Revisiting Bleu Majorelle with Yves Saint Laurent

Posted on September 13, 2015 under Reviews

Back in April, I wrote about my quest to find a replacement polish for Sally Hansen’s reformulated cult classic Pacific Blue, a perfect match for the bleu Majorelle of Marrakech. It’s a colour that I have found especially bewitching since my January trip to Marrakech.

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Many eons ago I mentioned in passing that when I was sufficiently fancy, I would purchase a bottle of Yves Saint Laurent’s Bleu Majorelle nail polish (from the La Lacque Couture line), the product that brought the colour to the forefront of Western beauty trends. Saint Laurent was a dedicated patron of the Jardin Majorelle, and the nomenclature of the polish pays homage to his time in Marrakech.

Nail polish is firmly in the category of “things I won’t pay the big bucks for” – but my girlfriend thrust me into fanciness by ordering me a bottle of the Bleu Majorelle as a late birthday gift.

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First, a word about the packaging: luxe. As if that gold cap engraved with the YSL logo isn’t enough, there is a secondary cap underneath. Imagine my surprise when I twisted the cap to apply the polish only to find that it popped right off to reveal the (far less ostentatious) actual cap. Perhaps my surprise betrays my lack of the sophistication in the field of nail polish, in which case I am guilty as charged – you won’t catch Sally Hansen producing something as opulent as decoratively-capped nail polish! God, if enjoying an absurdly-priced nail polish for the packaging is a sin (avarice, I suppose), I succumb happily.

Now, the colour itself is a bit perplexing. In direct sunlight, it’s vibrant – pretty close to Marrakech’s bleu Majorelle. In all other lighting, however, it’s darker, not nearly so electric. It lacks the same white base as Pacific Blue, and the integrity of the colour suffers as a result. Don’t get me wrong – it is still a stunning blue, not a navy, not an indigo – something else entirely. But, despite the name and origin, it is not bleu Majorelle. Sephora’s descriptor “peacock blue” is perhaps more accurate.

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Left: in direct sunlight. Right: in indoor lighting. Both pictures: my lack of ability to stay inside the lines.

And of course you want to know how it wears! I waited to test this until I’d left my job (which chipped any nail polish within days due to the nature of the tasks I was doing), thinking I could probably get at least a week of wear out of it. I used it with my regular top coat because I couldn’t imagine a circumstance under which I would wear any nail polish by itself, let alone a fancy one.

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Don’t mind how lumpy it looks. That’s because I did not manage to adequately remove my previous glitter manicure before painting my nails again. I’m an incompetent nail-haver.

As you can see, this polish suffered considerably during the 8 days I tested it out. Meanwhile, the $5 Sally Hansen manicure I used to assemble $500 worth of IKEA furniture lasted for well over a week.

Finally, a comparison of the brushes:

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The YSL brush is wider and flatter than Sally Hansen’s thin, rounded brush, but still a manageable size for those of us who still find it terribly difficult to paint our nails neatly. I don’t particularly prefer one brush over the other; they’re both serviceable.

All in all, I like Bleu Majorelle as a nail polish. It chipped around day 5, which is not ideal, but not terrible either. I tend to paint my nails every weekend anyway, so I don’t need it to stretch much longer than 5 or 6 days. It goes on smoothly and is one of the most beautifully shiny polishes I own. My relationship with its colour is a bit more complicated. I do genuinely like the colour on its own, though it’s disappointing as a dupe for the real bleu Majorelle. Personally, I harbour a bit of an obsession with the same colour Yves Saint Laurent fell in love with, and as a result I paradoxically don’t mind the colour discrepancy; it’s nice just to own a product that is so tied up in the history of the brand and of the colour.

That said, the closest match to the bleu Majorelle that I have seen in person is not, in fact, YSL’s Bleu Majorelle. For around $5, Sally Hansen still has the honour of being the best bleu Majorelle nail polish I’ve ever found!

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You’ll be happy to see that I bought two backups of the old Pacific Blue when I found them at work. Maybe less happy when you realize that I have a problem when it comes to this colour.

Yves Saint Laurent La Laque Couture Nail Lacquer in 18 Bleu Majorelle retails for $27 USD for 0.34 fl oz, or $79.41 USD per fl oz. It is available at American Sephora, YSL counters, or the YSL Beauty website. Canadians can purchase it on the Nordstrom website for a rather absurd $37.19 CAD ($109.39 per fl oz), not including the $9.95 shipping will cost. Don’t you just love the faltering Canadian dollar?!

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