Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Temptalia Asks You


Is high-end nail polish ever worth it? Is there a difference in quality?

Temptalia's AnswerGenerally, I don’t see much difference in wear from $2 to $40 polish. Illamasqua’s polish wears the longest on me (as long as 14 days no chipping, just minor tip wear), which is a premium polish. But next to nothing chips on me, so I’m not the greatest test subject (unfortunately!). I think you may a premium for access to certain ingredients/colors that aren’t necessarily available to all yet.

Thanks to Alex for today’s question! Do you have a question idea? Submit yours here.

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67 thoughts on “Is high-end nail polish ever worth it?

  1. I am all about drugstore products and I’ve found a lot of drugstore polishes that last just as long (if not longer) than some high end polishes. One example is Sinful Colors, their polishes have lasted just as long as Julep polishes (which are triple the price); actually come to think of it, some of the julep polishes started to chip after a couple of days (vs Sinful colors can last up to 4-5 days with a base & top coat).

  2. Avatar of Linda linda

    there’s nothing as beautiful as deborah lippmann’s mermaid’s dreams.

  3. Stacey

    I used to wear nail polish. Now I only wear a clear color and I miss Cover Girl nail slicks. I wash my hands alot during the day. When I was a teenager, I would only buy Chanel, Dior and whatever store brought brands. I did try the drugstore brands, but I didnt like the color or pigmentation. I think back then 30 years ago, there was a difference…but I think the drugstore brands and nail brands have stepped up the game and matched these fancy dept store brands in wear and color.

  4. Avatar of Amy xamyx

    No, unless the color is one-of-a-kind. That said, I do stay away from less expensive polishes unless I know they are “3-Free”, or I trust their parent company. Fortunately, there are more than enough DS polishes that fit this criteria.

  5. Carrie

    I think that the proliferation of indie brands and their increased accessibility that high end isn’t quite as necessary as it once was, you can really find amazing polishes at the sub-$15 price point. The only exception might be more unique creme and shimmer shades since so many indies focus on glitter/holos (though an increasing number are expanding into that realm which is awesome)

    As far as wear goes, personal chemistry and how your base and top cost interact will always impact wear. Being high-end won’t make a polish immune from that fact.

    So basically…unless it’s a color that is nigh impossible to dupe (and even then you can probate find something close enough) don’t think it’s worth it any more. $15 is now my high point with my presence for the $12 and under range.

  6. Avatar of Dinitchka Dinitchka

    As a self procalimed polish hoarder, I say NO!! I have polishes from $0.99 (or cheaper) up to $30.00. My high-end may wear slightly better and have a better consistancy (1 coaters) but at the end of the day, non high-end always get my approval. I generally by high-end for colour choice. Esp if it is something limited edition, that I cannot find in a drug store brand.

  7. Avatar of Priscilla Priscilla

    Everything chips on me. Butter London makes it last like 3 days where I usually only get 1 1/2. If anyone can think of something I’m open. I have tried Seche Vite, OPI, Chanel (not top or base coats), Deborah Lippmann, Rescue Beauty Lounge, etc… Biotin, fish oil, multi-vitamins too – no help.

    • Avatar of Lauren crystallinity

      I’m the same way. I’ve been told it’s my “naturally oily nails” I’ve just resigned myself to repolishing every three days.

    • Avatar of Sasha Sasha

      Try Zoya. It sucks having to buy online but I get good wear from their polishes with their brand’s top and base coat. Same with butter london, buy their top and base coat to go with it if you don’t have it. I use Zoya’s base and top coat for most of my other polishes, it makes my RBL’s last 2-3 days instead of just 1. They’re about the same price as Essie/OPI too so not crazy expensive.

      • Lizzy

        I’ve had these problems. Cleaning the nails with a non oily policy remover or anything degreasing/ detergent can help. It could be soap or hair products sticking around.

        Good news? Ulta carries Zoya, so if you have one of those you can go get great stuff. They sell Butter London too. I think Dillard’s has Butter London in stores as well.

    • Zainab

      Same here. I’ve stopped wearing polish as a result. I tried a L’orr polish yesterday, it looked nice for half a day…

    • AwwRITE!

      I think you need to prep your nails with Zoya Remove before applying a base coat, polish, and top coat. It will take off any oiliness and allow your polish to adhere better

    • Avatar of Priscilla Priscilla

      Thank goodness I am not the only one! I really thought I must be a freak or something. Gel Nail polish didn’t chip till about day 6. I tried Shoshanna from the Deborah Lippmann Girls collection straight on my nails. Not only does it feel lovely, a nice color, and opaque BUT it hasn’t chipped yet (that must sound odd to people who don’t chip crazy fast).

    • Ana

      Same here! My work requires a lot of keyboard typing so nothing lasts more than 3 days without chipping. No matter if the coat base is a five star one, or if the nail polish is high end. That said, that’s why I rather use drugstore polishes. I don’t feel the need to use a $30 polish. Also, we don’t have the range of brands you guys have in the US and Europe.

  8. Michelle

    Not to be a nail polish snob, but I have definitely noticed a difference in quality between cheaper brands vs higher end brands. although the wear time is generally the same across the price spectrum for me, a lot of my cheaper bottles have started separating and thickening after 3-4 years so badly that no amount of shaking or thinner will save it (I’m lookin at you China Glaze). Luckily, my lippmanns and RBLs are still perfect after the occasional shake.

  9. I don’t think so…I actually don’t own a single high-end polish. Drugstore brands’ polishes are so good, I haven’t caved yet (though I’ve been tempted a few times lately)

  10. janelle

    If it doesn’t chip it is so worth it! I have found though that a good base coat and top coat lets any polish stay long no matter what the price. The same for eyeshadow a good primer and ud all nighter works wonders. Opi lasts forever on me with a base coat and topcoat (months on my toes no joke) Going to try the Sally Hansen but the $2 pure ice from Walmart stays chip free a week and half.

  11. Katie T.

    Nope. You will never see me paying more than $10 for a polish.

  12. I’ll have to say yes when it comes to seeing a color that I like! I know that if I wait or look around, similar stuff might come out. However, I also think that a lot of the times two nail polishes (this applies to everything) that are “dupes” on someone else aren’t necessarily “dupes” on everybody (different skin tones and so on). On top of that, bargain brands in the US aren’t bargains here in Europe (the cheaper DS nail polishes would still cost a good 8-9 euros here). Rather than spending 3 times 8 euros trying to dupe something, I have just about enough money for the “real deal.”

  13. Avatar of Veronica Veronica

    I’m on the opposite end of the polish spectrum, with most polishes have tip wear within a day on me, chipping by the second or third. It’s part of why I’ve never actually bothered to go higher end – why spend all that money on something that will barely last a day? But increasingly, I find myself curious if pricier polishes will hold up longer on my nails. It’d be nice to find something that holds up against hospital hand washing. :P Ulta’s having a sale on their Butter London polishes on Friday, so I’m thinking I may pick up a few to see if there is any real difference.

  14. Ann

    Quality and weartime, no, no difference @ all. The only difference for me are the colourranges. High end brands tend to come out with more innovating and unique colours, although even that is offcourse not always the case. Very rarely I find a polish so gorgeous and uniques that I would pay top dollar (I am thinking 10€ or up) for them.

    greatings from Belgium

  15. VickyM

    Depends, for a few colors I think high end nail polish is worth it if they are unique and gorgeous, like Chanel Graphite, Chanel Peridot, Chanel black Pearl, they are unique very beautiful colors that stand out from the rest, and the drugstore dupes where never as good as the original, far from it, in my opinion. But when it comes to colors like simple white nail polish for example, there really isn´t much difference, so there is no point in purchasing a 30 dollar polish when a 1 or 2 dollar polish will look exactly the same.

  16. Avatar of Ellen Ellen

    I would love to never get high-end polishes, but sometimes the colors are just to amazing. For example, I got Chanel Peridot and Malice when they first came out, and I was overjoyed with the color and wear – and used them enough to justify getting them! (And the Peridot dupe hadn’t get been released, and I couldn’t find anything with the beautiful shimmer and sheen of Malice.) I also love the sparkles and wear in Deborah Lippmann colors, even if they’re sometimes more dupable. Plus, both of those brands are 3-free. Other than that, I really like buying drugstore or cheaper polishes when I can!

  17. I personally don’t think so. For me, Illamasqua chips on me literally on the first day. :/ Yet I can buy a bottle of Sinful Colors nail polish from Walgreens or Walmart for $2, and it lasts for a good 5-7 days without chipping. (Keep in mind, I also do Taekwondo 5-6 days a week, and nail polish just chips on me easily anyways)

  18. Avatar of Mariella Mariella

    I’ve never paid more than 10 or 12 dollars (Canadian) for polish – OPI and Zoya. I prefer buying polish from companies that specialize in making nail polish (I’ve never bought a Chanel polish – partly the price and partly the aforementioned “philosophy” of mine) because I can find just about any colour in those 2 brands so if I see something from MAC or Chanel, I can probably dupe it in Zoya or OPI. Even these 2 companies, though, have great polishes and stinkers too so I really don’t think price is any guarantee of anything. Polish applied at home (even though I use the same things they use at the salon) doesn’t last well on me but I teach food and nutrition and my hands and nails take quite a beating.

  19. Avatar of Icequeen Icequeen81

    I second you in that, don’t see any difference between high and low ones just the shades

  20. Yellowlantern

    No.

    The only reason to go high end for me would be for a very unique color. But high end polish companies have been putting out uninspired colors for over a year now.

    I remember the times when Chanel would come out with unique, trendsetting colors like Peridot or Paradoxal and I can’t understand why Chanel as of late has chosen to go back to safe colors I could get from OPI or China Glaze for a fraction of the cost.

  21. Avatar of Alicia Alicia

    Paying around $7 for China Glaze seems like a lot to me. I do notice some wear time between china glaze and the generic Ulta Brand. I get maybe only a day out of Ulta and with China Glaze I get about 5ish days. I usually only buy nail polish if it is on sale and not that often, because bottles last such a long time.

  22. helen

    I tend to have the best luck with either OPI or Chanel. I find that high-end polishes can have a better colour quality but as far as what lasts longer on nails, it’s still a gamble. While one colour of a cheaper polish will last forever (OPI -Suzi Loves Chocolate) vs Chanel Vamp (chips the minute it’s on) yet Dragon has infinite longevity….Go figure.

  23. Ms. Heathen

    I find that the best performance seems to come from polishes that hover around the $8-$10 mark. If there were a color I absolutely had to have I might buy a $20-$30 polish as a treat to myself, but I wouldn’t expect it to have amazing wear. Though I buy a lot of $2-$5 polishes, I mostly get them to try out colors and don’t expect them to stay on longer than one day.

  24. Avatar of Lauren crystallinity

    I’m the exact opposite of you, Christine— EVERYTHING chips on me. Even with Illamasqua, I will MAX get five days of wear!(And that was like a miracle- I’ve never had a polish last so long. They really make fabulous product!) So I do tend to gravitate towards higher end polish, because even with OPI I find I’m repolishing every day. Also, in the case of a polish like Deborah Lippmann, her colors and glitters are really unique so I find it worth it to pay extra money for them.

    • The idea of applying polish every day (just to wear it normally) would make it so I would never wear it :( That sucks!

      • Avatar of Lauren crystallinity

        I do get frustrated, but I’ve made it part of my own evening spa/relaxation ritual. With most polishes, I get 2-3 days. Illamasqua, Chanel, Butter London, and Deborah Lippmann wear better on me, so I might get 4-5 days.

    • MERI

      All nails have a nice protective waxy surface to prevent moisture loss, if you get a white buffing block (sally’s has them for 1.10) and you just lightly buff your nails before you polish your problem will disappear, you can also wipe them down with an alcohol swab after and this will keep your polish from chipping too quickly.

  25. Jaz

    Nope. I hate paying 8 bucks for Essie, OPI , China Glaze and Sally Hansen. Nail polish chips on me no matter what I do- so I will just stick to painting my toes. I cant even come home and say that I spent that kind of money on nail polishes.

  26. I say yes. If you love the color and the formula, it’s definitely worth it to me. I had to have Deborah Lippmann’s Across the Universe and I don’t regret spending that amount of money at all.

  27. Avatar of Phoebe Phoebe

    I think it is sometimes worth it. Illamasqua, totally worth it. Chanel, for me, is also worth it (without a base coat, it lasts almost as long as Illamasqua).

    But I do have some drugstore polishes that last a long time, too. Like L’Oreal. Wet ‘n’ Wild.

    But I also have some lower end polishes that chip like crazy or peel right off or have a terrible texture/formula. Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear. Sinful Colors. Etc.

  28. MERI

    I own my own nail boutique and I’ve owned every polish you can think of, while I still order Chanel for certain clients because of its wonderful formula to protect nails, it does not have the lasting power of OPI and next best would be Lancome. All 3 of these and Zoya are free of devastatingly harmful chemicals. Drug store polish still contain the chemicals (toxic trio) that in long term use will cause nail lifting (from the bed) and thickening of toe nails. So basically you get what you pay for. Yes its worth it, think of these chemicals are allowed if labeled that does not make it safe. Chanel is wonderful for being toxic free but that is a high price for many to pay at $27 to $ 30 a bottle. the #1 worst to me because of the damage I’ve seen from it is Formaldehyde (used to preserve bodies and lab specimens) Google “toxic trio” in nail polish and educate yourself thats your best defense.to see if that .99 cent drug store polish is worth it. If I had to recommend the best median price level it would be OPI for its staying power a good manicure/pedicure with this polish will last up to two weeks.

    • Avatar of Amy xamyx

      The majority of “mainstream” DS brands are 3-Free, ie WnW, Sinful Colors (owned by Revlon), as well as several others that are a bit pricier. Unless you buy something off the grid, the majority of what you buy in the US will be 3-Free.

    • Marcey

      Thank you. It’s nice to hear from a professional.

  29. L

    I’m more interested in the colour of a polish than the actual brand, but I go for some brands just to see how they compare to others.

  30. Avatar of stef stef b

    With high-end nail polish i can mostly tell the difference in application and opacity. other than that it doesn’t really matter to me but i’ll admit i do like pretty bottles and fun names like Butter London

  31. Avatar of Jen Jen

    I go with nicer nail polishes because I’m busy and generally don’t have more than 20 minutes to paint my nails before I have to do something. I stick with Essie, OPI, and I have some Dior polishes (Dior lasts at least two weeks without chipping on me) and I’ve been looking into the Illamasqua polishes, Temptalia has been writing some convincing reviews and they are competitively priced between Essie & Dior. I think if you have a lot of polish and some time to spare, drugstore polishes are great. If you just have a small collection of colors you really like, it’s more cost and time effective to have a premium range.

  32. MYALIBI

    Some high end ones only wear 5 days on my nails (only bought Dior and Butter london), but I can wear Essie for a little over a week… So I am not sure if they are worth it… Well, the 3 free factor might be the only reason why i would keep buy high end again.

  33. Avatar of Sabriel Sabriel

    Weird. I would say that high-end (as opposed to luxury) is absolutely worth it! The consistency is easier to work with and I end up doing a much better job on my nails. I started buying high end polish because I wanted it to be 3-Free, but the difference in quality was a really nice secondary benefit.

  34. Avatar of LL LL

    Very rarely. I currently don’t own any nail polish higher than 8 or 9 dollars and my life is completely fine. My collection is quite vast and I can pretty much get the look I’m going for with what I have. However, I do really like some Deborah Lippman polishes very much (the dupes are NOT as beautiful) and another brand (I think it’s called Zico or something- the holo ones). I just haven’t gotten around to buying any of them yet. Maybe I’ll save purchasing one for meeting a goal…

  35. Acobb

    I think high-end polish is worth the price for the formulation and color. I invest in a few high-end polishes and whenever I wear them, I always get compliments. Plus, I find they are easier to apply and don’t damage my nails.

  36. Avatar of Sasha Sasha

    I pay more for complexity in finish and design. I’ve shelled out some serious cash for a little stash of RBL that chip on me after 2 days and I have a few Chanel and Dior polishes that I love. One of my favorite polishes for the color is a deborrah lippmann even though the wear I get out of those is only about 3 days. The best wear I get tends to be butter london, essie and zoya with their respective top and base coats. I get better results with Zoya’s top and base with my RBLs than I do with the super expensive RBL base and top coat I bought.

    I’d highly recommend buying butter london and deborrah lippmann etc on sale, as on sale they’re about the same price as essie/opi and often have really unique and interesting polishes. If you’ve never bought Zoya because it’s online I highly recommend it!!! If I want a mani to last 5 days, Zoya is the polish I turn to, with Essie or butter london behind that.

  37. Dominique

    I have budget, middle-end and high end ones, some are really unique and others are not. Some high end nail polishes are worth the price ( DL Across the Universe, Mermaid’s Dream, some Chanel and Dior ones too ), OPI are really very very good ( expensive in France 12-14 € ), so I would say yes good nail polishes are worth it whatever the brand in fact. The Kiko ones are good ( glitter, matte ) and only 4,90 € and the DL are very good 20 € but such gorgeous colours and shades.

  38. Crystal

    I’ve tried many high end and drugstore nail polishes, and the two brands that wore the longest on me are the cheapest: Wet n Wild and Sinful Colors.

  39. Avatar of Sophia Sophie

    wow you all talk about china glaze, OPI, Essie and zoya as ”cheap polish” they are freaking expensive here in Europe! I’m so happy that i got some OPI from a Sephora sale for 4€ a bottle (they cost 15€)
    All my polishes are between 4-8€ and i’m really happy with them. they are middle quality and hold up pretty well. My Favorites are Color Club!!! they are the best (for me at least)
    I never even thought of spending on a channel or Dior polish, that is just ridiculous. ITS NAIL POLISH!

  40. America

    Chanel lasts 1.5 weeks on me before it starts to chip. OPI I can get maybe 5 days. Drugstore I’m lucky I can get 2 days out of it. So yes there is a huge difference!

  41. Avatar of raloves ra

    To me yes it is. I only use Chanel (I might try Dior and YSL etc) but only Chanel ones give me nice coverage with less layers, fast drying, long lasting performance. It means less colour options but I am not fond of too many or bright colours anyway. Chanel’s range is pretty good for me. But I wish they made Jade permanent!

  42. gaby

    Nope I wouldn’t pay more than $10 for a nail polish, more than that it’s crazy To Me!

  43. Avatar of Gina Gina

    You know, I used to not think so. But then I discovered Illamasqua, and I fell in love. I used to think I was really awful at painting my nails, but it turns out, I was just using polishes with crappy formulas. Illamasqua polishes apply like a dream.

  44. Michelle Teixeira

    Everything chips and wears off on my nails by day two. So, I truly use up nail polish very quickly from redoing my nails. I do love the Pixi polish because it lasts the longest and I like the colors. I have been contemplating purchasing Mally Gel Nail System, so I can enjoy my manicure for more than a day.

  45. Donalene

    I don’t see a difference in some expensive polishes compared to the cheaper ones. Being a hairstylist my hands are in different solutions and water all the time. I go by the color. I remember years ago buying a very expensive polish and my Wet’n’Wild wore tons better! Most wear very well on me. I think China Glaze’s Fast Forward topcoat is one of the best! It’s a quick dry and the shine!!!

  46. Elspeth

    I love Illamasqua polishes too. All other polishes (except gels) chip on me after a day or so. With Illamasqua I can get two or three days and then I get little chips which I can spot repair.

  47. Avatar of Jill AnGeLwInGz

    It depends on what you consider high end? I don’t consider Illamasqua a luxury brand but some consider them high end. I no longer pay $30 for nail polish from Chanel. Illamasqua has top of the line quality for $14.

  48. Sharon

    I thought it wasn’t. And then I bought Illamasqua. My world was never the same again.

  49. Lizzy

    Yes. I’m tough on polish and a total spaz at getting it on straight so Chanel polish is worth every cent! Since I only need a few colors instead of the huge stash I aquired of polish that never works well I wish Id bitten the bullet sooner on Chanel and saved a ton of cash.

  50. Avatar of LU LU

    I’ve tried Deborah Lippmann, and the wear time is awful on my nails. I just recently tried Illamsqua, and it is the most amazing polish formula with the longest wear time ever (on me at least). I don’t think every high-end polish is worth it, I truly believe it depends on the brand, and I still love Essie even though the wear time is not as long as Illamasqua.

  51. Geneva

    Yes, in my opinion. I love all brands of nail polish, Sally Hansen, Sinful Colors, Essie, OPI, Butter London, NARS, Illamasqua, Maybelline Color Show and China Glaze. I usually buy based on the shade not the price. You get duds in all brands, I don’t buy Chanel because I can’t justify the price and most importantly I don’t care for any of the shades.

  52. Avatar of Kathryn KEG

    yes! I find the finish is prettier and they tend to chip less, but……Zoya is great….Beautiful colors that last. I have both high end and DS- I never seem to use the cheap ones-except Zoya

  53. ashley

    I used to only where DS polishes before I discovered the world of you tube. They would last like 5-7 days depending on the brand. Sally Hanson was my favorite but it still chipped. I’m a hoarder now and have all types of brands DS and as expensive as my 1 DL and 1 Chanel. I find that base coat is the key. I love Revlon’s quick dry base coat and have turned to Orly’s sticky base coat. I type for 14 hours a day and always have tip wear but these 2 base coats work for me. I usually change my polish every 2-3 days.