Say Hello to Indie Nail Polish
“Indie” nail polish is a category of brands that are independently-owned and operated, and generally, have a smaller distribution. They are small businesses with big ideas and are full of passion. They’re not brands you’ll find at Nordstrom, Sephora, or your local drugstore (but maybe, one day, you will). One brand we’ve featured in the past is Cult Nails, but we haven’t delved too deeply into the world of indie brands when it’s come to nail polish. (Though, there are “indie” brands that have larger distribution and more brand recognition that are still technically “indie,” as they’re independently-owned and operated (and may be considerably smaller than polish giants like China Glaze and Essie) but may have a more traditional corporate structure.)
This niche is pushing boundaries, experimenting, and making nail polish, in and of itself, an art form. I think the push and rush of glitter polishes in the past six months by major brands is a result of the rise of indie polish shops. A year ago, when I searched for “nail lacquer” on Etsy, there were only a handful of sellers. Try that search today, and you’ll be overwhelmed with options!
Availability of brands, shades, and stock are on the rise, which has finally made it a topic we can start to touch on, but be prepared to do a little battle, perhaps some stalking, and have your money at the ready. It’s tough to review indie polish, because by the time I can buy it, receive it, and test it? It was already sold out hours after I bought it! But the brands are getting better at preparing stock levels, restocking, and making their polish more and more available. Today, I’m featuring fifteen shades from four brands that I’ve tried:
- Enchanted Polish is available through their own website (but there’s nothing in stock at the moment) and also Harlow & Co., which has very limited stock at the moment. Pricing ranges between $13.00 and $15.00 per bottle. This particular brand features many holographic and special effect layering polishes. Three shades were sent to me for potential review, and all three were very transformative. Those who like holographic, multi-faceted polishes will want to check out this range. The formula wasn’t too thick or too thin, though it was slightly thinner than the average polish. Ola Rio was my favorite of the three.
- KBShimmer is available through their own website for U.S. orders (use Harlow & Co. for international orders) and currently has 34 shades available, including many holiday-themed polishes. Each polish is $8.75, and shipping is calculated based on weight–I purchased nine shades and shipping was $5.15. What I like about KBShimmer’s polishes is that they don’t have the more typical thickness of glitter-packed polishes. Some shades are opaque on their own, while others are designed to be layered over something else. I was particularly impressed by Candy Cane Crush, which also smelled of peppermint. It was all very first-grade, scratch ‘n’ sniff sticker for me–in the best kind of way. Sugar Plum Faerie is beautiful on its own or layered.
- Lacquistry is sold via Etsy, and there are, currently, eight shades from the holiday collection still available for sale. Each shade retails for $8.75, exclusive of shipping ($3.00 for the first bottle, then $0.50 for each additional bottle; international is $6.50 for the first bottle and $1.00 for each additional bottle). You can keep up with restocks for the holiday collection as well as future shade releases and updates through Lacquistry’s Facebook page–I was totally stalking the Facebook page when I was waiting to buy from the holiday collection! Lacquistry’s polishes are typically best as layering shades, so it’s about finding the right base color to make each polish sing. The first Lacquistry polish I ever purchased and used was Faux Fir, this past February. Can-Berries works well on its own or layered; it has a very jelly-ish look by itself.
- Lynnderella is available via eBay, and each bottle retails for $20.00 (or $22.50 each, inclusive of shipping) for most permanent and seasonal offerings (all limited edition shades are available auction-style). The brand looks to have 55 different shades currently available, including a 14-piece Halloween collection and 14-piece holiday collection most recently launched (all shades are available individually as well as sold in partial and full lots). Lynnderella could definitely be considered one of the first to the scene, and there were some bumps in the road but it looks like those kinks have been sorted out, and they’ve figured it out. This brand currently has good availability in stock. I remember when I saw Brooke swatch Connect the Dots, which made me sit up and go, “What? What did I just see?” which led me on a hunt to find it, and it was from there I discovered Lacquistry, via Etsy, when I started wondering who else was making their own polish. It might just be me, but I loved the way Undead Red looked over SpaRitual Lithographic. There was a great mix of Halloween-hued bits and pieces in Witch Cauldron Was It? that looked fantastic over black.
This post is an overview of a very small selection of what’s available on the market. Most of these you should be able to find–some with more effort than others–and it is my hope to find more ways to showcase these interesting polish brands in the future. When shopping niche brands, shop smart – make sure you read their policies, read reviews, and do your research. I’ve never been burned, but I did purchase dozens of bottles from one shop that then disappeared overnight (I received mine but many others, unfortunately, did not)! I definitely am hoping to buy from Crows Toes, Dollish, Hare, and more in the future!
P.S. — You might need to be patient, as there are over 100 photos in this single post.
See more photos & swatches!
China Glaze Pure Joy Nail Lacquer
Does This Polish Contain Pure Joy?
China Glaze Pure Joy Nail Lacquer ($7.50 for 0.50 fl. oz.) is described as a “fiery red glitter with gold particles.” It has small, orange-toned red glitter and then larger champagne gold glitter particles, both suspended in a clear base. I don’t have a dupe for you, but hopefully, I’ll be able to ramp up the glitter nail polish swatch gallery sooner rather than later, so we’ll be able to find dupes going forward! Until then, I welcome any suggestions from you, dear reader!
I layered one coat over China Glaze Cranberry Splash for the majority of swatches, and then I also included a photo of two swatches of Pure Joy (on my thumb nail; it’s the last photo in the set) so you could also see it on its own. I always love a glitter that works for layering but also stands on its own–I think that’s really the holy grail of glitters. There’s enough glitter in a single coat to work for layering, but it’s a polish best for layering as after two coats, there’s still a lot of visible nail coming through. I liked that the consistency of this shade wasn’t too thick, almost thin by glitter polish standards, so it dried down quickly and didn’t pool along the sides.