Gel-ous of my fab manicure? Get your own!

Occasionally, you come across one of those items that is both fabulously exciting AND virtually guaranteed to save you money. These finds are most certainly of the sublime variety and today I’m serving one up to you, sweet readers: the DIY at home gel nail polish kit.

DIY gel nail polish kits have been slowly seeping their way into being readily available in the Australian market over the last year or so, but buying colours off-the-shelf remains difficult. For those not familiar with the technology, gel nail polish (by nature if not by name… shellac falls into this category) is basically a blend of UV-cured and regular nail polish that sets under an ultra violet light to form a hard, glossy, fabulous finish that’s completely dry, lasts up to two weeks (even more on your toes!) and DOESN’T CHIP. *gasp!*

Shiny Glossy Gel Polish Nails!Shiny glossy gel nails! (With stripey nail-art! That’s a whole other post!)

Your local mani-pedi place has been offering this service for a while, likely with a +$20 per set fee, bringing your gel mani-pedi to a rock hard price of between $60 and $100. However now you can have a full setup at home, for the price of around 40 salon nails (two-ish mani-pedi’s… $160). How does this black magic work? Essentially it’s paint and set, baby. Each nail is painted, like normal, with a (clear) base coat then set under the UV lamp. Next, a coat of colour then under the UV lamp. Repeat colour coat + UV lamp for richer colour or more coverage. Then top coat… and you guessed it… set under the uv lamp!

UV light Gel Nail settingGetting my UV set on!

Nails can be a bit tacky afterwards, so most packs will include an alcohol based spray that can be used with a makeup wipe to remove any residue. Then voila! Glorious, glossy gel nails! Terrific tips for perfect paws: There are a few tricks. To save the trial and error, I’ll give them to you straight.

  1. Very lightly buff your nail and wipe your nails prior to starting.
  2. Be very careful to paint only on your nail, not the cuticle or the sides of your nails. As the polish sets in one piece, any coat that lands outside the nail bed becomes a spot likely to lift and ruin your mani early. Your kit will likely come with a little stick like this one (Pic) to wipe off any polish prior to putting your paws under the light.
  3. Avoid thick coats – the polish may not set in the time allotted by your lamp and is more likely to peel!
  4. When setting your coats under the lamp, take four fingers of one hand and the thumb of the other. Fingers and thumb of the same hand won’t sit properly under the UV light.
  5. Never everrrrr peel off your colour. Resist, my pretties, or your nail bed will peril!! Gel polish comes off when soaked in an acetone based remover. Kits are readily available, but essentially you can put your regular acetone-based remover on a cotton ball and secure it to your nail (with alfoil/tape/mini bandage) for 10-15 mins, then the polish will lift off in one or more pieces. Alternatively, you can put some cotton balls soaked in your acetone-based remover into a small bowl and rest your nails on them for removal. Or, my new fast track method… try this: Gel Polish Removal The acetone is obviously a downside to this shebang. Remember to treat your cuticles to some cuticle-oily goodness to make up for the madness.
  6. The other downside is that the UV lamp is essentially a teeny, tiny, barbie-sized tanning bed. Allegedly “studies” have shown that the risk is of cancer is equally teeny, tiny – but not risk free. To protect yourself, don a pair of these stylish mitts or use sunscreen.

Gimme, gimme, where do I get one? 

  • This blogger procured Sephora’s OPI gelshine kit but rumour has it it’s likely to be discontinued. SEPHORA gelshine lampI’ve used Sephora’s gelshine colours with it, OPI Gel Color colours and the odd shellac colour in between OPI base and top coats. I believe you’re pretty right to mismatch your polish brand with lamp brand, but probs best sticking to the same brand of colour and top and base coats.
  • Priceline are stocking the OPALLAC starter kit for $99, it’s receiving great reviews so far:OPALLAC starter kit
  • Beware any lamps that only fit one finger! They are out there, but it will obviously take you seventeen hours to do your nails.
  • Lots of brand-new gel polishes are available via eBay. I’ve had success via that medium, they usually ship out of the USA.
  • Last but most of all… the messiah of all things gel nails is gel-nails.com. They stock squillions of brands, gazillions of colours and ship to Australia in as little as 10 days! (Remember you may need a US to AUS power adaptor to get your lamp working.) Be careful if choosing a LED lamp that isn’t necessarily a UV lamp. A UV lamp will set all gel polishes, but an LED lamp will only set LED-compatible polishes

The upshot: gel’s the future and the future is now! A purchase of an at-home kit will likely prove to be an addictive product for those who like classy claws. Meeeeow!

♥ AS

What’s your experience with gel polish? Have a favourite brand or colour? Tell us below! 

Your loyalty rewarded! Or is it?

Lovely readers, today we unpack the facts around Australian customer loyalty programs, and figure out where the real rewards lie. Some are sublime finds! And some (as JS would say) “are what we call the honey-pot”.

Obviously, retailers implement loyalty programs for a reason. The data is solid; customers in loyalty programs shop more. A 2012 research report into Australian customer loyalty programs told us this:

  1. 80% of us will buy more from a company whose loyalty program we are a part of.
  2. 88% of us (93% of women!) belong to a loyalty program or programs.
  3. But less than half of us (45%) will feel loyal to the company because of it.
  4. And less than half of us (45% again) present our loyalty card or collect the benefits when making a purchase.
  5. On average, men are members of 3.3 programs and women 4.7. But men are more loyal than women!
  6. 11% of people are members of more than 10 loyalty programs. (100% of authors of this blog are members of more than 10 loyalty programs).

So who’s got the deals? There are plenty of stores who are verrrry happy to take your details and monitor your shopping habits but do not offer a clear rewards program in return (*ahem* Cue *ahem*). The best of the rest are below!

Straightforward Loyalty (easy to understand, sublime finds!): 

  • Saba gives their VIPs 10% off full-price purchases (10% reward) logo-main
  • Sportscraft offers VIPs 10% off every time you shop (10% reward)
  • No vouchers here, but those in the Ikea ‘family’ enjoy reduced prices on select products, free insurance to cover your journey home, super deals in the Ikea restaurant and the regular 90 day warranty extended to 12 months.
Sublime-ish honey-pots (easy to understand, rewards for returning):
  • Boost Juice gives Vibe Club members one point for each Boost purchased. When you’ve got 10 points you get a free Boost! + a freebie on your birthday
  • AdornemeCinebuzz offers a movie of the week for $10 and a points system that preeeettty much gives you a movie free after every ten you attend (10% reward).
  • Sussan rewards VIPs with a $50 voucher for every $500 spent in store (10% reward)
  • Adorne offers 1 point for each dollar spent, $10 voucher after you’ve racked up $100 (10% reward)
  • GuzmanYGomez offers GOMEX members 1 point for every $1 spent, 150 points earns you a $10 voucher (6.6% reward)GOMEX
  • David Lawrence offers 1 point for every $1 you spend, 1000 points gets you a $50 gift card (5% reward)
  • Kikki-K offers a 10% discount to students
  • The FlyBuys program offers 1 point for every $1 spent with the opportunity to cash in your points on a range of rewards

More spend = more rewards (honey-pot!):

Wittner Wittner
Wittner offers members of their VIP Soul Club one point for every $5 spent in store. If you rack up 45 points ($225) in a year you’ll earn 10% off all purchases. 200 points ($1000) gets you 15% off purchases and a $15 birthday voucher, 300 points ( $1500) attracts 20% off and a $20 gift voucher.

ReviewReview
Review’s loyalty program rewards customers for their purchases that month with a voucher valid for the following month. Spend between $29 and $149 attract a $15 voucher, Over $250 gets a $25 voucher, over $500 gets a $50 voucher and over $1000 gets a $100 voucher. As a Review loyal you’ll also get a $20 voucher for your birthday, 25% off Looksmart Alterations and invites to exclusive events (with cupcakes!).

MimcoMimco
The MIMCOLLECTIVE (snappy name, Mimco!) rewards in-one-transaction purchases of $200-$499 with a $20 voucher, purchase of $500-$699 with a $50 voucher and purchases over $700 with a $100 voucher. Should you become a Mimcollective you will also enjoy one complimentary leather care with a handbag purchase, an extra 5% off during the start of major sales and a $30 voucher on your birthday!

WitcheryWitchery
Witchery rewards it’s loyalty members with a $20 voucher on their birthday and shopping credits loaded to their witchery card according to the amount spent in store (in one transaction). Rewards are $15 for $150 (10% reward), $30 for $250 (12%) and $100 for $500 (20%, dang!). Rewards expire after 30 days and can’t be earned on lay-bys.

Priceline Priceline
Priceline’s Sister Club rewards “sisters” (bleugh and what about the bros?) with a $3 voucher for every $100 (3%) spent in the preceding quarter and a $8 voucher for every $200 spent (4%). Despite it’s babysitters-club-esque name, this rewards program feels worth it. You don’t have to break the budget to be rewarded, and even though the rewards are modest, it’s always enough to buy SOMETHING in Priceline. Source prescriptions and medicines at a Priceline pharmacy and the rewards can really stock up!

Myer MyerOne
Perhaps the most popular rewards program out, Myer One members are rewarded with 2 points for every $1 spent in Myer. 2000 points earns you a $20 gift card (2% reward), delivered each quarter. Members receive Myer’s Emporium magazine free with their purchase (just ask for your copy at the counter). Those with Silver or Gold Membership ($1500 and $6000 annual spend respectively) also receive a birthday voucher and invites to exclusive events (some with canapés! And champagne!).

The upshot: There is money to be saved with alllll of the above loyalty programs. But! Some are easier to access than others. Shop smart, sublime seekers and may your loyalty be rewarded!

♥AS

What loyalty programs do you get the most benefit out of? What stores do you wish would come to the party with a rewards program?