“ Brand: Make Up Academy / Type: Nail Varnish / Subcategory: Nail Polish / Suitable for: Nails „
I may be an overweight Mum rapidly approaching her forties but I'm immensely proud of my nails and love painting them in a range of funky colours. I've been using Barry M Instant Nail Effects to jazz up my nails for a few months now, loving the way that I can effectively double or even treble the results from my current range of paints, but was starting to find the range of colours a little restrictive. On one of my latest excursions to Superdrug looking for new base colours I chanced upon their own range of make up, namely Make Up Academy. This range of make up is incredibly cheap with prices ranging from only a £1 for standard nail varnish to £8 for an eye shadow palette. Among the nail varnishes I noticed the Nail Quake range, which featured a range of colours and appeared to be similar to the Barry M Instant Effects. There is a range of six different colours available, each costing £2.99 for 10ml, although they are currently on a three for the price of two offer meaning that they're coming in at just under £2 a bottle. As this range is in direct competition to the Barry M Instant Effects, I feel it's only fair to compare the two throughout this review.
Compared to the range of colours in the Instant Effects range, I far prefer the colours in the Quake range. Apart from the black, most of the colours in the Instant Effects range are quite garish and definitely more suited to the younger nail painter. Within the Quake range there are six shades, a pastel pink, red, purple, blue, silver and of course black. Already owning black in the Barry M version, I picked the silver (Shattered Ice), purple (Broken Arrow) and blue (Quiver). Over the last few weeks I've tried all three of these colours over a wide variety of different coloured base coats.
The varnish is contained within a fairly small rounded bottle, I must say that I do prefer the design of the Barry M, the squared bottles do look neater displayed on my cabinet. Opening each bottle is easy enough, once the seal is broken the first time, I would definitely recommend opening and then re-closing the bottle before you are ready to use it. Rather than being a nail paint that you paint on bare nails, you paint this over the top of a base colour. I find that the best results are when using a brightly coloured, contrasting base coat. Before applying this you need to ensure that your base coat is completely dry, I tend to wait at least half an hour before I begin.
As with any varnish, the bottle needs to be shaken before use and unlike the Barry M version there is no ball in the bottle to aid shaking. Opening the bottle reveals a brush in the lid, personally I feel this brush is a little small and not quite as fit for purpose as the Barry M brush. Scent-wise it smells just like any other nail varnish, if anything it has quite a low odour and is definitely kinder to the nose than Barry M. To get the best effect you need to paint a single layer over your nail, while the small brush makes this a little fiddly, I do find that the liquid is just the right consistency to get an even coating. With the Barry M version I find that it thickens quite quickly, but this is a lot runnier and it stays that way.
Once the Quake is applied it dries fairly quickly and within seconds cracks begin to appear giving what is almost a crazy paving effect, with the base colour showing through in those cracks. While the speed of drying is still relatively quick, with the first nail being dry by the time you've finished your second hand, it's not quite as quick as the Barry M version. You can vary the final effect by painting on a thicker or thinner coat. A thinner coat will give a more subtle effect with a fine lace of cracks, while a thicker coat will give a more dramatic look with larger blocks of the top coat and more of the base colour showing. Which looks better depends on which combination of colours you use.
I find the silver is more suited to a thin coat and looks especially good over darker or more vivid colours. My favourite colour to team this up with is a very bright lime green and by applying a very thin layer I can turn a bright, garish colour into something a lot more sophisticated and subtle. In contrast, the purple works best applied in a thicker layer to give a dramatic effect and works best over lighter colours. My favourite colour to apply this over is a lemon yellow, where it gives an excellent look for clubbing. I'm not so keen on the blue and while like the purple it looks best over lighter colours, it's a very wishy-washy colour and simply doesn't look as good as either the silver or purple and so I don't use it very often. No matter which colour combination I use I find that it does slightly mattify the finish and always finish off with a glossy top coat that not only renews the shine but also helps prevent chipping.
Even with a top coat this varnish does make the nail feel a little bumpy (which is something that my toddler loves to feel), this does make putting stockings on more of a challenge as I find they do snag. I wouldn't say this varnish makes my nails any more or less prone to chipping, but it certainly does make minor chips less noticeable, meaning that I can go an extra day before needing to redo them. Unlike the Barry M Instant Effects this is no harder to remove than normal varnish.
All in all the Make Up Academy Quake range is pretty reasonable. With two out of the three colours I've tried I've had excellent results, it's cheaper than the Barry M equivalent, easier to apply and I feel the colours available are a little more sophisticated. At only £2.99 a bottle (which lasts for ages) I really can't see any reason why anyone who wants to try something new with their nails shouldn't try this. With a little practise you'll get results that you previously thought were only available in a nail salon. So I'm giving the Make Up Academy Quake four stars out of five, with it losing that one star simply because the blue is not as good as the other colours.