My Favourite Nail Polish Brands
As 2011 comes to a close, I thought I would take stock of a year that has been special to me. Other than some reflection on the developments related to this blog, I would also like to share on the brands I have discovered and come to love most in this year.
Work-wise, 2011 definitely was not one of the better years. I would not go into details for they are irrelevant here. Yet, it was precisely that which saw me taking refuge in a hobby – nail polish, and sharing my experiences regarding it. While my interest in nail polish is definitely not new, this year, it took on a totally new life and direction.
Starting this blog has given me not only a source of escape from work stress, but it has also provided me with an avenue to exercise my creativity. Most important of all, it has helped me to “meet” many kindred spirits, who not only understand this passion, but who have shown me friendship and support.
Well, of course we are probably the worst enablers for one another, but, deep down, we know we would have indulged in the many new lacquers anyway, with or without encouragement. It’s just that we take comfort in the fact that we are not alone in this and we have a support group who are as excited as we are about getting that HTF (hard to find) or that brand new colour.
Through exploring the different brands of nail polish, almost all of which were new to me, I have also come to love some brands more than others. I love them not just for producing good quality products, but also for the creativity and the effort the creators have put into the brand and the products.
One of my new year’s resolutions with regard to nail polish is to be more focused and less indiscriminate in my purchase of nail polish. As such, I have a list in my mind prioritising the various brands. I would like to share with you the top four brands on my list, with an explanation of why I love each of them. I shall discuss them in alphabetical order.
When I first read about A-England on Scrangie’s blog, I got very, very interested about it, not just for the beautiful colours, but also for the inspiration. I grew up on a lot of literary works from Britain and love the countryside and coastal areas of the area. And while I never caught on to the Arthurian legend per se, I love the story of Tristan and Isolde. As such, A-England and I were a love affair that was bound to happen.
I was actually away on holiday when I read Scrangie’s post, but I could not resist placing an order using my iPad. That there was free shipping then just made it all the more irresistible!
Avalon and Lady of the Lake were among my first A-England lacquers. Although Tristam seems the most loved, I resisted initially for dark blue doesn’t always work well on me. Still, it eventually made its way to me, as did all the other shades over the course of the next few months. I find it exciting that I am able to have all the colours released by a brand, and to find each and every one of them a joy to use. I cannot wait to add on to my collection when the new range is released!
I have said this before, and I must say it again. One reason for my great love of A-England is that the brain and soul behind it, the lovely Adina Bodana, is such a wonderful lady! She is so unassuming and so sincere. She may not usually say much, but what she says is always so sweet and kind. It’s hard not to like this down-to-earth lady who is always coming up with some promotion to make her polish more accessible and affordable. After all, this is the only brand I know of that offers free worldwide shipping with minimum order required!
2. CULT NAILS
I first came to know of Cult Nails when Jen from The PolishAholic posted a comparison post for Captivated. What was interesting was the reaction from Maria Morrison, the creator of the line.
Maria wrote a post on how labs may sell the same polish to different companies. Instead of getting all upset, she came up with a promotion – buy Captivated at a discounted price when you buy two other colours. The coupon code given was the brand the dupe was from. I though that was very good-natured and tongue-in-cheek, so I decided to order a few colours to try.
However, when trying to place my first order, I realised Singapore was not on the list of countries they were shipping to (the list was still relatively short back in June when this happened). I emailed them and John, Maria’s uber-supportive husband, worked on adding Singapore to the list. By then, however, the Captivated offer was over. Instead of telling me “sorry, but you’ve missed the boat”, they created a code for me to still get Captivated at the promotional price. How sweet was that?
I didn’t use the code in the end because I was so impressed by their friendliness and wonderful customer service, I ordered the Converted pack, which contained all the nine colours they had at that time at a discounted price. And converted I became and I consider myself a die-hard Cultie. I love the bright, colourful, and fun colours Maria comes up with. She has shimmers, jelly-cremes, and glitters, which I really like, if not love.
3. RESCUE BEAUTY LOUNGE (RBL)
I first read about RBL when Scrangie and Michelle Mismas from All Lacquered Up made references to their polish created with Ji Baek. I was very intrigued by the fact that a nail polish brand actually gave bloggers the chance to design a polish to be named by them.
I started looking for more posts about the brand. I wasn’t as quick to order from RBL as with the previous two brands for their polish is pretty pricey. What was more, if I wanted to order just a couple of bottles to try first, the shipping would cost me more than the price for one bottle. To get free shipping, international orders must be at least US$200. I didn’t know anyone else I could do a combined order with then, unfortunately.
Needless to say, I did eventually take the plunge and ordered a bunch of colours and the Treatment System. In all honesty, it was not love at first (brush)stroke with RBL for me. The brush was (and still is) more narrow than I like. And I struggled with the light coloured creamy polish even more than those from other brands because of this. This was made more frustrating by how others didn’t seem to have problems with the application. One thing I did love was the Base Coat Prep for I do find it helps my manis stay on better.
Still, I continued to stay interested in RBL, not least because Ji, as with Adina and Maria, also takes a very personable approach towards her customers and supporters. Her happy-go-lucky and drama-mama personality makes it particularly fun to read her banter with her group of loyal supporters, nicknamed ReBeLs.
By now, I have come across many RBL lacquers that apply like a dream, including what has become one of my go-to bright red lacquers, Chinoise. I also love the shimmers. In addition, I now know quite a few fellow RBL lovers in Singapore that I can combine orders with, which was precisely what we did in the recent Bring It Back pre-order.
This is the only major brand I’ve decided to include in this review. Sure, I love the colours and application from other major brands like OPI, China Glaze, Orly, and Nubar. Somehow, though, I don’t feel a personal engagement with these brands as I do with Zoya. And to think I barely looked at the Zoya shelf during my initial visits to my regular nail polish shop.
I cannot quite remember which was the first Zoya I tried. I think it could have been Dannii or Gemma. The easy application amazed me right from the start. The fact that they pride themselves on producing safe nail polish helps a lot too. I also like the use of girls’ names for the polish.
I like Zoya’s wide range of colours and how their main seasonal collections tend to come in two parts, one shiny/sparkly/glittery and the other more toned down. This helps them to cater to different customer needs much better than brands that tend to have a lot more cremes than other finishes. Their polish remover, Remove+, is my favourite remover. It is, sadly, not easy for me to get though.
While a major company like Zoya cannot have the personal approach like the previous three indie brands, they do use social networking tools more meaningfully than some of the other big brands. They have a PR team that calls themselves the Zoya Fairies and the supporters Pixies. They post cheeky questions, comments, and photos just for fun. They also often have special promotions. The only problem is, they do not ship internationally and I have to seek out other sources.
So, there you have it, the top four brands I love most. While there are many other brands that make good polish, there is something extra about each of these brands that make me like them more. As I seek to cut down on my polish acquisition in 2012 and onwards, these are the four that I will continue to pay closer attention to based on my experience with them so far.
What are your favourite polish brands?