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Please do not expect this to be a complete overview of all essie nail polishes available – there are more than 1000 shades available and I have only ever tried a fraction of them. This is trying to offer guidance on the ones I ended up purchasing, which will mostly be in the red color family with a few seasonally appropriate colors mixed in between.
To be fair, I am not even sure if this will be of interest for anyone, but even if it isn’t, it might serve as a library of what I already tried and enjoyed for myself. Ever since I did my huge nail polish clear out in early 2019 (More info: Decluttering my nail polish collection) I manage to actually finish bottles, meaning a space to refer back to and see how that one color I loved so much last autumn was actually called will be beneficial.
In general I found all these colors to last 5-7 days with minimal chipping which is quite good for someone that uses their hands a lot during the day, I have had other brands that didn’t even manage 48 hours. Should one of the polishes differ here, I will make sure to mention it, but as a rule of thumb the Gel Couture versions are the ones with the longest staying power.
essie Base Coats, Top Coats and Nail Strengtheners
essie Strong Start (13,5 ml for 9,95 €)
This is a clear base coat infused with Biotin in an attempt to strengthen brittle nails, but after several months of using it in my manicures I admit I don’t really see a difference in the strength of my nails (which is below average I would say, my nails are prone to splitting at the top). I also find it isn’t the best in the ones I have tried in preventing my dark reds from staining my nails yellow over time, so overall not a firm favorite.
essie Gel Couture Top Coat (13,5 ml for 12,95 €)
A clear top coat that is a little more goopy than others I have tried and that, similar to the Gel Couture polishes, dries down very shiny. I feel like my nail polishes last a little bit longer than they do with other top coats, so I pair it with everything and will probably repurchase.
essie treat love & color in 08 Loving Hue (13,5 ml for 9,99 €)
I purchased this one to wear whenever I didn’t feel like doing my nails with effort, but still wanted something to make them look nice, and I figured if during those times they’d also get a little bit of strengthening, all the better. The color looks like a warm pink with golden shimmer in the bottle, but when painted on is both very sheer – you need at least two coats to see any color show up, which defeats the “effortless” purpose – and also develops a strong yellow tint within the first two days that will be noticeable even when only one coat is worn and made my fingers look like those of a chain smoker. Not a look I was into and apparently not something that only happened to me judging from the reviews online.
essie nail polishes in pink and rose
essie Mademoiselle (13,5 ml for 9,95 €)
Described as a classic grown-up pink this is one of the cult colors in essies selection, loved by many and for many years. I am usually not into pinks, but this is amazing for nails that look pretty, but understated at the same time. You need to be aware of the sheerness this has tough – one coat easily looks streaky and even when applying three, which is what I usually do, the white of the nail still shines through. While I rarely wear it on its own, I do like it paired with other polishes, for example as French manicure with a twist using Birthday Girl for glittery tips.
essie Free To Roam (13,5 ml for 9,95 €)
The most Barbie color I own, described as white based pastel pink with blue undertones, although I don’t really see any blue and personally perceive it as neutral more than cool toned. It is one of the colors I rarely reach for, not because there is anything wrong in application (it is almost opaque in one coat and perfect in two), but because I don’t really feel like myself in pink, so I have to be in a specific mood to wear it.
essie nail polishes in beige
essie expressie in millenium momentum (10 ml for 7,95 €)
I don’t know if you remember the hype that the mushroom colored Chanel nail polish created in 2010, but heavily influenced by that I always have a beige-brown polish in my stash to wear when I want my nails to look absolutely neutral, but want more than a sheer gloss. This one reminds me of coffee with a lot of milk, is opaque in one coat (two if you want to be absolutely sure) and dries down very quickly. That makes it perfect for a last minute emergency manicure as well as neutral accent when you want to make your reds or pinks look even more sophisticated.
essie nail polishes in red
essie expressie in bolt and be bold (10 ml for 7,95 €)
This one is a warm red I love for summer and fall as well as for wearing it on my toes. For me it works best when applied with two coats and looks beautiful paired with millennium momentum.
essie Gel Couture in Bubbles Only (13,5 ml for 12,95 €)
While the website describes this as burgundy red, I think it is a cool toned true red. Again I think it works best when you do two coats and it is what I reach for most in winter.
essie nail polishes in green
essie Gel Couture in Totally Plaid (13,5 ml for 12,95 €)
A warm olive green and one of my latest purchases. Green and I have a love/ hate relationship and it is actually hard for me to find some that don’t make me look like something they dragged out of the water. Still I am mesmerized whenever I see it on display and on someone else, so I do end up buying it hoping that this one will be the one that is different and wearable for my skin tone… Well, I’ll report back when I tried it.
essie nail polishes in blue
essie Kiss & Spell (13,5 ml for 9,95 €, part of the Midsummar Collection Summer 2023)
Another thing I can rarely resist is a limited edition color although my logical brain knows that there are only so many color variations to make, so that there most likely is something with a different name, but the same shade in the permanent collection already. Still, I didn’t have a baby blue (probably because like pinks and greens they don’t tend to look good on me), it was Limited Edition and I grabbed it – time will tell if I actually reach for it.
essie nail polishes in glitter
essie Birthday Girl (13,5 ml for 9,95 €)
I got Birthday Girl in a set with Mademoiselle and I have to say they look particularly good together. It is a rose gold fine glitter that works best as topper on another polish or for nail art (she said as if she had experience there), but can be worn on its own if you apply several coats. Like all glitters it isn’t the easiest to remove, but I have had worse.
essie Not So Silent Night (13,5 ml for 9,95 €)
I bought this one around Christmas thinking of using it as a golden topper for my red nails to make them extra festive, but surprisingly this is quite opaque. It is also less copper than it looks in the bottle, but more of a true yellow gold, so while there isn’t anything wrong with its performance, it just isn’t what I wanted it to be.
essie For The Twill Of It (13,5 ml for 9,95 €)
If I told you that I have a passion for Gothic Fashion and aesthetics, you probably wouldn’t believe me. I wouldn’t believe me either, as I don’t show any sign of it in my day to day life. But I do have a weak spot in my heart for the darkness, and sometimes, especially in winter, I reach for this polish to celebrate it at least on my nails. For the twill of it is a beautiful duochrome color that is dark grey in base, but has depending on the light either purple or dark green reflection. While you could get away with one coat, two are what looks best.
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