simplifying | the nail polish stash

copper tray: target

nail polish is one of those things that lends itself well to collecting. they come in a million different colors, are pretty to display, and have that dangerous mix of luxury & affordability. at the peak of my nail polish hoarding days, I’m sure I had close to, if not over, 100 bottles.

my collection is a little leaner now, though not as lean as I’d like. I’m rocking a bare nail 99% of the time these days since I can’t wear nail polish when I’m at clinicals, so I could weed out a bit more. in the meantime, this is all the polish that has made the initial cut. although I have a handful of higher-end bottles, I’m more of a drugstore girl when it comes to polish – it’s clear I have a soft spot for essie. nails inc. would come in at a respectable second.

off the top of my head, some of my favorite colors are essie’s chinchilly, dress to kilt, & hip-anema, nail inc.’s porchester square, and burberry’s oxblood. maybe I should just keep these 5…?

reviews & swatches | essie spring 2015

essiespring15from my instagram

essie152sorry I’m running a little behind schedule today, but it’s worth the wait because today’s post is a pretty one!

if I were to determine my favorite nail polish brand by the number of shades I own, essie would be far & away the winner. I love the colors, the formula (for the most part), & the design of the bottles (so easy to store). lately, though, it seems like every new essie collection is reminiscent of a previous one, (which is understandable to a degree because there are only so many shades of a given color you can do) which left me feeling a little underwhelmed by the offerings. this collection though was love at first sight. maybe it’s been the seemingly never-ending winter that’s made me a little crazy over anything resembling spring, but come on, those colors are just so happy & bright & just so, so good. I bought the mini 4-pack that included blossom dandy, petal pushers, flowerista, perennial chic, & the full-size bottle of garden variety. I chose to forgo the sixth shade in the collection, picked perfect, because I didn’t think it would go well with my skin tone.

essie15swatches4two medium coats, no top coat

the formula was really good for flowerista, petal pushers, & garden variety – if you played your cards right, you could do a one-coat-wonder, but I just did my usual two. as with a lot of lighter colors, perennial chic & blossom dandy weren’t quite as easy – the first coat was a little streaky, the second still had some uneven spots that I had to touch up – but nothing truly horrible. as far as finicky, lighter colors from essie go, these were pretty good to work with. my favorites are flowerista, garden variety, & blossom dandy, which is very similar to mint candy apple but somehow different. don’t ask me how; it just is, & I love it. I don’t have a comparison shot because I’m just not cool like that, but here’s one. see? I told you it was different, wink.

bottom line, this collection is lovely. have you tried it?


5 x nude nail polish

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 9.21.09 AMone essie topless & barefoot | two dior nail glow

three nails inc. x vvb bamboo white (limited edition) | four orly dare to bare

five mac endless night (limited edition from 2012)

over the years and after a lot of trial & error, I’ve figured out how to rock nude nail polish without looking like I have mannequin hands. because of my skin tone & undertone, I have to find a “nude” that has a little bit of pink in it so that it doesn’t look too pale on my nails, and the added pink keeps things from being too chalky.

  • for the perfectly minimal nail, the dior nail glow is my jam.
  • for a sheer, translucent nude, mac endless night is my go-to.
  • for a solid nude, I switch between orly dare to bare, which leans a little more pinkand essie topless & barefoot, which is a true neutral nude on me (even if it looks very pink in the bottle, oddly enough).
  • when I want something a little more subtle & chic without being sheer, nails inc. x vvb bamboo white is the perfect soft, pink-white.

what are your go-to nudes?


current favorite nail polishes & products

IMG_0156if you follow me on instagram, you would have seen the picture above a couple of weeks back. I’ve been on a nail polish kick lately, and I’ve been really loving the products & colors I’ve been trying.

nails5last year, sephora came out with a new, revamped in-house nail polish line called formula x. I finally got around to trying out a couple of colors & the prepping system, which comes with a nail cleanser, a base coat, & a top coat plus a nail polish color of your choosing. I’ve found that all three steps work well for me. the cleanser helps to eliminate any lingering oils or products on my nails before I start polishing, the base coat works well in laying an adhesive foundation for the color to sit on, and the top coat is glossy & has kept my nails chip-free for 4-5 days on average, which is impressive for me since I’m hard on my hands. I do find that after a day or two, I have to apply a second coat of top coat to get back the shine, but that’s typical for me. I used to use seche vite regularly but I found that it shrunk horribly after first application, so I switched to dior‘s top coat, which is lovely but really only works best with the brand’s own polish. over other brands, it had some shrinking (but nowhere near as bad as with the seche vite).

I’ve tested out the formula x system with a lot of the brands I own, including essie, chanel, dior, butter london, opi, & nails inc., as well as with formula x colors, and while the system worked best with the formula x colors & dior, it played well enough with all of them. it’s a good “one top coat for all”. my one concern is that since it is on the thicker side, it might get harder to work with over time, like the seche vite, but I’ve used it regularly over the last 6 weeks, and it hasn’t gotten gloopy or hard to work with so so far, so good.

nails2nails1 as for actual nail polishes, I’ve stuck to neutrals on my tips and a pop of color on my toes. on my hands, I’ve rotated between dior‘s lady, orly‘s dare to bare, & nails inc. x vvb victoria beckham in bamboo white. lady is the loveliest soft pink I’ve ever come across. I have a hard time finding soft pinks that don’t look too ashy or just beige on my medium-dark skintone. this one is perfect (how I wish it wasn’t limited edition!). the most neutral on me is the orly, which is really subtle & incognito on my nails, giving just enough color to cover up my nail bed. bamboo white is not actually white on me – it leans ever so slightly to a powdery pink. this one I was pleasantly surprised by, because like with soft pinks, whites are a tricky color for me, if they’re too powdery, they end up looking too stark against my skin. this one is soft & elegant, which is just what I was looking for (I wore it here; for better swatches, see Sabrina’s post). it would be a great color for the office & other more conservative situations.

on my toes, I’ve gone the exact opposite & opted for color, switching between the nails inc. x vvb victoria beckham in judo red, the pair to bamboo white, and essie‘s splash of grenadine. judo red is a classic tomato red-orange that leans warm. it’s such a bold, brightening color. just like its mate, the formula was great & application was easy. spash of grenadine is not a color I usually go for, but it looked so cheery & springy in the bottle that I couldn’t resist giving it a try. it’s a really lovely pink/purple that applied well. I like that it’s bright without being neon, and I have nothing in my collection like it. I’ve loved seeing these two colors on my toes. they keep me believing that spring is on its way…even if it’s -8 in Chicago right now. -8!!!

hope you’re keeping warm! if you’re lucky enough to be someplace that’s actually warm, won’t you send some of that heat up to the great lakes?

things I love | essie haute in the heat


those of you who follow on instagram would have seen this shot, but I wanted to do a little shout out on the blog, because I’m loving the color, and I couldn’t be more surprised. I tend to go for barely there nudes and neutrals; moody, dark greys and blues; and a red or coral here and there. pink is usually not on my tips. in fact, I own only two other pink shades in my stash, and they end up on my toes 99% of the time. but I saw this color on the shelf at target, and I found myself taking it home. I still wasn’t convinced that I liked it even as I was applying, but when it all dried and set, it won me over. it leans more towards a warm, tame reddish-pink in the shade or out of direct sunlight, but as you can see, it’s this lovely raspberry in the light. if the color wasn’t lovely enough, the formula is fantastic – this was almost perfect at one coat and spot-on at two coats.

james and I did some paint sampling the day before I snapped the picture, so my nails are looking a little worse for wear, but at least they’re pretty, right? ;)