The ombré mani or gradient mani or monochromatic mani – whatever you want to call it – is an understated way to do the multicolored nail thing, an adult take on the “paint each nail a different color” trend sees its resurgence over and over in second-grade classrooms.
But here’s the issue I have with these manicures: I don’t always have the polish selection to pull off this look. I mean, the entire essence of this look is the fact that you’re wearing slight variations on the same color. And really, how many blue/green/purple/gray/pink polishes does one girl need?
Enter this set from LA Girl. Yes, LA Girl, the drugstore brand I probably haven’t gone near in a solid fifteen years – that is, until I spotted this ombré nail kit. I had some reservations about the quality of this set but $5 for five polishes (six if you include the top coat that comes in the set) was too good a deal to ignore. How did this cheapie set stack up? Read on for some pros and cons. Spoiler alert: I bought this set in five shades of purple, then went back and got the blue version…so clearly I didn’t hate it.
- Let’s state the obvious: The price makes this a winner. If you’re trying to get the ombré mani effect from, say, Lippmann polishes, it’s to run you close to $100 bucks. I’m not good at math but I know that $5 < $100, which means that a $5 price tag > a $100 dollar price tag.
- Ease of use is great too. I read somewhere that you can get the same gradient effect from two polishes if you spill them on a piece of paper and use a toothpick to mix the colors together, mixing more of the darker color into the lighter one to get a slightly darker shade for each nail. I don’t know about you but I’m going to call “ain’t nobody got for that” on that idea. Using a set like this is way easier.
- Let’s talk about the actual quality of the polish: surprisingly, it wasn’t so bad. Three coats gives you a nice, smooth opaque look. It isn’t too thick and clumpy, and even though I usually find the brushes of mini bottles of polish really hard to maneuver, these were easy enough to apply.
- Removal. Other than the glitter color, these slid right off, which is great.
- Longevity is honestly better than what I get from some high-end polishes. A nice surprise.
- The packaging. This is one facet of personal care products few people ever consider, but it does make a difference. The polishes in the second set I bought were SO hard to open. Add the fact that the brush handle has an imprint of the LA Girl logo (which ripped the skin between my thumb and forefinger since it was so damn hard to open) and you’ll see why I’m picking on this. I gave up on opening the last color in the blue set and used a shade from my collection instead.
- The actual color selection. It isn’t bad but it could be better. For one thing, I’m not a fan of the one glitter shade that comes with both sets. I like mixing textures on my nails but the glitter sort of throws off the whole ombré thing. Also, the color lineup isn’t quite accurate – the glitter shade is lighter than the two colors that are set up in front of them in the light-dark order the company set. An easy mistake to fix, but probably not something you’d think to do until after the color is on your nails.
- The coverage. Like I said above, it isn’t bad – but you can’t get away with one coat of this. I needed three to really even things out.
- Application was fine but the brush wasn’t the most flexible, which makes for the occassional streaky nail.
Overall? Buy one of these if you like mixed manicures. It’s so cheap that even if you only use the set once it’s kind of worth it. If you have young nieces or cousins, these would make really great gifts for them too.
Image via Hairsisters