Beauty Review: Essence Gel Base & Top Coat

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Look at me! I’m doing a beauty review! I  must be, like,  bonafide blogger now, right?? Well, no. Unlike most people who post these things, I don’t actually have a clue what I’m talking about. My approach to beauty is largely like my approach to fashion – I see something, I think it’s pretty and I hope for the best. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy it. I love trying out new beauty products as much as I love a stunning pair of shoes. Things is though, I’m just not the type of person to wear something just because everyone else on Instagram is, so my knowledge is based simply on trial and error. And I’ll let you in on a little secret – I think it’s probably more fun that way. Surely no-one really has time for contouring and all that jazz?? Anyway, since I don’t really have any pearls of wisdom to share on the matter I’ve never really thought to write a review of something. I’ve only ever written one beauty post before, here, and let’s face it, I was largely taking the mick. Recently though, a realisation dawned on me – clueless people like me actually need these things, because it saves us the bother of wasting our time splurging on something we’ll never get the hang of! And so, my first beauty review is born!!

I’m kicking off in an area I’m exceptionally lazy in – my nails. Nail polish was one of my first beauty favourites – as kids my sister and I loved nothing more than to head to the Birmingham Rag Market on a Saturday with 50p burning a hole in our pockets and buy ourselves a new garish shade. At one point we had so many that when we lined them all up they measured almost all of the living room wall! But then I started working in the hospitality industry and wasn’t able to paint my nails, so any chance there was of me developing a habit of taking care of them properly went right out of the window. These days they are always painted, but that is more out of necessity that anything else, because they look so shabby naked! You would think this might mean I’d made a sensible investment and purchased a UV lamp so that the need to paint them so often was reduced? Nope. There are just so many other things I could buy with that money – like glittery shoes for example – and I’ve built up such a collection of ordinary polishes that the idea of trading them all in and starting again with gel ones makes me feel all funny.

You can imagine my excitement, then, when a friend of mine told me she’d found an amazing new product that worked just like a gel polish and kept her nails chip free for 2 weeks! Ever the bargain hunter, you can guess how much my excitement levels rose when she told me this two polish system – which consists of a base coat and a top coat – came from Wilkinsons – YES, WILKINSONS – and cost just £2.50 each! 2 weeks of chip free nails for just £5? I was already sold. Still – this would have been a very long and pointless post if I hadn’t decided to take the time to review it properly for you, would it? So without further ado, here we go….

In case you hadn’t noticed from my posts over the last month or so, I’m a big glitter fan and Christmas just isn’t Christmas to me without a generous helping of glitter on my nails. Glitter nail polish can be a pain in the backside though. For starters, it sets like cement, and believe me, you’ll shred at least 6 cotton pads trying to get it off! The best kind of glitter polishes also unfortunately don’t feel all that nice to the touch – if it has a generous enough helping in there, it’s likely to feel akin to sandpaper once it’s dry – many a pair of socks has fallen victim to my sparkly toenails. And finally, after a couple of days, the general wear and tear of everyday life means the shine, and sometimes the colour, tends to rub off, leaving your fingertips looking a little lacklustre. Very annoying, particularly if you’re lazy like me and don’t want to have to top it up every couple of days. I decided, then, that some festive, sparkly nails would be the perfect test for this alleged miracle polish, so set about giving it a go and seeing if it made my glitter related woes go away.

It’s a simple enough process – step one is a base coat that you should slick on first before choosing your colour – in my case I’ve gone for two and picked a metallic gold and a gold glitter – and a gel top coat to be applied after your base and colour have thoroughly dried. Fool proof – even I managed it!

Here’s how my nails looked fresh after painting:


Lasting power aside, I was already extremely happy with the results. Having to paint so many layers wasn’t nearly as irritating as I thought as I tend to paint my nails while watching TV at night, and both polishes dry very quickly. In fact, I actually have a suspicion that the top coat sped things along a little. I was also very impressed with the glossy shine it left – I added an extra coat to tackle that rough finish of the glitter, and found this left my nails as smooth as satin, and made the glitter really sparkle, which was an added bonus.

So far so good, but did it really last two weeks? Well, see for yourselves, here’s my nails today, just shy of two weeks later:


At first glance it’s looking pretty good, right? Well, with a closer look you’ll see it had started to chip away at the tips of my nails, though not dramatically by any stretch:


I’d also managed to break my ring finger nail earlier this morning which did contribute. Either way, there was a darn sight less damage than there normally is to my digits this long after painting, so I’m calling it a success. The thing that pleased me the most though, is that what had survived was as glossy and sparkly as the day I painted them, which really is impressive! The one thing I have found is that while you can wear any polish in between, different Brands seem to fare differently to others, which to be fair you find with or without the top coat. I tried it with a No7 polish a while back which I normally find endures quite well, but it seemed to have some sort of chemical reaction that caused it to peel right off in plasticy sheets. I think that was a bit of a one off though, and on the whole, I think this stuff is a god send.

I hereby declare it a bonafide beauty must have! Rush out and stock up now before everyone else discovers it!




In this post: Essence Gel Base Coat & Essence Gel Top Coat, both £2.50 from Wilkinsons – Barry M Molten Metal in ‘Gold Digger’, £3.99 – W7 Cosmetic No 6 Polish in ‘Gold Dazzle’, £4.95




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