China Glaze Altered Reality Nail Lacquer
Six Stages of Transitions
China Glaze Altered Reality Nail Lacquer ($8.00 MSRP for 0.50 fl. oz.) includes six shades of color-changing shades. I’m not aware of any other polishes that change color with the addition of a top coat, so none of these have dupes.
- Altered Reality is a shimmering teal with a metallic finish. When a top coat is applied, it turns bluish-teal. This one doesn’t have a lot of color shift.
- Duplicity is an aqua-tinted turquoise with a creamy, mostly matte finish. When a top coat is applied, it turns to a darker, blue-toned teal.
- Metallic Metamorphosis is a silvered gray with a metallic finish. When you layer a top coat on top, it turns to a darker, gunmetal gray. This one was the best-applying of the six.
- Modify Me is periwinkle blue with a metallic finish. This one was a bit streaky. When layered with a top coat, it turned darker and bluer.
- Shape Shifter is a dark, purple-tinged gray with a metallic finish. With a top coat layered on top, it turned into a dark royal purple.
- Split Perso-nail-ity is a light-medium pink with a cream finish. When you applied a top coat on top, it turned into a dark pink.
China Glaze gave out a how-to for applying these, which is how I attempted to swatch these. I found that two coats was ridiculous–the polish has a really thick consistency and is opaque in one coat. Without fail, with two coats of color, drying time was on the longer end of the spectrum and I’d get bubbling. I ended up with one coat of polish for each swatch; I did a diagonal pass of top coat on the index finger, no top coat on the middle finger, and a full layer of top coat on the ring finger. I applied one coat, waited fifteen minutes for it to dry, and then applied the top coat.
I really didn’t like the formula. I feel like saying, “Interesting idea, bad execution.” The polish on its own (no top coat) has a semi-matte finish–there’s a sheen to it, but it looks flat. I used a regular base coat for all of the swatches, but I’d recommend a ridge-filling base coat, because all six shades were unforgiving–you could see every little nook and cranny on my nail and then some.
With a top coat, it was a swirling, streaking mess. From a distance, it almost looked like a marbled effect, but it was really just streaky. I used China Glaze’s Fast Forward top coat on all of the shades, and I had numerous problems from a little bubbling, streaking, blobs, and swirls and jets of color. It was just a mess. There was also a graininess to the polish itself that wouldn’t go away no matter how much I rolled the bottle.
All six changed color when a top coat was applied with some changing more than others. Altered Reality was the least changing. I wore Duplicity and Shape Shifter for wear, and I did experience above average tip wear when worn without a top coat. There was some light staining behind, and I think these may be prone to staining (though I did not test all six for wear). Nails with a top coat lasted seven days with normal tip wear but no chipping. In all honesty, I think it would have been easier to take two individual polishes and work with them.