Pretty P.O.V.: My Best Nail Products of 2013 Tuesday 31 December, 2013


After painting, coating, priming and whisking, here are the best nail products 2013 has to offer—in my humble, nail-loving opinion.

How does one sort through the copious amounts of beauty items out there, and decide on what she feels is the best of the best? She watches her skin. She looks at her nails. She listens to her hair. She fusses with tube after tube of lipstick. In effect, she tests and tries various potions and lotions, but it’s the ones that find themselves taking up real estate on her nightstand or in her makeup bag that prove they are tops.

As I’ve mentioned, I work on the premiere consumer nail magazine, Nail It!, so I see more than my fair share of nail products. Certainly, I’ve witnessed more than 100 that I think are really amazing (that includes nail colors), but—let’s be honest—I can’t sit and list out all 100 in a timely fashion. So, I thought back to the ones that really stood out to me for one reason or another. As was the case with my previous post, some of those listed below have been featured on Fear No Beauty, but some have not (due to time restraints). Either way, all are much beloved and worth their weight in pigment, innovation and glitter.


CND Vinylux

I’m of the belief that you should never rest on your laurels; just because you are perceived to have reached the top (or a pinnacle of your career), doesn’t mean there isn’t better, greater things to be done. CND holds this same belief. The introduction of Shellac Power Polish certainly revolutionized the nail industry and breathed life into the salons, and it seemed like Shellac would continue to be CND’s biggie for many years to come. But not so fast: This year welcomed the launch of yet another nail innovation, Vinylux. This breakthrough polish lasts seven days without chipping or showing signs of wear; doesn’t require a base coat; and doesn’t require a UV lamp to cure it. Rather, it cures “better” with natural light—so you can hold your hand to a light source if you want a quicker cure, but you don’t have to. The two-part system is the color base (I love this Blue Rapture shown above), which is available in 62 shades with seasonal shades being introduced, and a Weekly Top Coat, which the brand says only strengthens over time due to exposure to natural light (read: Unless you live in a cave, the top coat is working to constantly protect against chips.) Either way: It lasts. And it’s super easy to remove with acetone, which is aces in my book.


Illamasqua Paranormal Nail Varnish in Geist

Sure, you only get the full benefits of this clear top coat if you have a black light handy, but who cares? The most fun thing about Geist is you can paint intricate nail art on your digits and, in the daylight (read: at your nine-to-five), nobody will be the wiser. Find yourself a party with plenty of black light and, boom!, your nails will be the glow-down best thing in da club.


Formula X for Sephora Cleanse

When Sephora rolled out its ginormous new line of nail products, it was hard not to be dazzled by the myriad effects and nail hues it offered. But I particularly zeroed in on Cleanse, which isn’t particularly novel, but is something that the home consumer doesn’t tend to think about when performing a home manicure. Basically, Cleanse bottles witch hazel extract, which works to remove any natural oils and dirt on your nails prior to you applying base coat. Once the oils are gone, the base coat adheres better, and you’re on your way to a longer-lasting manicure. This is the step that many people skip, but it really makes all the difference. What Cleanse also has, however, that regular rubbing alcohol (typically used for prep) in a bottle does not, is vitamin E and cucumber extract to condition the nail bed. Swipe this handy primer on before polishing and you’ll thank me later.


Julep Freedom Polymer

This was the year of gel-like products—mostly in the form of top coats. The idea is that you can get a “cushiony” gel shine, but without the UV lamp or the tough removal. This top coat stole my heart because I could put it on and literally be knocking my nails around in five minutes with absolutely no fear of dents. It does require a bit of finessing, however: Because it cures by natural light, it’s prone to thickening rather quickly after you open it (I give it 15 stellar application, tops, before it becomes harder to manage), and if you apply it too thick, it will shrink your nail polish underneath. Those two issues aside, it really delivers a gel-like shine and allows me to finish my manicure with barely any dry time. I’m a busy (clumsy) lady, you know! This is a godsend.


Clarisonic Pedi Sonic

Oh boy. Do we need to discuss my feet? Maybe not. Let’s just put it this way: My last trip to the nail salon for a pedicure resulted in my nail tech practically throwing her back out. I really felt for her. Well, she needn’t worry about me sheepishly crawling back into her pedi throne with nasty heels again; the Clarisonic Pedi Sonic has taken care of the calluses and dryness on my feet to the point that I feel like an L.A. woman again—you know, those women who travel everywhere by car, so their feet are so well-preserved. In Manhattan, your feet go down the drain real quick—but the Pedi Sonic, which contains an internchangable buffing head that gently exfoliates and a Pedi Smoothing Disc that really goes the mile to slough off the dead stuff—returns them to a thing of beauty in only a few uses. Other items in the system (like an cream exfoliator and renewing serum) complement the heads, but it’s the device that seals the deal.


Deborah Lippmann Nail Lacquer in Stronger

Sure, this is purely a glitter-bomb polish, but let’s be honest: You hadn’t seen this color combo until Mrs. Lippmann pulled it together for singer Kelly Clarkson. When Clarkson tweeted a picture of it to her followers, everyone went wild for it—so much so, the brewed-just-for-Clarkson color became a mass-produced one, so all of us normal nail-loving folk could get our fingers on it. This is what truly makes this purple glitter bomb special: a royal blue jelly base, fiery red holographic glitter and canary gold glitter. Put that all together with purple, and you have one of the most beautiful glitter polishes ever.


Essie Encrusted Treasures in Hors d’Oeuvres

This is not just another glitter polish. Oh no—apply two coats of it, and your nails will look like slick gold chrome from afar, as if you covered your nails in sheets of molten platinum gold. Not many glitters can achieve this; in fact, when I first saw it, I thought the girl wearing it was donning Minx Golden Lighting wraps. Viewed up close, you can admire all of the little nuances of the polish—a golden halo base, various silver glitters and tiny holographic twinkles that flash white and purple—which make it a true stand-out.



  Sally Hansen Triple Shine Nail Color

Sally Hansen does its research. And guess what? When they asked you what you want most from a nail polish, you told them shine. That was No. 1. After copious testing on what dulls nail polish (water does in various stages, especially when it’s hot, believe it or not), the brand came up with a formula that would counteract the harsh effects of H2O in all of it’s forms. Triple Shine was born, and the various hues, from glitters to shimmers to bold creams, have a serious gloss to them that truly does resist wear. As a drugstore find, it’s a bargain hunter’s best bet.


Formula X For Sephora ASAP 3D

How can I put Formula X For Sephora on this list twice? Well…after much thought, I had to give it to them again because these nail appliqués are serious stuff. I saw a Sephora exec wearing them before they hit the market, and I fell hard for them right then and there. What’s so great? Well, each style is three-dimensional, so they’re very tactile, but also, each is made of real polish. This means that they’re thin as can be (unlike normal nail stickers and decals) and remove easily with polish remover (rather than peel off). Also: The various styles offered are so unbelievably chic; not a one could be considered gaudy or gauche. My personal favorite is On Edge (above)—how finger-fashionable is that?

That’s my list of my best nail products 2013 has to offer. As I mentioned, there are too many to list here, but I’d love to hear what made your fingernails dance in 2013! Leave your faves in the comments!

Karie L. Frost Signature


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