Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Pinto, Berry, Downtown LA
Poppy, Rose Bowl, Coney Island

American Apparel:  Nail Lacquers, Part 1

American Apparel launched eighteen shades of cream nail lacquers. I’ll be showing you fourteen of the eighteen shades (all but Dynasty, Hunter, Mount Royal, and Passport Blue) spread over two posts (there are forty-two photos–too many for one post!).

NOTE, American Apparel has recalled all bottles of their nail lacquer due to a defect in the packaging itself — the glass is prone to breaking, so the brand has done a voluntary recall so that they can rollout a second run with safer, more durable packaging. There is nothing wrong with the formula itself. American Apparel is offering customers the following: bring in your old bottle or a receipt and receive two new bottles or a $10 gift card. They expect to roll out the new and improved bottles in the next week or two.

The nail lacquer is free of DBP, toluene, and formaldehyde. Each bottle retails for $6 or you can purchase a three-pack for $15. They’re currently sold exclusively in American Apparel store locations and online at (expect them to be back online in a week or two).

The formula is really good, actually. I wasn’t quite sure how an apparel brand was going to do polish, but they did an exceptional job designing a formula that is richly pigmented, easy to apply, and wears beautifully.

Even without a base, I experienced no chipping over four days and only minor tip wear. With a base, no chipping, minor tip wear, and it looked nice and glossy with a top coat of Seche Vite. All of the shades are cream finishes and, overall, have a nice consistency that’s thick enough to get bold color with just one coat, but not so thick that it’s goopy. Each shade, without a top coat, has a lightly glossy finish, but they all look better with a nice and shiny top coat (I like Seche Vite with these).

  • Pinto is a reddened brown cream. It goes on opaque in just two coats.
  • Berry is a deep raspberry-burgundy cream that goes on opaque in really just one coat, but I did two just ’cause.
  • Downtown LA is a bright orange-based red cream. I’m sure this one is dupe-able, but it has a great formula and consistency. It’s surprisingly orange-based without being flat out orange.
  • Poppy is a bright orange cream. It’s not quite neon orange, but it gets pretty close. It has just a smidgen in red in it that keeps it from being neon, I’d say. You only really need one medium-thick coat to get good opacity, but I did two.
  • Rose Bowl is a pretty, played-down yellow-based pink. It’s muted and paled a bit, but it’s not boring. This is one of those easy-to-wear more neutral shades. It found two coats was perfect to get the right color and thickness.
  • Coney Island is a light, airy cotton candy pink. It’s definitely a cool-toned, blue-based pink, so warm skin tones may find it a little hard to wear. I found two coats was almost enough, but three would get you totally opaque. I found my Coney Island seemed a little thinner in consistency than the majority of the American Apparel polishes, as well.

Any of these catch your eye?

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you love cream finish polishes, you may find American Apparel polishes a nice surprise!


See more photos & swatches!







Downtown LA

Downtown LA

Downtown LA




Rose Bowl

Rose Bowl

Rose Bowl

Coney Island

Coney Island

Coney Island

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21 thoughts on “American Apparel: Nail Lacquers — Review, Photos, Swatches (Part 1)

  1. Love all the colours!

  2. The berry one is fantastic!! *_*

  3. Thanks for the tip about the old packaging! Bought Coney Island 2 months ago, didn’t love the consistency of that particular shade so I’m gonna bring it back & get Palm Springs & Peacock. Oooh, and maybe Office, since it’s so gorgeous!

  4. Jenny

    I’m quite surprised, when I fist heard of the AA nail polishes I thought they would be bad but these are actually quite nice. I really like Rose Bowl and Coney Island

  5. amy

    I love the cream finishes and I have a few American Apparel polishes and I love them. I was planning to buy more but then they announced the recall. My bottles are still in tack but supposedly they break easily? I am wondering if it is just an issue with inadequate packing in the shipping process but I bought my in store and in Canada. I don’t have problems with mine and don’t plan on bringing my back. I do really want Rose Bowl, Passport, Hunter, Poppy Coney Island, Factory Gray and the yellow colour!

  6. penelope

    very pretty and the formula is great without much chemicals also. my favorite is the rose bowl. hey christine, if you buy 3 of them, is it still $15 or do you have to buy the one in its own package? thanks for your great review as alway.

  7. Debbie

    i gotta try some of these out, looks like a pretty good color selection is available. what do you use as your base for these Christine?

  8. Lust! That Poppy color is gorgeous :O

  9. karen

    I like Rose Bowl and Berry.

  10. Alannah

    Thanks for the swatches, I’ve been really curious about this line! Glad to hear the recall was for packaging and not formulation too.

  11. Luisafer

    here i like poppy, rose bowl and berry!!! so many colors to use… like that

  12. These are all so pretty; great swatches! My favorites of these are Berry and Rose Bowl.

  13. Christina

    I remember seeing this post and falling in love with almost every shade, so after purchasing a few today I came back to see the rest of them.
    Downtown L.A and Rose Bowl are both really beautiful. I don’t remember seeing Rose Bowl and I’m pretty sure I just ignored Downtown L.A (*sigh*). I did however purchase Poppy, Peacock and Coney Island. Coney Island is that perfect Cotton Candy Pink. Anyone thinking of buying them, any of the shades actually, I highly recommend them as well! The formula is fantastic!
    BTW Christine, it’s really sweet of you to have posted all of these swatches, especially for some who may not have an American Apparel store near them and may just want to order off-line. I’m sure it must have taken forever, and I’m sure I speak for everyone when I tell you how appreciative we are for all the work you put into this site!

    • Hey Christina,

      I’m always happy to do it, and in fact, posting them all at once is a little easier — because then I don’t have to worry about trying to describe what the other shades look like, lol!

      I’m glad you like ’em! :)