Save v. Spend. Nail Polish on the Cheap.

All Time Fav Save.
Rimmel London in French Rose.
If you know me by now, you know that I love nail polish. We can thank Nicole Jaclyn for that. And my inner-Kindergarten-self who would have bought stock in Lee-Press-Ons had she known what stock was. Not only do I love nail polish, but I love expensive nail polish. Or varnish. Or laquer. The good stuff. And while I maintain the truth in an $8-$15 buy, and while I can vouch for the validity of a $20 lacquer (it lasted 3 weeks with negligible touch-ups!!!), my thrifty self can’t help but ponder a niche for nail polish on the cheap.

Disclaimer: If you’re going to buy “cheap,” you must–must–still use quality base & top. If you decline, then not only did you waste $.99/$1.99/$4.99, but you also wasted the time you took in picking out and applying said varnish. Trust me. Buy the base. Buy the top. Reapply top liberally. (If you don’t, it will go bad. So go crazy.)
Inspiration: Why the sudden curiosity?? You see. My all-time favorite laquer is a shade enticingly titled French Rose and made by Rimmel London. I love it. I, in fact, cannot live with out it. This is the most versatile, most true, most easy-to-apply, most wearable, most subtle, most demure, most high-impact neutral I have EVER found. Dare I say: not even my Zoya Kennedy measures up.
Neutral & Nude.
Gel-like in Finish.
French Rose (#140) by Rimmel gives the appearance of a gel nail with the effort of a French Manicure (senza the tip … unless you add one) and the ease of a tapered brush. Said brush applies smoothly and, due to its width & taper, is extremely forgiving. I cannot get enough of this polish and always have it in-stock. Of its many uses:
Neutral Nail.
Accompanying Nail to an Accent.
Base Color to a Streaky Nail Polish.
Interview Nail.
Step-Up from a Clear Nail.
Let me be clear: Rimmel’s French Manicure PRO series is pretty good. (Some of the colors are streaky even after several coats). French Rose 140, on the other hand, might as well be the Chanel No. 5 of neutrals. It is that good.
Nail Polish on the Cheap: As noted in my first Save v. Spend on Nail Polish, I advised to save on polishes for 3 reasons: 1.) when buying trendy colors 2). when wearing only a few times 3). when sampling a color. In all of these scenarios, spare yourself the $8 & check out the $.99/ $1.99 options. Today, I opted for Wet ‘n’ Wild.
Wet ‘n’ Wild Shine.
Dreamy Poppy 429D.
This summery-spring like weather in dreary Rochester, NY had me thirsting for some pink-lemonade. After I bought 2 different varietals at Trader Joe’s (…we’re seriously sun deprived in the #Roc), I found a similar shade at CVS. I knew I had to blog about Wet ‘n’ Wild Shine in Dreamy Poppy 429D–just $.99!!–as soon as I swiped the first coat. Atop Seche Clear, it glided-on like a pro:
Thick but not Gloppy.
High Pigmentation.
Great Coverage & Not Streaky.
Seriously Simple Brush Strokes.
Similar to mascara, wand means everything. The wand on Wet ‘n’ Wild Shine is super long. Longer than any other brand I’ve seen and therefore affords far more control. The brush, though thin, coats evenly & smoothly. A Seche Vite top coat helps nails to dry quickly & seamlessly. Needless to say, I am seriously impressed. And about $7 richer.
Knock-It-Off: Another recent encounter I had with “cheap” polishes is Walmart’s response to Deborah Lippmann. This celebrity manicurist is known for her luxe Butter London line and recently emerged with the haute of nail couture: Staccato. With ice-cream-parlor-meets-street-smarts-appeal, flecks of sparkles add depth and texture to her pastel shades. It’s the varnish response to studded bracelets & heel-hardware as paired with Anthropologie fashions. And everyone is copying. Including Hard Candy, a sweetly packaged beauty brand sold exclusively by Walmart. I basically loathe the corporate giant, but when Nicole had already bought the polish, I could not resist.
Accent Pointer.
Hard Candy in Gummy Green.
Let’s talk compliments. The receptionist at Scott Miller, one of Rochester’s premier salons, complimented me. Numerous customers with whom I work daily complimented me. My co-worker complimented me. …And it was only one nail. I painted just one nail–the pointer–with Gummy Green from their Candy Sprinkles line & my pointer commanded more respect than Stick Stickly. (There’s a ’90’s throwback that I bet that I’m the 1st to reference.)
Gummy Green lasted a good 5 days before it began to chip. With premier base & top. Just about 1-2 days below average when you go with the spend-polishes. We will see how long my Wet ‘n’ Wild Shine endures…
Save  time
for the 

Save v. Spend. Lacquer. Varnish. Nail Polish.

Lacquer. Varnish. Nail Polish.
Varnish. Lacquer. Nail Polish.
Fraction of @nicolejaclyn ‘s collection.
My friend Nicole is a nail polish goddess. This babe has all of your higher-end drug store varnishes, like OPI & Essie, plus couture lines, like Butter London, and Indielines (!), like NinjaPolish, in a smattering of mattes & sparkles, in every hue of every single shade possible. Cue: I-am-overwhelmed-smile.
She taught me SO much. And, yes, there is much to learn about nail polish. Especially because you have to spend & spend wisely.
Know what products to buy. Which ones to try. Where to buy. And … which ones to rent??
Yes. You will end up shelling between $6.50 and $9 per pop on the “less” expensive, though equally as lavish, brands. Simply put, brands like OPI, in comparison to those associated with drug store make-up lines, have more lacquer. More lacquer means truer hue & lasting finish. Think about it this way. Spend on the most expensive hair product, and you might be $40 in the hole for a humidity-defying spray. Spend on a worth-it varnish, and $6.50-$9 is a manageable expenditure. An investment? Absolutely. Not only did you skip the salon but, let’s be honest, when was the last time you ever used 1 entire bottle of lacquer? (…Never.) Chances are, you buy a bottle, & you only buy it once.
Only bottle Nicole’s bought more than once.
And it was because the previous bottle dried-up.
So, what are you saving on? The manicure. Truly, $10-30 savings depending upon the salon & you have the polish for touch-ups & do-agains. Also, distributor. As much as I adore salons & secretly wish Icould live inside of one, Nicole highlyrecommends not buying in-salon or drug store. On average, both amount to between $2-3 extra. Beauty supply stores like Beauty Plus Salon, CosmoProf, or Ulta, and sometimes even larger grocery chains, like Wegmans, have the fairest prices. Shop around & shop wisely.
The true key to spending (wisely) on nail polish? Know What Products to Buy Basics:
Base Coat: CND(sticky coat) or Orly (bonder)
Varnish: OPI, Essie, or your favorite mid-priced designer brand (i.e. Zoya, China Glaze)
Top Coat:Seche Vite (fast drying)
You need a sticky/bonding base & a fast drying top. Need.
You don’t need this many. But that would be awes.
Possibly as awesome as this rug beneath Nicole’s varnishes.
Keep in mind, couture lines do exist. Niche brands like Butter London or brand icons like Chanel & Dior run for much more than $7-9. While these shades glide-on like velvet over chocolate, they are super expensive. However, with emerging rent-&-try trends like Lacquerous, nail-onistas might grab the best of both Save v. Spend worlds.
Nicole’s Mini Series. (She knows them by name.)
Minis are great way to delve into designer & color.
Inevitably, the miser in all of us rears its head & wants to know if it is at all possible to save. Yes. Of course. For super trendy colors or hues for trendy nail art, go inexpensive. Wet ‘n’ Wild & Rimmel, while more prone to chipping, have tailored brushes for even coating. And, hey, buy 2 while you’re at it.
Go Team!
Base, 2 – 3 Varnish, Top.
From Left: Barbara, Nicole. Shannon.