An advertising student's take on the nail polish component of the beauty industry

The Best Topcoat

So what makes a good top coat? Most people look for something that is quick dry, long wear, high gloss, and chip resistant. A top coat that is quick to dry is usually the most sales-driving product feature. No one wants to wait forever for their nails to dry, and what about a product that will actually dry the nail color below even faster?
Here is my favorite all-time top coat:



It is Seche Vite and, like with most of my nail favorites, I discovered through trying many brands before settling myself on this one.

Seche Vite is a very fast, hard drying topcoat. It even dries my underlying color even faster. It is  high shine and very glossy. You can expect it to begin to chip after 5-7 days depending on how rough you are on your nails, or how often your hands are in warm water.

I want to briefly mention my least favorite topcoat.  

It goes to OPI by a long shot.

This formula is honestly terrible. I have had nothing but bad results from it. I am honestly not sure what the reason is, because OPI polish is so nice and dries fine on me, but this topcoat is awful. It seems like it never dries completely. I would let my nails dry for over an hour and then go to sleep. When I wake up, my nails are completely smudged with no shine. The topcoat has the imprints of my finger tips, or the bed sheets, or anything else I may have touched whilst sleeping. And again, this is after an HOUR of letting them dry!

You never have to worry about this if you use Seche Vite. It dries so quickly that I notice it thickening even as I am applying it.


Why Essie is My Favorite Polish Brand

As I’ve said earlier, through experience, and lots of trial and error over the years, I found Essie has become my favorite Polish brand, with OPI as my close second. But why? What sets this brand above the rest?

Firstly, Essie is not gimmicky. While they have used “inspired by” collections in the past, and I am sure will continue to in the future, the shades are always something new and exciting to fawn over.
But using celebrities to back their products is not what makes them stand out, and they do not use that as their crutch for pushing their product.

Besides the fact they offer a huge platter of colors and shades, they all have different finishes. Essie offers a full array of finishes: shimmer, creme, metallic and glitter, and they do them WELL! The application is flawless 9 times out of 10. The varnish lasts; I don’t have to worry about smudging or chipping. Sure you could spend upwards of $20 on a name brand polish by Chanel, but the quality does NOT improve from salon brands such as Essie. You’re paying more than double for the premium brand name and sophisticated packaging.

Now let’s talk packaging. It’s my strong opinion that Essie’s is best. Unlike OPI, the cap is thin, easy to maneuver, and it is all one uniform thickness. It’s not too heavy, and sits easily in your hand for a seamless application. The bottle is a clean, uncluttered glass rectangular shape. Essie is clearly written on 2/4 sides, and the color is easily seen. With Essie, the color speaks for itself. Once I tried it, I couldn’t help but feel forever hooked.

Here is a swatch with their current most recent collection:


(taken from the Essie Nail Polish Facebook fan page)

As a consumer, passionate polisher, and especially as an energetic advertising student, this image is exciting to me! Something about the way the brand name is clearly positioned over the colors in the white signature Essie font, and strategically positioned on the swatches of their entire Bikini So Teeny collection. The picture is really functional, and it represents the brand so well. It serves as not only introducing the colors of the latest collection, but proudly displays the brand in a clean, uncluttered signature Essie way- this is the nature of the brand!

Does Featuring Fun Celebrity, Character, and Movie-Themed Collections Really Sell Product?

Using an actress or musical artist as the front man for your new polish collection is nothing new. It’s been a popular tactic for a long time. In this last year alone, there have been many examples of this.

Though not my favorite brand (but very popular none the less), China Glaze used the recent March blockbuster hit, The Hunger Games, as their collection’s inspiration.
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The collection was named “Colours From the Capitol” and each color was named after something from this trilogy. Luxe and Lush (swatch featured on the far right) is a popular “flakey” type of topcoat used to make any dull color into something special. The most neutral yet beautiful and wearable color is Fast Track (third from the left). It is a cosmic looking taupe and suits any skin tone.

Essie, while not so into using an individual or a film to promote their collection, is no stranger to using current events as their inspiration. Everyone knows spring is the beginning of wedding season. Spring 2010, Essie had a wedding collection. This year, 2012 was something slightly different. They named their collection “Love and Acceptance” and featured two creme (Love and Acceptance, Who Is the Boss?) and two shimmer (Instant Hot, Like to be Bad) finish shades.


As you can see, these are perfectly appropriate for spring, and they were quite popular. I bought Instant Hot the first time I saw it because it was such a unique, slightly shimmery, bright neutral. It was like white but 10x better.

OPI, more of a veteran when it comes to featuring “inspired by” collections, very recently released their Minnie Mouse collection.


(Taken from my personal Pinterest account:
I took the photo at my local Ulta store about 1 week ago. There are four colors total; two are reds and two are pinks. The top red, called The Color of Minnie, is a slightly shimmery red reminiscent of OPI’s I’m Not Really A Waitress. The bottom right is a pink fine shimmer with a clear base containing larger heart shaped confetti pieces. At first, I was excited to buy and try this topcoat! I loved the idea of a heart shape glitter confetti. But when I swatched it, it was very disappointing. The glitters were difficult to place and the pink shimmer offered almost zero color payoff. I passed on any of this collection.

As you can see, despite inspired by collections gaining the attention of the buyer immediately, it doesn’t necessarily sell product. If the colors are too like other shades we’ve seen before, or if the product itself is weak, the bottles are not going to leave store shelves.

My Favorite Brands

Choosing your favorite polish brand is not something you do randomly.
It comes with experience and from trial and error.

My favorite brands are Essie and OPI. While they may be two of the most popular salon quality brands (average $8 a bottle) like China Glaze, they are not considered high-end among Chanel and Butter London (which run over $20 a bottle). Drugstore brands, such as: Wet and Wild, NYC, and Revlon, range anywhere from .99 cents to $8. While price point is not the highlight brand feature, it is something that is important to the consumer. While setting a high enough price to send the message of luxury is important, setting too high of a price point will alienate the average person, unwilling to spend an extortionate amount of money on a nail varnish. 

Both Essie and OPI have a large array of colors: from neon to earthy colors, pastels and bolds, these companies know variety. They also both release new collections every season. Some of OPI’s collections have celebrity inspiration like Nicki Minaj or Katy Perry. Image

They also tend to use popular movies like Spiderman and The Muppets as their collection’s inspiration. Essie has a collection coming this fall (2012) named after The Office. Image(From
These tactics attract people who already gave a liking to those celebrities or movies, and also provide the OPI collector with a new and exciting palette to try. 

Both Essie and OPI use clever polish names like Bikini So Teeny (Essie), Kiss Me on My Tulips (OPI), Mojito Madness (Essie), Chinchilly (Essie) and Dutch ‘Ya Love OPI? (OPI). This makes it more fun for the buyer to select colors as well, instead of simply giving the shade a numerical name.

All in all, these two brands provide me (both as an aspiring advertising professional and as a consumer) with a lot to be excited about. As this blog goes on I hope to not only tackle analyzing some favorite collections, but also newly released shades. I also plan to show color swatches, discuss how colors and mood changes with the time of year, talk about finishes, design, and technique as well.