Nail polish declutter + inventory

Posted on June 06, 2017 under Declutter, Inventory

I’m getting to the point where I’m close enough to moving across the ocean that the metaphorical weight of all of my possessions is becoming rather burdensome. I’m itching to divest myself of material goods. I have a bin I’ve been filling up with clothes as I realize I no longer want them; there’s a makeup bag sitting on my vanity that serves the same purpose. I’m becoming rather ruthless by my standards.

I’ve actually been thinning out my nail polish since September, because it takes some time to really put your polishes to the test. I usually change my manicure once a week, so when I counted up my stash and realized I had 41 bottles of the stuff, I knew I’d have to start early.

I have never considered myself a nail polish person. I tend to purchase it on whims and never hem and haw over a $10.99 bottle of Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure the way I do over a $10.99 Maybelline lipstick.

Now, I suppose I am a nail polish person in some ways. I vividly remember sitting in the back of a grade 11 biology presentation and painting my nails out of sheer boredom. (I had a brief fever dream of becoming a paleontologist, and it took about half a biology lesson to talk me out of that one.) Since then I’ve scarcely been without painted nails; I’d estimate that since late 2010 I’ve gone maybe 15 days with bare nails. I began religiously painting my nails months before mascara ever touched my eyelashes and two and a half years before I got into makeup in any real capacity.

But I’m not the type of person who tracks new nail polish launches, knows about indie brands, can justify luxury nail polish purchases, or can name ten dupes for any given nail polish colour. I just think having colours on my nails is fun. Yet for a fairly casual nail polish wearer I think I have a lot of nail polish.

When it comes to moving, I view nail polish as one of the most frivolous things I could bring with me, a staple though it may be in my life, and so I’ve committed to decreasing my collection significantly. My goal was for everything to fit into my two acrylic nail polish holders (each of which holds 15 polishes) with no overflow. I think ideally I’d like fewer than 30 polishes, but that’s a good, practical place to start.

The mighty stash, before.

My first step was to cull everything I knew I didn’t like enough to even try on, which did not yield the most fruitful results. The second step was to test every polish I owned. This process took me a good 7 months. I used coloured dot stickers to designate each polish I tried as a for sure keeper (green), a for sure purge (red), or undecided (yellow). Once I finished this first round of testing I removed all the red dot items from my acrylic holders and found that everything fit much better, with minimal overflow.

Then I tested out all of my yellow dot items. I designated most of these polishes this way because I didn’t love them but still didn’t want to get rid of them for whatever reason. A few were given yellow stickers because I thought I had dupes for them within my collection, in which case I tried one on each hand and kept the best one.

In the end I got rid of 21 polishes. I did buy three more during this time period (with one gifted to me on top of that), but I tried to curb my nail polish buying significantly. I now have a total of 25 polishes, one base coat, and one top coat.

Here’s what I got rid of:

Stuff I just plain didn’t like: two polishes from the long-discontinued Wet N Wild Fergie collection, in Dutchess and Tonight’s Gonna Be A Good Night.

Things that are getting old: YSL Bleu Majorelle, Essie Cocktail Bling, Wet N Wild Party of Five Glitters, Orly Go Deeper, Joe Fresh Mist, Joe Fresh Oyster.

Colours I don’t like: Misslyn Rose Sublime (thought it was going to be more of a dusty mauve), Essie Bahama Mama (looks more wine than purply-berry on my nails), Sally Hansen Pucker Up (I never wear red nail polish), Essie Tart Deco (I tend to stick to cooler colours), Revlon Chroma Chameleon in Topaz, Nicole by OPI A Million Sparkles, Sally Hansen Grape Shifter, Sally Hansen Carnival.

Colours that are close to things I like better: Sally Hansen Coin Flip (I prefer a more white gold), Sally Hansen Wined Up (I only wear wine nails around the holidays), China Glaze Merry Berry (ditto). I’m also tossing my bottles of Seche Vite and Essence The Gel Nail Polish Top Coat because I like the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat better than either.

Here’s a quick look at what I’m keeping – you’ll see that I really meant it when I said I like cool colours on my nails.

Revlon Parfumerie Scented Nail Enamel in Bordeaux (does kind of smell like wine); Sally Hansen Gem Crush Nail Colour in Lady Luck; Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Rosy Outlook.

Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Kiwi; L’Oreal Color Riche Le Vernis A L’Huile in Vert Époque; Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Sugar Apple; Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Barracuda; Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Let’s Get Digital; Deborah Lippmann Mermaid’s Eyes; Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Sugar Fix.

Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Polish in Pacific Blue (x4, because I’m a freak); Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Damson; Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Byte Blue. YES I HAVE A PROBLEM.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Midnight Mod; Orly Nail Lacquer in After Party; Essie Play Date; Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in All Chalked Up.

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Gilty Party; Lancôme Nail Polish in 003; Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Blush Over Hue; Beauty UK Nails in Black Out; Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear in White On.

And my standard base and topcoat duo: Witchcraft Be Strong, which helps prevent my nails from peeling, and Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat.

And here’s how I’m going to keep my collection under control:

  1. No more buying nail polish on a whim. The same care and research should go into buying it as I put into buying makeup.
  2. No more buying near-dupes of Sally Hansen Pacific Blue which I know will never live up to the original. You know what, I will spend $30 on a bottle from Ebay because I know it’s the only thing I will ever love!!!!
  3. No more buying Essie polishes. They have some beautiful colours and always have stunning seasonal collections, but I just never get on with them. I’ll use the ones I do have because I like the colours, but I have to stop myself from buying more no matter how alluring the colours!
  4. In that vein, buy only from lines that I know and trust. My favourite nail polish formulas are Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure, Sally Hansen Miracle Gel, and Barry M Nail Gelees. Those lines have enough colours to keep me covered and I know I love the formulas.
  5. NO MORE GLITTER POLISH! It’s always disappointing and more trouble than it’s worth in both application and removal.

Anyway, I reduced my nail polish collection by 40%, which I think is a pretty good amount. I really can’t see any clutter in what I’ve kept, aside from the fact that I own four bottles of Sally Hansen Pacific Blue, all of which are necessary.

Bleu Majorelle, Take 3: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Byte Blue

Posted on February 05, 2016 under Reviews


Okay, guys. Is this getting ridiculous yet? I now have five bottles of nail polish in this shade range, all acquired with an eye to duping Sally Hansen’s reformulated and completely different Pacific Blue.

(I may be getting slightly better – I found a shade at H&M that I thought was similar, said, “I know it’s not going to be the same, but I’m going to buy it anyway,” and then a few minutes later decided against it. No promises for the future, though. Swatches of that product are scarce, but from what I can tell it is far too light, with an almost periwinkle tone. Still gorgeous, just not the right colour.)

I’ll answer my own question: this is getting ridiculous. I know this. And yet I cannot help being utterly bewitched by the hunt for the nail polish that best encapsulates the bleu Majorelle of Marrakech. I now identify strongly with Captain Ahab, which is for obvious reasons quite a surprise.


Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech, January 2015

My dupe hunt has been going on for months now. I’ve looked at endless swatches of supposed “dupes” online, instantly dismissing all of them. (HOW ARE THESE PEOPLE NOT SEEING THE BLATANT DIFFERENCES?) And I’ve given two polishes a try myself. First I tried Barry M’s Damson, which was close but a bit too deep for my (extremely) discerning eye. Then I tried YSL’s Bleu Majorelle, which despite its name fails to capture the electricity and vibrancy of the real deal. The old Pacific Blue (much lighter, brighter, and more opaque, as well as sans sparkle, compared to the new one) is the closest polish I’ve ever found to the bleu Majorelle I’ve seen in person.

It seems that Sally Hansen, breaker of Pacific Blue-loving hearts everywhere, may be the answer to our prayers. In a newly-launched addition to the Miracle Gel line (which I have previously reviewed), Sally Hansen has brought out Byte Blue. As soon as I unloaded it from a box of new releases at work I gasped, showing it to my work friend who is also aware of my quest.

“Is it the same?” she asked as I swatched it on a piece of paper.

“I… think it might be,” I said. “I have to buy it.” Never mind the fact that I have two backups of Pacific Blue plus the Barry M and YSL shades. I bought it for the blog, people.

(She then suggested two other colours to me, which I quickly refuted as completely incorrect. My bleu Majorelle eye is finely-tuned!)

As we all know, a swatch (on paper, nonetheless) is very different from wear on the nails – so is Byte Blue the new Pacific Blue?

In a word, not quite. But it’s the best I’ve found so far.

Let’s have a look at the two on the nails:


Here I’ve indicated with an asterisk which nails have been painted with Byte Blue. The other three (thumb, middle finger, and pinky) are sporting Pacific Blue, the colour which I am trying to dupe.

Now, I fully admit that 1) They are similar, and 2) I have a very discerning eye. (I refuse to admit that I’m just seeing things. Nobody else sees the differences because they aren’t looking for them and because they have no horse in this race.) But I think you can see from this image that Pacific Blue is deeper and slightly more purple than Byte Blue. Is Byte Blue a vibrant, gorgeous, electric blue? Yes. Is it similar to bleu Majorelle? Yes! But it doesn’t capture the essence and depth of that colour quite as well as Pacific Blue, which I find to be far more complex.

Byte Blue lasts just as well as most nail polish does with a top coat: that is, about 5-6 days without chipping and then another 2-3 days after that with only minor tipwear. (This, of course, changes when I’m working with my hands a lot, when even the best top coat will not preserve a manicure past the 2-day mark.)

I painted my other hand using Barry M Damson and YSL Bleu Majorelle:


Here I think my conclusion from the YSL post is especially stark: Bleu Majorelle, the nail polish, is far too dark and, to me, lacks both the vibrancy and depth of Pacific Blue and its other imitators.

Let’s see all four colours together:


Here we can see that Pacific Blue (PB) is deeper and slightly more purple than both Byte Blue (BB) and Damson (D), though lighter than Bleu Majorelle (BM) while retaining that vaguely purple undertone. Byte Blue and Damson look nearly identical both in pictures and on the nails, but Byte Blue is a hair deeper than Damson and has a very vaguely creamy quality that is more reminiscent of Pacific Blue.

So, in all my Pacific Blue dupe-hunting, I have come to the following conclusions:

A) There is no exact dupe for Sally Hansen Pacific Blue on the market.
B) The essential qualities of Sally Hansen Pacific Blue, which set it apart from other nail polishes of a similar colour, are as follows: 1) It retains its vibrancy while being slightly darker than most similar colours, something which makes it peculiar and adds to its allure. 2) It has the very slightest purple undertone – not noticeable on its own, but something that can be picked up on when swatched next to comparable colours. 3) It has a creamy quality (to the colour, not the texture) that other colours lack.
C) Sally Hansen Pacific Blue is very hard to describe to accurately. My descriptions seem to gain complexity as I try new possible dupes.
D) I am very picky in my assessments of these dupes, but I am also correct. Whether or not anybody else notices the differences (or cares), the fact is that Sally Hansen Pacific Blue is singular.
E) Sally Hansen Byte Blue is the closest dupe I’ve found, but it’s still not close enough that I am ready to end my dupe hunt.

(Conversation with my roommate last week, as we compared all four:

Me: You know, it’s just a bit more purple and darker. And it has sort of a creamy base, I don’t know.
Her: You don’t know?
Me: Okay, I’ve thought about this a lot.

She also agreed that they are different, SO THERE.)

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.


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.



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.


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.


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:


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!


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?!