Beauty Roundup: MAC Haul + Gel Nail Kit

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I rarely do beauty posts. It’s not that I’m not into makeup, hair, and nails; I’m just not that into them. Besides, it’s so rare for me to purchase anything related to the above three categories, that I wouldn’t really have much to say to you guys.

So, when I do make some beauty purchases, I’m definitely excited to share my thoughts with you.

MAC Cosmetics Haul

First up: I made a trip to the MAC store last week. I first fell in love with MAC Cosmetics last year, when I tried their primer, powder, and setting spray for the first time. For years I’ve heard RAVE reviews about their lipsticks (MAC Ruby Woo, anyone??). However, my trusty tube of NARS matte lipstick has stood by me for literally 2.5 years at this point, so there was no need to go lipstick shopping.

(Side note: Is it gross/weird that I use the same tube of lipstick literally for years until it wears down to an unusable nubbin? Also, I do realize that I’m a bit odd in the sense that I feel frivolous owning more of one thing, like lipstick, at once. Sure, I could have multiple colors to wear, but that just feels too extravagant. Hashtag frugal saver.)

I digress. So, I went into the MAC store looking to try something new as a replacement to my NARS lipstick. I’ve loved my NARS for as long as I’ve had it, but I did find that it dried my lips out pretty severely.

The sales assistant helping me gave me three different fuchsias to try on. I just loved the shimmer in the middle one, so that’s the one I went with!

I had also recently had the chance to sample the MAC strobe cream, and I really loved it, so I purchased a tube of that as well. I apply it all over my face after I moisturize post-shower. I find that it gives my skin a nice healthy glow, although it does leave me looking a bit shiny.

Finally, I bought my very first lip pencil. You guys, I feel like such a weird woman that I’ve never used a lip pencil before. I will be the first to admit: I’m still skeptical of its use, and even more skeptical that I’ll ever get the hang of it.

So, without further ado, here is the result of my MAC haul. In the photos below, which are totally unfiltered, I am wearing the strobe cream dusted with a layer of MAC powder, basic drugstore mascara, and the new lip pencil and lipstick.

Verdict: I love the strobe cream, but I am so, so, so disappointed in both lip products. The lipstick is so slick that it’s more of a gloss consistency, which means it rubs off on EVERYTHING. I’ve worn it for a week straight now, and all the vibrant fuchsia color is virtually gone within a few hours of application. Sorry MAC, but I did not just spend $35 bucks for something that will wear off before lunch!

Sally Hansen Gel Manicure Started Kit

This technically wasn’t a recent purchase I made; it was actually a Christmas present from my sweet mother in law that I just got around to trying out for the first time. In my old city, before I moved to Nashville, I lived literally down the block from an absolutely perfect nail salon. If you’ve read my blog a while, you’ll recall all of my mani-pedi posts I made raving about this place.

Since moving here, I just haven’t found “my place.” And honestly gel manicures are so expensive and so bad for the nail bed that that’s probably a good thing. So for Christmas, I asked for a home gel manicure kit. I also found these little stick-on nail shields in the drugstore that you are meant to apply underneath your gel polish. They claim to protect the nail bed from all the gel damage and also make for easy peel-off removal.

Worth a shot, I thought.

There is really not much to the unboxing. The Sally Hansen kit comes with three bottles of gel polish (base, color, and top coat), an LED lamp, a small bottle of polish remover, a nail file, and a cuticle stick.

I had high hopes, you guys. And you wanna know what happened? Complete and hilarious failure happened. Both products were so atrociously horrendous that I cannot believe anyone pays a dime for them.

I’ll start with the nail shields: The SensatioNail gel manicure nail shields were a complete joke. The pack comes with twenty shields in varying sizes. Basically, they are stickers. I literally think you could slap a Dora the Explorer sticker on your thumbnail and get identically abysmal results.

Being that they are stickers, and being that nails are curved, this means that inevitably there are little creases and air bubbles in your nails. Not exactly this season’s hottest look.

But OK, whatever, I told myself. Maybe once the nail polish goes on, the creases won’t be so visible.

Wrong again. Here’s where Sally Hansen’s Complete Joke Manicure Kit comes in. The rinky dink little LED lamp in the kit (which, ostensibly, is the most crucial element to any gel manicure kit) was so weak that it literally would not cure even a thin base coat.

And yes, I tried curing more than once. In fact, I believe I endured 10 minutes worth of 30-second cures, and still my nails were sticky and tacky to the touch after removing my hand from the lamp. TEN MINUTES under the lamp, you guys. As Dear Husband would say, that is ri-damn-diculous.

(Except in this case he actually wouldn’t say that, because he has no clue that gel polish should cure and set completely in 45 seconds).

So, with less than an hour to go before a party, I had one completely naked hand, and one hand with sticky, creased, hideous nails. Thank God the nail shields did work as promised as far as easy and clean removal!

Just take a look at the real life footage of this nonsense:

Verdict: Do I even need to say it?

Tell me, have you tried any of the beauty products I reviewed here today? Were your outcomes any better?

Until next time,

xoxo Charlotte


  1. I totally agree with you about MAC lipstick – I have to constantly reapply mine so much that now it just sits at the bottom of my makeup bag. I do find that their red shades tend to last a little longer

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I use the sensationail gel kit and it works like a dream. I do not use those stickers and I’m able to peel the gel nails off after about 6 days. My kit came with alcohol that you wipe on the nails after curing. They are sticky until you do this. Also since you have had a gel manicure before I’m assuming you cure between base, color, and top coat. Hope this helps!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is awesome to hear that the Sensationail kit works better than the Sally Hansen one! I did cure after a thin layer of each (separately). I was so disappointed, and I’m still not sure if I just got a faulty lamp, or faulty nail polish. Either way, I’m glad to hear another brand’s kit works better! I don’t want to go back to paying so much money for professional manicures every two weeks.


  3. “Real life footage of this nonsense”. I DIE. Hilarious!! I have found the home nail kits are a total sham. I splurge on getting a gel manicure every 3 weeks. I highly recommend just splurging!! SO WORTH IT!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In answer to your question (and you may be shocked to read this so hold onto your seat), no; I have not tried any of the products you listed. I may do at some point though if I go to a Rocky Horror show in Manchester or something. Haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I need to get better at doing my nails! I can’t not get it on my cuticles, no matter what hacks and tricks I try…

    I never buy new make up, not unless forced or very inspired. I have a make up post going up on Friday!! Two big purchases and now I’m done for a year haha. Do you find the strobe cream as moisturizing a regular moisturizer?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cuticles are SO difficult! I also always have a hard time not painting the skin right next to my nails, haha. And I am the same way with makeup. I just have a very hard time shelling out good money for something that is generally a total gamble and will be washed off at the end of the day. With clothing I am more OK spending money, since I know it will last. But with makeup, even if the makeup itself lasts a while, for sanitation reasons you often have ot throw it away soon.

      I look forward to reading your forthcoming makeup post! Is this the one that will be able the new eye shadow palette you got?

      And as for the strobe cream, I use it after applying my normal moisturizer. I may try using it as my only moisturizer just to see how that works. The only thing is, I have some eczema, so I use a special Aveeno moisturizer specifically for eczema.


  6. I agree with you about the MAC lipsticks! They aren’t my cup of tea either and I especially loathe the mattes! I do love the strobe cream and have mixed it in my foundation or used it on its own!

    Liked by 1 person

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