When celebrity makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin launched his namesake beauty brand in 2001, he created a deep, plummy red lipstick called Blood Roses, inspired by his favorite color. The late face painter’s legacy lives on in this vampy oxblood varnish—the line’s first polish—which adds a sexy dose to digits via a long, flat brush. Kevyn Aucoin Beauty The Nail Lacquer in Blood Roses, $26, at Barneys New York, 660 Madison Ave at 61st St (212-826-8900, barneys.com)
You might associate Crabtree & Evelyn with botanical hand creams purchased during your mall-rat days, but the British beauty company is breaking away from its former image by launching a line of high-shine lacquers. There are 21 colors (including a clear top coat) to choose from, all of which glide on smoothly. Our favorites are Blueberry, a shimmery classic denim hue; Raspberry, a sophisticated, creamy magenta; and Pistachio, a pearlescent moss green that heralds spring. Crabtree & Evelyn nail lacquers, $6 each, at Crabtree & Evelyn, 10 Columbus Circle at 59th St (212-823-9584) • 30 Rockefeller Center Plaza between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-582-0190) • crabtree-evelyn.com
Underwear purveyor Victoria’s Secret joins the polish parade by debuting its own collection of 20 shades (including a combo top/base coat)—many in various gradations of the chain’s signature pink. We were particularly impressed with Steal the Show, a bronzy pink metallic that left our nails with a luxe sheen. Other standouts include Lustworthy, a reflective deep fuchsia, and String Bikini, a bright bubblegum hue that’s unabashedly girly and youthful. Victoria’s Secret nail lacquer, $10 each, at Victoria’s Secret, locations throughout the city; visit victoriassecret.com
We were sold on the debut lacquers from hypoallergenic cosmetic brand Physicians Formula for the packaging alone: The three-in-one towers feature miniature bottles in complementary shades that snap together, making them ideal for travel. Although the eight wands were created with nail art in mind (the box features 11 different illustrated suggestions), we found that only certain stacks with more opaque formulas, such as Fashion Icon (a bright green, blue and yellow combo), were up to the task. Other trios featuring a sheer, gelatinous polish, including California Goddess (an amalgam of fuchsia, pumpkin and blood orange), are best used for layering and crafting custom colors. The Treat Yourself threesome containing a base coat, top coat and clear glitter accent varnish delivers the most bang for your buck, and should be a staple for at-home manicure enthusiasts. Physicians Formula Endless Color Custom Nail Trios, $11 each, at Duane Reade, locations throughout the city; visit duanereade.com
Popular Brazilian polish line Impala recently expanded stateside, and although its vibrant shades look straight out of a Rio de Janeiro Carnaval parade, you won’t have to put on sunglasses to wear them—the colors come out much more muted on nails than they appear in the bottle. Dulled brights such as peacock blue Agua Fresca and deep plum Azul Aviador should help ease you into spring, but it’s the glitter offerings such as No Mira 3D (a holographic gray) and Disco Ball (a sparsely studded clear accent coat) that truly dazzle. Impala nail polish, $5–$6 each, at Rio Bonito, 32-15 36th Ave between 31st and 32nd Sts, Astoria, Queens (718-706-7272)
The popularity of nail art and at-home manicures have reached a fever pitch, prompting many beauty companies to launch their own nail-polish lines. We investigate the latest lacquers from mass-market brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Crabtree & Evelyn and Physicians Formula, as well as niche lines including Kevyn Aucoin and Impala.
Follow Cristina Velocci on Twitter: @cvelocci