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China Glaze It’s Alive & Ghoulish Glow Swatches, Photos, Reviews

A Look at China Glaze Halloween 2011

Want a SPOOKTACULAR manicure? I couldn’t resist. 🙂 I just had the chance to play with the Halloween kit, which contains one real color shade, two layering coats, and China Glaze’s Fast Forward Top Coat. I bought the other new color shades but am waiting for them to arrive still (boo, west coast!). The kit I have includes the top coat but there’s one available at Sally’s ($12.99) that also includes Cross Iron 360 instead of the top coat.

It’s Alive is a blackened-olive green base with murky olive green micro-glitter and larger particle glitter. I like how the base color looks like a pool of murkiness–I think the play of really light color compared to the base creates that effect. I only needed two coats for opaque color, and the formula was easy to work with; not too thick or thin, good flow, and coverage.  It is rather different from Zombie Zest, actually–darker and glittery.

Ghoulish Glow is a glow-in-the-dark top coat, which does really glow when the lights are all off. I didn’t like it much layered over It’s Alive; it gave It’s Alive a muted, washed-out quality and when I turned off the lights, it didn’t look significantly different than if I had just painted my nails with the top coat itself. I’d say if you want a day and night look, it’s not a bad compromise to layer, because when it’s worn alone, it’s not exactly the prettiest shade (an off-white). I had good results with both one and two coats of it (alone), but, as my boyfriend pointed out, it glows better if you let it soak up some light first.

Black Mesh is old news, but it’s a black crackling top coat. It crackled in large chunks and pieces when I did it over It’s Alive. I don’t feel like there is much to say on it; it crackled and dried quickly to a matte finish (so use a top coat for shine). It does have a cool effect over Ghoulish Glow, but I’d recommend doing two coats of Ghoulish Glow underneath and then layering Black Mesh on top.

It’s a fun set! I really liked It’s Alive’s formula and am happy to be able to report back on Ghoulish Glow… actually glowing. I attempted photos of it, but let’s just not revisit that–it was an exercise in futility and “this is so not worth it” amongst many expletives.


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China Glaze Crackle Glaze Swatches, Review, Photos (Part 1)

China Glaze Crackle Glaze: Black Mesh, Cracked Concrete, Lightning Bolt

China Glaze Crackle Glaze: Part 1

China Glaze Crackle Collection ($6.49 for 0.50 fl. oz.) consists of six shades, and I wanted to break it into two parts because of how many photos the collection ended up being. Crackle nail polish is just that, polish that cracks. It’s a layering polish, so it is something you apply after you have applied your base color/coat. All the shades dry to a matte finish, so if you want a shiny finish, just use a shiny top coat (I used Seche Vite for swatches).

  • Black Mesh is a matte, deep black. This was the easiest shade to work with out of the six, and it cracks really well. The formula was thin but very pigmented.
  • Cracked Concrete is a matte, medium-dark gray. It’s definitely the color of freshly poured concrete. The formula was thin but pigmented and cracked well without having to trial it.
  • Lightning Bolt is a matte, bright white. I recommend using a medium-thick coat of this if you want it to look more opaque, as thinner coats, while they will show more splintering, also show a lot of the base coming through, so it has a streaky look to it. I used a a fairly thick coat for swatches, and while it splintered, it didn’t do as much as I’d like.

Half of the fun of these Crackles is finding good base colors to layer underneath one of the Crackle Glazes. I can’t compare the formula to any other brands, past or present, as I really don’t have any experience with them. I vaguely remember CoverGirl Crackles, but I don’t think I owned any (I wasn’t allowed to wear nail polish until I was in my late teens). I like these, and they were easy enough to work with–hey, the look itself is edgy and a little messy, so minor mistakes are easily forgiven. Lightning Bolt might take one or two attempts, but I think I just went too thick.


  • Do 2 coats maximum of your base color and let it dry completely.
  • Apply the Crackle Glaze in one coat and as quickly as possible as it dries down very fast!
  • Use a thicker coat of Crackle Glaze for more opaque color or thicker cracks (but less of them).
  • Use a thinner coat of Crackle Glaze if you want a very crackled, piece-y look.

P.S. — I’ll be posting a video later today showing the polish as it crackles, because I found it pretty cool.

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

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

final thoughts: If you dig the effect, definitely worth picking up a couple of shades.  I think Black Mesh performed the best out of the six, followed by Cracked Concrete.

where to buy: Sally’s