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It was for my birthday in the summer that I received a small item from the "Andrea Fulerton Nail Boutique" range from my sister as part of my birthday treats. The item is a dual-ended nail varnish kit, namely the "Mock Croc" kit and this review outlines my experiences of using the product.
I hadn't seen the item before receiving it as a gift and so I wasn't sure where it could be purchased from. A quick look online tells me that it is available to buy in Superdrug, and it also appears on their website, costing around the £8 mark plus postage costs.
Boxed in a cardboard package, the Mock Croc kit comprises a long and slender cylindrical design that feels surprisingly heavy. There are two small 'bottles' of nail varnish contained in the kit, one at each end of the cylindrical product. To explain this a little better, the item is basically a double-ended nail polish kit, with the two separate bottles being attached to a plastic section in the middle. This plastic section acts as a 'lid' for each of the two glass bottles at either end, whilst giving you somewhere to hold and handle the product during its use.
The idea behind the kit is to apply the two products separately, one on top of the other as directed on the box provided. The end result will give fashionable nails that have a 'croc' design across their surface. Patterned nails have really came back into fashion in the past year or so and I have used various products with this type of purpose during this time, from alternative brands. I was keen to see how the Andrea Fulerton Nail Boutique item fared in comparison.
Firstly, I find the 'undercoat' varnish (for want of a better term!) to be of a very good quality. The colour is a pale gold shade that has an attractive metallic sheen to its hue. I find this shade is really pretty, but I do have to admit that I don't like wearing it on its own. I find the sheen to the varnish is rather too bright for my own tastes as I do prefer to wear dark-coloured shades on my fingernails. This is down to personal choice of course, and some consumers may find they favour the golden shade by itself when worn on their own nails, but it doesn't really suit my own style to be honest.
This golden-coloured undercoat is intended to be the 'base' of your finished nail design, which will effectively be made up of two different layers, one from each of the two products supplied. I find that the undercoat doesn't chip or rub off the nail particularly easily, and it always lasts quite well on my nails, providing at least five days of wear before starting to wear off. Even then, it only really wears down at the fingernails' tips, and I do find I can do a bit of a 'touch up' repair job that will allow for an extra day or two of wear.
The correct application method is to apply this base coat first and leave it to dry completely. I find this base coat can take a good ten minutes before I am confident there is no 'tacky' feeling to the nails surface and I feel confident enough to start on the second product in the kit. In actual fact, I will often chose to apply the base coat one evening and leave the application of the second product until the following day. This way, I can be completely confident that the base coat is completely dry and isn't going to mess with the end result as a result of being tacky. I do find the drying time of the base coat to be slightly longer than most nail varnish products that I use regularly, but not excessively so.
I do find that applying the base coat is fairly straightforward and I feel that the liquid varnish is of a high enough quality to coat the surface of my nails with ease. I don't find that I need to keep going over the same areas repeatedly which is something I find can often be the case with polish that is of a poor quality. The brush for the product is fairly well made in my opinion, and it glides easily over the nail providing a rather flawless end result. I don't find there is anything cheap or of poor quality in terms of either the brush or the liquid product itself.
The second product provided in the kit is called the "Croc Coat" and this is completely jet black in colour. The instructions provided on the packaging advise painting this top coat over the base colour, but only once it has completely dried, of course! You are advised to paint the top coat on very quickly and NOT to repaint.
I have mixed reactions where the top coat of the product is concerned. Firstly, I find that I must work VERY quickly when applying the top coat as it starts to create a 'crackle' like effect almost immediately that gradually turns into the croc effect and then dries. True, there is ample warning to this effect printed on the products packaging but I wasn't quite prepared for how quickly the product would begin to work, and this meant that my first few attempts at using the product were largely unsuccessful, causing mistakes and unsightly 'blotching' that meant I had to remove the colours (both coats) and start over again... rather annoying, to say the least. The plus side of this 'quick-acting effect' of course is that the ability to work quickly is usually a plus point or benefit of most products - particularly one aimed at nail colour/art, so perhaps I am being slightly over critical here. Whilst I like to save time as much as the next person however, it should be noted that there is literally NO room for error with this product - do it super quickly, or prepare for a horrible end result, basically!
I find the application of the top coat to be quite fiddly too... The black liquid is very thick, and whilst it is beneficial to have it drying so quickly once applied, I do find that even during the process of brushing it onto my fingernails, it is already beginning to dry. This means that the product cannot really be 'spread' over the nail's surface in the way that normal nail polish can, and this makes the process slightly more time consuming than normal... not great, when you know you have to work very quickly.
I find the 'croc' effect takes only moments to appear but I have to say that the end result is really only favourable some of the time. I find that there is always at least one fingernail that just doesn't look right, or doesn't match the other four on my hand and this annoys me to the point of redoing that one nail. This is obviously inconvenient and time consuming. I've no real idea why the product works only MOST of the time and not on every occasion as my application technique is obviously the same throughout. I don't think I've ever applied the product to both hands and not had to re-do at least two nails of the ten though.
The plus side is that the nails that HAVE worked out look very pretty, and the shiny gold base coat really offers the perfect base for the croc effect top coat. I always get compliments on my nails when I have used this kit, and have to admit that they are quite eye catching and pretty. What a shame that the result isn't particularly easy to achieve...!
It may be the case that the black top coat can be used with alternative nail colours but to be honest I haven't tried this for two reasons. Firstly, I find the shiny gold hue of the base coat provided is the perfect base for the croc effect and it offers such a lovely contrast that is quite striking. Secondly, all of the other nail polish products that I own are very dark shades such as red, burgundy, wine and purple, and I just don't think a product like this works as well in providing such an attractive contrast when used on top of such dark shades. When using a product like this one, I always find the end result to be more attractive when pale and dark colours are used alongside each other, providing the perfect, striking contrast.
In summary then, I do feel the product is pretty and it does make a nice stocking filler. I have to be honest however and admit that I have used much better 'Nail Effect' products that are far superior to this Andrea Fulerton one that feels quite 'fiddly' and is certainly less convenient than some of the similar products that I have used in the past. Furthermore, I find the kit is quite expensive given the size of the small bottles provided. On the plus side, I find the end result is very effective and quite attractive, although I do feel disappointed that the results are not always so positive, and some results are more hit and miss. Taking everything into account, I feel I can really only award the product with a two star rating.