Chubby never looked so good!

Short, sweet and good news today, gang! I was cruising over at The Style Insider recently and came across a VERY welcome discovery! Clinique have released a new range of their now-famous chubby sticks… in INTENSE colours!

The Chubby stick originally rose to fame for it’s innovative lipstick design, delivering their new product in a crayon-like shape dubbed the ‘chubby stick’. Packed with shea butter and marketed as a ‘moisturising lip balm’, Clinique’s original range of colours were quite sheer. But not this latest batch… the new colours pack a punch! Available in eight mostly-great shades, there’s a bold lip for everybody:

cliniquechubbystickintense swatches

After hearing the intense news (see what I did there?), I wasted no time on hotfooting it to my closest Clinique counter to smear chubby stick all over the back off my left hand in exaggerated testing of every colour. They did not disappoint! I settled on Plushest Punch as my pick! Here’s a peek:

Chubby Stick Sublime Finds

I’ll be honest; I’ve always felt a teeny bit clumsy with a lippy in my hand… and I feel way more ‘in control’ with a crayon! (Perhaps this is the real reason I’m also in love with Revlon’s Kissable Balm Stains which are in the crayon-shape too.) Either way, the chubby stick is suuuper easy to use and now Clinique really do offer a great range of colours! I’m thrilled to get a true lipstick look in the easy-enough-for-kindergarten-kids-to-use design.

I want one! 

Ok! Your quickest route is to your local Clinique Counter at Myer/DJ’s/Mecca Cosmetica or online from Clinique where you’ll pick one up for $35. If you’re happy to wait a little, try strawberrynet.com where you’ll pick one up for $23. If you’re happy to wait a little longer again or have some other online purchases you’ve been deliberating over… consider including it with your freight forwarding order ’cause you’ll get one for $17USDs outa the States from Sephora! (Sidebar: MAJOR “squeeeeee!” for Sephora coming to Australia! Let’s cross our fingers and toes they come with USA pricing!!)

I am a strong believer that a bold lip is a good pick-me-up! Moisture + bold + crayon-shape = winning!

♥AS

Tried the chubby stick? What did you think?

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! 

All hail the USA! Freight-forwarding at its best.

Despite the Aussie dollar falling, American shopping still has bucket loads to offer in terms of good value.  See that “Change Country” button in the corner of the website? Nominate the USA instead of Australia and you’ll quickly discover the price we pay for our wide open spaces on this pretty island we live on in the corner of the world… we can’t compete with the northern hemisphere’s economies of scale and subsequently suffer a mark-up of up to 200% (or more! Wah!).

Dubious? Spot the difference:

MAC USA    MAC Australia

ASICS USA ASICS Australia

Dang, that pink sole and lining sure be worth an extra $105 in Australia. *sniffle*

Even if you’re on the very noble support-local-industry bandwagon and don’t mind paying a smidge more, in lots of ways we struggle for the variety our Yankee friends enjoy. A quick flick around sites like Sephora and Zappos makes our options look minimal.

Which brings us to another issue with Australian shopping: the stuff us Aussie’s Just. Can’t. Get. Heard of C. Wonder? Did someone say H&M (which the entire-rest-of-the-world enjoys… did we offend you H&M)? And the one particularly close to my bleeding heart… kate spade. A visit to the FAQs to read “we currently don’t ship internationally” quickly turns this blogger’s eyes from blue to an envious green.

So what’s a dame to do?

The answer of the rich-and-famous is surely a quick jaunt to NYC to stock up supplies. The answer of the less-rich-not-famous is ask an American friend to help out. Don’t have any USA-dwelling friends? Me either. But I got myself a freight forwarder, and I’m pretty sure she’s better anyway!

Might I present to you one of my most bedazzled and sublime finds of all time, Parcel It On.

It works like this:

1) Shop online (on your fave US websites) ’til your beady eyes bleed.

2) When you find something(s) that you simply must have either

a) order it online and have it delivered to Parcel it On’s New Jersey address and email them a copy of your order confirmation to let them know it’s on the way OR

b) if you can’t shop with an Australian credit card or paypal, send the link to Parcel It On who will make the purchase on your behalf!

3) When your fab finds arrive, you’ll receive an email with shipping and insurance options to Australia (there’s lots at different price points and speeds). There are modest fees associated (all outlined on their website, here) and everything is paid via PayPal.

The amazing Lyka at Parcel It On is (literally) the top of my Christmas card list. She has sent countless packages to JS and me, all with super fast turnarounds. I trust her so much that if I’ve got something I need to move super fast (like a fabulous hand-made Swarovski crystal necklace ordered the week before one’s wedding) I have sent her money before she even receives my goods (which she received, on-forwarded to me and arrived with FOUR WHOLE DAYS to spare, a near impossible feat!).

So savvy shoppers, with the help of freight-forwarding, the USA’s online marketplace is your shopping-oyster. Get shucking!

♥ AS

Used a freight forwarder before? What American goodies would you love to be able to get here? Tell us below!