With things going the way they are right now, getting a manicure is a real luxury. Sitting there in that plush spa chair, I can’t help but feel deep pangs of guilt—I can do all this myself. I’m just lazy.
So, yeah: I have been avoiding the nail salon as of late. But it’s not so much the clipping and filing that I hate doing myself—I’m impatient and almost always screw up my wet nails somehow. Ten minutes after I finish my last coat, I get squirmy and start doing dishes or something.
But watching your spending means making it stretch with a quality purchase. And while there’s nothing wrong with the Revlons and Maybellines of this world, I’ve become a major fan of the Essie and OPI lines, which are a bit harder to find.
But what’s the very best outlet for both affordable makeup and nail polish?
No, it’s not Sephora—it’s Ulta. A beauty-supply chain relatively new to Southern California, Ulta carries everything from the drugstore brands to the higher-end collections. You know how Target always runs out of the good stuff in the cosmetics section, like that classic-red Revlon nail lacquer? Ulta is always fully stocked, with everything from Neutrogena and Cover Girl to Smashbox and Urban Decay. And with locations in Huntington Beach, Tustin, Newport Beach and more, there’s plenty go around.
But the very, very best thing about having an Ulta near me? The nail-polish collection. The chain store carries all the most reputable and sought-after lacquer lines such as, yes, OPI and Essie. Happy sigh.
But, as always, there are major hits and misses. Which brand dries fast? Which one won’t chip within the first few hours of wear? Which won’t require five coats? Here’s a quick roundup of my favorites. And believe me, I and my lavender-and-pink Caboodle case (what, you don’t still have yours?) of banished nail polish know what we’re talking about.
ESSIE, $8.Essie is the preferred choice of most professional manicurists for good reason. It lasts longer than any other brand I’ve come across (even $25 Chanel nail polishes), features the best array of colors and has a smooth application. It dries fast, and the shine stays till the very end. Yes, I’m this excited over nail polish. Stop making that face.
OPI, $6.OPI comes in a very close second. The formula is thicker than Essie’s, which means it requires only two coats at most, but it will also start chipping within a week. OPI has just released an innovative new range of lacquers that dries with a matte finish—keep your eye on this trend in the fall.
SALLY HANSEN, $6.Sally Hansen’s new HD line of polish offers the boldest rainbow of colors I’ve seen yet—but it’s really the bases and topcoats of which I’m a major fan. The quick-drying clear varnish prolongs manicures and adds extra shine.