In today’s continuing nail art adventures, we turn an eye to the real reason we’re all here – hardcore nudity! Okay, so that’s a favourite Simpsons joke I couldn’t leave well enough alone, but really, we’re here for the good stuff. And in Nailese, that means nail polish, straight up. To that end, here is a compilation of some of my preferred brands, a few favoured products and one exceptional international stocklist. If you’d like to see a list of my favourite individual polishes of 2014, you can find that post here. And now on with the show!
Indie retailer Candy Lacquer is the first polish maker I ever placed an order with. That was a year and a half ago, and I’ve gone back a few times since, always emerging a much satisfied customer. Dealing primarily in glitter-stuffed toppers of the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink variety, Candy Lacquer’s polishes are hyper colourful and stunningly unique. And not for nothing, but for a product that basically amounts to miniature bits of paper suspended in varnish, their formulations are excellent – stuffed to the brim with more glittery goodness than a rainbow unicorn, but never dry. Compared to a lot of indies, Candy Lacquer’s online presence is downright small, and if you’re used to other makers’ flashier websites, you might be a bit disappointed by their less-is-more approach to e-tail. Don’t let this put you off. Sometimes – like this time – basic is best. My favourite Candy Lacquer polish – indeed, a favourite polish, period – is Candy Cane Fiesta, a winter holiday release I’ve managed to incorporate into about six seasonally diverse manis. If you’re likewise drawn to Candy Lacquer’s fun, beautifully made polishes, you can find them here.
ILNP is a fairly new-to-me polish maker that walks a delicate line between indie and commercial – their gonzo approach to polish design (bigger! glossier! shinier!) suggests an indie maker, but their rock solid production and customer service belies a more commercial sensibility. And the packaging! True, it’s a well known fact I’m a lifelong paper product lover, but I was just insanely charmed by the rainbow hearts and logo-printed tissue paper my order came bundled in. This is the part where some of you might be saying, “You were wowed by tissue paper?” To which I reply, um, yeah, I was. What about it? It’s a lovely little touch that speaks volumes about the care ILNP takes with its business. Which is the business of putting out stunningly gorgeous holos and eyeball-searing multichromes, like these three favoured beauties, chromatic flakies Electric Carnival and Supernova and ultra chrome Masquerade. You can find ILNP’s products, a constantly updated selection of gorgeous, on-trend polishes, here.
On this predominantly indie-centric list, Pure Ice, a brand available at Walmart, is the lone commercial standout. And for good reason; their polishes, a whatever’s-on-the-shelf assortment of cremes, shimmers and glitters, are of a quality not normally found in $2 polishes ($1.97, actually.) I own probably 15 different Pure Ice polishes, and have yet to encounter one that’s anything less than OPI, China Glaze or Essie-level quality for just a fraction of the price. In fact, I exclusively use Pure Ice products for my black and white nail polish needs. Like most nail artists, I go through reams of those two colours alone, and it simply makes the kind of sense that doesn’t to pay $8 or more a bottle for these always-in-use basics. The one caveat here is you really are limited to whatever polishes remain on the shelf. My local Walmart restocks frequently, but Pure Ice’s super favourable price point means their products move FAST. If there’s anything specific you think you might like multiple bottles of (say, their black and white polishes) grab a few and stock up while you can.
KB Shimmer, another indie, is one of those polish makers that just quietly goes about its (excellent) business, producing consistently beautiful and unique polishes (and some bath products) with no fuss, no muss. For that reason alone – well-made consistency – KB has more than earned its spot as one of my preferred purveyors of polish. KB’s most popular polishes seem to be their glitter-stuffed crellies (ugh) and jellies, and to be sure, one of my favourite lacquers, period, is Belle of the Mall, a Hawaiian Punch-hued jelly brimming with silver holographic glitter. But their other formulations – mattes, holos and cremes – are likewise fantastic. Their shimmer-infused holographic polishes are particularly lovely, throwing gorgeous linear rainbows and applying like a dream. My one nit to pick with KB Shimmer is that their products are not available directly from their website to international customers. American customers can purchase KB’s polishes directly from their site here, but if you’re an international customer, you can get your KB fix from international stocklist Harlow & Co. here. Speaking of which…
HARLOW & CO.
Closing out this list of besties is the company that has enabled nearly all of it, Harlow & Co.! Harlow & Co. is an online stocklist that carries over 50 harder-to-find brands, from A England to Wicked Polish, and all of it blessedly, gloriously available to international customers. Which in this incredibly rare instance I’m actually not, as both Harlow and I are Canadian! That means free shipping and – best of all – lightning fast turnaround times for said shipping. I frequently receive orders within two days of purchase, three at the very outside. And in one truly remarkable instance last year, my order arrived in one day. I had gone out of town for a couple of days and my order got home before I did! Really, really outstanding customer service, which is an increasingly rare quality in a business, and one that carries with it a tremendous value. I’ll sing the high praises of Harlow & Co. any day because of it (to say nothing of the fact that they keep me in sweet, sweet
crack nail polish.) Fifty brands of nail polish are at your fingertips – and hopefully soon ON your fingertips – here.
I initially thought these five companies were the only ones that had captured my polish-lovin’ heart (and wallet), but a quick peek into my beauty tackle box has revealed a number of other favourites I’d be remiss in not pointing out. Things to deal with another day – don’t want to swamp you with too much goodness or anything. 😉 So – one more time for the cheap seats in the back! – TO BE CONTINUED…