By some miracle, my usually "too short to do anything but buy fake tips" nails have managed to grow into a reasonable state over the summer! I was delighted about this, but wanted to protect them as well as "make the most of them", so decided to invest in some new polishes and bits and bobs in order to do this.
I am a huge fan of the look of a French manicure; I think not only does it make even pretty short nails look elegant and attractive, but it helps to keep nails looking "clean", as well as goes with more or less any outfit and is suitable for just about any situation. Having said that, as a former "fake tips only" nail person, who also tends to suffer occasionally from shaky hands, I was less than confident in my ability to be able to re-create this look by myself at home! Armed with more optimism than expectation, I took my trusty "Advantage card" into Boots to try to find a kit that would help me to achieve the desired results!
This kit comes in a few different guises with slightly different shades and packaging. The one I opted for is described on my receipt as "natural", although there isn't any shade referencing on the box that I could find! It is comprised of 3 polishes; 13.3ml of "Acrylic strong, protecting base & top coat" in a typical nail polish glass bottle with a screw lid and brush (this is clear in colour), 13.3ml glass bottle of a pale pink polish described as "Hard & Healthy French manicure", and a 2.9ml "White Tip French Tip Pen". It also inclueds a sheet of adhesive nail guides, which essentially are curved, sticky pieces of shiny white paper, intended to make applying the white tips neatly easier. For some reason you get 42 of these little "guides", which seems rather an unusual number to choose but I suppose there is some logic in the company's thinking somewhere! The whole kit is contained in one cardboard box with a clear plastic front to enable you to clearly see the contents of the kit before purchase (except for the nail guides which are hiding behind the rest of the stuff in the box!)
I paid £9.69 for the kit in Boots, although it was part of a "3 for 2" offer, and I also received a couple of £5 off vouchers when I used my Advantage card (for fragrances and the No.7 collection), so I felt this was a fairly reasonable price for the contents of the kit with all the "bonuses" thrown in on top!
-USING THE KIT-
The main reason that I opted for this kit over the many others available was the fact that the white polish in the kit comes in the form of a pen, which in theory makes application a lot easier and helps even a novice such as myself to achieve a "professional" finish. After applying the clear base coat, which was a little bit runnier than polishes I am used to, but easy enough to open use and came with a decent sized brush, I "prepped the pen" as per the instructions on the box by holding upside down, pointing onto a piece of scrap paper and pressing the tip into the pen for 30 seconds. This sounds easy, and it was, once I had located the tip to replace in the pen as this mysteriously flew off across the floor without my noticing when I pulled the cap off the pen! The tip is made of a "stiff sponge" type material, reminiscent of highlighter pens, and it was fairly easy to see where the polish was saturating the nib of the pen. The nib itself is shaped a lot like those found on chunky type highlighters...a sort of "wedge" shape.
On my first hand, I decided to have a go at doing the tips without the guides, as I had watched a few youtube videos about French manicures before I set out to do this, and those mentioned that some people actually find "free-handing" easier than using the guides. I simply turned the pen until the wedge tip lined up with my nail, then (again following advice found online), dragged my nail under the pen rather than moving the pen in order to draw the white tip onto my nail. This was fairly easy to do, although I did have a couple of slightly wiggly lines at first these were only very slight and I guesstimate I only had to "go over" the white bit of my actual nail by less than 1mm to correct it into a better line. The first coat goes on quite streaky, although I expected this as the instructions with the kit do state to apply 2 coats of the white to the tips of the nail.
I left the first coat to dry for approximately 5mins before attempting to do the second coat. For some reason I found this a fair bit trickier than applying the first coat. I am not sure whether this was because there was less polish left on the tip of the pen (so I pressed it in again upside down as to prep it to put a bit more on it), or whether the surface of the nail was less smooth having had the first coat of polish applied, but I did find this a bit of a challenge to do! The pen seemed to "drag" a little bit against the first coat of polish, and actually slightly scratched off the first coat in a few small patches.
Being a novice, on the first nail I tried to correct this by pressing the tip in again whilst on the nail (don't do this...you get a "blob" of polish which is then difficult to spread out evenly, and I actually ended up having to take all the polish off this nail with nail varnish remover and start again from scratch on this nail!). My second attempt at correction was to "re-prep" the pen, and this did seem to work to some extent, but I still found it quite difficult to get a smooth and even finish on the nail with the second coat of white.
For the second hand, I did use the nail guides. These were a bit of a swine to peel from the backing paper, as they are pretty small and thin, and haven't been cut apart all that well, so as you try to peel away one sticker, two or three others try to come with it, which leads to a bit of fiddling about as you try to seperate one sticker from the others without ripping it! Once I had one sticker, it was fairly easy to apply to the nail just under the natural "white bit" of my nail to mask off the area next to where I would be using the pen. The one thing I would mention about the guides though is that they are all identical, whereas obviously my nails are not. This meant that while the curve of the sticker fit some nails beautifully, on others (particularly smaller nails such as my little fingernail), the curve didn't really curve enough and left a fairly straight-ish line across the nail which wasn't really what I was hoping for. I think in some ways it may even have been better to just have a straight sticker, as then at least all nails would have a uniform line, but as it was, some nails had a fairly natural cirve whereas others were almost straight.
I proceeded to use the pen with pretty much the same "lack of ease of use" as on the first hand, waited for the polish to dry, then removed the guides. To be honest, the result I got on the hand without the guides was a fair bit better than that on the one with....partly because of the shape of the curv/not curve, but also because on a couple of nails the polish had seemed to "collect" against the edge of the sticker, leaving a fairly obvious "ridge" between one side of the white tip and the other side. This wasn't even an "ending line" where no polish met polish, but more of a "mini hillock" between the two areas!
Once I was not entirely happy, but felt that I had achieved the best tips I was likely to be able to get, I moved on to applying the pink polish. As with the base coat, the bottle was easy enough to open with a decent sized brush, with the usual odour of nail polishes, but again I found the polish looked very runny...whilst I had assumed that the base coat was runny as it was intended as a base coat, I was a little bit concerned to see the consistency of the coloured polish, but thought (as a novice), that this was perhaps not only because the polish had to go over a white tip, so maybe runnier wouldn't distort the white so much, but also as when you do a French manicure you have a fair few layers of polish, perhaps this was to minimise the thickness of polish on the nail? A little anxious but hopeful, I carried on!
In the bottle, the pink looks quite subtle, very similar to the pink of my natural nail, but when I put it onto my nail I must admit I was less than ecstatic about the outcome; the polish went on VERY streakily for a start; I don't claim in any way to be a nail expert, but the way this polish went onto my nail it actually looked as though there were as many as 2-3 different shades of pink on the nail, some bits considerably more pink than others. I wasn't too put off by this though as again the kit said to apply two coats of polish at this stage, so I hoped the second coat would even this out. It didn't. If anything, not only was the streakiness still very visible, but the overall effect looked even worse, as the pink was so pink it made the white tips look a bit odd...the shade they went I can only really describe as "6yr old girl going to a party"...it was almost a "bubblegum" pink, it made the white a very childish colour and I really was not at all happy with this result, so yet again I took all the polish off poor nail number one and had to start doing this one again from scratch!
I decided not to apply 2 coats of the pink to the other nails, as I was so unhappy with the way that had looked, but at the same time I didn't want to settle for the awful streaky nature of the nail finish either! After a few minutes of sitting glumly and thinking, I remembered that I had a Rimmel Lasting Finish polish in "Icing Sugar" (a beigey-nude shade), and decided to try to apply this in the place of the second coat of pink, to try to even out the streakiness and also tone down what I thought was, even with one coat, a bit of a childish pink for someone in their 30s such as myself! I am happy to say this worked beautifully; the Rimmel polish did exactly as I had hoped and I ended up with a nice pearly and pretty even finish to the nail...I guess all is well that ends well, but at the same time, I must say I was disappointed to have to "add to" the kit with some of my own supplies in order to get what I felt was an alright looking finish.
Although I was eventually able to obtain a finish which looks acceptable from around 10inches away, this was not at all easy and I really felt a bit let down not only by how tricky the pen seemed to make things, but also by the quality and colour of the other polishes in the kit. Despite my inital hopes regarding the pen, I honestly think it made things worse rather than better, and in future I would definitely not opt for this kit, preferring to "take my chances" with freehanding polish applied with a brush! On some of the nails I used the guides on, even after my attempt at salvage, the "hillocks" remained visible and made it look as if I had great big cracks in my nails.
On the positive side, the end result did last well (although bear in mind it had a Rimmel Lasting Touch polish under a top coat, so whether this was the kits' polishes lasting or the Rimmel, I can't be sure..!)
There is an option on the back of the box to return to base if you are not happy for a refund, but as the mailing address to do this is in the USA, I feel this would be a waste of time and money as it would probably cost almost as much to return as I may receive back!
I definitely wouldn't purchase this kit again, nor would I recommend it. I would even go so far as to say it has put me off the Nailene brand in general!
I tend to do my manicures myself, yet I always find that my tips aren't as straight across the nail as I'd like them to be. Usually they would be thicker at one end and although unnoticeable to others, I knew it was there and it bugged me. So I went to my local drug store to have a look for something that could help. (Bear in mind, I do use the tip guides aswell! They didn't help!) I think I paid about £8 for this product, I'd never seen anything like it before and after looking for a variation on product/price, found that this was the only thing available. So I bought it and took it home for my week long trial.
The kit includes a top coat, a sort of very pale pink varnish, tip guides and the pen itself. Firstly, the pink, I was very disappointed with this. I put a couple of coats on, left it to dry and you couldn't even tell I had it on. No colour shows up whatsoever. So definately not going to use that again. The top coat is just as you would expect it to be.
The pen, however, the main selling point of this kit, was not as I had hoped for. I found the varnish too runny and watery. Obviously I understand that to come out of the pen it has to be a thinner consistency than most varnishes, but this just sort of spilled out, and really fast as well. Surely if this is supposed to be mistake proof, it would be easier to control? The colour was good though, very white and provided good coverage. It went where I wanted it to most of the time. All I can say is thank god I had a tip guide on!
Out of all this kit, I would only really use the top coat and the nail guides again. I don't think this is value for money at all which is really disappointing. I wouldn't reccommend this.
When I decided a few weeks ago to grow my nails long after several years of not bothering, I went out and bought myself various nail polishes to provide me with some motivation to keep going. One of the items I purchased was this Hard & Healthy French Tip Pen Kit from Nailene.
I love the look of a French manicure but I've never managed to perfect the look on my own nails. My main problem is applying the white polish to my nail tips in an even and uniform manner. Usually, my nails look as if I've painted them while intoxicated, since they always result in decidedly uneven edges. Of course, being white, attention is drawn even more to the tips, so a steady hand is needed.
I decided to have another go at the French manicure because this kit makes use of a pen for the tips rather than polish. I imagined how much easier it would be simply drawing on the white tip instead of using a brush.
~~~What it Promises~~~
This French Manicure kit promises professional salon results with a 'mistake proof pen'. Just what I needed. It says you can achieve perfect white nail tips and it's can be used on fingers and toes.
~~~What's in the kit~~~
Each box contains one nail whit pen, 1 pale pink base colour, 1 clear top coat and 42 nail tip guides. There is an ingredients list on the back of the box which is 14 lines long in tiny printing and contains lots of complex looking chemicals.
~~~Instructions for Use~~~
There are 2 easy steps to follow.
Step 1: Before anything else, you have to shake the pen actively where you hear a little clicking noise. Next you take the lid off and press down onto a piece of paper or hard surface to ensure the pen tip becomes soaked in polish.
If you are using the nail guides, you peel these off and apply them to your nails. Then you apply two coats of the white polish to your nail tips. Once they're dry, gently peel off the guides.
Step 2: Paint 2 coats of base colour polish over the entire nail, allowing each coat to dry. Finally cover with the top coat.
The first time I used the French manicure I decided not to use the nail guides. The box suggests use of the guides is optional, so I opted out.
The tip of the pen is like a felt tip pen, only instead of pointed, it's flat. After successfully soaking the end of the felt tip pen I proceeded to paint the ends of my nails. This isn't as easy as it sounds. I fared better when using my right hand to pain the left hand nails, seeing as I'm right handed. Still, it was impossible for me to paint in nice neat half moons. My right hand nails came off even worse, as I expected. I tried to even them up, but only ended up painting half the nails white instead of the tips. Also, you do need to be careful not to let too much polish soak into the pen tip as you can end up with large blobs of polish on the ends of your nails.
After I'd tidied the ends up a bit, I painted on the 2 coats of base polish. This is miles easier. It glides on fabulously well and it doesn't mater if you paint all over the place, because it's skin coloured, you don't notice it. Finally, the top coat glides on just as well as the base coat.
The next time I used the nail guides. Although the polish went on a lot straighter, you do need to make sure none gets underneath the guides, as happened to me. You then have to scrape off all the excess. But I'd definitely use the guides every time now as it does provide a more professional look. And when you run out, you can buy packets of the guides in stores that stock Nailene products.
My French manicure starts to chip on the second day which is quite annoying. But I do a lot of cleaning and stuff which I should probably wear gloves and therefore my polish would last longer I'm sure.
So overall, I can't say I think the pen makes it any easier applying the white polish. It's certainly not 'mistake proof' as claimed on the box which is a shame (unless you have a very stead hand of course). However, they are mistakes that can be corrected with a bit of time and effort.
If you're going to do a French manicure, make sure you do it well, because your nails do attract attention. And it takes quite a long time overall to finish applying all the coats, so if you want it to last, treat your nails carefully.
You'll find a wide range of Nailene products in branches of Boots the Chemist and the French Nail manicure kit is priced around £8.00.
Get perfect white tips for a French manicure /