Nails nails nails

We all love well groomed, glamorous fingertips. Here's how we've been striving to attain them recently.

Hannah: I have a confession. I'm addicted to shellac.

Louisa: How long have you been an addict?

H: I'm on my third round, so only about a month and a half. But I love it. I tried it a few years ago with you lovely ladies but picked it all off which is against Rule Number One of shellac.

Now I feel much more patient, if it chips I leave it well alone.

But the beauty of shellac is that it doesn't chip for ages.

L: My one and experience with shellac was our dalliance with it last year and I also committed that mortal sin of picking it all off. I didn't like not having the option of being able to take it off myself, perhaps I have control issues?

What are your feelings towards shellac, Anna?

Anna: I never get to the picking-off stage with shellac. I think I must be more tactile than your average shellac-wearer because on the few occasions I've done it, it's been chipped within a day. Which is a shame, because I always admire beautifully painted nails. I have the same problem with normal nail varnish too.

L: I would definitely like to give shellac another go. I have been trying out some nail wraps this week after my neighbour held a jamberry nail wrap party. I didn't do the good thing and buy some there, at £15 per sheet for 2 applications each for hands and feet, but instead I looked on eBay and found that I could buy a half sheet for £6. I was prepared to give that a go. I went for a super glittery red which is called Mai Tai. They look like a sheet of pre-cut transfers with various sizes and you have to match the right size for your nail. You then peel off the transfer from the sheet using an orange stick, being careful not to touch the adhesive, heat it for a few seconds using a hairdryer (or go all in and get the especially designed jamberry heater) and then apply it to your nail. Once it's in place, heat it some more with the hairdryer and then smooth and press it all down with the orange hoof. To trim the excess at the edge of the nail you file (downwards only) over the transfer at the nail tip until it is removed. This all felt like quite an effort and had to be broken up by eating dinner (I had two big toes and one hand done at that point). At first I wasn't convinced as there was some slight (very slight, I am a perfectionist when it comes to nails) puckering and lifting around the edges of the nail and they took a little getting used to. The longer I've had them on (day 8 as I write this) the more I've appreciated them. They have super staying power and don't chip at all. I would definitely give them another go. They specialise in very detailed pattern prints, which would probably disguise any slight imperfections, but I usually prefer a block colour on my nails. I was hoping they might do a Dita Von Teese style half moon wrap. Maybe that's a business opportunity for her?

H: They've held up really well!

Jamberry nail wraps in Mai Tai. Day 8.

Jamberry nail wraps in Mai Tai. Day 8.

Hannah's latest Shellac and her beautiful Tessa Metcalfe ring.

Hannah's latest Shellac and her beautiful Tessa Metcalfe ring.

L: WOW that's lovely! And... Is that a Tessa Metcalfe ring adorning your finger??

H: Well, I have to keep my nails looking nice for that too! Can't be wearing that ring everyday without my nails looking tip top. I also prefer a solid colour on my nails, but I would be very happy to give the wrap a go! I am just so bad at painting my nails, I don't have the patience to wait for them to dry and the second they are painted I always try and do the washing up or laundry or something so they Smudge immediately.

A: Well I know the polish for you Hannah! At the moment I'm using OPI Infinite Shine Lacquer, which is a 3-step polish that dries ultra, ultra quickly. Even for me I can keep this looking good for a week! I bought it on an impulse at the airport on our way back from our Lindy Hop weekend in Calpe and have since collected a handful of different colours. Annoyingly some of them go on better than others, but the darker reds are sleek and shiny and delicious!

H: I feel like because we commit to a variation on the red nail for our gigs, it's nice to shake it up sometimes, but actually I'm happiest with a red nail of some description. I want to do Dita proud!

A: I totally agree. I always go back to a deep red

L: I used to be very adventurous with nail colour in my teens but I have recently culled my multicoloured ancient nail varnish collection as I really only use shades of pinks and reds. I do occasionally like having a go at painting a flash of gold at the base of my nail as an attempt to be Dita cool.

H: I love a gold accent!

L: My favourite varnish at the moment is Rimmel salon pro and my most used shade is 703 Rock n Roll. It's as close to Ruby Woo as I can find. It's got a lovely wide brush so I can usually do a nail with just three strokes (even when applying on a moving train).

H: That is a skill I just don't have. I can't even do it when I'm completely still and silent.

A: At least on a moving train there aren't so many distractions

L: Whichever varnish you use, I urge you to make sure you at least use a base coat. It helps to protect your natural nail from staining, it helps the removal of the varnish when you come to take it off and it gives a better finish to the polish as you'll have had a smoother foundation to paint on.

A: I've definitely learnt that from you. It also makes it easier to peel off...

H: I get told off for that all the time

L: Hahahahaha! Cuticle care is also a must. I suffer from very dry hands in the winter and cracked cuticles will ruin the look of a beautifully polished nail. I painted my Granma's nails yesterday and she had bought a lovely brush on almond cuticle oil stick from the Body Shop. I think I'll have to get one to stash in my handbag.

A: I have one of those! They smell delicious

L: Just remember that if you moisturise your hands or cuticles before you apply polish, clean your nail with nail varnish remover first to take away any excess oils that would stop the varnish from adhering so well. Top tips. I went to beauty college.

A: Teach us!!
L: Hahaha maybe we should do a group manicure tutorial blog!
H: Show us your ways! Yes Please!
L: Or vlog!
H: As long as we don't use that word
A: Corr blimey. How very cutting edge!!
L: What could we call it, Hannah?



Face creams and foundations - because you know we're all about that base!

The Spitfire Sisters got together and opened up their bathroom cabinets and makeup bags to share some of their beauty secrets.


Louisa: Hannah, what do you use on your skin to help keep that glow??

Hannah: Ha! I've been missing my glow recently due to an intense lack of both sleep and vitamins but this is AMAZING and is helping me get it back.

Malin+Goetz jojoba face scrub

It's the most money I've ever spent on anything like that but my moisturiser is super cheap so it all evens out.

Vita Min Fix - Green People Natural & Organic Moisturiser

Vita Min Fix - Green People Natural & Organic Moisturiser

L: Well, in case you were wondering... I had been giving Aldi's Lacura Renew day (and night) cream a go. At £1.69 for a 50ml pot, you can't really go far wrong! The only down side I have found is that it does tend to sit on top of your skin, maybe because of the SPF20. Here's the link: Lacura Renew

But Patrick recently arrived home from a works party clutching a goody bag containing a generous sample of Vita Min Fix 50ml | Green People Natural & Organic Moisturiser

It's a really lovely creamy texture that is readily absorbed by your skin and it doesn't feel heavy or sticky. It smells amazing too. It reminds me of a cross between marzipan and rose water. mmmmmm So I may have to buy some when my tester runs out. It's £17.50 for 50ml from their website with free UK delivery.

Anna, tell us what creamy goodness you slather your face with?

H: Please, pray tell!

Anna: Well ladies, my face is fairly temperamental and in the past I've really struggled to find a moisturiser that doesn't make my skin feel greasy. But then I was introduced to Cetaphil, a water-based lotion that I've been using for about 5 years. It's not very glamorous, and the packaging looks more like a hand soap, but I can't imagine I'll ever find anything to beat it!

L: Hannah, you've shopped around for moisturiser, haven't you?

H: I went through a phase of investing in a different moisturiser every month or so - I get through them so quickly. I've tried Clinique, Laura Mercier, Korres... I'm still trying to find the right one that doesn't need to be topped up every 5 minutes! In between I use E45. My mum swears by it.

Lily Lolo Mineral Powder

Lily Lolo Mineral Powder

L: Good old tried and trusted E45. And what foundation do you favour? I have been using Boots No7 Intelligent Balance Mousse foundation in Buff 15. It feels really light on my skin but is substantial enough for stage makeup. I keep an applicator sponge tucked in the top of the pot so I can whip it on super quickly. It gives really good coverage and makes my skin look really soft and smooth but it's years (and years and years) old and to my dismay I thought that they had stopped making it. (After some digging around I have since found some online here and will be purchasing some soon!) I have recently bought a new mineral powder foundation from Lily Lolo. I bought their concealer powder (mineral cover up in nude) a long time ago and it's great for under the eyes, corners of my nose and around my lips for when I'm going for a crisp pout line. They are an online company but ingeniously they sell generously sized sample pots so you can try a few and get your shade right. I've gone for In The Buff mineral foundation. You can apply as much or as little as you like (depending on what you're trying to hide!) and build it in layers. I can't even feel it on my skin when I'm wearing it and people have commented on my natural glow! I also enjoy the powder because you can apply it after using your own moisturiser to suit your skin. It's also very reasonably priced at £13.99. You'll find that owning a decent set of brushes for applying will really help.

A: I'm still on the search for my perfect foundation. On a day to day basis I wear a really light tinted moisturiser by No7. For more special occasions I am currently using Mac Pro Longwear Foundation, which is really matte and gives amazing coverage. Not long ago I buckled under the BB cream phase and bought myself a Mac Beauty Balm. Unfortunately I haven't got on with this so well as it feels much heavier and thicker on the skin - the only real benefit is that it gives a much more luminscent look. No matter which foundation I wear, I use a Mac Transparent Finishing powder, and in these colder months, a quick brush of my trusty Body Shop bronzer!

Bourjois Blush

Bourjois Blush

H: I have tried a few foundations over the years but I have found anything creamy to be incredibly drying. I recently found Bare Minerals Blemish Remedy powder which covers completely and you can build it up quite nicely. I love it so much I've just invested in my second pot. Other than that I don't use anything else, apart a lovely sweep of bourgois blusher, which you introduced to me Louisa!

L: Aah yes there's only one blusher for me - Bourjois Blush in number 48 - Cendre De Rose Brune. I love the iconic little round pot with a handy brush and mirror in the lid. It's a very flattering matte pink as I don't tend to like any shimmer on my face. They've been making it for over 150 years and it was born out of the Parisian theatre district. It smells great too. Why would you sniff your blusher? I just did.

H: And, still on the hunt for the perfect skin hydration tools, I've just purchased these from Sephora in Paris (I want Sephora back in the UK so much!):

Thanks for reading! If you have found this delve into our beauty basics helpful or if you have any tips you would like to share then please leave a comment.

Louisa, Anna and Hannah
x x x