” who are often sent products for free by marketing companies. If you don’t pay for a product and you want to keep getting free stuff –it is in your own interest to be positive about the gifted product, and who doesn’t love getting free stuff?! Not ALL guru’s are dishonest but I have had enough experience with buying overhyped products that my skin hated to know to take most of what they recommend with a pinch of salt. The thing I love about makeup alley is that reviews are written by consumers who paid for the products, used the products and are honest in their opinions about the products. They have nothing to gain by being dishonest.

lisa eldridge

lisa eldridge

My favorite makeup artist who posts tutorials on youtube is Lisa Eldridge. Lisa is passionate about makeup and skincare and mixes drugstore products with high end making her looks affordable for all budgets. Her videos are clean, well edited, and very educational and her makeup looks are amazing.  She is a celebrity makeup artist so she must be doing something right! Check her out if you want to learn how to apply makeup like a pro!

rimmel makeup

RIMMEL foundation, bronzer & powder

My favourite drugstore makeup brand is Rimmel without a doubt. I use their foundation, powder, & bronzer every single day. The foundation is better than some higher end brands I have tried, and so is the pressed powder. I have also used lipsticks and mascara from this brand and liked them too. Definitely a brand I trust and have used continuously over the last 20 years. My skin is very sensitive to perfumed products or anything that might clog your skin, and Rimmel has never caused me to breakout, so if you have sensitive skin too – it might be worth checking out.

mac makeup

MAC fix+ & skin finisher

My favourite high end makeup brand is MAC.  Ahhh , how I love MAC. I first discovered the brand via youtube about 7 years ago and I instantly became obsessed. The eye shadows, mineral skin finishes,  lipsticks, fix+ spray…yes, I love them all.

mac eyeshadow

MAC eyeshadow palette

nubar polish

My nail model, “Molly” holding NUBAR Dark Plum

I must also give a shout out to my favourite nail polish brand: NUBAR. I first purchased some discounted nubar at a beauty trade show a couple of years ago and was wowed with the quality. It is so much better than OPI or china glaze in my personal experience. The colours are gorgeous and I want more of them!

So there you have it – my guide to makeup resources. I hope you find it helpful

A spa therapists salon favorites


Like our clients, every beauty therapist has treatments we love and treatments we dread.  The only difference here is that we are the ones doing the treatment, not getting it. I thought it might be an idea to mention my loves & dislikes in a blog post along with my reasons why. I am also interested in what you love and dislike in salon treatments so use the comments section below to share your thoughts!

My all time favorite treatment to do is FACIALS – I LOVE THEM. You see instant results, they are relaxing for both client and therapist and it’s an excuse for me to sit down for an hour or so. This part gets massive thumbs up from me after running up and down three flights of stairs in a busy spa all day. My preferred brand for facials is Dermalogica. I use it religiously myself and believe it is worth the hype, even if overpriced. I am also a huge fan of Comfort  Zone – they really make a spa experience special with plenty of massage and pampering extras thrown in. Last but not least is one of the first ranges I was trained with – the wonderful Yonka.  Yonka had some great products and I always saw a difference in people’s skin after using it. Apparently Madonna is a fan too.

My least favorite treatment to do at present is probably massage. Don’t get me wrong – I love massage and believe it has huge benefits to the client, and I always enjoy seeing people relax. My only reason for listing it as my least favorite treatment is because we do so many in a day and it can be exhausting.

So there you have it – a spa therapists view on salon treatments 🙂

Fake vs Natural Beauty

Fake tan. Fake smile. Fake nails. Fake hair. Tell me again how you want a real man?

Many top makeup artists will tell you that makeup should be applied to enhance, not completely cover the skin. Whilst many hate and wish to cover the splattering of freckles across their nose, or the natural rosiness to their skin; understanding how to even out skin tone using makeup rather than hide what nature gave you is key to the natural look.

panto vs natural

panto vs natural

The recent media bombardment of reality shows like “The Only Way is Essex” “Keeping up with the Kardashians” “The Real Wives of …” have pushed the more natural look out of fashion, resulting in countless women walking around with groucho marx style eyebrows, orange skin, false spider eyelashes, false breasts, false hair and makeup that would often be more suitable for a panto dame.

This is before we have even looked at the botox issue. Woman in their early twenties running around with faces that don’t move or show emotion, not to mention the more mature ladies who believe it makes them look younger therefore more beautiful. I work in an industry where I see woman before & after botox and believe me when I tell you they looked more friendly, happy & beautiful before they lost their laughter lines, and wrinkles. What’s wrong with having some character in your face?

In my personal opinion, and that is all I can offer; many woman, driven by clever marketing and hype, are spending money on making themselves look LESS attractive. How ironic.

As with most things in life “less is more”

Think about that for a moment. I can wait…

How beautiful is the glow of a natural looking tan? It’s so much prettier and healthier looking than the oompa loompa look. 419262_10151356635691852_2056776435_n

My advice to woman of all ages is to work with what you have. If you feel you need a change, try a new lipstick, change your hairstyle, eat healthier, get a glow from exercise & look after your skin properly. If you want to look more attractive, simply SMILE at people. A smile is your biggest beauty secret – trust me!

A woman is most beautiful when she smiles. Other than that, the most valuable tip I’ve learned is always use a skin moisturizer!”

I’m interested in what my readers think on this issue, whether you agree with me or not. Have you had surgery – did it improve your life? Are you a guy – do you prefer natural or “enhanced” ladies?

Well hello…


I’m Adele – a beauty therapist from sunny Belfast. I currently work in a spa doing mainly massage but have a strong geek side to me so I felt it only fitting to start a blog and engage with others who think like me 🙂

My interests are varied and constantly changing. I have a pretty short attention span but an obsessive personality, so I usually go all guns blazing into my newest hobby, give it my full attention and subsequently become bored of it within a matter of months.

My latest “fad” is my trusty filofax which I intend to put to use organising myself with blogging, working and having a social life. We shall see.

Basically this blog is primarily based on beauty but I feel that as I have diverse interests – my blog will probably follow suit. I love shopping, fashion, music, movies, etc etc…and I fully expect I’ll write about those here too. Unless you tell me not to, in which case I’ll sulk for a while and then get back to beauty.

Thank you for reading.