Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Essie Winter 2010 Collection
Essie Nail Lacquer: Going Incognito, Hot Coco, Luxedo

Essie Winter 2010 Collection

Though on the way out, here are long overdue swatches for Essie’s winter collection, which includes: Going Incognito (deep emerald green), Hot Coco (tawny sepia), Luxedo (deepest plum), Masquerade Belle (black ruby), Silken Cord (risque red), and Smokin’ Hot (stone-cold fox gray). Each bottle retails at $8 a pop, and I spotted them online still at Apothica.

  • Going Incognito is a deep emerald green cream–almost a blue-tinged green (not quite into teal territory). It’s opaque in two coats. ORLY Enchanted Forest is the closest dupe I can think of, though it is greener (less blue).
  • Hot Coco is a pink-tinged mid-tone taupe cream. I can totally see the sepia in this. If you wanted to get into nude nails but found nudes too pale and washed you out, this is a nice take on it. Two coats. It seems a little similar to China Glaze Heirloom Organza.
  • Luxedo is a blackened plum cream. It’s very inky and barely stays purple in low light conditions as it turns nearly black. It’s nearly opaque in one coat, though I did two here. Itl ooks a lot like Essie’s Velvet Voyeur (from fall).
  • Masquerade Belle is a deep, velvety red-brown cream. Two coats. It’s darker and redder then MAC Dance All Night.
  • Silken Cord is a bright coral-red cream. It’s a surprisingly bright shade for winter–feels like something for a summer launch. I used two coats. It’s a lighter version of Zoya’s Maura.
  • Smokin’ Hot is a purpled gray cream. I used two coats, though I noticed a touch of drag with this one. The base color is reminiscent of Chanel’s Paradoxal. It is a darker version of Essie’s Merino Cool (from fall).

my thoughts on the formula: The formula was really nice on these; not too thin, not too thick, and the majority were pigmented enough to use just two coats of polish. The only shade I had any issues with was Smokin’ Hot, wihch seemed a little thin in places.

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: This collection actually looks similar to Essie’s fall collection, but the shades are different, some more so than others.  The formula was easy to work with, and Essie really does do creams well, so they are in their element with these six.

where to buy: Apothica

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Friday, February 4th, 2011

MAC Spirit of Truth Nail Lacquer
MAC Spirit of Truth Nail Lacquer

MAC Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth

MAC Spirit of Truth Nail Lacquer ($15.00 for 0.34 fl. oz.) is a creamy is a deep navy blue. It has a cream finish, but when it dries down, it looks almost like pleather, because it loses a lot of its glossiness. (If you want it shiny, just add a top coat, like Seche Vite). MAC describes this shade as a “navy blue,” which is a fair assessment. Like Obey Me, this shade was plenty pigmented; it was nearly opaque in one coat, though I did two. The formula was equally as impressive as Obey Me with its creaminess and how evenly and smoothly it applied on the nail.

my thoughts on the formula: Historically, MAC doesn’t have a great reputation for their nail lacquers; in fact, some of the feedback I’ve seen on MAC’s nail lacquers mirror Chanel’s! Often interesting and different colors, but many complain of chipping or poor wear. I haven’t experienced this with MAC’s nail lacquers (or Chanel’s). MAC polishes always wear a full week for me, with no chipping, and minor tip wear. Sometimes the formula itself doesn’t lend itself to the most beautiful application, but their creams are most consistent. Spirit of Truth, however, is an exemplary shade from MAC’s polish range.

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  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: This blue will flatter both cool and warm skin tones, because of its deep hue. It is a richly pigmented shade, too, which is always a nice find.

where to buy: MAC

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Friday, February 4th, 2011

MAC Obey Me Nail Lacquer
MAC Obey Me Nail Lacquer

MAC Wonder Woman: Obey Me

MAC Obey Me Nail Lacquer ($15.00 for 0.34 fl. oz.) is a creamy, blue-based red. One of the easiest ways to determine the undertones of a red is to use it sheerly; blue-based reds often look a little pink. MAC describes this shade as a “true red,” and I think it is certainly close, because it doesn’t read cool (and certainly not warm, since it has no orange in its base), but it does have an inkling of blue in it at the very least. This shade has excellent pigmentation, almost a one-coat masterpiece, though I did two. The formula also was insanely fluid and creamy–one of MAC’s bests–it wasn’t too thick or thin, and it applied smoothly and evenly.  It does dry down to an interesting finish–it’s not that glossy on its own; instead, it almost looks like pleather.

my thoughts on the formula: Historically, MAC doesn’t have a great reputation for their nail lacquers; in fact, some of the feedback I’ve seen on MAC’s nail lacquers mirror Chanel’s! Often interesting and different colors, but many complain of chipping or poor wear. I haven’t experienced this with MAC’s nail lacquers (or Chanel’s). MAC polishes always wear a full week for me, with no chipping, and minor tip wear. Sometimes the formula itself doesn’t lend itself to the most beautiful application, but their creams are most consistent. Obey Me, however, is an exemplary shade from MAC’s polish range.

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  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: Excellent pigmentation, lovely formula, and the color is certainly something many could wear. It is, however, a red cream, and as such, if you are a nail polish collector, I don’t doubt you have something similar.

where to buy: MAC

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Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Dolce & Gabbana Platinum Nail Lacquer
Dolce & Gabbana Platinum Nail Lacquer

Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2011: Platinum

Dolce & Gabbana Platinum Nail Lacquer ($20.00 for 0.37 fl. oz.) is a pale, metallic pewter-gold that’s almost neutral with silver shimmer strewn through the metallic base.  I only needed two coats to get opaque color coverage, but as is common in metallic finished polishes, Platinum does show some.  It was easier to even out the brush strokes, though, so it has more of a brushed metal finish.  It is warmer than MAC Very Important Platinum, but it has just as many brush strokes.  Dolce & Gabbana’s formula isn’t as thick nor as troublesome, though, which is a definite plus.  Similarly, Dior Timeless Gold is even warmer and has a less metallic finish (it is more like a part glitter, part metallic finish).

my thoughts on the formula: I found the applicator a bit bothersome, as the brush itself is larger and thicker than average; it allows quite a bit of the lacquer to absorb into the brush, so it’s easy to overdo it if you’re not especially careful. If you have very narrow nail beds, you may also find the brush too wide to use with ease. The lacquer wore just fine with Zoya’s Color Lock System with tip wear but no chips after a week.

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  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: As long as you don’t mind brush strokes, I think it’s a gorgeous shade.  If you have really small nail beds, you may find the brush more difficult to work with.  The formula went on smoothly, evenly, and only required two coats for opaque color coverage.

where to buy: Saks, February 2011

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Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

NARS Desperado Nail Polish
NARS Desperado Nail Polish

NARS Spring 2011: Desperado

NARS Desperado Nail Polish ($16.00 for 0.5 fl. oz.) is deep yellow gold with a golden-bronze base. NARS describes it as an “antique brass.” I think it’s a gorgeous take on gold–it’s clearly gold but so much deeper and richer. It’s kind of like NARS Etrusque in polish form. This polish is a bit sheer, though; at two coats, it was almost opaque but there was still visible nail line, and the thickness of NARS’ formula made me hesitant to put on a third coat (I also didn’t feel confident that it was going to get me to total opaqueness).

my thoughts on the formula: NARS’ Nail Polish wears a solid week on me with minor tip wear (along with a proper base and top coat, of course).  The polish tends to be on the thicker side but not goopy.  Desperado had a mix of being thick but seemingly watery, which I imagine is why it was still semi-sheer after two thicker coats.

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  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

final thoughts: The color is spectacular; I see it really complementing skin tones with yellow and olive under tones.  It’s rich and deep and luxurious.  As a polish with a slightly metallic finish, some brush strokes are visible though.

where to buy: NARS

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Thursday, January 6th, 2011


China Glaze Anchors Away Collection

China Glaze Anchors Away: Part 2

China Glaze’s nautical-inspired collection consists of twelve new shades, and this post features these six: Lighthouse (multi-dimensional bright yellow glass speck), Pelican Grey (high shine, cool toned grey creme), Sea Spray (calming pale blue creme), Starboard (hip and playful green creme), Sunset Sail (delightful peachy pink high shine creme), and White Cap (whimsical and sparkling multi-dimensional white).

  • Lighthouse is a bright, sunshine yellow gold with flecks of metallic gold sparkle. This shade just seems so fun and positive, and it’s gold, which means I’m all over it. I used two coats, and there was some nail line showing, so I think a third would make it opaque. It is a richer, more vibrant version of Cowardly Lyin’–well, that is the closest dupe I could come up with, and I wouldn’t say they’re that similar.
  • Pelican Grey is a soft, cool-toned gray with very faint white micro-shimmer. It is slightly bluer (and has shimmer) than Zoya’s Dove. I used two coats.
  • Sea Spray is a pale baby blue cream with silvery-blue micro-shimmer. I used two coats. I couldn’t think of a dupe for this one.
  • Starboard is a brightened grass green cream with a shiny dry down. I used two coats. It’s kind of like Four Leaf Clover–but with a yellow base (which makes them quite distinguishable from each other).
  • Sunset Sail is a warmed up, peach beige with soft beige micro-sparkle. I used two coats. It reminded me a bit of China Glaze III–lighter and more opaque.
  • White Cap is a gold-tinged white shimmer-glitter. It doesn’t go on opaque, and it actually reminded me a lot of Chanel Pearl Drop, but obviously the finishes are entirely different.

Though the formula on these seemed to be a bit thicker than average for China Glaze, application was still even and smooth. I ended up with at least two coats on all of these, though some I did three with. China Glaze is one of my personal favorite brands, because of their color and finish range–I really feel like they bring out a little something for everyone in each of their seasonal collections. China Glaze polishes last a good week on me with just minor tip wear by day seven.

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  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

FINAL THOUGHTS: From thee six, my favorites were Lighthouse and Starboard, but I also found both of the more subdued shades like Pelican Grey and Sea Spray a refreshing change from the vamps of fall and winter.

WHERE TO BUY: January/February 2011

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