Monday 11 December 2017

Beauty panel... The summer nailed

Get your fingers and toes nailed and you feel that bit more fit for summer exposure

Pictured, from left, Ciate Olivia Palermo in Hutch; CND Vinylux Weekly Polish in Grommet; Rimmel Salon Pro Kate in Hip Hop; Wet n Wild Megalast in Stream of Consciousness; Chanel Le Vernis in Vibrato
Pictured, from left, Ciate Olivia Palermo in Hutch; CND Vinylux Weekly Polish in Grommet; Rimmel Salon Pro Kate in Hip Hop; Wet n Wild Megalast in Stream of Consciousness; Chanel Le Vernis in Vibrato

Sarah Caden

Not everyone is enamoured of keeping their fingernails polished all year long, but once summer comes, and the feet are on show, our varnish vanity peaks. Feet look so much better with painted toes, let's face it. If only because they distract somewhat from the fundamental weirdness of most people's feet. Because our fingernails are so conspicuous, we tend to paint them with classic or subtle shades, whereas with the toes, you can be a bit more adventurous.

When it comes to summer-holiday nail-painting, you can also tiptoe outside your comfort zone. Sunshine and bright light are so kind to vivid, even crazy colours, that you would never wear at home. And a tiny bit of a tan is superb for making vibrant colours seem even more alive. Over the years on The Panel, when it comes to recommending nail polishes to use at home, we find that so many we favour have a short and wide brush. The truth is that no at-home job can match a salon manicure or pedicure for precision and shine and staying power, but these wide brushes really make a difference. They allow you to make one clean sweep of each coat and minimise streaks and blobs. Get it nailed, no problem.

Best Overall

Ciate Olivia Palermo in Hutch, €17, exclusive to

Maybe you've never heard of Olivia Palermo. Maybe this means you're of an age where the only reality-TV people you keep up with are the K ones, but this doesn't mean you're too, em, old for Palermo's new polishes. She was once a star of The City, and is now cited as a style icon for those who favour effortless elegance. This polish, named for her mother, Lynn Hutchings, is a red for every skintone, with Ciate's know-how in the quality and the easy-to-use wide brush.

"Holiday nails should always be red, in my opinion," said one panellist. "But the right red, and this is a well-balanced 'hot but not too hot' shade."

Best Touch of Tough

CND Vinylux Weekly Polish in Grommet, €11.95, salons nationwide, for stockists, tel: (01) 408-9191, or see

If you go for salon manicures, you'll know this brand, which promises seven days of perfect nails, thanks to solar sealing. In layman's terms, that means that daylight does the setting job done by in-salon UV lamps. Certainly, it's polish with impressive staying power and it comes in far more colours than your three-week-manicure ranges. We like this gunmetal colour, as a welcome change from sunny summer shades.

Best Tan Pal

Rimmel Salon Pro Kate in Hip Hop, €6.49, available nationwide

This red is from the coral end of the spectrum, which means it's particularly nice with a tan, as the orange in it really comes alive against sun-kissed skin. But it won't look overdone when you're all pale heading off on your holidays, either. The Lycra in the mix gives this polish a bit of bend, which helps to prevent chipping, and the wide brush is hard to beat. "There's great gloss to this varnish that doesn't fade disappointingly fast," a panellist said. "A fab summer colour."

Best Nice-Price Nude

Wet n Wild Megalast in Stream of Consciousness, €2.99, Dunnes Stores; Penneys; selected stockists nationwide

We know that it's difficult to get past the name of this brand, but it's decent stuff at a better-than-decent price. The Megalast line has more staying power than you might expect, though salon standard might be stretching it. It promises five days, and the wide, short brush allows for smooth, easy application. This is a nice nude if you like your summer nails to look neat and clean but don't fancy a full-on colour. "I got decent, opaque-ish coverage from two coats," said a panellist. "I'd use this as an 'in between salon visits' option in the summer."

Best Nautically Nice

Chanel Le Vernis in Vibrato, €23.50, Chanel counters nationwide

Chanel have long been champions of the blue nail polish, but they've really outdone themselves with this summer's release, part of a Blue Notes collection.

It's a terrific metallic blue, but it's not at all thin and pale, but full of oceanic oomph. A problem with metallics can be that they go on very streaky, even with two coats, but the pigment is very intense in this and it gives a great, foil-like finish. "I was dazzled by my manicure," said a panellist. "And it looked even better on holiday."


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