Core: Nail Therapy

By Jo Phillips

The sun is shining and we’re finally ready to throw off the winter mittens, sandals season is on the horizon and with that in mind we’ve turned our hands (and our toes) to testing out the newest shades of nail varnish.  From popping pinks and oranges, minimal whites and neutrals, to darker inter-seasonal tones and party ready metallics, as a core part of any makeup kit, we’ve tried out some of the best nail varnish brands newest offerings to bring some much needed therapy for spring ready nails.

We got some tips from nail expert Sonia Hully creator of Nailberry about getting the best from your nail varnish:

“To make a manicure last, you need to make sure you prep your nail very well. First you need to clean your nail with a polish remover even if you are not wearing any nail polish to make sure you take any trace of oil. Then you apply very thinly a good base coat like Nailberry’s Strengthens and Breathe base coat followed by 2 very thin coat of nail polish. Lastly you apply your top coat to seal and lock the manicure by applying the polish on the tip of the nail.

Top tips: The thinner the manicure is the longer it will last. That’s why I would recommend our Shine and Breathe top coat which is very fluid and can be applied every 2 or 3 days to refresh and prolong the manicure.”

While Millie Kendall of This Is Beauty Mart suggests using a nail oil to keep your nails in tiptop condition The best way to keep nail varnish pristine is by using an oil. Bourjois Magic Nailcare is my favourite product of the moment.’ 


O.P.I – Nail Lacquer

The O.P.I Nail Lacquer was a dream to test. The colour went on beautifully over a base coat and was perfect after two coats. The bright, vibrant colours are a brilliant colour pop for spring. The varnish lasted well, and only began to chip slightly after several days. It was easy to apply, with a great brush and easy to manage consistency.

Nailberry – Groseille and Smart As A Cookie

Jo: I LOVED the colours and felt they were bang on for the season. Nice bottle that was easy to use. The brush works well and was easy to apply and the polish dried quickly. You can get away with one coat but two defiantly makes a real difference. I used their top coat too which helped this varnish last for a week with lots of use of my hands it certainly put the nail varnishes and top coat to the test.

Deborah Lippman – My Old Flame and Deborah Lippman Nail Strengthening Bottom Coat
The color is super strong. It’s a timeless shade of red as it’s not too dark or not too light. The kind of shade every woman should have in her nail polish collection. One coat was enough but I added another just in case and it really made the color pop. It was very easy to put on and dried quickly. The brush was easy to use as it wasn’t too big. It’s the kind of color I would use for special occasions, especially if I’m wearing a black and white monochrome look, to give my look a shot of vibrancy.

Nailmatic – White

Shannon: I used a based coat to start with this shade, but I didn’t use a top coat as it took a few coats of the colour to get it really perfect. White nails are bang on for modern spring minimalism and I loved how bright white the shade was. It was easy to apply, with a nice brush and quick drying.  Recommended to us by beauty expert Millie Kendall, of This Is Beautymart who describes Nailmatic as a Superior formula from an extremely clever French nail brand, their minimalist packaging with funky 80’s designs really appeal to me.’ 



Models Own – Caribbean Crush

Jessika: I began with a base coat, which just like a good pair of underwear; is essential! The colour “Caribbean Crush” is rich and deep, blessing your nails with a beautiful brightness without being too overpowering. I used two coats but could have settled with one, as the colour was already flawless and didn’t have that dreaded see-through effect. Models Own nail polish’s texture was perfect, application easy and didn’t take long to dry. The bottle lid had a colour-matched high-shine swatch that reflected the gel effect finish of the polish and gave me an idea of how well the shade would suit my skin tone. “Caribbean Crush” is a gorgeous color to adorn your finger and toe-nails at summer beaches or a way to ring in spring during these chilly months.


Models Own – Colour Chrome Indigo

This awesome new foil finish nail colour, in Indigo went on like molten metal. The finish was foily and super shiny, and in a cool shade of blue it’s perfect with Springs denim trends. The colour applied well and was perfect after two coats. I would recommend a base coat with this colour as it isa strong shade, but the glossy finish didm’t need a top coat.

Rimmel Salon Pro – Soul Session

A highstreet favourite, Rimmel Salon Pro is easy to use and gives super coverage. It goes on lightly, and builds beautifully after two coats. The wide brush is soft and covers the nail in a couple of strokes. This subtle colour has a lovely glossy finish and is perfect for a polished look.


Nars – La Notte

Jo: The first thing that struck me was that the colour was rich and deep but an unusual blue. It goes on well and looks slick on the nail. I did put on two coats because it drys well so felt able to put on a second coat.I must say I will wear this particularly on my toes through summer as it works as a lovely contrast to my pale skin. I used the Ciate matte top coat which I LOVED and is my new find that I will be using a lot!

Burberry – Imperial Blue and Burberry Aqua Green 

Jo: I was lucky to test the Burberry polishes, both of which are colors from the spring collection. The bottle design is not only beautiful but also easy to open and use. The brush is a good size and paints nicely. I loved both the colours as they are quite unusual and i always love to match my nails to the clothes I’m wearingI do feel though with these types of more unusual colours that you definitely need two coats. I found this more with the blue than the green.I finished off the polish with a top coat from Ciate the Speed Coat last dry top coat which was excellent. This helped the varnish deal well with a week of typing at my computer as well as some home style chores.

Butter London – Sloane Ranger

Jessika: Starting with nails cloaked in a base coat, I applied a layer of Butter London’s Sloane Ranger and immediately fell in love. The olive, khaki creme colour has a beautiful depth without being too dark and didn’t require a second coat to bring out its tone. The nail lacquer went on my nails smoothly, had the perfect texture and thankfully I didn’t have to wait days for it to dry as with other nail polishes. Not only has “Sloane Ranger” got the coolest name, its long lasting and earned me a compliment from a fellow underground traveller. It’s the ideal colour for a special night out or just casual work days.

Nars – Zakynthos
Nada: I didn’t use a bottom or top coat. The color is a very classic pinkish beige nude I absolutely loved the color as it went really well my skin tone, it was quite flattering, and gave me hands an elongated effect The texture is quite thick so one coat was enough but if you want a more opaque shade, two would be better. It dried quickly and the brush was a good size. I quite like the square shape of the Nars bottle. This is definitely the kind of shade I would wear on a daily basis as it’s subtle and goes with everything. It’s the Audrey Hepburn of nail polish: beautiful, feminine, and will never go out of style.

Liz Earle – Taupe

Anna: A modern, subtle shade, for everyday use. Perfect for pairing with minimal spring trends. The colour went on beautifully and gave a perfectly even coverage with two coats, although in a hurry I could have got away with only one. The colour dried solid within 10 minutes and I was able to apply the second coat within this time. The bottle came with a thinnish brush but it was easy to use with the consistency of the varnish, which wasn’t gloopy or messy. As the varnish was a strengthening colour I didn’t use a base coat or top coat and the varnish only began to chip a little at the tips after about 3 days. My nails are normally weak and flakey, but during the time I wore this colour they stayed strong, not a single breakage!

Liz Earle – Rapsody in Blue

Ching: I picked this color because I really liked it. I paired it with the Ciate base. I would suggest to use more than one coat to avoid chipping, especially as it’s a strong, dark color. I love how edgy it is.


Marks & Spencer Autograph gel effect in Plum and Raspberry: 

Nada: I tried these polish and I’m absolutely in love! It’s super easy to apply, and dries really fast (I was actually surprised that my nails were dry in less than a minute). The gel effect gives it a really polished, shiny appearance. It looks (and feels) like I’ve applied a base and top coat. I also tried taking the color off one nail and it was super easy. This is definitely the kind of polish that the girl on the go needs!

Estee Lauder – Bitter Sweet

A beautiful colour that will suit any skin tone.  The colour will work perfectly with the 70s trend that is everywhere at the moment and is a great interseasonl tone. The varnish went on beautifully and slickly. It was dry within a few minutes and didn’t need a second coat, although for long lasting wear it would be beneficial. The varnish lasted well and was chip resistant to several days worth of general wear and tear.

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