Photo Set

Essie Leading Lady, 3 coats plus 1 coat of Gelous and 1 coat of Seche Vite.

I’m torn about this one. On the one hand, it’s so sparkly and pretty! On the other hand, it is a massive pain in the ass to apply and to clean up, which you can probably glean from the photos. I found it to be rather gloopy (technical terminology right there) and difficult to spread evenly. Kind of like jam, or preserves. But still. Sparkles. 

Photo Set

Sally Hansen Gem Crush Showgirl Chic, 2 coats over 2 coats of Orly Shine.

So sparkly. So distracting. Both polishes applied smoothly and without any fuss, but as expected, removal was a massive pain in the butt. Totally worth it, though. You could probably get Showgirl Chic opaque with a couple more coats, but layering is so much easier.


Essie Cashmere Bathrobe, 3 thin coats plus top coat.

Greys can be tricky for me, but this one works since it’s got some blue in it. The formula is pretty thin, so I would recommend using 3 thinner coats instead of 2 thicker ones so you can avoid getting it all over everything. I’d also like to point out that I got great wear out of this mani: 7 days, zero chipping, barely any tipwear. 

Photo Set

Revlon Divine, 2 coats plus top coat. 

Okay, I’m finally done obsessing over Royal Rajah Ruby backups. I promise. My bizarre obsession with this color notwithstanding, Divine is actually pretty excellent. The formula is nice and easy to work with, so I didn’t have to do much cleanup.

Photo Set

Happy Hands Feliz Navidad, 3 coats over a ridge filler.

Sadly, this is no longer available as Happy Hands has closed up shop. If you find it at a blog sale or something though, it’s totally worth it. Never thought I’d like a color like this, but it is so cute, and surprisingly flattering. The formula has room for improvement, but it’s not an issue if you let each coat dry a bit before the next.

Photo Set

SHCSM Fairy Teal + Maybelline Clearly Spotted.

I like this combination. And Clearly Spotted. I think it’s easier to use, and nicer-looking than Lynnderella Connect the Dots, honestly. I like the lack of bar glitter, the lack of shimmer in the base, and the variety of hex glitter sizes. This combination got me a few compliments, actually! That’s always fun.

Photo Set

SHCSM Fairy Teal, 2 coats.

I like this teal. It has a bit of a tendency to stain the surrounding skin if you’re not careful, but it applies so easily and smoothly that I don’t really find that to be an issue. It’s almost solid in 1 coat, too. Great for those days when you want your nails to be painted but don’t want to fuss with streaky crap that needs 4 coats for opacity.

Photo Set

China Glaze Stone Cold, 2-3 coats plus top coat.

I have to admit, I think I liked it better matte. Top coat didn’t help the wear, either. Oh well.

Photo Set

China Glaze Stone Cold, 2-3 coats.

Stone Cold was quite the disappointment. I like the color a lot, but the wear is terrible. I know mattes are supposed to wear poorly, but this manicure started to chip within a few hours. I’d definitely keep thinner on hand for this one- because it dries so quickly, it also thickens quickly. I added a couple drops after each coat, and was able to keep it pretty smooth.

Photo Set

Illamasqua Hemlock, 4 coats.

Not the most flattering neutral in the world…but it’s such a weird and interesting color, I can’t help but like it. As you can see, a bit of my nail line is still visible, even after four coats, so next time I plan to keep my nails short and use a ridge filler.